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Old 08-05-2017, 04:08 PM
jrhanson61@gmail.com jrhanson61@gmail.com is offline
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Default How do I mic drums in small venues to use in ear monitors?

I must always wear in-ear monitors when playing to protect my hearing, but my band members do not. They are using on-stage monitors, but with my in-ear monitors blocking the sound, I MUST have a decent mix coming from the soundboard to even function. This presents a few problems that I'm hoping you can help me solve:

1. Most band members have very little patience for doing a proper sound check because they've never had to rely on in-ear monitors, so my mix ends up being truly awful, which creates stress, which makes it difficult to relax, which makes it hard to lock into the groove.

2. Most venues are smaller and don't need much drum amplification AND there are only 4 mic input channels available on the board, so I need to minimize number of mics used. I tried using an overhead condenser about 3 feet above the kit, but it kills my band members with cymbal volume, and I can't hear much of the BD, etc.

3. If I put dynamic mics on the BD, Snare, between the two ride toms and on the floor tom, I can't hear any cymbals in my mix...

4. I thought about getting my own mixer so I can control it, but I've been told that doing so will just screw up the house mix, and we don't have a sound man to adjust it.

In my last gig, this caused so much trouble that everybody was just frustrated and I ended up losing the gig.

Help!

Last edited by jrhanson61@gmail.com; 08-05-2017 at 04:19 PM. Reason: missing info
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Old 08-05-2017, 04:18 PM
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  #2  
Old 08-05-2017, 04:41 PM
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Default Re: How do I mic drums in small venues to use in ear monitors?

Welcome to Drummerworld!

I appreciate the importance of a good mix, and I use in-ears on tour. But I also play a lot of smaller venues, and manage just fine without in-ears, without a sound check, without mics on my kit, and in most clubs, with no monitor at all. As a result, my comfort level varies on every gig. But part of being a working drummer is doing your best even when conditions aren't ideal. That includes being required to use a house kit on occasion. I think your expectations might be a little high for gigs in "small venues". The fact that you would lose your gig over this should tell you something.

Now, I also appreciate the importance of hearing protection, so I'm not suggesting you use nothing at all. There are ear plugs with varying amounts of db reduction, so that you hear everything clearly, but it's less of a volume assault on your ears. It's a bit of a compromise, but you'll adjust, and your ears will thank you.

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Old 08-05-2017, 04:47 PM
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alparrott alparrott is offline
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Default Re: How do I mic drums in small venues to use in ear monitors?

I also wear in-ears whenever possible, and I use a small mixer as my headphone amp. I have dealt with many of these problems myself.

1) If your band refuses to do sound checks to either improve the mix or accommodate your monitoring needs, then obviously a Big Talk needs to be had. Their flexing on this issue is probably going to be less work for them than replacing a drummer. You're either a band member or you're not, and the fact that your instrument is not amplified does not relegate you to third-class citizen onstage.

2) If you use your own small outboard mixer for in-ears, you can add a mike or two yourself to get clarity on your mix. I don't know how many dB your in-ears let in, but I typically don't need much of myself in the mix, because I'm trying to reduce the amount of volume I receive from the drums anyway. If I do need to be miked, my favorite trick is to use a single boundary microphone placed just in front of the kick drum hoop on the floor. I get lots of bass and snare, a good amount of toms, and less cymbals (which are what kills my hearing anyways). A boundary mike is also a good all-in-one solution if the kit needs just a little umph, but not much, in the venue.

3) If you're not fully miking the kit, you're going to lose something. In most venues, the cymbals don't need miking at all. But one good overhead mike can pick up all the cymbals you need (heck, use a regular old dynamic mike if that's all you have; we're going for what you feel you need to hear, not recording quality). Just make sure to roll off some highs and gain so you don't defeat the purpose of having in-ears in the first place.

4) Whoever told you this is full of it and has no idea what they're saying - so long as you can control your own volume. I just had a gig at your typical punk bar where the PA is for vocals only and instruments go through amps. We sent direct feeds from the backs of the amps to my monitor mixer where I could control what I heard, plus my boundary mike so I understood where my levels were in comparison to theirs. The vocals were in a wedge behind me (which I honestly didn't need, but whatever). I heard everything I needed and only with a little effort controlled where I sat in the mix.

If a band puts effort into figuring out the technical parts of their combined sound, they get a good reputation as a well-presented band. If they all just focus on their own needs and volume, well, frankly, it tends to sound like crap. Painfully loud crap. That's what separates the good and going-places bands from the ones that, honestly, don't get called back.

You have a part in this too. Your IEMs may be prompting you to play too hard to hear yourself, or keeping you from truly understanding what's happening as far as stage and room volume. You need to make sure that no matter what's in your personal mix, you're playing correctly for the room. Since you don't have amplification, that needs to be where the band starts as well.
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Old 08-07-2017, 04:33 PM
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Default Re: How do I mic drums in small venues to use in ear monitors?

Kudos to Bermuda for his flexibility and skills but I prefer to use in ears for every gig to protect my ears. I am slowly convincing my band mates to send their instrument audio to the mains and reduce the stage volume. I only worry about making sure I get a BD feed in my monitor because I can still hear a little of my drums bleed into my vocal mic. Maybe you can consider one ambient mic placed near the front of the stage?
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Old 08-07-2017, 04:45 PM
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Default Re: How do I mic drums in small venues to use in ear monitors?

I wear earasers ear plugs at almost every gig to protect my hearing. This makes everything softer but still sounding even. I can hear my drums just fine, and everything else on stage is softer.
But I just can't see the point of blocking your ears to make everything softer, then amplifying the drums to make it loud again. How will that protect your hearing?
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Old 08-07-2017, 05:14 PM
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Default Re: How do I mic drums in small venues to use in ear monitors?

I would suggest a 3 mic setup

Kick, overheads (middle) and kit.

Kit mic position is key and only really doable on a 4 piece:

- Put the mic stand underneath the ride cymbal (assuming a small stand)
- Bring the mic up pointing towards the snare (about level with the top rim)
- Turn your snare round so that the air hole is pointing directly at the mic
- Use a condenser for this mic.
- Ensure positioning is as equidistant as possible

What this does is give crack and sensitivity to the snare, extra boom/attack on the toms and a bit of cymbals (and maybe a little of the beater on the kick)

I've found that when I use this setup, sound-check is pretty straightforward, as long as I'm not using my Guru (as it has no air-hole) so I use a snare with air-hole instead.
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Old 08-07-2017, 05:28 PM
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Default Re: How do I mic drums in small venues to use in ear monitors?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Morrisman View Post
I wear earasers ear plugs at almost every gig to protect my hearing. This makes everything softer but still sounding even. I can hear my drums just fine, and everything else on stage is softer.
But I just can't see the point of blocking your ears to make everything softer, then amplifying the drums to make it loud again. How will that protect your hearing?
I do exactly the same.

The earplugs I use take about 30db off. I like em for hearing myself sing. Never use monitors at a small gig as it's overkill.

Get a pair and save yourself the hassle of micing everything up for a small gig. It's the mix the audience can hear that counts. Bermuda hit the nail on the head.
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Old 08-07-2017, 06:36 PM
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Hollywood Jim Hollywood Jim is offline
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Default Re: How do I mic drums in small venues to use in ear monitors?

When I play with loud bands I use ear plugs that cut out about 20 decibels.
I use Etymotic ER-20xs. I also use them when I'm listening to other bands play.
Guess what, as far as damaging you hearing, your snare drum is at the top of the list.


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Old 08-07-2017, 06:55 PM
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Default Re: How do I mic drums in small venues to use in ear monitors?

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Originally Posted by mikyok View Post
I do exactly the same.

The earplugs I use take about 30db off. I like em for hearing myself sing. Never use monitors at a small gig as it's overkill.

Get a pair and save yourself the hassle of micing everything up for a small gig. It's the mix the audience can hear that counts. Bermuda hit the nail on the head.
Yes and no, depends on what we mean by small gigs I suppose. Plus music style is a factor

I personally use iems whenever I can as I need to be able hear the attack over the guitars. I also practice with them all the time so once you've got used to them, it's second nature.

They also help me understand the nuances of mic positions and recording.

If my drums aren't going through a PA then your point is 100% valid
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Old 08-07-2017, 07:21 PM
Matt Bo Eder
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Default Re: How do I mic drums in small venues to use in ear monitors?

I'm with Bermuda on this one - ya gotta be flexible.

I'm all for ear protection, but to be so thrown by not having a good mix it doesn't surprise me that you'd lose a gig.

I've been playing small venues for most of my life, some with protection, some without, some mic'ed up, most not, and you just have to learn how adapt, and put the music first and make everybody feel good. It really blows my mind that you and your band would be making music without listening to each other and adjusting volume so you'd sound good as a unit.

Maybe you guys should lock yourselves in a garage, just mics for the vocals, and learn how to balance when playing songs? Start with the organic fix first, then add the IEMs and whatnot when you guys have a solid presentation down. Let's put the horse back in front of the cart.
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Old 08-07-2017, 07:32 PM
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Dr_Watso Dr_Watso is offline
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Default Re: How do I mic drums in small venues to use in ear monitors?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Morrisman View Post
I wear earasers ear plugs at almost every gig to protect my hearing. This makes everything softer but still sounding even. I can hear my drums just fine, and everything else on stage is softer.
But I just can't see the point of blocking your ears to make everything softer, then amplifying the drums to make it loud again. How will that protect your hearing?
Yep. Get yourself some of the decent ear plugs with attenuates in them. I actually use them under my cans when recording or using studio headphones as well. They do a great job of letting me hear, cutting out the echo and noise, and protecting my ears from hurting at the end of the night.

That way you can use plugs in small venues, and your in-ears for bigger.
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Old 08-07-2017, 07:35 PM
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Default Re: How do I mic drums in small venues to use in ear monitors?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Morrisman View Post
I wear earasers ear plugs at almost every gig to protect my hearing. This makes everything softer but still sounding even. I can hear my drums just fine, and everything else on stage is softer.
But I just can't see the point of blocking your ears to make everything softer, then amplifying the drums to make it loud again. How will that protect your hearing?
This is the way to handle it---why should everyone else have to change to meet your needs? I've been playing music for almost 40 years---trust me---the squeaky wheel gets REPLACED!
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Old 08-07-2017, 07:49 PM
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Default Re: How do I mic drums in small venues to use in ear monitors?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Matt Bo Eder View Post
Maybe you guys should lock yourselves in a garage, just mics for the vocals, and learn how to balance when playing songs? Start with the organic fix first, then add the IEMs and whatnot when you guys have a solid presentation down. Let's put the horse back in front of the cart.
PERFECT!
No "maybe" about it.


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Old 08-07-2017, 08:13 PM
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Default Re: How do I mic drums in small venues to use in ear monitors?

Some great advice....Bermuda and Matt stand out...

Just to be honest, people who are overly particular about their personal monitor mix can be a real drag during soundcheck. So try and be reasonable in your expectations.....

Like Matt said, you should KNOW how you guys sound-you especially should KNOW what that cymbal or snare sounds like in the mix even if you CAN'T even hear it. You should know by experience how hard or light to hit it etc. even if the mix sounds like mud on a particular night....

Get into the woodshed and work it out....

:)
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Old 08-07-2017, 08:28 PM
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Default Re: How do I mic drums in small venues to use in ear monitors?

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Originally Posted by Hollywood Jim View Post
Guess what, as far as damaging you hearing, your snare drum is at the top of the list.
Snare drums are the devil :).

The whole band has to mix around the snare.
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Old 08-07-2017, 11:51 PM
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Default Re: How do I mic drums in small venues to use in ear monitors?

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Originally Posted by JohnoWorld View Post
Yes and no, depends on what we mean by small gigs I suppose. Plus music style is a factor

I personally use iems whenever I can as I need to be able hear the attack over the guitars. I also practice with them all the time so once you've got used to them, it's second nature.

They also help me understand the nuances of mic positions and recording.

If my drums aren't going through a PA then your point is 100% valid
Small gigs for me are most of the weddings and functions I do, 50-150 people. Only need to mic up is for a bit of presence out front and that's mainly bass drum. Only need the volume to be on the dance floor.

Style wise I play whatever I get paid to play but it covers about 60 years of stuff.

Plus in a lot of cases, dynamically I'm playing the room as a lot of the venues I do have shocking acoustics. It's a lot easier to judge it with the noise reduction earplugs.

For solo practice and recording I have home made in ears aka ear buds with industrial ear defenders over the top. Works great for me :). Vic Firth isolation eat your heart out!

If I ever get to play big 500+ venues regularly then maybe but when I've done the big bikers shows in years gone by to 2500 people, the on stage sound guys sort all the monitoring out for you so the sound on stage is great. I still wore earplugs though.
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Old 08-08-2017, 12:45 AM
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Default Re: How do I mic drums in small venues to use in ear monitors?

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Originally Posted by Matt Bo Eder View Post
I'm with Bermuda on this one - ya gotta be flexible.

...lock yourselves in a garage, just mics for the vocals, and learn how to balance when playing songs? Start with the organic fix first, then add the IEMs and whatnot when you guys have a solid presentation down. Let's put the horse back in front of the cart.
Seriously. If your whole band is playing with amplifiers, part of being a professional is getting your stage sound right. If you show up and your instruments are all the volumes they need to be to get a nice blend off the stage with nothing else, you'll already have a leg up on most everyone in town. And frankly, if they sound good out front, they ought to be plenty loud enough for you to hear them while you're playing your drums even if they're closed-back guitar cabs - it's about listening as opposed to hearing, and if you aren't listening to the rest of your band, then Houston, we have a problem.

I've stopped playing with a monitor for the most part because I've gotten to play with guys who know how to set their stage volume properly, and I've learned to listen to them. A lot of the sound guys I've worked with of late have been running my monitor way too hot with certain things and it totally screws everything else up. And also, we're drummers! We're in charge of the speed and dynamics of the song at the end of the day, so if you know the tunes you're playing, take charge and make the band play with you as much as you play with them.

I have a pair of IEMs that I use as headphones at home, but I've stopped bringing them to gigs because I end up getting separated from the rest of my band and end up playing way too loud for the room. I play a much better-balanced show when I'm listening, instead of just expecting to be able to hear things.
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Old 08-08-2017, 02:43 AM
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Default Re: How do I mic drums in small venues to use in ear monitors?

Live sound 101. You don't have to send any miked signals to the main mix! You can send them only to the monitor mix. Set an overhead up to capture the band and send it to the monitors only. Mic your drums and send them to the monitors only. The vocals will be in both the front of house and monitors. You now have everything you need for your in-ear mix without sending every signal to the FOH. You don't need a sub board. Or just suck it up and go without in-ears. You won't go deaf or suffer permanent hearing loss from one gig.
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Old 08-08-2017, 03:35 AM
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Living Dead Drummer Living Dead Drummer is offline
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Default Re: How do I mic drums in small venues to use in ear monitors?

I also ALWAYS use my IEM's no matter the size venue, but I'm also playing to a click 99.9% of the time.

I run my own mixer next to my kit, either a 5 or 10 Channel Yamaha depending on the gig and how many XLR inputs I'll need. In small venue setting where nothing is getting miced except vocals and maybe kick I will set up my own mic on the guitar cabinets and take a DI out of the bass head and run them all to my personal mixer. Then I'll run a monitor line from the house for vox/kick.

I did this exact setup over the weekend for a two day convention. So my mixer ended up with Vox/Kick on Channel 1, Guitar on 2, Bass on 3, and click on 4.
I can mix everything for my IEM's myself and it works beautifully. Leaving the FOH guys to just worry about FOH.
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  #20  
Old 08-08-2017, 04:04 AM
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Default Re: How do I mic drums in small venues to use in ear monitors?

Just use custom earplugs that reduce the volume by 15 to 20 dB, or use in-ears that just use a small digital recorder (like a Zoom H2N) with built-in mics for their input.
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Old 08-08-2017, 05:51 PM
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Default Re: How do I mic drums in small venues to use in ear monitors?

I have custom earplugs with filters to adjust the db restriction and things sound good but quieter.

I also use inears but my bands like a clean mix and we mic it all.


4 inputs isn't going to be easy. You could buy your own mixer, or something like a jam hub. Toss a mic infront of each amp, use and overhead and a kick mic and you would probily be fine. With that you can adjust the mix of each instrument from beside your kit and not bother anybody. After you tell them how awesome it sounds they will eventually grab their own headphones/IEM's and plug into the other jamhub / mixer outputs.


You either need to convince them to get on board, change your own outlook, or go this route.
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Old 08-08-2017, 06:03 PM
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Default Re: How do I mic drums in small venues to use in ear monitors?

+1 on being flexible... I recognize your problem since I felt the exact same way about 1-2 years back, until I finally admitted to myself that I am likely the source of the problem. With drums, we don't have a volume knob, it's a direct feedback loop between how loud you hear the drums, and how loud you play them. My gig bag always has the following which covers 100% of my situations:
- C-IEM: I'm in a great setup, full monitor mix available to me with a dedicated (or at least somewhat) guy running monitors
- U-IEM: If I'm in a lower volume setting but still need to play to click... this way I just rotate it in/out and it instantly 'mixes' in my drums while giving adequate protection.
- Buds: Raw protection.
- SM57 + 1U Rackmount Mixer: With this, I can add in whatever I need and combine/split depending on the sound situation
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Old 08-09-2017, 12:57 AM
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Default Re: How do I mic drums in small venues to use in ear monitors?

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With drums, we don't have a volume knob
Sure we do - our hands.
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