Panning - we've all done it. Every mixer channel on your desk or in your DAW has a panner and we have all experimented with sending sounds off to the left or right of the stereo field. But how much do you really know about the science of it? In this short video from the course Audio Mistakes 105: 10 Common Paning Mistakes, Joe Albano gets to the heart of the technique known as hard panning, and explains why it might not always be a great idea.
Joe begins by explaining that panning in a DAW mixer is actually amplitude panning - the change in feel coming from the difference in level of each side of the sound. When we perceive stereo sound, our brain resolves the two sides to a phantom "centre", even though the sounds are coming from two separate physical speakers.
When you pan hard left or hard right, your sound is only coming out of one speaker and this can undo the illusion of the wider stereo field, 'pinning' the sound to just one speaker and thus making it stand out unintentionally in the context of the mix because it sounds artificial. To maintain the immersive sound field, Joe recommends panning only to around 90% at a maximum, which preserves the sense of shared depth with other, less widely panned tracks.
For more on this fascinating mixing technique, be sure to check out the rest of the videos in the course!