Adventures In Audio

How to fix a wandering stereo image in dialog

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If you record dialog in stereo, then if something goes wrong the position of the audio in the stereo sound field may not match the picture. Worse - the stereo image may wander. This video demonstrates what happens when the position is wrong, why recording dialog in mono always works, and also demonstrates the problem of a wandering stereo image and how to correct it.

Automated transcript

So you're going to record dialogue in stereo what could possibly go wrong learn audio online with audio master class audio master class outcome firstly what is stereo simply is the difference between left center and right in the stereo image that you hear on your loudspeakers or in your headphones when you're recording dialogue the position of the voice in the stereo image should match the position of the person who's speaking in the picture so if I'm on the left of the picture my voice should come from the left side of the stereo image if I'm on the right of the picture my voice should come from the right side of the stereo image and if I'm central in the picture my voice should come from the center of the stereo image just like this

But what can go wrong I might be on the left side of the picture but my voice is coming from the right side of the stereo image or I might be on the right side of the picture but my voice is coming from the left side of the stereo image or I might be in the center of the picture and my voice is coming from the left or it's coming from the right which is completely wrong so it's important that the position of the voice in the stereo image matches the position of the person who's speaking in the picture whether they're on the left in the center or on the right left center right that's how it should work but it's really very easy to make a mistake and get it wrong but there's a simple method that'll work every time and it's really easy to do and that's just to have the dialogue in mono all of the time so here I am on the left side of the picture and Here I am on the right and Here I am in the center left right center left right center

Did you hear what I did there my voice is coming from the center of the stereo image for every position but it sounds fine so it's an easy way of working and you really can't get it wrong so do I have an example where the stereo image is all wrong well yes I do this is a video by youtuber Daniel Schiffer who's making a video with his girlfriend Sara dunk and he records their initial conversation with a zoom h5 handheld stereo recorder I've put a vector scope in the corner of the picture so you can see the wandering stereo image as well as hear it this is what it sounds like today we would turn the tables a little bit because normally I'm behind the lens what are your thoughts I think that it could shock everyone maybe potentially it could shock everyone it might not be what this I hope you mean that in like a good way so what did we hear we heard a slightly wandering stereo image on Daniels voice but on Sara's voice the stereo image wandered wildly particularly on the words potentially and expect

Let's listen again today we would turn the tables a little bit because normally I'm behind the lens what are your thoughts I think that it could shock everyone maybe potentially it could shock everyone it might not be with this I hope you mean that in like a good way so what can we do to fix this the easy answer is to put both channels into mono and it sounds like this today we would turn the tables a little bit because normally I'm behind the lens what are your thoughts I think that it could shock everyone maybe potentially it could shock everyone it might not be what this I hope you mean that in like a good way does not fix the problem we still have variations in level so that's an issue but at least the stereo image is now nice and steady but there's something else we can try we can try just using one channel so let's listen just to the left channel alone this is what the left channel sounds like today we would turn the tables a little bit because normally I'm behind the lens what are your thoughts I think that it could shock everyone maybe potentially it could shock everyone it might not be with this I hope you mean that in like a good way so that fixes the stereo image problem the levels are now more of an issue potentially dies away rapidly and expect it's hardly there let's try the other channel and see if that's any better today we would turn the tables a little bit because normally I'm behind the lens what are your thoughts I think that it could shock everyone maybe potentially it could shock everyone it might not be with this I hope you mean that in like a good way so yes this is a lot better the stereo image is now nice and stable as before but the level is more consistent potentially is a lot more clear and we can hear the word expect all the way to the final tee even though it's a little bit quiet so there's no one right way to do this either blending both channels into mono will be best or using the left channel or using the right channel one of them will be better than the others but you have to try all three to find out and be sure

You could ask the question does this matter well it's YouTube so maybe not YouTube is fun and in fact the wandering stereo image it kind of adds to the atmosphere and texture of the whole piece because we can see what's happening and we can see the position of the recorder so in this case really I don't mind and I enjoyed this video all the way through from beginning to end so I do recommend that you watch it for yourself great thanks to daniel shiva for going out on a little limb there and showing us some wandering stereo for us all to enjoy and i'll leave links to that video and daniel's channel and sarah's channel as well in the description below I'm David Miller course director of audio masterclass now you know how to correct a wandering stereo image thank you for listening

Friday July 3, 2020

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David Mellor

David Mellor

David Mellor is CEO and Course Director of Audio Masterclass. David has designed courses in audio education and training since 1986 and is the publisher and principal writer of Adventures In Audio.

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