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Audio quality different when panning hard left vs. hard right

Discussion in 'Recording' started by hiptothedig, Mar 8, 2011.

  1. hiptothedig

    hiptothedig Active Member

    I seem to be experiencing an issue with my panning. When mixing mono tracks (which were also recorded in mono) if I pan a track hard right it is slightly muddier and the bass seems slightly accentuated than when I pan to hard left. The difference is subtle but noticeable. I'm using an Echo Layla 24/96 interface with Cakewalk Sonar on my home computer running Win XP. I've went through and checked the Echo software and all of the panning and settings seem to be as they should. I thought that maybe it was an issue in the Cakewalk software so I installed Audacity and the issue seems to present itself while using that as well. The issue is apparent when monitoring through headphones and studio monitors as well (monitors are new) so I've ruled out that it's a speaker issue. It's possible that I have something set up incorrectly with my interface as I am still in the learning phase when it comes to interfaces, but I'm at a loss as to what it could be. I am told that this is not normal and the track should sound exactly the same regardless which side it's panned to. I also have a friend who is using an M-Audio interface and he says he experiences the same issue. Anyone have any suggestions?
  2. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    If you flip the phase does the emphasis reverse itself?
  3. Voiceofallanger

    Voiceofallanger Active Member

    I like this.
  4. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    Does Cakewalk have a signal generator? If you just create a sine wave test tone does it do this? Have you tried different headphones? Have you had your hearing checked recently (not joking here)?
  5. hiptothedig

    hiptothedig Active Member

    Flipping the phase did not have any effect. I'm pretty sure that Cakewalk does have a signal generator installed, I'll have to mess around with it as I've never used one before. As for my hearing, I'm pretty sure that I do have some hearing loss due to loud music over the years, so that could be a factor, however if I automate the pan between right and left, play it and then turn my back so I'm listening with my ears on opposite sides of how they would normally be, the true right side pan still appears a little louder than the true left, not as good a a real hearing test, but at the moment that's all I've got to work with. Probably wouldn't hurt to set up a hearing test with a doctor though. However, the one thing that makes me think the issue is more in the setup is that my friend has the same issue. I also tried recording with the inputs panned to center and panned L/R and the issue still seems to be there. Just curious as a technical reference, does having the inputs setup prepanned L/R have any effect on sound quality on a mono track when recording? (e.g. recording a mono guitar track on input 1 that is panned left as opposed to recording on input 2 panned right?)
  6. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    If flipping the phase did not flip the emphasis then it is a hardware issue. Generate a 1khz sine wave and calibrate your faders for main outputs.
  7. Jeemy

    Jeemy Well-Known Member

    A signal generator is the single most underused tool I have never got. I just realized one of my digital desks put one out and have had hours of fun sending it through all my preamps and line runs (with a little concern that I was busting them one by one, set my mind at rest, a sine wave is fine, right) and evaluating performance channel-by-channel, frequency band by frequency band. Certainly gave us all a new appreciation of the detail, response and variability of each piece of gear, and is now part of our quarterly review of an ever-expanding chain of 300+ cables.
  8. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    Your sine wave is perfectly safe. If it is a high gain signal you might want to watch it before it hits a speaker amp......

    Back in the day, knobs and faders on quality gear had screws to adjust the "zero" of same. Many studios chose an arbitrary headroom point that made a nice point for all the main gear in the studio or road rig and some of us marked the consoles and outboard with that number. Modern gear often doesn't have that ability so a piece of blue tape and a sharpie is the workaround to set "zero."

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