Music production

Why is panning important in music production?

Image Credit: Denisse Leon

Learn how to get the most out of the sounds in your mix with our brief introduction to stereo panning in production.

At a concert (remember that?), If you really focus, you can hear the direction each instrument is coming from on stage. Some seem to come from either side and some are in the center, some are in the front and some in the back. This mixture is called a stereo field.

When mixing your track, pan refers to where each instrument is in the stereo field. It determines how far to the left or right each sound can be heard.

When your song is broadcast to the world and played through someone else’s speakers, you want to create an imaginary scene for the listener, so keep that in mind as you mix. Let’s see why the use of stereo panning is important in music production.

Create a beautiful separation of sounds

Panning allows you to make room for each sound in the mix, especially instruments with similar frequency ranges, so that they stand out the way you want them to. Avoid moving the instruments to the far left and right, which can create a muddy sound rather than making it “wide.”

It’s all about balance

Stereo panning puts each instrument in its place for a sound that is as natural as possible. Panning consists of finding a balance between the tracks. For each element panned in one direction, another of a similar frequency must be panned in the other.

Left or right?

The center is often the busiest place in stereo. Low frequency sounds like kick and bass are usually kept in the center for grounding, the center snare to help help the rhythm and the lead vocals also to keep them in focus.

Let your sounds burst

There is no right or wrong way to pan instruments – it often depends on the type of music you are producing and your personal preferences. Just make sure your panning choices make sense for the overall effect of the music.

Play around with the pan for cool effects

Have fun panning to create cool illusions as the sound moves. You can change where the instruments pan as the track advances. Auto-panning effects sweep the sound from side to side over time.

You can even draw a “scene” of your sounds on paper to get a visual representation of where you want everything to be placed. Panning is an expressive tool for expanding the sound of your mix and ensuring that all of your sounds have the chance to shine as awesome as you imagine them in your head when you are producing.

Once you’ve mixed and mastered your song just the way you want it, RouteNote can help you bring it to the world. Go ahead and create a RouteNote account for free and start selling your music.

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