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Author Topic: Panning tricks  (Read 11911 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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Dan Sansom
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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

I am not young enough to know everything.
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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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Oscar Wilde

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...
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