Panning is the most crucial step for getting a wide stereo image.
Panning lets you place individual instruments, or even certain frequencies of instruments, in a particular spot within your stereo image—and go as wide as you wanna.
Always make your panning decisions based on your entire mix. There’s a few different approaches to panning, but no matter how you use them, they’re key to getting a wider mix.
Here are some quick tips and rules for getting your panning pristine and achieving width in the mix:
Low frequencies are the heart of a groove and drive your rhythm, so keep them straight down the middle.
Keep your low end in the middle
Don’t pan your lower frequencies. Low frequencies are the heart of a groove and drive your rhythm, so keep them straight down the middle.
Keep your L and R balanced
Our brains naturally want to center stereo images, so keep the L and R channels balanced to avoid confusion in the phantom center.
Always pan with your ears, not your eyes
The only thing that really matters is how it sounds. When panning, close your eyes and listen until you hear that perfect sweet spot.
Even if the volumes of your L and R channels are balanced, if one side has more sound competing for the presence zone this can cause the stereo image to sound off balance.
Keep your lead vocals in the center
Keep your lead vocals to the center as well unless you have good reason to do otherwise. You want that lead vocal front and center to really let it shine.