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i was wondering how you guys pan the drum overheads. i had always done a hard left/right pan with the overheads until i read an article recently that suggested a tighter spacing made for a more realistic soundstage (something like 10 and 2 o'clock).

what does everyone else do? do you pan differently based on how you mic'ed the kit (xy vs spaced pair)?

- neil


Guest Fri, 03/29/2002 - 13:05

It's all in what you're hearing, what you're going for, and where and how the mics were placed. Most of the time I don't care for the sound of a thirty-foot wide drum kit being played by a drummer with 15 foot sticks. If that's what I was hearing in the mix, I'd definitely reduce the panning. But someone else might not.

It's all dependent on how you placed your overheads when tracking. Certainly an xy pair might give you a more realistic stereo image when panned fully wide then overheads that were 15 feet apart.

anonymous Tue, 04/02/2002 - 10:34

Yeah, it's all in what you hear. I usually pan the overheads a bit more than the toms. I find that tom panning is a bit more obnoxious and inaccurate as opposed to overhead panning.

One thing I find funny is that I am a drummer at heart (though not accomplished) and usually I start mixing listening from a drummer's perspective. That is, the ride is on the right, hi-hat on the left. It just sounds right to me but I guess most people put the stereo image opposite to that, right? Then there are times when all drums should be right up the middle. It just sounds cool on driving songs.

lorenzo gerace Tue, 04/02/2002 - 22:34


Interesting subject, I always wanted to talk about it;
I use to pan the OHs at 9 and 3, or around that, since I don't like the picture of a ride cymbal in one speaker and a hi-hat in the other, it doesn't sound real; there's one thing that I'm not so sure about: when miking OH with a stereo pair (XY or ORTF) how's the correct panning? Stereo pictures miked with these techniques "should" be panned all the way left/right, according to manuals, to get the true representation of the source: if the pan width is narrow, wouldn't you get into some phase cancellation/inconsistency?

Thanx for your insights

anonymous Wed, 04/03/2002 - 08:46

DBX: Yeah, I was meaning to ask what everyone's preference was as to perspective. I guess it doesn't matter really but to me it's kind of disconcerting to listen to from the audience perspective. Strange... The more I think about it, I really don't like much panning at all. I always start with hard panning but end up reducing it a lot by the end of the process.
When you listen to a live drummer, you're not hearing separation like you hear in a recorded stereo setup with hard panning of the drums and cymbals.

lorenzo gerace Wed, 04/03/2002 - 08:56

Originally posted by DBX 165:

I'm not a drummer, but it really bug's me to hear the drums from the audience perspective. I don't really know why?

In my opinion, when I listen to recorded music where a band of some sort is playing I like to think of myself in front of it, so that's my justification for drums panning: in my opinion there's no point in mixing like I was in the drummer's lap, and I'm not a drummer either. If records were made for the musicians who play on them I don't think they'd sound much realistic, but that depends on production choices, like, if I'd want to make everyone know how it feels like to play my guitar, I'd probably mike them from close to my ear ;) . Sure, there's not that much separation between ride and hi-hat in a live context, but this can be addrressed to a way of mixing FOH that allows people far left and far right to hear almost the same thing (same thing for toms, that most engineers actually don't spread that much); I think this is one of the reasons why I see really big touring productions with just a mono cluster hanging over the stage (I initially thought they were nuts, but after the show I reconsidered). I don't like records that put things too much outside of the speaker plane too, but I also don't like quasi mono recordings.

Ted Nightshade Wed, 04/03/2002 - 09:01

If you're in a live room, you will be hearing a full on stereo spread, drums bouncing off the walls.
Of course from the player's perspective things couldn't be panned harder.
And of course there's no way to know how far apart the playback speakers will be. 3' wide kits are as unrealistic as 30' wide kits.

To be from an audience perspective, unless the audience is lounging on the deck above the kit, the drums should be mic'ed at a healthy distance in front of the kit.
Drums are probably the most narcissistically arranged instrument, in that the best part of the sound of every instrument goes towards the drummer- straight up or in the case of the bass drum the beater head. That's where the action is.
To mic things from the drummer's perspective (relatively close overheads) is inconsistent with arranging those sounds as if heard from a distance, and a totally different angle.
But I'm open to surrealism.
Usually I assume the listener has climbed a tree over the band, and the band has laid all the amps on their backs...
and Lemmy is singing.

anonymous Wed, 04/03/2002 - 10:09

I see what your saying,

when I listen to recorded music where a band of some sort is playing I like to think of myself in front of it,

but I think that might be why I like it panned in the drummers perspective, when I'm listening I AM that drummer.
I'm one of those idiot's that likes to play air drums :p
so my hihat has to be on my left side cause. (even though I don't play drums... see what I mean??)
Hope so :confused:

MadMoose Wed, 04/03/2002 - 10:49

I start with them panned hard left and right from the drummers perspective, hi-hat on the left, ride on the right. From there I'll bring them in if they're too wide. I don't do a spaced pair all that often while tracking so usually having them hard left and right isn't all that that hard if you follow me.

BTW, Did you get the email I sent you about your CD? It was probably about a month ago. Drop me a line.

anonymous Wed, 04/03/2002 - 20:12

I used to pan from the drummer's perspective, but eventually changed to the listener's - just seemed & sounded more natural to me (whenever you watch a band play, you're in front of them not behind).

I discovered that it works better for me to pan things hard left/right while tracking if I'm busing things to a stereo pair then I can adjust the width of that pair in the mix.

anonymous Wed, 04/03/2002 - 20:20

I have done drummers view for a while, as I normaly air drum :D from left-right and as the control room looks through to the drummers arse it makes sense to be that way around :roll: .
I do not mind a wide kit. It is one of the few real stereo instruments in a rock band. For sonic reasons most of us put the Bass up the middle although most of the time the bass player is either hard right or left on the stage unless they sing.
And the snare is never really dead centre anyway :eek: and if the drummers left handed and no ones knows is it wrong. no I am thinking to much now, I do not normally stand in front of the band, noramlly to either side and small pubs PA's are in mono. Sorry to long a day at day job, off to studio soon.

anonymous Fri, 04/05/2002 - 05:13

I just remembered something:

A couple of weeks ago, a dance instructor client of mine brought over some tunes for me to edit to create a competition routine for her. One of the tunes we edited was an oldie: American Woman (by Guess Who?, I think).

For the first time, I had to really sit down & listen closely to the mix....very interesting. They had the LdV, bass and the guitar solo panned straight up the middle. The main guitar line was panned hard right & the ENTIRE drum kit is panned hard left - throughout the whole song, no doubt. As many times as I'd heard that song growing up, I never even noticed that.

Just goes to show you that odd panning can work!

RecorderMan Fri, 04/05/2002 - 07:43

I pan as needed to make the drums sound great.

Listen to what happens to the Kick, Snare and Toms, and the kit against/with the track.
This is why peolple have "30 foot wide" kit's. Usually the OH's and Toms were cut in such a way, that narrow panning exacerbates the phase issuse among the varuious parts and makes the drums not sound as good.
I for one now make it a point to pan my toms (for, instance) where I want them in my "stereo" tom tracks, so that even when whoever else is mixing spreads them wide left&right , they stay tight, aligned with the OH's image.
One more reason to cut it right, from the get.

FifthCircle Fri, 04/05/2002 - 09:20

It really depends upon the style of music that I'm mixing how I approach drums.

When I am doing a rock/pop thing, I tend to pan only Left-Center-Right (except on a rare occasion). I do this so that the recording will maintain a good mono compatibility. Drums go all the way left and right. I deal with the phase issue by using a stereo x-y overhead pattern. When I pan, I tend to go from the drummer's prospective.

When I do jazz, I tend to take a very minimalist approach. I use a single stereo microphone in front of the kit with perhaps a kick drum mic for a little extra clarity on the kick. I will *not* pan all the way across, but rather as I'd see it in a club from roughly center to right in the audience prospective.


MadMoose Fri, 04/05/2002 - 17:30

Originally posted by davemc:
For sonic reasons most of us put the Bass up the middle although most of the time the bass player is either hard right or left on the stage unless they sing.

I just mastered a song for a band yesterday where they put the bass at 10:30 or 11. I cut the tracks on 2" and gave them wav files to mix. Within five minutes of putting the track up I called them to ask if they fucked up. "Should we pan it up the center?" Nah, it's cool... just different. Man I gotta get out more. lol

droog Wed, 04/10/2002 - 14:18

lorenzo wrote:

"if I'd want to make everyone know how it feels like to play my guitar, I'd probably mike them from close to my ear"

to my ears, that's a totally legit way of recording (in fact, you should try sticking a mike over your right shoulder one time, especially with acoustic)

one of the reasons i like recorderman's 2-stick setup, is that it is, partly, in line with that philosophy

likewise, i've recorded accordeon and an electric piano in that manner

as for panning, if it sounds good...

Sir Bob Thu, 04/11/2002 - 21:42

Gee, I thought I would provoke some flame but for not.

Seriously, I have been wondering what value if any stereo micing is? I don't have the tracks to indulge it but even if I did, I don't know.

Other than putting up two mics in front of a drum kit, when do you find yourself tracking in stereo:
--Acoustic guitar;

I've had stereo patches in my Proteus but I am talking about micing?

How and when do you stereo mic? I like to use two mics but it's mixing up a small condensor with a large one for say an acoustic guitar.

Guest Fri, 04/12/2002 - 12:14

Things I almost always mic in stereo:

1) Drum overheads (nice to hear those descending tom fills moving from left to right, among other reasons)

2) Grand Piano

3) Congas, Timbales, Bell Trees, etc.

4) Small Hand Percussion where the percussionist moves from mic to mic to create stereo movement as part of their performance.

5) Acoustic guitar (sometimes)

lorenzo gerace Sat, 04/13/2002 - 03:24

I use stereo miking techniques each time I want to get a natural rendition of a source, it doesn't really matter which one: the sound of an (acoustic) instrument is the result of the combination of its direct sound and the natural reflection from the environment you're recording in, so, be it piano, cello, percussions, acoustic guitar etc., I favor recording it stereo from a semi close distance, rather then getting a dry, up-close sound and then create a fake stereo with panning and effects; it obviously depends on production choices, and the role this source plays in the big picture, but for solo pieces and acoustic music (be it duo, trio, quartet ecc.) IMO stereo miking is the way to go.


drumsound Mon, 04/15/2002 - 21:23

I actually vary the drum-set width quite a bit. I sometimes have the whole set tight within 10-2 other times very wide. I do like to mix from the drummer’s point of view, but that's my instrument so it sounds odd for me to hear drums from audience perspective. I mixed a record recently where the artist wanted audience. It sounds fine and I'm sure nobody will notice either way.

Someone else mixed my bands new record and he mixed audience and it sounds very strange for me to hear my own playing panned "backwards."