Monkey Raptor

Monday, December 9, 2013

Audio Panning to Provide Room for Tracks and for Achieving Wider Sounding

super cool speakers art by Yoshida
This is a simple tip about audio production, if you're interested to enhance anything related to sound and music.

Anyway, I'm using the old Adobe Audition 1.0 here as the interface example snapshots. And I put flash player as the audio example player.

I based this on my hearing, so don't expect some FFT (Fourier Fast Transform, Fast Fourier Transform, Fast Fast Tsaf) analysis or any detailed DSP (Digital Signal Processing) things. Basically, panning (shifting to different channel) is related to the amount of audio signal power being spread. The track source(s) can be monaural (mono) or stereophonic  (stereo).

All audio digital editor-mixer products have this function. It's a common and basic function, which I found very useful to distribute audio power between channels. You can also find that on the actual (digital and analog) audio mixer, either in a recording studio or in a live stage. Or probably on your desktop active loudspeaker (which I assume, expensive, am I right?).

So the purpose of spreading the tracks is to get the aural ambient that suits our taste, and, OF COURSE, to avoid clipping because of the audio signals superposition (the mixing). Man, I typed like I'm smart or sumthin. No dude, I'm not. Calm down bro, not going to be too geeky physics-y. These all based on my curiosity.

Anywho, the concept of digital audio shaping is related to:
  • The signal strength (amplitude and power)
  • The frequency (related to filter)
  • The signal phase (also about filter)
  • The bit rate of the recording/mixing/post-production. The thing you saw on your MP3 player, like 128 kbps, or 320 kbps, and such. (related to DSP)
  • The sampling frequency of the audio, such as 44.1 kHz, 48 kHz, etc. You perhaps noticed that too on your iPod or other audio players. (related to DSP, the computor)
  • And others...

Let's get back to the panning. 
This is strongly related to amplitude of each audio channel. I put some examples of this. Say we have 4 recorded tracks. I put my guitar tracks on this. 
If you have an external mixer, or other external audio processor, you can do the panning externally before the signal enters the computer. But in this example, I recorded the inputs evenly (meaning put every panning knobs as 0 or centered) and shape them out on the Adobe Audition. 

This is the example of not-touched-panning audio, all centered

all centered tracks audio mixing

The sound of that:
Sorry, your browser doesn't support flash.

This is the example of panning the first two rhythms equally 50% to right and left.

shift couple audio tracks to get wider room

The sound of that:
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This the example of "moving" all tracks to each side
shift all tracks to different channels to make even larger space

The sound of that:
Sorry, your browser doesn't support flash.

Notice the differences? This simple old trick will provide you "more" room to add more and more tracks without being "worried" of signal clipping. This also can be useful to make the vocal (singing) or the instrument solo has breathing space. Of course, not only panning that can be used to make a particular track punching out from the crowded rhythms. We could use filter and aural effects (chorus and such) to make some richer output.

So all in all, the digital audio shaping, can be applied just externally (usually for live gig) or just internally, or the combination of both. This panning thingy is a powerful arsenal in a big open field stage, and studio recording for sure. Imagine those gigantic speakers, the crowds, and the arena to be covered evenly. That needs years of training and experience to manage the audio output.

Luckily, I have some friends and family which work professionally in that particular field of engineering. So, I experienced a thing or two about the hectic of live music events, especially the people behind scene, and of course the crowd control (security), that's so funny. Wait, I thought this is about home recording? Well, it is. Just ramblin' out other related music things.

The panning function can be manually adjusted with static value or dynamic value, animated (moving-like), depends on your audio software. In Adobe Audition, you can find pand/expand effect, that has script for dynamic things. Useful for sound effect, or even enhancing the storyline of the music/song itself.

This is a super short example of me creating a metal tribute for The Simpsons: The Chimpson.

Sorry, your browser doesn't support flash.

You can download the music track on my site

Thanks for visiting. I hope I wrote some useful information about this subject.
Audio Panning to Provide Room for Tracks and for Achieving Wider Sounding

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