Learning to use Utility Effect--Width Function


I have just begun using Ableton within the last few months and have started playing around with the width function of the Utility Effect in a mix of songs I'm working on right now.  It seems incredibly useful but I want to make sure I understand exactly what's going on (I'm not great with understanding musical/production terms, so the definition out of the handbook isn't really helping). My take on what it does (tell me if this is totally wrong or kind of on track):

It's essentially taking the spectrum of sound that you get from a sample and either shrinks it down or expands it.  If we move the slider down to 0% or something close to that, instead of getting the full range of frequencies that that sample provides, we maybe only get the single most prominent frequency (assuming its in the middle of that spectrum of frequency outputs), so for a kick drum this is useful because a kick doesn't have a wide range of frequencies like a Lead chord might, so that kick is accentuated. 

At the same time as this expansion/diminishing of the frequency spectrum, it seems like the utility also acts as a compressor on the entire sample.  Is this because its focusing in on a certain frequency range?

When we move up near 200%, this seems like it's doubling the range of frequencies that the sample plays out, which drowns out those lower sounds. Again though, it's like there's also a compressor that's working since it gives me more headroom somehow?

Sorry for the beginner-level questions, but any help would be greatly appreciated!!


iusc12 5 years ago | 0 comments

4 answers

  • AFranke
    2 answers
    7 votes received
    4 votes

    0% = Mono

    100% = Stereo (default)

    200% = widened Stereo

    5 years ago | 0 comments
  • charlyfariseo
    1 answer
    3 votes received
    3 votes

    Specially with the kick and bass, you could turn them to mono by adding the utility effect and turn it to 0%  This is very effective for your mix.

    With 200% you can only hear what is in the stereo field. 

    4 years ago | 0 comments
  • ChampDuggan
    5 answers
    10 votes received
    3 votes

    if you're looking far added wideness utility is a decent shortcut but not as effective as mixing instruments and panning. you want a wide mix of mono and stereo sounds and you want to pan instruments as well. Panning even a few cents left or right can give an instrument its own pocket and give you more headroom in your mix. if everything is jammed up the middle you're going to have a quiet track or have to limit so heavily it sounds bad. i would suggest spending the time to get each instrument the stereo width that you want, including mono instruments panned a bit (particularly drums) for more room in your mix. once you're done if you want to set a send track up with utility and send a bunch of your instruments through it (don't just crank them all through, add a little of each and some more than others) and put the wideness at 200% it will make your mix sound bigger and fuller. don't send any of your sub frequencies through this since you want those as tight as possible, i'd put a filter before the utility that cuts anything under 150 completely and rolls up to 300 or so.



    4 years ago | 0 comments
  • iusc12
    1 answer
    0 votes received
    0 votes


    Help please, if anyone can! Thanks!!

    5 years ago | 0 comments

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