How to Pan Drums?

If you have been trying to spread the sound of your drums throughout the room, you must resort to trying to pan your drums. This will be a crucial tool in helping squeeze the layers of sounds into an encompassing tune. Panning is usually the task of a mixing engineer, but if you are not thinking of sending your songs to professional mixers, whatever the reason might be, there are a few techniques you can follow, to get the task done in a budget. Read this article to know how to pan drums. Let us start with understanding the basics of panning drums.

You can also read: Best Free VST Effects to Add to Your Mix in 2021

The Basics

If you are going to pan your drums, you must ensure that the elements which will be making the greatest impact are concentrated at the heart of the beat. Hence, it will be wise to forget about all the kick samples of the drum, and trap sounds at the center. This means, the kicks do not require any sort of panning.

Next, around this core, you can start panning the other samples of the drum. In general, it is the Hi hats, cymbals, and shakers which you should be panning. This means, it is more relevant for the basic drumming instruments around the center.

For instance, let us say that 100 is hard left or completely all the way to the right, and 0 is the middle point (center). In such a situation anything between +/- 10 and +/- 30 will work for panning. 

When you are thinking about the melodic tunes, such as congas, you must go for a more radical style of panning. This can be usually done between +/- 45 and +/- 90. You may need to experiment a little before realizing which panning setting will work the best. However, one thing you must take care about is not to let the panning go too right or too left, because they may completely vanish when you are using only one source to play your songs.

The Balance

A proper balance is very essential when it comes to panning, regardless of how you are panning. It is essential that you maintain a healthy balance in order to hold the power of the song. You need the tracks to sound a lot natural. Once again, it is important to be able to experiment your panning to know what fits with your style. Panning is nevertheless crucial for almost all genre- Hip Hop, EDM or rock.

The Layers of Sound

This is a simple, yet useful technique. You can start making your claps stronger and snaring the samples of your drum. This can be done in the following manner.

At first, you can layer three equal kinds of sounds from drums, on top of one another and start panning one of those to the extreme right (between +80 or 90), one of them near the very left (between -80 or 90) and keep one in the very middle.

This will give rise to a very spacious and heavy sound. However, if you are worried about problems that may arise due to phasing, you may want to pitch the samples a little up and down as well.


When it comes to some specific instruments, something very similar might work very well. For instance, if you have an instrument that has a tight chord, and you do not want it to occupy too much space, you can simply copy the pattern once again, pan one of those to the extreme right border (between +90/ 99) and the other really close to the far left border (between -90/ 99).

This will provide you will a lot of space in the core of the beat.  That is where you should aim to pan your lead vocal. This will provide you with extraordinary results that you will cherish.


Now that we have highlighted the basics of panning your drum, it is important to understand the perspectives you can follow in panning. You can usually pan in 2 main ways and you have to try out both to realize which one will fit with your style more, or maybe even which situation demands which perspective. 

To start with, you can try the perspective of the crowd or the audience. You should imagine someone facing you while you play. This is necessary mostly for drum covers, as it is the listener who will be the audience to your music. Panning the drum will then allow the listener to feel as if they are there with you. 

The other perspective is of course that of the drummer. This means it is exactly what the drummer will see from the left to the very right. You will usually prefer this perspective if you are involved with mixing an entire track. This will generally look like boosting the stereo field in your song. 

The Panning Law

Now that we have elaborated on the essentials related to panning the drums, it is also useful for you to be aware of the panning law. This law states that your volume levels need to stay the same, regardless of the position of the pan pot.

Not sure what pan pot is? It is simply the short form for panoramic potentiometer which is a kind of volume control that divides the audio input into the left and the right channels. When turning it left, the pot will increase the volume in the left speaker and turning it down will cause that of the right speaker to reduce. 

Concluding Remarks

You are now well-equipped with the details you need to consider and the techniques you need to follow to be able to pan your drum without the need of hiring professional mixers for the purpose. You can work towards the clarity of your music, boosting the focus of the mix, allowing you to get the best out of your tracks.

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