Charlie's Kit unpopular opinion

TK-421

Senior Member
It’s all about the column of air generated by the beater striking the batter head, and how that air column interacts with the reso head. Put a big hole smack dab in the middle of the reso, and most of the air column will escape without exciting the resonant head. But if you offset the port, then that air column interacts way more with the reso, getting that head to vibrate and add more—wait for it—resonance.

It also affects the feel of the beater striking the head. Because the more air that’s retained inside the drum (due to a smaller port, an offset port or no port at all), the more air pressure there is to push back on the batter head. So smaller and/or offset ports offer more rebound, while larger or more centered ports offer less rebound.

That’s the physics behind it, and just like everything else in life, it all comes down to personal preference.

For the majority of my drumming life, I played with a solid reso. And that entire time, I played heel down. Then about 10 or so years ago, I finally decided to add an offset port. As a result of the diminished rebound, that transformed my bass drum playing to where I now play primarily heel up—which gives me more power. But with a solid reso, I felt like I had to play heel down. Because with all that rebound, only heel down playing gave me enough control to keep my beater from “dribbling” against the head.
 
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s1212z

Well-known member
These glory holes were the beginning of the end. If a sound engineer can't get a reasonable full reso sound when already acoustically sound, I have to question their competence. This is left over from the 70s concept that every part of the drum kit needs to be isolated/tracker along with mic'd concert toms....and then the sound engineer will now find the proper 'balance' of percussion expression by a mere fader, while the drummer who has honed their craft meticulously of limb balance and understanding their instrument is now destroyed. What a load of shit, imagine if we individually mic'd each string of a piano or guitar and handed it over the keys to stranger to figure it out...as if the drumset isn't a single instrument. Credit to John Bonham for sticking to his guns and understanding how the instrument should be captured, never used a bass drum port afaik, and arguably had the most iconic sound of his era. Those strategic mic placements were capturing his balance of the instrument, meanwhile there were so many terrible drum sounds in that era.
 

Tamaefx

Silver Member
The strangest element of Charlie's kit is IMO the small china cymbals, no crash on the left side. Centered porthole is rather common, isn't it ? But 2 small chinas where crashes often sit, in a rock n' roll / blues context, is much more peculiar than a center hole in the front bass drum head.
 
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Jeff Almeyda

Senior Consultant
Once you're playing in theaters and above, the sound engineer is much more responsible for the sound that the audience hears than any drum or head combo. the engineers want the transient attack and then they want the drum to get out of the way. Overly resonant drums with 4 second decays just make it all messy on the bottom.
 

s1212z

Well-known member
Once you're playing in theaters and above, the sound engineer is much more responsible for the sound that the audience hears than any drum or head combo. the engineers want the transient attack and then they want the drum to get out of the way. Overly resonant drums with 4 second decays just make it all messy on the bottom.
I have to agree with the live setting, there are certain conveniences and modern requirements where a port helps. So just to clarify, my mini-rant pertained more or less to a studio environment though I've gotten away with full resos in a live setting (but then again I never did Rolling Stones stadiums either).

It's ironic, I was just talking about how killer of live player Charlie was and now he passed. It's crazy we were just seeing home-streamed covid performances from him (Chick Corea too) and then no longer. Glad these guys were able to play till the end.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
There's only one center. The center IMO is where the good tone comes from. That's why I don't cut out the center.

I don't fault someone being a bad sound man for porting a head. I would fault them for being lazy all day though.

Bonham had the right idea. Back off the mics. Let the drums sing. Mic it as a set, not individual toms. Love that tone. Close miced toms and bass....I much prefer some noticeable atmosphere with the drum kit sound, not sterile "in a vacuum" hits. Snare excepted
 

s1212z

Well-known member
Happen to have some brief mention of kick work here. Stewart mentions the ‘on top’ kick playing (maybe the port contributed too 🙂)

 

Iristone

Well-known member
Credit to John Bonham for sticking to his guns and understanding how the instrument should be captured, never used a bass drum port afaik,
IIRC by In Through The Out Door he didn't have a front head. Yet he still sounded great. To me, it's more of a balance between close and room sounds, rather than only one part dominant, or it might sound muddy or thin if there's room only, either.
I definitely hear you in that some 70's recordings sound a bit over-muffled and over-compressed. Kind of made the word "muffling" politically incorrect by now. To me they are just tools that you use to get a great sound, and the overuse of either might ruin it.
 

opentune

Platinum Member
Because the more air that’s retained inside the drum (due to a smaller port, an offset port or no port at all), the more air pressure there is to push back on the batter head. So smaller and/or offset ports offer more rebound, while larger or more centered ports offer less rebound.

That’s the physics behind it, and just like everything else in life, it all comes down to personal preference.

But the same amount of 'air' is displaced by a batter head whether offset or center port.
 

Iristone

Well-known member
But the same amount of 'air' is displaced by a batter head whether offset or center port.
But the reflecting wave might come from a different direction, which affects the phase cancellation at different frequencies (also called "comb filtering"), and it will affect the tone of the drum. Not necessarily for the bad: I've always liked Keith Moon's single-headed bass drum sound. The drums give a short "thud", but the room make it lively.
 

s1212z

Well-known member
IIRC by In Through The Out Door he didn't have a front head. Yet he still sounded great. To me, it's more of a balance between close and room sounds, rather than only one part dominant, or it might sound muddy or thin if there's room only, either.
I definitely hear you in that some 70's recordings sound a bit over-muffled and over-compressed. Kind of made the word "muffling" politically incorrect by now. To me they are just tools that you use to get a great sound, and the overuse of either might ruin it.
An old thread dug out this photo with the green sparkle kit (un-headed?) and the SS with a head so that may be right, not sure which tracks were used on what. It also mentioned Jimmy wasn't a fan of the sound per se or at least having a dead room to process it in the end was not his preference but it was a different album. I thought JB already had a natural snap with a wood beater and shallow depth the attack on the other LZ albums. ITTOUD was definitely a different drum sound.



No doubt getting a good room sound to mic takes a fair amount of experience from the player/engineer plus knowing the room and ideal spots....it's not easy work and so close mic's can be more consistent. For close mic setups, my best experience were when the engineer was intimate with the acoustic natural drum room sound....certainly not a philosophy that each track needs sound isolation, controlled muffling and then to be processed in the end. My favorite recordings I have were done with a kick/snare and a ribbon mic overhead w/ a great room....one of the few times where I felt a captured natural expression and sound consistent to what I remember from player POV.
 

C.M. Jones

Well-known member
An old thread dug out this photo with the green sparkle kit (un-headed?) and the SS with a head so that may be right, not sure which tracks were used on what. It also mentioned Jimmy wasn't a fan of the sound per se or at least having a dead room to process it in the end was not his preference but it was a different album. I thought JB already had a natural snap with a wood beater and shallow depth the attack on the other LZ albums. ITTOUD was definitely a different drum sound.



No doubt getting a good room sound to mic takes a fair amount of experience from the player/engineer plus knowing the room and ideal spots....it's not easy work and so close mic's can be more consistent. For close mic setups, my best experience were when the engineer was intimate with the acoustic natural drum room sound....certainly not a philosophy that each track needs sound isolation, controlled muffling and then to be processed in the end. My favorite recordings I have were done with a kick/snare and a ribbon mic overhead w/ a great room....one of the few times where I felt a captured natural expression and sound consistent to what I remember from player POV.
In my experience with engineers, mic arrangement is as much a matter of style to them as laying down backbeats is to us. I've encountered a bit of everything in the studio: close mics only, room mics only, close mics and room mics combined, room mics placed in front of my kit, rooms mics placed behind my kit, room mics placed directly over my kit, and the list could go on. If I'm working with a new engineer, I never really know what to expect.

I think the most important point is that mic options are abundant, and each engineer has his or her own philosophies on how to render results. I'm a drummer, not an engineer, so I defer to their expertise.
 

roncadillac

Member
In my experience with engineers, mic arrangement is as much a matter of style to them as laying down backbeats is to us. I've encountered a bit of everything in the studio: close mics only, room mics only, close mics and room mics combined, room mics placed in front of my kit, rooms mics placed behind my kit, room mics placed directly over my kit, and the list could go on. If I'm working with a new engineer, I never really know what to expect.

I think the most important point is that mic options are abundant, and each engineer has his or her own philosophies on how to render results. I'm a drummer, not an engineer, so I defer to their expertise.

The best engineer I've ever worked with was also a drummer and the studio had an abundance of purpose specific mics. Between individual drum mics, close proximity mics, and far back room mics... We at times would have 12+ mics on a 3pc kit. It was always a great experience, our songwriters laid scratch guitar and vocal tracks, gave them to me a week ahead of time so I came in prepared, then we would bang out 4-5 songs in a 2-3 hour session and he would take time after the fact to dial everything in. Basically, we recorded, then gave him time by himself to 'do his thing', then we came back for mixing.


Regarding the topic at hand: I always port my bass drums, I respect the Stones but am not personally a huge fan, and I have nothing else of substance to add to the matter.
 

C.M. Jones

Well-known member
The best engineer I've ever worked with was also a drummer and the studio had an abundance of purpose specific mics. Between individual drum mics, close proximity mics, and far back room mics... We at times would have 12+ mics on a 3pc kit. It was always a great experience, our songwriters laid scratch guitar and vocal tracks, gave them to me a week ahead of time so I came in prepared, then we would bang out 4-5 songs in a 2-3 hour session and he would take time after the fact to dial everything in. Basically, we recorded, then gave him time by himself to 'do his thing', then we came back for mixing.


Regarding the topic at hand: I always port my bass drums, I respect the Stones but am not personally a huge fan, and I have nothing else of substance to add to the matter.
I can relate to that account. Some engineers load up on mics to give themselves as many options as possible. When mixing, they isolate channels as desired and dump what doesn't fit. It's really a fascinating process, but it's too technological for me. I'd rather just play.
 

Cmdr. Ross

Silver Member
These glory holes were the beginning of the end. If a sound engineer can't get a reasonable full reso sound when already acoustically sound, I have to question their competence.
"Glory holes"...Giggity.
Credit to John Bonham for sticking to his guns and understanding how the instrument should be captured, never used a bass drum port afaik, and arguably had the most iconic sound of his era. Those strategic mic placements were capturing his balance of the instrument, meanwhile there were so many terrible drum sounds in that era.
Agreed. I saw a great video of how simply his kit was mic'd and how that sound was achieved. Part of me feels that was the case because his shell sizes were so big, that having mic's so far away let the volume of said shells breathe & say what they were built to say.

I can't say that effect would've been the same on a kit with smaller shell sizes.
 

TK-421

Senior Member
But the same amount of 'air' is displaced by a batter head whether offset or center port.
It all comes down to how the air column interacts with the reso head. A big hole in the center of the reso lets most of that air column escape without it exciting the head. An offset port means the part of the reso that's directly across from the beater is solid. So the air column smashes into the reso and excites it, causing it to vibrate/resonate more than if it had a centered hole. Make sense?
 

opentune

Platinum Member
It all comes down to how the air column interacts with the reso head. A big hole in the center of the reso lets most of that air column escape without it exciting the head. An offset port means the part of the reso that's directly across from the beater is solid. So the air column smashes into the reso and excites it, causing it to vibrate/resonate more than if it had a centered hole. Make sense?
Yes totally agree. My point was there is no difference in the amount of air, just how it interacts with front head.
Back to Charlie, I do find a center port looks 'cooler'. Personally I don't use a ported front head.
 

Iristone

Well-known member
No doubt getting a good room sound to mic takes a fair amount of experience from the player/engineer plus knowing the room and ideal spots....it's not easy work and so close mic's can be more consistent. For close mic setups, my best experience were when the engineer was intimate with the acoustic natural drum room sound....certainly not a philosophy that each track needs sound isolation, controlled muffling and then to be processed in the end. My favorite recordings I have were done with a kick/snare and a ribbon mic overhead w/ a great room....one of the few times where I felt a captured natural expression and sound consistent to what I remember from player POV.
Agree 100%, not a fan of an "isolated" close mic sound either. I always like the close mics and room mics to be augmentations to the overall picture provided by the overheads.
 
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