Sound engineers creating kick tone.

The Scorpio

Senior Member
It's all good. I fall into the militant camp sometimes so I'm sorry if I came across as a little tetchy.

Yes, there are engineers that think like that. Sometimes they have a reason though and that might be venue-specific. I'd like to think that if you had a real issue with it that they would try and explain to you what they're doing but sometimes either the engineer isn't a good communicator or they just don't have enough time!
I tend to fall in to the militant camp as well, so my apologies for coming off self righteous.

I just came off a big outdoor festival gig and was having kick problems with the engineer, so I was more than a little pissed off when I wrote the original post.

I also have done some engineering for live settings, so I am definitely aware that there is way more to live sound than just how awesome the kick drum sounds lol.

When we play in a smaller, indoor venue, I find that adding a little extra muffling to the kick really helps the engineer nail the kick sound. When we play these big open air gigs, I usually stick to just the felt on either side, and most of the time, the engineer agrees and the show goes on.

But the engineer Saturday was just not having it, and our guitarist (an excellent engineer in his own right) had to go down and dial in the kick sound.

So what are your thoughts on bass drum muffling for large open air gigs? I know I don't have any specifics so it will be hard to make any concrete judgements. Maybe just some general rule of thumb kinda things? The kick is very tight sounding (suprisingly) but it does have some tone. More of a thump, less of a smack if you know what I mean.
 
M

mediocrefunkybeat

Guest
My thoughts on bass drum muffling are that it is sometimes necessary. I'll explain more in a minute...
 

nickg

Silver Member
when's the last time a sound guy said:

"hey guitar player, try not using that marshall amp with all those pedals ok....i got this tele with just a twin reverb...no effects...that's the sound I'M looking for"

"keyboard dude.....why the heck do you need that B3 with the leslie.....i got a frikkin' cascio in the back that will work for the organ sound I'M lookin' for"

well YOUR sound is NOT MY sound!!!!

quit giving drummers so much grief....unless their tuning is SO bad that even God said "the heck with it....i can't do anything with this idiot's kit!!!"
 

flicky

Senior Member
A large kick with no muffling is hell on a big stage and out doors. If you have a slammin monitor mix where you like your kick to pound ya...It's not gonna happen with an open tuned large kick. Unless gated, every time you remove the beater from the head it will resonate and feed back. It takes alot of gain to get that kick in the mix.. If it's ringing it's tuff. Most FOH guys in that situation will gate the crap out of it so it ends up sounding like cardboard.
It good that you are willing to dampen it some though... What kind of music do you play? That makes a big difference also.
I loved playing my 26" live but if my FOH guy said it was sounding a certain way, I would change my tunning,until the issue was fixed... Sometimes it's all about mic placement. FOH guys will make or break you and from their point of view, it's their ass if you sound bad.
 
Last edited:

Hercules

Senior Member
As a drummer I like BD, Sn and Toms wide open - as an engineer I like them reasonably controlled and ported :) On stage where spill is a curse a sensible compromise must be reached ........ but with that said I rarely hear a live kit sounding much good.....
 
A

audiotech

Guest
I really don't know if the majority of the people on this thread are actually talking about "sound engineers" as the post header indicates or just amateurs haphazardly pushing faders and twiddling knobs. There's a big difference.

Dennis
 

Davo-London

Gold Member
I'm used to volunteers at church doing the sound and they simply don't listen to the mix. So the sound is random.

I gave up a long time ago trying to fix this. It's all run by volunteers and so you can't get stressy with them. Andy's and others advice about engaging with the sound guy first is paramount. Once a rapport has been achieved then anything is possible.

Davo
 

Andy

Administrator
Staff member
I really don't know if the majority of the people on this thread are actually talking about "sound engineers" as the post header indicates or just amateurs haphazardly pushing faders and twiddling knobs. There's a big difference.

Dennis
Good point Dennis. I gravitated towards an amateur situation because of the OP's story, hence me using the term "sound guy".

The reality is, most players on this forum will be lucky to encounter a real engineer, unless it's at a larger scale gig. Even then, it's a patchy landscape for all but the top 10% of bands, at least, in this country.

I also think it's close to incumbent on drummers to acquire a basic knowledge of sound reinforcement techniques, as it is essential to have a working knowledge of tuning towards different playing environments. If you're serious about presenting yourself & your act in the best possible light, these are minimum artist requirements IMO. Arming yourself with such knowledge enables you to respectfully suggest an alternative strategy when the situation is below par. Being able to communicate in an empathetic way is the essential final tool in the box.

Just like the difference between skill levels in sound engineers, there's a big difference between being a good drummer & being a good performer. The performer needs many skills beyond his core competency, just as the experienced sound engineer needs real world skills beyond the theory.
 
M

mediocrefunkybeat

Guest
I couldn't agree with Andy more.

If you're expecting a quality sound at the front of house then you have to be able to communicate with any sound engineer there. This only comes from a solid working knowledge of basic sound reinforcement.
 

last man to bat

Senior Member
One thing that reading this thread has made me think about is how music is becoming homogenised. If it doesn't sound like it says it should in the manual then do something to make it that way. Music more than ever is becoming a commodity that is no longer controlled by the artist. It must sound like a DW kit.

I think the way venues are these days is about making music for the masses, getting people into the venue, putting as many bands on in one night as possible, kit sharing to make it all go quickly between bands. It's not hard to see that for the sound engineers of these venues it will only be so long before they lose sight of the real reason they took the job in the first place. Night after night of non stop bands. Anything that gets to be tricky (non ported kick etc) becomes a difficult customer, rather than under different circumstances where it might have been a welcome challenge.

It all makes me think of these drum academies where it becomes a bit of a production line in drum tuition, churning out drummers that have all had the same instruction. However good or bad you may think these places are, they are primarily set up as a money making venture and money, being King, is the driving force.

So it is with X-factor and the like. Everything: sound, contestants, light show, they all become the same and in the name of money. With the absence of any decent prime time music shows the only exposure to music most people are getting is this formulaic, everything sounds the same, type music.

Whether this is the reason for the sound engineers difficulty in micing you kit or not, I cannot say, but I find it strange that with the onset of more and more hi-tech gear being installed into venues, with more and more understanding of the science of sound, that engineers seem to be having such difficulty with anything that isn't part of the norm.

just a quick example: I played an open air gig in the summer, eight or so bands on, the stage manager came up to me and asked if I had a port in my kick, when I said I had, he replied by saying "that's good, all the bands so far today have not had a port and the sound engineer is getting really pissed off."

I must stress that this is all only a thought that I had upon reading this thread, I am completely happy to be put straight where I am misguided in this matter.
 

The Scorpio

Senior Member
Well I really have been thinking about what everyone has said on here so far, and my original analysis still stands. within reason, I am going to get what I want. That's just how strongly I feel about it. Think of me what you will haha.

My kick-tone isn't so far out in left field that a good sound engineer can't get it, because when I work with a good engineer like you guys have described, they get it right. And everyone else's tone. And the monitor mixes too.

I do my best and will do my best to communicate with the incompetent ones, or the ones who only know how to get one sound.

But at the end of the day, I play in a band with three good engineers. And if the house engineer can't get it right, any one of them will be more than happy to go fix it. So I guess I'm just lucky haha.

-Kyle
 
A

audiotech

Guest
But at the end of the day, I play in a band with three good engineers. And if the house engineer can't get it right, any one of them will be more than happy to go fix it. So I guess I'm just lucky haha.

-Kyle
Let me know how that goes.

Dennis
 

The Scorpio

Senior Member
Your response implies that you never worked in a union shop trying to impose those antics..

Dennis
No I have not. However, I do not view what I do as "antics." I view it as me preserving my tone. Once again, think of me what you will.

-Kyle
 
A

audiotech

Guest
lol sweet. Have fun with that!!
From your initial post I was partially siding with your account of what you said had happened. I understand from both sides of the fence how difficult it sometimes is for the musician to talk intelligently with an audio person with concerns to his sound, I've been doing this same thing for more than forty years. The difference is we always find an ideal compromise which works for everyone and everyone walks away from the table happy. With the tone of you replies, it's either your way or the highway. Now I'm starting to feel very sorry for the "sound engineers", as you refer to them, that cross your path.

I just wonder what the posts entail from the sound people's point of view concerning you. My belief is that the sound person that draws the short straw has to work with you.

Dennis
 

The Scorpio

Senior Member
From your initial post I was partially siding with your account of what you said had happened. I understand from both sides of the fence how difficult it sometimes is for the musician to talk intelligently with an audio person with concerns to his sound, I've been doing this same thing for more than forty years. The difference is we always find an ideal compromise which works for everyone and everyone walks away from the table happy. With the tone of you replies, it's either your way or the highway. Now I'm starting to feel very sorry for the "sound engineers", as you refer to them, that cross your path.

I just wonder what the posts entail from the sound people's point of view concerning you. My belief is that the sound person that draws the short straw has to work with you.

Dennis
Did you read the post that almost every time I have a gig, I get exactly what I need? Without having to be a jerk, or forceful? I'm talking about the occasional times when that does not happen, man!!!

And yes "sound engineers." Not "Hey sound guy!!!!" Or "Hey!!! Hey you behind the board!!!" It's a sign of respect. The first thing I do with "sound engineers" is ask for their name, and make a conscious effort to remember it . That way I can say "Hey Dennis!! Could I get a little more bass is my monitor, please?"

But Dennis I am gonna be straight with you: If I am at a gig, and "Larry" (lets call him Larry...I like that name lol) is dead set on creating that same click-y kick sound that almost everyone goes for, I will stand up for my sound.

I love tuning drums, Dennis!! I work on it. I tune for every gig. Every hall. Because I do understand room acoustics. And I slave over it to get it perfect. All's I want to do is carry that sound through the system and into the house.

Yes, it is my way or the highway. But my "way" is a simply a solid bass drum sound. And I'm sure you would agree, that as a good sound engineer, that is one of your goals when making a live band sound great. If I'm working with a person who is inexperienced, or making a big deal because I don't have a port hole. I will take steps to make sure my tone is preserved because it is very important to me.

Dennis if you and I worked together it would be eazy, breezy, beautiful I promise. I would work with you, and you would work with me. The way its supposed to be.

I don't want to get off on the wrong foot with you. And I can come off very strongly sometimes. I'm very opinionated (My name isn't "The Scorpio" for nothing haha.)

However, if I need to, I will stick to my guns.

-Kyle
 

flicky

Senior Member
Unions are tuff to work with at times...lol But i've been on both sides and i'm willing to bend.
No offense Scorpio, but just because your drums sound good on stage where you sit doesn't mean they'll sound good out front. If your that critical about your sound do you bring your own mics? Mics make a huge difference and Sound Engineers have there own prefference of what they use. Each FOH Desk is different also. Mic pre's make a HUGE diff. You can have the same Sound Engineer run two different systems in the same venue and it would sound different. If your looking for your sound being the same every gig, maybe you should carry your own gear.
I understand where your comming from about hard headed sound engineers, but now a days everyones a "sound engineer"! Just be a drummer and let them do their job. There's always going to be good and bad gigs. There's no way your drums sound the same on every stage you play. Live stages and dead stages... Two different worlds.

Just saying.
 
Top