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Daktari

Panning in 3 Dimensions ?

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Hi there,

As a novice home recordist, I am beginning to notice on some of my stuff how different sounds appear not just to be positioned left or right but also seem to be set further back and sometimes low or high in position. If this is happening, believe me, it is a complete accidental effect but it did get me into thinking about it.

When I start to mix and attempt to separate my sounds, I always start off with everything dead center. I think there is a tendency to sometimes over exaggerate the separation of vocals and instruments and the finished recording somehow doesn't hang together properly and can in fact have too much space.

Ok, I started to experiment a little and I'm finding that it's possible to separate sounds not just by panning left to right but by also trying to set them back in the mix. Towards the back of the stage if you will.

Example, the main vocal wants to be the main focal point so this might be panned 5% left with quite a middle presence on the main voice but any reverb/delay added I would play down to keep the voice at the front of the stage.

Now the backing vocal/harmony. I would pan this let's say 15% to the right but with less middle presence to set it back in the mix. I'm finding that by then adding slightly more effect to the backing vocal and brightening the effect more than on the lead vocal, this will send the backing vocal more towards the back of the stage.

I also have noticed the illusion of certain sounds appearing lower towards the floor whilst others seem maybe 7 ft in the air. I'm trying to figure out how this happens because it would be a great tool to have, especially in multi-track recordings where each sound is wanting a space of it's own.

Maybe that some of you more experienced recordists already know how to do all this stuff and if this is something that I've just missed somewhere, please let me know, might save me a lot of time, ha, ha...

Personally, I have never positioned any sound either all left or all right. I think sometimes my little percussive chinks and shakes end up the farthest out but even then only around 40% either way.By the way, this percentage thing is just the way the Boss is set up. One sound set 50% left and another sound set 50% right would be 100% separated. I like this way of working. Usually, all my guitar sounds and vocals all lie within 25% either way, - that is all within the center 50% arc.

Now my brain is tired, that is technical for me.....:blink:

All the best, Gordon

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Gordon, very interesting ideas. I don't see how we can imply a vertical element to our sound - we only have two speakers to produce the sound. As an experiment, I just recorded a shaker in front of 2 mics angled in at ~ 60 degrees so that the shaker was at the apex. I rattled the shaker from ground level to up above the mics and then back down - slowly going upwards and then falling downwards. I panned the recording left and right about 70% to simulate the mics' positions.

Here's the recording...

Hear any vertical movement?

Maybe there are some psycho acoustic tricks that you can do to make the sound feel like it is coming from above or below - I don't know.

-Doug

vertical.mp3

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Hi there,

Thanks Doug for doing that little experiment. No, I coudn't detect any vertical movement there. I think you are right that it is a kind of audio illusion and it needs other sounds present for this illusion to work. There has to be a contrast, something for our minds to compare to before this effect would work.

That's partly why I was asking if anyone knows of any tricks or techniques that might achieve this. I don't think the answer is by recording a vocal at the top of a step ladder, that might get dangerous. It is all in the audio mind games as you say.

For example, the bass seems to come from low down in height compared to say a tambourine which seems to be higher. I know it must be possible because I am old enough to remember when stereo was still taking off in a big way and my dad had one of those demonstration records. On this there was a recording of a Lancaster bomber which swooped round from the front right, steadily grew louder and louder until it eventually flew right over your head and behind. This was before surround sound and worked with just two front speakers or with headphones.

Honestly, it's not a big problem for me because so far, I think the most sounds I've used on any one recording is seven. Plenty of space to fit them in...ha, ha.

Maybe as I get more advanced, then I'll need more space and start looking higher.

Gordon.:walkman:

p.s. Doug, just adding to this after I remembered something which might explain why I'm hearing this effect. My main hi-fi in the house is a Bose 3-2-1 which as well as being a hi-fi it was also designed to be a home theatre surround sound system. Now, Bose are pretty clever when it comes to acoustics and although this system just has one bass module and two front speakers, it is capable of producing sounds from behind. I know, I had to hear it myself before I believed it but it does do that. It bounces the sound off walls apparently and gives the illusion of surround sound.

Maybe it is playing my music through this system that is tricking me into hearing differing heights of sounds. Just a thought.

However, that still does not change the old Lancaster bomber effect of seeming to fly overhead ?

Interesting.. Gordon.

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Interesting thread Gordon, don't know if this gets near what you're looking for but I've found this article on 3D Panning with a couple of Audio files, works on a circle theory, all the tracks are spaced around at different levels, I wouldn't mind having a go at this with some soundbites, it may though ultimately depend on what the listener is listening on, a surround sound system would bring out the full effect of any panning, I listened to these tracks on a couple of gaming speakers picked up the panning effects but not necessarily the full effect of what the producer was trying to do, be interested to hear how it sounds on your end, I assume that a mixture of equalizers, panning and volume would have to be used to create this effect, an attempt at 3D Panning may sound more effective through Headphones if the listener only has basic speakers but I'm just guessing with that one.

Traxmusic, pro audio reviews » Audio Archive » Quick guide to Extreme Panning with Spin Audio

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How much of the high frequencies "being on top" comes from the tweeters on top of most speaker cabs.. and lows coming from the sub or otherwise plain woofer.

So Tambourines would be easier to make "high" in the mix... than say the Lancaster Bomber.

Lets look at some other points. In Pink Floyd's "Goodbye Blue Skies" they have a bomber flying "high above" that is the thin drone of an aircraft far away... and in the first section of "The Wall" there is the sound of a "Dive Bomber" coming in from one side that starts as a higher pitch and seems to get "lower" and fuller as it gets close to center... where it "releases its bomb" and a low frequency explosion results.

Its a fact that everything is a straight line from a mic... there is no up or down... its just proximity.

But... if you take two mics, not one... record the room in stereo so that each mic is picking up the proximity of a single sound... then you can get more "location" reading from the different mic placements picking up the same source from different "straight lines".

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The Neumann Dummy Head microphone actually replicates the human hearing and wherever the sound source is in relation to the microphone, when you listen back on headphones it will sound like that source is coming from the same position (in front, behind, above, etc). This is a VERY expensive way of doing it, but it is creepily realistic.

Neumann | KU 100 Dummy Head Microphone | KU 100 | B&H Photo Video

Here is an example of it in action... If you haven't already heard this, prepare to be amazed!!! :)

Virtual Hair Cut:

Note: You have to use headphones when listening to that otherwise you don't get the full effect.

-tkr

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Thanks for the link Tekker, that was pretty amazing definitely had the WOW Factor, very expensive but it does what it says brilliantly, weirdest microphone I've ever seen, it sounds awesome through headphones.

Cheers

Chris

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Wow, that is impressive indeed and almost a bit creepy because I had just been thinking about getting a hair cut.

At least that shows what is possible given the expensive equipment to make it work.

Although that is impressive as a demonstration, for our average song recordings that is probably way over the top. The more I think about it, my conception of hearing different heights is in fact due to the trickiness from my Bose system. They are very good on the room acoustics side and this is probably what I am hearing.

The depth part of it is a lot more simple and I think I'm getting the hang of that slowly. So, unless I decide to fork out eight grand on one of them funny mics, - I'll just be sticking to 2-D sound I think. Left, Right, and Back,Front.

All the best, Gordon.:smilinguitar:

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i get your original point Gordon.... i do think there is something to it...

i remember a "cult" song with a guitar part that pans from dead right to dead left. when listening with headphones you don't get true 3d sound i.e in front and behind but the sound travels up from the right ear and goes over your head to the left as if following the headband of the headphones

with regards to floyd i remember hearing something about quadraphonic sound being used for recording...maybe dark side of the moon...and when the record company failed to install a quadraphonic sound system for the release pink floyd sent cardboard cut-outs of themselves instead of appearing themselves in 3d..lol

i'm sure tho in true stereo (when using headphones) that dead left or right is lower... i.e level with your ear and dead centre is higher... i.e above your head and half way left or right is in between (to my ears at least) i think this may have something to do with the inner ear and balance...i've never experienced the sound coming from under my chin with headphones...which to me makes sense as our inner ear lets us know which way is up.....:dunno:

cheers......Paul

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