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Author Topic: edrums acceptance?  (Read 6457 times)

chris harwood

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Re: edrums acceptance?
« Reply #10 on: April 13, 2011, 12:23:28 am »

Except in a large secular venue, I'm not sure I've heard kits sounding as good as Superior by Toontrack.  welll....Hillsong drums are some nice sounding cannons....
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Aiden Garrett

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Re: edrums acceptance?
« Reply #11 on: April 13, 2011, 01:54:25 pm »

First things first: I'm not a drummer! Just an engineer.
That said, I do like to have a bang on them :P

I've never mixed E-Drums but I can deffinately see the pros. As for the feel for drummers, I'm not wholly convinved! There is something satisfying about hitting an acoustic drum... for anyone!

My main positives for acoustic drums is the ability for the drummer to "step on it" for want of a better way of putting it. By this, I mean that if the engineer isn't brilliant, the drummer can play slightly louder to compensate. To me, this is an advantage in a church where it is manned by volunteers who have the desire to serve, but lack the know how and experience (sorry if that's anyone looking at this post!). Also, you get that punch from acoustic drums in small sound systems (those without subs), that you would miss from an electric drum kit...

My 2 pence anyway!
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Arnold B. Krueger

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Re: edrums acceptance?
« Reply #12 on: April 14, 2011, 08:42:29 am »

I went to a churchmusic festival a few years back, and the only groups that I felt weren't tryiing to sing and play over their drums were using e-drums. I'd bet money that many of the groups would deny that they were having problems, but that's how they sounded to me.
I wonder if any of that could've been mental, or your opinion of the mix.


Well it wasn't a blind test so my opinions may have entered in. ;-)

On balance, this was long before we had our own edrums, or even had a drummer in the sanctuary praise team so I was probably just judging by the quality of the mix and the body language of the other members of the praise teams.  BTW, some of these struggling groups were playing out-of-doors.

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Most times I've been at worship services with e-drums, it seems they always get buried in the mix and therefore the music lacks a good bit of energy.  I was at Disney World a while back and one of the bands that came out and did a show in one of the parks used e-drums, and it was the first time I'd heard an electric kit sound anything close to right.  I'd say it was because they actually turned them up pretty loud to match the band.

It is questionble to me whether fully acoustic drums are ever mixed by the guy operating the console.

Put the drums into a shield and they aren't fully acoustic - they are e-drums built up using mics and acoustical baffles instead of wave tables and transducers.

The question of "matching the band" is just about 100% subjective.

When the drums are fully acoustic then either the drummer is in charge of that part of the mix, or he's unable to play the drums exactly the way he wants to and nobody is in charge.  Either condition is not unusual.
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Brad Weber

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Re: edrums acceptance?
« Reply #13 on: April 14, 2011, 10:31:16 am »

My main positives for acoustic drums is the ability for the drummer to "step on it" for want of a better way of putting it. By this, I mean that if the engineer isn't brilliant, the drummer can play slightly louder to compensate. To me, this is an advantage in a church where it is manned by volunteers who have the desire to serve, but lack the know how and experience (sorry if that's anyone looking at this post!).
I don't understand this.  How does the drummer know what it sounds like to or needs to be done for the listeners out in the space?  And wouldn't this likely just end up in a loop of the drummer making a 'correction' only to have the tech compensate for it so the drummer makes more 'correction' and so on?
 
I remember working with a band that had never had anyone mixing who knew their songs and as a result, they were used to trying to do everything themselves on stage, playing louder for solos, stepping things down down for quieter songs, etc.  When I started working with them on a regular basis I soon had to have a talk with them and explain that if the drummer was playing louder of softer or the guitar players were turning their amps up to get a certain sound then that was fine, but otherwise I would take care of adjusting the levels and they no longer needed to worry about that.  That was a totally new experience for them and I have to wonder how often a similar issue may apply and cause the performers to try to 'mix' from the stage simply because they don't know better.
 
Also, you get that punch from acoustic drums in small sound systems (those without subs), that you would miss from an electric drum kit...
The quality of the sound system for both the listeners and the monitors on stage is definitely a factor for e-drums or acoustic drums.
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Taylor Phillips

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Re: edrums acceptance?
« Reply #14 on: April 14, 2011, 05:31:59 pm »

I don't understand this.  How does the drummer know what it sounds like to or needs to be done for the listeners out in the space?  And wouldn't this likely just end up in a loop of the drummer making a 'correction' only to have the tech compensate for it so the drummer makes more 'correction' and so on?
Unless the musicians are hearing the house mix, or your using post-fade aux sends for monitors, no this shouldn't happen.  The musicians may not know exactly what the house mix sounds like, but they can know how they sound in relation to everyone else.  This certainly can make it easier on an engineer who doesn't have a good handle on how to mix things, which is the situation which Aiden was referring to.  It could also open some avenues of creativity for experienced engineers like a situation I read of over in the old forums a while back where someone talked about mixing a band whose guitarist used a volume pedal to bring himself up during the solos, so the engineer consentrated on how the bass and drums fit into the mix to compliment the guitar rather than just push the guitar up louder.  If you don't have an engineer who will adjust the mix song to song and all the musicians play at the same volume throughout the set or service, it may not be dull if the players are good, but it certain won't have the same energy.

It is questionble to me whether fully acoustic drums are ever mixed by the guy operating the console.
This all depends on how loud the drummer is and the size of the venue.  We just changed from e-drums to acoustics for the service I run on Tuesday nights and while the first few rows definitely hear a mix of what's coming from stage and what's coming through the speakers, about half way back all you hear is coming from the speakers, so at that point the drum sound is all on me.
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Put the drums into a shield and they aren't fully acoustic - they are e-drums built up using mics and acoustical baffles instead of wave tables and transducers.
No, they're acoustic drums mic'd up and run through the sound system :)  Anyway, drums behind a shield sound like crap if you can't turn them up louder than they are acoustically.  Remember, shields don't help with volume, they help with bleed.  There is certainly use for them, but not as a way to control stage volume.  You can also reduce bleed my moving the kit to one side of stage instead of right behind your singers.
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Aiden Garrett

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Re: edrums acceptance?
« Reply #15 on: April 14, 2011, 07:17:16 pm »

My main positives for acoustic drums is the ability for the drummer to "step on it" for want of a better way of putting it. By this, I mean that if the engineer isn't brilliant, the drummer can play slightly louder to compensate. To me, this is an advantage in a church where it is manned by volunteers who have the desire to serve, but lack the know how and experience (sorry if that's anyone looking at this post!).
I don't understand this.  How does the drummer know what it sounds like to or needs to be done for the listeners out in the space?  And wouldn't this likely just end up in a loop of the drummer making a 'correction' only to have the tech compensate for it so the drummer makes more 'correction' and so on?
 

As Taylor Phillips has well explained: "... they can know how they sound in relation to everyone else". To add to this, they should know how they sound in relation to the room. For a drummer, this is tuning their drums to the room. I worked (volunteered) with a drummer who for 3 years would consistently turn up at 9 to set his drums up (admittedly, his kit was huge), and part of the setting up process was tuning/adjusting the drums to the sound of the room (a large, relatively boomy hall). An electric guitarist should take a similar role, adjusting the EQ on the amp (or a pedal), to account for the rooms acoustics. Again, a part of this is adjusting the volume for the room and what not...

Furthermore, I expect all musicians to adjust themselves to suit the dynamics of the song. For example, vocalists are expected to be further away from a mic when they are singing a loud part; so drummers should play quieter at subtler points in songs (is this possible with an electric kit?); and guitarists to engage their own boosts for solos. As an engineer, I am not the musical director, I am simply there to ensure the reproduction of the band (or spoken word, etc) is true to what the band intended the sound to be, but for a much larger scale.

When mixing drums, I try and listen to how the drums sound naturally, and I try and reflect this in the mixing style. After all, the drummer spends hours tuning, practicing and perfecting their sound; who am I to mess with it? I also find this approach works well with guitars, BVs...
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Arnold B. Krueger

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Re: edrums acceptance?
« Reply #16 on: April 15, 2011, 07:37:25 am »

I don't understand this.  How does the drummer know what it sounds like to or needs to be done for the listeners out in the space?

They depend on reflections from the room, which takes a lot of learning and is at its core unrelaible. It puts a tremendous amount of power in the hands of someone who "has a dog in the fight". But, this can be done if you have experienced, disciplined musicans. Demanding that all musicans be that experienced and have that kind of discipline puts a tremendous burden on small and starting-out churches.

A little anecdote. After 10 years of praying and politicking, I finally got sound absorbers installed across the front of our balcony which had been sending everything back to the platform about 180 millisedonds later, and loud!  So, all of a sudden about 2 weeks after the installation was finished (the insallation was done in thirds over a period of 6 months)  our lead vocalist stops the rehearsal and asks me something like "Can people hear me? I have no sense that my voice is getting out into the room". It seems clear to me that he was gauging how loud to sing by the reflection from the room that has now gone away.

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And wouldn't this likely just end up in a loop of the drummer making a 'correction' only to have the tech compensate for it so the drummer makes more 'correction' and so on?

Hence my comment about truely live drums never being under the control of the sound board op. Which was reinforced by a live drums advocate who conceeded my point for thr front however many seats in his room. If the room is small and the drummer is not self-conscious, the whole room could be out of the control of the board op.
 
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As Taylor Phillips has well explained: "... they can know how they sound in relation to everyone else".

To which I would add "to some degree". There can be no doubt that a skilled board op sitting in the middle of the seating area can do that far better than anybody on the platform ever will  because he's there and he's got the tools to make it happen rignt. Nobody else has those tools. Nobody on the platform knows that well what things sound like in the middle of the seating area.

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To add to this, they should know how they sound in relation to the room.

Aye, there's the rub! ;-)

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BobWitte

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Re: edrums acceptance?
« Reply #17 on: April 15, 2011, 01:18:24 pm »

Have you noticed current generation edrums being any more embraced by drummers?  For any churches that use them how bad (and expensive) is the maintenance issue?

Unless I (the mix engineer) have access to individual channels of Kick/SN/Hat/Toms/Cymbals, I really dislike edrums. Nothing bugs me more than song that needs to be driven by the kick or snare and I can't do that without making the entire kit louder. Yes, the drummer may compensate a bit since they know the song, but the drummer does not hear the main system/congregation sound contribution to the final sound outcome that I, as the mix engineer needs to adjust for.

So I heavily prefer as acoustic kit. Now this assumes that an acoustic kit is playable in the acoustics/room as others have pointed out. We are in a large sanctuary (1700), with an enclosed/and covered top with absorption (open back) drumset with good mics on kick/snare/hat/toms/overheads.

Taylor Phillips

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Re: edrums acceptance?
« Reply #18 on: April 15, 2011, 05:50:52 pm »

Unless I (the mix engineer) have access to individual channels of Kick/SN/Hat/Toms/Cymbals, I really dislike edrums. Nothing bugs me more than song that needs to be driven by the kick or snare and I can't do that without making the entire kit louder. Yes, the drummer may compensate a bit since they know the song, but the drummer does not hear the main system/congregation sound contribution to the final sound outcome that I, as the mix engineer needs to adjust for.
This is probably the biggest negative dealing with most e-drums as they only have L/R outputs.  The cheapest module with more outputs I can find is over $1000.  My former church in another state paid $650 including hardware for their birch Gretsch kit that sounds better than any electric kit out there (not to mention most other acoustic kits) while being fine a fine fit for our 120 seat sanctuary.  I think the dimensions of the room were about 40X40 with 14ft ceilings there, tiny stage in the corner.  We didn't mic the drums there, no shield either, and the piano mic only went to the monitors.  We did spend a good bit of time at a specialized drums and percussion store talking to the folks there to find the best kit to match our situation.
 
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We are in a large sanctuary (1700), with an enclosed/and covered top with absorption (open back) drumset with good mics on kick/snare/hat/toms/overheads.
For my current Tuesday night gig where we just switched to acoustic, we've got a PDP kit (doesn't sound near as good as that Gretsch) in the open (curtain behind it, though) with mics on the kick and snare, plus two overheads. We're only in a 250 seat room so it was to my surprise the drums are just as loud in the board mix as the e-drums were.  Sounds the same through the headphones at FOH as it does with them off.  I'm pretty certain the multi-rods the drummer uses is a huge factor in this.
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Brad Weber

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Re: edrums acceptance?
« Reply #19 on: April 16, 2011, 08:24:10 am »

As Taylor Phillips has well explained: "... they can know how they sound in relation to everyone else". To add to this, they should know how they sound in relation to the room. For a drummer, this is tuning their drums to the room. I worked (volunteered) with a drummer who for 3 years would consistently turn up at 9 to set his drums up (admittedly, his kit was huge), and part of the setting up process was tuning/adjusting the drums to the sound of the room (a large, relatively boomy hall). An electric guitarist should take a similar role, adjusting the EQ on the amp (or a pedal), to account for the rooms acoustics. Again, a part of this is adjusting the volume for the room and what not...
The aspects noted above seem to be things happening in advance of the performance where the musician and tech can work together and coordinate everything.  Maybe I misunderstood the original comments as I thought they were referencing musicians making adjustments during performances.  While someone could adjust their playing or settings based on what they hear during a performance, they are almost always making such judgments based on something other than what the listeners hear.  The simple example is that someone on in-ears is not going to have much of a feel for the room except maybe through an ambient mic and I've seen monitor mixes where people only want a very limited mix and intentionally do not want to hear much, if any, of some sources.
 
Furthermore, I expect all musicians to adjust themselves to suit the dynamics of the song. For example, vocalists are expected to be further away from a mic when they are singing a loud part; so drummers should play quieter at subtler points in songs (is this possible with an electric kit?); and guitarists to engage their own boosts for solos. As an engineer, I am not the musical director, I am simply there to ensure the reproduction of the band (or spoken word, etc) is true to what the band intended the sound to be, but for a much larger scale.
The performers certainly should adjust their playing to fit the piece and the intended mood.  And I agree that the goal is to translate the overall musical vision to the listeners.  However, the musician's should be playing and adjusting their playing to fit the performance and not in order to try to 'mix' for the listeners from the stage.
 
I agree with Arnold that the scenario presented seems to assume having highly talented and skilled musicians and less competent system operators.  That all the musicians are able to adjust and control their playing at will.  That they all know how the sound on stage translates to what is heard by the listeners.  That nothing (stage setup, instruments, musicians, etc.) changes.  The reality is that the church that has the blessing of such skilled perfomers probably also has skilled operators while the church whose tech resources are limited is more likely to also have more limited musical resources.  In fact going back to the original topic, I think that considering e-drums is sometimes a direct response to drummers who cannot adjust their playing or play with any subtlety.  And yes, modern e-drums are pressure sensitive, although the nuances are sometimes not up to the real thing.
 
Based on personal experience, when working with musicians that make adjustments on stage based on what they think the audience will hear I have quite literally found myself fighting to try to get a good mix.  I'm sure that many can share their stories of guitarists who decided that they needed to turn up their amps with the result that you can take them completely out of the mix and still have to bring everything else up more than desired in order to get any reasonable mix out in the house (one explanation offered when this happened was that the venue was larger than normal so they thought they had to turn everything up).  Or experiences with establishing good gain structure and levels during sound check and then having someone on stage change levels, intentionally or just being caught up in the moment, thus losing all headroom at, if not clipping, the input.  Back the trim down to compensate and that affects everywhere that channel is routed.
 
When mixing drums, I try and listen to how the drums sound naturally, and I try and reflect this in the mixing style. After all, the drummer spends hours tuning, practicing and perfecting their sound; who am I to mess with it? I also find this approach works well with guitars, BVs...
That's actually part of my point, they spent hours getting the the sound they wanted and it appeared that you were advocating their then changing that on the fly from the stage to try make up for the room and mix.  There is a lot of give and take during rehearsals and sound check but once the performance starts I believe that it is generally for the best if the musicians focus on doing what they need to perfom the best while the tech focuses on optimizing how that transfers to the listeners.  They can discuss ideas and suggestions for one another later, but it tends to be the listeners who suffer if either tries to do the other's job during a performance.
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Re: edrums acceptance?
« Reply #19 on: April 16, 2011, 08:24:10 am »


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