Switching from Electronic to Acoustic - Things to expect?

MSmithDW

Junior Member
Hi folks,

Current situation for the last 15 or so years:
  • Playing electronic exclusively
  • I have an acoustic set that I converted to electronic (for play-ability and feel)
  • Not gigging, and instead just play in my basement and 1 or 2 friends come over and play guitar/bass/sing
  • Everything goes into an audio interface.
  • Everyone uses headphones
  • Drum sounds are supplied by Addictive Drums 2 on the computer
  • Everything we play I hit record in Reaper. Not to make an album, but just so we can listen later. Sound quality isn't at pro level, but not too far off either. Levels are good, which is huge. Kind of sounds like a lower quality MP3.
  • Frequently practice along to songs from Spotify/YouTube that are supplied as a separate track. Sound levels are perfect
New plan about to start:
  • Finishing my basement and adding extreme sound proofing
  • I originally went electronic due to noise levels in the house, but because of the new sound proofing i'm now switching back to Acoustic for even better play-ability and feel
Potential concerns. While noise levels will now be addressed finally letting me go back to acoustic, I've grown accustomed to:
  • Super easy recording. Again, doesn't need to be pro level, but currently it's not that far off.
  • Jamming with friends is easy because you can get great levels for each instrument. There aren't any latency issues. You can keep overall volume lower than hearing loss level.
  • Likewise with practicing along to a song in the headphones. I have memories of not being able to hear the song while playing acoustic, and sound levels being a challenge
Last time I owned an acoustic set was 2003. Back then the concerns I listed above were actual issues. But it's 2019 and things may have changed. For instance with recording, I was thinking I could have electronic drum triggers on the acoustic set and use mics for the cymbals. Perhaps that's not necessary though and may even complicate things? Since this isn't a simple 8 track anymore, perhaps just 1 or 2 mics for the drums are good enough for decent (non-pro level) recording? Not even sure where to start with the other concerns...Do I need in-ear monitors? Do I have to just keep turning things up and wear hearing protection? How do you practice along to songs in your headphones without blasting out your ear drums and still hear the song? Perhaps none of these concerns are things to worry about?

Any thoughts would be appreciated. Any other ones I haven't thought of are also welcome. Thanks!
 

No Way Jose

Silver Member
I guess you'll have to test it out and see if you need monitors. If you have the right musicians then they won't get too loud, everyone can just play together. The acoustic sound is more complex - for example, when you tap a cymbal the sound rises from the entire surface, and you hear that. Making recordings with one or two microphones works pretty well.
 

AzHeat

Platinum Member
you can use an EAD10 for recordings. Doesn’t need to be complicated, but today you can get a nice set of mics, interface and a nice laptop for the price of an okay mixer in 2003.

you can still control your volume jamming with friends or at a gig, but coming from electronic where bashing becomes the norm, prepare for some frustration.

with the gear mentioned above, I just mix the music and mics together and use a nice set of isolation headphones. That way I can keep the volume in my ears low, but still hear all of the details of what I’m playing.

Prepare for an adjustment period. There will be things, many things you thought you could play and won’t be able to on an A kit.
 

MSmithDW

Junior Member
Thanks everyone!

@No Way Jose
"I guess you'll have to test it out and see if you need monitors"

That's part of my question actually (but not conveyed well myself). How would I know if I need them? What problems would it be able to solve exactly. Thanks!

@AzHeat
EAD10 looks pretty cool! Thanks for the tip.

"with the gear mentioned above, I just mix the music and mics together and use a nice set of isolation headphones. That way I can keep the volume in my ears low, but still hear all of the details of what I’m playing."

So you're saying you mic the drums and run it through the audio interface along with the guitars, and then you have isolation headphones, which makes it so you can hear the output from the computer, but can't hear the actual live playing well? That way you can turn it down no problem? If so, pretty interesting. If not, how did you mean?

"There will be things, many things you thought you could play and won’t be able to on an A kit."

This ^ is really surprising to hear. I've always thought that my electronic setup is much more challenging than an acoustic set. Bass drum bounce, Hi-hat limitation issues, and just general feel made it inferior to acoustic for play-ability. You seem to say the opposite though? What kind of issues would you expect?

Thanks again!
 
I play along to songs using headphones and can still hear the drums and music, although I don't hear much of small intonations in the cymbals. That's probably more of a hearing loss/Tinnitus issue...
 

KamaK

Platinum Member
So you're saying you mic the drums and run it through the audio interface along with the guitars, and then you have isolation headphones, which makes it so you can hear the output from the computer, but can't hear the actual live playing well? That way you can turn it down no problem? If so, pretty interesting. If not, how did you mean?
Yes, and no. Or rather... Yes, but you will definitely hear external/ambient noise through the isolation phones, it will just be -12db with the highs cut... Loud enough for you to orient yourself temporally, but quiet enough that you can get work done.

This ^ is really surprising to hear. I've always thought that my electronic setup is much more challenging than an acoustic set. Bass drum bounce, Hi-hat limitation issues, and just general feel made it inferior to acoustic for play-ability. You seem to say the opposite though? What kind of issues would you expect?
Ever go from inline skates to ice skates, or drive a manual transmission after driving an automatic for several years? There's a bit of a transition that takes place where your intuition works against you. It sorts itself out over a short period though.
 

brentcn

Platinum Member
"There will be things, many things you thought you could play and won’t be able to on an A kit."

This ^ is really surprising to hear. I've always thought that my electronic setup is much more challenging than an acoustic set. Bass drum bounce, Hi-hat limitation issues, and just general feel made it inferior to acoustic for play-ability. You seem to say the opposite though? What kind of issues would you expect?

Thanks again!
Agreed. The biggest difference will be your "internal mix". You'll have to re-learn how to balance the individual volume of the snare, kick, and cymbals. If you hit an e-drum too hard or too light, it won't matter so much. But on acoustic drums, it's a deal breaker. Some things to watch out for, as you make the switch:

1. Bashing the hi-hats or ride (or whatever you're playing with your leading hand) way to loud
2. Not playing the snare drum on-center
3. Burying the bass drum beater
4. Playing ghost notes way too loud
5. Not playing the toms loud enough or on-center during fills.
6. Poor execution and timing when opening and closing the hi-hats, during grooves.
7. Being able to set up pads anywhere you want can lead to some strange positioning choices that you may have gotten used to. Acoustic drums are less forgiving in terms of where they can be positioned. Adjust your technique and posture before you get weird with cymbal and tom angles.

EAD10 looks pretty cool! Thanks for the tip.
For what you want to do, the EAD10 is probably the best sounding option, with the lowest effort. Unless you really want to get into properly micin, recording, and mixing live drums, which is expensive, time consuming, and has it's own issues when monitoring through a mixer or DAW.
 

AzHeat

Platinum Member
@AzHeat
EAD10 looks pretty cool! Thanks for the tip.

"with the gear mentioned above, I just mix the music and mics together and use a nice set of isolation headphones. That way I can keep the volume in my ears low, but still hear all of the details of what I’m playing."

So you're saying you mic the drums and run it through the audio interface along with the guitars, and then you have isolation headphones, which makes it so you can hear the output from the computer, but can't hear the actual live playing well? That way you can turn it down no problem? If so, pretty interesting. If not, how did you mean?
That's exactly what I mean. I use it for practice at home, feed the music through the DAW, along with the drums, then into my isolation headphones. I have a multichannel headphone amp, everyone can plug into as well, so we can all have the mix. I don't currently have a band, but have used the setup a couple of times with great success. We still use amps, taking the mic feed from there. Guitarist and Bassist didn't like feeding direct, because they couldn't feel the music. With them standing next to their amps, they could feel their playing, but the volume didn't run away as before.

@AzHeat
"There will be things, many things you thought you could play and won’t be able to on an A kit."


This ^ is really surprising to hear. I've always thought that my electronic setup is much more challenging than an acoustic set. Bass drum bounce, Hi-hat limitation issues, and just general feel made it inferior to acoustic for play-ability. You seem to say the opposite though? What kind of issues would you expect?
Oh yeah, I was banished to an E kit for three years only. I was dang fast. Everything sounded absolutely awesome. That's all I could play with my band, due to space, so I sold my A kit and invested in an E Kit and subs. A rude awakening was had when we did a gig using a backline kit. That was a total train wreck. I had zero dynamics, about half the speed and couldn't pull a decent tone out of cymbals to save my life.

You may have an easier time. I think I would make the transition better this time around, but even going from my practice pads to the kit takes me some adjustment. Drums are coordination and muscle memory as much as anything else. The coordination part at least for me can be replicated, but the muscle memory part takes some adjusting to. At least for me.

I'm still a fill in at church, where I'm stuck with a Roland TD30. I practice my parts, go in and about half the time need to change them, because the E Kit just doesn't respond to the dynamics well, so everything ends up in your face and way too loud.
 

Rattlin' Bones

Gold Member
Things to expect:
hearing yourself play a real acoustic instrument and all the flaws, mis-hits, etc. that are masked playing electronic set.
 

oldskoolsoul

Silver Member
Allthough the content of the above reply is kinda obvious, i see no reason to shout like that..

But also regarding dynamics, etc things actually seem to improve with (for example) those TD-30 and TD-50 sets, but thats only hearsay because i never played them..
 

AzHeat

Platinum Member
I play a TD-30 at church. It’s a miserable experience with missed hits and next to zero dynamics. The 50 is definitely better, but I’ve only played it at GC, so no real time behind the kit. It’d better be a better experience for what they cost!
 

Dr_Watso

Platinum Member
Looks like people covered the basics pretty well. You'll need to train your hands to use each of the new surfaces along with their unique types of response and control. You'll need to get hearing protection settled, and have a way to hear each other at volumes that work. For your situation especially since you like to record, I'd go with the traditional "tracking setup" I see now days. Have the guitars plug right into the recording interface either direct or through a pass on their amps, then mic up your kit and mix it all together.

Honestly we talk a lot of crap about e-kits around here, but you did a pretty good job of highlighting some of their best features and how it made your recorded jam sessions so easy. I think a lot of players who stick to electronic stuff do so because of those reasons at the top of the list. It's worth the trade off to some.
 

Rattlin' Bones

Gold Member
Sorry...didn't mean to SHOUT. I just cut and pasted the thread title and it came out like that.

Allthough the content of the above reply is kinda obvious, i see no reason to shout like that..

But also regarding dynamics, etc things actually seem to improve with (for example) those TD-30 and TD-50 sets, but thats only hearsay because i never played them..
 
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