eli5: How can music producers make a part of a song be heard on only one speaker?


I’ve realised this with some songs eg Hate me by Ellie Goulding and juice wrld, when she says switch sides, the audio on one side seems to have less sound or something.

In: 0

It’s a feature called panning on music editing software. You can dictate where certain channels of music are in the ‘room’. It’s been around for decades now but is great to use. You’d artificially position where a band is to appear like they are playing from different positions. If you go 100% to the left or right, you get the sound only coming from one speaker.

Hope this makes sense

A digital music file has two data streams, one for each side – this is called stereo. (if it only has a single data stream for both sides it’s called mono). You’re basically playing two songs at the same time, one on each speaker and for most of the time they’re almost exactly the same.

What you described is as simple as muting one side of the data stream, so only the other one keeps playing.

Stereo audio uses two signals, one for each channel- left and right. With analog audio like records and tapes, it’d be recorded so the equipment could play both channels back simultaneously- with record grooves, one channel on each side of the groove, with tape, two tracks of audio on the tape, and so forth.

With digital media like MP3s and similar formats, the audio data is simply encoded as two chunks of information in the same file.

To produce the effect you’re talking about audio engineers would use various effects to adjust which signals would go to which channel. It could be as simple as turning a single knob to “pan” the audio from one channel to another, or as complicated as taking many audio tracks- vocals, guitar, keyboard, etc- and adjusting which ones go to which channel and at what level.

When a song is recorded, each voice, each instrument is recorded on its own “track”, as if it was a completely solo performance for that singer or for that instrument. The producers then use [a board like this](https://blog.academyart.edu/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/music-production-sound-design-sound-mixing-board.jpg) to control how loud or soft each instrument is, whether it goes on the left or the right speaker (or if it’s a Dolby Surround 7.1 recording, on which of the 7 speakers + 1 subwoofer it goes). The producer has full control over fading instruments and voices in and out, and in general “producing” the final version of the song, where all the instruments are voices are “mixed in” to create the complete song.