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Trends in mixing drums (snare centered or slightly panned?)
Old 8th May 2006
  #1
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Trends in mixing drums (snare centered or slightly panned?)

Just listening to an old Mahavishnu Orchestra track right now ('You Know, You Know') noticing the snare seems to be slightly panned off to the right. I've noticed this alot lately as I've been listening to older records.

I am curious as to what type of imaging the mixers of that era were trying to create as I am so used to todays records having the snare smack in the center. Seems like when you are tracking a kit it just makes sense to have the snare in the center. Does it seem more natural to others to have it panned off to the side a bit?

Curious as to whether this type of drum panning was just a trend of the time.

Any thoughts?
Old 8th May 2006
  #2
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jazzpunk

Any thoughts?

Whatever works for the song and production.
Old 8th May 2006
  #3
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tgrokz's Avatar
 

i don't think it is/was a trend. on almost every song i do with a kit, i do it drummers perspective, because being a drummer, im just used to it and it sounds more right. i usually have my snare about 15% to the left. i dont think i have ever not panned the snare. to me, unless its completely driving the song (bass, kick), panning it will give it a defined position. im a man of natural instrument definition, so having the snare in the center never cut it for me. panning the snare gives it more personality than it would normally have IMO. as for it being a trend, like thrill factor said. just depends on what sounds right to you. dont be afraid to pan it, because chances are, you can hit undo.
Old 8th May 2006
  #4
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Jamstudio's Avatar
 

Most of the times the snare lives between right en middle, the reasons are 2 give it a more 'as is' spread, and it leaves a bit more room in the middle.
as a matter of fact only bas, kick and lead(vocal) are 'panned' in the middle

affcouse sometimes i trie something different with 'funny' panning.

Remco
Old 8th May 2006
  #5
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C Heat's Avatar
 

Are you guys serious?

I always thought it was kik / snare / bass / lead vox dead centre - as 'general rule'.

That may explain why LEFT channel is always louder on 95% of the music I listen to (pop).
Old 8th May 2006
  #6
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I always hate it when the snare isn't dead center. If it's off centre, it derives from a strong centre image, which is something I strive for in each mix.
Listen to any of the AW mixes, that's how I like to hear the snare, nicely centered with some depth and not too loud.

But then again, my favourite cd ever (DMB, before these crowded streets), with great drumming from Carter Beaufort, has the snare off-centre...

Greetings,
Dirk
Old 8th May 2006
  #7
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I agree it depends on the song, but for most rock/pop/urban/RnB whatever, I would think the snare is dead center. If I listen to mixes pre 1980 then the panning can be all over the place but these days I think you should put the kik/snare/bass/vox center.
If the center is solid then it will help make your left/right info have more impact or depth.
Cheers
Chymer
Old 8th May 2006
  #8
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emeline-rec's Avatar
 

I heard a mix the other day with the snare slightly off center. I guess I'm so used to hearing the snare in the center for rock / punk styles it just felt really wrong off center.

Ian
Old 8th May 2006
  #9
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PhilE's Avatar
I knock the snr off to the right a little for the imaging- I just put the kit where it should be as I look at it...
Old 8th May 2006
  #10
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DirkB's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by PhilE
I knock the snr off to the right a little for the imaging- I just put the kit where it should be as I look at it...
No offense, but that is a misconception. Physically, the snaredrum is pretty deadcenter between the drummers legs (at least for me it has been for about 17 years now),i.e. the drummer hears the snare pretty much in the center.

And if you are looking at a drumkit, from anydirection, you'll probably hear the snaredrum deadcenter.
From stereo overhead placement, espcially with spaced AB, often they are placed such that there is a nice spread on cymbals and toms, which leads the snare to be off-center.
I prefer ORTF or XY deadcenter above the snare...

So there you go, I just officially corrected the misconception that the snare is aloud to be of center heh .

Greetings,
Dirk
Old 8th May 2006
  #11
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actually now that I think about it, i would pan the kick left and the snare right and sum the stereo overheads to mono and pan the lead vocal mid left and bass mid right with guitars right up the middle...this should work a treat.
Chymer
Old 8th May 2006
  #12
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I'm a "strong center" guy myself. I like the snare in your face and big, so I pan center. But in a rap mix, i have often panned the snare 3% left or so just to play around with the center a little, I then reverb to the opposite side. For rock, I still like my snares in the middle though.
Old 8th May 2006
  #13
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jazzpunk
Just listening to an old Mahavishnu Orchestra track right now ('You Know, You Know') noticing the snare seems to be slightly panned off to the right. I've noticed this alot lately as I've been listening to older records.

I am curious as to what type of imaging the mixers of that era were trying to create as I am so used to todays records having the snare smack in the center. Seems like when you are tracking a kit it just makes sense to have the snare in the center. Does it seem more natural to others to have it panned off to the side a bit?

Curious as to whether this type of drum panning was just a trend of the time.

Any thoughts?
I don't think the mixers of the time gave a single second's thought to where the snare was panned, to be honest. I don't have that particular album so I can't really say, but a lot of recordings from that era relied on a lot of overhead sound and not so much close mic (if any), so the snare would be "panned" wherever the imaging of the overheads put it. Those probably weren't albums where a whole lot of time went into getting sounds, either, so the snare panning was probably the last thing on the engineer's mind!

FWIW, I always like snare center, and place my overheads so it's centered in there as well. But, I do think if you're going for the more naturalistic panning approach, it'd be slightly off to the side.
Old 8th May 2006
  #14
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SnakeCained's Avatar
 

I got a few records by a band called "The Beatles" where the drums are all panned hard left or right
Old 8th May 2006
  #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jazzpunk
Just listening to an old Mahavishnu Orchestra track right now ('You Know, You Know')Any thoughts?
Yes, I gotta listen to that right now. What a friggin' great tune, in fact the whole record is awesome! I've never really payed too much attention to the sonics of 'Inner Mounting Flame' or 'Birds of Fire'. I originally had these on CASSETTE, the early Mahavishnu stuff is something I've been enjoying since I was a teenager, what a great band!!
Old 8th May 2006
  #16
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Thanks for the differing perspectives guys...always interesting to get varying points of view.
Old 8th May 2006
  #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SnakeCained
I got a few records by a band called "The Beatles" where the drums are all panned hard left or right
I think that's cause he got on their nerves so they'd only let him set up in the corner
Old 15th May 2008
  #18
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hey guys, first time poster.

so if i'm gonna pull my snare a bit off center (i would prefer it like -10 rather than pushing it to the right), have you guys had success countering that with the hi-hat on the opposite side (in this case, like +10)?

also, if you're gonna do that, have you seen better results making it symmetrical (e.g. snare -10, hi +10) or does it sound more organic if you stagger them (but still keep them on opposite sides)?

thanks!
Old 15th May 2008
  #19
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Fabi's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by afurth View Post
hey guys, first time poster.

so if i'm gonna pull my snare a bit off center (i would prefer it like -10 rather than pushing it to the right), have you guys had success countering that with the hi-hat on the opposite side (in this case, like +10)?

also, if you're gonna do that, have you seen better results making it symmetrical (e.g. snare -10, hi +10) or does it sound more organic if you stagger them (but still keep them on opposite sides)?

thanks!
Sounds like a strange drumkit. Snare and HH kind of are not so far away most of the time. I guess it depends on the music, but it will not sound like a regular/real drumkit. I never quite got why some people pan the HH so far away from the snare. Such a drummer would have very long arms
Old 15th May 2008
  #20
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i see.

i'm just starting to get ahold of the concept of using panning to create a digital soundscape. should i be panning things as if I was sitting on the drum throne?

in that case, the crash OH would be farthest left, the ride would be farthest right, the toms would be in between that, the HH should be off-left (say, -10), as should the snare -5 or dead center?)

thanks for the help
Old 15th May 2008
  #21
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Listen to 'All Because of You' by U2;
Snare: Hard Left
Kick: Hard Right

Bizarro when you notice it!
Old 15th May 2008
  #22
Dan
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There's a couple issues I've run into in the past:
1. The centerline of the drumkit is not the centerline of the kick drum. It goes through the center of the snare, and the center of the Kick. This means the front of the kick, and the beater side are slightly off center. That's typically not a big deal, because the kick mic is usually near the center of the drum, and there's not enough bleed for it to be an issue.
2. The bleed in the HH mic, and the snare mic will cause the imaging of both to affect each other. In practice this means you can't pan the HH to far off center because it will cause the snare to sound unnatural.

This is separate from the mixing choice of moving the snare off center. I rarely do that. I would suspect it would be done to give room for the vocal. The only other possibilty I can think of is that people are placing the OH centered over the kick, and then panning them hard left, and right. That would make the snare a little left of center. darn hippie snare drums.
Old 15th May 2008
  #23
I was just going to mention that two things can contribute to a snare feeling off-center:

1.) Overheads - not getting the snare dead center in the oh's cause this effect.

2.) High hat mic - if snare bleed is excessive it can cause the snare to drift as well.

This is probably the reason that the snare seems off-center in some productions, rather than conscious effort at putting the snare close mic panned. Although I know some guys that do pan the snare a bit off-center for whatever reason.
Old 15th May 2008
  #24
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If there are any distant mics involved I normally try to paste the close mic right on the spot where the instrument is in the image of the the distant mics. Don't know if you can follow me. It's like recording a band live in a room. Crosstalk gets more obvious once you pan a close miked instrument different from where the bleed of that instrument is in let's say the overhead mikes. So if you pan overhead left-right and during the recording the guitar amp was positioned to the left of the drumkit it's better to pan it to the left as well. You have to find the sweet spot where crosstalk and direct sound fall together. the bigger the room the more accurate you can position instruments and recreate it in the mix. With snare I would listen to the snare in the overheads and pan the closemiked snare until they fall together. if you want the snare dead centre you will have to do it with the overheads. But getting a perfect drumsound fom the o.h's with the right balance in toms, cymbals AND the snare dead centre is difficult and not all that necessary.
Old 15th May 2008
  #25
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The kick, snare, bass and vocal are so pertinent to a song I always center them. For playback in a club for example, where you're only hearing one side of a mix with some setups depending on where you're standing, it would suck for those things to not be conveyed well. Also in a car when listening, to me it's important for those important elements that drive a song (no pun intended) to be equally audible in all sitting positions.

That's my take anyhow.

War
Old 15th May 2008
  #26
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henryrobinett's Avatar
For me it completely depends on the context. Studio recording pop music, funk, R&B, Hip Hop, R&R, country, Kick, snare generally right down the middle. Jazz or a lot of live music, for me snare and kick are about 10-15 degrees to the right. I skew the whole kit, audience perspective, that way.

I used to do drummers perspective until I started seeing where that was getting more popular. Then I realized there's only one person who has that perspective.
Old 15th May 2008
  #27
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rob S's Avatar
trends they are often bad thats why they change so much.
Old 15th May 2008
  #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by James Meeker View Post
I was just going to mention that two things can contribute to a snare feeling off-center:

1.) Overheads - not getting the snare dead center in the oh's cause this effect.

2.) High hat mic - if snare bleed is excessive it can cause the snare to drift as well.

This is probably the reason that the snare seems off-center in some productions, rather than conscious effort at putting the snare close mic panned. Although I know some guys that do pan the snare a bit off-center for whatever reason.
this is right on. (as is the post above about the snare feeling centered to the drummer.)

i'm a snare in the center guy... helps define the center of the mix.

real world issue: i was brought in to produce a record last year after the drums and bass had already been tracked for more than half of the tunes. (they didn't have the budget to rerecord them.) the engineer who'd done the recording had neglected to mic the hi-hat and may not have spent enough time getting the snare close to center in the overheads. mixdown became a challenge to bring up enough of the hat (from the oh's) to keep the groove moving while stopping the drift of the snare off-center.
Old 15th May 2008
  #29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Outlaw Hans View Post
But getting a perfect drumsound fom the o.h's with the right balance in toms, cymbals AND the snare dead centre is difficult and not all that necessary.
Actually I would argue that this is fairly simple and absolutely critical.

Now, the "mix" of the cymbals versus drums for oh's is largely in the hands of the performer. If they pitty-pat the drums and mash the cymbals... yeah, there's not too much you can do about that as far as the overheads are concerned.

However, getting the snare to sit in the center is very easy when you thinnk about the nature of stereo microphone techniques.

Stereo imaging is going to be determined by three factors:

1.) Amplitude--obviously if the snare is louder to the right it's going to sound like it is coming from the right. Pan laws in consoles and DAW's adhere to this principle.

2.) Time Arrival Differences -- Haas principle, if something arrives a few milliseconds earlier in one stereo side the sound feels like it is coming from that direction more, even if the volume on each side is equal.

3.) Phase Correlation -- part of how we detect imaging is from phase cancellation differences in right to left, often caused by early secondary reflections in an ambient environment. This is one method that digital verbs can create "space" (early reflections--which causes #2, which in turn can cause #3 here). Stereo wideners *slightly* use a similar approach, although essentially they use phase reversal to eliminate "common factors" of the left and right side (destroying your "center channel" illusion if you push it too far).

Anyways.... achieving a solid stereo overhead is pretty easy if you apply the following rules:

1.) Same microphones on each side (pretty basic).

2.) Equal preamp gain on each side... this is how you know if one microphone needs to move because that side will be louder when you hit your "center instruments" like kick and snare. Also avoids getting slightly inconsistent sounds as many preamps 'color' sound depending on the where it's at during the gain stage. You want to keep that stuff consistent and transparent.

3.) Mics equal distance from center of snare--coupled with #2 your snare should be dead center of your image. Take into account height, distance and angle. Also, factor placement based on where sound reflections FROM THE KIT are going to be coming from. Also avoid getting too close to stuff like cymbals, that can produce low level ringy tones as the kit is being played.

4.) Mics also placed in a manner to capture the entire kit in stereo--there should be panning among the toms, ride, hat and cymbals... if not, time to adjust the mics.

5.) Check your overheads by having the drummer play the snare--adjust mics until it naturally falls in the center. Now have them hit everything in the kit one at a time. If you aren't satisfied with the volume/panning something needs to move--either a mic or the instrument itself.

This is the basic method that I use to set up overheads. The goal is to get a solid drum sound using only those two mics because things will only get better once the close mics and room mics get tossed in there.
Old 16th May 2008
  #30
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Fabi's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by James Meeker View Post
Actually I would argue that this is fairly simple and absolutely critical.

.
thumbsup

If it needs to be quicker: ORTF with SN - KD in one line centered. - Only though if the set itself is kind of balanced

Otherwise XY - or M-S, also SN - KD in line, but now you can play with the horizontally angle to even things out, because both capsules are in the same place anyways. and you will only use the pad of the polar patterns for evening it out. Watch out though, that the middle always shows to the centerline SD-KD

The movement of the mics therefore will be circular

I hope this somehow is to understand?????

I like the Image of ORTF better though
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