The Secret to Space in Your Productions: Panning

As we continue on our quest of finding the secret to creating spacious productions, the pan knob must be considered.

After looking at both contrast and levels and how they can create space in your recordings, panning is the next logical step. If you can create an interesting yet natural sounding stereo image, your productions will sound much more open.

But before you can truly create a great stereo image, it’s necessary to understand a few basic rules about panning – and how to use it to your advantage.

Panning Rule # 1 – Hard panning (100% left or 100% right) is not the only way to get a wide image. In fact, if everything is panned hard, you’ll have an even narrower mix.

Panning Rule # 2 – It is the combination of all stereo positions that makes a mix sound wide and open. Keep your important elements in the middle and spread out the rest.

Panning Rule # 3 – Keep in mind that every action has an equal and opposite reaction. In other words, if you put something 30% to the left, try to put something else about 30% to the right. This keeps things balanced.

Panning Rule # 4 – Stereo Imaging plug-ins can do a lot of good, but can also do a lot of bad if overused. Try to only use a little bit of these plug-ins, achieving most of your width through panning.

Panning Rule # 5 – Think of your panning options in terms of frequencies and parts. You don’t want two parts that take place in the same frequency range panned in the same place. If you can help it, spread them out so add clarity and, you guessed it, space.

With these panning rules, you should be able to use panning to help create spacious recordings. This, along with the other tips from recent articles mentioned above, will help you make some awesome open recordings.


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