pan law

i usually write using samples so i keep pan law as equal what do you guys go for.

We settled on equal power. It seemed to give the most balanced results for both monitoring and bouncing down.

[Joke Warning] Pan Law varies from State to State. I believe that California, for example, have enforced the -3db pan law, whereas in Tennessee you can use -6db without incurring any fine (at least, not for a first offence).
This is not to be confused with States where it is illegal to use any reverb. These, of course, are sometimes referred to as “Dry States” :stuck_out_tongue: [/Joke Warning]
Seriously though, I have always used Equal Power here (although I am not certain I would have done so had I lived in Kentucky in the 60s :stuck_out_tongue: )

The project’s pan law only becomes important when panning certain instruments from left to right and/or vice versa. Most of the time, you’re simply using static panning, so any pan law would do since you’ll be compensating with volume when using the pan laws that don’t auto-compensate. But I have found I like the -3dB pan law best when moving instruments across the stereo field. To me, it is the most “natural” sounding of all (I find the other ones too drastic or not enough, and the default one doesn’t give you a cool panning effect since it automatically compensates with volume).

If you like panning this way, I would try them all out before starting a project. Have fun! :slight_smile:

Hey Jose,

This isn’t my understanding of pan law at all. Pan law compensates for the fact that, when near-field monitoring, signals panned centre can sound up to 6dB louder (twice as loud) when sitting in the “sweet spot” very close to your speakers. Pan law compensates for this by boosting signals panned off-centre. Exactly how much of this effect you perceive is a function of your particular setup and mix position–which is why there are several pan laws available. The effect decreases as you’re further away from your speakers.

If using -3dB pan law, a signal that is panned, statically, 100% left will be boosted 3dB; and incrementally in between.

The idea is to prevent you from compensating for the effect with faders, since you’re compensating for a “ghost” effect, only audible to you, thus making your mix less universal.

Pan law also affects bouncing audio. I used to use -3 pan law until I noticed that it applied permanently to bounced audio!

Many interfaces, like my RME, have pan law as well. So you’ve got to check if your interface is also applying a pan law, or you might end up doubling-up!
My ideal is to keep Cubase at zero pan law, and adjust through RME so that bouncing audio is WYSIWYG but, my twin brother and I have identical rigs 'cos we often share projects. But his interface doesn’t have a pan law built in. So we tested all the pan laws. For us, we found Equal Power to most often give us results that made sense.

In the end, it’s whatever seems to give you good mixes.


That is incorrect. The reason why there are pan laws is to compensate for the boost in signal/voltage when panning instruments center, which would cause a boost of 3dB if you pan identical signals to the center. Also, when using a -3dB pan law, the CENTER image is what gets attenuated (not boosted). The sides stay at the current level, with a taper that decreases as the signal gets closer to the center. And yes, the pan law is a permanent effect when bouncing audio. It is supposed to work that way, or else your mix won’t sound as it was intended. As you say, WYHIWYG (changed it to hear :smiley:).

Here’s an SOS article on the subject:


Right. You’re probably correct about attenuation/boosting in Cubase’s -3 law. I’ve used systems where the “3dB law” was done the way I describe. Anyway, it’s not the man point, since the effect would be the same.

What I had an issue with, was that you seemed to be claiming that pan law only mattered if the signal was actively panning through the stereo field over time, where you talk about “static pan”, etc.

But, as I understand it, if you have a -3 pan law, and something is statically panned centre or any degree of off-centre, it is being attenuated. It doesn’t need to be moving across the field over time to be affected.

Perhaps I misunderstood you. Not trying to argue, just understand.:wink:

I understand why the law is kept for bouncing, but we were running into problems where some situations, primarily intermediary bounces of VSTi under negative-pan laws were causing surprising results. This is, if course, just my situation. In the end, we’ll all find our own pan law that gives us the best results.


What I mean, when I say that the pan law chosen doesn’t really matter in a “static” mix, is that one will compensate for any volume loss, or lack thereof, in the mixing process. The pan law obviously takes effect, so one will hear a drop by 3dB if an instrument is panned center when using the respective pan law. But the point is that, no matter what the pan law does, you will compensate for it until the mix sounds good to you. It’s really only when you start panning left to right, and/or vice versa, that the pan law matters while mixing ITB. Hope that clears it up.