MARCH, 2000

reqlogonew.gif (7329 bytes) PRODUCTION & MIXING TECHNIQUES

PANNING DOUBLES

BY ROBERT DENNIS

A common production technique is the creation of "doubles."   What I mean is the double-tracking of parts for a fuller, more interesting sound and image in the final mix.  This is a real effective way of hyping sound on the CD for a band.  There are techniques of simulating double tracks with effects units, but that's not what I am addressing here.  I'm talking about two separate performances, recorded on two different tracks, to make the production fuller and more interesting.   If the instruments are stereo sources (such as synthesizers or stereo-miced guitars), I am referring to using 4 tracks to record 2 performances.
Take for example a rock band.  If you keep adding different guitar parts you can create a monster recorded sound that the band has no chance of performing.   The result can be that the record buyers see the band live and walk away with the feeling that "Their record sounds great, but they s**k live."  This is because the band doesn't bring in 3 extra guitar players to perform all of the parts for the live performance.  If you double, however, the audience hears pretty  much the same musical parts as on the CD and walks away with a better attitude.
In this article we are using stereo guitars as an example, however, the principles would apply to just about any instrument.
TYPES OF DOUBLES
TIGHT DOUBLES With tight doubles, you take the time to make sure each and every note on the double-track matches the original track.  This type of double is used to create the illusion of one performance that is very thick or fat sounding.
PARTIAL DOUBLES This is the same kind of technique as the tight double, except that only key riffs or certain sections are doubled.  This changes the tone or thickness for those riffs or sections.  This, for instance, may be done on the chorus parts only.   The partial double increases loudness on the doubled parts without that much difference in actual metered level.
LOOSE DOUBLES With loose doubles, the double-track has a second performance but there are slight variations, usually caused by not trying to get the parts exact.  Often the slight variations of the double-track creates interest at the expense of making the double-tracking obvious.
CALL AND ANSWER DOUBLES A "Call And Answer" double has some sections with the double performance tightly matching the original, and other sections with the double playing in the "blank" spots of the original track.  It could be, for instance, that during the verses each guitar does every other line or it could simply be riffs placed "in-between" the first guitar's lines.  A variation of this kind of double would be for the double-track to play harmony
PANNING IN MIXING
If you are creating stereo guitar doubles, there are generally three types of panning configurations used during the mixdown, each more applicable to the different types of doubles.

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The distinct panning gives the maximum stereo effect and enhances the differences in the original and double tracks.  This type of panning is most often used for Call And Answer doubles but sometimes used for Loose doubles.  It is generally avoided for Tight or Partial doubles.

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The partial wash panning gives some stereo effect and is most often used for Loose doubles.  Sometimes it is effective for Call And Answer doubles, especially when the doubled guitar plays "between the lines" of the original track.   This panning is not often used for Tight or Partial doubles.

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The full wash panning has an "outer-guitar" and an "inner-guitar."  This panning tends to disguise the doubling and enhance the fattening of the sound.  This panning is ideal for Tight doubles and Partial doubles.  With this type of panning, ether guitar could be paced "outer" or "inner."
ADVANCED DOUBLING TIPS & TECHNIQUES
Alexander Magazine subscribers are invited to continue the study on doubling, by going to the February, 2000 article entitled "Advanced Doubling Tips & Techniques."  The topics addressed, include:
Singing Techniques For Tightly Doubled Vocals Mixing Levels For Doubled Parts
Routing & Monitoring for Double Tracking Equalization & Reverb for Double Tracks
Detuning Doubles For More Fatness Whisper And "In Your Head" Techniques
Hearing Double Tightness Call & Answer Double Simulation With One Performance
Keyed Gating Techniques Re-recording One Performance For A Double

And more!

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Copyright 2000, Robert Dennis - All Rights Reserved USE OF THIS ARTICLE SUBJECT TO USER AGREEMENT