Drum Panning Assignments

Discussion in 'Mixing & Song Critique' started by PDePauw, Oct 6, 2005.

  1. PDePauw

    PDePauw Guest

    Hello, this is my first post here and i am hoping to get some advice on panning the drums. The kit i am working with has

    2 Kicks D6 mics
    3 Toms D2, D2, SM57
    1 Floor Tom D4
    Snare D1

    What is the norm for the toms and floor tom? Also, where would a fourth tom normally sit? I also only use a single 451 as an overhead. I haven't bought a second one yet. Any pros or cons on the overhead? Any info is appreciated. Paul
  2. The way I approach drums is like this:

    Get the overheads set so they're phase-coherent in mono.
    Pan the overheads out as wide as you want them.

    Listen carefully to hear where the drums fall on the stereo field. You'll be able to tell that the hi-hat is slightly more to the left (depending on the perspective you're mixing from) than the snare, and the toms have separation between them, and the cymbals are a certain width apart, etc. etc. If you have your overheads set up right (well, right for this purpose) kick should stay in the center no matter how wide you pan the overheads, and the snare should be fairly close to center as well. When you bring up the level on the close mics, you'll want to pan them to their location in the overheads. It's quite simple, really. You just need to listen.

    As far as that kit goes- you could try it the way I do, or put the overhead where you get the best cymbal sound, and just apply a high-pass filter to it to only get the cymbals. Then pan the drums starting with the snare close to center, then pan the toms across the stereo field starting at around 40% L, working your way to 60% R for the floor tom. I'd most likely keep both kicks in the center (I've never worked with a kit with two though, so this is just an idea.) If you have a hi-hat mic, I'd pan that to around 50% L. Of course, this is just a starting point, and how my final drum mix ends up might be radically different.

    Just some advice, I'm sure you'll get higher-quality advice later.
  3. MilesAway

    MilesAway Guest

    As you've only got 1 overhead, you're going to have to pan the toms wider than normal to get a nice stereo sound (and leave the bleed in/don't gate them...). Typically, i'd pan toms 30%L, 15%L, 15%R, 30%R as a starting place, then depending on the song & beats, mess with it from there.

    A thought: Set up the tom-panning as previously described, then automate the 1st Rack and the Floor toms to swing *wide* outside when they're not being hit; This will give you a better stereo drum sound, but keeps the toms centered and powerful when they're in use... Could be interesting...
  4. Here's a radical idea -- piss all over percentages left and right as suggested by anybody, period. There ARE no "norms" in mixing. There's either SUCK and DON'T SUCK. My advice is, choose the former over the latter whenever possible.

    The beauty of mixing is all the choices you have when you start. The goal of tracking is to give the mix-E as many of those choices as possible, usually.

    So how do you decide where to put your toms? You listen, first of all. That's the problem I see glaring at me in this thread. Nobody is saying much of anything about listening. Everybody is real happy about their percentage-of-pan numbers, but nobody mentions much about listening, or even WHY they chose "35%" over "30%". (It also tells me nobody here uses an analog console, but that's another thread entirely).

    You've got a lot of choices if you have your drums all tracked separately. First of all, do you WANT stereo? Keep in mind that you don't HAVE to mix $*^t in stereo. It's not a law. But let's say you DO want stereo.

    Now your question becomes, how do you want the sound to appear to the listener? Do you want it to sound like the drummer's arms are 43 feet long and he can hit a snare drum off to my right while simultaneously hitting a ride cymbal off to my left a good ways? If you do, fine. Pan all that $*^t wide as you can. Do you want the drumkit to appear as it does from the drummer's perspective? That is, with the snare and hats to the left and the toms going high to low from left to right, or do you want it to appear from the audience's perspective (that is, opposite)? Personally, I like mixing stereo drums from the audience perspective. That's just me.

    But goddammit, Shotgun, I asked where to put my ^#$%ing toms!!

    I know ya did, buddy, I know ya did. The best lesson you can learn as a beginning mixer, though, is not to ask that ^#$%ing question. Frankly, it's a lame ass question. It's lame because the answer will ALWAYS be "pan them to where they sound good". No $*^t, that's the real answer. Name me an album you like the drum sound on and I will bet you a month's pay that the mix-E did NOT set his pans to certain percentages, but instead just twisted knobs until they sounded the way he wanted.*

    So the moral of this is, MIX WITH YOUR EARS, NOT YOUR EYES.

    To set your tom pans correctly, listen to your track. Put it on auto-repeat. Close your eyes. Yes, close the fuckers. Picture what you're hearing. Can you see everybody? Where are those drums? Point to them. No, seriously, point at the fuckers. Don't worry that people are going to think you're a fruitcake. If you got into audio to be popular, it's best you quit now. So point, fucker, point. Can you point at all the drums? Do any of them seem to be in a place that makes no sense to you? Not you as a "I know how to play drums" kind of guy, but you as a "I just bought this CD 10 minutes ago" kind of guy. If they seem like they're in the wrong place, adjust the pan so that they get to the right place. Might take several tries. Of course, you have to open your eyes to hit the pan control onscreen if you're using a DAW. This whole thing is easier if you can use an analog desk because you can get to pan knobs by feel.

    Then, when you finally get to a point where you can sit there with your eyes closed and say "yeah, everything seems like it's in the right place", well, you've got your drums mixed. And everything else too, if you apply this to other tracks. And what of those percentages on the pan controls? Don't worry so much what they say. Who cares? Now, you should write it all down, of course. That's good record keeping. But don't assume that because settings X, Y, and Z worked once that they ever will again.

    Or, that they won't.

    It's a crapshoot.

    Have fun.


    *this offer does not apply to the Lord-Alge brothers
  5. MilesAway

    MilesAway Guest

    So, how's the view up there Shotgun? :roll:
  6. Shotgun won't hesitate to take the piss out of someone, but the man is damn helpful.
  7. iznogood

    iznogood Member

    Feb 9, 2004
    why no pan the toms as they're heard in the overheads.... gives a good "drumkit" feel...

    or do as you like....
  8. Mr-Nice

    Mr-Nice Guest

    I am agreeing with shotgun on this 100% (no pun), screw that closed hat has to be 15% to the left and the ride should be 29.992743% to the right!

    Record all your drum tracks and pan each sound to where YOU and only you feel it should be. You're the producer so you should pan things to where YOU want them, not because some guy in a forum said "Yeah only do it this way".

    For the record I keep my kick centered and once in a while I might pan a snare or clap very very very slightly right or left depending how where I think it should be. :) I make electronic music so the natural drummers stereo perspective can be tossed aside in my case, because the drum sounds I use are more synthesized sounding rather than a realistic drumset. But I still like to be within reason with panning.
  9. PDePauw

    PDePauw Guest

    Well for my first post i am pretty happy with the info that i received. I can even understand the " lame ass question part"
    Shotgun was talking about. I have been missing some very obvious things and this has helped quite a bit. I haven't given enough thought into the drummers perspective or audience perspective for that matter so i am looking and listening to things with more care now. I found some good info in all the responses and am glad i asked Thanks
  10. Statick

    Statick Guest

    if you only have one overhead, then why not simply pan all the toms central, and mix that kit in glorious mono
  11. Statick

    Statick Guest

    oh, and whilst on the subject of 'perspective' and where things should be panned, i try and setup a crossed pair of overheads in line with the kick and snare, so that they both appear central in the mix. this puts the hat and tom 1 slightly, on the left, tom 2 goes central, and tom 3 goes far right (or vice-versa if you go for audience perspective). i personally find that keeping kick and snare dead central is important, and not just the close mics - the overheads need to match.

    but as i said before, since you are only using one overhead, if it was me recording then the whole kit would go mono. theres no shame in it !

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