Pan law question...

I was watching greg Ondo’s club cubase video yesterday,btw are very informative.thumbs up greg check it out he does lots of work showing things in cubase that I don’t even know…anyway I was playing with pan law settings and it was real hard to tell the difference…I have always have it on -3db only because when panning a stereo track the sum of both signals say at 0 db would be +3db so that’s what I use in one project I used equal power and I can hear that one…my question is what setting would be close to a analog console? And what are cubase people using?..thanks and check out gregs videos you will definitely learn something you didn’t know from them!!!

Pan law is only a user operation option, it has no effect on sonics.

It is simply a level control - so yes, if you switch between settings on a mixed track you will hear a difference, but those differences are because you’ve made level changes to every track that isn’t centre panned!

If you could mix a track in all of the available pan settings at once, they would sound identical!

With regards to consoles, they are all different - manufactures have their own way favourites.

Exactly, pan law is a preference, do you want your center signal louder than side, yes or no?
It might, or might not be your preference. You still will have to move the volume fader untill the sound sits in the mix to your liking. It’s not some “silver bullit pro secret to better mixing”, that some believe it is.

TIP: Some older mixers have only a PAN switch Left,Center,Right. If the OP wants to have a different perspective on a mix, make a copy of an existing project and restrict yourself to only use L-C-R .
Then when all is L-C-R, you will clearly hear where all the clutter is, what tracks could be be muted or EQ’ to fit better.
Then of cause Pan to taste, you will end of with a different often wider and clearer mix. Something that is worth doing at least once, just to educate your ears what to listen for.

So what are you all using? Like I said I have always used -3 db just for the physics of sound…now if I am mistaken neve consoles use -4.5db pan laws that’s why it’s there…correct me if I’m wrong

It’s there for whoever wants to put reasoning behind it. It doesn’t matter, whatever you’re comfortable with.
I leave it on default, i never asked myself the question if sounds where to loud when hard panned. If you do change the pan law, if it doesn’t bother you just let it be, there is nothing more to it.
even when you export stems it doesn’t matter as in mono they get panned on the console and in stereo the channel stays centered.

The pan law is very important if you are panning across the stereo field during your song. If you’re not doing that, it is completely unimportant, as long as you don’t change it after you start mixing!


I would have to look, i think I’m mostly on equal power.
You can use it to widen a mix after the fact, but as everyone are pointing out it does not matter when mixing as you are adjusting your faders anyway. It’s really a personal preference thing, try them all, make Pan sweeps and decide for yourself what makes you reach for the faders less often.
But a really good question, something I think we all have been asking ourselves at one time. :slight_smile:

Yes, it doesn’t matter, you can check this by switching your mixes to mono.
There are 2 reasons why you would change this value and in the end you are in charge of how you want your mix to translate in mono.

  1. You don’t know how to move a volume slider
  2. You are working on someone else his projectfile and that person saved with a different pan law, there it might be helpful to rebuild the mix.
    But even with exported wav stems (as most exchange files) it doesn’t matter as you already get a stereo print with intended panning.
    Only if you get mono files and you are expected to rebuild a mix, via mix sheets then it might be handy to use the same law in order to rebuild a neutral baseline to work from.
    But for the avg hobbyist spending to much time on SOS articles this is totally irrelevant.

I can answer how it works on a console.

If your console has stereo channels. The pan works realy simple. It fades in or out L or R channel, wich are hard paned by default. It is also setup with pan law wich have mono output in mind. So at center position it will take away some db of each channel, It depends on the console. So if you only want Left side, you will adjust the fader by instinct. The source desides if the stereo channel is a Center channel of a stereo source. You can also Use the stereo channel for hard paned sources. Have A guitar on the Left channel and a cowbell on the Right. But then you will have to adjust volume and fx from the source. Or if the consol has inserts on the stereo channels you can use some outboard for better control. Some consoles has dual faders for the stereo channel or setup with dual pan and fader, like many group tracks offer.

Some times you want dual mono pan operation on the stereo source. (This is similar to the stereo combined pan setting in cubase)
For that type of operation. You use two mono channels and you can hard pan them and use faders for same operation as a stereo channel. Or you can be a bit more experimental and crosspan the tracks wich is fun with stereo delays, non linear reverbs and that stuff. Or just mono both tracks to L or R. Or better place the position of the source in the stereo image.

If you have used 2 mics on a piano and 1 mic on a guitar. It will sound more natural in the stereo image to set a “ish” width between the mics and move both the piano mics over to the same side of the L C R, then having them hard panned on a stereo track and fade in and out one of the mics. And that is even more obvious if you have track bleeding from the piano to guitar and visa versa. But there are no rules, you can do what ever you want. I just find it funny when ever I hear a mix where the band is playing in side a piano.

Cubase works the same way as a console. I mix alot on my console, so for the most part I dont have a pan option in cubase. But if I mix itb I like to use the stereo combined setting. As that pan option offers alot of the same you get with using dual mono channels. Much better control over stereo fx channels and placing stereo sources more naturaly in the over all stereo image. But for the most part I like to have all my tracks in mono when im mixing. Just way more control and less hassel with routing inserts and not having that extra fader on the stereo channel wich two mono channels offer.

And dont think to hard about pan law. If the mix sound wacky out of level in mono. It is ofthen more things wrong then just the levels.

I did a test by running a mono track wrote some long pan l- r moves and changed settings…and I could only hear a difference when equal power was on…and what I usally do with master,fx,and groups is disable the panner so it’s just like a stereo track .more for accidental pan changes

Pan law makes a big difference when you are automating the movement of sounds with panning-like with filter effects sweeps in EDM, etc. I usually keep it around -3 because that to my ears (and I think Science agrees :smiley:) objects will feel like they have the same volume when brought to the center when automating the panning. Sometimes I am working on tracks where I want to really accentuate the panned sweeps. Then I’ll use -4.5 or even -6. I find it easier than also adjusting the volume fader for each track when you are working with 100+ tracks on a project. I have often wished that I could change the pan law for individual tracks. I just learned that Reaper does just that. +1 for Reaper on that one. Hopefully Cubase will add that feature some day.

Also do the send panning follow project pan laws?

Everything in a project does. All pan law refers to is if there is a dip of a certain db in the center. It doesn’t matter if you use panners or VSTs or whatever. It’s only referring to the level difference between the center and the sides.

Kind of. Doesn’t apply to stereo groups for example. Funny thing is I didn’t notice until very recently. I usually group my mono guitars to a stereo group. When mixing, I hide all audio in the mixer and work only with the groups. If I pan the group rather than the source, panning law doesn’t apply.

Well sending a mono track to a group or a master should have the same effect? No?
Do you disable panning on the group or set it to mono?

Interesting. I can’t say that I have done panning on the group level like that. I always pan the tracks themselves. I learned something new!

I assume that pan laws apply to everything that is pan able even master tracks…if I am wrong let me know,I know it’s not a big deal and probably wasting time even thinking about this .it just came up after watching last club cubase,I noticed that greg had different pan laws for different projects…I usally keep it at -3 db cause of the math but I might try -4.5 or even -6 cause I do lots of automation in a mix

This is awesome! Always, start by simplification! I just learned similar tip for balancing!