"natural" or centered bass in orchestral and other instrumental music?

in tracks for orchestra or another “classical” ensemble - do you put your bass to the right (like often in real life) or do you put it to the middle?
This is a general question (also applying to epic orchestral music and others), but here’s an example:

Well… the track had a different problem, so it wont contribute to the disussion.

I’ll have to check tonight in my studio, as yes, the bass is on the right and it is a bit strange with headphones… but the main problem is the track clips (saturates) badly…

I guess it is because of my PC here, but strangely I have listened to many tracks before and did not notice any problem.

I’ll update this tonight.

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It is clipping badly indeed.

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yeah nice composition but clipping very noticeably!

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I had a doubt as I am listening with consumer Plantronics headphones directly plugged in my laptop.
So no doubt it has been rejected.

But something went wrong then: this is a soft piece… and it is clipping…

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Regarding the original question: Pan them the way you want them. This also goes for other bass instruments as well (timpani, bass drum, etc.). Then, on your master bus, merge all bass frequencies to mono. There are several plug-ins that can do this. Search for “multi-band stereo imaging” and you’ll find them, including some free ones. Some plug-ins by Brainworx have a built-in mono maker slider that does this as well.

Merging all frequencies below (say) 120 Hz to mono will not degrade your stereo imaging, and will have several benefits. It will also get rid of the volume balance issue between left and right that you mention.

The upper harmonics of these instruments will still come from whereever you panned them, so they will be perceived in their proper seating positions.

Hope this helps :slight_smile:


For sure multi-band stereo imaging.
Izotope, TR5 and many others provides great plugins for this one.
Good luck to you :slight_smile:

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@frozenjazz @PurpleFogSound @RobertReid thank you very much! You were very helpful !Then my track wont contribute to the discussion anymore, I thought this was the problem.
(Edit) so… i listened back to it on my laptop and wow! This was clipping! On my monitors it was alright…

Does panning have any effect then? Maybe the upper harmonics still are panned, but the bass is centered? And wouldn’t that sound off then?

Think about subwoofers: you only need one (meaning all bass frequencies are effectively mono), and you still hear everything in stereo. Our brains can not locate the position of low frequencies due to their wavelength. Panning them will only tilt the balance between left and right channels.

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