As explained before in my previous tutorial found here, I believe in having an idea or a goal to to aim for as it creates a more effective workflow. This can really help when your making crucial panning decisions as you by planning you can avoid cluttering one channel and prevent your mix from sounding lop-sided. Again, do not let this stop you from experimenting, no one likes limitations. One thing that I like to do is draw a simple diagram of to assist my production process, some may find this as an avoidable step, but coming from a background of design it helps me keep tight control over what I'm doing. Below is a simplified version of what I do to help me zone my mixes, this also refers directly to last tutorial as it also helps me carve out areas for each element to sit in.
Deciding which elements sit of the centre of the tune can be allot of fun as it allows you to create an extra layer of movement in your tracks which helps loop based beats keep you interested as well as providing more free flowing genres or and elements a chance to roam around in 'space'. Using your DAW's stereo functions and tools you can position each track as you please.
Depending on which methods and plug-ins you choose different results can be achieved in terms of stereo placement. For example using a delay plugin such as Fabfilter's Timeless (http://www.fabfilter.com/products/timeless.php) you can send delays to the left or right of your stereo image and create some bounce and movement to your percussion or synths. Some plugins such as as Ableton's Autopan can work by controlling the volume of the right and left channels rather than actually panning the channel by using an 'LFO' system to modulate the amplitude of the two signals. So choice is important and having an understanding of how you are actually spreading the noises across the mix is almost as important as EQ or volume.
Amplitude and Frequency can also lend a hand to shaping the panoramics of your productions. You can split the signals of each tracks using filters and the pan each of these frequency bands separately. This method can lend its hand to great flexibility and can be used to create some serious sonic movement and transitions.
1. Below I have an inserted an Audio Effect Rack in Ableton and created 3 chains and named the accordingly. By EQ'ing each of these chains, at the start of the signal flow, I have isolated each frequency band. Take not of the Frequency cutoff settings on the Low pass and Hi Pass of each channel. Each band should have a cross-over frequency so you can reproduce the original sound fully.
2. By inserting a Utility plugin I can pan each of the frequency bands independently. I decide to nudge the mids to the left and Pan the hi's to the right quite hard.
3. I have then inserted a Simple delay effect after the Mid chain to create some movement. I also put a Filter delay on the Hi's followed by a sweeping low-pass filter and then a compressor, set quite ggressively, to emphasize the delays and filter movement.
Using this method you can create an FX noise that rattles and sweeps in the high-end, and bounces gently in the mid. Or some punchy percussion that flicks of into the distance. If you play around with the compressor settings, for example the attack and release, you will see the effect a bit of dynamic control can have on the impact of these effects. This rounds us off nicely in anticipation of the next installation which I will delve in to some compression techniques and some insight into mastering.