Interesting panning in big band albums

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ttf_davdud101
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Interesting panning in big band albums

Post by ttf_davdud101 » Wed Jan 31, 2018 7:50 am

We've all heard tons of big band. I'm sure those of us who've had the pleasure of listening to albums using headphones (where the left and right channels are isolated into each ear) have noticed some interesting panning choices on various albums, to arguably varying degrees of success. It's probably goes with out saying that a lot of these mixes were designed to be played out loud on speakers from record players and aren't mixed for headphones.

Some variations I've heard
- saxes and trombones hard L&R, trumpets in the center
- drums & bass hard L&R with winds spread throughout center
- ALL winds hard-panned to one side, bass in center and drums/piano on the other side
- and many others

I do a lot of mixing in the home studio so this topic holds some personal interest for me.  I find that when compared to choices that I might make based on what can happen LIVE in a real room, a lot of these mixing feel a bit off-balance. Strangely enough though, some mixes that put the bass or drums all the way on one side, among other odd choices, still sound really good even with what feels a bit like an unbalance. There is typically a bit of reverb that kind of glues everything together and gives the whole mix a sense of unity even when the panning choices are technically "unrealistic" or don't match the way things would sound in a real life scenario.

What are some of your favorite (and least-favorite) panning choices? Any interesting ones that you can think of? Any times where mixing choices destroyed (or maybe saved) an album in your opinion?  Image

ttf_Doug Elliott
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Interesting panning in big band albums

Post by ttf_Doug Elliott » Wed Jan 31, 2018 7:56 am

I have been in on the mixing of several CD's, and I can hardly imagine doing it any of those ways....
ttf_robcat2075
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Interesting panning in big band albums

Post by ttf_robcat2075 » Wed Jan 31, 2018 8:29 am

Are these albums from the 50s and 60s?

"STEREO" was a big selling point.  You paid for STEREO and you're going to get it!

Image




I remember the first time I heard stereo. After only having heard mono recordings it was joltingly different and magical and people loved that separation of sound.

The classic Stereo faux pas of that era was the Beatles albums that were recorded with the intention of being mixed to mono but the (U.S. ?) record label needed a Stereo release so they hard-panned the vocals to one side and the instruments to the other.  It was almost painful to listen to those with headphones.




ttf_robcat2075
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Interesting panning in big band albums

Post by ttf_robcat2075 » Wed Jan 31, 2018 9:32 am

One other possible reason for the severe panning is that the separation of channels in an LP record was not complete. You had the same needle trying to pick out two different signals and it was impossible to eliminate "cross talk".


High end LP turntable "cartridges" were sold on claims of "stereo separation" in dB.  20-30 dB might be typical stated numbers, which still leaves an audible signal where it was not intended.

I suspect that recording engineers would exaggerate the stereo panning to make up for an anticipated lack of separation in most consumer audio systems.

If you are listening to a CD made from those stereo mixes... it might be that the separation is a bit more than what a typical listener got back then.
ttf_Pre59
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Interesting panning in big band albums

Post by ttf_Pre59 » Wed Jan 31, 2018 12:30 pm

Quote from: robcat2075 on Jan 31, 2018, 08:29AMAre these albums from the 50s and 60s?

"STEREO" was a big selling point.  You paid for STEREO and you're going to get it!

Image




I remember the first time I heard stereo. After only having heard mono recordings it was joltingly different and magical and people loved that separation of sound.

The classic Stereo faux pas of that era was the Beatles albums that were recorded with the intention of being mixed to mono but the (U.S. ?) record label needed a Stereo release so they hard-panned the vocals to one side and the instruments to the other.  It was almost painful to listen to those with headphones.





In these early times the studios didn't have Pan knobs (or potentiometers), but switches, so that channels could only be sent Left Mid or Right. Also the modern mixers with multiple bussing/routing etc were still a few years away.
ttf_Ellrod
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Interesting panning in big band albums

Post by ttf_Ellrod » Wed Jan 31, 2018 1:29 pm

I keep reading the title of this thread as "Interested in panning big band albums".


ttf_robcat2075
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Interesting panning in big band albums

Post by ttf_robcat2075 » Wed Jan 31, 2018 1:38 pm

Quote from: Pre59 on Jan 31, 2018, 12:30PMIn these early times the studios didn't have Pan knobs (or potentiometers), but switches, so that channels could only be sent Left Mid or Right. Also the modern mixers with multiple bussing/routing etc were still a few years away.

I don't doubt that some studio was too cheap to get pan knobs but you could buy a home stereo with a pan knob by 1963 at least.

Image


ttf_Pre59
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Interesting panning in big band albums

Post by ttf_Pre59 » Wed Jan 31, 2018 2:16 pm

Quote from: robcat2075 on Jan 31, 2018, 01:38PM
I don't doubt that some studio was too cheap to get pan knobs but you could buy a home stereo with a pan knob by 1963 at least.

Image



This should cover it.

https://londonjazzcollector.wordpress.c ... to-stereo/


http://forums.stevehoffman.tv/threads/h ... ng.304465/

ttf_JohnL
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Interesting panning in big band albums

Post by ttf_JohnL » Wed Jan 31, 2018 2:58 pm

There's some interesting panning that goes on with the piano on the Maynard Ferguson version of Chick Corea's La Fiesta. Sometimes the piano is hard right, sometimes centered, and sometimes hard left. In a couple spots, it's sort of a call-and-response kind of effect.
ttf_robcat2075
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Interesting panning in big band albums

Post by ttf_robcat2075 » Wed Jan 31, 2018 3:47 pm

Quote from: Pre59 on Jan 31, 2018, 02:16PM
https://londonjazzcollector.wordpress.c ... to-stereo/

http://forums.stevehoffman.tv/threads/h ... ng.304465/


They say pan pots already exist and are available and being used on commercial recordings by late fifties.

Blue Note late to the game? Guess so. They did how many Beatle albums?
ttf_jimkinkella
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Interesting panning in big band albums

Post by ttf_jimkinkella » Wed Jan 31, 2018 5:54 pm

Back when I was recording (engineering) stuff we did a lot of strange things.
Mostly to control which / how different instruments bled into each other's microphones.
Other reasons were to manipulate how sections blended together or how the room reacted to the band.

And yes, some things definitely sounded great on stereo loudspeakers and kind of unexpected on headphones.


ttf_Pre59
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Interesting panning in big band albums

Post by ttf_Pre59 » Thu Feb 01, 2018 4:05 am

Quote from: robcat2075 on Jan 31, 2018, 03:47PMThey say pan pots already exist and are available and being used on commercial recordings by late fifties.

Blue Note late to the game? Guess so. They did how many Beatle albums?

Have you thought about doing a little research yourself? Start with a book like "Stereo Microphone Techniques" by Bruce Bartlett, which deals with recording events as a whole, and where a panning control works in a similar way to the balance control on a stereo amp.

But, the "pseudo" stereo on the albums in question is more of a construction from the isolated instrumental elements, mixed together using the (very expensive) gear available at that time. Some studios even made their own.

I'm old enough to have worked in some studios in London in the early '70's, the equipment was very limited by any modern standard. Still sounded good though..
ttf_EdGrissom
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Interesting panning in big band albums

Post by ttf_EdGrissom » Thu Feb 01, 2018 4:16 am

Who remembers the electric piano solo on Maynard Ferguson's "La Fiesta"?  That was some crazy panning.

ttf_EdGrissom
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Interesting panning in big band albums

Post by ttf_EdGrissom » Thu Feb 01, 2018 4:16 am

Who remembers the electric piano solo on Maynard Ferguson's "La Fiesta"?  That was some crazy panning.

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