Does the "sweet spot" really change from room to room?

cdrums21

Gold Member
I see alot of different schools of thought when it comes to drum tuning. I certainly have my method, which I find is tried and true and works for me, and there is no right or wrong I guess, but what's curious to me is those of you who tune your drums to each different room. I agree that a room will enhance or detract from certain characteristics of a drum's sound, but do you really change the tuning from room to room that much? For me, I find there is a sweet spot for each drum, not only in sound, but in feel as well. That usually ends up to be a range of about 3 to 4 notes. Above or below that and something changes in the sound or feel of the drum that is undesirable. As some of you may know, I tune my drums in intervals and within their sweet spot and I never change the tuning from room to room and the drums always sound great by all accounts. If I went into a room that say was very "high endy" sounding, and detuned the drums to give them more low end, they would feel sloppy to me, plus they won't be in their normal sweet spot which produces the desired punch, feel and overall tonality. Along with that, I think it would be a colossal hassle to have to wait until you got to a room, play around a bit to hear how the drums sound, and then start tweaking randomly (top and bottom heads) until the drums sounded good to your ear, praying that the different tuning isn't going to set off the snares or create other unwanted overtones. I was just interested in hearing from guys/girls who do tune to each room and what thoughts they have on the points I mentioned.
 

topgun2021

Gold Member
Looking at sound vibrations, room size, and material in the room from a physics perspective the answer is probably yes. However, the question is if the human ear can notice the difference.

There are also sweet spots within the room itself where the drum sounds change.
 

TTNW

Pioneer Member
I do tune for the room, but I don't vary the tuning widely. Over the last few years I've started to prefer higher tunings even on bigger drums. Besides the sound, I also like the feel. So my main concern when adjusting my tuning for different rooms is whether I'm getting any weirg boing from the brightness of the room from my rack tom or whether my bass and floor toms are getting lost in the mix.

So I am only really adjusting for the highs and lows. Also, when I refer to tuning, I'm also including dampening because most of the time it solves my problems more than tuning would. I like the sound of my snare and toms with no dampening. In smaller rooms, especially those that are bright and reflective, the open sounds with a bit more ring are a little harsh.

When playing unmic'd, I almost always never bother with any dampening except for the bass drum. When I'm going through a PA, is when I find myself need to dampen the drums for the mix and the room.

I'm also getting much faster at it and better at sizing the whole situation up quickly. An empty club sounds a lot different than one with a noisy crowd in it.

I've stopped worrying about it from behind the kit and judge what I should from the FOH.

If somebody is playing before us, I can usually adjust in just a few minutes from behind the kit and it sounds fine. If we're up first, it usually takes me two back and forth trips from the kit to the front, with one of the guys hitting the drums for me to know how good or bad room sound will be.

I'm curious to see what other opinions will be. I think I probably dampen more than I drastically retune. I suspect the same is true for most people.
 

Otto

Platinum Member
in the usual rectangular room, the celing height will change my tuning more than size of the room...(normal house type rooms..no real experience in large venue acoustics)

Im betting it has to do with where my ear is in relation to sound pressure resonance points...and moving the fundamental tone the drum creates to resonate closer to my ear...when im not targeting a pitch or scale.
 

cdrums21

Gold Member
I do tune for the room, but I don't vary the tuning widely. Over the last few years I've started to prefer higher tunings even on bigger drums. Besides the sound, I also like the feel. So my main concern when adjusting my tuning for different rooms is whether I'm getting any weirg boing from the brightness of the room from my rack tom or whether my bass and floor toms are getting lost in the mix.

So I am only really adjusting for the highs and lows. Also, when I refer to tuning, I'm also including dampening because most of the time it solves my problems more than tuning would. I like the sound of my snare and toms with no dampening. In smaller rooms, especially those that are bright and reflective, the open sounds with a bit more ring are a little harsh.

When playing unmic'd, I almost always never bother with any dampening except for the bass drum. When I'm going through a PA, is when I find myself need to dampen the drums for the mix and the room.

I'm also getting much faster at it and better at sizing the whole situation up quickly. An empty club sounds a lot different than one with a noisy crowd in it.

I've stopped worrying about it from behind the kit and judge what I should from the FOH.

If somebody is playing before us, I can usually adjust in just a few minutes from behind the kit and it sounds fine. If we're up first, it usually takes me two back and forth trips from the kit to the front, with one of the guys hitting the drums for me to know how good or bad room sound will be.

I'm curious to see what other opinions will be. I think I probably dampen more than I drastically retune. I suspect the same is true for most people.
Good post. I guess I'm a creature of habit and like a certain sound the same way all the time. I don't muffle my drums ever, except for a small DW pillow in the kick drum. The FOH engineer I'm sure will adjust the sound accordingly as the room fills with people, but I don't change the way I tune the drums at all. I'm also not a fan of someone else playing my kit while I go out to hear it (unless it's a drummer with a similar style to mine). It almost always bums me out because it doesn't sound the way I want it to, and then the sound guy will say, "Well, it doesn't sound like that when you play them", so I just don't do it very much, if at all. I play mic'ed up 99% of the time, and I tune the drums at home before the gig, set up at the gig, do an individual soundcheck, then a full band soundcheck and go. That's it. Maybe some guys do different things (muffling, tuning, etc.) on the fly to get different sounds, but for me, I get a certain sound that I like and keep it consistent from room to room. To each his own I guess....
 
A

audiotech

Guest
In my opinion the sweet spot on the drum can't change from room to room, only the audiences perception of the sounds of your drums can vary with the size, shape and absorbancy, usually having to do with the amount of attendance in ratio to the capacity of the room. There are "hard" rooms, with a high reflectance figure, and soft rooms where there is more of a dampening factor. These include treated rooms, wall coverings, curtains, carpet or anything else that has a limiting affect on reverberation time and flutter echo. Here again, none of these factors will alter the "sweet spot" on your drums.

So in effect, the room can't change the size of the drum or how it's tuned. When I'm engineering in a studio, we have various locations within the room with varying degrees of reflectivity. The recording environment means Everything no matter what's being laid to tape, or drive. I tune my kits in my personal studio, which has been built and sound treated to correct most abnormalities. These drums then sound great in just about any playing venue, live gig or in the studio. The only thing I usually have to do during set-up is to make sure the heads are still in tune with themselves because of the trip between my residence and the gig.

There are many deciding factors when it comes to acoustics, I try to keep the common denominator being that the drums are tuned to my liking before they leave the house, most other audible factors when on location, I have very little control of.

Dennis
 

cdrums21

Gold Member
In my opinion the sweet spot on the drum can't change from room to room, only the audiences perception of the sounds of your drums can vary with the size, shape and absorbancy, usually having to do with the amount of attendance in ratio to the capacity of the room. There are "hard" rooms, with a high reflectance figure, and soft rooms where there is more of a dampening factor. These include treated rooms, wall coverings, curtains, carpet or anything else that has a limiting affect on reverberation time and flutter echo. Here again, none of these factors will alter the "sweet spot" on your drums.

So in effect, the room can't change the size of the drum or how it's tuned. When I'm engineering in a studio, we have various locations within the room with varying degrees of reflectivity. The recording environment means Everything no matter what's being laid to tape, or drive. I tune my kits in my personal studio, which has been built and sound treated to correct most abnormalities. These drums then sound great in just about any playing venue, live gig or in the studio. The only thing I usually have to do during set-up is to make sure the heads are still in tune with themselves because of the trip between my residence and the gig.

There are many deciding factors when it comes to acoustics, I try to keep the common denominator being that the drums are tuned to my liking before they leave the house, most other audible factors when on location, I have very little control of.

Dennis
Bingo! I'm in total agreement with you and subscribe to the same way of thinking when it comes to preparing my drums for gigs in different rooms. I get the drums to sound and feel good to my liking in my drum room at home and I'm good to go. Let the acoustics of each room be what they may, it doesn't matter. Also, since I have quantified the pitch at each lug point on the heads via a pitchpipe, I can dial them in in seconds should I feel something has changed as I'm setting up, or if I'm on the road and don't have a "drum room" to tune in.
 
My drums are in a very small room in our attic Its almost impossible no matter what I do they will sound dead. With that being said I tune them in the attic not down stairs.
 

Numberless

Platinum Member
All I know is that I sometimes practice in an office and my drums always sound crap to me in there, however I take them out (with no tuning done) to my house or another practice space and they suddenly sound a lot better, dunno what's up with that, I don't worry too much because I've been recorded at the office and the drums sounded pretty good so I chalked it up to a perception/mental issue on my part.
 
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