Drum Kit Mix

drum kit mix

The Left and Right of the Drum Kit Mix

This question was put to me recently by a young student.
Which is the correct way for sound engineers to create a drum kit mix for a recording or stage performance?
Sound engineers are not unanimous on this one: the question of stereo perspective, as heard from the audience, or as heard from the drummers position on stage? Ask a music punter in the audience and they will usually want to hear it the same as they are viewing the performance. But ask a drummer (also in the audience) and they are more likely to go for a drummers mix.
The fact is that it is up to the sound engineer or artist and producer make a final decision if there is a conflict of opinion; but it is really a matter of taste, and in my career I have never had anybody question my panning on a drum kit.
Bear in mind that whenever you are feeding a stereo headphone feed to the drummer, make sure he has the drummer’s panning perspective. Otherwise he will get very confused if he plays a standard kit and keeps hearing the hi-hat coming at his right ear. (he might even throw a stick at you!)
PS. I often pan other hi-frequency percussion instruments to the opposite side of the hi-hat. Things like shakers, triangle, and even bright acoustic rhythm guitars. That gives a nice balance to the high end sparkle.
Glyn Tucker

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