Panning Your Drum Samples (1)
When you are trying to make your drum sounds fill the entire room, panning is one of your most important tools. It can help you turn a small squeezed layer of sound into a surround sounding tune. Often, a large part of panning is done by a mixing engineer. But, as most of the beat creators and producers don’t send their songs to professional mixers (yet) due to budget restrictions, I would like to give you some insight into the most important panning techniques.
Technique #1: Basics of Panning Drums
When you’re panning your drum sounds, you want to make sure that the most impactful elements remain at the core of your beat. Therefore, I advise you to leave all the kicks (including 808 kick-drum samples) and snare sounds at the centre. In other words, you don’t need to apply any panning to them.
Around this centre, you can pan the other drums and percussion samples. Usually, I pan the hi hats, cymbals, tambourines and shakers, so the more basic percussion instruments, a little to the right and/or left of center. If 100 is hard left and hard right (=completely all the way) and 0 is center, anything between -/+ 10 and -/+ 30 will do.
For the more melodic and exotic percussion elements, like toms, bongos, congas etc, I suggest a more radical panning, like between -/+ 45 and -/+ 90. To find out what works the best for you, it’s best to just play around and experiment with the panning settings. Be careful with panning elements completely left or right because they may disappear entirely when your song is being played back on a mono source, or if 1 speaker is broken.
Technique #2: Balance your Panning
No matter what and how you pan, maintaining a ‘healthy’ balance is always very important for retaining the power of the song. So, if you decide to pan your hi hats a little to the right, you should pan something else a little to the left. But don’t go crazy about this, we’re talking about a ‘healthy’ balance. So for example panning something 40 to the right and something else 35 to the right won’t do any damage to your track. In fact, it might sound more natural!
Feel free to use my free drum samples to start experimenting with panning your sounds right now.
So again, it’s all about experimenting yourself and using your ears to determine what works the best for the drum samples used in your song. In this video you can see me explaining both of these techniques:
Quick Tip #3 Panning:
As a rule of thumb, try panning your basic percussion sounds like cymbals and shakers around your core of un-panned kick and snare drum samples. The more melodic and exotic percussion like toms and congas can be panned quite far from the core.
Read More: Quick Tip 4 – Panning Your Drums (Part 2)