"Projection" of drums

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
They say thick shells project better than thin shells. Is that the right term? Sound travels at app. 1100 feet a second. Whether the shell is thick or thin.

I've never understood the meaning of projection. Isn't projection a matter of timbre and force? Think of an unmiced person talking to a crowd. If that person doesn't ennunciate well, the voice won't be understood well. The sound will still go as far as a well ennunciated voice at the same decibel level, it just won't be understood as well. Is this a parallel?

Please define projection as you understand it, because I never have.
 

MrInsanePolack

Platinum Member
Sound travels in waves. The higher the frequency, the closer the waves are to each other. A lower frequency will travel farther than a higher frequency due to wave spacing. Think about dropping a rock into a lake. The bigger the rock, the bigger the waves, the farther they go. Sound works the same way.
 

Winston_Wolf

Platinum Member
I've always thought of projection in drums as being related to brightness and pitch. A generally higher pitch (and one that's in a frequency that isn't being saturated already) will be heard more clearly, which I think is what we perceive as projection.

Similarly, I think instruments that have a stronger fundamental tone also cut through better. A lot of the complex harmonics and overtones get lost in loud environments and if they are a big part of the sound that means there's less of the fundamental to get to the listener's ear.

Since thick shells and thick cymbals tend to have fewer overtones and more fundamental, and tend to naturally be higher pitched than a thinner version of the same size. So they're more likely to "project" because they're more focused.

I think projection has a lot more to do with frequency than volume.
 

dboomer

Senior Member
I think thick shells project because they are just louder to start with. Remember if the shell resonates it is doing so by soaking up what would otherwise be acoustic energy.

Your enunciation analogy is correct. Articulation is not directly relayed to SPL.
 

opentune

Platinum Member
I think of Projection as ultimately a measure of loudness, i.e. decibels. Think of two materials, but same head/tension, struck the same force.
The tom made out of solid birch, all other factors the same, will create a loudness (sound energy, over a given frequency spectrum) of a certain level.
The same tom, say of solid balsa wood, all other factors the same, would project a sound over a different frequency spectrum but having a different dB.
Its really the amplitude of a wave, not just the wavelength itself. There can be some very loud high pitched sounds (like alarms).
 

WhoIsTony?

Member
projection is an interesting thing ... to me it has always meant how well the sound travels to the ears of the listener

drummers generally often go by what the drums sound like to them behind the kit ... that often but not always results in the drums sounding like flat boxes to an audience

in my experience it is less about the wood and more about the tuning

for close micing situations you can tune however you want because the drums will be traveling to the front of house

for any other situation I suggest tuning batter heads slightly higher than reso heads for maximum projection

the opposite ... reso tighter than batter ... sounds great from behind the kit .. and is great for close micing ... but does not project quite as well

I was not convinced of this until I had a long in-depth conversation with Steve Maxwell ... he talked me into trying it and I have not turned back

then just recently I stumbled across the audio of a Joe Morello clinic where he talks about how he tunes this way ...

that was enough for me because in my opinion Joe had the best sounding drums ever
 

60's Drummer

Senior Member
In my mind, the drum head produces the amplitude of sound (decibels) and most of the tonal 'quality' and the shell 'conditions' both.

Moving air (loudness/db's) comes from the motion of the heads. The more rigid the shell, the less energy lost to it from the head, resulting in more "projection".

My rule of thumb was thick shells for arena rock - thin shells for recording. The quiet ambience of the studio allows the shell's 'conditioning' of the sound to become more prominent.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Projection of drums...would it be safe to say that it is the ability of the drums to be heard clearly amongst the din?

This could be accomplished by tuning to a frequency that's not saturated, also the force of the hits. What else could help with projection? I can't think of anything else.

I'm wondering if a thicker shell matters at all. Is it really true that overtones are lessened by thicker shells? On a drum with identical bearing edges but different thickness shell, would the thinner shell make more overtones with the same bearing edge? Aren't overtones a product of the head as opposed to the shell? Sorry for all the questions, but if I can't get an answer here, I'll have to make one up!

I'm getting the feeling that this is sort of a gray area.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
My rule of thumb was thick shells for arena rock - thin shells for recording. The quiet ambience of the studio allows the shell's 'conditioning' of the sound to become more prominent.
Arena rock.... it's always miced. Only unmiced situations would benefit from a thicker shell right? In a recording situation, thin shells are preferred. Why not in a miced situation too?
 

SAINTDRUMS

Senior Member
I may be wrong here, but didn't the trend in drum shells transition from less plies/thinner to more plies/thicker to keep up with the "modern rock sound/volume"? Also, you need to throw the shell depth into the mix - when manufacturers switched to more plies, they also (at some point) started going to a deeper shell depth, culminating in square size drums at one point. This was all done to be heard/increase projection. Although this doesn't define what projection is, at least this is how I understood why the trend occurred.
 

J-Boogie

Gold Member
projection is an interesting thing ... to me it has always meant how well the sound travels to the ears of the listener

drummers generally often go by what the drums sound like to them behind the kit ... that often but not always results in the drums sounding like flat boxes to an audience

in my experience it is less about the wood and more about the tuning

for close micing situations you can tune however you want because the drums will be traveling to the front of house

for any other situation I suggest tuning batter heads slightly higher than reso heads for maximum projection

the opposite ... reso tighter than batter ... sounds great from behind the kit .. and is great for close micing ... but does not project quite as well

I was not convinced of this until I had a long in-depth conversation with Steve Maxwell ... he talked me into trying it and I have not turned back

then just recently I stumbled across the audio of a Joe Morello clinic where he talks about how he tunes this way ...

that was enough for me because in my opinion Joe had the best sounding drums ever
Batter head tighter than reso for max projection.....I always thought the opposite, but I dont really know for sure. Interesting
 

GruntersDad

Administrator - Mayor
Staff member
Projection--think movie projector. It projects light. Drums, voices, intruments project sound. To me to project sound further there are two factors. Wave length and wave amplitude. This is acoustic projection and the web is full of definitions. Basically sound penetration. In our case penetrating the air or atmosphere.

You may want to read this as well. I won't bother to cut and paste the entire article. lol


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sound
 

J-Boogie

Gold Member
Steve explains it well here ... this video was literally made the day after he and I had about a 2 hour conversation on tuning in his NY store

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KkF80DigKzk

granted Steve uses this method on all drums ... I only use it on toms

my bass drum and snare have reso tighter
Maybe the tighter reso is for clarity and articulation more so than projection, which would make sense on snare and bass. I guess with toms a more warm rounded tone is more desirable than a precise sharp sound. Just thinking out loud. I used to think I was good at tuning, but the more I hear and learn the less sure I am about anything....knowledge works that way, huh? I dont want to work, I just want to bang on and discuss drums all day!
 

MrInsanePolack

Platinum Member
Grunt is right. Projection is the ability to project, throw if you will, the sound. Back to the rock in the lake. The water radiates in a circle from it's source. Sound does the same thing. If you want the waves to go in the same direction then you must bounce or direct them. Put a giant boat in the water and now drop your rock. The waves bounce off and travel in an equal but opposite angle from the source. To do this with sound you can use a horn for a high frequency driver, a woofer or tweeter, a megaphone, whatever you want really. The sound from source doesn't get louder, it just travels in a similar direction, thus giving you more volume.

If you want to hear it for yourself, lay a speaker on the ground facing up. Stand a distance away from it. Now stand the speaker up and point it at you. The sound gets louder because it is projecting it's sound at you, not up.

Volume is a measure of quantity, not loudness. It has nothing to do with frequency, but the amount of sound. Loudness is decibels.

The sound can also be altered through movement. A cop car driving at you with its siren on has a higher pitch than it does when it passes. This is because the movement of the car actually alters the moment of the wave by shrinking or expanding it depending on direction.

If you want maximum projection from your drums, point them at the recipient.
 

J-Boogie

Gold Member
Grunt is right. Projection is the ability to project, throw if you will, the sound. Back to the rock in the lake. The water radiates in a circle from it's source. Sound does the same thing. If you want the waves to go in the same direction then you must bounce or direct them. Put a giant boat in the water and now drop your rock. The waves bounce off and travel in an equal but opposite angle from the source. To do this with sound you can use a horn for a high frequency driver, a woofer or tweeter, a megaphone, whatever you want really. The sound from source doesn't get louder, it just travels in a similar direction, thus giving you more volume.

If you want to hear it for yourself, lay a speaker on the ground facing up. Stand a distance away from it. Now stand the speaker up and point it at you. The sound gets louder because it is projecting it's sound at you, not up.

Volume is a measure of quantity, not loudness. It has nothing to do with frequency, but the amount of sound. Loudness is decibels.

The sound can also be altered through movement. A cop car driving at you with its siren on has a higher pitch than it does when it passes. This is because the movement of the car actually alters the moment of the wave by shrinking or expanding it depending on direction.

If you want maximum projection from your drums, point them at the recipient.
Uh oh.....TOM ANGLES!!! Im out.
 

dboomer

Senior Member
Grunt is right. Projection is the ability to project, throw if you will, the sound. Back to the rock in the lake. The water radiates in a circle from it's source. Sound does the same thing. If you want the waves to go in the same direction then you must bounce or direct them. Put a giant boat in the water and now drop your rock. The waves bounce off and travel in an equal but opposite angle from the source. To do this with sound you can use a horn for a high frequency driver, a woofer or tweeter, a megaphone, whatever you want really. The sound from source doesn't get louder, it just travels in a similar direction, thus giving you more volume.

If you want to hear it for yourself, lay a speaker on the ground facing up. Stand a distance away from it. Now stand the speaker up and point it at you. The sound gets louder because it is projecting it's sound at you, not up.

Volume is a measure of quantity, not loudness. It has nothing to do with frequency, but the amount of sound. Loudness is decibels.

The sound can also be altered through movement. A cop car driving at you with its siren on has a higher pitch than it does when it passes. This is because the movement of the car actually alters the moment of the wave by shrinking or expanding it depending on direction.

If you want maximum projection from your drums, point them at the recipient.
I know this is not a technical forum, but if anyone cares about technically what's going on ...

First- decibels are not a measure of anything. They express a ratio compared to something else logarithmically. It is used to compare two things ... temperature, light, voltage, power, etc. The term dB by itself is meaningless.

“Loudness” in measured in phons. Volume is measured in dBSPL. Loudness and volume are not the same thing. Loundess has a “perception” quality about it while “volume” is a straight pressure measurement.

How do you point a drum at anything? Different frequencies will go in different directions, all different from each other (even with North drums). You wanna focus your drums? Play up against a wall or double that by playing in a corner.

Police car phenominum is called doppler shift and only occurs if the sound source is rapidly moving. So unless you are playing drums on the back of a fast moving trailer it reall doesnt pertain to the discussion.

Part of the puzzle with drum projection (like all sound) is that low frequencies aren't as attenuated in air as high frequencies. You've all probably experienced the difference in sound quality at 100 feet compared to 20 feet. The highs will greatly fall off with distance, especially outdoors with very few reflections.
 

mmulcahy1

Platinum Member
Think about this:

A tighter tension on the reso head means the air (and sound (sound is energy, remember)) bounce more forcefully off the bottom head and back to the you, the drummer. That's why it sounds so good and delicious from the driver's seat.

A looser reso head allows the energy (the sound) to more easily escape away from the drum. Thus, being projected OUT towards the audience.

For the best projection possible, simply remove the reso heads all together - except for the snare drum, of course.
 

J-Boogie

Gold Member
Think about this:

A tighter tension on the reso head means the air (and sound (sound is energy, remember)) bounce more forcefully off the bottom head and back to the you, the drummer. That's why it sounds so good and delicious from the driver's seat.

A looser reso head allows the energy (the sound) to more easily escape away from the drum. Thus, being projected OUT towards the audience.

For the best projection possible, simply remove the reso heads all together - except for the snare drum, of course.
I always thought from behind the kit it sounds best either even tuning on heads or tighter up top. I thought tightening the reso makes it sound worse to the drummer, better to the house and project better. I know nothing, I better just shut up and go play.
 

caddywumpus

Platinum Member
As I understand it, thinner shells absorb more vibrations than thicker shells. The first frequencies that get absorbed and attenuate are the higher frequencies. This is why thinner shells sound "warm". Higher frequencies, since they're reflected by the thicker shells rather than absorbed, are allowed to be conducted/transmitted more freely by the heads, which makes the drum(s) sound "livelier" and the sound sounds more "projected."
 
Top