Panning iTunes

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Reader Ernie seeks a little musical balance in his life. He writes:

I’m a musician trying to separate harmonies. Is there any way to pan left and right in iTunes? I don’t see the option in the iTunes program, and the sound area in System Preferences doesn’t give me the option.

iTunes doesn’t provide a balance control but the Sound system preference does, provided you use the right kinds of outputs. Specifically, open that aforementioned Sound system preference, click the Output tab, and you’ll see a Balance slider when you choose either the Line Out or Headphones port. Flip it left or right to pan your music. If you’re using the Digital Out or a USB or FireWire audio interface you’ll find that the Balance slider disappears when you select one of these output options. In such cases you’ll need to turn to the device connected to the output and pray that it has a control for panning the volume on the speakers or headphones attached to it.

You also have this alternative: If the track is unprotected (meaning you didn’t purchase it from the iTunes Store) you can drag it into GarageBand and use its track pan controls to pan the track hard left or right. iTunes Store tracks won’t import into GarageBand but you can work around it by burning the purchased track to CD and then re-ripping it, which removes Apple’s FairPlay protection.

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