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Mixing Drums

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Mixing Drums

Postby CostaSaint » Thu Dec 20, 2012 11:06 am

So I've got to mix some drums for the first time.
It's a small kit; kick drum, snare, hihat, one rack tom, one floor tom, two crash cymbals and one ride cymbal.

It was recorded with 10 mikes, one on the kick, top snare, bottom snare, hihat, rack tom, floor tom, OH L, OH R, Room L, Room R.

To pan it (from the engineers perspective), am I right in saying that, the snare and kick should be in the centre, the hihat panned to the right, maybe 20%, the rack tom panned 50% to the right, the floor tom 50% to the left, the Room L and OH L hard Left, Room R and OH R hard Right ?

Thanks in advance.
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Re: Mixing Drums

Postby Mixedup » Thu Dec 20, 2012 11:27 am

Hi CostaSaint,

What sort of style of music are we talking here? It makes a difference, as you may start with a natural sound with the overheads or room, and use the spot mics only to reinforce that if needed... or for other styles you might want to major on close mics and every little detail of everything, and use a crushed OH or room mic pair... So we need to know more about what you're doing.

For panning yes, usually kick and snare in the centre, but hat may also be centre or slightly to one side, depending on the style, and on the image captured by the room/OH mics. Also, the width of room image relative to the OH image will vary according to what you've captured and the rest of the track. You can use the full width of the panorama, though, mixing the drums relative to themselves, and widen/narrow things on the drum buss in the context of the rest of the track.

M.
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Re: Mixing Drums

Postby Mixedup » Thu Dec 20, 2012 11:30 am

p.s. yes, pan room and OH L and Rs hard left and right, and send them to their own bus/group track, where you can determine the width (if in a DAW) with a dual stereo panner (the term will differ from DAW to DAW, and some may require you to use a plugin to do this...), or just pan the individual L/R tracks equally to whatever point in the panorama suits if on an analogue console.
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Re: Mixing Drums

Postby Bossman » Thu Dec 20, 2012 11:34 am

Listen to the Overheads on their own (without room mics). If they sound good panned hard left/right then stick with that, or else narrow the image a bit by panning them not as wide.. say 9 and 3 o'clock, or 10 and 2 o'clock.. whatever sound best (while just listening to the overheads).

Once your happy with the overheads, then listen to where the different elements appear in the overheads. Listen to the Hi-hat (in the overheads), and then fade up your hi-hat close mic and pan it to the same position as it appears in the overheads.. fade it down again and up again and check that the position of the Hi-hat doesn't change as you fade up the close mic.

Do the same for the rack/floor toms.. pan them to the position that they appear in the overheads.

Leave the kick and snare in the middle.

While adjusting each mic, check the phase response compared to the overheads and reverse the polarity if it helps... also check the phase response of the close mic in relation to the other close mics.

Pan the room mics to where they sound best in relation to the rest of the sound you have.. I usually leave the room mics till last and fade them up once I'm mostly happy with the rest of the kit sound - but you might want to bring them in earlier.
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Re: Mixing Drums

Postby CostaSaint » Thu Dec 20, 2012 11:37 am

Mixedup wrote:Hi CostaSaint,

What sort of style of music are we talking here? It makes a difference, as you may start with a natural sound with the overheads or room, and use the spot mics only to reinforce that if needed... or for other styles you might want to major on close mics and every little detail of everything, and use a crushed OH or room mic pair... So we need to know more about what you're doing.

For panning yes, usually kick and snare in the centre, but hat may also be centre or slightly to one side, depending on the style, and on the image captured by the room/OH mics. Also, the width of room image relative to the OH image will vary according to what you've captured and the rest of the track. You can use the full width of the panorama, though, mixing the drums relative to themselves, and widen/narrow things on the drum buss in the context of the rest of the track.

M.

We're playing Punk/Hardcore and are trying to get a sound something like Pennywise
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LaMAZ3862d4
Though I appreciate the track above was recorded in an expensive studio etc.
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Re: Mixing Drums

Postby Peter Fernandes » Fri Dec 21, 2012 4:36 am

Hey,

From my experience most listeners (especially drummers) are used to hearing the drums mixed from the drummer's perspective; so hat left, ride cymbal and floor tom right, etc. The majority of recordings you listen to are going to have this configuration, but there are some exceptions...usually in a mix for video you'll hear the drums panned from the "audience" perspective because it's a more natural sound when you can actually see the drums. Anyway as usual, not a "rule" per se so just something to think about!

Peter
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Re: Mixing Drums

Postby The Elf » Fri Dec 21, 2012 9:31 am

Bossman has it bang on IMO.

Listen to the overheads and pan the close mic's to match their position in the overheads (hard L/R for me typically). Bring each close mic up in tiny amounts to check that you've got it right and then try muting/un-muting to confirm. This is also a good time to try the phase button.

Even when I'm using the overheads as little more than cymbal mic's I still do this to get a cohesive kit sound. The only place where I may fudge things is with the kick and snare, where I use more close mic and put these in the centre - typically these will pull themselves to the centre, even if the overheads are slightly off.

If you prefer to pan opposite to drummer's perspective then just reverse the overheads before you begin, or flip L/R on the drum group afterwards. Personally I prefer drummer's perspective, but it's no big deal either way.
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Re: Mixing Drums

Postby Jack Ruston » Fri Dec 21, 2012 10:02 am

Well, I have a slightly different take on it for this sort of stuff.

LCR panning on everything...So rooms and overheads hard L and R. Rack tom hard L, floor tom hard R. Kick and snare centre. Hat probably not used but if it is, hard L or C. So in other words, drummers perspective, mainly because I like the toms to travel L to R. I think the rooms will end up being extremely important because they provide the cues which tell us that the drums are loud. Obviously it depends what those room mics are like. They might not sound good, in which case you're stuck with faking that sound, but sometimes they take precedence over the overheads. At the end of the day, if you're trying to cut through the guitars you're going to need plenty of close mic stuff, and for the phase relationships to be right.

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Re: Mixing Drums

Postby Andi » Fri Dec 21, 2012 2:42 pm

...and don't be afraid to heavily compress or parallel comp the room sound - and be prepared to use some really gnarly eq curves if needed on both room and OHs- a lot of rooms don't sound that good in their entirety but can add a nice touch of "rattle" to the kit in the right place.

Other than for tom rolls I really don't care too much which way round the kit is so long as the image is stable, and as above you can reverse the OH/Room tracks to taste, but R to L toms are just plain wrong!

Be prepared to try moving the snare / HH slightly off centre - it sometimes makes a useful difference, mostly not.

As a very lose guideline, try mixing yhour snare at about the same apparent level as your vox, you probably need less kick bottom than you think and beware that once you "hear" the hat you most likely need to walk-away for 10 minutes because you'll start to obsess.

Also suggest treating the bass (guitar) track as though it's part of the kit, make sure it sits with the kick/snare sound.

Or none of this - & that's the great thing about it all!

Enjoy.

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Re: Mixing Drums

Postby Bossman » Sat Dec 22, 2012 12:49 pm

Jack Ruston wrote:Well, I have a slightly different take on it for this sort of stuff.

LCR panning on everything...So rooms and overheads hard L and R. Rack tom hard L, floor tom hard R. Kick and snare centre. Hat probably not used but if it is, hard L or C. So in other words, drummers perspective, mainly because I like the toms to travel L to R. I think the rooms will end up being extremely important because they provide the cues which tell us that the drums are loud. Obviously it depends what those room mics are like. They might not sound good, in which case you're stuck with faking that sound, but sometimes they take precedence over the overheads. At the end of the day, if you're trying to cut through the guitars you're going to need plenty of close mic stuff, and for the phase relationships to be right.

J

Hey Jack, a couple of questions..

I like the idea of LCR panning, but, don't you find the toms to be too wide when panned hard L/R? - I might have to try it on the next kit I mix to see how it sounds.

Also, what happens when you have 3 toms (2 rack toms, 1 floor), I assume the middle tom gets panned to C?.. and what about a kit with 4 toms (3 rack toms, or 2 floor toms)?

One prog rock band I work with regularly has 4 (or sometimes even 5) toms - 3 rack toms, plus 1 (or 2) floor tom(s). How would you pan them in this situation?
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Re: Mixing Drums

Postby Beat Poet » Sun Dec 23, 2012 3:59 pm

Peter Fernandes wrote:Hey,

From my experience most listeners (especially drummers) are used to hearing the drums mixed from the drummer's perspective; so hat left, ride cymbal and floor tom right, etc. The majority of recordings you listen to are going to have this configuration, but there are some exceptions...usually in a mix for video you'll hear the drums panned from the "audience" perspective because it's a more natural sound when you can actually see the drums. Anyway as usual, not a "rule" per se so just something to think about!

Peter

I always thought there was sort of a loose British vs American system, where the British pan from the audience's perspective and the Americans from the drummer's? I have to say though, most drum tracks I hear these days are done from the audience's perspective.
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Re: Mixing Drums

Postby andy cross » Sun Dec 23, 2012 4:45 pm

Some quick and wholly unscientific research using an iPod set on "shuffle" suggests that mixing drums from the drummer's perspective is very rare indeed.
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Re: Mixing Drums

Postby Jack Ruston » Sun Dec 23, 2012 5:03 pm

Hey Bossman

Well, of course the hard panned toms are far from natural, that's for sure, and there will be some styles that don't suit. It's a preference thing. I like it but its not the right way or anything. I rarely work with three toms because Tauber hates it and I'm not a fan either. We encourage people to have a rack and a floor with a clear distinction between the two. But sometimes there's a good case for two floor toms to make certain parts work. I'd pan them both right. I mean, if a drummer really had a reason for two rack toms then of course we'd work with that. I'd try L L R and L C R and make a decision. The centre position is weird for toms because the hard panned positions jump out but the centre, if anything, gets masked. So you push it up, which makes the centre tom much louder than the others in mono. With four I'd go L L R R. Any more than that (God please no) I think I would try all of soft panning in a spread, hard panning in clusters and keeping them all mono in the centre and just decide what spoke the loudest in the mix.

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Re: Mixing Drums

Postby chris... » Sun Dec 23, 2012 5:04 pm

Bossman wrote:One prog rock band I work with regularly has 4 (or sometimes even 5) toms

For big tom fills, I personally like them to pan right across a wide panorama. Don't care whether it's realistic or not - it's exiting this way ;)
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Re: Mixing Drums

Postby Bossman » Sun Dec 23, 2012 8:37 pm

cheers J, thanks for that.

Yeah I think I will stick to more natural panning for the prog rock stuff.. the artist likes his toms to pan across the stereo field nicely... and theres often rolls with 4 toms.

but I might experiment with LCR panning for other stuff that I'm working on.
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Re: Mixing Drums

Postby Jack Ruston » Sun Dec 23, 2012 8:41 pm

At the end of the day, with four toms, the heads and tuning are so much more important. The panning is the least of the worry!

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Re: Mixing Drums

Postby The Elf » Mon Dec 24, 2012 10:02 am

Several of the bands I work with would consider 5 toms a minimalist kit!! LCR panning would sound very odd for those Neil Peart style rolls.

And taking a quick poll of my MP3 player suggests that left to right tom rolls are the norm. Maybe my collection isn't typical though?
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Re: Mixing Drums

Postby Matt Houghton » Mon Dec 24, 2012 9:35 pm

The Elf wrote:Several of the bands I work with would consider 5 toms a minimalist kit!!

If a drummer needs that many notes, he should learn to play a keyboard ;)

Last week I tracked a rock drummer using only one tom. It was heaven.
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Re: Mixing Drums

Postby Beat Poet » Sat Dec 29, 2012 12:33 am

andy cross wrote:Some quick and wholly unscientific research using an iPod set on "shuffle" suggests that mixing drums from the drummer's perspective is very rare indeed.


I play/record/pan left-handed, not sure how that ranks in the panning perspective stakes? :D

Matt Houghton wrote:Last week I tracked a rock drummer using only one tom. It was heaven.


I think Steve Albini said that if a drummer has gone beyond the standard five-piece Ringo, that it might be advisable to give him a quick nudge about it before recording. Definitely true in the rock arena!
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Re: Mixing Drums

Postby Gone To Lunch » Sat Dec 29, 2012 1:08 am

Beat Poet wrote:
Matt Houghton wrote:Last week I tracked a rock drummer using only one tom. It was heaven.


I think Steve Albini said that if a drummer has gone beyond the standard five-piece Ringo, that it might be advisable to give him a quick nudge about it before recording. Definitely true in the rock arena!

Ringo mostly played a four-piece ?
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Re: Mixing Drums

Postby The Elf » Sat Dec 29, 2012 9:54 am

What would Rush be without those 'baked bean tin to kettle drum' tom rolls?

And Ringo's drums were adequate for a 1960's pop act, but wouldn't it be a dull world if things had stopped there?

As long as the guy can play it I'll take a rack of 12 toms over the monotony of a single tom any day.
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Re: Mixing Drums

Postby turbodave » Sat Dec 29, 2012 11:10 am

TOM WARS!!!!! I started with 5 toms when I was a nipper, but now only have rack and floor. I think environment plays a big part in this argument. Some environments will be great with just 2 overheads, whereas my small cellar requires close micing to remove as much room as possible. In my room I compress and gate snare and kick, close mic the toms and then bring the OHs in for colour, trying as much as possible NOT to compress those. This is down to the playing more often than not...in fact to have a drummer that understands the benefits of dynamics in a certain environment is priceless.
As far as panning goes...experiment. Sometimes hard panning works..jazz, latin and gentler music IMO.For rock I tend to go 10 -2 for the OHs. Dave
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Re: Mixing Drums

Postby Beat Poet » Sat Dec 29, 2012 2:37 pm

Gone To Lunch wrote:Ringo mostly played a four-piece ?

Yeah my mistake, just got so used to reading "five piece" when seeing kits for sale.
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