Ask the expert – what to do with an Arbiter Flats drum kit that is (shock) too quiet

Ask the expert – what to do with an Arbiter Flats drum kit that is (shock) too quiet

What? A drum kit in church that is too quiet?

Alastair Gibson asks:

We currently have an Arbiter Flat Lite kit at church which is, sometimes, too quiet to be heard in the mix – hard to believe I know!!

Rather than trying to mic up the kit I’m wondering whether we might be better of getting an electronic kit that, presumably, we run straight through the desk (I’m a guitarist worship pastor so excuse my ignorance)? I think that this might be easier for our sound guys to manage than the plethora of mics that seem to surround most kits.

Thanks for all your incredibly helpful resources and blogs!

Andy replies:

Many of our readers will probably be delighted to hear of a drum kit that is too quiet! I’ve put a photo of the Arbiter Flats up so you can see how small they are – as well as producing a really credible sound (albeit one that’s a tad quieter) they are really easy to pack away into a tiny space too.

There are various ways explore your sound levels issue. Firstly if you are a small church and don’t want the hassle of micing up a kit with a full set of drum mics then you could start by experimenting with just micing the kick and one overhead.

Essentially high frequencies like cymbals will carry naturally more than the bassier sounds, especially if you are in a typical church or school hall with lots of hard surfaces, glass and a high ceiling. If you have spare mics this could be a route worth trying before throwing cash at it. Have a search on the web for micing a kit with just two mics. Its what they used to do in the olden days anyway for a whole load of classic pop records. If you place the mics right you’ll be surprised what good results you can get.

Another option is to move to a proper but small drum kit. Some of the small jazz kits and even the tiny Yamaha Hipgig kits can work well where you want to keep the overall volume down.

Moving to an electronic kit is certainly an option but they do feel quite different to play so make sure your drummer feels comfortable on one and not awkward or muzzled. If you do go the digital route for a live setting (as opposed to a practice setup) I would recommend getting a kit with the mesh heads (snare and toms) rather than the cheaper rubber ones as the rubber just doesn’t feel natural to many drummers.

Geoff Boswell, one of our “resident” tech bloggers agrees. He says “I agree with Andy – 1 x overhead & 1 x kick. Best value recomendations. Audix D1 for kik & AKG C1000 or Audio Technica MB4000 for overhead. Placed & EQ’d carefully they will work well. BEWARE of drum mic ‘kits’. They may be waste of your money.”

Other posts you might like:

You don’t always have to have a drummer

Its been a hard days night – Nick Langley on why the drums in church are always apparently too loud

50 tips – drums

Top 10 Do’s and Don’ts – Drummers