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Room acoustics in the drum rehearsal room: 5 tips for drummers

How do I get the rehearsal room to sound?

Images: © Drummer: Fotolia; puhimec, background: Fotolia; Miro Novak

Oh, we drummers also have a really difficult time ... Although we play the greatest musical instrument in the world, at the same time we have more to carry than the fellow musicians,need the most space,most often annoy neighbors and colleagues and also have to give us the most thought about why the noble snare drum, which sounded so awesome in the YouTube video, slips down in our room to the sound of the basement.

That's bitter, but the positive downside is that with a little understanding of room acoustics, we can achieve a whole new quality of our drum sound. Incidentally, it is not at all necessary to master physical formulas, what is more required is common sense in combination with a bit of experimentation.

How does the room affect the sound of the drum kit? The answers in the video ...

Even today, many drummers believe that the acoustic treatment of their room - if at all - is no more than the icing on the cake, after having invested the majority of your time in practice and a lot of money in good instruments. Good acoustics are initially perceived as not that important or even as a time killer, some also think that professional studio work requires dealing with the sound conditions of a room. That may be the case for those drummers who want to let off steam for half an hour on set every two weeks and who may even really like the rumbling sound. One or the other may find themselves in the great (and rare) situation of being able to rehearse in a naturally great-sounding room that actually does not require any further treatment. Before you start, you can listen to the following video to see how the sound changes in different rooms:

Tip 1: reduce reverberation times

Anyone who has ever put their drum set in an untreated room and started to drum knows the effect: it thuds, rumbles and echoes. What can be fun at first - depending on the type and size of the room - develops into a nerve-killer at the latest when concentrated practice is required or when other musicians play along. But the problem can be solved with little money and effort. Reverberation occurs because the sound pressure flies back and forth between the walls of a room until the energy is dissipated. Carpets and soft materials such as thick blankets, curtains, mattresses, foam or even large pieces of furniture such as sofas usually quickly focus the sound, because they ensure that medium and high frequencies “get stuck” in the materials and are converted into heat there . What, however, does not help: egg cardboard. During installation, it is also worth making sure that the built-in parts can be removed again and used elsewhere, after all, you don't stay in most rooms forever.

Caution: Always make sure that your measures meet the fire protection criteria. Some (foam) materials are easily flammable, so be careful, especially if you are smoking in the room.

A simple way to limit the high and mid frequencies ...

Tip 2: rearrange your drum set

The position of your drums in the room can have a huge impact on the sound. At one point the snare sounds extremely fat, the bass drum is strangely hollow, at another the cymbals cut off your ears, while the toms are almost album quality. Here it is important - within the scope of the possibilities of course - to find the best compromise. For example, pay attention to how the sound of your bass drum changes with increasing distance from the walls. If you have a band, you should of course coordinate with the others, because what the bassist really likes can get on the guitarist's nerves at the same time.

Experiment with the position of your drum set in the room.

Tip 3: Defuse throbbing frequencies with bass traps

In practically all rooms in which one plays drums or other bass-intensive instruments, the problem of accumulating bass frequencies arises. The best way to get this rumbling under control are bass traps, set up in as many corners as possible. Because this is exactly where the thundering bass and low-mid frequencies pile up, which generate the infamous sound mud. Here you will find instructions for building professionally usable parts.

If you don't have the time, inclination or the necessary knack for it, you can of course also find ready-made bass traps in the studio departments of music dealers, for example from Hofa or Auralex.

If this is too time-consuming or too expensive for you, you can also put thick rolls of carpet in the corners. It is important that there is a lot of absorbing mass in the corners, which can stand up to the high-energy bass waves and convert them into heat. One thing is certain: the effect of bass traps is amazing, especially for recording situations, these parts are highly recommended because they take the booming frequencies of the bass drum and the lower toms, for example, and open up completely new possibilities in the mix.

Reduces the "banging", but maintains the liveliness: Combination of diffusers and absorbers

Tip 4: Targeted damping of the drums

You probably know the videos of professional recordings in which the drums sound incredibly fat, but no dampening can be seen on the drums. The reason for this is not only the post-processing of the signals in production, but also the fact that the recording was carried out in professionally prepared rooms and the drummers know how to play in order for it to sound good. Depending on your playing ability and your rooms, you may not be able to conjure up these requirements out of your hat. Here, targeted damping of your drums can significantly improve the sound and also lead to better audibility of all instruments in context. A bass drum with a small hole and a small cover inside the drum reduce the noise at the source and also make it easier to play. Toms and snare drums almost always benefit from a small piece of fabric tape or moongel, stronger damping is achieved with damping rings.

Overtones can be dampened with gel pads, for example.

Tip 5: "Play the room"

When asked how they adapt to different acoustic conditions, many professionals say that they “play the space”. That means they listen to how the room sounds and then adjust their game accordingly. A large stadium stage can handle a lot of power, in a small club the drums would be unbearably loud with the same style of play. This is because the sound waves are better distributed on an open stage or in a large, acoustically treated room and the result is a drier sound. Playing loud is fun, but often a snare or a rock crash that is "beaten" loudly is simply too much of a good thing and not only annoys fellow musicians or listeners, but also makes a recording sound worse. Perk up your ears to see how the sound of your set sounds at different volumes. And when your fellow musicians complain that their amplifiers do not compete with your performance, this is a clear signal to start thinking about your dynamics.

Conclusion

Nothing changes the sound and the feel of the game as effectively as effectively designed room acoustics. At the same time, it is difficult if not impossible to get a good drum sound in a room that has been treated poorly or not at all. Bass traps, wall and ceiling absorbers in particular can work wonders here and not only increase satisfaction during personal practice, but also during band rehearsals and in recording situations, taming the notorious “stupid” pays off extremely.

There are other interesting articles here:

Drum Recording - Basics and Tips - Video Workshop

The little cymbal guide - everything about drum cymbals

One bass drum - 8 different sounds - video workshop

Warm-up on the drums - is that necessary?