I’m a big fan of using widening plugins. Some of my favorites are Soundtoys Little MicroShift, Dimension Expander from Xfer Records & the Imager built into iZotope’s Ozone. Now most of these plugins do some really fancy time and pitch manipulation which can at times be a bit too much. Sometimes you just need to be a lot more subtle. That’s when a delay plugin can really come handy. Also, it’s always good to know how to achieve different types of widening. Then you can pick the one you prefer.
We can use the brand new STA Delay plugin from Audified & Ask.Audio to create this widening effect. Specifically if you want to simulate the widening effect of the plugins mentioned above, you will have to use a very short delay time. But, instead of that we will use the ping-pong mode and sync it to tempo to get a rhythmically panned delay which can also appear to widen the overall stereo image.
Here's a short video showing how to add subtle width to your mix using STA Delay:
What is a Ping-Pong Delay
When a stereo delay effect gives you the option of having the delay repeat separately on each channel (Left & Right), you get the ping-pong effect. So for example, if you set the delay time to be a 1/4 note, you will first hear the sound repeat on one of the channels after a 1/4 note, and a 1/4 note after that on the other channel. This will keep repeating if you have the feedback amount increased on the delay unit. So essentially, the sound bounces back and forth between the two channels, hence the name, Ping-Pong.
Keep in mind the ping-pong delay effect can be quite dramatic so use it sparingly. Luckily the STA Delay has a STEREO dial to tone down the effect of the ping-pong panning.
Let’s give this a try. This is the audio I am going to work with.
As you can hear, it sounds pretty clean and boring. Let’s bring in the STA Delay effect. I have the STEREO at maximum so this is going to have a very exaggerated ping-pong panning.
This could work, but it’s a bit too much for what I’m going for, so I’m going to bring down the STEREO dial to a much more reasonable amount.
To finalize the sound, I’m going to add some reverb and this sound will be so much more interesting compared to the dry version.
You can also try setting the delay time to a very short value (less that 10 ms) to get a more traditional widening effect without any ping-pong delay repeats. Ideally you will need to set the left and right channel to have a slight difference in delay time which unfortunately can’t be done using the STA Delay plugin. A workaround could be to use two instances of the plugin (one for each channel) and set them both to have a slight variation in delay time. (In the STA Delay plugin the delay time is set using the TEMPO dial).