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-   -   Panning in Electronic Music (http://www.idmforums.com/showthread.php?t=119604)

statisticquill 24-03-2013 09:40 PM

Panning in Electronic Music
 
I've been reading The Mixing Engineers Handbook recently (great book by the way), and I've noticed I have a few misconceptions about panning.

I always assumed that panning was used more in "acoustic" music, because it lends itself better to the listening environment - no clubs, generally listened to on a home stereo, headphones, a car or whatever.
I also always thought that essentially when you panned an element, it would sit in one place more or less - but I'm realizing now that you can give a part some stereo width, then pan it off to one side a bit, maintaining the width but getting it out of the way of other parts (hope that made sense).

SO, my question for you guys is:

How do you use panning in your mixes?
Do you pan elements of the drums to either side? Melodic elements?


Obviously its a good idea to keep your sub bass in mono and dead center (I think...), but I feel like I could use panning to get better mixes, even if I do it in subtle ways. ie, pan clashing elements to different sides just slightly, and make the mix less crowded.
(obviously I'm going to try this out myself and see what kind of a result I get, but I'm curious as to what you guys use panning for)

RFJ 24-03-2013 10:01 PM

Re: Panning in Electronic Music
 
Seems like you're on the right track here but yeah I pan my drums for space. Many people will tell you to think of a drum set, where the snare sits, where the crash sits, the ride, the kick drum (center obviously) etc. and try and model that thru slight panning.

I don't do that. I just pan each element 15 - 20% left or right of center starting at the top of the rack and moving down alternating left / right all the way to the bottom.

Except for the kick though, I leave that center.

I also like to automate hard pans here and there for additional movement within the drumtrack. Not too many times though or else it loses it's impact.

Focalized 24-03-2013 10:58 PM

Re: Panning in Electronic Music
 
One thing I like to do is use a panning modulation lightly mixed in. On the higher toned elements. Even some highend of the kick if it's light. Sometimes moving fast sometimes slow. It's not really noticeable until you turn it off and on and more so in headphones. Just adds a layer of interest to something that isn't changing much.

EnterTheMurk 24-03-2013 11:13 PM

Re: Panning in Electronic Music
 
Sub bass dead center, bass line slightly stereo panned to give it some width (the extent varies greatly. Too wide and it loses impact, too mono and it loses texture). I also like to keep my kick mono, snare slightly stereo panned again, and then I pan different cymbals left and right.

Reading over that I realise I'm not very good at explaining things haha

henryspencer 25-03-2013 01:46 AM

Re: Panning in Electronic Music
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by statisticquill (Post 1063761)
I've been reading The Mixing Engineers Handbook recently (great book by the way), and I've noticed I have a few misconceptions about panning.

I always assumed that panning was used more in "acoustic" music, because it lends itself better to the listening environment - no clubs, generally listened to on a home stereo, headphones, a car or whatever.
I also always thought that essentially when you panned an element, it would sit in one place more or less - but I'm realizing now that you can give a part some stereo width, then pan it off to one side a bit, maintaining the width but getting it out of the way of other parts (hope that made sense).

SO, my question for you guys is:

How do you use panning in your mixes?
Do you pan elements of the drums to either side? Melodic elements?


Obviously its a good idea to keep your sub bass in mono and dead center (I think...), but I feel like I could use panning to get better mixes, even if I do it in subtle ways. ie, pan clashing elements to different sides just slightly, and make the mix less crowded.
(obviously I'm going to try this out myself and see what kind of a result I get, but I'm curious as to what you guys use panning for)

Good book. One thing to listen to in terms of panning that have taught me allot is Afro beat music like fela kuti which is basically a mix of funk and aftican music with all sorts of percussion and TONS of instruments going on at once.

One thing I really noticed is that high frequency elements such as shakers, tambs, some percussion or high organ stabs can be panned more hard to the sides where as bass or lower instruments are generally in the centre. Also try to get a hold of remix stems of different artists and see how they are panning stuff, it really helps. Also note which tracks are really wide and which are more mono...

statisticquill 25-03-2013 01:54 AM

Re: Panning in Electronic Music
 
Thanks for the input everyone : )
I'll definitely be doing more panning on stuff in the future.

How about instrument panning though? Do you guys ever pan an entire instrument track slightly to one side or the other? I feel like most people just EQ instrument tracks in electronic music to prevent clashing of synth/instrument tracks.

taylorfrank 26-03-2013 01:15 AM

Re: Panning in Electronic Music
 
In my mixes the lower the freq the more center. But always check your mixes in mono, many club sound systems are in mono to avoid problems with panning. If the speakers are 50ft apart at a festival, everyone on the right will hear the snare and no hat and everyone on the left will hear hat with no snare. mono fixes this.

PROton42 26-03-2013 01:32 AM

Re: Panning in Electronic Music
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by statisticquill (Post 1063761)
I always assumed that panning was used more in "acoustic" music, because it lends itself better to the listening environment - no clubs, generally listened to on a home stereo, headphones, a car or whatever.

"Acoustics" should be studied and considered regardless of what type of music you make, or what spectum of the audio industry you inhabit.

I know a myriad sound board operators and audio technicians at clubs who just don't give two shits where they place their speakers and levels, just cause they're getting paid and claim they are "professionals". There is only "loud" to them.

Acoustics are the difference between listening from the inside of a piano and putting that piano player upside down on the ceiling of a church.

creativemind 10-10-2016 03:17 PM

Re: Panning in Electronic Music
 
I've stumbled upon this thread as I was too looking into how I should pan stuff in electronic music. Although you stated it in your title, you didn't state electronic music in your write up. Just wanted to clarify you specifically mean edm or electronic music.

You're right as well, The Mixing Engineers Handbook is brilliant. Are you looking at the Third Edition too? as the first section on Balance has more dance orientated examples there than the 1st and 2nd editions.

As far as I know about drums for electronic music, is you should always keep the kick drum dead centre (I read this somewhere) and the bass because they are the 2 most crucial elements of your mix in dance music and they're ultimately to be played in dance clubs where the systems they use are mono. They're mono in clubs as opposed to stereo because you want people to be able to get a good perception of the music no matter where they may be stood. They might not necessarily be stood between 2 speakers. For some reason, apart from bass and kick, the other elements can be panned in different places. Not sure what the difference is there especially.

Also, claps and open hats anyway (might be the same for any hats don't know) but they are usually panned slightly left of centre, say 11pm. The claps might actually be panned right actually the opposite of 11, say 2pm.

That's as far as I know. My mixes certainly lack decent stereo / panning.

White Noise 10-10-2016 04:12 PM

Re: Panning in Electronic Music
 
Nice necro bump, I hadn't seen this before.

For my part, I mostly handle panning/soundstage like a V, where the lower frequencies are toward the bottom and the higher frequencies are up top. The lower frequencies are kept relatively narrow and centered, the higher frequencies can be relatively wider and panned farther (though there are some cases like ambient where this kind of goes out the window for the sake of sweet sweet texture).
I sometimes like to put a small random s/h lfo on my lead and have that pan 5-10% from wherever I set it, and more rhythmic lfo on cymbals/shakers to help them move a little more. I've done that with snares before too, but I typically like to set the pan on those hit by hit (in FL studio's piano roll).
Another trick I've grown to like is panning different parts of layers in different ways to make the sound wider or occupy different parts in space throughout each hit. I really like this with snares, where I might leave my attack centered and move it around a bit, but leave my tail alone and off to the side for much of the song.
As far as using panning as a mixing tool, I found I used to be able to get away with that all the time, but not as much any more because I like wide pads and panned delays as. Mix some drums and a bass in and there's not a lot of space left to pan something where it won't be in the way of something else, but I still use it to mitigate interference between two elements (I had two synth-flute parts in a song a few months back where I used this to minimize the ducking that I still had to perform on the two parts).

TIMT 04-11-2016 07:24 PM

Re: Panning in Electronic Music
 
I generally don't pan to "pan"anymore at all. i basically just build the sound stage from the outside in.any kind of frequencies i don't want in the centre i intentionally have them phase cancel for a limited period of time that i want those frequencies out of the centre and more in the difference channel.that's done with uber intricate sound design and arranging (midi,timing,volume automation etc etc)all that is required then is to use panning to determine exactly how much phase cancelling i need for a section,bigger the phase cancellation,wider the sound.also i know i am talking about phase cancellation but i mean in terms of frequencies.i'm not just decorrelating the entire spectrum (like what "Mid-Side"processing does for example)

I/O_Madness 29-11-2016 08:10 AM

Re: Panning in Electronic Music
 
I didn't used to pan anything. Of course, I did use stock loops a lot as my main instrumentation which had their own panning, but besides that, I normally didn't touch the panning. Eventually I used it as a bit of an effect, like sending sounds moving around you, but still as far as static instruments they'd normally be right at center. More recently I've begun to make it a habit to pan everything one way or another, depending on the content. As others above also said they do, I normally keep bass heavy instruments and sounds in the middle, and others I pan off to one side or the other. It really creates an interesting atmosphere for the composition. Sometimes I'll even throw beats off to one side, (Miles Davis and other musicians did it so why can't I).

As far as changing the panning throughout tracks, beyond specifically as an effect (moving sounds around you), I normally leave everything static, however this does create issues when I bring in or out elements and I only have one thing on the left and it makes it kinda odd. Sometimes I just go with it. It's tricky, I'll find a nice spread of different sounds and instruments, then I'll drop out parts and suddenly a piece on the left that stood out a little but blended well with the other elements in the channel will have those other elements drop out, and suddenly you have one element sticking way out on the left that just sounds uneven (to my ears anyway).

LichLord 29-11-2016 04:20 PM

Re: Panning in Electronic Music
 
I primarily deal with manual panning when working with Acoustic Drum Kit samples or Cinematic Sequences (where I would automate the panning on drones and slowly evolving textures over time). Otherwise I just do a little bit of stereo-widening on things such as Distorted Kicks and Pads. Don't want to overdo it and mess things up like I've done plenty of times in the past haha. As long as I don't bring the mix too wide and I don't overly-boost the center of the piece, I'm all good.

Thoracius 05-12-2016 06:09 PM

Re: Panning in Electronic Music
 
Panning is a common way to create a sense of space.

You have to be careful about extreme panning because of listening environments where people won't properly be able to hear a balance coming from both channels. Play it safe and don't use extreme panning on essential elements of your track (lead melody, bass, drums). For other elements it's up to you to assess what you gain vs the potential risk.

Sometimes things are panned simply to create space for everything in the mix, so everything has a place where it can be heard. Other times panning is used in a playful manner, to call attention to the stereo field. It can give your track a lot of character.

One cool effect you hear a lot is when a part is double tracked with each hard panned left and right. Another trick is to hard pan harmony parts, which will increase the sense of width on the track even more.

Sometimes you can improve a busy mix by converting a stereo track to mono and panning it instead.

Just keep it dynamic. Just like having quite parts increases the perceived loudness of loud parts, having mono parts increases the special perception of panned parts.

No Theory 07-05-2017 09:34 PM

Re: Panning in Electronic Music
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Thoracius (Post 1425553)
Panning is a common way to create a sense of space.

You have to be careful about extreme panning because of listening environments where people won't properly be able to hear a balance coming from both channels. Play it safe and don't use extreme panning on essential elements of your track (lead melody, bass, drums). For other elements it's up to you to assess what you gain vs the potential risk.

Sometimes things are panned simply to create space for everything in the mix, so everything has a place where it can be heard. Other times panning is used in a playful manner, to call attention to the stereo field. It can give your track a lot of character.

One cool effect you hear a lot is when a part is double tracked with each hard panned left and right. Another trick is to hard pan harmony parts, which will increase the sense of width on the track even more.

Sometimes you can improve a busy mix by converting a stereo track to mono and panning it instead.

Just keep it dynamic. Just like having quite parts increases the perceived loudness of loud parts, having mono parts increases the special perception of panned parts.

What would you all describe as extreme panning? if there are 50 values on each side would panning an instrument like hi hats around 30 on either side be too much?

DRR 08-05-2017 11:27 AM

Re: Panning in Electronic Music
 
I've tried double-tracking and then panning vocals to left and right, to try to create 'dual singer' effect, but it didn't work - the vocals just combined to form a central single vocalist. Does anyone know what I did wrong? Have I got to process L & R vocals differently (eg short delay on one side?), Cheers. DRR

DRR 08-05-2017 01:41 PM

Re: Panning in Electronic Music
 
Just realised I'm being stupid - I thought I was working with a mono track but it was actually stereo. Of course L + R = stereo centre.

relic 08-05-2017 11:16 PM

Re: Panning in Electronic Music
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by No Theory (Post 1444653)
What would you all describe as extreme panning? if there are 50 values on each side would panning an instrument like hi hats around 30 on either side be too much?

FL Studio has 100% right - 100% left. I rarely pan anything past 12. 15 Starts to get into what I consider "extreme" territory for most typical tracks.

Numerical 09-05-2017 01:10 AM

Re: Panning in Electronic Music
 
Treat it like a real band. Basslines usually go down the middle unless it's for effect and even then I'll have the middle then add the L/R sides in to supplement, drums get panned a little (kick center, snare center, hats maybe a bit panned left like up to 20%, cymbals wider, if toms exist them pan the higher ones a bit left and the lower ones a bit right)...all your rhythms synths that take up the mid range would probably be better off panned hard or close to it (just like guitars)...leads, probably center but maybe use a doubler (ADT Doubler works) to spread them out some.

Giving things space in the panning spectrum is as important as giving them space in the eq spectrum.

Also, listen to your favorite electronic music through headphones and listen to how they pan things.

professurreal 09-05-2017 11:25 AM

Re: Panning in Electronic Music
 
Aside of everything else that was said you could also analyze songs you like with a mid/side spectrum analyzer and see for yourself or use a mid/side EQ and filter out all of the mid or all of the side signal to hear for yourself where about the sounds reside in the panning field. You can do this with Ableton's EQ for example.


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