RECORDING 101 – Panning Your Mix
Great stereo mixes are made by panning certain elements left and right to create width and separation. Panning can be just as essential to a mix as volume levels. There are no rules of course, except for whatever sounds best! However, there are some standards that most professional recordings follow: Lead vocals, bass, kick drum and snare drum are in the center. The standard rhythm guitar part is doubled (recorded twice, not copied) and panned wide left and right. The cymbal overheads are panned wide left and right, and the toms and any close mic’d cymbals are panned as they sit on the drum set (from either the drummer’s perspective or the audience). Lead guitars, vocal harmonies and texture parts can be panned to preference. These can also be doubled and panned separately for a big wide sound. Also, be sure to track piano, keyboards and synths in stereo whenever possible for the fullest sound. If something is fighting for room with the lead vocals, try panning it away from center to make room for the vocals to be clear in the mix.