Panning the Hi-Hat

Continuing the discussion from Updated Textural/Progressive Funk Rock Odyssey with New Intro:
I understand the concept of audience perspective, but I REALLY prefer it when the hi-hat is in the left speaker/ear. Ride can go either way, but if I notice a hi-hat in the right while I’m listening on headphones it almost ruins the experience of listening to music for me, because it sounds so unnatural and backwards. I am a hi-hat left kind of GUY! Is there any reason at all why there would be a preference like this? Is it just that I’ve listened to many records where it’s in the left and I’ve gotten used to it? LET’S VOTE! Because I don’t think we have enough polls.

  • Left
  • Right
  • Center
  • Wherever it is in the kit you stupid asshole, what a stupid question CPF.
  • Both the left and the right with micropitch shifting

0 voters

definitely left. Nothing is worse than air drumming and hearing the hi hat come from the right.

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I started off as a drummer, so for purely audio listening I’d be inclined to say left. However, there are left-handed drummers that sometimes have their kit pretty much opposite the standard. Also, if you’re watching a music video and the hi-hat sound comes from the left speaker but the drumset on ‘stage’ has the hi-hat on the right side and a mic on it (for the video of course) it would certainly cause some consternation …

That’s something I’ve never noticed before! So I have no preference.

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I voted left (drummer perspective)

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Glad to see you’re not as anal about it as we are. We’re crazy.

Fuck no!!! Chris Lord-Alge pans right, so therefore I pan it right!!

+1 for right.

Edit: And he pans hard right

What if your drummers left handed?

We can’t be pandering to minorities like that

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If i am listening on earbuds, which happens more often than i would like to admit, I will switch them around so that the highhat is in the left.

Don’t hire drummers who are wired backwards, of course.

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I guess that makes you a disciple. :wink:

Chris Lord-Alge can blow me so can his siamese brother. Eddie Kramer and Michael Wagener pan left. It’s like the earring thing in the 80s where left ear meant straight and right ear pierced meant gay. CLA IS CLGAY!

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One more left here! Get the audience on stage with the band!


My preference is to pan drums to audience perspective. I don’t want people listening to the music from a musician’s brain. I want people to hear the music as a whole. As things get familiar, we engage less. I want people to engage more. Musicians in music brains listen to parts. Non-music-brains listen to songs. I want to do what I can to break people out of music brains and put them into novel, non-familiar place as much as possible (even when the music is sometimes very familiar/standard-sounding).

So where’s that leave the hihat? Wherever it ends up in the drum kit stereo field. I’m often doing a spaced pair overhead thing where the overheads aren’t visually left and right for the kit but placed to put the first and last tom far left and right. The hihat often ends up 50%-ish off center.

…which is fine by me. I’m going to have bright vocals and rhythmic drums in the middle. I’m going to have rhythmic (and sometimes bright) guitars/instruments out wide and I want my crash cymbal accents out wide.

Stuff that’s hard panned sounds distracting/attention-grabbing (bad/good) to me if it’s not balanced on the other side by something else. I want people to feel excited when a transition or a hit happens. Attention-grabbing sounds are good for excitement creation. Do you want people to notice that counter-melody? Put it somewhere people will notice. Wide? Sure! It’s not stepping on the vocal as much that way! Want people to feel the pads but not think about 'em? Soft pan 'em (and keep them quieter).

So I’m perfectly happy having hihats and rides 50% off-center. If I’m going to have something “steady-state” (as in, constantly happening) I’d like to have it tucked in a bit so the stereo spread doesn’t feel like it leans all towards that steady-state source…UNLESS I have another steady-state source to balance it. Perhaps the song has a rhythmic acoustic guitar thing when the hihat is playing. At that point I might go hihat wide opposite the wide acoustic guitar.

This audience panning perspective gets thrown out the window when making music for musicians to hear. If a song/band is proggy, mathy, or otherwise mostly-for-other-musicians I’ll pan right-handed-drummer perspective. Also, if a band is so in their own head and lacking an objective view that they can’t get past how they’re used to things sounding to them (I’m working with one right now - they’re all nice guys but very hesitant to take arrangement or layering advice…I suspect they’ll be potentially hesitant on the panning stuff, too) then I’ll just pan drummer perspective and be done with it. I don’t need the band having a hard time approving mixes because things sound “weird” to a drummer who isn’t able to articulate what it is that sounds weird.

I’m always trying to think of ways to disengage music-making brains and engage music-listening brains.

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Does it go without saying to match the panning with the OH mics? (Although I guess I just said it.) So I guess I’ll vote for the last answer - even though I would TRY to be just a little nicer to CPF than that. Then left. That way, if a musician is listening, he’ll be happy. If a left-handed drummer is listening, he’ll be happy. If a non-musician listens, they won’t care.