Ask the Expert – Advice on using a drum screen

Ask the Expert – Advice on using a drum screen

At our live Ask the Expert session Carlin Buhrman asked:

“What are your thoughts about using a drum shield in a carpeted gym setting for a service? We are currently using an electronic drum set because the levels on acoustic sets are difficult to control in our gym.”


Jarod Richardson:
Drum rooms (not just a shield) work well, but the kicker is this. Drum room/drum mic combinations are still just for sound reinforcement, not necessarily for drum sound modelling (which is essentially what electric drums do. You still need to allow for some open space for the acoustic drums to bleed out to the room because that can be where the magic happens. Unfortunately, that can also be where the drum sound goes to die as well, so you have to find the right combination of real drum sound, reinforced drum sound through mics and effects through the system to make it as kickin’ as possible in a gym!

Tim Horton, SFL:
Drum Screens are an interesting one…

It’s important not to see the screen as the perfect solution to loud drums. They are tool. A helpful one if used appropriately, but remember that you will need to mic the kit up which often leads to more problems.

Remember that as sound engineers we are doing “Sound Reinforcement” not “Sound replacement”. If the drums sound fine without any mics in play then don’t screen / mic them…

We often default to using a screen because it’s easy, but maybe the issue is that the drummer’s musical style does not suit the Church’s musical style?

Other things to try re: reducing drum level are using lighter sticks or even hotrods…

Geoff Boswell, Audioplan:
Hi Carlin – remember a drum screen is not for cutting down the volume of drums but more for cutting the spill from drums into other instrument mics. A full screen with a top will help cut down drum volume but you will need to fully mic the kit, put absorbers inside and also give the drummer a good in ear or headphone mix. Also they will need air !!! Clearsonic are the make I would use.

Andy Chamberlain, Musicademy:
Another issue that it brings is a sense of isolation for the drummer… often church drummers feel they are being shackled because they are always being asked to play more quietly. Putting them in a booth can lead them to think, “well now i can play as loud as i ” trouble is you can get a dynamic mismatch because the drummer is playing at 80% intensity and the rest of the band at 40%….

Geoff Boswell, Audioplan:
Yes has to be handled well by all concerned and only if drummers want it. Also the drummer needs a very good FB mix into his cans or IEMS

Marie Page, Musicademy:
Here’s a fun article we ran on drum screens a while back – Drum screens: cage free or free range?