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  #1  
Old 05-15-2017, 05:29 PM
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Default Sound FOH vs. behind the drums

I've known for a long time that the audience doesn't hear the same sound from the drums as I do seated behind them. But last weekend reminded me how much difference there is.

I had my 12/14/18 set in a small pub playing rock and pop music. I had recently used the drums for a jazz rehearsal and they were tuned way up for maximum sustain. I figured they'd still sound okay for the gig since we weren't going to mic them up, but I was a little self-conscious about the ring coming from the toms.

Then a guest drummer sat in and I got a load of the sound from out front. Holy mackerel! I was blown away. The toms sounded great in that upper register and the little 18 bass drum had a beautiful punch to it. I was pleasantly floored that my drums sounded that good.

Do yourself a favor and have someone play your drums at your next gig. You might learn something more than you bargained for.
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Old 05-15-2017, 05:55 PM
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Default Re: Sound FOH vs. behind the drums

Cool story Lar. Toms tuned high and ringy...they don't sound high and ringy off the bandstand. Hearing your own kit from the audience, whether it's a recording or whether it's from someone else playing your drums, is something that every drummer should be doing. It gives you the other 50% of your perspective.
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Old 05-15-2017, 05:58 PM
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Default Re: Sound FOH vs. behind the drums

Another important aspect of this is that they also "sound different" when there's music behind them. The tones and sounds that make it through rock music area sub-set of what you hear from either behind or in front of the kit. Also makes a difference if it's open-air or the other instruments are amplified through the house system.
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Old 05-15-2017, 07:58 PM
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Default Re: Sound FOH vs. behind the drums

I had a Sonor Bop kit that was sounded horrid in the driver's seat, but it sounded amazing out front. I couldn't get used to the bad sound behind the drums, so I traded them. If I was in a situation where I was using in-ear monitors, I would have probably kept them.
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Old 05-15-2017, 10:26 PM
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Default Re: Sound FOH vs. behind the drums

After reading lots of stuff about the high and low pitch of drums around here the last few years (mostly from Larry), I've become a card carrying member of the "tune 'em high club.

I have actually come to appreciate how good my toms sound behind the kit with the high tuning. They still thunder and aren't muddied at all. I love it!

Number one rule: Tune your drums higher in pitch when you're playing live!!! You'll be heard much, much better out in the audience.
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  #6  
Old 05-16-2017, 01:28 AM
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Default Re: Sound FOH vs. behind the drums

For a while I was tuning my toms up quite a bit higher than I had before, and I was liking it a lot. Way more projection and tone from a distance. Being a guy whose playing a 14, 18, 26 Luddy kit with 2002's most of the time though, I didn't want to look like a complete Bonham clone and went back to JAW batters and slightly tighter resos.

Last edited by Ghostnote; 05-16-2017 at 02:50 AM.
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  #7  
Old 05-16-2017, 03:53 PM
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Default Re: Sound FOH vs. behind the drums

I occasionally video our band using a Zoom recorder on a stand somewhere in the audience area. Its always interesting to hear the overall mix as well as the drum sound. (and to check if I look OK!)

I agree that for mostly acoustic gigs, the deep tom sound comes across as a short thud. Properly mic'd is different, but I don't get that very often.
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Old 05-16-2017, 04:04 PM
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Default Re: Sound FOH vs. behind the drums

Quote:
Originally Posted by mmulcahy1 View Post
After reading lots of stuff about the high and low pitch of drums around here the last few years (mostly from Larry), I've become a card carrying member of the "tune 'em high club.

I have actually come to appreciate how good my toms sound behind the kit with the high tuning. They still thunder and aren't muddied at all. I love it!

Number one rule: Tune your drums higher in pitch when you're playing live!!! You'll be heard much, much better out in the audience.
Agreed. Most drums sound better tuned up higher, at least to the "singing point". Another advantage is now you have more rebound from your toms making the transition from snare to toms that much easier. I've found that drums always sound lower from out front.
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Old 05-16-2017, 06:19 PM
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Default Re: Sound FOH vs. behind the drums

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Originally Posted by MJD View Post
Agreed. Most drums sound better tuned up higher, at least to the "singing point". Another advantage is now you have more rebound from your toms making the transition from snare to toms that much easier. I've found that drums always sound lower from out front.
Matt Abts of Govt. Mule also says the drums sound deeper out front, so he tunes his drums a bit higher. Peace and goodwill.
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  #10  
Old 05-17-2017, 01:32 AM
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Default Re: Sound FOH vs. behind the drums

Help me to understand the science and acoustics of this. Doesn't tuning the drums tighter and higher pitched just make a 12" tom sound more like a 10" tom? Or an 18" tom sound more like a 16", and so on? Is it true that small drums "cut" through the music better because of their higher pitch? So are we saying that to make the drums sound better out front, just make them sound like smaller drums? Should we all be buying smaller diameter drum kits for live and/or unmic'ed gigs ?
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Old 05-17-2017, 02:13 AM
Push pull stroke Push pull stroke is offline
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Default Re: Sound FOH vs. behind the drums

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Originally Posted by Ruok View Post
Help me to understand the science and acoustics of this. Doesn't tuning the drums tighter and higher pitched just make a 12" tom sound more like a 10" tom? Or an 18" tom sound more like a 16", and so on? Is it true that small drums "cut" through the music better because of their higher pitch? So are we saying that to make the drums sound better out front, just make them sound like smaller drums? Should we all be buying smaller diameter drum kits for live and/or unmic'ed gigs ?
No, we should be buying larger drums and tuning them higher in their range.
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Old 05-17-2017, 03:10 AM
WallyY WallyY is offline
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Default Re: Sound FOH vs. behind the drums

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Originally Posted by Ruok View Post
Help me to understand the science and acoustics of this. Doesn't tuning the drums tighter and higher pitched just make a 12" tom sound more like a 10" tom? Or an 18" tom sound more like a 16", and so on?
My 12" tom will never sound like a 10" tom. I can make it have the same pitch as my 10" tom when my 10" tom is tuned low, but my 10" tom will not have the complexity of the 12" tom at the same tuning.
The higher pitch makes more ringy overtones that sound offensive near the drum but when further away those ringy overtones make a drum sound more full and hollow because the higher tones are dispersed in the air and with the music.
The opposite analogy doesn't sound good. a 10" tom made to sound like a 12" tom is flat and boxy sounding and doesn't carry. It may sound good to the drummer and others standing next to the drums, but it won't sound good in a mix unless it's contrived by the mic and PA.

Quote:
Is it true that small drums "cut" through the music better because of their higher pitch?
No. Small drums don't cut through more than other drums.

Quote:
So are we saying that to make the drums sound better out front, just make them sound like smaller drums? Should we all be buying smaller diameter drum kits for live and/or unmic'ed gigs ?
We should be making the drum ring with enough higher overtone noise depending on the music and venue to be able to have those overtones mix into the sound.

But then again, it's still personal preference and some people do not prefer an open sound out front.
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  #13  
Old 05-17-2017, 03:42 PM
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Default Re: Sound FOH vs. behind the drums

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Originally Posted by Push pull stroke View Post
No, we should be buying larger drums and tuning them higher in their range.
This^! Off topic but my favorite kit is an old Slingy which is a 20, 13, 16 configuration. Nowadays I can only seem to find 20,12,14 which are the sizes of my other kit. In terms of portability it's great but I like the fact that i can get the same pitch with more rebound on the larger diameter drums. Does anyone know why the 20, 13, 16 is no longer a standard configuration?
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  #14  
Old 05-19-2017, 08:44 AM
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Default Re: Sound FOH vs. behind the drums

I never thought about that but it makes sense from a physics perspective - the further you are from the source, the more low end you hear. Longer wavelengths and all that.
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Old 05-19-2017, 04:47 PM
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Default Re: Sound FOH vs. behind the drums

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Originally Posted by MJD View Post
This^! Off topic but my favorite kit is an old Slingy which is a 20, 13, 16 configuration. Nowadays I can only seem to find 20,12,14 which are the sizes of my other kit. In terms of portability it's great but I like the fact that i can get the same pitch with more rebound on the larger diameter drums. Does anyone know why the 20, 13, 16 is no longer a standard configuration?
Because 13 is an odd and 'unlucky' number? And people like even numbers?

No seriously, I have asked the same. FWIW I also play an old 20-13-16 Slingerland and they are a perfect set of sizes in the sequence I tune them.
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  #16  
Old 05-20-2017, 03:47 PM
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Default Re: Sound FOH vs. behind the drums

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Originally Posted by opentune View Post
Because 13 is an odd and 'unlucky' number? And people like even numbers?

No seriously, I have asked the same. FWIW I also play an old 20-13-16 Slingerland and they are a perfect set of sizes in the sequence I tune them.
Cant argue with you on that. Hopefully there will be another shift in the cycle and that configuration will come back.
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  #17  
Old 05-23-2017, 04:34 PM
beyondbetrayal beyondbetrayal is offline
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Default Re: Sound FOH vs. behind the drums

I play in bars with PA systems all the time and couldn't agree more.

I have heard board mixes, the drum monitor etc, but when you stand in the FOH I have heard my kit played a few times and have thought WOW...

a neat thing I have done recently when I know I will be in the PA is put on some isolation headphones and tune my drums sound they sound amazing in the mics. It doesn't always sound as good behind the kit but If I can put some IEM's underneath some Vic Firth isolation phones to TOTALLY isolate with mics on it sounds unreal.
s
I think as drummer we tune so it sounds good behind the kit but even standing on the other side of it sounds totally different.
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Old 05-23-2017, 04:43 PM
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Default Re: Sound FOH vs. behind the drums

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Originally Posted by Push pull stroke View Post
No, we should be buying larger drums and tuning them higher in their range.
this are my thoughts too !
I prefer larger drum tuned high and ringy than small toms with thick heads and tuned JAW.
Small toms sound good but when they are too high in pitch I have the feeling that they don't "fit" the song, I don't want bongoes ! I want big toms :).

To go back to the subject, I always ask somebody else to beat the drum and even after so many years, I 'm still estonished by the sound difference !
And when you want projection : to tune all of your drums a bit higher (both heads) is a pretty good idea. I have had many compliments on my sound doing that way ; from my seat it was too high, but in front - a lot of life and projection.
I'm not sure I'm correct, but Bonham had large drums tuned rather high.

PS from a french guy : What means FOH ?

Last edited by Tamaefx; 05-25-2017 at 08:21 AM.
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  #19  
Old 05-23-2017, 05:41 PM
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Default Re: Sound FOH vs. behind the drums

FOH = Front of house
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