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The Stereo Field

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  • The Stereo Field

    I'd like to broach a general conversation about the stereo field/panorama.

    I figure that with ambient music, the stereo image is more important than with other music forms. Feel free to contradict me if you feel otherwise.

    I'd love to know how other producers, you guys, work with the stereo field. I'd like to know where you place things, how wide, how much movement in the field, what stereo effects you like to employ, and any other ideas, tips and tricks you feel you'd like to share.

    Thank you kindly. :-)

  • #2
    basically like any other music I used to do, I put different parts in different areas, visualizing an inverted triangle. The upper frequencies have more 'room' because you can go wider the higher up the frequency range you go.


    • #3
      I don't particularly see ambient any differently to other forms of music in terms of the stereo field. Stereo positioning is very important on orchestral recordings, but probably slightly less so with electronic/ambient productions. Having said that, I recently purchased Nugen Audio Stereoizer and plan to give it a workout over the next 4-6 weeks on a new track and one of my already completed pieces to see how it can be utilised. Until now, I have relied upon the panning built into my sequencer, and have been generally quite conservative with my choices, but this new toy gives me some psychoacoustic frequency-dependent processing options to play with.

      I have also heard plenty of praise for VSL Power Panner.
      Whatsisname's Little Fluffy Clouds | Campsite | Hearthis | SeismicTC | Twitter | Ello


      • #4
        I tend to follow a few (self-imposed) ground rules:
        1) bass instruments and kick drum - centre (often mono too)
        2) keep the mix balanced - the easiest way to make sure you do this is to make sure that for each track you pan, say, 25% left, there is a balancing track (at an equal volume level) panned 25% right
        3) limit the number of tracks which travel around the stereo field to about one or two in motion at any one time - for one thing, you don't want to upset that left/right balance you've been so careful to maintain, and for another, if you have too many tracks swirling around at once the listener will just find it annoying at best, nauseating at worst ;)
        4) I'm a little wary of stereo wideners, but I always narrow the stereo width of certain tracks - for example, reverb returns: if I'm using an 'Ambience' setting, I'll narrow the width to about 50% - this makes more of the contrast between it and the other, larger reverb which takes up the full width of the stereo field; if I'm using a few, layered, pad sounds which already eat up a lot of frequency space I try to give each pad its own little share of the stereo field; if a track is being fed to a delay bus, I'll narrow the instrument track, and allow the delay to spread right across the field - the delayed repeats seem to stand out more and the mix is less cluttered; the same goes for reverb too.

        Hope that helps
        My new album "Exeunt Omnes" is available now, here:
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        • #5
          Great Tips thanks!

          I've been recommended the VSL power panner before, it's part of a plugin suite though IIRC

          I'm going to check out the Nugen Stereoizer


          • #6
            That Power Pan is part of the Vienna Suite (Mixing and mastering tools). The suite costs 475 Euros. I've heard a few pieces which used it and really enjoyed them, but that is out of my price range.

            There was a CM cover-disk version of Nugen's Stereoizer available a couple of years ago. It doesn't have the functionality of the paid V3 Stereoizer, and I think it's no longer available on their cover disk, but that is how I discovered it. There is a trial verion of the latest Stereoizer available from the Nugen Audio website.
            Whatsisname's Little Fluffy Clouds | Campsite | Hearthis | SeismicTC | Twitter | Ello