Stereo imaging - Vocals towards left side
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sidewinder

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Hi,
 
ever since I received my custom Triple.Fi 10, I was surprised by how the vocals always tend towards the (very) left side, with instruments seperated nicely, but sometimes little more to the right. Now don't get me wrong, the earphones sound good, my hearing is intact, but it's just very noticeable and somewhat distracting and annoying. I fix it by panning the stereo image to the right a little bit, so the vocals tend to be in the middle. Now, with a regular speaker setup, I don't notice this at all. And with previous IEMs not that much either, even though it's easier to make an image inside your head. 
 
Is it because of the studio mix and better isolation and acoustics of my customs, that I notice this? 
 
So if anyone could care to explain this, I'd be happy to hear it.
 
Thanks
 
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snoopy007

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try a mono source to make sure sure everything is ok.
 
I find that is it is easier to tell when a vocal is not dead centre with iems. I am not sure if it is a mastering mistake or it is suppose to be done that way. This is because sometimes the vocal is only slightly to the left or right. Some of my friends don't even notice when it is slight left or right until I pointed out to them.
 
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stevenswall

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I find songs occasionally that seem to exhibit this behavior... slight vocal panning to the left. I never knew what caused it though.
 
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revolink24

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I'm guessing its just the track that pans it that way... in which case adjusting the balance to the right will royally screw up the soundstage.
 
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IPodPJ

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I've also wondered this.  Many songs have vocals panned slightly to the left side.  In order to rule out equipment issues I've checked DAC output with a multimeter and made sure when using active monitors that both channels are matched.  No equipment issues, it's just the way many songs are mastered and it's very annoying at times.
 
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KingStyles

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I just thought my hearing was off, but I guess others are having this problem. A lot of vocals for me are slightly left of center. There are a few that are dead center but not many.
 
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Max F

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Hmm, i thought my right ear was going bad.  It does seem like most of the mono are straight down the middle.
 
What's going on with this slightly left of center vocal thingy.
 
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stevenswall

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HAHAHA... at least I think you made a funny!?
 
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ford2

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Well I did a quick test with three seperate albums and indeed the vocals on some tracks were to the left,not by much but very evident with headphones,and there is the answer because I played the same tracks through my main system and it was not evident at all.
 
Unfortunatly for us most CD's are mastered for speakers (and not the type that sit next to or in your ears).
 
Maybe one day headphone amps will follow there big brothers and have a balance control,or for some who use full size amps it is not a problem.
 
If you use K1000's just move one speaker in closer,which is what I do,the perfect phone for balance control.
 
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Yoga Flame

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I've sometimes noticed vocals shifted to the left too. So I switched my headphones around. Left cup over right ear and vice versa. But the vocals remained on the left! I am doubtful it is a hearing problem, because the instruments seem to be emphasized on the right side, rather than following the vocals.
 
Could it be a left brain / right brain thing? I'm left handed, if that means anything.
 
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Being left or right handed will have no influence here. Being left or right brained may play a part. My theory is that maybe because your right brain is equipped to draw meaning from noise or sound your left ear is the one that picks up the tonal variation of a persons voice and make sense of the lyrics. this, for those that never did much biology, involves the right brain controlling the left side of the body and vise-versa.
 
The other theory may be that the creators of the music, understanding the theory above, have done this deliberately.
 
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As a student in the audio engineering world, I can say that I've been taught generally to have vox panned center, however we do on occasion feed the vox through an effects chain that ends up being panned to one side.
That said, there are no rules to mixing a song. The vox channel(s) very well might be panned to one side, and I can say that I start panning things left before I pan right.
 
I'm no expert, but there are my 2 cents, hopefully it helps you put your mind to ease while listening.
 
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hodgjy

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Just to muddy the waters a little bit......
 
Most people do not have 100% identical hearing in both of their ears.  One is usually better, although sometimes very slightly, than the other.  Even though in biology we use terms like "bilaterally symmetric", we are far from mirror images of each half.
 
Still, I'm sure there errors in recording mastering, or perhaps it's a desired effect to not have vocals in the middle.  Or, it's slightly different amplification itself in your system. 
 
Who knows....  There are so many reasons for why someone might be hearing vocals slightly off center.
 
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This could be a trend in mixing and mastering. A few mixing engineers I have chatted with insist on having the vocals off center so they don't muck around with the drums (and vice-versa), especially the kick, which is usually dead center.
 
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