How to fix drum panning with Stereoplacer Elements

How to fix drum panning with Stereoplacer Elements

BY FREDDY VINEHILL-CLIFFE

Information accurate at the time of publishing - last edited 28 July 2021

 

Stereoplacer Elements is a simplified version of our Stereoplacer plug-in, a frequency-specific panoramic placement tool. The main difference between Stereoplacer and Stereoplacer Elements is that the full version allows up to 10 frequency nodes moving in either direction, whereas the Elements version is limited to 2 nodes, one left and one right. However, both plug-ins use the same technology under the hood.

 

There are a few situations where you might use Stereoplacer Elements to fix drum panning in a mix. For example...

Mixing a track recorded by another engineer

If you’re mixing a track which was recorded by another engineer, then you might not be 100% happy with their mic placement choices. Perhaps you’d like a wider stereo image for the cymbals, or perhaps the snare drum isn’t as firmly anchored in the centre as you’d like.

You aren't happy with your own mic placement choices

If you’re working on a track you recorded yourself, you might reach the mixing stage and find that you aren't happy with your own mic placement choices. In an ideal world, this could be an excuse to go back and re-record the session, but not everyone has the time or budget for that!

Sampling drums from an older song

If you’re sampling a drum loop from an older song, chances are you only have access to a stereo mix of the whole track, and you might want to adjust the panning. Especially when using samples from the 60’s or earlier, you might find that the panning seems wonky compared to more modern recordings, with unexpected elements off to one side, often hard panned. Check out The White Album for some really striking examples of this.

Stereoplacer Elements can be used to solve all these problems. But how?

 

Those first two examples make the most sense when working with a relatively limited setup. A kit recorded with individual spot mics on each drum and each cymbal can be easily panned using conventional methods, but a more limited recording (two overheads, a kick mic and a snare mic, for example) can really benefit from being sculpted and fine tuned with Stereoplacer.

 

In all these situations, you can use Stereoplacer Elements to zone in on a specific frequency band and nudge it to the left or right. Whether you’re nudging a hi-hat further to the left (drummer perspective is king, please do not fight me on this!) or using two frequency nodes to add excitement to a drum fill by widening the distance between toms, Stereoplacer Elements will not impact the rest of the stereo image.

 

This might be counter-intuitive for something you want in the centre of the mix, like a wonky kick drum; if the kick is currently off to the right hand side, then you’ll need to drag its fundamental frequencies to the left within Stereoplacer Elements. You can also use something like Monofilter Elements alongside this to ensure that the very lowest frequencies are summed to mono.

 

And if you decide you’d like to take these production tricks to the next level, you can always upgrade to the full version of Stereoplacer (for $69). As well as 8 additional frequency nodes, the full version of Stereoplacer also offers a ‘Harmonic’ mode which pans harmonics as well as your chosen fundamental frequency, plus Zero Latency and HQ algorithms alongside the standard Linear Phase algorithm.

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