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rules for panning drums

Discussion in 'Drums' started by audiokid, Apr 17, 2010.

  1. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Is there a rule for panning drums? Do you pan from the drummers point or the audience?
    I have always done this from the audience position but recently heard its a preference.
  2. bouldersound

    bouldersound Real guitars are for old people. Well-Known Member

    Audience. If the drummer doesn't like it I tell him to turn the 'phones around.
  3. soapfloats

    soapfloats Well-Known Member

    I almost always go audience.
    I know some bands, like Pink Floyd (who popularized it), go from drummer's perspective.
    I think that was as much a natural accident resulting from the players having as big a role as they did in the production, as on purpose.

    For me, it's a matter of whether or not the hi-hat/ride sounds strange on one side vs. the other.
    I guess that'd be preference, huh?
    And what if the drummer is left-handed?
  4. natural

    natural Active Member

    No rules.
    I don't think it matters.
    Just make sure that the overheads and room mics match whichever perspective you're going for.

    Personally I do drummers perspective. Technically, I guess it's not correct, if the rest of the band is from the audience perspective.
    But when I'm working fast, i just got used to hearing floor tom and ride on my right. So it helps me identify which track is which quickly. Plus, on the console during tracking it always made sense to me to have Hi tom, mid tom, and floor tom mics going to tracks 1,2,3. (or whatever sequentially numbered tracks).
    So it made sense to have 1 panned leftish, 2, more centered and 3 more rightish.
    But I don't know that the average listener knows or cares for the most part.
    For the most part, it probably makes the drummer happy. And that's one less discussion we need to have during mixing. <insert favorite smiley here>
  5. DrGonz

    DrGonz Active Member

    I find that the drummer's perspective is the way I naturally place the drums in the mix. Not sure if it matters, but then when I reverse the overheads and shift other mic's (hihat, ride, toms) around it sounds different to me. Not sure how this could be correct or incorrect? I think there is the way you naturally hear the drums based on if your thinking like a drummer or not. That's why I like 2 overheads, snare mic, and a kick bass drum mic. It's the easiest way to just hear an image quickly, and w/ out too much thought or over-thought.
    Now for something completely different...
    Just the other day I was experimenting w/ a track that is not really drums at all. The tracks were very basic sticks clicking on a wall like a Train running down the tracks(3 different takes of these panned left, mid, and right). Then a closer proximity hitting on a plastic box for a snare effect. Then to get even more moronic or interesting I starting tapping the rhythms on a cheap acoustic guitar case. (Need a drum set for god sake!!) Anyhow, I panned the tapping of the acoustic guitar case on the far left side and added some low R-Bass at 80hertz for effect. So there is this low end bass thing on the left speaker mostly. I then panned the snare(as I explained not a real snare) type hits to mostly the far right. Add a lil R-Bass around 175hertz to the snare idea. The balance was stellar and opened up the sound scape w/ the music very naturally. Not sure I would do this in mixing a real drum set recording, but I think I might try it to be different on one song. Something about a more mono approach sounds very organic and interesting to me. This idea might sound insane to most out there... I just did it as an experiment for recording in a closet approach(literally was in a closet). I guess when you record one percussion instrument (or plastic tub) at a time, you then can fool the ear into a different way of panning entirely. And in the end I couldn't stop listening to the track and it was something completely new sounding that I had never heard before.
  6. Space

    Space Well-Known Member

    Seems like the question assumes a right handed drummer? Being left handed, my perspective is flipped 180 degrees so I am thinking it is one of those areas that the song will dictate what is needed rather than rules.
  7. It doesn't. The first rule of panning drums is that there are no rules. The second rule of panning drums is see rule #1. ;)
  8. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    I always envision it from the audience's point of view, but now that I think of it I've used the same settings for both a lefty and righty drummer. So I guess I have panned from the drummers point of view. As people have been saying - there are no rules (that I follow) when mixing a CD. Now video mixing....the answer is obvious.
  9. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    I've never thought about it until yesterday. My drum machine is setup from the drummer position. It got me thinking, is there a standard?

    How about the other instruments?
  10. GZsound

    GZsound Active Member

    I always pan from audience perspective both drums and instruments, depending on the instruments in the song. Never recorded a left handed drummer, but most likely I would pan his drums from the audience perspective too.

    Just makes it easier when you are watching the drummer while recording.
  11. bouldersound

    bouldersound Real guitars are for old people. Well-Known Member

    I just figure if there's a video made in anything like a performance setup it would annoy me to see the drummer go to the floor tom on my left and hear it from the right.
  12. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    I think that pretty much nails it. Audience position is the obvious and flipping the phones for the drummer make the most sense however, my phones are AKG's with the tweeters facing towards the ears. Left is left, right is right. I'll have to get some others for this.
  13. thatjeffguy

    thatjeffguy Active Member

    I always pan from the audience perspective. I don't have things panned at all in the tracking phase, so no worry about the drummer's headphone mix.

  14. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    I like to convolute the pan.

    Panning seems to be whatever sounds 'right' in the mix and i dont ever worry about a stage direction. I will take portions of instrumental sections and place them in spots where there seems to be room for them to operate.

    As for the drums, the overheads(if theres two....sometimes I like a mono source here....focus) and toms are the only parts that will get panned. I always seem to pan the toms from audience perspective, but as I first stated, I will convolute the overheadsby panning them opposite the tom pan but only if they dont add sludge this way. Its an interesting effect and at times, depending on the song and the style, can make a very powerful rythmic statement
  15. Robin.bjerke

    Robin.bjerke Active Member

    Sounds cool, can you post the track somewhere? Would like to hear it :)

    I poersonally dont think there is a "Right" way to do anything in the recording industry. There are conventions and habits that work better than others in certain situations, but the most meaningful and important piece of advice I have ever heard about recording came from Joe Meek. If it sounds right, it just is right. Doesnt matter if you had to slaughter a cow and record through their bowels to get the desired sound.

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