Panning for Dummies - Placing instruments within the stereo spectrum
Submitted by Dinosaur David B on Mon, 07/28/2008 - 11:41
When you watch a live band perform, think about how they appear on a stage in front of you. Typically you have the drums and the vocals in the middle. Guitars and bass are on the sides. This is also how we hear the sound coming from the band in the live environment. And unless the producer is deliberately trying to do something avant-garde, most rock recordings strive to recreate this sonic situation in recordings beacuse this is how we're used to hearing rock music. So producers use panning to place the instruments in the desired place in the stereo spectrum.
So here is just one very typical way we hear music on a recording. You can confirm this by listening to recording through headphones and noticing where the sounds seem to be coming from:
Rhythm Guitar * Drums Bass Rhythm Guitar**
Lead Guitar ***
Backing vocals Backing vocals
* Bass could optionally go here. One approach is to record the players in relation to wherever they actually stand on stage during live performances. So you could place the bass on whichever side you're used to hearing it from live.
** This could be:
*** Lead guitar could optionally go here. In the case of two guitar bands, this would typically correspond to the right side right side rhythm guitar part. For example, in the Iron Maiden example above, you'd put Adrian Smith's lead guitar track here.
Basic Panning Concepts
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