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Author Topic: Drum Isolation  (Read 1607 times)

Joel Mevis

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Re: Drum Isolation
« Reply #20 on: July 17, 2017, 04:36:30 pm »

I am a drummer first and a sound engineer second. The drums them selves usually are not the issue, its normally the cymbals (some times the snare too).

My answer is tuning and cymbals. I play Zildjian Ks, big ones. The darker tones along with the ability to attenuate myself makes the kit seem quieter. I also tune my kit fairly low. I like big fat sounding drums. What people normally perceive as loud is just a "harsh loud". Rather than a warm loud.

I'd imagine if you did some room treatment that would go a long way. I have played small clubs at full volume with out shield/iso booth, and the sound guy/crowd loved it. AND I DO NOT PLAY SOFT.

Drum shields do take a little edge off the initial strike, but most people hear with their eyes, so they see a shield or booth and perceive it to be quieter. As such drum shield/booths are popular in churches. I hate playing behind them as they take away from the energy coming from the band members.

We run IEMs for all band members, Bass is DI, Electric Keyboard, and Guitars are mic'd off stage. But live drums, and works really well. But works even better with room sound treatment to remove harshness.

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Jean-Pierre Coetzee

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Re: Drum Isolation
« Reply #21 on: July 22, 2017, 05:53:54 am »

We've always(well for a long time) had a booth in a 3000+ seater, easiest way to annoy the rest of the band is to remove it even with a good drummer.

Honestly a good musician can feed off the rest of the band if they were in physically separate rooms with a good IEM mix so really that is a bogus statement.

I agree the biggest issue is always the cymbals, you can play a cymbal to sound good and be at a reasonable level but maybe you are 1/1000000 drummers, the booth makes all drummers equal.
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Word & Life Church

"If you want "loud", then run a piece of sheet metal through a table saw------

If you want "watts"-then plug in a toaster"
- Ivan Beaver

Chris Sieggen

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Re: Drum Isolation
« Reply #22 on: August 10, 2017, 10:31:43 am »

Our church is doing a sound system overhaul.  In fact, we are getting a totally new system.  We are scheduled to meet with several sound companies in the area this month.  But I wanted to get some of your opinions on this topic, before I meet with them.

We are going to run all of our sound through the sound system (obviously).  The only stage noise we will have are the monitors at the pulpit for the preacher, and two monitors for the singers. 

My suggestion, in preliminary discussions with our team, was that we would put the drums in an isolation booth (like a Perdu or Clearsonic).

Am I making the right decision? 

From a drummers perspective, I realize that a good drummer should be able to "play the room".   But when we are at full-tilt (we are a lively church), it would sound terrible to have no stage volume and then a set of drums in the corner with no isolation at full volume.  Correct?

I would imagine that they guy at the FOH would hate that.

Thanks for any input.  I'm just trying to learn.  Not suggesting that one way is better than the other.  I don't know myself.  That's why I'm asking.

I've been forced to think a lot about this subject as I oversee two very different worship venues where we use a drum shield in one and no shield in another. Surprisingly, the venue we use the shield might not be the one you would think...

Our contemporary worship team plays in two services, at two different times, in two different venues. We are an Anglican church and our building has an older A frame sanctuary, built in the early 60's at one end and a multi-purpose auditorium at the other end. The contemporary team plays one service at the multi-purpose room and then when complete (after our traditional choir and organ service) heads down a hallway to set up and play in the sanctuary. Kinda crazy, and for the drummers, its a huge shift. Thankfully they've adapted well.

Originally, the older sanctuary used a fully isolated Clearsonic drum booth and all the musicians used an Aviom system. The problem ended up being the musicians and drummers had not been fully equipped on how to use the Aviom system and for the drummers (at the time), they didn't know how to "play the shield" which is its own animal. It also accentuated the "boy in the bubble" syndrome having the fully enclosed shield (not to mention the booth became a catch all for all sorts of trash and dust, not to mention the ventilation issues. Those fully enclosed shields can get hot and stuffy). The sanctuary is a live room, but its large and has a wonderful natural sound to it, if you don't overwhelm it. This room was designed for organ and choir led participatory worship so it has a relatively long reverb decay, but warm and inviting.

Its a bit counterintuitive, but what we have found to be the best course for this room is to keep the back part of the Clearsonic absorption panels against the hardwood walls where the drums are set up and we took down the front plexi panels and fiberglass lid and let the drummer play the room. The absorption panel keeps the initial reflections from getting too out of hand and the drummer actually plays with more dynamics and subtlety, since they become a part of the participation. Plus the mics on the kit have a more natural room sound to them and the drummers hear that sound in their headphones. We've adapted the kit a little as well. Its a Tama Rockstar kit...not the best choice for drums in this venue, as they are designed to be loud and the cymbals were a typical Sabian AA ROCK pack you buy at GC. So, we tune the kit low, put a tea towel on the snare, added coated heads and replaced the AA cymbals with some darker, thinner Zildjian cymbals (a fun combo of vintage 60's hi hats, crash and a newer Zildjian Sweet Ride). The drummers are the only musicians that still use the Aviom for monitoring. We ditched the rest of the Avioms for the other players and they rely on floor wedges and the sound of the room for monitoring as the room provides plenty of dynamic response.

As the primary mixing engineer, its a bit of a challenge for me, as there is a TON of bleed and diffused sound, but since we (sound-people and musicians) are all hearing the room, we work together to make a cohesive sound that utilizes the best part of the room's natural acoustics. For the future, we hope to bring in a better drum set for the room...probably a smaller kit (20, 12, 14) of a more vintage style (warmer sounding shells) and even better cymbals (lots of great Turkish made stuff on the market these days). Thankfully, our regular drummers are not "bashers" and have a subtle enough touch that they are able to play the room effectively (they tend to switch to traditional grip, use smaller sticks, Hot Rods or brushes).

For our multi-purpose room, we use a drum shield. The room is a classic multi-purpose room, built for all sorts of things and not very good at any of them! ;-) Its also lively, but not in a good way. Before we had over $12K of acoustic treatments put in, it was a nightmare and our only hope of having something that didn't sound like a flutter echo mess was to absorb, diffuse and do whatever it took to tame the beast. Now that we have acoustic treatments, we have a room that is workable, but now its pretty dead sounding. The stage has a lot of acoustic treatments on its back walls, so we take advantage of that by having the drums in the back corner of the stage and we just use a six panel Clearsonic with a lid to keep the bleed from coming up and over, which would cause timing issues. This room also has a Tama drum set, certainly of a higher quality (birch Star Classic) but this room could also benefit from a kit that is designed more for a warmer presentation than say for Stewart Copeland or Lars Ulrich type rock drumming.

So, the theory of why we use a shield in one and not the other is largely due to the sound and nature of the room. If the space is essentially a neutral box, drums without a shield might sound too THERE and naked, so the purpose of the shield is to help mitigate some of that, along with giving an added layer of isolation and control. Drums in a lively, good sounding room can benefit from not trying to muzzle the Ox too much, so to speak, but requires some cooperative efforts from everyone; drummers, musicians and sound-people. I think it is also wise to think ahead and consider this as a total "system" and team effort (sound-people, worship leaders, musicians). Consult everyone and strategically (but wisely) bring them into the conversation. You might come up with a solution, unique to your particular culture that everyone can live with. The principles and theories surrounding the drums can be applied to other instruments as well (guitar iso booths and cabs, off stage Leslies, etc.)

A word about acoustic drums, if you are going that route...don't be afraid of them and don't try to completely muzzle that Ox either! ;-) However, be wise and consider the type of drums for the application. As I've been mentioning about Tama as a brand; inexpensive, expensive, beginner level to professional drums...any approach and price point, but not made for your purposes can end up hurting, not helping you. What is made to cut through a large stage for a heavy metal or is over built (especially cymbals) for junior to bash on, may not be what you want for a church. I also like to caution against using too many ways to deaden a drum. We do it out of necessity at our church (the tea towels) but a better way to fix that is to have a snare drum that is not designed for just a loud rim shot "crack." Drum shells that have a wide dynamic range (soft as well as loud) and give the drummer the ability to tune to a lower range and play responsively is a good approach. I'm not a huge fan of the whole new "low volume" cymbals, rather thin, responsive, darker cymbals seem to be a better approach. Cymbals at one time were made to play both small jazz clubs and large auditoriums, they simply responded well in all applications. These days, you find a lot of cymbals that are too thick and designed to do one thing only, hit 'em hard and loud.   

Lastly, of you have access to really good drum teachers in your area, we have found huge benefits from having drum instructors who know how to teach the art of "playing full but at low volume" come in for drum clinics, or offer drum lessons for our drummers. There are lots of good drummers out there who simply have never had the need or opportunity to learn the art of playing at a lower volume. Its a great opportunity to help equip someone with an extra arrow for their quiver, instead of making them feel bad for playing too loud. Lots of churches have been able to slowly build up their drum corps to where they can eventually ditch the shield. If you decide to go down the shield route, its a good idea to not make it permanent. That way you can move it around or dismantle it if the need or desire arises.

Not to advocate for a particular retailer, but this video from Sweetwater is a really good demonstration on ways to lower drum volume:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9TlGnzDHxUk

Chris Sieggen
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Re: Drum Isolation
« Reply #23 on: August 10, 2017, 10:37:46 am »

I've been forced to think a lot about this subject as I oversee two very different worship venues where we use a drum shield in one and no shield in another. Surprisingly, the venue we use the shield might not be the one you would think...

Our contemporary worship team plays in two services, at two different times, in two different venues. We are an Anglican church and our building has an older A frame sanctuary, built in the early 60's at one end and a multi-purpose auditorium at the other end. The contemporary team plays one service at the multi-purpose room and then when complete (after our traditional choir and organ service) heads down a hallway to set up and play in the sanctuary. Kinda crazy, and for the drummers, its a huge shift. Thankfully they've adapted well.

Originally, the older sanctuary used a fully isolated Clearsonic drum booth and all the musicians used an Aviom system. The problem ended up being the musicians and drummers had not been fully equipped on how to use the Aviom system and for the drummers (at the time), they didn't know how to "play the shield" which is its own animal. It also accentuated the "boy in the bubble" syndrome having the fully enclosed shield (not to mention the booth became a catch all for all sorts of trash and dust, not to mention the ventilation issues. Those fully enclosed shields can get hot and stuffy). The sanctuary is a live room, but its large and has a wonderful natural sound to it, if you don't overwhelm it. This room was designed for organ and choir led participatory worship so it has a relatively long reverb decay, but warm and inviting.

Its a bit counterintuitive, but what we have found to be the best course for this room is to keep the back part of the Clearsonic absorption panels against the hardwood walls where the drums are set up and we took down the front plexi panels and fiberglass lid and let the drummer play the room. The absorption panel keeps the initial reflections from getting too out of hand and the drummer actually plays with more dynamics and subtlety, since they become a part of the participation. Plus the mics on the kit have a more natural room sound to them and the drummers hear that sound in their headphones. We've adapted the kit a little as well. Its a Tama Rockstar kit...not the best choice for drums in this venue, as they are designed to be loud and the cymbals were a typical Sabian AA ROCK pack you buy at GC. So, we tune the kit low, put a tea towel on the snare, added coated heads and replaced the AA cymbals with some darker, thinner Zildjian cymbals (a fun combo of vintage 60's hi hats, crash and a newer Zildjian Sweet Ride). The drummers are the only musicians that still use the Aviom for monitoring. We ditched the rest of the Avioms for the other players and they rely on floor wedges and the sound of the room for monitoring as the room provides plenty of dynamic response.

As the primary mixing engineer, its a bit of a challenge for me, as there is a TON of bleed and diffused sound, but since we (sound-people and musicians) are all hearing the room, we work together to make a cohesive sound that utilizes the best part of the room's natural acoustics. For the future, we hope to bring in a better drum set for the room...probably a smaller kit (20, 12, 14) of a more vintage style (warmer sounding shells) and even better cymbals (lots of great Turkish made stuff on the market these days). Thankfully, our regular drummers are not "bashers" and have a subtle enough touch that they are able to play the room effectively (they tend to switch to traditional grip, use smaller sticks, Hot Rods or brushes).

For our multi-purpose room, we use a drum shield. The room is a classic multi-purpose room, built for all sorts of things and not very good at any of them! ;-) Its also lively, but not in a good way. Before we had over $12K of acoustic treatments put in, it was a nightmare and our only hope of having something that didn't sound like a flutter echo mess was to absorb, diffuse and do whatever it took to tame the beast. Now that we have acoustic treatments, we have a room that is workable, but now its pretty dead sounding. The stage has a lot of acoustic treatments on its back walls, so we take advantage of that by having the drums in the back corner of the stage and we just use a six panel Clearsonic with a lid to keep the bleed from coming up and over, which would cause timing issues. This room also has a Tama drum set, certainly of a higher quality (birch Star Classic) but this room could also benefit from a kit that is designed more for a warmer presentation than say for Stewart Copeland or Lars Ulrich type rock drumming.

So, the theory of why we use a shield in one and not the other is largely due to the sound and nature of the room. If the space is essentially a neutral box, drums without a shield might sound too THERE and naked, so the purpose of the shield is to help mitigate some of that, along with giving an added layer of isolation and control. Drums in a lively, good sounding room can benefit from not trying to muzzle the Ox too much, so to speak, but requires some cooperative efforts from everyone; drummers, musicians and sound-people. I think it is also wise to think ahead and consider this as a total "system" and team effort (sound-people, worship leaders, musicians). Consult everyone and strategically (but wisely) bring them into the conversation. You might come up with a solution, unique to your particular culture that everyone can live with. The principles and theories surrounding the drums can be applied to other instruments as well (guitar iso booths and cabs, off stage Leslies, etc.)

A word about acoustic drums, if you are going that route...don't be afraid of them and don't try to completely muzzle that Ox either! ;-) However, be wise and consider the type of drums for the application. As I've been mentioning about Tama as a brand; inexpensive, expensive, beginner level to professional drums...any approach and price point, but not made for your purposes can end up hurting, not helping you. What is made to cut through a large stage for a heavy metal or is over built (especially cymbals) for junior to bash on, may not be what you want for a church. I also like to caution against using too many ways to deaden a drum. We do it out of necessity at our church (the tea towels) but a better way to fix that is to have a snare drum that is not designed for just a loud rim shot "crack." Drum shells that have a wide dynamic range (soft as well as loud) and give the drummer the ability to tune to a lower range and play responsively is a good approach. I'm not a huge fan of the whole new "low volume" cymbals, rather thin, responsive, darker cymbals seem to be a better approach. Cymbals at one time were made to play both small jazz clubs and large auditoriums, they simply responded well in all applications. These days, you find a lot of cymbals that are too thick and designed to do one thing only, hit 'em hard and loud.   

Lastly, of you have access to really good drum teachers in your area, we have found huge benefits from having drum instructors who know how to teach the art of "playing full but at low volume" come in for drum clinics, or offer drum lessons for our drummers. There are lots of good drummers out there who simply have never had the need or opportunity to learn the art of playing at a lower volume. Its a great opportunity to help equip someone with an extra arrow for their quiver, instead of making them feel bad for playing too loud. Lots of churches have been able to slowly build up their drum corps to where they can eventually ditch the shield. If you decide to go down the shield route, its a good idea to not make it permanent. That way you can move it around or dismantle it if the need or desire arises.

Not to advocate for a particular retailer, but this video from Sweetwater is a really good demonstration on ways to lower drum volume:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9TlGnzDHxUk

Chris Sieggen

Interesting.  Have you written any other books?
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Chris Sieggen

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Re: Drum Isolation
« Reply #24 on: August 10, 2017, 10:48:53 am »

Interesting.  Have you written any other books?

Ha! Yeah, I can tend to be a bit verbose. Like I said, I've had to think about this a lot. ;-)

Chris
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