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Author Topic: LCR Mixing  (Read 9653 times)

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January 27, 2012, 07:07:29 PM
When I was younger I was completely opposed to the idea of absolute LCR (left center right if you enjoy being patronised, heh) mixing, and hard-panning as whole really.  And yet over the past couple years I've come to effectively view my pan pots as toggle switches with 3 settings.  Of course, it isn't always the right way.  Toms, for instance, don't sound right to me when they're extreme panned.  But in general I just love the definition and clarity, the wide-open sound.  Placing the musicians in their own space.  Instead of stressing over where to pan things, I just need to think about WHAT to pan.  Sure, it's about serving the song and not a formula, but it almost always just...sounds good, I can't deny it.  Hell, I've even started recording with an LCR mix in mind.

Just wondering what you guys think of LCR mixing as a technique.  It's usually an interesting topic for discussion (because people seem to love it or HATE it!)  I'm amazed that I could go from hating it to practically swearing by it.
« Last Edit: January 27, 2012, 07:10:19 PM by Darkandtwisted »

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January 28, 2012, 01:56:43 AM
I'm also mostly a total LCR guy nowadays. Especially rock music seem to sound good with extreme pannings. Hell, it might actually be the sound of rock 'n' roll!

I've been listening to Tool's both "Lateralus" and "10.000 Days" and while both are music-wise exceptionally, 10.000 Days triumphs soundwise totally. That album has one
the best distorted guitar sounds I've ever heard: Lots of high end and bite without being harsh. The Lateralus' guitars on the other hand are slightly mushy and undefinite.
It sounds to me that the Days' guitar are panned totally LCR with even the multimic setups being in the same place of stereo field. The Lateralus on the other hand sounds
like all the different amps are each one panned slightly different places. Although the idea might be nice that the guitar is evenly spread across the whole soundscape, it
doesn't create this "In your face" type of raw feeling which the 10.000 Days boasts with it's simple pannings.
IMO rock music benefits a lot from LCR.

On the other hand R'n'B and stuff like that seem to work much better with all-around panning; Filling the soundscape with those 20+ Bg vocals creates a different kind of
bigness, a more lush one. Also I think that more of the instruments at hand in a song are featured in stereo (more pianos, hammonds, other keyboards instead of
electric guitars) so one just can't open all the stereo tracks to LR, but pan them differently to separate them from each other more efficiently. No Thanks to Big Mono.

LCR represents attitude. It's a statement. :)
"You don't go to a record school to go to courses, you go to record school to record there!"

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January 28, 2012, 09:26:24 AM
Perfect example!  10,000 Days would be one of my favourite sounding albums ever if it weren't for the horrendous mastering...  The intro for Jambi for instance is a staggering guitar sound!  I agree about the Lateralus sound.  Good tone, good sound, but just doesn't quite have the same punch. 

Oceansize (my favourite band, woo!) were a big influence on me with regards to production, and softening me up to extreme panning.  Chris Sheldon mixed almost all their releases, and produced most of them, and he managed to get one of the greatest rock sounds ever in my opinion.  And there's minimal guitar overdubs: just each of the 3 guitarist's parts, one left, one right, and one centred.  Huge, wide-open sound.  Doesn't matter if an entire lead part is on one side, it's clarity.   (that one's a good example)

Leaves space for a mental drum sound too.  When I first heard it, and heard the "cleanish" part in the intro panned hard left, I was just like "._."   It's ridiculous and bold but it WORKS. 

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January 28, 2012, 04:02:24 PM
I tend to like guitars hard panned, though I use an opposite panned reverb, to give a bit more depth to things. Toms get panned pretty hard, but if there are more than two, I do put the middle ones around the center (though not straight up.) Baking vocals can go different ways, depending if I want them to stand out or blend with the main vocals (if they are well performed and well recorded I'd pan them wide, but they often aren't!)

I agree that at least some elements ought to hard left and hard right, or you're not using the soundstage completely.

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January 28, 2012, 07:35:49 PM
LCR sometimes works, sometimes doesn't...I was doing it in past and found it too limiting

Think about all those great things you can achieve with other panning positions, you're not limited to LCR, some people actually were when they mixed on consoles that only had those choices of panning hence that kind of approach.

Also, all those 3 spots are crucial for grabbing attention, especially L and R

I think "internet attention" towards LCR mixing started with CLA interview where he mentioned that he mixes that way.

« Last Edit: January 28, 2012, 07:39:32 PM by everbeatz »

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February 06, 2012, 09:47:16 PM
Interesting, but every statement I've read by professional mixers says it's a bit of a mistake to get into always doing everything LCR. Yeah the big distorted gats and synth pads always sound epic out there, but subtler or more organic elements rarely sound great all the way to one side, espcially if it hasn't been double-tracked or "twinned" on the other side. It is possible to have TOO MUCH seperation or distance.... like acoustic gats and percussion elements, for example, often sound unpleasantly detached from the song when you just go 100% left or right. You know like when a shaker or tambo comes in during a section, how bizarre it sounds if you stick it way out? Like the whole band is cranking along on stage but the tambo guy is, like, off-stage or something?

Also, the more something is panned out hard, the more of a compromise there is with regards to level when you mono it because of the pan law, like you can keep a consistent mono version when you do less hard LR stuff. I understand too that LCR can be a test of monitoring, that people can end up always mixing LCR because their workspace doesn't have the acoustics/fidelity to make out the "in-between" pan positions. If nothing else, it's a good way to see how your speakers perform in the "soundstage" test.
« Last Edit: February 06, 2012, 09:58:39 PM by jv »

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February 08, 2012, 01:29:35 PM
Hello guys,

I'm also the one that use LCR for my Mix, and why i do that because of the scientific explanation from Mr. David Moulton. Here is the article that blows my mind :

Please tell me about your experience guys..


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February 08, 2012, 03:55:22 PM
I suppose, if Moulton is yer model, you are mostly using un-processed mono tracks?

Because, he also says, "If you have delay lines that you can devote to this aspect of mixing, you can get some really realistic panning into the zones between Left, Center and Right."

I find that as I have gotten better at recording and mixing (two related but separate things, of course) nearly everything is either recorded stereo, or processed stereo.  Typical exceptions might be rhythm guitars, or the ubiquitous hard-panned tambo (the secret there, often, is a mono delay or plate-type reverb), or instruments that themselves pan within the mix (usually percussion.)  And of course, when doing drums I have a mono kick and a mono snare track, but those instruments are stereo in the over-heads (sometimes in the rooms, also), and the mono tracks either reinforce where the OH's are primary, or are subjected to things like plate reverbs on the snare.

The one instrument then, I have consistently mono is the bass guitar, and then sometimes the kick.
« Last Edit: February 08, 2012, 03:58:27 PM by vvv »

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February 08, 2012, 11:05:23 PM
Yes, i use mono track for my Mix. Just like the method from

So, what i do is, i double the mono track, i link the fader so the volume will be the same always, pan them hard L and hard R, then i put delay on one of them - make the position using 0.2 - 0.8 ms.

And what i realize is, i will always get very2 mono compatible Mix..because both speakers always play the same sound with the same level, and the panning position is only the brain being cheated by the delay. Even i have to mix with one speaker, or may be our listener only hear with one speaker, all of the instrument will never loose ( it's very different when we use normal Pan method ).

Please try it...then tell me what you think.  ;D ;D ;D


« Last Edit: February 08, 2012, 11:10:13 PM by cahyanandra »

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February 09, 2012, 05:43:48 AM
Of course I've done that, and still do!  8)  Altho' I fake stereo guitars, etc. more often on tracks recorded by others - I try to always record those I need in stereo, in stereo.

It's all about what works for ya.

My point was, where you are citing the respected Mr. Moulton's writings on LCR, he is primarily referring to mixing mono tracks.

As stated, I'm currently big on stereo tracks, esp. re guitars, keys and drums.  And nearly all of my mono tracks receive stereo delays or reverb processing.

Lemme mention, Mike Senior hadda contest here, wrote a terrific book from which I am still learning (as well as from Moulton and anyone else I listen to/read) in which he so strongly argued the proposition for mono mixing that it is what I do, and with great results.

That is to say, with alla my stereo tracks, I still often start my mixes in mono, and in Auratones at that.

Then I go to stereo where, with non-linked stereo tracks, I can put the pans of a equi-level tracks at 100% left and 50% right and get it to sit somewhere, mebbe, around 25% left.  With linked stereo tracks, it's a little different, but panning one 36% left is different than panning a mono track left or center ...

FWIW, I then collapse to mono just to make sure I'm not getting any funky phase-cancellation.

Other times, I start my mix in stereo, and then collapse to mono just to check it - depends on the material, my ears that day, time pressure, vodka consumed, etc.

And I do like LCR, and mono for that matter (remember "Meeting Across the River"? Great in mono, and not just because Waits is said to have written the lyrics).
« Last Edit: February 09, 2012, 05:46:56 AM by vvv »