Cubase Panning Control

Cubase Panning Control

When it comes to audio channels, the pan control is, in theory, pretty simple: if it's set to centre, an equal amount of the sound comes out of both speakers to give the illusion the sound is centered, while if the pan control is set to hard left or right, the sound only comes out of either the left or right speaker. By default the pan control for audio-based channels is set to centre, and for MIDI Channels it's set to 'off', meaning that no MIDI pan information is sent.

Cubase SX 3 and up offers additional flexibility for configuring the behaviour of the Mixer's VU meters via the VU Meter Settings sub-menu, available based on data from a pop-up menu if you right-click on the Mixer window.

Sounds straightforward. However, the pan control isn't that novice since without some form of compensation it's possible for sounds to sound unnaturally louder when they're panned centrally — there is output from two speakers, compared to when a sound is panned hard left or right, when there's only output from one. The solution, is to attenuate the signal as it passes through the center. This behaviour is known as pan law in recording.

You can adjust the amount of attenuation with the Pan Law Mode setting in the Project Setup window (press Shift+S to open). Cubase offers 3 choices.

0dB suggests there may be no attenuation in the center. As explained above, this can cause an unnatural stereo image, making sounds usually panned center (such as bass and bass-drum sounds) appear louder than they really are.

—6dB is, in theory, more natural sounding, but can be unsatisfactory for people who need tons of punch in instruments panned centrally (such as a bass line), so it's best to use this setting for stereo music where mono compatibility is important, as when producing audio for TV or other broadcast work.

—3dB is a compromise between the two settings, and Steinberg recommend its use for the majority of stereo music.

The default pan control in Cubase, where you can pan a sound from left to right in the stereo field, is known as the Stereo Balance Panner, while in the case of stereo audio tracks, if you right-click on a pan control you'll notice quickly Cubase provides a choice of two additional types of pan control for each channel. The Stereo Dual Panner gives you two Balance panners in the space of one, so now you can control the panning for each side of a stereo signal separately. The Stereo Combined Panner puts both left and right controls in the same field, with a filled blue area between them to show the width of the field. The left and right controls are linked by default, but you can move them independently by Alt/Option-dragging. The filled area between the two sides become red if left and right channels are reversed.