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Author Topic: Panning tricks  (Read 11816 times)

Taylor Phillips

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Panning tricks
« on: January 21, 2011, 10:49:48 pm »

Is there a trick to making panned instruments in your mixes not sound irritating when you listen to them through headphones?  I'm more of a live sound guy, but I've been dabbling in recording lately.  Seems whenever I pan something, even just a bit out of center, it ends up bothering me in headphones.  Monitors are no problem, just headphones.  I listen to  music with panned instruments in professional recordings all the time through headphones and they don't bother me at all, at least modern music. Older stereo recordings do bother me in headphones, like the Monkee's Daydream Believer, but not newer stuff.  What gives? 
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Gio

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Re: Panning tricks
« Reply #1 on: January 21, 2011, 11:29:17 pm »

I hear you.. some older stuff sounds weird to me on headphones too. Drums on the left, bass on the right......

L-C-R. (only)

Find the right balance. It works....
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davidphonic

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Re: Panning tricks
« Reply #2 on: January 25, 2011, 05:46:52 am »

As long as it is balanced by another instrument on the other side it usually sounds good, it's when it's on it's own it sounds wierd. I have a monitor control with a crossfeed knob on it which helps with the over enhanced imaging you can get from phones

Tom L

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Re: Panning tricks
« Reply #3 on: January 25, 2011, 10:15:22 am »

Search the old Whatever Works for LCR and Cardinal Points. Tons of info.

Early "stereo" recordings were likely mono mixes that got split/remixed for stereo (often without the artist involvment) as an afterthought to satisfy the new market/novelty of stereo.  Beatles are a prime example.

MagnetoSound

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Re: Panning tricks
« Reply #4 on: January 25, 2011, 06:18:16 pm »

... and of course only two or three tracks on the master with which to do it.  ;)
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Robert Sims

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Re: Panning tricks
« Reply #5 on: February 03, 2011, 02:00:05 am »

Is there a trick to making panned instruments in your mixes not sound irritating when you listen to them through headphones?  I'm more of a live sound guy, but I've been dabbling in recording lately.  Seems whenever I pan something, even just a bit out of center, it ends up bothering me in headphones.  Monitors are no problem, just headphones.  I listen to  music with panned instruments in professional recordings all the time through headphones and they don't bother me at all, at least modern music. Older stereo recordings do bother me in headphones, like the Monkee's Daydream Believer, but not newer stuff.  What gives?

Taylor,
This may not get you what you want but it's an option.
You can move sound if you have a stereo track or 2 identical mono tracks with very small increments of delay offset in one track. This leaves the signal in each channel at the same volume but shift in timing creates a sonic perception that the image is panned. It's similar to the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haas_effect
There are plugins out there that make this an easy process.
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Robert

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Taylor Phillips

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Re: Panning tricks
« Reply #6 on: February 04, 2011, 01:42:09 pm »

Taylor,
This may not get you what you want but it's an option.
You can move sound if you have a stereo track or 2 identical mono tracks with very small increments of delay offset in one track. This leaves the signal in each channel at the same volume but shift in timing creates a sonic perception that the image is panned. It's similar to the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haas_effect
There are plugins out there that make this an easy process.
That's a really intersting idea.  I would think this would make the different instruments/voices sound like they're in the same place whether in monitors or headphones.  Sounds like it might be a bit tricky without a plugin, do you know of any?  Right now I'm using Cubase AI4, came with the Yamaha interface.
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danielfarris

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Re: Panning tricks
« Reply #7 on: February 04, 2011, 09:10:58 pm »

What I do is this:

Duplicate the track to be panned right. Then pan the duplicate track left, delay it by 25 to 30 ms, and put on a HPF getting rid of everything above 2kHz. Start with this delayed track all the way down, and just inch it up until it provides the desired effect. A little bit goes a very long way. This should be practically unnoticeable, and if done properly, sounds very natural.

I've been doing this for years. In ProTools, it can all be done with the Digirack short delay and nothing else.

DF
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danielfarris

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Re: Panning tricks
« Reply #8 on: February 04, 2011, 09:37:06 pm »

Just to illustrate what I'm talking about, here is a pedal steel track panned right, without this treatment:

http://bit.ly/gQvc2U

And here is the same steel track panned right, plus the above treatment:

http://bit.ly/gm6DVw

DF
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Robert Sims

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Re: Panning tricks
« Reply #9 on: February 06, 2011, 01:08:26 pm »

25-30ms would be to much. Thats the threshold of when we start to here delay. You can experiment by taking a left and right similar source panned left and right and push one track ahead by a few milliseconds of the other or back. Do it with head phones on, and try to increment it a little at a time to hear it shift. Then you can start adjust pan back towards the center for an even more precise placement.

If you left these sources in mono, you'll be creating a big comb filter like a flange or phase effect. So when mixing in this method make sure you always have a mono reference speaker with left and right summed to make sure that you not completely destroying the track. If the track signal is low in mono flip the polarity on one side, it might help.

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Robert

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danielfarris

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Re: Panning tricks
« Reply #10 on: February 07, 2011, 07:13:37 am »

25-30ms would be to much. Thats the threshold of when we start to here delay. You can experiment by taking a left and right similar source panned left and right and push one track ahead by a few milliseconds of the other or back. Do it with head phones on, and try to increment it a little at a time to hear it shift. Then you can start adjust pan back towards the center for an even more precise placement.

If you left these sources in mono, you'll be creating a big comb filter like a flange or phase effect. So when mixing in this method make sure you always have a mono reference speaker with left and right summed to make sure that you not completely destroying the track. If the track signal is low in mono flip the polarity on one side, it might help.


There's nothing wrong with hearing it. That's why we do it. We want people to hear it. And having it that long is precisely to avoid the dreaded comb filtering you warn about.

DF
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Taylor Phillips

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Re: Panning tricks
« Reply #11 on: February 07, 2011, 06:49:10 pm »

I'm skeptical of taking engineering advice from anyone who misspells "hear," but okay.
Let's keep the topic on mixing and engineering great sounding music and not spelling. 

So far this delay method seems to work pretty well.  I'll be sure to watch out for comb filtering, though. 
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François Kevorkian

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Re: Panning tricks
« Reply #12 on: February 12, 2011, 12:40:28 am »

Question: If you had a set of stereo speakers and you added 30ms of time to the left speaker by physically moving it, how far would you have to move it?  Don't use Bing, save time and go straight to Google for the answer.
Actually, that sounds like more of a Wolfram Alpha type question; I did that, and predictably the answer only took a few CPU cycles. (Sorry to cut the post-ambient experimental polka listening session short)

I do remember listening to a lot of records made in the mid-80's where that kind of effect was actually exaggerated and the delay time more of the order of 45 ~ 60 ms and sometimes up to the 75 ~ 90 range. But still the fundamentals of perceptual placement are very much something to experiment with, this is a lot of fun when given time to try things out like this. Even more so in surround.

Only downside of all these tricks is that - for obvious reasons, and as everyone pointed out - they usually seem to translate very, very poorly to mono. So let me be the first to say: screw mono (in certain cases). I'll leave that domain to Phil Spector's disciples.
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kittonian

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Re: Panning tricks
« Reply #13 on: February 23, 2011, 07:42:11 pm »

Only downside of all these tricks is that - for obvious reasons, and as everyone pointed out - they usually seem to translate very, very poorly to mono. So let me be the first to say: screw mono (in certain cases). I'll leave that domain to Phil Spector's disciples.


If you ever want your mixes on TV you really have to be aware of how they will sound in mono. I know it sounds archaic but a ton of people still have small TVs that only have one speaker. Our kitchen TV is one of those and although I'm sure we'll replace it at some point, it serves as a pretty cool reminder of how mixes still need to fold down to mono.


As far as panning is concerned, try setting your L/R pans on your tracks containing instruments/vocals to 90 instead of 100. Set all your stereo AUX tracks (sends, etc.) to 100/100. Take a listen to how the reverbs/delays/etc. all have room on the far left and right sides, yet the mix itself stays nice and punchy.
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John Suitcase

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Re: Panning tricks
« Reply #14 on: February 24, 2011, 05:24:36 pm »

I have a plug-in that I use when mixing in phones, that adds a little crossfed signal, rolled off below about 2k, with 1 millisecond of delay. It mostly seems to help give a better feel for the low end, and make things not so extreme when panned hard right or left.

I've never considered leaving it on during the final mixdown, though!

I wonder why iPods, even headphones maybe, don't include some sort of crossfeed/delay circuit. Couldn't be hard to implement...

JohnTravis

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Re: Panning tricks
« Reply #15 on: March 05, 2011, 12:41:06 pm »

Okay dumb question that kind of needs to be asked. Do other peoples mixes sound good in your headphones? Say for example you listen to a successful record that was done recently (Meaning not something from the Beatles or Doors era where panning ran rampant like Charlie Sheen on a bender) does it sound right or does it bother you?

If it does bother you, you shouldn't be listening on headphones and nothing you do is going to make them work. Sure you can bring your mixes up on two channels and then pan them at 3 and 9 o'clock, but that's not really a solution.

If other peoples mixes sound fine to you, then maybe you aren't panning enough other things, so that everything you pan seems like it sticks out. There's a great interview up somewhere on the web where Andy Wallace is talking to Michael Barbiero that I highly recommend reading. Andy talks about how almost everything in his mixes except the Kick drum is panned even the lead vocal is slightly off to one side.

I hope this helps.

JT
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P.M.DuMont

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Re: Panning tricks
« Reply #16 on: March 05, 2011, 06:17:52 pm »

Correct John, panning is entirely subjective... however,
depending on the instrumentation and the over all presentation, certain parameters work better (or to the point, more easily) than others.

Depending on the genre, mood, etc, left-center-right only panning can certainly convey the exact cohesive "picture" that is necessary to the production.
I feel L-C-R panning helps facilitate focus, makes one work with limited choices (usually sonically beneficial),
and in a lot of cases reduces the chance for phase issues.

That being said, sometimes, I love a production that can clearly utilize the whole field .

In the end, I don't feel headphones are a rewarding way to listen to music.
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Taylor Phillips

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Re: Panning tricks
« Reply #17 on: March 06, 2011, 05:02:58 pm »

Do other peoples mixes sound good in your headphones?
Yes, they sound great.  That's why I asked the question in the first place.
Quote
In the end, I don't feel headphones are a rewarding way to listen to music.
Headphones might not be a rewarding way to listen to music, but that's what everyone listens through these days - thanks to the iPod.
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P.M.DuMont

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Re: Panning tricks
« Reply #18 on: March 06, 2011, 06:46:15 pm »

Headphones might not be a rewarding way to listen to music, but that's what everyone listens through these days - thanks to the iPod.

And most folks who genuinely care about audio realize that there are many things happening these days to audio that truly do not benefit the listener.
McDonald's is pervasive, but does that mean that it is the best hamburger?

As for your panning issue, are you mixing on monitors or headphones.
If on monitors, have you tried mixing on headphones to see if there is a difference?
You may have issues in your space causing you to over emphasize the "outsides" without hearing what is being done to the stereo image.

In my opinion, there has to be a strong (balanced) central image to anchor anything that is traveling outside the middle, and not be distracting.
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JohnTravis

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Re: Panning tricks
« Reply #19 on: March 07, 2011, 03:30:06 am »

Taylor,

To answer your original question, I think it comes down perhaps you are dealing with something that is essentially a mono mix where a few things are panned and so they seem stick out like a sore thumb. You may want to try something like taking a pair of tracks that make up a major part of the sound, hard panning them and then eq-ing them differently from each other. Once you have them balanced in the mix you may find your stereo imaging on the other sounds is a lot more fun to play with.

Next time you are mixing, why no get really adventurous with your panning and if something seems to be too far out on one side, instead of bringing it closer to the center, try to find another sound to pan into the opposite speaker that makes it sound balanced.

JT
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Nikodemos_T

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Re: Panning tricks
« Reply #20 on: March 07, 2011, 09:41:46 am »

I don't think "panning" is a thing that can be viewed on it's own....IMO we should aproach panning desicions based on a few other things like instrumentation, tracking methods used (mono, stereo, dual mono etc), our space positioning requirements , a complete view of the stereo imaging etc....

Afterall panning itself is just a volume dependant busing to 2 individual tracks.....

So, i strongly believe that what matters the most is the ability to create the proper phantom image regardles if we are talking about stereo spread or hard panned mono....ambient and room mics  are a very crucial factor (as it is the artifiacial reverbaration) and also i consider multimic tracking an important factor too....sometimes is easier to emphasize the directivity and mono placement of a sound in just one part of the stereo spectrum using stereo or multi miced material than just a mono signal.....in other words i believe we should aproach panning the way our own hearing works...we just don't hear something from one ear only (well, some of us might  ;D) , we hear it with both ears but differently (regarding time-phase, freq response and ofcourse percieved loudness).

...please excuse my poor english  :-\

touchsounds

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Re: Panning tricks
« Reply #21 on: March 10, 2011, 11:45:10 pm »

I'm in love with the stereo field.  Don't ask me why, but I don't really care for 5-channel sound.  Give me a good 2-channel mix and I'm happy.

Try panning a guitar one way, then panning it's effects the opposite.  Sometimes that makes an 'off-balance' mix sound more uniform until the 2nd guitar comes in.

Check out an old Van Halen recording
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drkoosh

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Re: Panning tricks
« Reply #22 on: March 13, 2011, 11:45:27 pm »

Hey guys, i know Rob and others have covered using the "haas effect" to create stereo width in some daws such as protools, but i thought i'd describe how i do it in ableton live as its a very handy little trick to use:

Drop a "simple delay" plugin (from the stock ableton plugin folder) onto the track you want to widen. Right click on this plugin and click "group" to turn it into an "audio effect rack". Click the "show/hide" chain button on the left of the rack. Right click in the "drop" area and select "create chain". You have now effectively split you original track into two identical copies of itself that you can manipulate as you please! All thats left to setup is drop a "simple delay" plugin into the new chain also.

Now you're ready to adjust settings:

Pan the first chain hard RIGHT, then click on "link" in the delay window, change the "sync" button to say "time" by clicking once, set the delay to 15ms, set the dry/wet to 100%.

Pan the second chain hard LEFT, then click "link" to link LR, change sync to read "time", delay 1-2ms this time an set the dry/wet to 100%.

Done! :)

Here are two pics to illustrate what each chain should look like:



I hope this helps someone!

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Mo Facta

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Re: Panning tricks
« Reply #23 on: March 15, 2011, 02:20:56 pm »

When it comes to panning questions I like to point people in the direction of this article by Dave Moulton:

http://www.moultonlabs.com/more/principles_of_multitrack_mixing_the_phantom_image/

Sums it up beautifully for me.

Cheers :)
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BobSchwenkler

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Re: Panning tricks
« Reply #24 on: March 16, 2011, 01:59:04 am »

A couple ideas that I frequently use: As mentioned, a delay or verb panned opposite or somewhat opposite. I'll often use delay times in the neighborhood of 40-100 mS. I usually get a delay with some character at the end of my aux send, as opposed to a cleaner digital delay, which never sounds that great to me.

You might also try incorporating some more stereo micing techniques. I often stereo mic sources that I suspect would normally be mono mic'd by most anyone else, even simple things like a shaker or an overdub electric guitar part. Make the panning happen with your positioning, you can adjust it somewhat down the road as well.

My sense of why you're not liking the sound of these hard panned sources (and I can fall into the same camp as well) is simply that is sound unnatural for a sound to literally be hear by only one ear. Creating a stereo image or counterpart is the general approach I take, whatever method it takes to get there.

Michael Brauer

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Re: Panning tricks
« Reply #25 on: March 16, 2011, 01:34:35 pm »

a couple of the posters on here got a little testy by getting personal. Don't go there guys. I left gearslutz because of this kinda stuff but i'm on here as a moderator and I can do something about it. So just a friendly warning, if you go off topic and start attacking each other, you'll find yourself deleted with a warning that you'll be thrown off. We are not going to do personal attacks on this forum.

michael brauer
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studjo

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Re: Panning tricks
« Reply #26 on: March 22, 2011, 04:14:09 pm »

 :D Michael while you're here spell the beans how you make those wide tracks  :D :D :D

I tried some stuff you guys suggested. That delayed signal to one side never worked for me. I hate the comb filter effect in mono and can't stand the sound in stereo ... so I just pan hard. My console could live with a 3 position pan switch (ok ok almost). When I'm producing and mixing and I know I wanna have an instrument slightly to one side I record it in true stereo (copyright by Bruce Swedien).
Btw DrMS is a nice plug for widening tracks - watch out for mono compatibilty ...
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Federico Acosta

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Re: Panning tricks
« Reply #27 on: March 24, 2011, 02:07:41 am »

Taking in count the hass effect and the real diferences of sound when the source moves side to side, I took a few days and developed a windows vst, it adjust delay, eq and level (all in the same knob). Far away more realistic than a regular pan-pot (level only).
It obviously works on stereo channels only, but you can route mono signals to stereo mixing channels in most of the programs.
I also added the posibility to name instances to get a clear workflow using multiple instances.
As someone wrote in the forum, be aware when you use it and then convert to mono, it can add Hi frequency comb filter but not much. All the way to one side adds 0.4 ms to the opposite side, at that point the level diference does´n let you hear the comb, so the comb filter it´s going to be generated from 0.3ms to 0 increasing the effect as sides equals  level (in case you take your stereo mix to mono later). 
For windows users of the forum:


Link:
http://www.federicoacostasonido.com/software/Panning.dll

For install just paste the panning.dll file in to your vst folder.
(hope not to be breaking the forum rules posting this!!)
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cmikk

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Re: Panning tricks
« Reply #28 on: March 25, 2011, 10:47:19 pm »

if i only had a windows..  does anyone know of any other plugin/workflow to make delay panning a little easier? 
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jdier

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Re: Panning tricks
« Reply #29 on: April 14, 2011, 04:30:39 pm »

Note from my sig I am just a home recording hack, but here is my deal:

Due to my lack of computing power and the drain that nice sounding reverbs have on my CPU it is a necessity that I use delays in place of verbs.  And, I pretty much pan stuff 100% L-C-R. 

I set up delay busses that are sync'ed close to the BPM of the song (slower on slow materials and a bit ahead on faster material (typically.))  I usually have an 1/8 note one and a 1/4 note one.   I tag the busses with an EQ that, depending on the material, usually has a high cut around 2k - 5K.

If something is sticking out on one side I will throw it to both of those busses and center the 1/8th return and thrown the 1/4 return opposite the signal.

I set the return levels really high (so it sounds like a grateful dead solo gone horribly wrong) and then, with the rest of the tracks up, I back it off, off, off until I think I cannot hear it.  Then I do the other one like that too.

I struggled with the dup and time shift and short times some of the other guys are working with here because it always wound up sounding too much like a plate or a phase problem.   Maybe I wasn't doing it right.

Hope that helps some.
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always_ending

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Re: Panning tricks
« Reply #30 on: March 01, 2012, 10:15:08 am »

I love doing some of my mixes in LCR only. It really depends on the type of music, how dense the mix is, etc. but it can most assuredly sound great in both mono and stereo.

I mix on my nearfield JBL LSRs and a mono Mixcube, and only reference my headphones occasionally towards the time I feel almost "done" with a mix. I have never heard any "issues" that sound odd. I can however, quite clearly hear instruments in their own space in the mix every time. As I stated, this is wholly dependent on what your end results desired are as to whether or not that's a "good" thing to have everything clearly defined in their own space. some mixes benefit from "bleed" and those are the mixes that I will send a mono guitar's delay to the opposite side of where I pan the guitar. Usually, those mixes are the "lighter" ones for me that are not quite as densely populated by multiple elements playing at once, 2-4 elements. I find when there are 4-5 and up elements playing at once with things like "pads" and "fills" etc being played it's easy to give everything space with LCR panning.
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Fletcher

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Re: Panning tricks
« Reply #31 on: March 01, 2012, 10:51:49 am »

There are things I've heard [and things I've done] where you can have almost two entirely different arrangements of a song running on the left and the right... so long as they work together [and mono well] you're golden.

Peace
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CN Fletcher

mwagener wrote on Sat, 11 September 2004 14:33
We are selling emotions, there are no emotions in a grid


"Recording engineers are an arrogant bunch
If you've spent most of your life with a few thousand dollars worth of musicians in the studio, making a decision every second and a half... and you and  they are going to have to live with it for the rest of your lives, you'll get pretty arrogant too.  It takes a certain amount of balls to do that... something around three"
Malcolm Chisholm

always_ending

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Re: Panning tricks
« Reply #32 on: March 01, 2012, 03:21:28 pm »

There are things I've heard [and things I've done] where you can have almost two entirely different arrangements of a song running on the left and the right... so long as they work together [and mono well] you're golden.

Peace

Fletcher,

You mean you've processed 2 separate mixes of the same song to 2 mono feeds for your output? All instruments that are in one side of the mix are also in the other side, just processed differently?

That sounds interesting, can't say I've ever tried that one!
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Fletcher

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Re: Panning tricks
« Reply #33 on: March 02, 2012, 11:09:21 am »

Like there is a piano and guitar(s) on the left side that are playing the song and different guitar part(s) and a ____ and a ____ on the right side.  The song would hold up with either set without a struggle - and both sides work well together... but for all intents and purposes it could easily have been presented as either version of the song - the "left side song" or the "right side song".

There was one I did a while ago [maybe 15 or so years ago] where one side of the song was like an acoustic version of the song and the right side was like an electric version [with drums].  We actually did 3 separate mixes [just for fun] with one being an acoustic version, one being "rawk" version... and then the final mix that made the release.

Peace
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CN Fletcher

mwagener wrote on Sat, 11 September 2004 14:33
We are selling emotions, there are no emotions in a grid


"Recording engineers are an arrogant bunch
If you've spent most of your life with a few thousand dollars worth of musicians in the studio, making a decision every second and a half... and you and  they are going to have to live with it for the rest of your lives, you'll get pretty arrogant too.  It takes a certain amount of balls to do that... something around three"
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jdier

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Re: Panning tricks
« Reply #34 on: March 02, 2012, 05:29:22 pm »

Like there is a piano and guitar(s) on the left side that are playing the song and different guitar part(s) and a ____ and a ____ on the right side.

I wish I could come up with a good example of this in a song.... I have heard it many time... maybe older stax stuff, maybe some beatles things...

I am know exactly what you are talking about, but wish I could post a link to a song that illustrates it.   
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Fletcher

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Re: Panning tricks
« Reply #35 on: March 03, 2012, 07:06:37 pm »

I can't think of a great example of it either [at least not off the top of my pointed little head] but there are a ton of examples.  I think the majority of them occurred before the 80's when the left and right seemed to start to mirror each other more than having their own existence.

Peace
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CN Fletcher

mwagener wrote on Sat, 11 September 2004 14:33
We are selling emotions, there are no emotions in a grid


"Recording engineers are an arrogant bunch
If you've spent most of your life with a few thousand dollars worth of musicians in the studio, making a decision every second and a half... and you and  they are going to have to live with it for the rest of your lives, you'll get pretty arrogant too.  It takes a certain amount of balls to do that... something around three"
Malcolm Chisholm
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