Pan Law for 3rd Graders. Guru's please comment!

OK, been working on Nuendo since V1. I understand a lot about recording, producing and mixing…but sometimes the DAW stuff is over my head.

The infamous PAN LAW! Can someone help me understand why there are choices, what it means and what i should do about it?

Running N5 with the original RME Multiface now. Are there ‘competing’ settings? Do i need to set it in N5 AND in my RME? Does the RME setting become the LAW? What should my settings be at? And why?

Can someone explain it to me like i am a 3rd grader ?? :slight_smile:


Adding two identical signals results in a 6dB (6.02 actually) volume increase.

Now, we use two speakers. Left and right.
But … we mostly “pan” signals to the center. Where there is no speaker.
This is called the “ghost center”.

Now, if you pan a mono signal to the left speaker only, you “hear” (so to speak) a level of 0dB
Same for panning a signal full to the right channel.
However, when panning the signal to the center, they get added, resulting in a 6.02dB volume increase.
Which means that -for keeping the same balance- you would have to lower your mono-fader by 6dB to “fit” in the mix in the exact same way as when panned hard left or right.
To compensate for this, there is pan-law.

When you set the pan law to -6dB, the theory says that when panning a signal from left to right, you wouldn’t have to compensate the level with the fader, but being compensated by the pan-law.

In practice, this is slightly different; and it depends on the position of your monitors.
The best way to figure it out is panning a mono track from left, over center to the right.
With the correct pan-law, you shouldn’t hear a drop (or increase) in volume while panning.


Ahhhh, excellent! Thanks for the info.

SO it does not effect my MIXES but just the way i hear my mixes. So its strictly for monitoring.

My RME defaults at the -6 setting. Do i need to do anything to nuendo too?


In fact, your mix is concerned as well, not only your monitors. But what you ear is what you get :wink: The Pan-Law isn’t important as far as your mixes aren’t listened in mono, changing the Pan-Law will change the balance between your stereo mix and the mono reduction.

And if you make some pan automations, the perceived level while panning will change according to the Pan-Law.

The Pan-Law has no influence on stereo tracks.

The RME setting has to be identical to your DAW setting.


Great, thanks.
The settings in RME were easy to find. Where will i find them in N5?

Project setup.


Except if you pan them, right?

It’s probably best to avoid confusion, but I’m guessing that it doesn’t really matter as long as he’s only routing audio through the RME and not using it for actual mixing involving panning other than full left, full right or dead center…

SO its not a global setting? But project by project?

If i leave my RME at its default and never touch it in Nuendo…all should be well, correct? I guess as long as Nuendo is defaulting at the same as RME’s settings…


Depends on how you look at it.
if you never touch it, it becomes a global setting.



The -6 pan law also assures mono compatibility. We often send radio spots to sports and talk networks, which traditionally broadcast in mono. In the old days, I had to do two separate mixes by compensating the mono elements (VO) against the stereo elements (usually music). Now I just send a stereo mix and stop worrying.

No. The default panner on stereo tracks is a balance panner which just changes the ratio between left/right information.

And how does a panner on a mono track work? It doesn’t change the ratio between left/right information when routed to a stereo output?

A panner on a mono track is what you would traditionally think of as a pan knob and the pan law affects how much attenuation is done to the signal as it passes through center. The “pan” slider on a stereo track is as mentioned, a balance slider. Check the manual on the different panner modes available as they differ between mono/stereo/multichannel tracks.

There’s nothing in the manual that says that the pan-law doesn’t apply. As a matter of fact, how could it not apply?

In the case of a mono track moving the pan control from full left through center to full right will obviously gradually change the amount of level going to both channels (left/right). How is that any different from having two controls? You still have the same level to work with, and the only question is how it is distributed. Or, as you put it, what the ratio is between the two channels…

Re-read the manual again as it’s in there. Don’t take my word for it though. It’s very easy to try a few tests with a tone generator and see what happens.

Try two audio tracks (1 mono, 1 stereo) routed to a stereo out and look at what happens to the levels of each as you pan through the center (depending on your pan law).

Also on a stereo channel try a tone with white noise on the left, a sine tone on the right. You’ll find that when using the balance slider it’s not “panning” anything but simply adjusting the ratio between left/right channels (i.e. balance).

A mono track pan is continuous and handy way to route all or a part of a signal through left and right bus. It’s only one signal and you choose where you place it in the stereo.
A balance is the same as two faders for two signals, a left and a right. They act as if a link could move one fader inversely to the other. The mono sum of a stereo track doesn’t increase the level of 6dB, it depends on the phase relations between the channels.
Look at the “Equal Gain” and “Equal Power” setup for the crossfades in the manual, it’s the same thing.



Not possible with the “Equal Power” option set in Nuendo.
What should the RME one be set to in this case?

Don’t know, probably none.