Stereo Imaging tips & tricks

The Secrets to a Well Panned Mix: Stereo imaging, panning, mide/side processing & more

The good guys over at Point Blank have just posted another awesome feature. This time, they’re telling us all about stereo imaging, the secrets to a well panned mix & more.
The article is well worth the read for anyone into producing or mixing/mastering. Check out an excerpt below:

As you might expect, the ‘centre’ of a mix, where sounds are equally shared between the speakers, tends to feature the most dominant sounds. This is where you’ll find the kick, bass and lead vocal in 99.9% of mixes and frequently the snare too, particularly if this is programmed from samples rather than recorded live. It’s also the default centre axis for other sounds, as it’s rare to record a new part which is pre-panned to one side or the other, so if you’re an electronic music producer, you’re likely to place your leads here and possibly pads and sequencer lines. If you’re working with microphones, at least to start with, you’re likely to record your guitar and keyboard parts here too.
Herein lies the beginning of the problem – unless you’re careful, your mix is likely to start life with most elements panned centrally, either because they’re mono already, or because their sense of stereo keeps them equally shared between left and right speakers. But the problem is made even worse for mix engineers who work principally on headphones. When you listen to sounds from speakers, any signals that are panned only to play back from the left speaker will still reach your right ear. If you’re facing the speakers, most signal will reach your left ear, of course, but parts of the sound – both directly and via reverberant reflections – will reach your right ear too. When wearing headphones, this isn’t usually true – a sound panned hard left will ‘only’ be heard on the left. This doesn’t encourage significant pan position moves – any engineer working on headphones and experimenting with pan will hear sounds moving much more dramatically to one side, discouraging bold panning choices.

Check out the full article over at Point Blank Plus here.