Use the Binaural Panner

The Binaural Panner is available when Surround is selected in the Advanced preferences pane.

By setting the channel strip’s output to Binaural, you can use the Binaural Panner to position the signals on the panning plane. The signal that results from using the Binaural Panner is best suited for headphone playback. You can, however, process the Binaural Panner output using the Binaural Post-Processing plug-in, which allows you to play back the binaural pan effect through loudspeakers.

You control the panning effect in the Binaural Panner by positioning the panning pucks on the panning plane at the top of the window, and by adjusting some additional parameters. These are the window’s main elements:

Figure. Binaural Panner window.
  • Angle, Elevation, Distance: Information fields that adjust automatically when changes are made to the puck positions.

  • Spread: Information field that adjusts automatically when changes are made to the puck positions. You can also interact directly with it by dragging its numerical value. (Making changes here also affects the left and right puck positions.)

  • Panning plane: Area for positioning the signals—using the pucks—in the stereo image.

  • Pucks: Used for positioning the signals on the panning plane—pan and direction.

  • 3D image: Represents the resulting position of the audio signal. This is purely a visual aid, and cannot be interacted with directly.

  • Mode buttons: Determine the virtual shape of the panning plane, which can be planar or spherical.

  • Size field: Determines the size of the plane or sphere, expressed as the radius of the circular plane.

  • Doppler button: Turns on or off the Doppler effect—a change in the pitch of a signal perceived by a person who is moving relative to the source of the signal.

  • Extended parameters: Click the disclosure triangle to reveal additional parameters for headphone playback and Planar mode.

Open the Binaural Panner

  1. Click-hold the channel strip’s Output slot (on mono or stereo channels), then choose Binaural from the pop-up menu.

    The Binaural Pan control replaces the Pan knob.

  2. Double-click the Binaural Pan control to open the Binaural Panner.

    Figure. Binaural Panner window.

Control the binaural pan position

  1. Drag the left or right puck (panning pucks) to make the stereo image wider or narrower.

    The pucks also work on a second axis—up and down—relative to the third puck.

  2. Drag the third puck (the direction puck) to determine the forward and backward direction.

    As you adjust the direction puck, the two panning pucks move accordingly. The Angle, Elevation, Distance, and Spread values also change.

  3. Select the Mode (virtual shape) of the planning plane:

    • If set to Planar, the panning results are shown on a flat circular plane.

      Figure. Planar mode in the Binaural Panner window.
    • If set to Spherical, the results are placed on a virtual sphere. If it helps, imagine the sphere as a virtual head. When the direction puck is placed in the top half of the circular plane, the sound is in front of the listener. As the direction puck is moved toward the lower half of the plane, the sound passes up, and over your head, and ends up behind you.

      Figure. Spherical mode in the Binaural Panner window.
  4. Set the size of the plane or sphere by doing one of the following:

    • Drag the Size field value up or down.

    • Double-click the Size field, then enter a new value.

    • Option-click the Size field to reset it to its default value (1.50m).

  5. Click the Doppler button to turn on or off the Doppler effect.

  6. Select the Diffuse-Field Compensation checkbox in the Extended Parameters area to ensure a neutral sound for headphone playback, utilizing diffuse-field compensation.

    Note: When using multiple Binaural Panners on several channel strips, turn this option off and route the output of the Binaural Panners to an aux channel strip, in which you insert the Binaural Post-Processing plug-in. The Binaural Post-Processing plug-in allows you to apply diffuse-field compensation to all Binaural Panner outputs at once, saving CPU power.

  7. If in Planar mode, use the Extended Parameters sliders to control the vertical offset and tilt of the circular plane. Watch the 3D image when changing them to get a clear idea of their functions.