Mix: Stereo Placement (Panning)

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The Music Telegraph
Text 2019-09-20

▲ Pan pot knob on a mixer

© Wikimedia Commons

The Four Main Elements Involved in Making a Mix:

Stereo Placement (Panning)



Stereo Placement (a.k.a. Panning) is the arrangement of instrumental sounds in the acoustic space between stereo speakers. In general, Panning is controlled by the pan pot of the mixer. For example, you can inspire your listeners by moving instrument sounds in the middle of a song, and improve the clarity of each instrument by placing similar instruments in different places (left or right). Therefore, a proper stereo placement makes music wider, deeper, and clearer.



Center position placement 

It is common for the stereo placements of kick drums, snare drums, bass guitars, and main vocals to always be located in the center of the pan pot. The reason for the center-positioning of these instruments in stereo placement is that they have a large acoustic energy compared to other instruments and lead the rhythm of the music or have a significant impact on the rhythm so that the listeners should quickly and accurately recognize the position of these instruments.



Wide Stereo Image

Typically, the sounds of the drum's overhead, background vocals, grand piano, and string section spread completely to the left and right in stereo placement. If you spread the sound completely left and right in the mix, you get a fairly wide stereo image. At this time, the stereo image depends on the microphone setting. For example, the wider the space between two microphones, the more space you get, but that can result in a deterioration in sound quality due to the phase cancellation. On the grand piano, panning bass strings to the left and treble strings to the right is common. Spreading the piano sounds completely in stereo can increase the sound clarity and spatiality.



Special Effects

Generally, when the delay time is longer than 30 ms, the original sound and the delayed sound start to be heard separately. At this time, panning the two sounds completely to the left and right can create a powerful dynamic of sounds. Meanwhile, spread the stereo reverb completely left and right in your mix then you can reproduce natural room reverberation.






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