Going Deeper into... Auto Pan
Stuck in the middle? By default, most sounds tend to sit in the middle. With Auto Pan, we can take control of the stereo field and start to explore the farthest reaches of "left" and "right". At its core, Auto Pan is an LFO generator that modulates stereo information — it moves stuff to the left and moves stuff to the right. Using the various settings such as Amount, Rate, and Shape, we can control how the effect moves sounds around the stereo field.
Amount & Rate
The amount knob controls how much (or how far left and right) the sound will be pushed. The rate simply controls how quickly things move around. You can keep things loose in Hz or tighten things up by syncing the rate to Ableton's clock.
Phase & Offset
The phase knob is used to change the relationship between the left and right channels. By default, it is set to 180 degrees. This means that the left and right channels are perfect out of phase or opposite one another. If this is changed, it is likely we'll end up with something a little less obvious and potentially more natural sounding. The offset controls where the waveform (LFO shape that Auto Pan generates) starts. In combination, these can be used to go from a very clear left/right effect to a pumping in and out effect. This can even be used in place of a sidechain compressor to give something an up and down or bouncing motion.
The shape settings are used to control the shape of the (you guessed it) shape of the LFOs that Auto Pan is generating. Although many cool results can be had by manipulating Auto Pan's shape, this is probably best put in the experimental category. Try automating these settings to add interesting and unique changes to your sounds.
Interested in learning more about music production in Ableton Live? Check out our music production courses here.