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Any suggestions for a drum rig for live gigs?

This is the first time I've ever posted on any forum...forgive me if my etiquette is off.

I'm creating a rig for getting a "sound" at gigs that I do. I'm not really looking for volume, but more of a pro sound...punchy kick in your sternum, etc. Most of the stuff's in small/medium rooms (bar gigs or clubs). This is just for fun for me, so I'm not willing to spend $4,000 on mic pre's or EQ or whatever.

I bought a Studio Projects 828. It's an 8 Channel mic preamp incorporating the latest rev of Burr Brown IC's and I'm going to send a mono signal out to the band's main mixing board. I bought the DP5 Audix Mic kit w/ an i5, D2's, D4, and D6 mics. I also bought a TC Electronic M 300 24 bit reverb/effect unit and a SPL Transient Designer 2. I got the Transient Designer instead of a compressor b/c it's supposedly so incredible on drums.

Are there any suggestions on other things I should consider as far as routing the signals, outboard gear (ie: compression, gates), or anything else I may want to look into for the future? If there are any suggestions for outboard gear, can you list the Manufacturer and why you'd suggest it?

Thanks in advance for any help.


funkychiro Wed, 04/11/2007 - 13:35
Wow Moonbaby, This is great. Thanks for the lengthy and in-depth point-of-view. I'm a bit scared now! I have a gig this weekend, so I'm going to play around with this set-up before I go. I'm going to try to get to the gig early to do some tinkering.

Well, I ended up w/ this set-up based on some recommendations. All this balanced stuff and all makes no sense to me yet. I just ordered a book this mornig on recording and sound. I guess balanced outputs have to do with sinals traveling distances. I shouldn't have very far to go to the main mixing board, maybe 20-40 ft. Max. I'm going to call them about the mono output.

I was just going to do a line out of the snare into the m300 reverb unit, and back to a line in. I'm not sure about the Transient Designer. I'm going to use that on the kick and snare. I don't know if I should go for the reverb to the TD or the TD to the reverb. I wasn't going to use reverb on anything except snare w/ a maybe 6 or 8 % mix.

I ended up with the SP 828 B/c I wanted something rack-mountable. I wasn't happy with the lack of bus control, but apparently this thing has great pre's. From what I understand, the pre's are more important than the mics. I just couldn't get into these really expensive pre's. too much $ for my intention. I looked into the onyx, but someone said the burr brown pre's were really good and to go with that.

Can you tell me what you mean by live drums being demanding on circuits headroomwise?

I'm going to call SP now and ask about mono outs on the unit. If they're not balanced, am I in trouble? Maybe I can return it. for the mackie.

Thanks man. This really helps. Best, m

moonbaby Wed, 04/11/2007 - 14:49
What I mean about the drums taxing the circuits' headroom is this:
Whenever you hit a drumhead, pluck a bass string, or strike a piano hammer, you are creating a "transient", which is essentially a "spike" in relative loudness over the sustained tone of that note. You hit the snare-
CRACK! If you looked at that signal on a VU meter, you'd see it jump, then settle. That "jump" can be as high as 20 decibels over the sustained tone of the instruent. In order for an audio circuit to handle that type of peak, without "clipping", in a very fast (nanoseconds) timeframe, it has to have the "horsepower" to pull that off. Looking at the maximum output of the SP828, that looks questionable, IMHO.
As far as the statement that the mic preamp is more important than the mic....There are people who believe that. I own several different pre's and love the different color and texture that they can offer. But it's much more subtle than the difference a mic can bring to the table. To me, the mic is the ultimate paintbrush for an audio person to have. And we all go through our lives trying to collect as many as possible!
As far as the Transient Designer is concerned, you would probably want to use the Insert function on the Snare and Kick channels on the SP828 to accomodate that. That kind of leaves the TC out in the cold...for now. This is why I suggested the Onyx mixer. I don't know what was going through the salesperson's head when you were discussing this rig with him/her, but...I can assure you that the mic pre's on the Onyx are as good as the Burr-Brown IC's on the SP828 (I have no idea, but they might B-Bs in the Onyx, as well). I DO know that there have been too many seasoned pro's on this forum who have great $$$gear, and they rave about the Onyx preamps. Maybe one or two of them will step up to this subject... Good Luck on the gig!

funkychiro Wed, 04/11/2007 - 16:03
This is a very cool website. Thanks for this feedback.

Well I talked to the sales guy. He said the pre's on the SP are better than the ones on the onyx. The onyx apparently uses what they describe as "legendary xdr preamps with sound comparable to boutique preamps."I guess these Burr Brown pre's are supposedly pretty nice w/ a clean signal. BUT, the sales guy did say that the onyx does give you more flexibility b/c it has 2 aux sends and eq onboard. The other difference is that the onyx has 4 pre's and the SP 828 has 8. But w/ the 828 there's a line out, but NO line back in. So I think I'd have to send the signals to an open channel. Seems a bit complicated. Apparently there's over 20 db of headroom on the 828, so the guy said don't worry about that. He also said that the mono outs are balanced.

I can return the SP 828 and get the onyx for about the same price, which I almost feel I'm being swayed to do now. I'm surprised to hear that you think the mic's are more important than the pre's. I have these D series Audix mics which are supposed to be great. I've recorded w/ them and they gave an immediate nice sound. If this is the case, the Onyx is a better bet b/c there's more flexibility. See I don't know: I guess the big question is "which is more important, the mic or the pre." and since I'm using some pretty nice audix D mics, would the difference betw. the pre's be negligible at this price point (betw. the onyx and the SP 828).

Since I would only get 4 pre's on the onyx, would I want to one day buy a nice pre for the kick, or maybe just the kick and snare? Any suggestions on great pre's for those instruments that aren't $1,000 per channel?

moonbaby Thu, 04/12/2007 - 08:49
For starters, the SP828's tech data claims that the maximum output is "+21dbu" at the channel's output, BALANCED. THIS is not really that great, and when you figure that they don't even list the mix bus' level (afterall the bus is basically an afterthought on these pre's), and that it is UNBALANCED, which translates into a reduction of 3-6 dB. Personally, I don't consider anything with less than +24dBu to be "pro audio".
Also keep in mind that a DI box is not designed to handle the line level output of a pre like that, it is geared towards the lower output and higher impedance of a passive electric guitar or bass, or at the very most a keyboard. Easily overdriven.
Personally, I think your sales person is full of bull regarding the Onyx vs. the SP. There have been TOO MANY experienced audio professionals on this site stating how impressed they are with the ONYX mic pre's, and the SP is not a well-established brand in that field (mic preamps). While it is notable that the SP uses B-B IC's, I just don't see that making THAT much difference (if any) in the sound quality over the Onyx, IMHO. As a past sales/retailer of "pro audio" for many years, I think he was trying to move stock, not sell what would benefit you. And there are other models of Onyx mixers, with more channels than 4. Enough of my ranting. Good luck!

funkychiro Thu, 04/12/2007 - 09:12
Okey, Dokey. I'm going to return the SP 828 today and get the onyx 12 x 2. from what I can tell, since their both at the same price point, The Mackie is just way more flexible and is going to be better. I still like the 828 size (1 rack space), but I'm realizing it's too limited. Thanks for the feedback. M

moonbaby Wed, 04/11/2007 - 11:36
Welcome to RO! I have a number of "funky chiros" as customers !
I use a number of Audix mic-the i5 and the OM6-and the ones you have in that kit are OK.
My concern with the mic peamp is that you are apparently going to use its' "built-in stereo mixer" to sum those 8 channels into a mono send down your PA snake, is that correct? The issue that I would have with that as a live sound engineer, is that the little summing amp circuits that these types of mult-channel pres-with-a-mixer tend to have are not very strong in terms of output capability. Live drums tend to be the very most demanding of audio circuits, headroom-wise. And while SP claims that the stereo bus has balanced 1/4" outputs, they neglect to claim that the mono out is balanced. My experience says that if they don't claim it, it ain't so. And that may be a big problem in a venue like a club or bar, where all sorts of RFI rear their ugly heads.
As far as the TC M300 is concerned, I'm sure it's one of the flashiest around, but how are you interfacing it with YOUR rig? That SP828 certainly has no Aux Send bus to accomodate it on a per-channel basis. Were you just going to wash everything in a soothing bath of verb, regardless of the drum? Frankly, a nice Mackie Onyx mixer would have been a better choice for you because the mic pres are at least as good, if not better than the 828's. And a decent channel EQ is always nice to contain a "mooing" floor tom. And you'd have AUX SENDS to selectively dial-in the amount of reverb you want on each of the mics. Are ya with me on this one? Remember, trying to control the wet/dry mix on those TC boxes SUX, you need a mixer to do it right. And the Onyx would have a better mono (or stereo) output interface with a lot more balls than the 828 is sure to have.
Now to the lovely Transient Designer. You bought the 2-channel model
so you can "tighten up" the snare and kick channels on the 828 via the insert loops. That's OK. On a small stage, I don't really think that you can do much more than that. Usually it's the drummer that gets into the vocal mics that's the problem. I have read wonderful reviews of that box for what it does in the studio on drums. But every reviewer also went on discussing the way the TD works on levels can make it dicey in live sound
situations. This doesn't mean that you won't be able to use it, but you will need to practice with it to get it down before you gig. Otherwise, you may be in for a real rough ride onstage.