This article will discuss the best autopan and stereo animation plugins in 2024.
Pan effects are used rigorously across various genres for adding cool ear candies and to create a sense of space and ambiance. Whether you’re creating soulful meditative music where you need to induce spacious & hypnotic characteristics, or you’re producing a dance-pop song where you want your arp to pan at a certain speed at a certain time, these plugins are quite helpful.
Autopan typically automatically pans the audio signal from left to right or vice versa, creating a sense of motion in the sound. It can be adjusted in terms of speed, depth, and shape of the panning movement. So, according to a theory, humans perceive music in a three-dimensional space, where the frequency is the height, the pan is the width, and the volume is the length. Using these dimensions and creating a motion in them, you can create spatial effects.
These are also very useful in sound designing, especially if you’re doing sound or foley for movies and video games. You can also browse through various presets of these plugins to get new ideas and inspiration. Coupling these stereo effects with volume and filter automation can hugely impact your sound. So, let’s dive right into the list now.
The 6 Autopan VST Plugins To Add Motion 2024
1. Waves Brauer Motion
Brauer Motion by Waves redefines the typical left-right auto-pan effect and helps you create three-dimensional effects in a spherical space.
Waves has crafted this plugin with Grammy® winner Michael Brauer, renowned for spatial innovation with Coldplay and John Mayer. It consists of two tabs: Panner 1 and Panner 2. Each panner tab lets you create synced-to-tempo, free, or manual effects. There’s a modulator that controls the panning of the input signal, and you can select its motion in any shape you want.
Once you add different effects and customize both of the panners, there’s a mixer window by the end that lets you control the signals from both the panners and the input, output, and mix signals.
- 80 presets
With access to 80 presets curated by elite mix engineers like Tom Elmhirst, Dave Pensado, Tony Maserati, and Michael Brauer himself, you can leverage these as-is or deconstruct them to uncover the plugin’s vast potential.
- Sophisticated Modulator System
Brauer Motion provides a sophisticated modulator system that allows you to shape the movement of your panned signal precisely, such that you get the following path: Circle, Classic, Circle Phase, and X Lights. By this, you can define the trajectory of the signal’s movement, whether it’s navigating a two-dimensional plane or exploring the depth of three-dimensional space.
- Modulator shapes (Sine, Triangle, Circular, Square)
Complementing the path, the Modulator (Sine, Triangle, Circular, Square) lets you choose the shape of the signal applied to the panner, influencing how the signal travels along the chosen path. You can also reverse and offset the modulator shape.
- Modulation and predelay
With precise control over signal dynamics, the plugin facilitates a range of adjustments to tailor the behavior of the audio movement. You can introduce pre-delay and add mod delay, depth, and width to the effect.
- Switchable Motion Filter
The plugin has a switchable Motion Filter that allows for the adjustment of both frequency and gain settings. You can manipulate these parameters to sculpt the signal’s properties dynamically as it progresses along its designated route, providing an additional layer of control over the evolving audio movement.
- Great effects section
You can toggle between compression or distortion modes using the compression/dirt control, allowing for varied and expressive dynamic processing. Furthermore, the integration of high-pass (HP) and low-pass (LP) filters increases the scope of motion.
- Trigger Section
This section governs the automated triggering mechanism and is responsible for initiating, halting, and redirecting the signal’s movement based on incoming or side-chained signal behavior.
Waves Brauer Motion is available in macOS Catalina 10.15, Big Sur 11, Monterey 12, Ventura 13, Sonoma 14, Windows 10, and Windows 11 operating systems and is compatible with AAX, VST, and AU plugin hosts.
2 CableGuys Panshaper 4
Panshaper is a module in Shaper Box 3 by CableGuys that you can use to create auto pan and other innovative and unique pan animation effects.
The plugin lets you pan with LFO and envelope follower for precise stereo alterations. You can also blend conventional panning with psychoacoustic Haas techniques to infuse your mixes with captivating spatial dynamics. You can also draw your own shapes and sync panning patterns to beats or bars with sample accuracy.
- MIDI and Audio Triggers
You can trigger panning patterns via MIDI or use new audio triggering, responding precisely to drums, loops, or full mixes. Its envelope followers dynamically pan beats, melodies, or any audio, now with analogue-like Adaptive Release.
- Multiband control
With its multiband control, PanShaper offers separate panning waveforms and Envelope Followers for lows, mids, and highs. You can stereoize top-end frequencies, maneuver midrange elements, and anchor bass for a centered, solid foundation, allowing targeted adjustments where needed most within the mix.
- Effortless Waveform Editing
The plugin has user-friendly waveform-editing tools that let you craft precise panning modulation with ease. You can create intricate and custom movements within the panning LFO wave, allowing for intricate stereo adjustments in just a few clicks.
- Well-designed interface
You get to explore a GUI providing larger editing areas, resizable options, and Retina/HiDPI support for crisp visuals. It lets you benefit from built-in help; waveform presets, and nine slots for custom waves, enhancing user convenience. You can also enjoy artifact-free blends via Master Mix with an improved algorithm and click-free switching through Smoothed Bypass for seamless transitions.
Shaper Box 3/PanShaper 4 is available in VST 2, VST 3, AU, and AAX plugin formats and is compatible with Mac OS X 10.13 or later and Windows 7+ operating systems.
3. PluginBoutique StereoSavage 2
StereoSavage elevates your mix, offering a dynamic stereo toolbox blending studio-proven techniques with modern and classic tools.
Featuring ‘Detune,’ ‘Delay,’ ‘Reflect,’ and ‘Split’ programs, this plugin transforms mono sources into lush stereo, precisely positioning sonic movements with knobs like ‘Width,’ ‘Pan,’ and ‘Rotation.’ StereoSavage also introduces motion with the ‘LFO,’ maintains a solid low-end via ‘Bass Bypass,’ and includes all features within a unified plugin. Craft dramatic effects or add subtle finishing touches effortlessly.
- Knobs for different styles of pan effects
The plugin lets you control stereo width, pre-delay, and rotation to position sounds within the stereo field with natural panning effects. You can also add movement and excitement using the modulation feature, which syncs perfectly with your track for lively stereo adjustments.
- Bass Bypass
The plugin has a unique ‘Bass Bypass’ feature that ensures that the pan effects are applied on only the high frequencies, so that the low frequencies remain in the middle or mono.
- Metering Tools
StereoSavage has great metering tools like a goniometer, phase correlation meter, input/output level meters, and versatile input routing for better control and monitoring.
- LFO section
This section offers dynamic modulation control. You can activate the LFO for rhythmic movement, syncing its pattern to your track’s tempo. Adjust the Amount for intensity, Speed for rate, Phase for synchronization, and Shape for various waveform contours, enabling nuanced and synchronized rhythmic effects across your mix.
StereoSavage 2 by Plugin Boutique is available in AU, VST, and AAX plugin formats and is compatible with macOS 10.15 and later (Intel / Apple Silicon supported) (64-bit only) and Windows 10 and later (64-bit only).
4. Soundtoys PanMan
Crafted by Soundtoys, PanMan unlocks classic hardware panning emulation alongside modern modulation tricks.
Inspired by vintage auto-panners, PanMan hosts 6 panning modes with modulators like LFO, Step, and Random, enabling rhythmic precision. The trigger divider, analog modes, and dynamic control through MIDI or threshold enhance its functionality.
The workflow is simple! You set the tempo or tap it, and select the timings in the ‘Rhythm’ drop-down menu. Then you tweak the knobs and controls to customize your pan effects and get your output! Now, let’s see in the section below what those knobs and controls do.
- Various Modulation Types
PanMan gives you various modulation types, including LFO, Rhythm Step, Rhythm Shape, PingPong, Random, and Step. These modulation types offer you various movements of pan effects.
- Three directional options
You can choose from Left-to-Right, Back-and-Forth, and Right-to-Left, using the direction buttons to determine the recurring shape of the LFO. Each button features an arrow indicating its direction and illuminates in amber to signify the selected direction.
- Seven analog-style algorithms
PanMan introduces a saturation effect, offering various distortions at different levels. You can choose from Clean, Fat, Squash, Dirt, Crunch, Shred, or Pump for vintage warmth.
- Comprehensive Control over Panning Dynamics
The plugin offers four knobs. The “Offset” establishes the starting point between the left and right channels, spanning -105 to +105 degrees. The “Transition Smoother” knob manages pan movement fluidity, allowing for swift or gentle transitions and controlling snap-back intensity in directional pans.
With the “Pan Modulator,” the Width control, ranging from 180 to 210 degrees, facilitates spatial experimentation and audio positioning by modulating around the offset.
The “Pan Position Indicator,” displayed through red and yellow LEDs, visualizes pan position, aiding in avoiding unintended extreme panning by monitoring the light display.
PanMan by Soundtoys is available in VST 2/3, AU, and AAX (Native/AudioSuite) plugin formats and is compatible with Mac OS X 10.12 or newer and Windows 7+ operating systems.
5. Audio Damage PANSTATION 2
Panstation 2 revives classic autopanning engines like the Drawmer M500 and the Audio & Design PanScan.
Recreating the manual panning of vintage consoles, this plugin automates panning and volume shifts. Panstation 2 flaunts a sleek interface, external sidechain input, and a new preset manager. Its feature-rich design, paired with MIDI and audio-triggered operations, allows dynamic stereo movement, tremolo effects, and precise rhythmic modulation, all while ensuring user-friendly operation across various DAWs.
- Pan Rate and Tempo settings
The plugin lets you adjust the rate of the pan and sync it to the tempo as well. It also allows you to integrate stereo input signals into mono for consistent processing, preventing signal loss during auto-panning operations by using its SUM INPUT button.
- 11 LFO shapes
You get various shapes, including sine, triangle, square, and unique variations, offering diverse modulation effects, allowing smooth transitions between tremolo and auto-panning.
- Envelope Modulation
The plugin allows you to fine-tune attack, hold, and decay settings to control the intensity and duration of the effect after trigger activation, enabling nuanced adjustments in response behavior.
- Phase settings
With Panstaion 2, you can also tailor the initial phase of stereo channel modulation with precision using the Phase control, allowing for seamless synchronization.
- Flexible Trigger Sources
These let you choose between audio threshold or MIDI note triggers, supported by a Trigger Counter for intricate control over the onset of panning effects. You can also fine-tune modulation depth, LFO offsets, stereo channel bias, rate, and more.
Available in 64-bit VST3, AU, IAA, AAX, LV2, and CLAP plugin formats, Panstation 2 has a wide compatibility range and works with Linux, Windows, and Mac operating systems.
6. Audiomodern Panflow
Panflow modulates the pan and stereo width of the input audio in a simple and attractive interface.
It has a grid system in which you can edit the waveform that controls the pan modulation. You get controls like Speed and Grid settings that let you control the timing and nature of the modulation. You can also add randomization to your plugin curve and create interesting and unique pan effects.
- Randomization settings
The plugin lets you customize the randomization process by selecting from various complexity types and opt for ‘Simple Randomization’ to craft straightforward panning curves, ‘Medium Randomization’ for moderately complex curves, or ‘Complex Randomization’ for intricate and highly complex panning curves.
- Line Types
Panflow lets you select your preferred line types to determine how the graph points interconnect, such that you can opt for the ‘Triangle’ to form straight lines between points, ‘Curve’ to create curved connections, or ‘Rectangle’ to link points using stepped lines.
- Infinity Mode
With this, Panflow enables the continuous generation of new graphs as bars progress, giving Panflow full control. With that, you can also use Pattern Repetition, which lets you specify the number of repetitions before generating a new graph.
- Locking Functionality
Panflow lets you lock specific graph points to safeguard them from randomization effects. Activate the locking mode, select the desired points to lock (highlighted in white), and disable the mode. Locked notes remain unaffected by randomization.
- Grid Adjustment & Speed Control
For more precise editing of the curve, you can make Grid Adjustment that modifies the Grid to alter the divisions within the graph or change the Speed control, which determines the timeline’s pace within Panflow’s graph. Adjust the Speed to shorten or lengthen the timeline accordingly.
- Feather Slider
Next, for smoother transitions between the grids and smoother panning effects, the plugin gives you a feather slider. Lastly, you can pick the shape of the curve from sine, square, or saw.
Panflow is available in VST, VST3, AU, AAX, iOS and standalone plugin formats and is compatible with macOS 10.12 or higher and Windows 7 or higher operating systems.
Melda MAutopan FREE
MAutopan is a free and advanced multi-band autopan plugin by Melda Productions.
It lets you create different panning effects for different frequency bands, such that for each band, you can adjust the shape of the curve and edit curve parameters like custom shape, smoothness, change the length, that is, the timing of each cycle of the curve, and make other further adjustments.
- Curve controls
You get various curve controls like shape, custom, step, and smooth. The shape control is for selecting the basic shapes like triangle, sine, square, and saw. Then, you can use custom control to add more variation to these shapes. You can also create step variations instead of the curve being continuous.
- Switchable SYNC button
MAutopan gives you an on/off SYNC button that lets you sync your pan motion to the tempo. You can also determine when the pan curve starts by using the phase control. Phase control also helps with better mono compatibility, which could be an issue when creating extreme pan effects.
- Multi-channel processing
You can do Mid/Side and Left/Right processing using this plugin. In addition, you also get Ambisonics and Surround modes for more three-dimensional and multi-channel effects. This is particularly helpful for film sound and game audio mixing.
- Pan Law slider
MeldaProductions gives you access to a Pan Law slider, which is quite helpful. Panorama law governs how panning adjusts the signal gain. Centered panorama maintains signal integrity, while a full left pan silences the right channel, blending left and right input.
MAutopan is available in AU and VST plugin formats and is compatible with Windows and Mac operating systems.
All the plugins we have mentioned in the list have quite a complex functionality. If you want something for a simple left/right panning, there are various stock plugins you can use, like the autopan in Logic Pro and Fruity Panomatic in FL Studio. While all these plugins are great for creative autopan effects, it’s easy to get lost in complexity. You can also consider Synthescience’s free autopan plugin for a simplified workflow.
The simplest plugin in the list is the PanMan by Soundtoys. But even that is quite complex and advanced when you go in-depth and see its under-the-hood functionalities. Even PanShaper 4 by Cableguys also has a simplified interface. You need to have a good understanding of modulations (LFOs/envelopes) if you want to use these plugins efficiently.
That being said, Brauer Motion by Waves and PanMan are insane plugins! They have the potential to take your sound design and scoring to a different level. SteroSavage is also just as good, but its workflow may seem a bit unfamiliar. ShaperBox 3 (PanShaper 4) has great presets and modulators other than just pan modulators.
I hope this article was of help! Thank you for reading.
Shaurya Bhatia, is an Indian Music Producer, Composer, Rapper & Performer, who goes by the stage name MC SNUB, and is also 1/2 of the Indian pop music duo, called “babyface”. A certified Audio Engineer & Music Producer, and a practicing musician & rapper for more than 6 years, Shaurya has worked on projects of various genres and has also been a teaching faculty at Spin Gurus DJ Academy.