Don't make these mistakes in pan
Pan. Left, centre, right. Sounds easy doesn't it? But it's also surprisingly easy to get it wrong, as these two commercial releases clearly demonstrate. In this video we'll hear piano notes dancing like pixies at the Midsummer Ball. And we'll hear a viola that is half as wide as the room it's recorded in.
James Tissot 'Hush! (The Concert)' 1875
Pan left center right it sounds easy doesn't it but it's also surprisingly easy to get it wrong and today i have two examples from commercial releases that clearly demonstrate pan issues learn audio online with audio masterclass audiomasterclass.com as you know classical music is written mostly for acoustic instruments and acoustic instruments are recorded through microphones ideally the positions of the instruments in a recording are the same as they were in the session so violins on the left cellos and bases on the right for instance this is easy to achieve use a coincident crossed pair of microphones one pointing left one pointing right that will capture a very accurate stereo image spot mics and instruments or groups of instruments can be panned so they match up so what can go wrong here's a clip from a recent recording by stephen isilis and connie she of the cello sonata number one by camille sansone i'll put links to the full videos down in the description
so i hear the cello a little to the left of center why isn't it dead center well this album is titled music from proust's salons a real life style on back in the day might look like this the soloist is on the left so that's okay but listen again and concentrate on the piano
what a real world listener would hear is the sound coming generally from the position of the piano with perhaps the low notes extending towards the right because of the length of the strings but here can you hear how the notes come from different directions not always linked to the pitch of the note i hear the notes dancing around the stereo image like pixies at their midsummer ball and sometimes a bunch of high notes will chime in from over on the right this is what happens if you put microphones inside the piano it's not right but the performances are excellent so i'll enjoy it as a bit of extra fun now another example this is viola player hiolitagawa from the album songs of solitude clearly inspired by the covet lockdown it isn't the best sound you've ever heard but i'm guessing it's a home recording made in a small room small rooms can be difficult to get a good sound in and often you have to place the microphone closer to the instrument than you normally would so that you can exclude some of the small room ambience that doesn't sound good bye what i hear in this as well as the rather intrusive breath noise at the start is that the viola seems to be at least half as wide as the room each note almost seems to have its own position in the stereo image not even the player would hear the instrument like this i have a viola that's how i know i have to say that the pan in this recording is completely wrong there's no way a viola would be heard like this in real life but there's another interesting example of pan in this album this is hioli tagawa playing perfect time for a spring cleaning by john powell a piece specially composed for her under
as you can hear it's multi-tracked and there are nine separate parts for music of this complexity panning is essential to make musical sense it isn't intended to sound like a concert performance although if nine violists get together to perform it i'll be at the front of the queue for tickets this is an example of panning done creatively and actually i might take a leap of imagination and wonder what the bark we heard earlier would sound like if it were multi-tracked one track for each string so there we have it clearly we have pans that are literally all over the place and technically that's bad audio but you know i see these recordings as fun and heaven knows until we get out of this damned kovid covid19 we need all the fun we can get i'm david miller course director of audio masterclass thank you for listening