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"weird" panning?

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through the past 2 years i gained a bit of mixing experience, which mostly dramatically changed my listening behavior. i focus more on how is this piece of music done, what is where, try to separate parts and try to find out how things are composed together aso.

things i never were aware of before, spring now into my mind when listening to music.


that said, i found out most rock/pop music uses something i would call a "classic panning scheme"

drums and bass in the center

lead and rhythm guitar either panned hard left or right, so one is on either side

vocals depend on arrangement are also dead center or slightly moved or moving around

guitar solos are also mostly centered


and than yesterday i listened to hendrix "are you experienced" album, which i did't in a long time and listened to it with my new behavior for the first time.


every song on this album is different panned in the stereo field and some songs are really "weird" e.g. the wind cries mary

drums on the right side

vocals on the left

guitar (lead/rythm/solo) in the center with the bass


i was really surprised.


i can imagine, in those days, with a full stereo system, larger speakers in the living room, this kind of extreme panning, was not really recognized, cause of size of speakers and the room and the sitting position of the listener aso


but nowadays, were most music is consumed via ipod's and small earplugs, such a panning could affect the audience and could be believed as not good sounding, cause it uses not the "classic" or "standard" scheme of panning in the stereo field


what ya think? is such kind of panning outdated in the ipod age? or still useable, when used wisely? how far could someone go?


side question: do we still need to care about, if a stereo mix still sounds good in mono for mono radio players, beside of phase cancellation issues?

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I think some of that was due to limitations on tape machines, or, because of common practices from early periods when tape machines were more primitive. I think originally a 4 track tape was just right and left for each side, so any overdubs would have to be hard-panned to the opposite side from the music.

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interesting point, the source of the panning could have been a hardware limitation...


...still would you use such things for e.g. artistical expression?

e.g. for hendrix putting the guitar in the center into the main focus sounds obvious on paper, doesn't it?

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Albums like Jeff Beck Groups Orange album have weird things going on, too, like kick and snare panned left and right. That was done in 1971, and the rock mixing template was being codified around then. Since that was at least 8 track, and maybe 16, I would chalk those up to artistic decisions. Stereo was still pretty new, then.

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About 12 years ago I was playing in a cover band part time and we were doing

some beatles tunes thet were pretty darn convincing live. Good vocals and all of that.

I remember recording Nowhere Man and no matter how I mixed it it just didnt sound right.

All the track elements were spot on, and even though it was our own rendition the performance was great.

It didnt sound bad in fairly tight mono but I just couldnt get the mix to hit me like it should.


I finall broke out the CD and imported the original track to use as a template and figure out what could be done,

and it was all right there. As panned the guitars bass and vocals hard over I remember how unnatural it first sounded

and thought to myself this is going to sound awful. Then I started matching the EQ responce of the instrments

responce and it was like flucking magic. There it was, the missing element to the mix I had been missing.


Both speakers were pushing independant information but when you stood back and listened to it in the room it was unified.

The problem I was having originally was I was too close to the mix trying to climb inside the speakers to make things work.

With the stereo wide panned like that it was almost like the speakers were the perrformers standing and playing along side you in 3D.


You do have to give Kutos to the work done by our predicessors. Thay may have had some limited technology, but thay sure

as hell used it effectively. Then when you compare the power of the technology we have in the DAW in front of us and how

poorly we put it to use, it wakes you up and you realize how much creativity is possible if we arent locked mixing to sound

like everyone else.

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