Layering and Panning

A question about which sample libraries work bast at layering, or, do you really need to layer if you have good sounding samples? As well, if your sample libraries are already pre-panned, do you really need to pan them when mixing? I was actually taught a technique with pre-panned libraries to pan them to the opposite side to create a better stereo field.

Or would it be better to just apply a stereo imager to create a wider field? I do this with Ozone 9 but two problems I encounter, even if it’s pre-panned, it doesn’t sound panned enough but if I use the stereo imager, it tends to lean more to one side. How can I sole this?


Panning, no, generally you get the complete stereo image pre-recorded at seating position in the stage/hall they used.

Layering: depends on if you are really going for a super balanced and cohesive orchestral sound. I don’t usually worry about that as I practically always mix in synths and sound design anyway.

Stereo imager: Remember that more is not always better. It’s like the loudness war. Dynamics and contrasts are one of the most powerful aspects of music, and you only get that by choosing and shaping those dynamics. And the same applies to stereo width, some sounds can be literally in mono while others are wider. The contrasts creates the bigger experience! :slight_smile:


Thanks Mike. After working with my notation software for the last few weeks for some projects, I went back to a piece I was working on with Cinematic Studio Strings/Brass but it just seem like the strings had no life to them and so I spent a couple hours mixing instead of composing but I could only think of trying to layer to beef it up, but that didn’t work either. Although CSS/CSB are realistically panned, I feel that the mix was very narrow. Like, everything needs to be louder, but I don’t want to just use a maximizer, I want it to sound compositionally better. My octave ranges are pretty full, so I don’t know where the problem is. Maybe my ears :rofl:


A lot of the information given is solid so I’ll just add the bits that I can. :slight_smile:

Panning isn’t needed… this is true, but the more you add to a piece the more space is occupied. So I’d suggest a stereo widener for things like woodwinds and high percussion. This will push them out to the side more and actually help your reverb sit better on those tracks.

Another tip for panning is related to reverb. As you probablg already know, it’s best to use a few different reverbs in your piece. I tend to have one reverb per section… unless it’s strings, which I have 2 reverbs, OMD for violins and violas and another for cello and DBass. I often pan the reverb for that specific section slightly opposite in relation to where the instruments are mainly seated. So for woodwinds I’d pan the verb slightly to the right, Violins for the right slightly and cellos and basses slightly to the left. This helps widen the stereo field and it creates a more realistic feel. A tip for the verbs is to think in relation to how far forward or back the instruments are seated. A longer verb is better for woodwinds but strings are typically at the front, so the verb would be more of a room sound.

In terms of layering, you could take this many different ways, depending on genre. Though I’ll approach it as if you are writing a more classical piece.

Typically I’d say you need one dry and one wet library… and when I say this I actually mean one dry chamber sized orchestra, and one larger lush sounding Orchestra. This is because typically, a dry chamber orchestra will have more detail but less girth, where the bigger orchestra will have the size but lack some detail. Blending those libraries together will give you that smooth detailed sound you desire.

However, it’s foolish to think you need this approach in every piece you do. Some pieces might just require the chamber orchestra as they sound more intimate, and others might require just the wet orchestra because they often sit better in a mix. It all depends on your needs. :slight_smile: as for brass, it’s the same… but you can get away with just having the dry orchestra l library for woodwinds as they are smooth and don’t require that huge sound in most circumstances.

I hope this is of some use.

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I’ll also add this. Remember that your loudest sound loses its impact if your quietest sound isn’t far away from it. The most important thing when layering is to maintain your dynamic range. This is often the hardest thing to do.


Man, that’s a ton (or tonne?) of info, but I’ll take it! I appreciate the advice and am already using some of the reverb techniques you gave me in another post about using it on a separate FX bus instead of the main bus and only running certain instruments through it—and it definitely sounds better. I’ll need to go back and try some of your other advice on some older tracks of mine that I hate :rofl:

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I hope they’re of some use to you. With all advice and tips you’ll need to adapt them to work with your way of working. Can’t wait to hear what you produce with these tips! :slight_smile: