Panning Symphony Orchestra Instruments
OK, the first thing that you need to do is to understand how different instruments are located within the symphony orchestra. With this information, you can derive vital information on how you are going to panned each of them accurately in the stereo field.
Start with looking at the screenshot below:
Photo credits: thinkquest.org
Its obvious that the violas are on the center, violin on the left-center region, cellos on the right, percussion on the back, etc. So how are you going to translate the above information to actual panning settings? See the final panning settings implemented below:
For the reason why the above settings was done, take a look at the symphony orchestra instruments layout shown before and use the Notion3 panning settings guide discussed earlier. For example, cello is placed on the entire right region of the orchestra, so it is also panned to occupy the entire right region of the stereo field. Also Oboe is placed on the center and it should also be panned on the center.
How to make it sound the instrument more up-front or back?
The easiest solution is to simply use the following rules on setting levels (volume) for each instrument:
1.) For instruments placed on front of the audience, it will have more volume due to the direct nature of sound reaching the audience ears.
2.) For instruments placed on the back of the orchestra (e.g. oboe, horn, etc.), assign a lower volume levels. Below are the assigned volume level settings for each instrument Symphony #25:
As discussed, since Oboe and Horn are placed on the back of the orchestra, they should have lower volume levels set (-6dB in the above screenshot). While Viola, Violin and Cello should be made to sound louder since they are directly fronting the audience. Careful not to clip the master output(exceeding 0dB showing red), allow -3dB maximum to be safe. See a sample screenshot below for Notion3 master output level meters:
Listen to the 1 minute mix down of Symphony #25 by Mozart using Notion3 with the audio mixing settings:
If you want more information regarding this topic, you can read the tutorial on symphony orchestra panning and reverb settings. If you want to download Symphony #25 First movement sheet music, you can do it here.
Content last updated on July 25, 2012