Pan Law for the biggest sounding mix

According to the Cubase manual, -3 and -6 attenuate the center by that many dBs. So is it correct to assume that using -6 gives the biggest- (or widest-) sounding mixes?

Aloha B

And if so, what does that stereo mix now sound like in mono?

When I have used the -6 setting (without some tweaks) my stereo mixes
played back in mono mixes can at times be a lil ‘iffy’.

No, I don’t think so. I a theoretically perfect setup, putting the same signal into both channels will increase the level in the room by 6dB, so that’s why the pan law is there (to reduce the signal level when it’s central / increase it when it’s panned), and hopefully remove the change in volume that would happen. However, real rooms and setups don’t usually achieve this, which is why 3dB is there.

What I think would happen is that there would be more of a difference between panned tracks and non-panned tracks, but I don’t think the mixes would sound “bigger” or “wider”, just more extreme in terms of panning (like 60s recordings when some mixers had a switch instead of a pot for pan, although I don’t know the pan law for said mixers!). I’m making suppositions here, but I’d think there’s more to it than just the pan law to make something sound big/wide, but I’m prepared to be convinced otherwise.

Yo, C-diggity! – It’s been a while since I’ve done the ol’ “mono check”. I’m starting to do some mixing on a project now. (Record. Mix a little. Record some more. Mix a little more. Etc.)

Devin Townsend’s mixes always sound massive - specifically there’s a lot of information coming from the extreme left and right - giving the impression his stereo field is wider. Or at least wider than mine. :cry:

I’d like to get in on some of that action, right? (Right!)

Try to check that in mono… hmmm :wink: :astonished: :open_mouth:

Even CLA don’t care all that much about mono compatability these days (do the same test with some Nickelback mixes of his). What happens, you say? Well, have a listen for your self.

All that said, the Pan Law settings have nothing to do with wider/narrower. The Pan Law is a mono only setting/preference, only considering a mono signal when placed and/or moved within the stereo field.

If you have a static pan setting for a mono signal, you will compensate with volume when mixing.
If you have a moving mono signal (ie pan automation) within your mix, you may or may not compansate with volume automation as well.

Again. Nothing to do with stereo signals and/or the stereo mixdown. Nothing to do with wider or narrower.


a lot of commercial pop mixes you’re referring to use stereo widening plugins , this will give a large width, however mono compatibility, for what it’s worth will suffer.

Make your choice.


Massive mixes come from putting each instrument in their own space and cutting offensive frequencies. Devy is a big fan of having a minimum of 4 rhythm guitar tracks and you can guarantee there are at least 60 vocal tracks happening during the ultra-epic parts. Also, having the super ambient synth sounds accompanying the guitars adds insane depth. Mixing that kind of stuff takes years and years of practice and is incredibly complicated.

You guys are talking a lot about mono mixes and I’m not sure why. I don’t listen in mono. Ever. I have two speakers on my stereo system. My headphones have an earcup for each ear. My car has I don’t know how many speakers, but it’s running in some sort of redundant stereo. My TV runs in stereo. Hell, I think even my Mac Mini might have onboard stereo speakers.

Am I missing something?

Clubs and live gigs / venues etc are always mono because it’s impossible for the audience to all be in the centre. Overly wide mixes with phase issues suffer in these situations.

Back to the topic, pan law has absolutely no impact whatsoever on the width of mixes - it simply governs the level of the signal as it moves between the speakers. Set the pan law to whatever you like, there isn’t anything going on that can’t be adjusted by simply moving the tracks fader up or down.

Yes, there are very few situations where one might be listening to mono these days, with perhaps most listening being done with earphones with stereo by default. However, when listening to sound without such isolation, in ‘free air’, the further from the speakers, the more mono the sound becomes.

Testing in mono is required to ensure that components of one channel are not detrimentally out of phase with those in the other channel. Those out of phase instruments or vocals will sound unnaturally diffuse, instead of being focused and clear, even with earphones.

Stereo enhancers typically work by making the ‘sides’ – components more in one channel than the other – more out of phase. However, in mono, some components of the results may subtract too much and appear low in the mix.

The typical culprit for out-of-phase signals is incorrect mic placement when using several near each other, even if they are not recording the same instrument/vocal. Sometimes toggling one or more channel’s phase switch will produce a less objectionable result.

Human hearing is actually using two mechanisms to tell the direction from which sounds come, with the transition point being the frequencies with wavelengths around the distance between the ears, centred about 1.5kHz. The mechanisms are:
a) Lower frequencies - primarily by the phase relationship between the sounds in each ear.
b) Higher frequencies - phase relationships become harder to discern, so the relative levels at each ear.

Basically, panning in audio devices is done by adjusting levels as in the latter method above, but for ALL frequencies, and it seems to work, or at least we are fooled enough that complex phase-processing algorithms are not required for low-frequency mixing.

Thank you guys for the feedback.

@Patanjali BTW, I really appreciated your post about mastering. I may PM you to ask for some feedback on a mix or two if you’re open to it.

Please do, but with one caveat; don’t do it if you don’t actually want me to be honest.

However, it will only be my opinion and I will not be offended if you ignore any or all of it. I have willingly (and many times, fortunately) ignored plenty of advice along our journey, even from ‘experts’.

I have only used what we think works for our stuff, and there may be some genres and mixing paradigms I may be too unfamiliar with to be of any use to you.

But fire away!!

I use Bob Katz’s UAD Precision K-Stereo Ambience Recovery Plug-In as it tends to be more selective than basic stereo wideners. Plus it includes mid-side adjustments which can help with some stereo sources.

I am actually getting a UAD-2 Quad Satellite today. I was looking at the Stereo Ambience Recovery Plug-In, but many reviews turned me off to it. Cubase’s Stereo Enhances has odds effects - it was causing phase-sounding issues on some of my tracks, and paradoxically, seems to bring up the center more than the sides on some applications (specifically, when I apply it to a bus that contains guitars panned hard L and R).

Random thoughts…

You can lose a lot of width from your compressors and limiters and this varies quite a bit from product to product. Some compressors have a dual-mode that resolves this issue.

Some limiters have channel linking that is more flexible than a toggle like dual-mode. FabFilter Pro-L is a good example.

Waves Center is a great plugin to look into.

EQ’ing left and right channels slightly differently will generally enhance the sense of a wider sound. A couple options in this department include SPL Passec and FabFilter Pro-Q.

Some mid-side plugins let you ignore low frequencies or even sum them to mono.

Just got my UAD-2 today. See if you can hear the difference.

Here are the mixes:



Constructive feedback on the mix is appreciated. Thanks, guys!

Overall I’m digging it.

Personally I like to remain centered while listening to a track. If something happens on the left side I want something to be balancing it on the right side. The male voice that comes in on the left without a counterweight on the right is jarring to me. Over the course of the song there feels like a general inclination to the left side. I also like counterweights to be balanced in how far away they sound. There is a point where the male voice is counter weighted by the female voice, but the female voice is closer and has more “vertical” dimension. It makes my brain skew.

There is a point where it sounds like the snare starts on the left and suddenly moves to the center. This is jarring to me.

I really dig spacious, 3D mixes, but I also like something to anchor the center and something that has a solid quality to it to contrast with the sounds that have been given a more spacious treatment. Otherwise I start to feel like I’m in some sort of ghost realm.

The demos on the 8dio home page for instance are great examples of often wide and very 3D sounding mixes that don’t come off as fuzzy or ephemeral.

But again, other than some things I found a little quirky I enjoyed the song. With the loudness wars you don’t often get to enjoy spacious mixes though on that subject I was impressed with the latest Beck album, Morning Phase. It is pretty spacious and without making my brain feel like a mushy cloud.

Thank you for the feedback. I appreciate you being thorough and explaining your POV.

The vocals should be balanced. In the intro, it’s Center, Left, then Right. The verse trades between L and R. The chorus is male on one side, female on the other. So basically, it’s balanced – just not simultaneously. If others agree, I might consider panning the L and R more toward the center.

I’ll have to look into the snare - it’s centered the whole time. Can you give me a time code?

Updated the UAD-2 mix: (same link)

Sorry, it’s toms, not the snare, at around 54 seconds. I think if some toms were panned to the right so they alternated it would be less distracting to me.

Did you shift some weight to the low mids in this last mix? It sounds more substantial to me, but it’s subtle enough that I’m not sure if I’m just imagining things. In any case, whatever you did I like it. I felt like I was getting tossed around less.

The three biggest things throwing me off now are when the male sings for awhile on the left, then on the right, though I seem to be a little less bothered by that than I was. The toms at 54 seconds. Then the first 2 strums of the guitar at 1:30 sound harsh/brittle to me. The strums after the first two are fine.