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Forums » GarageBand Tips and Tricks » I need a a general tutorial on panning. (PANNING 101)

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I looked through the forum discussions but did not find what I was needing. I know how to adjust a track to play more left or right in Garageband(v3). It's simple enough. The thing I don't have any understanding of musically is how much to pan and which instruments in a given song should stay center. Can you direct me to a previous discussion or even something outside of iComp that explains any standards? I've been a part of iComp since 2006 and I guess it's time that I learn some mixing production skills. The tune I would like to apply this to, after I have some knowledge, is (WIP) 10 Years Now.
http://www.icompositions.com/music/song.php?sid=112812

Thank you iCompers.
Latest Song: Dirt Rust and Rock
Artist Page Send Message May 05, 2009 | 12:48 pm
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Generally, the bass is usually in the center. The rest of the instruments can be wherever you think they sound good. Don't over-think it. A quick google found these links: http://www.tweakheadz.com/pan_control.htm

http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/1227284/mixing_tips_how_to_pan_rock_music_in.html

I like the one where you imagine your musicians and how they are arranged on the stage. I've usually played with right-handed drummers, for instance, so I usually put the high-hat and snare on the left, the kick drum in the middle and the floor tom on the right. But I've also played with a left handed drummer where everything was reversed (except the kick drum, obviously).
I listened to your song and I think the panning is fine.
Latest Song: The Book of Love
Artist Page Send Message May 05, 2009 | 1:09 pm
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Yep like toots said wherever you think they sound good. I sometimes even move the bass or bass drum and it still works for me. A good thing to look into though is stereo panning & widening also using surround sound. Whatever is not here in the forums the net has a plethora of options waiting to be googled Very Happy
Artist Page Send Message May 05, 2009 | 1:21 pm
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After listening to your song, I agree with the "stereo image the instrumentation as though it were a band on stage" recommendation.

Also, listen to some of your favorite music. That should help, unless you listen to the, in retrospect, very odd stereo of early Beatles records where vocals appeared in one channel and everything else in the other channel.

If you're looking to emphasize the horns/strings, rather than pushing them back in the mix, one current band that has used similar instrumentations/arrangements is Calexico. Keep in mind though, that unless you are using real instruments, if you bring forward synthesized horn and string parts, their syntheticness becomes more obvious.

In regards to the drums, I've noticed that Apple usually places its drum kits in stereo in a fashion that you shouldn't have to do any additional panning or separation of drums into distinct kick/snare/tom/etc. tracks. If your song were metal, progressive, psychedelic or jazz-rock, I would have a different recommendation regarding the drums. But I don't think you are going for a big, attention-getting drum sound on this tune.
Latest Song: Tension
Artist Page Send Message May 05, 2009 | 7:02 pm
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Mungo wrote:
listen to some of your favorite music.


Yes - if you have a very specific sound that you are aiming for, this works wonders. Just keep switching back and forth between your song and the song whose sound you are aiming for - I've used this technique when I'm doing a parody and had some very good results. Unfortunately, the more original the sound you're going for the more difficult it becomes to compare directly.
Artist Page Send Message May 05, 2009 | 9:51 pm
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One of the best analogies I've seen** is to think of panning like taking a photo of a group of people. You typically wouldn't put everyone in a row or in some way where some people get blocked from the shot. So you move them around to create space for them to be seen in the photo and to make for a sense of balance. Panning is often used in that sort of way - to help create a sense of space for each instrument in the stereo field, and to create a better sense of balance to what you're listening to.

One of the things to watch out for, however, is that the music still sounds ok in mono, since you never know if your tune is going to be played through a mono source (like a cheap laptop or something).

I don't claim at all to be an authority on this, however - there are many people on here who do some amazing things in their mixes that regularly impress me and have me wondering, "How did they do that?" So I try to experiment and to make it sound relatively pleasing to my ears. Best of luck!


** I got this from "The Mixing Engineer's Handbook, Second Edition" by Bobby Owsinski. If you're looking to pick up some reading on this subject, I can't recommend this book highly enough!
Artist Page Send Message May 05, 2009 | 11:49 pm
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Hear's how it works. The main vocals need to come from the very center. The drums need to be set up how you would hear them on stage. The rest of the instruments and vocals need to be placed where they are distinct enough to tell they're there.

Everything needs a place, and you don't want any instrument lost in the mix. Just tinker with it till you can hear everything the way you want it to be heard. There is no standard, just opinion.
Latest Song: California song
Artist Page Send Message May 06, 2009 | 2:25 am
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I would say do one thing: Read THE ART OF MIXING
It is a visual guide to recording, engineering and production by David Gibson. Everything you need to know is in that book!
Latest Song: POLITICAL TIES
Artist Page Send Message May 06, 2009 | 7:41 am
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[color=olive]i say do as you please and when it sounds good to you it's done.
how i use pan is done b
y my ears Wink[/color]
[color=darkred]if we refer to a band on stage.. is that without PA ? (mega speakers)[/color]
Latest Song: all quiet around here
Artist Page Send Message May 06, 2009 | 9:06 am
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haha feel free to use the bb codes but make sure they work
Latest Song: all quiet around here
Artist Page Send Message May 06, 2009 | 4:23 pm
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Theres alot of good recomendations here.So I will add just one thing. What I usually do with main vocals is double them and then pan one full left and one full right, this gives them a nice full sound and still makes them seem centered.
Latest Song: Reindeer
Artist Page Send Message Jun 03, 2009 | 8:48 pm
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Pans should always be washed thoroughly. Make sure to use the proper kitchen tool for the proper type of pan. Don't use anything tough on metal pans or you will remove the finish. Try hard to get the grungy parts out of the corners of the pans. Sometimes, it's just worth it to let your pans soak overnight in soapy water.
Artist Page Send Message Jun 03, 2009 | 8:55 pm
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I disagree, Soulima. It's not worth soaking your pans for more than ten minutes - anything that doesn't come off in ten minutes is just going to require more elbow grease. Soaking overnight is an excuse for not washing up now.
Artist Page Send Message Jun 03, 2009 | 10:30 pm
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Really, Pan was a pagan God.
Horns and hooves. . .
To be met with
great care.
Latest Song: Piece of Peace II
Artist Page Send Message Jun 04, 2009 | 1:12 am
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Just buy new pans!
Latest Song: Be Here Now (RTH)
Artist Page Send Message Jun 04, 2009 | 1:21 am
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