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Creating stereo tracks in GarageBand

January 17, 2009

This comment by Kris reminded me I had this post on how to create stereo tracks in GarageBand. I’m re-posting it here, but first, let me clarify on Kris’ comment that “duplicating tracks is a great way to create stereo tracks but it’s not the most effective“.

I feel both methods are different. They result in a different sound effect rather than one being more effective than the other.

Kris prefers to create a stereo track by recording a second track by playing in a slightly different manner. That’s certainly a cool technique, and one that I use from time to time (like this guitar instrumental). It’s a technique frequently used in rock ballads.

I’d also agree it sounds more interesting than merely duplicating a track, but I won’t say that is “better”. ‘Cos it depends on what sound you wish to create. Sometimes, the guitar track isn’t the prominent track to be featured so a quick way to create that stereo sound (from a mono recording) is to just duplicate the track.

Anyway, I’ve incorporated the method that Kris’ prefers to the post. What I’d correct from my previous post is to not say it’s the two “main” ways. More accurate to say it’s two possible ways :)

Here it is:

  1. Use the “Chorus –> Spread Stereo” effects setting
  2. Create a duplicate track (or record another track), then adjust the Track Pan settings to create a Left and Right track

[Take a read at Kris' post as well, which covers other useful tips in using GarageBand].

METHOD #1: CHORUS – SPREAD STEREO (click on the image to see larger sizes)
iLife GarageBand '06 - creating a stereo effect (A1-1)
GarageBand records in Mono (I’m using iLife ’06). At the Track Info panel, under Input, it says “Channel 1 (Mono)”. It’s still Mono even if you select “Channel 1 & 2 (Stereo)”.

Chorus” effect. You can instantly hear the difference.
iLife GarageBand '06 - creating a stereo effect (A1-2)
One easy way to get the stereo effect is to select the “Spread Stereo” option from the

If you don’t want to use any effects to distort your original recording, here’s an alternative to using the Chorus Spread Stereo effect.

METHOD #2: Track Pan settings (click on the image to see larger sizes)
iLife GarageBand '06 - creating a stereo effect (A2-1)
After you’ve recorded your track, make a Duplicate Track. Then copy the recording (from your first track) and paste to the duplicate track.

Click on the “Track Volume/ Pan Curve” button (i.e. the little triangle icon). The choose “Track Pan“.

iLife GarageBand '06 - creating a stereo effect (A2-2)
Adjust the tracks to pan to the left and right respectively.

TIP: If you can’t seem to be able to get both tracks to have the same Pan curve number, don’t stress yourself out. Seems there’s always a +1 difference between the left and right pan. In my case, I have the top pan track set to “-34″ and the bottom track to “+35″. You can never get “-34″ and “+34″.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. January 18, 2009 10:37 pm

    One trick I heard some ppl use, esp with instruments, is to not align the two channels.. You can move either it to be slightly (2-3 samples) before or after the second one.. That way you get the feeling of ‘depth’ in the sound.. It might not work all the time.. But it’s easy to do, and sometimes you get great results.

    Njoy…

  2. January 19, 2009 2:19 am

    That’ll work too :)

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