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Left or Right

All about the tools and techniques involved in capturing sound, in the studio or on location.

Left or Right

Postby Stuartedison » Mon May 05, 2008 10:02 am

I wonder if somebody could give me some tips with regard to where to place sounds, instruments etc. In the stereo spectrum for optimum effect when recording master tracks. Is there a general rule of thumb or is it all down to what sounds right?

I am using a 16 Track Roland VS1680 and I am recording mainly "Soft Rock"
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Re: Left or Right

Postby tomafd » Mon May 05, 2008 10:28 am

It helps to...

bass drum, snare and bass guitar- centre, mono

the rest of the kit depends on source- overheads are often recorded in stereo anyway, toms often panned across as well

everything else- well, it can help to use panning to help separate things but it's up to you. Check that heavily 'stereoised' keyboard sounds aren't using too much phase effects to do that- a mono button (to check for phase cancellation) is a useful thing. Same goes for heavily chorussed guitars, etc. It can sound great on it's own... and then really clutter up a mix.

remember that in clubs and a lot of daytime radio the music is heard in mono anyway. Never make the tune depend on stereo effects for it to 'work'- it's the tune that counts, not the mix, especially in your genre.
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Re: Left or Right

Postby Bossman » Mon May 05, 2008 10:45 am

anything goes really, whatever sounds goods to you... but there are some guidelines that will help.

Keep Bass instruments in the center, along with the bass drum and usually the lead Vocal!

Then the rest of the instruments/sounds can be panned around to somewhere where they fit nicely.

don't pan anything hard left/right (unless you really want to and you think it sounds good, all rules can be broken!!)

If your doing traditional band stuff, then a lot of people pan things from the audience view with the band on a stage in front of them... set the drums at the back/center, with the snare/hat/toms panned to match the overheads... pan the guitars either side of the stage.. think as if your looking at the band performing - this is the more traditional way of panning a band!

Alternatively you could pan things from the drummers perspective.. pan the drums around you as the drummer would hear them (still use the overheads as a guide for panning, but swap the overheads so that they are opposite to the audience perspective), pan the guitars wide....

but really anything goes.. as long as it sounds good.

If you have double tracked things like guitars or vocals, then it can sound really good if you pan these wide left and right (but not hard left/right, 9 and 3 o'clock would be good).

follow the guidelines, but remember to experiment too...

always check your mix in mono, to check how your panning relates in mono... check on headphones, check on other small and big sound systems... remember that people don't always hear stuff in stereo, sometimes people just hear the left or right speaker, so its worth checking that you don't lose half the instruments when you mute one speaker - you ideally want it to sound good in all situations

also, listen to some reference songs (in a similar style) and pay attention to the way things are panned.
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Re: Left or Right

Postby Parker Fly » Mon May 05, 2008 10:55 am

This would be a good start -

It's quite simplistic, but not only does it explain where to place things in the spectrum, but it also explains how volume/eq/effects affect the sound placement too.

The entire tutorial uses pictures and graphics, and that helps to explain some complex principles that would be very hard to do using text alone.
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Re: Left or Right

Postby narcoman » Mon May 05, 2008 2:36 pm

i do 90% cardinal points.

For 90% of the stuf in the mix its left OR centre OR right. Works very well. The reverbs (very short) fill in the gaps and here is then a little space between these points to put the bits in you want to jump forward.

Common technique on rock records - from Led Zepp to QOTSA. Not very naturalistic, but then again, rock records aren't either!
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Re: Left or Right

Postby EnlightenedHand » Mon May 05, 2008 9:35 pm

That is popular with some folks. Though it will likely give you "big mono" and not a true stereo field.

I think it might help for you to get a copy of an album that you fancy and then listen to where everything seems to be panned. That should give you some idea of where you want to put things. Experiment, read about it, practice and find the balances that way.

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Re: Left or Right

Postby MadManDan » Mon May 05, 2008 9:48 pm

Nobody welcomed Stuartedison to the forum. Shame on us :headbang:Welcome :bouncy:
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