Cancellation effect be damned! Lets split those channels! My favourite trick (and signature sound) is running an active bass through a chorus and into a bit-crusher, ramping it up till the sound is heavy with pitched harmonic white noise and forcing it through another layer of swirling alien chorus. This makes for the nicely dizzying feeling of detuned synth grain. The 2nd chorus splitting the channels beautifully wide and deep, which get run through the two channels of a side-chained compressor, ducking the bass drum, before getting hard panned.
I play secretly depressing alt-dance party jams and really enjoy a nice crisp early 90s FM bass hitting right down the middle, but also love the new-wave goths and their powerfully dreary bass lines. With this setup the bass sits somewhere between the chorused drenched perfection of New Order and the driving side-chained white noise that drags people to the dance floor in French House.
It sounds rich and mesmerising on the floor and in the headphones but to make sure it doesn’t die completely in mono I throw the 2nd channel of the first chorus (that’s pre bit-cruncher, 2nd chorus and side-chained compressor) back into the centre of the mix at a low volume. It’s barely noticeable within the depths of it all, but when YouTube slows down and monos everything on my 2009 netbook (lol), the cleaner centre track suddenly steps forward as the surround steps back and saves the mix.
Yes that means you definitely do hear the mix change noticeably due to the chorus channels canceling out but I’ve learned to love it and even embrace it. The music has a life, it warps and grows with what’s going on around it. I know it’s not how most people like to master their tracks but through embracing the cancellation I’ve managed to focus loss on only the complex distorted tracks to get a simpler mix when the track is played on a simpler platform. Doesn’t that actually sound perfect? I like to imaging that it’s like a hidden form in the shadows of a window in a painting that only becomes visible when the light hits the work at just the right angle. Something that helps give someone the work mystery, depth and longevity. Well it could have been mystery till I just gave it away 🙂