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Which pan law are you using?


David Nahmani

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I'm wondering, which pan law setting is everybody using and why?

 

I have been using the default '0dB' in the past and now am getting used to '-3dB compensated', which I like better since I don't have to compensate the level of every track I pan. I think it is now slowly becoming my favorite setting.

 

I don't like '-3dB' since it messes up the gain at various stages when routing through Busses and Auxes. Does anyone out there uses '-3dB', and if yes why?

 

I am eager to read your comments.

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Having spent the digital mixing part of my formative years on early Yamaha consoles, I've stuck to the -3dB paradigm for some time, but eventually I settled for 0dB in Logic. I haven't really tried out the -3dB Compensated setting yet. Can you please elaborate on the rationale behind this setting? To what extent is this compensated aspect predictable in your experience?

 

Open to persuasion,

Gert

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Well 0dB is the default setting, it doesn't compensate anything, so the result is that if a signal is panned in the center, it stays at its nominal level (0dB of gain), and as you pan a signal to one side, the level drops.

 

-3dB is, in my opinion, a first attempt at 'fixing' that 'problem', by gradually reducing the gain of the signal as you bring it back to center, ending up at -3dB when panned dead center. Not an ideal solution, but the advantage is that the level remains constant as you pan the signal across the stereo field.

 

-3dB compensated is the best of both world: using the -3dB setting but adding 3dB of gain to the whole signal. So it's pretty much raising the gain as you pan to a side, so that the level remains constant as you pan across the stereo field, but not losing -3dB when panned center. The level is consistent as you pan, although you'll see the level rise on the meters as you pan to a side.

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Oh, in that case, -3dB Compensated is in effect the default Yamaha pan law. I've never really got used to the rising of the signal levels as you open up a stereo pair, making it hard to maintain the right headroom throughout... Of course, this is a matter of convenience, and your mileage may vary.

 

Best regards,

Gert

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Yo,

 

Off topic but still in the ballpark. I was listing to some older Mix from my 02r days and comparing them to My current Pro Fools, n Logic Mixes. The o2r ones seem "Wider" to us. Significantly wider. Wer not really doing anythin different, ust different platforms. I have never changed the Pan Law from the Default in Logic, and You cant channge it in PT. Could this be the reason for the o2rs greater Width? -3db Compensated?

 

What r ur thoughts?

 

Matt

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I've definitely been sticking with the -3db compensated pan law - I think it makes the stereo image much fuller and gives the track more depth.

 

I did some research on this very topic not too long ago for myself and a buddy and came across the following. Not exactly Logic related per se, but I found the "origins of panning laws" in this article really interesting : http://www.harmony-central.com/articles/tips/panning_laws/

 

It seems that each DAW has their own set of panning laws (some even go to -6db). And VSOP, I found out not too long ago that Pro Tools LE has a fixed pan law setting of -2.5 (which can't be changed and I'm not sure if this applies to TDM systems). So if you're listening to your current Logic mixes at the '0db' setting, this could explain it. Just keep in mind that if you change the setting in a song that was completed with the 0db setting to -3db compensated, you may have to adjust levels accordingly. I tried that on an old mix of mine and anything panned hard L & R were clipping.

 

Great topic David, I've always wanted to post that same question here out of curiosity to see what everyone else was using. And you're definitely right about the normal -3db setting. It reallly messes with the gain structure when routed through Busses / Auxes. That's one setting I never use anymore.

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Yea Im reeel intrigued. I Have a New Album Proj starting Tommorrow that I was going 2 mix in Tools, but an now going to mix in Logic at -3compensated. This will be a good test as its one of those hip hop track that I want the hats 2 sound like thier a fuckin Block and a half away thier so hard panned. haha

 

Ya.

 

VSOP

Matt

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Well in itself a pan law won't change the sound of your mix. You can use any of them, and as long as you're using your ears, you'll be compensating anyway. However, if you bring a mix from another DAW and you're not using the same pan law, the stereo image width will definitely change!

 

Both -3dB and -3dB compensated are going to sound wider.

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Routing an LFO to periodically pan an audio signal in Exs24 has nothing to do with the channel strip pan control, and doesn't use any special law: when centered, the audio will be about 6~7 dB louder than when hard-panned, whatever pan law you've picked up...
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I'm not sure either... But I once inserted a direction mixer plug on the Exs track strip, and adjusted its base to 0 [i.e. mono], then measured the sampler output level with the level meter plug, and that's what I got, approximately. I'd rather have it compensated, but it's still usable for effects — I never use it, anyway.
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I'm not pretending this is the best way to measure this, but this is how the plugs were chained — unfortunately only the last 3 snapshots appear here:

 

1. audio instrument: Exs, out level = -6 dB — I used the default sine wave you get when no sampler is loaded

2. direction mixer, base = 0 — this turns the signal into a monophonic one

3. gain, level = +9 dB — I know: this was about 5 dB too much, and I uselessly checked the swap L/R button

4. level meter, display = RMS — the red 5.0 reading is the maximum peak level reached. The RMS level is something like -2 dB when hard-panned to either side [first meter snapshot], and +2 dB when centered [second meter snapshot].

953610867_3_gain9dB.png.2ef149989acd4245ab4aabe48acee8d5.png

4_level_meter_min.png.dfd12c2b9ec5a5e8fca957b49a0b6021.png

5_level_meter_max.png.12341759177e5fe653e8182a0f93d969.png

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An here are the missing snapshots, corresponding to positions 1 and 2 in the inserted plug-in chain — notice I adjusted the Lfo modulation for maximum span. Also, please note that checking the mono button on the gain plug doesn't yield the same result as inserting the direction mixer plug with the settings below:

1_exs_source.png.2d934c3aa95e4391583e5a1a84d0a95f.png

2_direction_mixer.png.295fb8e477b8dd25447c6e200a8e7b18.png

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Freaky, dudes...

 

I was screwing around with this just tonight. The Fireface goes up to 6db. I returned everything back to 0db after tweaking a few things here and there.

 

Glad to know exactly what it does now. Great thread.

 

-3db compensated sounds like the way to go. Me likey wide!

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  • 3 months later...

Pressing the mono button in the gain plugin doesn't produce the "same" mono result as using the direction mixer?

 

how is it different?

 

I posted a while ago asking how to check my mixes in mono for phase and everyone helpfully replied "use the gain plug on output and use mono button"

 

what is the best way to check mixes in mono?

 

thanks,

Lawson

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