Need Some Help With Widths / Stereo / Mono / Panning

Hi there… I was wondering… what are good width/panning settings for panning tracks?

nowadays I pan some of my percussion/hats/clap, keep my kick and bassline centered… but I almost never use width… when should I use it? and more important: How do you users apply it to your tracks?

my main problem these days is that my my main synths aren’t sounding well in the whole “stereo” widening…

Just try it out and if it sound good, use it!

(Be aware though when using width which is based on phasing differences in songs, that when playing back the mix over a p.a. system when playing live the sounds can dissapear as often the mix is made mono by the engineer)

That’s a difficult question… Some producers say there should be 11 panning positions:

left 5 4 3 2 1 - center - 1 2 3 4 5 right

“Width” would be how broad this sound is.
if you set a centered sample to width 50% that would mean it goes from 3 left to 3 right in the above scale.
If this sample is panned to middle left (25L in Renoise), it would “take the complete left side” (from 5 left to center) at 50%. At 30% something like from 4left to 2 left.
I hope you get the idea.

Just visualize you mix. Take a look at this video and its follow-ups, they may seem stupid (VERY 90ies!), but what this guy has to say is pure wisdom… :D

is there anyway to test this at home, with a normal stereo?

it struck me now that I tweak the width ALL THE TIME and sometimes even go a little crazy with the stereo expander DSP hehe,

I play out quite a bit and would hate for the sound get messed up because of this, some of the places I play dont really have top of the line PA’s, knaamsayin?

I havent noticed anything lacking in sound yet, but then I havent really thought about it until now…

Personally I never use width effects. Always, always use a multi-band send going to a send channel that has tailored wet delays or pitch modulation of short values. Never send much lower than 200hz out to the sides.

This is a great goniometer vst pluggin that I use all the time to check the mono compatibility on my tracks. It’s also free:

+1: mono
0 : perfect stereo
-1: no mono, just stereo (then the stereo sound is converted to mono, it will almost disapear)

Then the goniometer goes under 0 the mono compatibility will suffer. So If I want a wide stereo image that is 100% mono compatible, I tune the stereo widdening untill the goniometer reaches 0.

wow, thanks a lot!

No need to use a plugin for this. Renoise 2.7 now has a phase meter in the Master Scopes view. Mono (or close to mono) signals will appear mostly vertical, while signals panned hard left or hard right will be turned 45-degrees to one side, and stereo signals with phase cancellation problems will appear mostly horizontal (or will have an unusually large amount of horizontal activity).

If you want to actually test your sound and listen for the phase cancellation that might occur on a mono system, simply add a Stereo Expander to your master track with Expand set to 0%, Surround set to 0%, and Mono Mix set to L+R. If you suddenly start to notice major elements in your song disappearing (like your bassline), this is for sure due to phase cancellation problems.

You put it really well dblue.

I have tried the phase meter in Renoise 2.7. But with Gonio 3 you also get information about the M/S signal on a scale from +1 to -1.
+1=M signal
-1=S signal

Then gonio 3 shows 0 on the metering the M and S signal is evenly amplituded, and you will have the widest possible sound with a perfect mono compability. Because then the signal is converted to mono, the S signal that is canceled out is eaven to the M signal that is left.

If you try it you can see what I mean. The M/S metering would be a good feature to get in the renoise phase meter as well. It’s easier to get the stereo information on a scale instead of just looking at a phase meter. In gonio 3 you get both the phase meter and the M/S metering.

Voxengo Span has a correlation meter, the quote below is from Voxengo’s Primary User Guide.

"Speaking about stereo (two-channel) signals, “acceptable” correlation value range lies
between 0.0 and 1.0. Negative correlation values mean that channels are out of phase
and this usually works problematically – stereo field becomes “unreal” (“surround”)
and causes disorientation. Beside that, out of phase stereo information is not monocompatible
and such signal sounds poorly if the listener is not placed on the central
listening axis.

In order to create any useful spacious stereo-image the correlation values close to 0.0
should be used. Also note that an uncorrelated stereo-signal in comparison to a
correlated stereo-signal at an equal peak level usually sounds louder to the listener by
around 1.25 decibel, because uncorrelated channel sound coming from a speaker does
not cancel channel sound coming from another speaker spaced 60-degree apart from
it as much as correlated channel sound cancels it."

So that your stuff can be put on vinyl?

thanks for all your help!!

working on this track but I seem not to get the right balancing levels:

bassline is completely mono… but it just don’t sound good…


Yes, but not just for that reason alone. If there’s a lot of mess and mud below 200hz out on the sides it makes for really annoying headphone listening - I find it confuses the soundstage perception. I heard somewhere, but cannot verify it, that we cannot perceive the direction of sounds if they are under 200hz. So following that logic you’d keep that information mono in any mix for sake of soundstage focus. I can only think of a few really heavy styles of music where you’d make an exception (e.g. some metal has low end wallop in the detuned guitars panned almost hard right and left) - but we’re talking maybe rolling down to about 120hz. Certainly anything under 120hz out on the sides just sounds messy to me.

Perhaps pure classical recordings are an exception in this regard in that the bass strings (double bass) are positioned off to the right side (or a classical piano with the bass notes are on the left). But even a group of double basses going full tilt on the right is still a fairly soft and organic sound. Not loud like dance or pop music. Compare classical to people who mix electronic music and put a full width stereo chorus on a synth bassline, or even worse on a kick drum - and then they wonder why their mix sounds gutless on a mono or near-mono system.

This is just my point of view on the matter, other engineers would disagree, but that’s all part of the fun :)

I keep my mono kick and bass centered, and use mono percussion samples when possible, that lets me craft stereo audio more carefully and keenly. I often have panning envelopes on percussion so they don’t all hit in the same space, and to give a bit of action to the percussion line itself.

Ive become enamoured of the idea of keeping the stereo signal from crossing one another til its played ni the actual air; Reaper is very handy for mono converting stem tracks output from Renoise, and nondestructive; you can change hte left into teh right, or downmix, or return to stereo wiht a right click. Then its easy to put the l and r stems into hard-panned left-and-right channels, which in my ears gives a bit more space than plain stereo. And prevents any digital crossfeeding, that to me is an invitation to muddy up your audio. I keep a stereo stem on some panning-effected channels, sometimes, but it sounds cool as hell and clean too, to have a panned stereo signal split into mono channels.

Mono is my new love, audio wise (my lady is my real love). I just don’t liek the IDEA of crossfeeding without my own express permission to do so.

Renoise needs to hurry up and allow mono l and r output so i can sleep easy in the knowledge that there isnt any crossfed audio being output (though in practice its not really like that, i assume…?).

Another trick that i use for kick and basses is to hard pan mono mixed left and right and a third centered. I like how this sounds, the bass and kick are coming from every direction, and is functionally 2.1 audio (I think). Just centered or just panned l and r tends to sound either hollow in the panned case, or weak without major presence in the case fo centered only.

Ive used Reaper for mixdowns since i found it, and the mono options it offers are just FTW heavenly… If only Renoise would load stems and set the end of the project automatically to the end of the waveform, and have the same context menu mono switch… And Reaper outputs 64bit FP at 5x realtime! Mp3 at 22x realtime?! WHOA! OF course not entirely realtime. Nice tho. If only it had more application than that, other than mixdowns and the context mono switcheroo its a mess of a DAW. Try routing to sends sometime and praise Taktik for Renoise, and the Holy Arguru ascended into heaven and seated at the right hand of FT2 for the trekker it was born from, as Athena was born from the skull of Zeus so to was the holy trakcer born from a man’s skull.

In the case of synths; experiment in Reaper if you want ease of mono converting, play around with stereo (centered) and hard panned single mono l or r, for example. If you do any panning of the stereo I suggest doing it with 2 mono chans l and r’ed appropriately, as doing the same with stereo can overlap l or r with a mono channel if youve got one. I like how it sounds when i pan the stereo slightly l or r, like <10%, and throw a mono on the opposite side hard panned, for example a stereo chan panned l I would throw the mono hard right, this gets teh stereo interaction but also the single sided mono which when done to the right element can help it stick out. Often Ill cut the db of the stereo audio to about 2/3 to half the mono’s db, to allow the stereo to sort of sit behind the other elements of the mix, while the mono is off to its own side standing clear.

It helped me a lot(!)to read the wikipedia; mainly i was worried that when converting to mono l or r, the pan would become centered and overlap the l and r signals if i didnt change the pan. It doesnt sound like it does that, in Reaper, as I imagine the context conversion, being nondestructive, is just a cutting out of one or the other channels without any pan change, that i can hear. Also check the wiki about mid-side, pseudo-stereo, and quadrophonic sound for more enlightenment.

How would you use the Multiband send device to allow stricter filtering of the bands? it seems that you then can do much more accurate crossover filtering using that one than roughly using sends to forward the signal two two send channels and then just apply the same filters.

I really love the tight clean sound of the Multiband Send. I used it all the time now. It’s brilliant.

Hell yeah, it’s awesome! Too bad it takes up so much space (in tracks I mean)… cough collapsible tracks :D

Panned sub bass makes stereo rigs sound weird as well. It kind of sucks the air to one side of the room. You can feel that something is wrong as a punter even if you know nothing about sound.

(reposting the exact same thing i said over here because it seems more in its place in this thread)

about panning: i always have the issue that my track feels unbalanced with respect to the panning whenever i start trying out panning settings. like it is leaning left or right, if you know what i mean. i know this issue can be resolved by carefully re-balancing stuff, panning other stuff to the right when you got too much weight on the left side and such, but i find it quite difficult to do. proper panning is an art in itself.
because of this i often just do either a Phaser with Autopan preset (customized), or an LFO attached to the pan setting. when you have something like a short-note instrument and you want to make each note pan left then right, so go left-right-left-right-left-right with each subsequent note, check out this thread i wrote some time ago: (Sorta-) Auto-Pan (that thread has my own method as well as an additional bonus method by dblue!)