Louder with or without port?

rpt50

Member
My impression is that my son's kick drum (Yamaha rock tour) is louder with a non-ported resonant head than with a ported head. Does anybody have any definitive measurements?

The reason I ask is that while most of the gigs he plays are mic ed (and sound guys seem to prefer the ported head), he does play some gigs where the drums are purely acoustic, and we want to get the kick to cut through the mix as much as possible. Thanks.
 

opentune

Platinum Member
No measurements. To my own ear , I'd agree with you, that a port reduces some of the lower end frequencies you get out of the bass drum.
 

KamaK

Platinum Member
Ports reduce the overall duration of the bass note in favor of greater initial attack. This is mainly because it alloys you (the microphone) to hear the beater striking the batter head from the front of the kit.

BOOOoooom!
Versus
BOOOOOm!

Many sound guys like ports because it makes mic'ing the BD extremely easy. Many drummers like no port because of the rebound and because it delivers a more complex note which is easier to shape with technique. Most drummers keep two heads and switch them up depending on the situation. Good sound guys (lol Engineers) will know how to mic both sides of the kick and phase /0 the batter side.
 

Pocket-full-of-gold

Platinum Member
Whilst a ported head might be slightly louder, any difference in volume is gonna be marginal at best. Can't say I've ever heard a noticeable difference between the two.......certainly nothing that is gonna address your issue in this case at any rate.

If his bass drum is getting buried in the mix, then whether the head is ported or not is unlikely to make any material difference. I'm gonna suggest he's either gonna have to mic it up or hit it harder in order to overcome this particular problem.
 

Road Bull

Silver Member
I might offer a couple suggestions to increase volume. Try different head and muffling combinations. I hear a lot of people try to tune and muffle the kit so that it sounds good when no one else is making noise. But in a live setting, things sound far different. Over muffling and tuning too low rob many drummers from being able to cut though.

What size bass drum does he play? What heads is he using? What muffling technique is he using? How does he have the head tuned? All these things matter.

I prefer a minimal amount of muffling and a loud open sound. Not so ringy that it sounds like there is no muffling, but I like it to be able to resonate. I play with a pretty loud rock and roll band. And as some point, acoustic drums by themselves wont be able to keep up with amplified music. I play in many similar situations where sometimes the drums are mic'ed and other times, hardly anything.

One of the biggest changes to my being able to hear my bass drum in all situations is having a larger diameter bass drum. I know this is not a fix for everyone, but a 26" bass drum can really fill the void. I noticed a huge difference when I jumped up from my 22"x16" bass drum. I am not saying to run out and get a big bass drum, but the size of the bass drum has a good bit to do with overall volume. It doesn't mean that you cant get a smaller bass drum to sing, but you might have to work a bit harder to make it happen. Experiment a bit with heads, tensions, and muffling. Don't be afraid to tighten up the bass drum a bit more that what you normally do.

You might also take a look at the beater that you are using for your bass pedal. If it is a lighter Tama-style beater, you might want to look at getting a heavier full, round felt beater.
 

Andy

Administrator
Staff member
we want to get the kick to cut through the mix as much as possible. Thanks.
Getting a bass drum to cut through well in a live mix is all about sitting it in it's own sonic space, & very little to do with volume as such. Tuning the drum such that you take it away from the space most occupied by the bass guitar and/or keyboards will aid definition. This usually means tuning higher than you might be used to, especially the resonant head. It will chance from room to room too. Porting will reduce resonant head influence and make the drum more attack orientated. An unported head will flesh out the drum's fundamental better with a selection of lower overtones, & this gives you more "sonic space choices".

A good live engineer effectively uses sonic space/separation in a similar way, only his/her tool are different. A good one will augment the presentation of the instrument before resorting to the volume control, as making something louder is rarely the best solution.

In an acoustic setting, you could always try getting the band to turn down a bit too. I know that's not always easy or possible, but bands should always balance themselves, even in a reinforced environment.
 

KamaK

Platinum Member
Getting a bass drum to cut through well in a live mix is all about sitting it in it's own sonic space, & very little to do with volume as such. Tuning the drum such that you take it away from the space most occupied by the bass guitar and/or keyboards will aid definition.
On a similar vein, it may also be worthwhile to look into pulling the BD's dominant band down in the bass player's graphic EQ. Sound guys will do this automatically. When playing without mics or a PA, the drummer and bass player should work this out on their own.

If you're the father of a teen who is in a band, be prepared for a crash course in the technical disciplines of the music industry.
 
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