Do drummers ever use a "personal" PA???

rpt50

Member
Not really sure where to post this, or even how to ask the question, but I was wondering if drummers ever have their own amplification system (like a PA to amplify just the drums, instead of running through the general PA)? The reason I ask is that I'm thinking of trying my hand at building some kit-based PA speakers, and for my first attempt I was thinking of building something that my son could use in his band. Their PA is OK, but it really doesn't to a whole lot for the kick drum, and their amplifier can't handle subs in addition to the mains. I was thinking that I could pick up an amp, and build a speaker(s) to amplify the drums alone, and their existing PA could then handle vocals and guitars alone. Would this work? Does anyone do this?
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
Monitors are what you're talking about, and drummers have been using them for several decades. But if you mean something that just you carry, in order to amplify the drums because monitors don't exist... I'd say you're in a volume situation where there should be monitors in the first place. If you can't hear your drums, there's a stage volume issue.

Bermuda
 

Andy

Administrator
Staff member
Not really sure where to post this, or even how to ask the question, but I was wondering if drummers ever have their own amplification system (like a PA to amplify just the drums, instead of running through the general PA)? The reason I ask is that I'm thinking of trying my hand at building some kit-based PA speakers, and for my first attempt I was thinking of building something that my son could use in his band. Their PA is OK, but it really doesn't to a whole lot for the kick drum, and their amplifier can't handle subs in addition to the mains. I was thinking that I could pick up an amp, and build a speaker(s) to amplify the drums alone, and their existing PA could then handle vocals and guitars alone. Would this work? Does anyone do this?
It's not a great solution really. By the time you've put together a sound reinforcement system capable of projecting the full kit spectrum adequately, you've effectively assembled a FOH PA. Better to look at replacing/augmenting the band PA if a better overall sound is your aim. Either that, or get the band to turn down. If a kit is unmic'd, the band should adjust their levels to the quietest acoustic instrument on the stage.
 

bobdadruma

Platinum Member
The best thing to do would be to buy a sub woofer for their PA. You may have to get a powered one if the PA doesn't support a passive one.
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
If you can't hear your drums, there's a stage volume issue.
I re-read the first post and realize the OP may be talking about amplifying the drums himself, so they can be heard out front. Again, if there's not already a P.A., then there's a stage volume issue if the drums cannot acoustically blend with the rest of the band. Some venues just need a P.A., but if it's too small, everyone needs to balance their sound better.

Bermuda
 

JasperGTR

Senior Member
The best thing to do would be to buy a sub woofer for their PA. You may have to get a powered one if the PA doesn't support a passive one.
+1. It sounds like the venue doesn't have a sub.

OP- the biggest thing for me in small clubs - is the bass drum disappears when the guitars and/or vocals come out at FOH (Front Of House - or main speakers). I've assembled a couple Peavey SP218's with my own amp/mic/eq/compressor/limiters, etc... in a small rack. I have found it is a bit much to bring this everywhere, and have resorted to one or two powered 18 subs. Then I just need a connection from the mixer (from the house), and I'm off. I have also brought a small mixer (this personal P/A you've mentioned, just in case the venue is not prepared for bass/snare mic'ing. I just hate wasting my time playing instruments that can't be heard in the manner of which I intended.
 

eclipseownzu

Gold Member
In my cover band we provide the PA for our gigs. We have a sub that is really only for the bass and bass drum. Having the powered sub really cleans up the mix and gives the drums quite a bit of punch out front.

I run my own mixer for my mics to keep the channels on the main mixer free for the vocals and other instruments. One big problem you would run into having a separate system for the drums would be monitoring. Your going to want some amount of the bass drum in your mix along with other instruments. It would be tough to get a good monitor mix from separate PA systems.

As has been said, get a sub, preferably a powered one or you will need a separate amp as well. Most have built in crossovers and will definitely help the drum sound FOH.
 

rpt50

Member
Thanks for the input guys. I'll look into the powered sub option more, but I guess what we really need is just a better PA overall.
 

TColumbia37

Silver Member
I've seen a band do this once, and only once. It was more of an annoyance for the sound guy than anything. They brought their own PA to mic their drums, but the venue was pretty small, and there was no problem hearing drums without the mics. I could understand micing the kick, but they miced the entire kit, and it just ended up being louder than everything else and made them come across as very unprofessional.

Most venues generally have whatever you need on hand and will mic drums for you if it is necessary. If you just mean in a practice setting, then micing anything but the vocals is pretty unnecessary.

Just the way I see it.
 

barryabko

Senior Member
I use both acoustic and electronic drum kits depending on the gig and venue. For the eKit I use a combo amp with a 15" woofer instead of running through the main PA. For small to moderate sized rooms this works pretty well for good coverage as well as for volume control when necessary. I use IEMs for my monitor.

If your son's band plays at higher volumes and/or larger venues the larger and more powerful speaker/amp will be required. If their current main PA is lacking the entire band might be best served by revamping or replacing it and then see how well it can handle all of the instruments - including the drums. If it doesn't cut it you can then build a dedicated drum PA.

In general, the larger the speakers and the more powerful the amp, the better the PA will perform. Subwoofers are also good for the most low end impact but only if the main PA is already up to snuff. High quality drivers, cabinets, xover components and amplifiers will be important if you will be making them yourself. Good luck! It can be a fun project.
 
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rpt50

Member
Yes, the problem occurs only when they play outdoor events and use their own PA. Indoors, or on a house PA, they are fine. I am really thinking that we just need to buck up and get a better PA, rather than trying to band aid the present system.
 

Hollywood Jim

Platinum Member
the band should adjust their levels to the quietest acoustic instrument on the stage.
Now there is a novel idea !! Perfect idea.
This should always be the rule. And include the singer in this equation. Most of the time when I am listening to a band play I can not here the singer.



.
 

JasperGTR

Senior Member
Now there is a novel idea !! Perfect idea.
This should always be the rule. And include the singer in this equation. Most of the time when I am listening to a band play I can not here the singer.



.
lol! Sometimes, the singer is what we hear most...

The key is balance. Some guys (who do the sound, or have input) just don't get it.
 

groove1

Silver Member
On outdoor gigs with small jazz groups I have begun to mike my snare and run it through my personal PA (set in front of the kit) so I can be heard playing brushes. Usually there is an
electric keyboard with an amp and a bass player with an amp. No overall going through a big system though. Drummers playing on electric drum kits often have a personal PA (and that becomes a lot to lug around).
 
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moxman

Silver Member
Dave Weckl used to use a remote mixer and a pile of gear to have total control over his sound.. But unless your playing at that level I don't see the need for it.. we drummers already haul too much gear! I'd wait until you have a roadie..Most house PA's have enough inputs to handle vocals and drums etc. I just don't have energy, time or money to drag around a personal PA...
 

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
I have my own small PA I can use if I ever want to mic up my kit for myself. I took Gary Chester's advice when he first published his book, The New Breed. He wrote that it would behoove the drummer to amplify himself so he could keep up with the other amplified instruments around him. I'm pretty sure that's why Dave Weckl did it too, since he was a student of Gary's back in the day.

And in most instances, he was right. I've been in situations where there was no sound guy out front, but there was a PA - not big enough to cover me - and I was just killing myself sometimes. When I started carrying my own PA just for me it created a nice balance. It's not about being obnoxiously loud, it's to create a fullness of sound that you don't get when you're banging to be heard over everyone else. And the plus side to that is that I started playing normal and more musical because I wasn't muscling my way through every song.

But, if the house has a system and a sound guy, let them do it. If you can get away from having to buy and carry your own gear, I would. But I really like having the option- it led to my second career as a sound engineer too.
 

matchgrip1

Junior Member
Thanks for the input guys. I'll look into the powered sub option more, but I guess what we really need is just a better PA overall.
Rpt,

Seems there are quite a few different options and opinions to read here! With that said, as a gigging drummer myself, usually on the road every weekend, I have learned to be self sufficient. This means full acoustic kit (DW 6 piece), electronics (SPD-SX & SPD-30), a full drum snake for running to the desk, the Porter & Davies Tactile monitor throne system (BC-2), and my own personal monitor. I am now using the Line 6 Stagesource L2t monitor (active, 800 watts) and this unit is perfect for any stage monitoring I need when I am not using house sound. In my humble opinion, this is the best powered monitor I have owned. It has build in optic sensors and an accelerometer that senses its position, and automatically adjusts the sound so it is directed at me. SInce I use the Porter & Davies tactile throne BC-2 system, I have full control of the kick drum, and my whole body feels what the front of house feels at the venue, so I am freed up to really dial in the band instrumentation without having to saturate the mix with a ton of kick drum. The monitor can handle as much or as little as I need, and the desk engineer gives me the signal, and I dial in from there. I have found this to be in my best interest since I'm setting up and breaking down myself most of the time, and I don't have to rely on sound engineers to dial me in correctly.
 

Aeolian

Platinum Member
Yes, the problem occurs only when they play outdoor events and use their own PA. Indoors, or on a house PA, they are fine. I am really thinking that we just need to buck up and get a better PA, rather than trying to band aid the present system.
Outdoor events typically need bass reinforcement. In a close room, the sound goes forward because of the boundaries behind and to the sides. Outdoors it spreads all around. Low frequencies being more omnidirectional they dissipate in every direction while higher frequencies beam where you point the speakers.

You need a sub or two tacked onto the PA for outdoor work.

Now, here's another thing. You don't want them sitting on either side of the stage. That will create an effect known as "power alley". Typically there will be a ton of bass in the middle where they sum evenly, but a big hole on each side (often right in front of the speaker) where the delay caused by the distance from the other side causes cancellation. Then you often get it back as you move off to the side of the stage. The solution is referred to as a center stack. Put them right in front in the middle. The only thing with this is that you will get a lot of bass on stage, which on an open air stage with basic wedges isn't usually such a bad thing.

If you want to get tricky you can do some math and steer the bass by spacing subs just so. I used to run four 1-18 cabs at a street festival and could keep in in the street and out of the stores on either side. Much to the delight of the promoters (who unfortunately weren't quite delighted sufficiently to pay me enough to keep doing it past a couple of years of summer series').

If you want a woodworking project and are fairly proficient, there's a cab design called a Cubo-Sub that is like 2 feet square and kills many dual 18 front loaded cabs. With the upgrade of the 18 Sound LW1400s this cab was designed for to a 2400W capacity, you can get some pretty insane levels at kick drum frequencies out of a couple of small boxes and a good power amp. With 2 of these and the older 1200W drivers powered by a Crest Pro9200, I can hit people's chests outdoors. With 4 of them, I can outrun just about anything short of 4 varsity level dual 18s.
 
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