Panipulator is a freeware tool that helps achieve accurate mix translation and it just received an update. Boz Digital Labs has updated the freeware utility plugin from version 2.0 to Panipulator 3.
Panipulator 3 isn’t one of the most exciting freebies; it’s pure utility and does its job with little fanfare. But that’s in no way a negative comment because it does a very important job.
It will help you identify potential panning/phase issues and check mono compatibility across various playback systems.
Most significantly, as marked by a big red button, Panipulator 3 lets you sum your stereo mix to mono. In doing so, you’ll find out if anything is lost in translation ( I also love Bill Murray and will shamelessly drop movie titles/references).
The update comes with a refreshed GUI and a new clean Lofi effect. Panipulator 3 allows you to flip the left and right channels, invert the polarity of either channel and adjust the pan law, which you can set to 0, -3, or -6 dB.
Adjusting the pan law compensates for any increase in level when two signals are summed to mono. If you have any moving elements that pan left and right, summing to mono can turn that motion into a less appealing push/pull feel. Adjusting the pan law per track with Panipulator can address that issue.
CPU-friendly is an understatement for this plugin, so if you want more than one instance, you can go as crazy as you like.
While your mix may sound great on your lovely monitors, not all devices are equal. Ideally, you want everyone to have as close to the same listening experience as possible, or at least hear all elements meant to be heard.
It’s easy to assume most people these days are listening in stereo, but many commercial locations such as nightclubs, restaurants, and stores lean heavily on mono playback. The main reason is to ensure that everyone hears the same thing within the often complex layout.
For example, in a club, you don’t want the bass to drop out when people walk around the corner from the bar to the dancefloor. On a smaller scale, most home smart speakers and similar products are mono.
Accurate mix translation isn’t something that I ever thought about in my early days as a musician. I was blissfully ignorant to many aspects of the studio in my role as a performer/composer. It was a little later when I took an interest in recording/mixing/producing and the many things I previously took for granted.
I bring that up because, although mono compatibility will be second-nature to many of you, it’s good to highlight its importance to beginners.
Panipulator 3 is available in 64-bit AU, VST2.4, VST3, and AAX formats for macOS (10.11 or higher) and Windows (XP or higher).
Download: Panipulator 3 (9.11 MB download size, EXE installer, 64-bit VST2/VST3/AU plugin format for Windows & macOS)
my choice for those utility-jobs was panipulator 2. it may sound strange, but i really “enjoyed” panipulator more than other plugins that can do exactly the same things for me.
it is nice to see that such a freebie gets updated, and i think the new gui is well thought out and an improvement for the overview and also for the look. (though i loved the switches on the older version)
That’s what I call backwards compatible – Windows XP or higher :D I also have to admit, that switches on previous release were really fun to use. Huge interface and it did the job well.
You know, it’s been so long since I used Windows, I knew XP was very old and rarely mentioned these days, but I didn’t realise it was 20+ years since release haha.
XP was my first OS on my first PC. Indeed it’s old. I only remember green grass, blue sky on default wallpaper and the startup sound :D
why do you need plugins to check the mono compatibility? can’t you just put your mix in mono on your daw?
As James mentioned in the article, you can do much more with Panipulator 3. For example you can adjust the pan law for any track, which requires it. This feature is fairly unique in my opinion and I’ve checked many alternatives. One that comes to mind is Sonalksis’ excellent but quite old FreeG. Unfortunately this pan law feature is hidden in the settings menu. I even read about a user that had this plugin for a long time and never new about additional options. In Panipulator you have this option clearly visible. Now that developer has added preset menu, using it will be even more convenient.
If your DAW has that function, great. But there are many reasons not to use the tools in your DAW too. You might want a tool to look and feel the same across many DAWs, The internal tool might be hard to reach, while a plugin could be easier to use, or automate in various situations. And sometimes you just want to push a big red buttons, for reasons…
Those tempting big red buttons! haha
Yes but I wish it would have spelled MOJO instead : )
Instant Mojo at the touch of a big red button, that’s an interesting thought, haha.
in pro tools i have to put both pan pots in the middle to have the mix in mono, thats possible with alt+left click for L, then alt+left click for R, so the knobs jump to center position. to go back to stereo i have to turn the knob back to 100% for L, then turn the knob back to 100% for R.
so thats a lot more keyboard and mouse work to do than one simple click and also sometimes takes too long for instant comparison.
thats why i like utility plugins and use them a lot.
Reaper has all this Built in… Good plugin though on other DAWs which dont have that function
The midrange mono check check is a great feature and now makes this plugin highly useful to me. I would usually use a Mixcube impulse response and low cut filter in mono on the 2 bus.
Thanks Boz. :)
Has anyone who uses v2 installed it yet? I have v2 on several large, current projects – if I install v3 will it overwrite and replace v2 or will it install a new ‘3’ plugin? If it overwrites will it maintain my settings within the project?
On my system they coexist without any clashes. I could load both versions in a project.
same here, v2 and v3 coexist happily.
i also noticed that v3 is not available as mono-version.
actually the plugin is not meant to be used on mono tracks, but with v2 it was possible to just use it as phase invert switch on mono tracks.
v3 only has a mono to stereo version or stereo version, so it changes mono tracks in pro tools to stereo.
i am not sure yet if i will keep both versions or decide to just keep one of the two.
Perfect, thanks Michal!