I have always been a fan of this but have started to bring them in a little bit more over time which sounds a little more natural to me. I am generally a fan of LCR. It is funny how tastes change over time. I do generally keep all toms out of the center position.
I’ve never been a fan of hard LCR panning. I like to do something like [-50, 0, 50] for a three tom drum set.
Yeah, most of the time, I narrow the drums from Superior Drummer output. Especially toms and even hi-hat and ride, I prefer them around ±30% max. Hard panned stuff just sounds weird to me.
For me i think about the perspective the drums have in distance so in general i pan the 10 inch tom 20% to the left the 12 inch 15% then the 14 floor 15% to the right and 16 floor 20% to the right snare and kick up the middle. Overheads left and right i do about 65 to 75% respectively.
I LOVE wide mixes – stereo adds interest, size, and excitement so make the most of it, I say! However, I’ve never really understood sticking to strict LCR, especially where panning toms is concerned. Hard panning toms always sounds a bit extreme to me. Conversely, panning them center in an otherwise stereo mix is, of course, utterly unsatisfying, and I don’t think there are many folks who would advocate for that.
If the overheads are well-recorded and have a good stereo balance, my preference is to try to identify where the toms are located in the OH’s and pan the close mics to match. This works for me at least as a starting point, although from here I often push them out just a touch wider. If the OH’s are sort of narrow or lop-sided in some way, I try to pan and balance the tom close mics in such away that those issues are masked or mitigated.
Slightly OT, but for a long time I was hard panning a lot of group BGV’s in the name of trying to maximize width in the overall mix. Of late, I’ve really decided that treating hard right and hard left as “guitar only” zones and pulling BGV’s in some (say 60-80% left and right, respectively) makes the BGV’s pop a lot more and gives the various elements a lot more space within the stereo field.
I read once that someone did a study and apparently discovered that intermediate panning positions tend to get perceived as L, C, or R by the listener anyway, and used that as part of their rationale for endorsing LCR mixing. However, I think the study was done listening on speakers, and while that logic makes sense to me in that environment I really think a more nuanced approach to panning (panning some elements soft left and soft right as opposed to only LCR) can be really nice when listening on headphones or earbuds (gasp!) When it’s done tastefully, it usually still translates to speakers quite well, and given that so many people listen on headphones or earbuds these days, I think it’s worth the effort.
Just my thoughts, nothing sacred. Hope that rant was worth something to someone, YMMV!
I tend to LCR, at least as a starting point, since psychologically it helps me be bold and actually think about where I want to put stuff decisively. Once the mix starts coming together I start using the soft pan positions for some things, especially for tom mics, because I tend to want them to sit pretty much where they appear to be in the panned overhead/ room mics.
With a bit of a proviso - there’s usually a bit of leeway before the mono tom mic and phantom image in the overheads diverges to the point of sounding smeared, so I pan them either narrower or wider depending on what musical function they’re serving. For example, maybe a recurring drum pattern uses toms heavily - in which case I might choose to pan them in so there’s not loads of low freq. energy splashing about the stereo field constantly. Maybe the middle is quite dense with stuff and the toms just happen every now and then for fills, then I might pan them a bit wider to clear the middle and make sure they’re noticed.
I don’t tend to like them hard panned, mainly because I like to treat the kit as one instrument and spreading the toms that far apart works against that.
I am bugged by wide panned drums. If you stand directly in front of the kick drum ,with your eyes closed, yes the drums will feel w i d e . If you stand back 20’ ,again with eyes closed, the stereo image narrows, the sounds are further away so it starts to focus towards the center.
If you want your listeners perspective to be right inside the band (passed-out on the floor), go ahead and pan wide for some ridiculous effect.
Want them to get the perspective of seeing a live show, viewing the band as a whole, bring the individual kit pieces in more towards the center.
I wonder if a mono drum track can make a song seem wide?
It blew my mind the first time I discovered that almost all the drums in every '90s U2 album are mono - listen to any track from Achtung Baby, Zooropa or Pop… generally it’ll be mono overhead, snare, kick. Sometimes tom close mics, sometimes stereo room sound.
I think that album sold well too.ha!
This is true! I never cared for it, though.
I tend to pan the OH out to about 60L/R. Usually the guitars are out 70-100L/R. I try to pan the toms to match (roughly) the image I hear in the overheads, although I tend to try to make them a little more even in the L-R spectrum.
I prefer a wide drum sound. I tend to keep the OH around 60 L/R and the toms about 25 L/R. With the guitars hard panned L/R it leaves a nice space for the backing vocals to sit in between. I also mix the drums from the drummers perspective. So the fills go from left to right as if I’m sitting at the kit.
For me the drums need to be mixed as a single instrument and so I try to keep them close to the same space in the mix. I mix live songs almost exclusively. because you have many open mics, you really have to be careful with placement of the instruments in the stereo field. Wide panned drums tend to sound smeared in the overall mix, loosing the crispness. I find when I mix studio songs, that logic gets held over.
All that said, there is never a wrong way…right?!! I have heard drums all panned to one side on well known albums that works just fine.
I used to like toms running from speaker to speaker. But then again I used to like long, fast and intricate tom fills, too…
Now I want my drums to sound like they do when I’m playing them. I (almost) mix everything like it would sound to me from the drum throne.
But I match my drum panning to my OHs. For me tom 1 is 35% L and floor tom is 70% R. If I have a tom 2 it will be 35%R. Sometimes I will scootch the tom 2 waveform over onto the floortom track if the tracks are sparce enough.
With other folks recordings/mixes I will try to fit them into the same orientation. But you have to let the OHs dictate that. Can’t have them fighting against eachother. But I do switch everything to drummer’s perspective when no one is looking…
Oh no! The Ol’ audience vs drummer perspective debate!
I’m a drummer. I hit things. What’s to debate?
Nah… If there is a preference, I’ll go the universally less awesome audience perspective…
I’m with you, I try think of my spatial placement in relation to a real set. But I’ll stick around the 25-50% panning, 75% at most maybe for floor tom. Though, if dramatic sound is called for on the floor, I may place it around the 15-20% mark! Though, I have to always keep in mind that I would ideally like to keep bass instrument closer to the center anyways.
Yup… the 35-70 Is just how it lays out for me. It probably doesn’t sound any wider than 25-50. It’s just what matches my OHs and my OHs match my actual cymbal placement.
I’m not big on wide drums all that much. But I do like my cymbals to be defined and placed on the wide side. When I hit one it’s on this side… When I hit the other it’s on the other side. Then when I hit both… lookout…
Absolutely! I totally agree with you, HF is extremely directional anyways, so I like matching it as well.
interesting. I started a thread on “wide” vs “narrow” drums before I read into this thread. But I was thinking more of the cymbal positions