Tired of manually automating your pan effect for your vocals on instruments? Do you ever wonder if there is an easier method to do that? In this article, we will discuss the easiest method for auto panning and provide you with a list of plugins to help you with that.
- 1 What Is Auto-Panning?
- 2 How do you use Autopan Plugins?
- 3 7 Best Autopan VST Plugins 2021
- 4 Conclusion
What Is Auto-Panning?
Auto-panning is a method whereby a plugin is used to control the panning of the track automatically. Auto-panning plugins normally come with several presets to provide different effects like left-to-right, circular, etc.
The auto-panning effect is achieved by making use of two LFOs that work to modulate the volume level in the left and the right channels separately. For example, in a simple left-to-right panning effect, the auto-panner sets both the left and the right channels to be LFO sine waves that are 180 degrees out of phase.
How do you use Autopan Plugins?
You could apply Autopan plugins on backing vocals to add more substance and character to your track. It can be used on instruments like Hi-Hats to add more bounce to your beats. Another way you could use an auto-panner is on sound effects to add more dynamics and give it a more atmospheric vibe.
Auto-panning is a very exciting effect that can be used in a ton of creative ways. All in all, auto-panners can be applied almost everywhere on the mix, and it would still sound good. All it takes is a good ear and some experience.
7 Best Autopan VST Plugins 2021
1. Audio Damage PANSTATION 2 Review
This plugin by Audio Damage offers the basic auto-panning but with a few twists and tricks to add to the excitement.
The two LFOs in Panstation have 11 shapes, including sine, square, sawtooth, triangle, and many more, which allows it to have very different effects. The LFOs can be tempo-synced to match your project BPM.
Among the control parameters, you have the phase Offset knob, which allows you to smoothly transition from tremolo to auto pan. The Pan Law control setting is responsible for controlling the volume difference between the central and the panned signals. Here, the M500 setting is inspired by the Drawmer M500, which is a classic dynamic processor unit. Next to the Pan Law, you have the Depth knob, which allows you to set how wide the panned signals travel in the stereo image.
- This plugin provides users the choice between 4 different panning laws, which include a setting inspired by the classic Drawmer M500
- Panstation includes 10 panning waveforms that include waveforms present in the M500
- Panned signals can be tempo-synced or free-running
- The user interface is very easy to understand, and all control parameters are arranged in a very efficient way
- Panstation offers independent phase control for both the left and right channels to allow for stereo widening or tremolo effects
- This plugin has a MIDI learn feature which allows users to control parameters using MIDI CC
Panstation 2 supports Windows 8.1 or higher for PC and macOS 10.12 or higher for Mac. It comes in VST/VST3/AAX/AU formats and supports 64-bit systems only.
Audio Damage’s Panstation 2 is well-known to be one of the best auto-panning plugins that you could get. Its controllability, alongside the fact that it is inspired by two classic hardware units, makes it a very desirable tool for many users.
2. CableGuys Panshaper 3 Review
In recent years, CableGuys have managed to develop arguably the best auto-panning plugin with their PanCake and Panshaper plugins.
Panshaper is a sophisticated auto-panning and stereo shaper tool that offers multi-band processing as well as unique and exciting modulation features that are almost exclusive to a CableGuys release.
What makes Panshaper unique is that instead of limiting users to choose between a number of pre-configured LFO waveforms like sine, triangle, saw, etc., Panshaper allows users to draw their own LFO shape and customize it as much as they like. This LFO shape can then be tempo-synced or be free-running.
- This plugin has a very useful built-in help feature that allows users to hover over a parameter to show what it does
- LFO is expandable and very highly customizable
- Users can set the length of the LFO loop in units of Hertz, bars, or beats
- Users have complete control over the wave shape, size, orientation, etc
- Waves can be copy-pasted between shapers
- You can undo/redo your LFO edits as much as you like
- Users get a choice of 40 waves presets, which can be used as a starting point
- If you have finished modifying your wave, you have 9 slots to store it in
- This plugin supports MIDI control
- Stereo combined, and Balance 0/3/4.5/6dB panning modes to allow for deeper control
- You can control the Wet/Dry level for every band
- This plugin has a large display oscilloscope with a freeze function for precise readings
- LFO modulation can be tempo-synced to match the project BPM
Panshaper 3 requires Windows 7 or higher for PC and OS X 10.8 or higher for Mac. It comes in VST/AU formats and supports both 32 and 64-bit systems for Windows but 64-bits only for macOS.
Overall, any stereo control plugin by CableGuys is highly recommended. They have mastered dynamic control and are the only developers that have plugins offering such a high level of controllability. Getting Panshaper 3 should be a no-brainer when it comes to auto-panning.
3. Waves Brauer Motion Review
Developed in collaboration with Grammy award winner mix engineer Michael Brauer, the Brauer Motion is a very powerful auto-panning plugin.
Brauer motion is made up of two panners that control the levels on the left and right channels independently. On the plugin, the green color represents panner 1 and its controls, whereas the red color represents panner 2.
Users get to choose between 6 different panning modes that are:
- Circular – provides a feeling as if the audio is rotating 360 degrees
- Cross – here the panned signals turn on and off like a traffic light
- Cradle – audio travel back and forth, which gives is a “rocking” feel and hence the name
- Shuffle – audio travels in “steps” across the left and right channels
- Classic – this provides the classic left to right feel that all auto-panners offer
- Cradle Sharp – similar to the cradle, but the signals travel faster and further, which is very exciting sonically. It is sometimes referred to as cradle extreme
In addition to that, Brauer motion has 4 trigger modes that activate the effect at a set threshold. When the signal exceeds the threshold, it starts to move across the spectrum according to the panning mode, and once it goes below the threshold, it stays at the last position. It has a single revolution setting that activates the pan effect only for a single revolution, and then it stops. The next setting works just like described above, but once the level is below the threshold, it goes back to the original position. Finally, you have the Aural setting, which allows you to control the movement of the sound by pressing the trigger button.
- 6 operating modes offering users different movement options
- 4 trigger modes to control the panning effect trigger differently
- 4 waveforms (sine, triangle, saw, square) providing different sound feels
- The effect can be tempo-synced
Waves Brauer Motion requires Windows 10 or later for PC and macOS 10.13.6 or later for Mac. It comes in VST/VST3/AU/AAX formats and supports 64-bit systems only.
Waves are known to have very successful plugins in collaboration with world-class mix engineers, and the Brauer Motion is another example of that. It provides one of the most powerful auto-panning tools that you can get in the market and for a slightly lower price.
4. Soundtoys PanMan Review
This incredible auto-panning plugin by Soundtoys is one of very few that provide analog sound to the signals.
PanMan has a trigger divider section, which allows users to set the number of triggers it takes for the signal to move to a new pan position, just like in vintage auto-panners. For example, you can set the signal to move from left to right in 4 triggers. The panning can be triggered manually using your mouse, or you can automate it in your DAW while setting a trigger threshold to handle incoming signals automatically.
Additionally, PanMan allows users to create custom pan effects through its advanced rhythmic tools. There are 2 rhythmic modes, which are:
- Step mode – here, users can set the pan position for each step and sync it to match the project tempo
- Shape mode – in this mode, users can choose from pre-configured pan shapes or even draw new custom ones
- PanMan allows you to create custom panning effects and match it to your project tempo
- Users can choose between 6 different panning modes, which include step, random, and LFO
- This plugin manages to include a smart approach to the “trigger divide” feature found in the vintage PanScan hardware unit
- Design your own unique panning waveshapes and rhythmic patterns
- Setting the threshold allows you to control the width, speed, and offset of the sound dynamics
- PanMan includes 7 vintage algorithms that add that classic, vintage, warm vibe to your effect
PanMan requires Windows 7 or higher for PC and OS X 10.8 or higher for Mac. It comes in VST/AU/AAX formats and only supports 64-bit systems.
Soundtoys’ PanMan is the perfect choice for users who would like to have in-depth control over the panning effect and waveshape, as well as having a vintage, analog sound signature. However, its price point is a major setback for many users since it’s around 3x the average price for auto-panning plugins.
5. Credland StereoSavage Review
StereoSavage is more than just an auto-panner. It is a full-on stereo control tool that is equipped to create a ton of exciting effects to enhance your mix.
The interface in this plugin is made up of 5 sections:
- Effect – here, you have a choice between 4 different effects, which are vox, delay, expand, split. Vox gives you that vintage wide vocal sound. Delay adds traditional delay to your sound, and the panning for this effect is customizable. Expand enhances the stereo image of your sound by increasing the depth, which makes your track sound wider. Finally, split breaks down the sound into multiple frequency bands and pans each one of them to either the left or the right channels.
- Stereo Adjust – in this section, you can control the depth, pre-panning, and rotation of your chosen effect.
- LFO – set your LFO waveform type and tempo-sync it to your host. You also have modulation controls like rate, phase, and amount.
- Bass Bypass – this is a filter that allows you to attenuate or cut lower frequencies to remove any additional bass which may conflict with your original signal.
- Input routing – here, you can set the routing for the incoming signal and choose whether to edit it in stereo, mono sum, or swap LR.
- StereoSavage allows users to create stereo signals from a mono input, which gives the sound a richer soundscape
- Through this plugin, you can control the positioning of your tracks within the stereo image
- Rotation effect adds super-natural panning to your sound
- This plugin is simple to use, and the controls are very well organized
- The modulation control section allows you to add excitement and motion to your effect
- Bass bypass feature helps you retain mono compatibility
SoundSavage requires Windows Vista or higher for PC and OS X 10.7 or higher for Mac. It comes in VST/AU/AAX formats and supports both 32 and 64-bit systems.
All in all, SoundSavage by Credland and PluginBoutique is an amazing plugin that offers you a lot more than auto-panning. Instead, it is a full stereo control and stereo effects plugin with lots of controls for better versatility and efficiency. Moreover, it comes at a very attractive price for a plugin of its caliber.
6. Melda MAutopan FREE Review
MAutopan comes as a part of Melda’s MFreeEffectsBundle and MTotalBundle and consists of the perfect features that can help you get your audio signal whirling and circulating from speaker to speaker.
Much like some of the plugins discussed in this article, the MAutopan allows you to create a custom LFO shape and tempo sync it to match your host BPM. Additionally, it has a Step Sequencer, which can be utilized to process complex patterns.
The control parameters that users get include depth, which is used to set how far the panned signals travel over the stereo image. Next to that, you have the Pan Law control, which allows you to set how the volume is distributed across the Left/right channels and the center. Then you have the main shape control, where you can choose the shape of the waveform from a set of pre-configured shapes or move on to the Custom Shape control, where you can create your own wave shape.
- You can choose between a set of waveforms or create your own waveform
- All control parameters are fully automatable
- Just like most of the plugins developed by MeldaProduction, the MAutopan has a Smart randomization feature which creates random settings to help you find a starting point, which saves you a lot of time
- Another feature common among MeldaProduction is the Automatic Gain Compensation (AGC) feature, which works to make sure that the volume level of the input signal is the same as the output
- The user interface is advanced yet easy-to-use
- Tempo-sync allows you to match the effect timing to the host BPM
MAutopan requires Windows 7 or higher for PC and OS X 10.7 or higher for Mac. It comes in VST/VST3/AU/AAX formats and supports both 32 and 64-bit systems.
MAutopan does exactly what you would expect from a MeldaProduction’s plugin in terms of consistently high quality and controllability. What comes as a surprise, though, is the fact that this is a free plugin as opposed to many Melda plugins, which are normally relatively expensive.
7. HY-TP2 (FREE) Review
HY-TP2 is a free tremolo and auto-pan plugin developed by HY-Plugins and released in 2018 as an upgrade to the previous HY-TP plugin.
HY-TP2 offers the basic tools needed in an auto-panner like LFO, filters, dry/wet controls, etc., over a rather simplistic interface.
The interface itself is divided into 4 sections:
- MOD Wave – this is the LFO section where the user can choose from a set of pre-configured wave shapes like triangle, sine, square, and more.
- Tremolo/Panner – here, you can control the timing of the panned signals and choose whether to tempo-sync them or keep them free running or not. You also have controls for depth and width, which sets how wide and how far the panned signals can travel in a stereo image.
- Filter – you get 2 filters, one for high frequencies and one for lower frequencies. This is useful to remove any muddiness that may happen due to applying the effect.
- Out – the last section in the interface is the output gain control. Use this knob to make sure that the input levels are the same as the output levels.
- Simpler and much cleaner interface compared to the previous HY-TP plugin
- Multiple presets to choose from to make your life easier
- The HY-TP2 has 8 modulation waveforms compared to the previous version, which had only 6
- A randomizer feature that generates random settings to be used as starting points
- The GUI of this plugin is fully resizable to fit any displays
- Control parameters are fully automatable
- Tempo-sync feature to match the pan effect to the project tempo
- Undo/redo and reset buttons can come in handy
HY-TP2 is compatible with Windows 7 or higher for PC and OS X 10.8 or higher for Mac. It comes in VST/VST3/AU formats and supports both 32 and 64-bit systems. The HY-TP2 is a free plugin.
If you are looking for a simplistic, straightforward, and small yet efficient auto-panning plugin, then look no further. The HY-TP2 is all that and more. It packs a good number of features and presets, and most importantly, it’s FREE!
Auto-panners are extremely useful tools that make your life a whole lot easier when trying to pan your audio or stereorize it. Surprisingly, many users are unaware of their existence and the huge advantage that they possess. In this article, we looked at what auto-panning is and what are some of the best plugins that perform that. Fortunately, most auto-panner plugins offer the same tools that you need to auto-pan your audio like LFOs, modulation, filters, and so on.
Moreover, they all come at a very similar price point, and some of them are even free. Hence, opting for the free plugins will not be a bad choice, and you have plugins like the MAutopan that offer users in-depth control and premium features all for free. Finally, we hope that this article helped you understand auto-panning and helped you choose an auto-panner for your upcoming project.
Started as a rapper and songwriter back in 2015 then quickly and gradually developed his skills to become a beatmaker, music producer, sound designer and an audio engineer.