Panning is one of the most overlooked areas of music production and probably the most under used by most beginner music producers.
In Music production, panning is the process of positioning sounds to the left or right of the stereo image. The purpose of panning is to create a balance in the stereo image, therefore giving room to all instruments in a mix. Panning is great way of uncluttering the center of the stereo image.
Panning is a very useful way of giving sounds their own space and producing a well rounded stereo image.
Bass being one of the key elements that holds a track together should not be panned but should stay right in the center of the stereo image.
This is to avoid any imbalance within the mix.
The snare contributes to the rhythm of a track and should therefore be in the centre of the mix.
The main vocals should always be front and centre because they are the star of the show.
Ad-libs and backing vocals can be panned or left in the center there is really
no rule here it all comes down to the stereo image a person wishes to create.
Kick drums form the base of the whole track and should be kept in the centre to avoid losing its punch or aggression in the mix.
Any bass heavy instruments like bass should be in the centre to avoid having a loose mix with no grit.
Toms are generally good for drum fills because they can be too distracting when they are front and centre throughout the mix.
You can basically separate the Tom’s into the left and the right channel equally (50% pan left speaker for left Tom, 50% pan right speaker for right tom)
Hi-hats are pretty much high frequency sounds therefore they can be
panned slightly to either side in order to widen the stereo image.
a 25% pan to the left and right channel should work well here.
If the piano is recorded in stereo then it’s a good idea to pan it to both channels (right and left), this will give it a more natural full feel.
If the piano is recorded in mono you can use a slight pan to either channel, about 20% .
Strings are a great way to widen the mix and give a more diverse and large stereo image.
Therefore a good wide panning for strings will definitely do good to improve and enhance the stereo image of a song.
Bass guitar constitutes a heavy low end sound. Therefore it should be in the centre of the mix to keep a good balance and harmony within the song.
It’s a good idea to pan acoustic guitar if it has been double tracked.
if it is recorded mono, it’s okay to have it with little or no panning.