Sound man knows best?

sam13

Member
Hi everyone,

I haven't posted much, but i was wondering if i could get some advice.
My main question is: when playing a live gig, should i use much muffling on my drums.

Now for some background info...

This weekend I just played an outdoor gig, a local beach bar that holds around 350-400 people. All my drums were miked, and we had a sound guy. While doing the sound check, he thought the drums sounded a little too boomy. I had them tuned to a slightly higher pitch than i normally would, and there was a little bit of resonance, thats it. No excessive ringing or anything.
I was under the impression (mainly from reading threads here) that you want some resonance to give the drums some projection, since most of it will be lost when the band is playing and you have a large amount of people.

The mic setup went into a mixing board that was by me, then from there went to the sound guys board. So he really only had control over the kit as overall, not the individual drums.
It was either that, or he originally wanted to just use a few overheads that ran straight into his board.

He suggested next time using O rings (which i hate) to deaden the sound, then he would add some reverb and whatnot.
Is this normally the way to go?

I should mention that our overall sound (stage and beyond) was excellent. People said the drums sounded nice and crisp, and this was from about 50 - 60 ft back. Also I personally liked the way the kit sounded as well, although i realize it may be different than what the audience hears.

Sorry if this was too long, bottom line is, for this type if gig, do i deaden the drums and let the sound guy do his magic?

Thanks for any advice,
Hank
 

sqadan

Senior Member
I generally don't argue too much with the sound guy... He knows his job, and I know mine is kind of the way I look at it. And he's probably more familiar with the room and what it needs.

Unless I feel that my sound is going to be ruined - I just do what they ask. It's not worth the energy to fight it out.
 

Andy

Administrator
Staff member
Hmmm, bit of a mixed thing going on. I agree with the sound guy that a couple of overheads & a kick mic may have produced a balanced result for a gig of that size. Going through a sub board then to FOH gives the sound guy very little room to move. That said, going the ultra muffle route then adding a bit of reverb to pack out a dead sound is a very lazy way forward. It's difficult to advise you without hearing the end result.

Essentially, if a good sound guy thinks your kit sounds like crap, he may go the muffle & build it up from the desk approach as a last resort. If the kit sounds great, a good sound guy will simply replicate the kit through the PA. A little compression on the kick is all that's needed, even on the most open of kicks, and toms that sustain all night are best tamed by light gating. It's all relative. Your kit sound, how good the sound guy is, how much outboard gear he's got, etc, etc.
 

TTNW

Pioneer Member
I wouldn't worry about it. The sound guys usually like deadened and muffled drum sounds. It's easier to reign everything in, but with that said you probably tuned your kit right for the scene. Outdoors, I always let everything be open and slightly ringy.

Comp & Eq are the orderof the day for the sound guy to get the sound right in the back of the house.

This happens all the time. Everyone's idea of what the right drum sound is so different.
 

AudioWonderland

Silver Member
Hi everyone,

I haven't posted much, but i was wondering if i could get some advice.
My main question is: when playing a live gig, should i use much muffling on my drums.

Now for some background info...

This weekend I just played an outdoor gig, a local beach bar that holds around 350-400 people. All my drums were miked, and we had a sound guy. While doing the sound check, he thought the drums sounded a little too boomy. I had them tuned to a slightly higher pitch than i normally would, and there was a little bit of resonance, thats it. No excessive ringing or anything.
I was under the impression (mainly from reading threads here) that you want some resonance to give the drums some projection, since most of it will be lost when the band is playing and you have a large amount of people.

The mic setup went into a mixing board that was by me, then from there went to the sound guys board. So he really only had control over the kit as overall, not the individual drums.
It was either that, or he originally wanted to just use a few overheads that ran straight into his board.

He suggested next time using O rings (which i hate) to deaden the sound, then he would add some reverb and whatnot.
Is this normally the way to go?

I should mention that our overall sound (stage and beyond) was excellent. People said the drums sounded nice and crisp, and this was from about 50 - 60 ft back. Also I personally liked the way the kit sounded as well, although i realize it may be different than what the audience hears.

Sorry if this was too long, bottom line is, for this type if gig, do i deaden the drums and let the sound guy do his magic?

Thanks for any advice,
Hank
Why the drum submix? I might be inclined to let him get the mic feeds and handle that. I don't think I would be heavily muffling my drums though. I just don't see any need for that assuming they are tuned well.
 

DrumEatDrum

Platinum Member
Sounds like this soundman's skills were either lacking, or he is just very set in his ways.

A good soundman should be able to get your sound out to the audience with in reason.

Which is why some bands I was in we tried to use our own person when ever possible. You just never know what you'll get when it's someone random.

I seriously wouldn't read too much into your experience.
 

A-customs

Silver Member
Deaden the drums to play outside??? I dont think thats the way to go,I never use any damping on any of my drums.Sounds like he was set in his ways. So to answer your question i say no.......
 

sam13

Member
Thanks for the responses guys, I appreciate it.
Yeah, I think I'll stay away from excess dampening, especially O-rings. I really just wanted to see what some of you guys thought.
I know I definitely had the drums tuned right for the gig. As for the sound man, this was the first time we used him (he did do a fine job) normally we handle everything ourselves.
 

caddywumpus

Platinum Member
Um...I think that the soundman in this case didn't know best. In the instance where a gig is indoors in a very live environment (like a concrete basement or something ridiculous like that), then *maybe* I could see dampening the drums being justified, but at an outdoor gig?!?!?!?!?!?!?

Sounds like he has a very specific sound in mind in HIS head, and he's not looking to capture and amplify YOUR sound. I've had a few sound men like this, and those gigs usually ended up sounding.......well......"unique".
 

MikeM

Platinum Member
Yeah, I don't know about running a submix out the soundguy either. Seems like he mighta got chopped off at the knees with that one. But that said, I spend a lot of time tuning my drums to give me the sound I want and my vibe/mojo (or whatever you want to call it), so I'm not too keen on letting any sound guy/engineer take that much control over my sound - live or in the studio.
 

caddywumpus

Platinum Member
I'm not too keen on letting any sound guy/engineer take that much control over my sound - live or in the studio.
When I do sessions, I'm a little more keen to let the sound engineer call the shots. I prefer the sound of my vintage Ludwigs with coated heads to the sound of my DWs with clear heads, but they want the sound of the DWs. If I raised a fuss, it might just knock me out of the first call slot, and I don't have THAT much pride in the sound of my drums to lose work over it. Producers love that I'm willing to work with them and have no qualms about trying something new that they suggest.

Now, when it comes to bands that I'm in, of course I want "my sound" to come through.
 

Nodiggie

Gold Member
sounds to me the sound guy didn't like NOT having all the control on your kit and probably is not used to a great sounding resonant kit. You threw him a curve so to speak and he probably didn't have the equipment (comp,gate,limiters etc) to deal with it. Great sound guys are hard to find but they do exist.
 

Aeolian

Platinum Member
Even if he had the outboard to make the drums sound great, he wouldn't be able to use it with a single submix.

Maybe things were ringing to the point of feeding back. Was there a large drum monitor with sub? Normally on an outdoor gig, you try to have a fairly large drum monitor because the bass on stage disappears. But that drum monitor can excite the drums and make them feed back as well. Or at least ring much more than they would without all the feedback loop around them. And without the ability to insert gates on problem drums (usually the kick and floor tom), the quick and easy answer would be to ask the drummer to damp things down.
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
While doing the sound check, he thought the drums sounded a little too boomy. I had them tuned to a slightly higher pitch than i normally would, and there was a little bit of resonance, thats it. No excessive ringing or anything.
I was under the impression (mainly from reading threads here) that you want some resonance to give the drums some projection, since most of it will be lost when the band is playing and you have a large amount of people.
In an acoustic situation, hearing the drums from a distance, yes, some resonance will make the drums sound more lifelike in a mix. But when mic'd from an inch or two away, ringing drums usually cause more problems than they solve.

Assuming the sound person is experienced - and why would anyone hire someone who's not? - you have to trust them, because they hear things the way the audience does (which you can't possibly hear from behind the kit.) You always defer to the sound guy. Always. What you think of the drum sound means little in terms of the resulting sound when they're mic'd.

If the sound guy isn't experienced, that's another issue, and trying to force your sound on him will only make things worse.

Bermuda
 

muckypops

Senior Member
Hi everyone,

I haven't posted much, but i was wondering if i could get some advice.
My main question is: when playing a live gig, should i use much muffling on my drums.

Now for some background info...

This weekend I just played an outdoor gig, a local beach bar that holds around 350-400 people. All my drums were miked, and we had a sound guy. While doing the sound check, he thought the drums sounded a little too boomy. I had them tuned to a slightly higher pitch than i normally would, and there was a little bit of resonance, thats it. No excessive ringing or anything.
I was under the impression (mainly from reading threads here) that you want some resonance to give the drums some projection, since most of it will be lost when the band is playing and you have a large amount of people.

The mic setup went into a mixing board that was by me, then from there went to the sound guys board. So he really only had control over the kit as overall, not the individual drums.
It was either that, or he originally wanted to just use a few overheads that ran straight into his board.

He suggested next time using O rings (which i hate) to deaden the sound, then he would add some reverb and whatnot.
Is this normally the way to go?

I should mention that our overall sound (stage and beyond) was excellent. People said the drums sounded nice and crisp, and this was from about 50 - 60 ft back. Also I personally liked the way the kit sounded as well, although i realize it may be different than what the audience hears.

Sorry if this was too long, bottom line is, for this type if gig, do i deaden the drums and let the sound guy do his magic?

Thanks for any advice,
Hank
It sounds like he originally had the right idea with the overheads. Who suggested he go away from that?
 
A

audiotech

Guest
Not all sound techs are created equally. If you don't know anything about miking or sound reinforcement, you're probably going to have put your trust in the sound tech. If you have a problem with the quality of your sound, ask him for an alternate suggestion. Try to always keep the lines of communications open. I happen to know many sound techs that would rather take the easy approach and muffle a kit rather than take a few minutes to tweak the kit to get it sounding better.

Dennis
 

mattsmith

Platinum Member
I think the big misunderstanding with drummers and the sound guy always rests in the absolute truth that your sound is what you tell the sound guy it's supposed to be. However, if you can't convey that properly then you are in his hands and probably should be. In my limited time doing this stuff, I've found that most seriously professional sound guys appreciate a drummer who can convey what you are looking for based on the circumstances in front of everybody.

My problem comes from the sound guy who doesn't realize that the sound of my drums is what I decide. After all, they're my drums. A couple of months ago I kindly suggested /not insisted/ my specifications to a sound guy who thought he knew more about my music than I did. He told me how silly my thoughts were, then spent most of the first set building my drum sound in his image. After a half hour all anyone could here was the bass drum.

I told him to go home and turned off kit mics and just used one overhead. The positive effect was immediate.

I don't want to be misunderstood because I really DO appreciate the job of a pro sound man. But IMO they're there to service the band, not to create a personal vision of music they've usually never heard before. I know a lot of them think they're instantaneous producers, but I've just never seen it that way.

I'm still really easy to work with. But I really want the drums to sound the way I think is best. But again, if I don't have some very clear ideas about that, then the soundman can only follow his instincts, and that's my fault not his. Personally, I think when it comes to something as basic sound, most people want as little unpredictability as possibilty. If my sound doesn't lock in with me, I'm going to play differently. And that won't always be in the best interest of the music.
 

PQleyR

Platinum Member
From a recent experience I had watching pro sound engineers at work, I know how different a kit can sound from behind to the FOH mix. Almost all the drummers commented that the kit sounded bad from where they were, or were asked to change the tuning until they said that, but from FOH the improvements were immense. For a rock/pop gig you can't avoid the use of gates, I now realise, and for that reason you need to get the sustain down in order that it doesn't sound unnatural. Obviously for a jazz gig this would be a different proposition, but I think that changing the tuning is a reasonable thing for an engineer to ask. I don't know if muffling is really necessary, that would really depend on whether you were prepared to have your drums speak at a lower pitch. If you want a high pitch and low sustain, muffling of some sort is the only way to go.
 

aydee

Platinum Member
..

I think Matt's example is a very common occurrence.
If you or someone from your band isn't articulate in sound-man speak, ie knowing roughly what kind of processing you like, he's going to do it in his own image of what the band or you should sound like.

Every ensemble has a natural organic sound and that is what needs to be enhanced to the venue requirements.

I've seen way too many bands all sound like big booming rock bands when they were nothing of the kind. It can be a tragic mistake not to know your sound if you are performing.

...
 

Andy

Administrator
Staff member
..

If you or someone from your band isn't articulate in sound-man speak, ie knowing roughly what kind of processing you like, he's going to do it in his own image of what the band or you should sound like.

. It can be a tragic mistake not to know your sound if you are performing.

...
Too true Abe. As a guy who's done a lot of live sound reinforcement in his time, I sometimes end up tutoring the engineer on how to replicate my sound within the overall band mix.

A classic example is how my kit balance is difficult to replicate FOH. My piccolo snare can cut your head off, I like it like that, but the sound guys struggle with either overhead balance or bleed when close micing the toms. For that reason, I carry my own hypercardoid mics for toms. They reject almost anything greater than 6 inches from the mic. This enables the engineer to balance the toms with the overheads that are tuned for cymbals. The snare never has it's own mic. An engineer who isn't used to my kit balance will usually come running with the gaffer tape to mute the snare.

In smaller gigs, I only use two overheads + kick. The overheads are positioned about 4ft in front of the kit so as not to gravitate towards the snare frequency spectrum. Gigs less than 300 audience, I use only a kick mic. Bars less than 100 audience, I'm fully acoustic.
 
Top