Panning non-orchestral with orchestral instruments

Let’s say you’ve got an orchestral project and you’re using libraries that already have the instruments panned into their room locations for the orchestra (violins on left, basses on right, etc). Then you want to add in something non-orchestral like a drum set. Most drum kit samples have their own preset panning with hihats to one side and toms going across to the other.

What do you guys do when mixing these? Do you just go with the preset panning for both? Do you try to “place” the drum kit somewhere in the room with the orchestra, and if so, what method would employ to do that? Or do you do something else, depending on the final purpose for the project?

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If it’s too wide, I tend to use StereoSavage to narrow it down to something reasonable for the intended distance.

Then it’s EQ and reverb, to match the rest of the instruments as well as possible. While this can of course be done manually, I’ve found 2CAudio Precedence (spatial panner) and Breeze (reverb) easy to use, without the typical artifacts and problems associated with spatial positioning solutions. These two plugins can be linked for proper 2D positioning, where the reverb parameters are adjusted along with the panning.

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So, are you saying that you do try to position the drum kit in the room with the orchestra like, for example, as though it were halfway on the right side somewhere behind the tubas?

Or are you saying that you try to shrink the stereo scope of the sample so it doesn’t conflict too much with the perception that you’re listening to an orchestra?

Both! Your typical studio drum kit samples/recording is most likely going to have a wider stereo image than the whole orchestra, so you’re going to have to deal with that first. Then, you need to place the (relatively speaking) bone dry result in the same hall as the orchestra, which is where panning, EQ, reverb etc comes in.

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