I am trying to establish the spread of an instrument in th pan field.
My desk pans from -63 on the left to plus 63 on the right. I guess I am trying to place things in the mix and womdered about this.
1. With a mono instrument, if I pan it to say 30 left, where will that insrument spread in the stereo field. In other words, how far left will I be able to hear it and how far right if faded to 30 left. I'm struggling to actually measure this with my ears.
2. With a stereo signal how does panning compare to mono signals and what would you say is the best practice?
3. Overall what is the best practice for panning to give that nice full sound you hear on most recordings?
In the ideal mix setup, the left and right speakers are on the same norizontal plane and 30 degrees away from center. You would be able to draw an equilateral triangle between the mix position and the two speakers in this scenario.
The key her is the 30 degrees of separation between the speaker and the center position. If your desk pans to 63 different positions between center and left (or right), I'm going to simplify the math a bit. Let's say your desk pans to 60 different positions between left (or right) and center. In that scenario, for every two pan positions, the sound should be one degree off-center. Therefore, panning 30 to the left would place the sound 15 degrees away from the center. As to how much you would hear in each speaker, I'm not motivated to do the math.
The best practice for panning a stereo signal is hard panning to the left and right. Anything less takes away from the true stereo nature of the recording, and makes the effort that went into the stereo recording useless.
As for getting a nice full sound, its more than panning. Find some recorded material that closely resembles what you are mixing now. Listen to it critically and take notes. How are things panned? How much depth is there? What type of room does it sound like you are in? How close do you feel to the ensemble? First row or last row? Panning will only give you a wide soundstage, with everything coming from the same plane. It will take more than panning to create a nice, full sound with depth.
Jonathan S. Abrams, CEA, CNBT
Treasurer, NY section, AES
Apple Certified Technical Coordinator (v10.5)