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Discussing Varied Panning Practices

Discussion in 'Recording' started by thatjeffguy, Feb 2, 2010.

  1. thatjeffguy

    thatjeffguy Active Member

    Several months back on another forum a few of the participants had a too-short discussion on Panning Practices.
    There were two schools of thought:
    1. Those who utilize the entire panorama when placing instruments / vocals in a mix, and
    2. Those who use only three positions: full left, full right and full center.

    I have been of the first school, but recently had someone describe my mix as "claustrophobic" and mixed too much to center. I've also been listening to some mixes that seem to employ the second school of thought and they sound pretty darn good!

    BTW I record acoustic music almost exclusively... folk, Americana, Celtic.

    Some samples can be found on my website:
    http://www.villagesoundstudio.com
    on the "Samples" page.

    So I'm curious to know what other professionals are doing!

    Thanks!

    Jeff
     
  2. I'm in no way an expert, barely a Novice, but I like to close my eyes and as I listen I like to imagine a band standing in front of me and how I would like them placed. I tend to pan most of my tunes similer to each other.

    I'm sure this is way off, but its just how I do it? lol
     
  3. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    There is a lot more to panorama than simply L-C-R and all the associated positions between. There is also front and back as well as above and below. A mix can be three dimensional. The reproduction of same is , of course, a function of the monitors in the listening environment, and is the reason to have a quality set that enable you to hear these elements in a dimensional aspect. The trick is to place these elements in a three dimensional space while still being able to collapse everything to a mono source and not 'lose' any elements in the process.
     
  4. thatjeffguy

    thatjeffguy Active Member

    Unplugged...
    Yes, I like placing things as though the band were playing in front of me. But many spread things out a lot more!

    Davedog... yes, totally agree on the three-dimensional field. I look at it like composing a photograph or painting.
    But in this discussion I'm referring only to the left-right placement of the elements.
    The discussion I read included engineers who learned in the days of analog tape, where a signal was either on the left track or the right track... no in between. They continue to operate that way.
    Recently I listened to the "Moody Bluegrass" recording (Moody Blues songs performed in Bluegrass style by Nashville's finest). It seems that most of the instruments are panned hard left or right. (the online MP3s are in mono apparently, so you can't tell by going to their website.)
    It really sounds good to me!
    Anyway, just wondering what others are doing!

    Thanks for your responses!

    Jeff
     
  5. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    I'm sure you realize that in the Old Days, there werent any pan pots. There was simply a L-C-R switch. Stereo wasnt even really all that old then. So most of the recordings were mono releases. Multitracks were 2, 3 and OMG! 4 tracks!!(thank you Lester). So, the engineers of the days taught the next generation this wide spread panning. Even with pan pots. And so the next and so the next......

    To address the style of the music you cite.....Bluegrass has a lot of instruments playing along in the same basic frequencies and with instruments that are eerily similar in tonality. Hard panning is sometimes the only way to get any separation.

    At least thats what I use it for. Banjos take up a LOT of sonic space and having them beat down on the guitar or the Mando isnt going to get you that positive 'beat' that should be carrying the song forward. So a wide panning is in order.

    Of course as always....YMMV.

    Checking everything down to mono will give you the final answer on the pans effectivness. If you have separation in stereo but things dissappear in mono then you have to rethink your positioning .
     
  6. gdoubleyou

    gdoubleyou Well-Known Member

    I'VE been listening to a lot of 60's and 70's music lately, lot of the mixes that I listened to on the radio didn't really pay a lot of attention to a stereo spread.

    I listened to a Sly and Family Stone CD, drums were full right, instruments to the left, vocals in the middle, lots of bleed through, some distortion on the vocals from Sly eating the mic.

    Didn't stop them from having hits though.
     
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