2 Track Panning Questions


Dec 11, 2008
I've completed work on a batch of home recorded songs and I've mixed them on and off as I've recorded as opposed to doing it all at once from scratch.

I want to get that atmospheric sound to it where it feels like the sound is all around you, so I'm not sure how much I should be panning tracks left and right or how drastically to do it.

I keep vocals pretty centralized for the most part. I'll put the lead vocal a couple of hairs to one side then if there's a harmony I'll put it a couple of hairs to the other side, then if there are multiple harmony tracks I'll space them out a bit further and even further if I've got a shout along gang vocal style section.

Rhythm guitar I'll typically record twice with a slightly different EQ by which I mean I'll use a different pickup on the guitar, then I'll send each track as far left and as far right as possible to have it at both ends.

I use a drum VST which pans each of the drums pretty realistically on its own, so I don't mess with it.

The bass is kept pretty centered, as well. And any lead guitar bits are generally kept just beyond where I put the vocals on either side in the mix.

My question is, is there a good method to stick to with panning/did what I wrote set off any red flags for any of your mixers... or is mixing really just subjective and there is no correct answer?

Second question, I'm not using the full space of the recording. Like 0-20 (0 being center and 50 being the furthest) Left and Right are pretty occupied with everything and the rhythm guitar occupies the end of the spectrum at 50 Left and Right, but 21-49, that whole space is mostly left unoccupied save for wherever the drums are situated... will I get a more professional and atmospheric/surrounding sound if I pan more of the tracks (like guitar) into more of that unused territory? AND will having too many tracks existing around that same 0-20 space take away from the quality?

Thanks! I've been curious about my "style" of mixing for some time now and would love some feedback as I obviously want to get the best sound I can get out of my recordings.


Real guitars are for old people.
Well-Known Member
Jan 23, 2010
Boulder, Colorado
Nothing sounds particularly wrong from what you describe. I don't think simple panning is going give you the effect you're after. Some sort of stereo ambience/delay/reverb might. Are you monitoring in surround or trying to get a wider sound on stereo speakers?

Sometimes I pan drums in a bit to leave the far left and right to the guitars, or vice versa. I also often double track guitars, and I usually double mic them both with a close and far mic.


Well-Known Member
Sep 26, 2005
The rock above indicated some very helpful suggestions. You particularly want to create some feeling of space and Directivity. That won't all come from just panning as there really isn't much time delay involved. What you want to create is some longer fixed Time delays to hear the Haas effect feeling of space and direction. So when a guitar is in the left channel you include that same guitar with a little time delay into the right channel. Whichever channel leads in time the guitar will appear to emanate from that channel with the opposite channel depicting the slapped time delay in a larger room environment. So one can even accomplish this in a dead bedroom where many of our people here record their stuff. So when you don't have an acoustical space, you just need to create one with the software you are currently using. Many reverb programs can be set to such short time delay is that they become room simulators more than reverb's. So you don't have to have long cathedral like trails on everything unless you want that perhaps, on the vocal. This is why you need to be utilizing multitrack software. Anyone and everyone has some kind of time delay processing capabilities of all sorts. Back in the analog days, we literally spent thousands of dollars for a couple of lousy effects. Today you can find shareware for $50 with processing capabilities more powerful than anything I have in my equipment racks. So you're just beginning to scratch the surface of the mixing jungle.

There are certainly many do's & many don't with everything being wrong and everything being right but only you can determine any of that. So many of us engineers utilize creative distortion where needed for an example. Distortion is supposed to be wrong but not when it's right. And unlike video, that's where the abstracts of audio are the most fascinating. The worst equipment can sound like 1 million bucks. The best equipment in the hands of a novice sounds like a Radio Shaft battery-operated toy. It's all in the mixing technique that you developed for yourself. The sky's the limit and so are the prices.

You're getting it. By Jove I think he's got it. (Chorus joins in)
Mx. Remy Ann David