Pan law ? which is better for mixing ?

i have been watching this (don’t understand italian unfortunately , this guy has some cubase tips as well there)

and now im even more confused !!

Aloha m,

After watching, +2.

When it comes to Pan Law, I can understand the ‘theory’ just fine
but in everyday use unless the client wants it, I don’t use that feature at all.


The only reason a client would request it is if they had already done a mix with a certain pan law and wanted to hear it as already mixed.
Other than this requesting it wouldn’t make much sense as it wouldn’t affect the finished mix in any way whatsoever.

Basically, it affects how much the volume differs between centred and fully panned. It is designed so that as you pan a signal doesn’t appear to change in level.
But in the mix if something seemed wrong level after panning then you would of course compensate by changing the level anyhow.

Be aware that changing it after or during a mix will change your balance so you just need to set it before you start and forget it.

FWIW, -3db is a fairly generic setting used on many consoles, -4.5 is SSL and according to Wikepedia was set at that due to the likelihood of the SSL console being in a very well tuned room!

Aloha G,
and a major ‘Mahalo’ to you for that info.

I knew there was someone here who understands and can explain this stuff. :slight_smile:

Sending much Aloha.

makes sense !! Thanks for clearing my mind ))

A similar question was asked just a few days ago:

The search function is your friend :slight_smile:

Grim is spot on.

This said, I do (surprise - surprise!) understand Italian. He describes what he’s doing and then writes something along these lines: “Pan-law has a strong impact on mixdown” and “A -6dB setting offers a stronger stereo effect, although reducing the master level”.

Now, Pan-law should not have such an impact on a mixdown for a simple reason: it should be chosen at the beginning of the mix and never touched again (like Grim stated), as it would mean re-adjusting all of the tracks’ relative levels. It should be pretty obvious now why it affects the stereo field.

But if you were going to do two identical mixes with two different Pan-laws (have fun doing it and matching all levels :laughing:), it would not affect the stereo field and the two mixes would sound the same.

Aloha F, and sorry to ‘harp’ on this but if this is the case:

Then why have Pan Law at all?

What he means is that - for any sounds that are not moving across the Stereo field you would set the volume using the fader and center sounds on the 6DB pan law project would simply be boosted a bit relative to the 3DB project (to sound the same) . . . I think.

I’m usually fairly technically savvy but this one eludes me:

The whole issue is that when a sound is panned across the Stereo field it will sound louder in the center position when it’s coming out of both speakers. This apparently has to do with acoustic summing (room issues) and pan tapers and all kind of other stuff I’m not clear on. So to compensate for this the signal is gently attenuated when panned to the center.
3 or 6DB? Equal Power or Equal SPL? Apparently 6DB is for a perfectly treated room? 3 for an average environment? Or the other way around?

In any case your mix WILL sound different in different rooms - Uhmmm . . duh. Nothing new there.
I guess it really gets interesting when you have a Stereo Instrument - like a piano . Middle C is louder?

I say we all go back to Mono. This Multi-Channel thing may have been a bad idea.



Good one!

Thought about Hugh’s post, had a laugh then had a nap and I think I have got it. :slight_smile:

(Help me out here Hugh and tell me what you think).

In a typical ‘static’ mix where a track gets moved to a certain pan position and stays there,
Pan Law may not matter much because you always can compensate for that with the track fader.


if things are moving in the stereo field during the mix, (movies/videos etc)
PL could help even things out without having to either ‘ride the fader’ or comp/limit
to compensate for the level changes.

Is that it?

Just wanted to chim in and clarify that Pan Laws were NOT created to rectify room problems. The reason they exist is simple, to maintain a steady perceived level when dealing with identical signals that are panned center (or close to it). That’s all they are :slight_smile:

Thanks to the Modern Miracle of Internet Search I can now appear knowledgeable.

(it jogged my memory: I knew this stuff when I was a young engineer freshly full of numbers and formulas . . .)

It actually comes down to a discrepancy between Mono Compatibility and how loud a signal panned center sounds in a real acoustic environment (yes, jose7822, acoustics and psycho-acoustics).

To wit:

A signal panned hard left at a level of, say, “10”, will sound a certain loudness.
The same signal panned hard right at 10 will sound the same volume.

One would think that if you sent it to both speakers and reduced the level of each speaker to half - 6DB down - it would sound the same (5 from one and 5 from the other = 10).

And, in fact, if you collapse that stereo field to Mono it WILL sound the same. So this is the way they did it back in the early days of Stereo when 99.9% of people heard the mix in Mono. -6 was the rule for a minute.

Also seems if you are listening in an anechoic room it will sound the same. My living room is NOT anechoic.

But . . . in an actual acoustic environment this is not the case.
Due to various acoustical black magic like non coherent reflections (room ambience resulting from 2 lesser positions rather than 1 louder one) it sounds Softer.

So way back Disney (yes, the Mouse dude) did some testing and decided that -3 from each speaker (louder than -6) when panned center resulted in perceived equal volume.
Later others like the BBC tested more and settled on other values like - 4.5.

The difference is the room. I think it was SSL (??) that decided their boards were mostly used in well treated rooms so they set their pans for -5.8 (or was it 5.9?).

-6 if you’re definitely going to end up in Mono for most folks.
Probably -3 or -4.5 if not (don’t think you can do -4.5 in CB . . but we’re splitting hairs here).

As to the active panning thing:
If you’re panning a Mono instrument back and forth in a -3 PL stereo mix and then collapse the mix to Mono - you will hear the instrument get louder and softer.


Well, Now!

Cubase Pro 8 has a BUNCH of Pan settings!

Such a timely discussion we were having . . .

Another important factor concerning panned sounds is the relatively higher sensitivity of the human hearing for sounds coming from (or more from) one side. If from a technichal standpoint in a certain acoustic environment a centered sound is equally loud as an extremely panned sound - the human brain will interpret the panned one as louder. You could say, because it comes from outside our field of vision - where enemies would sneak up on us :wink: .


The only part I don’t agree with you in is the “room issues” part. Obviously, a treated room will give you a better sense on what’s really happening when mixing. But Pan Laws are not room correction tools. That is what I was trying to say.

Now, I need to prepare my computer for Cubase Pro 8. So far I’m very impressed! If everything works as advertised, these new feature set will make Cubase the best DAW on the market. Very excited!