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Drums are too loud in church setting

Discussion in 'Drums' started by GeckoMusic, Jan 13, 2009.

  1. GeckoMusic

    GeckoMusic Guest

    Due to complains of the drums being too loud in our church, we are looking into some level reducing options. Currently we have a nice old Gretch Catalina kit which most of the drummers speak fondly of. The sanctuary is about 50' wide by 100' long about 30' high at the peak, typical New England modern construction.

    The options in consideration are:
    1) drum mutes
    2) sound treatment of the corner with the drums. Possibly a plexi-glass booth.
    3) electronic drums.

    I would appreciate comment from people experienced with these setups, and additional options.

    Will drum mutes destroy the tone of the drums? How much sound reduction can be expected by putting the drummer in a box?

    More details you may or may no want to know:
    Acoustically the sound from the stage projects very well throughout the sanctuary. The baby grand piano does not go though the PA. The vocals are mixed just above the piano, and the guitars a little below. The bassist controls his own volume. The drums, depending on who is playing, can drive the whole group to play louder or softer. This is part of the problem. When we have a loud drummer, everyone plays louder.
  2. Link555

    Link555 Well-Known Member

    clearsonic has a little demo.
    I would recomend something along those lines...
  3. AwedOne

    AwedOne Guest

    Drums in a small sanctuary are a sticky problem. The space is designed acoustically to project un-amplified piano and vocals very well.

    We've got a Clearsonic -type booth at our church and it helps. We still had complaints until we got a lid for it. If you get one, I would suggest that it be a full surround, not just 3-sided (if you have the space). In our case, the sound hits the back wall and reflects over to the opposite side of the stage causing the vocalists on that side to complain. we ended up putting some Aurelex panels behind the drummer and that helped.

    Of course, if you need total control, electronic drums would be your best bet, although I've been told that on softer songs, the click of the sticks hitting the pads can be heard over the drum samples.
  4. moonbaby

    moonbaby Mmmmmm Well-Known Member

    Most drummers who are used to an acoustic kit scoff at moving over to an electronic kit. Ours sits in a closet collecting dust!
    As another poster commented, you will really have to isolate the drums with a Clearsonics set-up. We use that, and have added heavy moving blankets (from Markertek) to control reflections behind the booth. We STILL have more than enough drums filling the stage and the room, but it's manageable.
  5. pmolsonmus

    pmolsonmus Well-Known Member

    Similar problem to what we have had happen in theater productions - Drums too loud.

    We now use a clearsonic shield (without a cover) but if the drummer is against the wall (or near it) a few fiberglass sound panels do the trick.

    The shield is portable, but heavy.

  6. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

    Hi GeckoMusic,

    I do sound system installs in churches and this is a universal problem I run into at virtually every church that has a band. The drums are too loud. And anything you do to tame down the volume will make the drummer unhappy / uncomfortable. Muting the drums will absolutely diminish their tone, so you have to play the trade-off game. How much volume can I take away and still have an acceptable sound. If you take too much it sounds like they're hitting a wet paper bag, which is not very musical.

    There are a lot of things you can do with moon-gel and o-rings to take the volume down without completely wrecking the tone. You may be surprised at what a difference giving the drummer super light sticks (7A maple) will make. If he's used to playing with 2Bs, he'll instinctively back off how hard he hits the drums. But again, he won't be thrilled.

    At our church we tried the plexiglass fishbowl and that's not without it's challenges. The plexiglass was naturally very reflective inside and I always felt like the confined space made the drums sound poorly defined. And in our specific situation the front of the plexiglass reflected a strong overtone from our wedges back into the vocal mics that required a very severe notch on the EQ. (And we've got a bigger stage than most.)

    Our church eventually went to the Roland TD-20 electronics, they sound good and feel about as natural as possible. Tensioned mesh heads / cymbals that give when you hit them / hi-hats that physically open and close / and very tunable to your taste. The down-side is, how loud will you have to crank the monitors (which are physically aimed the opposite direction as the mains) to make the band happy. You can lose a lot of definition that way, and end up at about the same volume as your acoustic kit. We bought our TD-20s from another church that had a drummer who refused to play them. So check around at other churches, they may have a set collecting dust that you could try before you buy.

    We've been using electronic drums for about 9 years ( we started with Roland's TD-8 ), and ultimately switched the 17-pc. band away from wedges to in-ear monitors about a year ago. My front-of-house mix is 100% cleaner and I was able to drop the overall mix volume considerably to a very comfortable level. The 6 pc. horn-section dictates the volume now rather than the drums or bass guitar amp. There's a period of adjustment to in-ear monitors, and although my musicians were all hesitant at first, they were very gracious and patient as everybody learned how to use the technology. Now they're all on-board and as content as can be.

    I've been this church's soundman for 10 years, but I'm a lifelong guitar player myself, so I understand that you need a certain comfort-level to perform. But when you're doing the church gig you have to yield some of your personal preferences. At some point, church musicians have to say - ok, being in a praise and worship band at church is not about me and what I want.

    And this is true of all the musicians, not just the drummer. Left unchecked us guitar players can play at obnoxious volumes too!

    Good luck!
  7. Codemonkey

    Codemonkey Well-Known Member

    Again, we had the same problem. Here's what we did.

    Mild muting on the toms. Not really great.
    The BIGGEST and I mean most unbelievable benefit is...


    Get yourself some sticks from here.
    You will kiss the cymbals. You might even *want* a mic on the snare.
    (Do it, and keep the drummer happy but keep it low and roll off the high end).
  8. AwedOne

    AwedOne Guest

    Codemonkey wrote:

    Yeah, I tried something similar, but the Worship Leader wasn't getting that crack of the snare in his in ears like he want so he told me to stop using them. Lately, I've been hearing them a lot on recordings. A different and distinctive sound. Hard to get good ride pings, tho.
  9. Codemonkey

    Codemonkey Well-Known Member

    It is a very plasticky sound I guess.
    But it stops the whole place (ie, the PA) being awash with ring. Also it means that when things get louder, they're still manageable.

    I agree though, if I was having the drummer alone to record I would have him use sticks but for live worship, Flix are awesome.
    One time I saw a guy use them on a full kit in a hall not much bigger than 9m x 6m.

    Edit: if you desperately want a short sample I can fix you up with some terrible ones.
    Vaguely throwing an XY with £20 mics over a kit will never work...
  10. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    So, get yourself some of that Clear-Sonic, Plexiglas and stick some Sonex or Auralex foam. Line some of the clear sonic and it will greatly attenuate a lot of the excessive SPL. And he'll still be able to see out while everybody can see him. So in a sense, you are building a self and closed plastic drum room partially lined with sound absorbing foam.

    It'll work
    Ms. Remy Ann David
  11. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    We have gone with electronic drums. Yamaha DTII. Good drummers have put up with it and most of the young drummers have liked it. (Huge help with inexperienced drummers who can't control their dynamic.) It was important to have a personal monitor so they could hear themselves. No, the drums don't sound as good as a live set played loud, but the mix sounds a lot better than anything we could get with damping, drum shields, etc. We have sometimes used a real set for youth services that are essentially rock concerts, but I can't imagine going back there for regular services.

    One more thing: Don't buy the cheap stuff. In case you have not noticed, these things are played by drummers (bad enough) who hit them with sticks. The cheap stuff falls apart. It broke my heart to pay over $2K for electronics when I could have gotten a really nice acoustic set with good cymbals, but in my experience it gives the best sounding mix at volumes that are acceptable in our service.
  12. Codemonkey

    Codemonkey Well-Known Member

    TBH we don't have the money to blow on E-drums. However...

    Flix works for us. The drummer took a bit of getting used to it though.
    Remember we have stone walls so less cymbal noise was key. Reflections, ugh...

    By comparison how much is it for a decent set of plastic panels. Go with a standard installation, however we could put the kit off to the side and cut out the need for 1, maybe 2 sides.
  13. GeckoMusic

    GeckoMusic Guest

    Thanks to everyone for the knowledgeable replies. You have all created a wealth of information in the last 24 hours much of which would not even have come up while researching the subject.

    Of the two people that play drums the most, one “scoffs” at electronic drums, the other actually recommended it as a solution. The latter is more of a “Jack of all instruments,” and the former is a drummer first, and other instruments later type of guy. However both would play on either and not complain.... much.

    Five people recommend Clearsonic enclosures or shields and sound treatment. When forming the original post I didn't even know there was a company that manufactured drum enclosures. I figured they were just built out of plexi-glass with blueprints from the Internet! :)

    Two people recommended electronic drums. Roland and Yamaha seem to be favorites as is the case in general with electronic drums.

    Other options to consider include Moon Gels and Flix Sticks.

    We are meeting at the end of the month to discuss this and I'll let you all know how it goes.

    Thanks so much!

    PS CodeMonkey, Not sure how close these prices are to those in the UK but, Clearsonic isolation pacs range from $500 for 5 short walls to $2000 for a full enclosure in the US.

    Electronic kits that would be worth considering range from $900 for Alesis to $2000 for nice Yamaha and Roland kits. I have had an Alesis kit for about a year now. It is great, but I'm not really a drummer.
  14. MadMax

    MadMax Well-Known Member

    The simplest option is to give the drummer hot rods and/or tell him not to wail on the kit so hard.

    Try moving to a smaller stick if the drummer doesn't like hot rods.

    Turning down the drummers monitor will also help, if you even use monitors.

    Only when you've really exhausted the natural solutions would I look at an enclosure.
  15. GeckoMusic

    GeckoMusic Guest

    Thanks Mad Max,

    I see what you are saying. It would be best to fix the problem by first getting the drummer to play quieter, next, to change the sticks, then sound treatment. We have sets of Flix Sticks, Hot Rods, and brushes. Maybe the simple solution is to only have the brushes available.

    Only once have I heard the problem. I was in the back running sound, and big tom fill to crash, snare, and kick. (Must have been either sticks or Hot Rods) It made me jump. Someone must have said something to him because since then that drummer has played more reserved. (Or maybe it was the crash and burn fill on the next song where he got 1 and 3 mixed up when he came out of the fill. oops)

    The complaints have been coming from a minority of the congregation, so perhaps the push to reduce drum volume is just in an effort to please everyone. Reduction in drum volume may make the experience less desirable for others.

    Maybe people have been told too lightly and haven't taken it to heart. The bass player and drummer share a monitor, and it is normally set at a lower volume then the rest. (The piano is near by, and none of the the bassists or drummers sing)

    Another question:
    Of those that have played in Clearsonic style booths. Is it difficult to hear the other instruments? Do you need a monitor inside the booth with you? Or does not being able to hear them well force you to play quieter?
  16. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    In response to what Max said, I agree that having a drummer who can control his or her dynamics is the best solution. But finding drummers who can do that is not easy. It is very difficult for most drummers to play upbeat music at low volumes.

    Church bands are different from most other situations. We have a couple of bands - one of them a youth band. All of the drummers are volunteers. Personnel changes fairly often, and we sometimes have two or three drummers trading off from week to week. (Thinking back, we have had at least eight drummers over the last three years.) The skill level is pretty variable. We have been lucky enough to have a series of drummers who can keep time, and I am large and menacing enough to keep them from overplaying. The electronic drums mean that the volume level and mix is consistent from drummer to drummer and week to week. The sound is always good, even if it is never as good as can be produced by an excellent drummer on a good acoustic set.

    On another topic: just how transparent are these enclosures? In some cases we are talking as much money as a decent electronic set. Does a good acoustic set wrapped in plastic sound better than an electronic set? Is the main issue the feel of the set to the drummer? (In which case my response is, "suck it up, it's for the church.")
  17. BRH

    BRH Active Member

    I've never been to a church with that kind of music!

    Get a different drummer with some discipline.
  18. GeckoMusic

    GeckoMusic Guest

    Everyone that plays at our church does it on a volunteer basis, so we can't simply "get a drummer with some discipline." We are blessed to have one drummer that really knows what he is doing. However because of his job we are lucky if he is in town once a month. The other drummers are not bad, (they are all better than me) but occasionally have trouble keeping the volume down on "hand clappers" It sounds like a very similar situation to Bob's.

    Those are good questions. I would love to hear answers to them. My guess is that all of our drummers would "suck it up for the church."
  19. MadMax

    MadMax Well-Known Member

    If I had my choice of an electronic kit, or an enclosure... gimme the electronic kit.

    While the enclosures are ok, they also suk mud through a straw.

    They're ok, because they provide quite a bit of isolation, but the drawback is that you now MUST mic the kit and either put the drummer in cans, or you gotta put a monitor in there... e.g. they isolate well enough that you cannot hear the other muso's without a monitor.

    Unless you get a big enough enclosure, the "room" now only makes a great slapback chamber. Add in the drummer's wedge... you got issues to deal with that aren't ANY fun.
  20. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    I've played with some drummers that I would have like to put in an entirely separate building -with padded walls. Would have solved a lot of problems.

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