Is the difference in sound the drumkits used or the production set up for the live sound?


Hi guys - I was previously jimmy900 - but my email address was deleted, so apologies about the second profile.

I just wanted to ask a question about the difference in sound with the drums when listening to 'Young Man Blues' performed by The Who and John Entwhistle's band.

I am getting some lessons in sound production and it would be a great help if you anybody could decipher whether the difference in the drum sound in these links is to do with the drum kit being used or if it's how the live production is set up (or even the way the drummer is playing - don't think it's that).

The sound from The Who performance have the drums at its most natural sounding in my opinion, but the drums from the John Entwhistle band sound to me like the toms and the bass drum have far too much click and sound too poppy and over produced. I really don't like that 'clicky' sound at all for this song, but that's just my opinion.

This is The Who performance in Tanglewood here:

Here is John Entwhistle performing in his band with the 'poppy' sound here:

If anybody could tell me any features in the sound production that distinguishes one drum sound in performing this song over the other, I would greatly appreciate it.

Thanks in advance.


Senior Member
Keith Moon was using three 14" tom-toms tensioned quite tight. That alone is going to have a huge effect on the sound. The equalization and other outboard gear used with the John Entwistle band will have a noticeable effect as well, but I would say that the drums, heads and drummer have the biggest affect.


Thanks notvinnie. Just wanted to also know what differences there might have been in the sound engineering that might have contributed to the different drum noise, but like you said, it would more likely be the way he tuned his drums.


Silver Member
Miking, sound capture and mix affect a lot too
Anyway. There’s a typical early 70’s open sound and a fat late 80’s sound, with close miking.


Senior Member
wanted to also know what differences there might have been in the sound engineering that might have contributed to the different drum noise
First of all, we shouldn't call it drum "noise", because it's probably something we want to hear. I don't hear a lot of processing in these videos. I hear the sound of double ply heads and different tuning, as well as different size drums.


Platinum Member
I don't believe we can accurately tell based on what we are presented with here.

Could have been the compression used when uploading the videos? Could have been the recording accurate way to tell...just opinions (other than those rare people that might have extraordinary access to lists of used assets(the venue, the number of bodies in the audience absorbing sound, the cleanliness of the electricity phase effecting amplification, etc)) - ever have that flutter that wont go away? Try conditioning the power you use : )


Senior Member
Hi all. Haven't been here much in a while but I was passing through and thought I'd add to this since it's actually something I know a little about.

Yes, big difference in the player, the drums and the heads. Keith has traditional dimension ratios on his high tuned toms and no front heads on kicks, also probably playing single ply coated heads. Whereas the other guy is playing power toms with modern clear heads tuned differently and ported front kick heads.

That being said... there is a vastly different approach to mic'ing going on.

Keith's kit has a mono large diaphragm overhead (looks like a Neumann u87 but I'm not sure). Being mono it is focused on the center of the kit, picking up a more general and cohesive sound and primarily focusing on getting drums over cymbals. This single mic is the main source of sound for the kit. The other mics are kick mics buried near the batter heads, and *kind of* top and bottom snare mics, though with still enough distance from the drum itself to get more overall sound (but less proximity effect and drum ringing) and less transient attack. That's all there is as far as I can see. So they've got most of the sound coming from the overhead with some support from the kick and snare mics just to be able to push those important elements. Basically, to me, Keith's kit sounds like it would if you were standing 5 feet in front of it with no mics.

The modern approach to live drum mic'ing as seen in the other video is to close mic EVERYTHING and have THAT be the predominant sound. It even looks like there might be bottom mics on the toms. The overheads are stereo, and while they are pointed in the basic direction of the drums, they are essentially cymbal mics. They are also small diaphragm condensers, which naturally react to transients quicker and have been the typical choice for OH for a long time because they will give you more attack.
So, with close mics on drums you are going to automatically get much more snap and ring and low end. A lot of modern drum mics are also EQ'd internally to produce a high end (frequency) bump. All of this leads to an arguably more "dynamic" sound, in some aspects.

My unproven theory is that as guitar tones have developed over the decades from being twangy and midrangey, to filling up the entire sonic spectrum from low to high with compressed distortion, that the only way for drums to cut was to drastically change how they're EQ'd. If Lars Ulrich wants to be heard in the context of Metallica, every single part of his kit has to have an audible "click", otherwise it would be lost in the wash of guitar tones.

The fashion in the earlier days of multi-mic amplified and recorded music seemed to be to find a sonic space unique for each instrument and they would go there and stay out of each other's way for the most part: bass goes "here", kick goes "here", guitar goes "here", and vocals go "here", this is not just in the way they were recorded/amplified but also in the way they were tuned and EQ'd by the player. Nowadays, every single instrument takes up so much space on the frequency spectrum that engineers are looking for multiple points of entry on each one just to differentiate sounds from one another. Also, stage volumes have gone up drastically over the decades. To me, it's a mess and I much prefer the sound of the old style, even if the kick didn't have as much boom and snap, and the guitars didn't melt your face with overwhelming godlike might.

That is just personal preference though but when I play live with a new engineer who doesnt know our music, I almost always have to direct them to cut certain high and low frequencies, and I always *request* a mono OH (though I don't often get it). After we get through talking about it, about 90% of the time they say something along the lines of "so you want it to be kind of flat and just sound like the drums?", to which I happily respond "yup!". I rarely if ever get pushback from engineers in this process.

Anyway I hope this is helpful. Obviously I have preference and bias for my personal sound but I really don't have a stake in what other people need to prioritize to get their music across, so if it comes across as "the old ways are better, get off my lawn!!", it's really not how I mean it.


Platinum Member
ConcertTom nailed it.

Just to add to it:

The Who's material, the sound on film is likely just coming off straight from the board as it was played. What was captrued is what you get.
The JEB material was likely captured and then mixed specifically for the video presentation.


Silver Member
Did Moon ever discuss anywhere why he liked having three toms of the same size?
I asked him many years ago why his toms were all 14x8s. He told me "They're easier to find, and when I'm playing I don't want to think about how to hit them. There all just laid out in front." I'm not kidding. That's what he told me. Consequently I adopted that in my tom placement as well. Only difference is I use a 14x4, 14x5, and a 14x6. Tuned so I can play Mary had a Little Lamb. Seriously. They sound great, and are "easier to find."


Thanks all for your responses, and thanks concertTom for the detailed reply. I am just starting to learn sound engineering at the moment and this has been particularly helpful. Once I have some money in my life I will buy a Keith Moon mahogany premiere kit, but I also wanted to know how the kit was mic'd up in that particular performance (I'm practicing Young Man Blues at the moment, but I wish I could find a guitarist and a bassist that's into The Who where I'm from). It's also fascinating to know that Keith had his toms the same size.