The science of psychoacoustics lets clever developers play all sorts of tricks on our unsuspecting ears. Pantastic by EndeavourFX is one fine little example. It’s a panning plug-in that aims to make typical stereo L/R panning sound much more realistic.
Pantastic – realistic panning plug-in
In the example given by EndavourFX, try panning a mono drum set hard left and the guitar hard right. You know, like those old The Doors recordings. Now how does that sound? It surely doesn’t sound like you have a drummer to your left and the guitar player is in the right corner of the room and they are jamming hard. That’s because convential panning, explains the developer, only adjusts the volume of left and right signals. In actuality, to be able to localize sound properly, you also need time, phase, and timbre.
Pantastic recreates these phenomena to provide a novel effect and question all your regular panning decisions. The effect is especially notable on headphones, as a pair of cans delivers the left signal to your left ear and the right signal to your right ear. You are listening with only one year per signal while humans are meant to hear with both! So Pantastic, with just a single knob, and three options, simulates all that important psychoacoustic stuff.
Pantastic has three panning modes. Realistic is the most natural and sounds great and headphones, but it compromises mono compatibility. Traditional is basic panning which is good for the mid and side signals but it doesn’t sound like it should. Pantastic is where the prior modes meet in the middle for a good compromise between realism and mono compatibility.
Price and availability
Priced just USD 20, Pantastic graciously offers an unlimited free trial version with no restrictions. EndeavourFX want to take their part in combating social isolation and financial difficulties. So they essentially offer Pantastic for free at the moment. The plug-in works with very low latency on Windows and Mac computers.