Music Composers Unite!
So here I go again, I can not stop obsessing about getting panning right. I've been looking at Mattias Westlund's tutorial on the subject:
It highlights a dilemma: Today's sound libraries are pre-panned, or recorded in place, and so should not be panned. Doing so can cause "all sorts of problems," according to one individual who provided feedback. This is because the instruments were recorded in actual halls, so moving their positions is in effect messing up the acoustics of the halls.
However...what if you use multiple libraries, as many do? Now, the situation is that you have different halls competing with each other, so here panning everything to the same scheme would seem to make sense. But doing so would cause the problem noted above (messing with the halls' acoustics).
Seems like an unsolvable problem. Personally I do use multiple libraries (GPO, EWSO, Cinematic Strings, and Vienna Sp. Ed. Also, some single instances of Dimension Pro, a synth that comes with Cakewalk). I do pan them to the same values. I have developed the scheme I use after years of experimentation, and it is close to what most people use:
Violins left, Violas center, Cellos & Basses right; Woodwinds clustered near the middle; Horns left, Trumpets & Trombones right; Timpani & Perc. left; Harp far left. Other instruments to taste. I use exact values but no need to mention them here (unless someone wants to see them).
I am not totally satisfied with this scheme, but it's the best I've been able to come up with. I do think that one can make things work using other schemes, including just leaving everything in the default positions; or just dialing everything in solely by ear. Reverb also is very big in this as it controls depth.
So, to the minority of members here who use a DAW, or even notation composers who try to create realism in the sound of their notation program, what makes sense to you? It may seem like pointless obsessing, but I think it is extremely important, as the sound versions we make of our music should sound realistic and convincing.
Addendum: I do sometimes switch 2V and Violas. Also sometimes I put the violas to the right, as in most orchestras that's where they are, kind of straddling the center-right area of the stage. (Who was it that said, 'if you get the violas right, everything else falls into place'?). Also I have a tendency to put every inst. in a unique spot, but that is not how it is in reality. Some inst's. are behind others. Perhaps panning should reflect that? Here is where reverb helps - you give the instr. farther back more reverb, which creates a sense of distance.
My guess is that American libraries pan violins left and violas right, where European ones switch them. Cinematic Strings, which is made by some Australian chaps, go with the Euro model.
It may be that I will have to bite the bullet and go with a software like Mir or Virtual Sound Stage to really resolve this issue. But even there I would think the problem of using different halls would arise, if you used the presets. VSS for example has presets for different libraries. But if you mix them, once again you are mixing different halls. So I would think that there as well, you would be best served by manually panning and reverb-ing everything according to your own preference.
Micheal this is a cursory comment that I hope will be helpful to you. I don't have the time to go into great detail on it at this time, so I'll give a sort of overview of how I would likely approach the issue. Of course if you're following an orchestral panning based on a real orchestra then there are two subjects here, panning according to prescribed instrumental layout and panning technique in a daw.
I'll mainly be covering the second one because the other one is highly discretionary. Most daws have panning law adjustments in their preferences sections. In many cases a mono source will be more effective in an orchestral stereo field since panning a stereo source will only lessen one side. In addition reverb is probably best left to a one feed buss that the instruments are sent to. Using multiple reverbs gets really complicated unless the person knows exactly what they are doing.
For these reasons I would make most tracks mono in the daw and send reverb to a stereo reverb. I would make a strict panning law or use something like the BOZ pan knob LINK TO BOZ.I much prefer the BOZ over the panning laws in my daw if isolation is paramount.
I'm not against stereo, I just think it sometimes complicates things if all of the source material is in stereo. The more you cans trip things down and have common feeds the better.
Thanks Tim, I had forgotten about this thread, it seemed destined for the No Reply bin. That's an interesting point you mention about stereo vs. mono. I always go with stereo, but maybe I should rethink this. This can get almost hopelessly complicated. Which is why I get tempted to use a dedicated program like Mir, where much of the configuring is done for you. most folks here are just not savvy enough when it comes to engineering stuff, and that certainly includes me. But you have given me some good feedback to chew on!