A term used in broadcasting and recording to indicate a spatial movement of a signal. A sound is panned when it is moved smoothly from one location (e.g. loudspeaker or channel) to another. This is accomplished by using various attenuators or potentiometers, sometimes combined into a single unit called a pan-pot or panoramic divider in order to control the amplitude of the signal in each channel.
A stereophonic signal created via panning results in a phantom image, that is, the sound appears to originate between the two loudspeakers (or inside the head in the case of headphone listening, a phenomenon called in-head localization), assuming the listener is positioned exactly between the two speakers. However, because of the precedence effect, if one is slightly closer to one loudspeaker, the sound will appear to come from that location, and therefore phantom images are very unstable.
Compare: Binaural Hearing, Binaural Recording, Cross-Fade, Kunstkopf, Mixing.