Creating spatialization without reverb

Hello friends,

Can you recommend some pieces of music in the ambient-esque genre that achieve good spacial placement of sounds without the use of artificial reverberation?

Obviously, concrete source material has the spatialization of mic placement and recording environment, but combining that with synthetic sounds, or creating a sense of depth in all synthetic material is becoming increasingly interesting to me.

Do you guys have any techniques (panning, EQ curves) to achieve this sort of thing in your own work?

Thank you,


Left / Right = Stereo (Panning)
Up / Down = Frequencies (EQ)
Front / Back = Volume (Loudness Control)

or on the other end of the complexity scale:


reminded me of this Mono preferred

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there’s a nice eq-based spatial simulator in logic, but for non-software stuff i really love these things:

you can usually find them for very cheap, and they sound amazing. great on synth basses especially.

thanks @jasonw22 for the spatium link, that looks wonderful.


In the live context tehn is speaking about, point source mono makes perfect sense.

But if you’re recording “headphone music” stereo offers many wonderful creative possibilities.

ah yes of course
the memory is quite interesting

i only remember the portion of the thread where use of space, beyond mere LR, was discussed (or did i post the wrong link?)

not meant as a criticism of this one

i had meant to post this:

but anyway these quotes arent meant to clutter the current discussion happening

I have a keen interest in the OPs idea of creating and manipulating the effect without using a reverb

Nice short example of CV panning.

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hello, new to the forum. Find this very interesting topic.:slight_smile:

From what I know, apart from convolution reverbs many of the reverb plugins nowadays are doing physical modeling to mimic the spacial FX. And conceptually if you achieve the same FX with a bunch of EQ or pannning, to me it’s the same “artificial” approach :slight_smile:

Anyway, i believe 1 simple delay(FB < 100%) + 1 automated LPF(because hi freq vanish really fast in natural reverb ) + 1 automated stereo expander(optional) will do the trick

also some of the producers today are using empty room and microphone as their Send/Return track for getting natural reverb, think that might be another solution for your problem

Also check the doppler effect.

Wow, these are some well thought out ideas and product recommendations that could definitely help enhance depth/distance in a mix while not sounding so much like an added effect.

The ideas I had been working with are:

-The inverse square law as a guide for amplitude relationships between sound objects

-Tilt or shelf EQ to simulate the varying high frequency attenuation of different environments

-Compression to reduce the dynamic range of a sound happening at a greater distance.

-Granular spatial scattering to bring the presence of a sound closer/further

I believe much of what is being suggested here could end up sounding more interesting than using reverb to place sounds objects. I’ll read up the recommendations posted earlier and try some stuff out, thanks!


also +1 on the use of an actual room and mic for reverb, that technique has been around forever and lends a distinctly personal feel to a recording in my experience. definitely something to try with every room in your place.


Awesome suggestions in here.

On the subject of old school physical reverb chambers there are some great stories in Sean Costello’s “1000 years of reverb” talk at AES Seattle last year:

He covers historical approaches to reverb as well as some discussion of more modern approaches – it’s a great and super nerdy listen with tons of fun history on the subject and might be some good inspiration for coming up with alternative approaches to spatialization.

Slides are here:

This talk is really informative! The slide show really helps too. Living in the area, I wish I’d known about it and had gone to hear it. It was nice to Barry Blesser and his work referenced a couple times. His book fits right into this discussion. The talk also brought back memories of the primitive digital reverbs we had in the Cornish College electronic music studio.

The CCRMA books are full of useful historical tidbits that sound surprisingly good today. For instance, on the old reverb algorithms, the spatialization is done as sort of a last-stage DSP block.

If you already have a stereo signal, and want to create a quadraphonic signal, the mixing matrix recipe is great:
(Even if you don’t want quadraphonic, the channel combinations can provide interesting effects)

A great technique for upmixing mono signals can be found here:

Essentially, just use extremely small delay lines on each channel that you want to upmix to (.05 seconds or so… check the diagram for their recommendations).

Finally, there are some great recipes on MusicDSP for enhancing stereo width:
I’ve linked my favorite one, which is to translate the L/R stereo signal into Mid/Side. Even though it’s provided as code, the basics of the algorithm are easy to use in many environments.

Speaking of Mid/Side, if you’re handy with a soldering iron, there’s this module:


Wow, thank you for the mid/side algorithm! I’m going to add that to pippi today, it’s so simple. Can’t wait to give it a try.

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Awesome, glad I could help! I thought M/S encoding and decoding was some sort of DSP dark art until I looked up the algorithm a month or two back for my Reaktor series. The musicDSP archive and mailing list are excellent resources for that sort of thing.

I’ve grown to really enjoy M/S since then, and have been implementing it into our products whenever it seems interesting. It’s computationally inexpensive (especially compared to a lot of algorithmic reverbs), yet it can have a very dramatic effect on the final signal.


KOMA Elektronik Poltergeist Analog Quadrophonic Mixer seems interesting. Several videos at the link.

or addac marble physics if we’re entering the modular realm for solutions

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