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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Currently in our church setup we have a drumkit surrounded by a drum screen. However sometimes (depending on the drummer) they are still too loud. (we have them miked so bringing up the level is no problem if they are too soft). Has anyone got ideas on how we can reduce the level without changing the sound
 

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Has anyone got ideas on how we can reduce the level without changing the sound
I’m afraid you ultimately can’t have the former without the latter.

As far as reducing the level, a lot of it depends on the size of your church. I’ve seen at least one small church that totally enclosed their drums, so that all you could hear was them mic’d. Certainly got them under control, but I didn’t like the way it sounded.

Our church has a really big auditorium, so we didn’t have to go that far. We built an octagonal cage around the kit, with the bottom half (about the height of the kick drum) made of wood planks, with plexiglas panels above that. The “roof” was open, and the 8th panel to the rear was not installed, to let the drummer get inn and out.

It still proved to be too loud, though, until we covered the top. Now the sound only escapes via the rather small open rear entry. That finally got the drums under control to the point that they blend with the mix with minimal mic’ing. Plus you still get a lot of the “real” sound, which IMO sounds better than the fully-enclosed-and-mic’d option.

But again, even this might not work at a small church.

Another option is electronic drums. We recently got a set for use in our recording studio, mainly to save all the set up and tear down time of a real kit. They sound amazingly good – in most cases as good as real drums would sound by the time they made it from being mic’d in the studio to a CD release. I could find out the brand and model, if you’re interested. If I recall, they cost about $1000, less than a quality kit with all the cymbals and hardware would cost.

Regards,
Wayne
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for the info wayne.
We used an electronic kit once but I was unimpressed by the sound of it (hopefully the sound is improved on the newer models) and the drummers didn't like the feel of the pads. Might have to see if we can raise the height of the screen and put a roof on it.
 

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why can't your drummer just play a bit softer? I did and found it wasn't that hard.
 
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Gosh, if only I had a pound for every time I had to deal with this issue at a gig :)

I think covering the top of any booth really helps. Bottom also!

There are psychological issues though. You have to make sure the drummer still feels comfortable and sometimes placing something too close overhead can be disconcerting for the player. Also, if the top has reflective material facing the drummer this can be odd both for them (it can make things sound louder and give odd early reflections) and can also make the overhead mics sound a bit strange.

The problem for me with asking drummers to play quieter is again the psychological aspect that comes with such a request. For some, it's not an issue; they swap to rods or brushes or just hit a little softer. However, for some, I've found that elements of performance suffer e.g; because they are playing with less energy they don't push ahead so much and some songs can sound lack-lustre.

Generally I try and make players feel as comfortable as possible so that they can play the way they want (and thus produce the musical performance WE want) and then work around them with PA issues.

Not always possible though :-(

Just out of interest is there one element of the kit that is causing most problems? I often find in churches that snares are the biggest headache, followed closely by hi hats.
 

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We had this problem when my church was small as well. My answer to this was to cover the lower third of the front of the drum shell with thick acoustical foam(since we close miked anyway) while leaving the upper two thirds uncovered. Across the rear of the shell to the rear opening(so the drummer can exit the shell) I covered the entire rear with acoustical foam. The drummer had just the front with untreated plexiglass so he could see the director. I would warn again enclosing the entire drum kit unless the drummer is using some kind of headphone or ear plugs. The amount of SPL that can come from a fully enclosed drum shell can seriously effect a drummers hearing over time.

Using this method allow me to fully control how much drum sound was entering the auditorium unmiked.
 

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Generally I try and make players feel as comfortable as possible so that they can play the way they want (and thus produce the musical performance WE want) and then work around them with PA issues.
As all good engineers should, unfortunately if the room is too small what else can be done. I have heard that these shields (never actually used one) corrupt the sound to a degree. Too be honest I can't see a great deal of difference between putting the drummer on an electric Kit and asking them to play less agressively, as far as player comfort goes that is.


An after thought, where in your church is the drumkit located? what can be done to help reduce reflection volume is to hang curtains behind the drums. have seen it once or twice, it gives a slightly more "studio sound" but helps take the edge off. This of course all depends on the layout of your building.

hope this helps

dr f
 

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As all good engineers should, unfortunately if the room is too small what else can be done. I have heard that these shields (never actually used one) corrupt the sound to a degree. Too be honest I can't see a great deal of difference between putting the drummer on an electric Kit and asking them to play less agressively, as far as player comfort goes that is.
Since most of the shields are made of plexiglass, early reflections are a problem. That is why I use acoustical foam over two thirds of it, to eliminate most all reflections that would hit the mike before the direct output does. It gives the drum set a more studio sound(which I found most drummers like) and allows me more control over the direct output of the set into the auditorium.

Most drummers I have worked with are not thrilled with an electric kit. I have been told that the acoustical kit just sounds more natural to them.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
The drummers in our setup wear earplugs and then have headphones to wear so they can hear everything. The Kit is located to the side of the church (not ideal but they don't want it centered) may be able to hang curtains. Most of the problems come from the snare and (depending on the drummer) the toms.
 
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