In this free video tutorial brought to you in with the support of Plugin Alliance, Pro Tools Expert team member Julian Rodgers shows how bx_stereomaker can be used to help make hard-panned sources sound less extreme and distracting when listened to over headphones.
Why Do Hard Panned Sounds Sound Different Over Headphones?
When a hard panned sound is played back over speakers, crosstalk helps make the effect less extreme. This is because the sound from each speaker reaches both ears. This doesn't happen with headphones where the left-hand channel reaches only the left ear and vice-versa.
Because of this, extreme panning sounds less extreme on speakers than it does on headphones. This must be one of the reasons why it's unusual to have a hard-panned track which doesn't have a similar element panned to the other side to make a wide but symmetrical pair of instruments - for example, double-tracked guitars. Isolated single elements are often panned only a little.
Stereo Width Plug-ins To "Fake" Crosstalk
It would be possible to fix this issue by simply panning in a little from the extreme edge of the stereo field. However, that is just panning less. The ideal fix is to fake the crosstalk the listener would hear over speakers - some signal but subtly different in ways other than level compared to the panned side. Timbral differences are introduced by the masking effect of the head and different early reflections.
All stereo widener plug-ins introduce some crosstalk with timing, timbral and phase changes but most of them are designed to take a stereo signal and make it "more stereo". What bx_stereomaker does is allows the pan placement of a mono signal to be preserved and then widened. In this example, this is done by bussing the mono signal on to a stereo aux track.
Watch the free video tutorial to see and hear this in use on an acoustic and an electric guitar in a track.