Continuing the bpb Freeware Studio series after a bit of pause, here’s a list of the best freeware VST/AU plugins designed for stereo enhancement purposes. There are plenty of useful free stereo expander tools available both for Windows and Mac which is great, but please be careful – tools like these can either make or seriously break your mix!
Follow the links for screenshots & download info:
- bx_solo by Brainworx (Mac, Windows)
- DualPanner by Sleepy-Time DSP (Windows)
- Haa5 by Apex Audio Technologies (Mac, Windows)
- MStereoExpander by MeldaProduction (Mac, Windows)
- Rescue by Variety Of Sound (Windows)
- Stereo Tool by Flux (Mac, Windows)
- Stereo Touch by Voxengo (Mac, Windows)
- Stereoizer Free by Hbasm (Windows)
- UpStereo by QuikQuak (Mac, Windows)
- WideBug by Betabugs Audio (Windows)
My go-to plugin for this sort of stuff is Stereoizer Free. Simple interface and handy controls for preventing phasing issues make it a perfect tool for quick and easy stereo enhancement tasks.
For those careful and subtle tweaks on full mixes, Rescue by Variety Of Sound is the way to go. This plugin will help brush up the stereo image slightly, without messing it up like a stereo tsunami. The PRO version has a additional filter controls, useful for keeping the focus in the bass frequencies.
Those are my two favorites, but make sure you check out the other plugins on the list too, especially Stereo Tool, bx_solo and MStereoExpander which are often praised on audio forums.
And that’s all for today. Did you like the article? Have I missed any good freeware stereo expander plugins? Leave your replies in the comments section below!
Also, please support BPB by spreading the word on your favorite forums and social networks! Thanks for reading everyone, and happy mixing!
You could add there also MidSideMangler from http://www.audioteknikk.net/
My fav is Stereoizer too ;)
Effective and not destructive.
But i only use it on individual instruments.
Sometimes, especially with synths with bad onboard effect, sound is too mono.
You end disabling them and using outboard ones.
But with this plugin, i obtained very good results with weak chorus, too mono reverb…
If you want to use this kind of tools on a full mix, find a multiband one and only use it on the mids/highs, not bass domain.
GMulti can do multiband stereo widening ;)
You can still create a stereo bass with multiband stereo by applying a medium widening on the mids and broad one on the highs.
Human brain will think all the bass is stereo ;)
I’m not an expert on stereo widening, still I use it a lot. For quick widening I mostly use Cubase 6s internal Stereo Enhancer plugin. I didn’t find any phase fuckup even when checking it with a pro analyzing tool.
Can anyone say something about Cubases tool? Of course I use Rescue as well, but only in special situations… I like to keep it simple but I like to keep is as good as possible too. So I’m not sure if I need any other VST to wide my stereo up.
bedroom producers blogon
Never used Cubase myself tbh, so I can’t really help there. Should be fine though if you didn’t detect any phase issues!
Nice article, Thanks I’ll be sure to check them out and add 1 or maybe 2 to my plug in collection. You should do an article on mastering so I can start to learn, Your very good at simplifying things lol
Strangely, there’s a couple of excellent presets on ezmix for this (which wasn’t free but cost peanuts at the time I got hold of it).
Don’t forget the amazing “Stereo touch” by Voxengo.
There’s an old, but great free Stereo Expander vst plugin with a lot of features called C_SuperStereo by Nick Whitehurst. His plugins aren’t really available anymore, but I’ve found a download link for it, if you’d like to check it out:
What about SHEPPi Spatial Enhancer modeled after the Algorithmix’ K-Stereo Ambience Processor? Are all these plugins Stereo Haas Effect Ping Pong Inverters?
c-superstereo is an AMAZING plug. every producer SHOULD HAVE that one . WOW
Is there a stand-alone program that does stereo widening?
Hi, I make GFM Psypan http://www.auburnsounds.com/products/Psypan.html
It is a very clean binaural panner.
Anyone using Spazial by Snythblitz audio? I have some issues with this VST, so I don’t know it is brand-specific issue or a general problem.
I have been using Spazial on Reaper. I recently recorded lead guitar over a backing track and exported the project to audio file, namely MP3. What I noticed is that when I play the sound file on my computer, it sounds OK. But when I transfer the MP3 file to my mobile phone; my guitar becomes INAUDIBLE! I mean, the backing track still plays fine, but my guitar is just not there! I go back to Reaper, disable the Spazial plugin from my guitar track and then I re-export the audio and transfer it to my cell phone; my guitar comes back.
I loved the enhancement Spazial does to my sound but I cannot use it for my own-made music, because the track on which the Spazial is used becomes invisible on mobile devices. Strange enough, this issue does not ocur when I play the audio file on computer. I will be more than glad if you have any answers for this..
Thanks in advance,
Your song is stereo (has a Right and Left channel). Your computer playback system is stereo. But your Phone playback is mono (Left + Right channel get added together to make only 1 channel).
When things are added together, they can sometimes ‘Phase cancel’. What does this mean?…
An audio file consists of samples that represent that sound. Each sample can have a value from -1 to +1. If one channel, lets say Left, of your song is playing a +1 at the same time the Right channel is playing -1, then when they are added together (for instance in your phone), then it will make 0. This is how your guitar was cancelled out.
The stereo plugin you used on the guitar must have used some sort of polarity inversion. What this means is changing positive samples into negative on one channel
Hope this helps.
I considered using a stereoizer to overcome the problems with mono compatibility. However, I’ve noticed a problem with all the stereoizer plugins I’ve tried, including the ‘Imager’ feature in Ozone 5, in that they boost the overall level of the mix. Consequently, when the output is switched to mono, the level drops. Yet this never happens with commercial releases. They also tend to colour the mid frequencies that the ears are highly sensitive to with regard to stereo, thereby making the mix somewhat muddy. It may not be a problem with a lot of hip-hop and similar genres, but it is very much so on a project of mine that has plenty orchestration and a large choir.
Izotope offers Ozone Imager for free upon registration, very simple to use and sounds great.
Here are 2 that should be on this list
A1 stereo control http://www.alexhilton.net/A1AUDIO/index.php/a1stereocontrol