Music Production Tips on Mixing – Panning

Achieving Width and making use of Panorama in your Mixes.


Shown Above: The pan pots on Ableton live turned all the way to left on CH.1 right on CH.2  and rest set some at extreme and some at mid and at 25% values.

Extreme panning can cause phase issues if not heard for, make sure you A/B test with MONO to make sure your panning is not eating some of the other instruments, most of the times the Kick may have attenuation its punch and in the snares, the high-end sizzle from anywhere to 100hz-13000hz can be affected, use EQ like like to make perfect frequency pockets for all your sounds to fit in.

Many times overlooked, The Panorama is an essential element that can make or break your mixes. To put in simple, when you Use the Pan-Pot on the console which is usually set at 12 O Clock meaning center, When twisted to left, the sound is sent more to the left channel relatively than the right and when you turn the knob to the right that sound will be placed in the right of the stereo field in a stereo production Setup.

It is important to note that mixing in mono is essential when finalizing your panning/panning automation as they may interfere due to phase cancellation which can be dealt with easily, read Phase Cancellation Explained Here.



As shown in the figure above:

The Vocals, the Bass-Kick are positioned center, and Guitar (GT 1) is positioned on the Left side of the channel and the GT 2 is positioned in the Right, The Size of the eclipse signifies the volume of the sound. The FX, Delay et al are set very wide and at low amplitudes. Panning and Amplitude adjustment using the volume faders and pan pots are a way to achieve a rough mix of a track by manipulating every individual stem files using insights from the reference track.

Let’s look into how stereo systems work:

There is a left channel and a right channel, each getting its own signal from the audio interface. Panning gives us to the ability to place a sound in the stereo field adding characteristics to sound like being wide, fat, thin and revolving, these add interesting elements in the mix bringing out many small detailed sounds in your productions. By creatively using volume, pan and automation one can create amazing sounding records.

Stereo was invented in 1931 by Alan Blumlein at EMI Records, they failed to renew their patent in 1959 and well…
The format featured the phenomenon called as the phantom centre, This is the place where the centre of the soundstage is positioned at.


The Phantom centre is usually considered the centre of the stereo mix and also the used by producers and engineers to sit in in order to get the sweet spot. This is usually at an angle of 45 degrees with the arms stretched, this gives the most accurate representation of the sounds in the mix.

There are Three placements of sounds:

Left | Right | Centre 

You can set these values at a centre percentage which reflects on the amplitude of the sound in the sound field. The Centre is the most prominent area in music as this is the region where the main and loud elements like the Lead Vocal, Bass, Kick et al. When you cann certain elements to hard left or right many times there will also be an increase in the amount of low frequencies in the Left compared to the Right and this may cause some balancing issues in the final mix.

When you set your instruments hard left anf hard right equavalently, you’ll come across something called as the BIG MONO. This is when The instruements are positioned all hard right and left they sound as they are in MONO as they are percieved coming from the centre of the stereo image. Its important to give everything a space on the sound field there has to me some dynamics between the left and the right. Usually the Lows are MONO, the Mids slightly Wide and Highs Wider as required and as per the reference track of the Mix.

Usually mixers would pan sounds out of the speakers, this is done by inverting the phase of the sound signal and then automating it to create an evolving 3d soundscape. Usually EQ’in in Mid-Side will help clean up sounds with undesired sound artifacts. Using the A/B referencing through MONO and STEREO can also help, listen while you pan in STEREO and then in MONO this usually reveals the place in the sound field that makes the element shine best. You can find these sweet spots for every channel using the mono and stereo A/B comparision technique while again doing the same with the Reference Track.

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