Go beyond the pan pot with Logic’s Direction Mixer.
Ever since Alan Blumlein demonstrated his stereo recording techniques in the 1930s, engineers have been able to take advantage of our innate ability to locate sounds in a physical space in order to separate out sources and create movement within a mix. Logic Pro has several tools available to manipulate audio in this stereo space, and a few more that should help engineers exploit the potential offered by the three‑dimensional sonic world to come. I’m assuming for this workshop that you have Surround Sound selected in Logic Pro’s Advanced Preferences pane, otherwise some of the options mentioned here will be unavailable.
The most obvious tool for moving sound around in a mix is the pan pot. With a mono track, this simply moves the source of the sound across the stereo field. But if you have a stereo track, things are a little more complicated. Right‑clicking on a pan pot reveals several extra available panning options.
Balance is the default mode, and this progressively lowers the level of the channel opposite to the direction in which you are moving the control, until it is completely muted. This may or may not be what you are after though, as it can significantly change the sound of some stereo sources. In the Stereo Pan mode, moving the control changes the apparent centre position of the stereo field — and if you grab the little white squares at the end of the green line, you can also narrow it as well. I find this really useful for use with instruments that need to remain in stereo when panned, such as a Hammond organ played through a Leslie cabinet, as I can place the instrument off‑centre and narrow the spread but not lose that important sense of movement.
While changing the stereo pan using the little handles on the pan pot is intuitive, I find it quite hard to adjust with any precision. As is often the case with Logic Pro, there is another way to perform the same task — in this case, it’s called the Direction Mixer.
When in LR mode, the Direction Mixer plug‑in mimics the pan pot’s Stereo Pan mode. The Direction knob sets the centre of the stereo image (values above 90 swap the left and right channels), while the Spread bar changes the width of the stereo field. A value of 1 is full width, 0 is mono, and you can widen the stereo image beyond the full range of the pan pot with values greater than 1. This works better on some sources than others, but it can be useful as an effect.