Wednesday, October 04, 2006

The Laws of the Pan

If you haven't explicitly set a Pan Law in Logic, then I *strongly* urge you to try this one out.

A pan law is the algorithm a DAW uses to pan an audio signal between the left and right outputs.

By default, Logic uses a 0dB pan law. If you've been using Logic prior to 7.1, you will have been using a 0dB pan law in all your mixes, as it's the only pan law Logic had.

With a 0dB pan law, Logic does not change the signal level when you pan a signal, which means that when a signal is dead centre, it is actually louder than when it is at the extreme left or right.

Think about it - when panned fully to the left, you're hearing one channel at the fader level, whereas in the centre you're hearing two channels (left and right channel), each at the fader level - therefore the combined signal is 6dB louder.

7.1 finally introduced some pan law options, letting you choose between 0dB, -3dB, and -3dB Compensated. You'll the option under File -> Song Settings -> Audio.

The -3dB and -3dB Compensated algorithms actually reduce the level of a signal when it's in the centre (or increases the level when it's fully panned), so the centre doesn't appear louder.

These two settings are effectively the same apart from a 3dB volume adjustment:
-3dB setting: Left 0dB, Centre -3dB, Right 0dB
-3dB compensated setting: Left +3dB, Centre 0dB, Right +3dB

-3dB: Reduces a signal by 3dB when panned to the centre
-3dB comp: Increases the level of a signal by 3dB when panned fully to the left or right.

I often found it tricky to get a mix I was happy with, I often found the mix "flat" and lacking depth, or the centre was too forward, and I had to work really hard to get something I was happy with - then I found the pan law settings, and using the -3dB Compensated setting, all of a sudden my depth was back, the mixes "sat" much better, and the depth increased.

Having told a few other people about this, they all had a similar positive experience - so I strongly urge you to try it for yourself and see which settings work best for you. You may find you don't want to go back to the 0dB default...

The Pan Law is a Song Setting rather than a system preference, so if you want to always use it, make sure you change the setting in your default autoload song and any other templates you use.

Further reading: New Features in Logic Pro 7.2 - page 17


At 6:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just wanted to say I really enjoy what you are doing. Keep up the fantastic work!

At 7:28 AM, Blogger Bee Jay said...

Spread the word... :)

At 9:57 AM, Blogger noahstone said...

Yup, it's becoming a daily visit for me.

Keep on keeping on.


At 12:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is there a "new features in Logic pro 7.1" pdf anywhere? I can only find the 7.2 you linked to.

Thanks for the tips, these are GREAT!!

At 2:11 PM, Anonymous xs4is said...

Bee Jay,

This whole site is incredible. And you are being so prolific with it. I'm absolutely flabbergasted.

Thank you for your time and effort.


At 3:06 PM, Blogger Bee Jay said...

Yes there is a 7.1 document, but the 7.2 document contains all that stuff as well - it covers all changes from 7.0 to 7.2 - and also a few things that *should* be in the 7.1 update manual but aren't, so I recommend sticking with the 7.2 one.

Thanks for the kind words everybody, it's really appreciated - make sure you guys tell other Logic users about this, and I'll keep plugging on with interesting stuff.

I can't guarantee it'll always be one a day, but as long as people are interested I'll do my best!

At 12:05 AM, Blogger noahstone said...

I can't find this feature in Logic Express.

At 2:21 AM, Blogger Bee Jay said...

Noahstone - this blog is "Tips, Tricks and Techniques for Logic Pro".

Logic Express, being a cut-down version of Logic, is missing many Logic Pro feaures, so there are bound to be tips that Logic Express users can't make use of.

And as I don't own Logic Express, I cannot check on a tip by tip basis whether Logic Express fully supports, partially supports, or doesn't support a particular feature, sorry.

At 5:32 AM, Anonymous vaxa said...

Big Thanks !
Just do what you do !

At 2:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

that's the most useful tip I've heard in a long time...makes me feel silly for not checking it out before...

At 9:35 AM, Blogger noahstone said...

I know, Bee Jay. I'm not expecting you to test on Express.

I did a lot of homework on the differences b/w Pro and Express. Apple doesn't make clear the little things like this.

At 9:50 AM, Blogger Bee Jay said...

One thing to realise is that Pro is the development leader, so most effort goes into the core framework.

Some features that are included by way of smaller updates to Pro may well get included in Logic Express - but it may take a while.

The pan law setting is an example of this - it isn't even mentioned in the 7.0 manual, but *is* mentioned in the late-breaking news file, so it was a late edition.

I guess the only way to guage this stuff is to read the docs with all the updates. But Pro is always going to have the best stuff, and I guess there are two types of Express users - ones that are basically happy with the features you get, and ones that start to require features that Pro provides - once you get to that point, it's probably worth thinking about saving up and upgrading...

At 11:15 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

WOW. This is the thing I've been missing! I'm currently remixing my stems with this thing on.

The laws of pan eh... is that the mythical pan with horns?

Thanks for this - it's amazing!


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