Using chorus to increase stereo width

Just a quick tip today – use chorus to make a sound extremely wide without changing the character of the sound. A simple digital chorus is often ideal for this – the one that came bundled with your DAW or a basic freeware plugin should be fine.

Use these settings as a starting point: 100% wet, 0% feedback, LFO rate below 1Hz, Depth 100%, Delay 0ms. You might also need to set the relative phase of each LFO to 180 degrees – this will make sure the left and right LFOs are cycling out of phase with each other. To reduce the pitch modulation, reduce the LFO speed.

Using a chorus like this is a little like using a Haas delay (delaying one side by less than 50ms) to increase stereo width. It’s better, however, because the chorus’s relative delay is constantly changing (whereas a simple delay is fixed). This means the illusion of direction (the Haas effect, caused by short delays) is changing, rather than static. This is more pleasant and less distracting to listen to.

I do this most often with pads and background synths when I want them to be ultra-wide – especially in situations where the source sound is mono. I’ll even use it when a stereo sound is already very wide but the left and right sides are too different for my taste, I’ll collapse the sound to mono and the re-stereoise it using a basic 100% wet chorus.

-Kim.

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    • nofish
    • November 15th, 2011

    Thanks for this tip.
    I tried to replicate it but somehow I can’t find a chorus which has these parameters.
    Is feedback the same as depth (on the Kjaerhus classic chorus eg) ?
    And I couldn’t find one where I can adjust the phase to 180 degress (or didn’t notice)
    Any recommendation ?

    Thank you.

  1. @nofish
    The Kjaerhus classic chorus is a good example. The stereo mode is enabled with the ‘spread’ button. Depth and Mix should be set to maximum, and range and rate set to taste (but keep it pretty subtle).

    -Kim.

    • nofish
    • November 16th, 2011

    Cool. Thanks Kim.

    • Z.S.
    • November 24th, 2011

    Good tip! It reminded me of a trick some guitar players used in the 80’s when playing live in a power trio formula (dr, bg, & gtr). They used to permanently have chorus on with the minimal settings even for the rhythm stuff, preferably split into stereo. Instant “bigness”!

  2. @Z.S.
    Chorus was used a lot in the 80s! Some uses were more tasteful than others… ;-)

    -Kim.

    • Z.S.
    • November 28th, 2011

    @Kim Lajoie
    So true! I can’t imagine overdriven rhythm guitar with chorus anymore nowadays.

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