Have you ever been in that situation where you’re desperately panning a track but just can’t seem to find the best place for it? Here’s one trick that can save you some serious hair-pulling:
- Set your stereo bus temporarily to mono.
- Pan the track around until you find a spot where it sounds clear and uncluttered relative to the other sounds.
- Un-mono your stereo bus. I bet you the track will be in a relatively tasty place in the mix!
Why does this work? While we’re used to using EQ and compression to make tracks play nicely together, it’s easy to forget that the stereo spectrum is another way in which tracks can interact. Monitoring in mono takes those interactions, summed in stereo, and exposes them in the worst-case scenario. If it the stereo gain structure sounds good in mono, it’ll probably sound even better in stereo.