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Author Topic: Electronic Drums or Acoustic Drums  (Read 9674 times)

Chris Tucker

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Electronic Drums or Acoustic Drums
« on: January 19, 2011, 05:30:21 pm »

Well, I'm sure this is not the first time this has been discussed, and feel free to point me to a thread if there is one out there.

We have a 1000 seat venue and currently have acoustic drums with a drum shield (Plexiglas) surrounding them.  It is a challenge to get the drums to sound good (it sounds like a drum kit behind a Plexiglas shield)  within a reasonable volume (reasonable for a church service at 8:00 am).  Leadership is thinking of going with an electronic kit.  Of course all the drummers cringe at the thought - dynamics are questionable, feel is not the same, etc.  So, I'm wondering what others are doing?  Do you think that in a venue that size, we should be able to use acoustic drums?  Are there better ways to isolate the drums?  Is an electronic kit the best win, despite the disadvantages of feel and dynamics?  It has been proposed that perhaps a smaller kit with triggers could be an answer?  I'm just looking to start a dialogue with those that have faced this same challenge.
Thanks!
Chris
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Tom Young

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Re: Electronic Drums or Acoustic Drums
« Reply #1 on: January 19, 2011, 06:37:40 pm »

This *has* been discussed before. You can search using obvious key words.

In short, the "drums are too loud" issue most often becomes a cyclical exercise in futility and wasted money. Many HOW go from acoustic drums to drums with shields to electronic drums to electronic drums with a monitor that is run too loud or an electronic kit that sounds like crap (or both) and then they go back to acoustic. Then they change Minister of Music or the drummer and start all over again. I know this is very cynical .... but basically it is also true.

Your options are:

1. reduce the level of the acoustic drums by building a"real" gobo system with as much or more absorption as reflection (plexi) and with the plexi designed (shaped) to not reflect into a rear reflective wall and with reduced reflections into the mic's. You can do this by buying one of F. Alton Everest's master books on acoustics (Amazon, new or used). You also can buy real gobo's that are far better than "shields" but they'll cost a pretty penny.

2. research, try and buy a very good electronic drum kit. Read the manual. Spend the time to do whatever it takes to tweak it so it sounds good. Set up a monitor rig that does not defeat what you have achieved. A personal monitor mixing system with headphones and butt kickers would do the trick. A monitor speaker system for the drummer will lead to excessive volume levels all over again. Trust me on this.

3. get a mature and professional drummer who knows how to play to the room. I know this is far easier said than done.

4. stop wasting money and buy a pipe organ and go traditional  ;D

HTH
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Tom Young
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Taylor Phillips

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Re: Electronic Drums or Acoustic Drums
« Reply #2 on: January 19, 2011, 06:47:14 pm »

How loud do you run your service?  In a 1000 seat space volume from the drum kit shouldn't be too much of a problem.  I would take down the shield and see how that sounds before considering purchasing something different.  In my opinion, electronic drums don't have much of a place outside a musician's apartment. 
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Michael Galica

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Re: Electronic Drums or Acoustic Drums
« Reply #3 on: January 19, 2011, 08:45:54 pm »

Could you give some details of the room?  Is it reverberant?  Was the building originally designed for acoustic or amplified worship?

For that matter, are the drums mic'd or behind the shield by itself?
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Mike Galica
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Thomas Lamb

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Re: Electronic Drums or Acoustic Drums
« Reply #4 on: January 19, 2011, 10:20:33 pm »

By far this is my favorite!!!!

Exactly what is your setup now? Kit? Microphones? Drum heads?

How old are you drummers? What is their monitor setup and what size sticks do they use


4. stop wasting money and buy a pipe organ and go traditional 


?
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bigTlamb

"If you suck on a functional analog desk, you'll really suck on a complex digital desk...." Dick Rees

Chris Tucker

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Re: Electronic Drums or Acoustic Drums
« Reply #5 on: January 20, 2011, 01:04:36 am »

So, a little more details on the venue...
We currently have a 4 pc kit, fully mic'd, and we run an in-ear system coupled with a butt kicker.  As far as what we get in the in-ears, the drums sound great and the drummers love playing them.
As far as the room goes, I don't believe it was designed for just acoustical music, i.e. organ/choir.  We've never really done that, but we do try to do a healthy mix of contemporary - traditional songs.  The sound reinforcement below 300hz is not musical at all, but for the most part, vocals can sound really nice in there.  A kick drum and bass guitar though is a challenge.  Typically, I feel like the 88-90 dB (A) is where the mix is most comfortable, but I feel the drums start to really be heard through the system closer to 95 dB instead of through the shield.  The shield around the drums doesn't seem to do much other than reduce the high frequencies of the kit.  There are some things I hope to address with the room and the PA, but I do believe the drums at their acoustic volume are a problem.  Size of drums sticks, not sure, drummers range in age to 19-40 years of age.  All of our drummers are very talented, but some do hit harder than others...
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Brad Weber

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Re: Electronic Drums or Acoustic Drums
« Reply #6 on: January 20, 2011, 07:35:51 am »

Tom's right that this has been discussed often, but that was on the old fourm which is not, or at least not yet, searchable from here.  Until that is resolved there is little to search for.

I think you get to the heart of the matter when you noted "Leadership is thinking of going with an electronic kit.  Of course all the drummers cringe at the thought - dynamics are questionable, feel is not the same, etc."  While you note the potential problems that the drummers you envision, it seems that the church leadership is also perceiving some problem(s) that have lead them to considering a change to electronic drums.  Any potential solution should probably consider both sides but when it comes down to it, the vision of the church leadership is usually what defines the church's perspective so it would help to better understand their concerns and goals.

It should be noted that "a 1000 seat venue" is rather limited in how it defines the space and the existing conditions.  Pictures, sketches, descriptions, etc. might help people better understand the situation.  Fir instance, what is the current shield like, where are the drums located and what is behind them?  When you note the levels, are you referencing peak or average levels?  And when you say that feel the drums start to be more through the system at 95dB, is that at the mix position and if so, where is that located?  If that is at the rear of the space then chances are good that the drums are still being heard directly for much of the congregation and if that is the case then maybe a full enclosure would be more appropriate than just a shield.
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Arnold B. Krueger

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Re: Electronic Drums or Acoustic Drums
« Reply #7 on: January 20, 2011, 08:48:53 am »

We have a 1000 seat venue and currently have acoustic drums with a drum shield (Plexiglas) surrounding them.  It is a challenge to get the drums to sound good (it sounds like a drum kit behind a Plexiglas shield)  within a reasonable volume (reasonable for a church service at 8:00 am). 

I've never seen acoustic drums used without a drum shield, no matter how large the venue, and I've been in churches with over 5,000 seats.

I'm glad to see someone finally admit in public that acoustic drums in a little plexiglass room sound like dumrs in a little plexiglass room. I thought that maybe people had figured out how to suspend the laws of physics or something. I suspect that proper application of acoustic materials might mitigate the problem to some degree. OTOH, I've seen the same problem in churches with demonstrated ability to obtain a good sounding worship room. Somebody who knows something about acoustics must be on the premeses, at least occastionally.

Quote
Leadership is thinking of going with an electronic kit.  Of course all the drummers cringe at the thought - dynamics are questionable, feel is not the same, etc.

This just reinforces what I know about some musicans: They often just play for themselves and/or  they don't know what they sound like from 20 feet or 200 feet. How could they?

We've been blessed with young drummers who tend to be more respectful of leadership and have fewer prejudices.  We've always had only the Roland TD 12 kit and it works fine for them. and all of the rest of us. I've asked them how they feel about the Roland kit, and they say that the big difference is that they have to hit a little harder. They move back and forth between acoustic drums at home and at school and the electronic drums at church quite freely.

We also had an experienced amateur drummer for about a year and he ended up getting a Roland kit for home, which very much pleased his wife if you know what I mean.

« Last Edit: January 20, 2011, 08:52:23 am by arnyk »
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Jamie Vernon

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Re: Electronic Drums or Acoustic Drums
« Reply #8 on: January 20, 2011, 09:18:07 am »

Hello all.

Most of what I know has already been discussed here, so I won't rehash any of that. 

I actually play drums in a venue that seats approximately the same number of people that you mention.  The acoustics are okay, but the bottom end is a bit flabby.  We have a Clearsonic shield that goes entirely around the kit with the top on and the acoustic pads placed on the inside to kill those early reflections.  We don't have the back on, so the mids and lows from the kit still hit the back wall and come out pretty hot. 

I do know that all a shield is going to do is tame the direct sound (i.e. the highs and upper mids).  It's not going to help with muddiness (i.e. lows and low mids).  We use an overhead to capture the cymbals and close mic the toms, snare, and bass drum.  I don't like to mic this way as I prefer to get most of my kit sound from the oh's, however, this only works well if you have a drummer that can play with good dynamics and doesn't hit the cymbals too hard.

Another issue you might be dealing with is the whole use of in-ears with drummers.  Some drummers like to have everyone else turned up louder than them so that they can hear when they are in the pocket.  Others like to have themselves louder than everyone else so they can hear all the subtleties of their playing.  I kind of fall in between on that one. 

What I have noticed about this is if drummers don't have a hot enough level of themselves in their ears they WILL play louder than if they had a floor monitor.   

When I can hear myself I do play with better dynamics and control.

Jamie

« Last Edit: January 20, 2011, 09:21:52 am by Jamie Vernon »
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Jamie Vernon

Blake Ross

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Re: Electronic Drums or Acoustic Drums
« Reply #9 on: January 20, 2011, 12:46:34 pm »

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