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Panning/Reverb or "How To Create A Realistic 3D Image Of A Drumset"

Discussion in 'F.O.H.' started by smy1, May 11, 2008.

  1. smy1

    smy1 Member

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    Hi everyone,

    after playing around trying to get closer to the Testament drumsound, I was really happy with what I got and was airdrumming like a spazz :) The Testament sound is "audience perspective" as opposed to "drummer's perspective" and so I changed it around to get the "drummer perspective" for better airdrumming. Yes, I sound like a dumbass, but it taught me something interesting, so bear with me :)


    The situation:

    The drums had been EQed and put to reverbs, so when I turned the perspective around, something was off and at first I couldnt really point my finger on it until I noticed that I still had the feeling of standing in front of the kit, just that it was a left handed drummer now.


    The analysis:

    The difference between a true representation of the drummer's perspective and a "left handed drummer from audience perspective" is the way the drums are positioned in the front-to-back plane. If you are a regular right-handed drummer, your hihat will be to your left, close to you and your low floor tom will be on your right close to you, while the higher floor tom will be further away and not as far right. Your rack toms will be in front of you and also further away. They will also be higher up than the snare or the floor toms.

    On the audience perspective it is the exact opposite:

    - floor tom is left and far back and low
    - rack toms are closer and positioned higher in the stereo spectrum
    - obviously everything is L/R reversed


    The theory:

    If you look at how positioning in the stereo spectrum is achieved, only a few simple rules apply:

    a) sounds that you want to position higher up need less low frequencies and more high frequencies

    b) sounds that you want to position lower need more low fequencies and less highs

    c) sounds that you want to position further back need more reverb and/or need to be less loud than sounds you want to be closer

    d) sounds that should be closer need less reverb and/or should be louder than sounds that you want to be further back.

    There's not a lot more to it. If you want to know details, read David Gibson's "The Art Of Mixing". It's damn good, so you should read it anyway :)


    The "real world" application

    Real world in this case means using DFHS, but the concept remains the same for recorded drums, too. Just make sure the OHs work for you and not against you (phase!) ...

    On a drumset with Kick, Snare, 5 Toms, HH and Cymbals this is what I did for the drummer's perspective.

    a) I set up a Dark Plate (Audio Damage Reverence) and rolled off some highs and lows. This is my "whole drumset ambience".

    b) I then set up another plate (CSR Plate) and rolled off some highs and lows. This is my "snare plate".

    c) All the drums were panned positioned the following way:

    KD: C
    SD-T: C
    SD-B: C
    RT1: L35
    RT2: L15
    RT3: R35
    FT1: R50
    FT2: R56
    HH: L59
    OH: L82/R82
    AMB: L82/R82

    As you can see, I restricted the OHs to L82/R82 because otherwise the drums would have sounded unnaturally wide. I noticed that when I A/Bed my original drums with the Testament drums - mine were wider, so I narrowed them a bit.

    It actually makes a lot of sense, because when mixing for width, you don't necessarily need to pan everything wide. On the contrary: placing very few elements wide will often give you a wider sound, so the L100/R100 can be reserved for guitars.

    So what this panning gave me was the L/R positioning of the drumkit as if I sat on the drumthrone.

    Next up was reverbs and I simply sent different amounts of each drum to my "drum ambience" aux to create a front/back feel.

    Kick: no verb
    Snare: goes to Snare Plate with long pre-delay for added "tail"
    HiHat: no verb (it's right next to you)
    Racktom 1: a good amount of plate
    Racktom 2: a bit more plate than Racktom 1 because it usually is a bit further from the drummer
    Racktom 3: a bit less plate than Racktom 2, cause it is a bit closer than 2, but further than 1
    Floortom 1: a lot less plate than Racktom 2, even less than Racktom 1, because it is closer to the drummer
    Floortom 2: almost no plate, because it is closest
    OHs: also got some plate, because they are not very close to the drummer either

    After this was done, it still didn't sound convincing enough, so I played with the volumes and made everything that was closer louder and everything that was further softer.

    This gave me a lot of left/right and front/back image already, but I wanted to have a feeling of up/down on the kit too. For example the low tom needs to be a lot closer to the ground than the cymbals or the high toms. So I started taking out lows for everything that was supposed to be placed up and I added lows or took out highs for everything that was supposed to be placed down.

    Eventually I was very happy with how I got my drums placed in the stereo field. It's not perfect, but it made airdrumming so much more enjoyable ... :)

    Check it out here (if your room isn't treated, you might have trouble hearing the subtleties):

    http://www.faderhead.com/blogs/mp3/faderhead_panning_reverb_placement.mp3

    I am aware that a lot of times this kind of panning does not work for a full mix, but it basically stumbled upon it by accident and it is handy to be able to do it IF you need it for an open mix. Obviously it works exactly the same way for "audience perspective" just reversed ...

    Hope this is of use to anyone!
     
  2. FarBeyondMetal

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    That's a great post! Thanks for sharing the info it will definately impact how i mix my drums for the current project i am working on.
     
  3. aramism

    aramism Member

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    wow good shit
     
  4. thefish666

    thefish666 Member

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    thanks for the post..will check this out..the mp3 sounds good
     
  5. whoispetty

    whoispetty Member

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    great post
    thanks
     
  6. Unavailable

    Unavailable Member

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    I'll definitely be referring to this thread later on. Thanks!
     
  7. nwright

    nwright Member

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    Using headphones, it sounds really cool, and I feel like I can hear the placement higher or lower in physical space and front to back as well.

    My only caveat would be that in a dense mix the subtleties would be lost (much like you alluded to in your comment about the listening environment) and could possibly result in an uneven balance?

    It will be cool to put this to the test in a full mix, though.
     
  8. smy1

    smy1 Member

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    Hey Nate,

    the remark about a dense mix is a valid point. This approach probably works best with "open" mixes where the reverb can actually "come through" a bit better. I haven't tried mixing like this with a full mix, because all I have done lately is electro - and you can't really pan a lot with a kick/snare/hat technodrumkit :)

    I still think it should be possible to create some sort of spacial effect even in a dense mix, but one has to be careful about balance (as you pointed out) and about making sure that all elements come through alright.

    Then again: you could always mix the drums first and then make all the other elements fit around the drum sound. Just like you mix the vocals first in a pop-song and then fit the rest of the track around the vocals.

    Let me know how it worked for you in a full mix. Would love to hear it!
     
  9. Glenn Fricker

    Glenn Fricker Very Metal &Very Bad News

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    If you've got a small drum room like me, try putting reverb on your ambient mics instead of the close ones... very cool!
     
  10. PhilR

    PhilR Studio Scapegoat

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    This all seems a little wrong-headed to me. From a true "audience perspective" a drumset sounds as a mono point source with a lot of wide reflections. Any mix of a drumkit with wide panning of toms is inherently artificial. Even a "players perspective" mix will be somewhat unrepresentative unless you're using a binaural overhead mic setup.

    I tend to listen to my overhead sound and place the close miked drums within it. And I generally prefer "room" reverbs as opposed to plates.
     
  11. smy1

    smy1 Member

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    Yea, definitely. It's funny: I've done that in the 90s, when I was recording to Tascam DA-88 in my basement-studio (with a tiny recording room), but I totally forgot about it these days when all the options are there mixing ITB.

    Thanks for the reminder!
     
  12. smy1

    smy1 Member

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    I see where you are coming from and I agree. Actually, if you look at other old posts I've made, I normally start mixing drums by EQing overheads until they give a representation of the drums that sounds as good as possible on their own. Then I add my close mics. I also agree on the wide panning of the toms and that's why I restricted overheads and tom panning and didn't pan anything too far out.

    I stumbled upon the ideas above by "accident" and I think they might be a good variation to try, especially if it is supposed to sound real and artificial at the same time - like a lot of modern metal is sounding these days.

    After all: in the end it isn't about what's most realistic, but what is the most fun to listen to. And the more possibilities you have in your arsenal, the more likely you are to get towards the sound inside your head.
     
  13. Machinated

    Machinated Member

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    I love using 2 reverbs on the snare - one plate (usually with a shorter time), and normally an artificial one thats a bit longer. With the "artificial one" I'm not looking for the perfect room, but more something dense. I also tend to EQ this quite a bit, and through some low mids in.
     
  14. Everybody

    Everybody Hail Santa

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    I thought it deserved more recognition :)

    great post, im deffinatly going to try this out
     
  15. abyssofdreams

    abyssofdreams knows what you think.

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    I was under the impression I replied a huge thank you back then, weird...

    Well let me say it now, necro but awesome thread :D
     
  16. 88mph

    88mph manbearpig

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    I already bookmarked the page. Really good stuff, definetly gonna give it a try. Thanks for sharing this.
     
  17. Moonlight_Seeker

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    ah! I also bookmarked the page and I must say it helped me a lot. :]
     
  18. Demonstealer

    Demonstealer Member

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  19. kramer1309

    kramer1309 Member

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  20. JeffEstrada

    JeffEstrada Ascend Recordings

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    Thank's so much for this... and sorry for resurrecting an old thread but I think it's worth it. Thank you again. :D
     

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