How to Choose a Drum Set

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A common conversation I have around Christmas time each year goes something like this: “Hey, you play the drums, right? I want to buy a drum set for my child/grandchild/husband/etc., but I don’t know what to buy. What kind of drums should I buy, where should I buy them, and how much should I expect to spend?” I’ve had this same conversation so many times that it inspired me to write this article. So in the future, when people ask me, I can simply send them a link to the article, they can go read it, and (hopefully) find answers to their questions. As you’ll see, this isn’t an easy question with a quick and easy answer. Asking “what kind of drums should I buy?” is similar to asking “what kind of car should I buy?”, so it evokes a necessarily lengthy response. Continue Reading »

Tom Mic Shootout Revisited

A few years ago, I blogged about a tom mic shootout that I conducted between two very popular mics for toms: the Sennheiser e604 and the CAD M179. At that time, I had been using the e604’s for recording my tom tracks and really wasn’t too thrilled with them. Meanwhile, I had been reading many positive reviews about what a great tom mic the CAD M179 made, so I ordered a pair to try them out. Continue Reading »

Finding Your Room’s Sweet Spot for Recording Drums

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An all-important detail that isn’t mentioned in many articles about recording acoustic drums is how important it is to find the “sweet spot” in your room where the drums sound their best. I found this out the hard way. Since building my studio several years back, I’ve always set up the drums roughly centered along one of the longer walls (my room is 24′ x 22′), with the drummer’s back to the wall. This just seemed to be the logical place to set them up. It allowed me plenty of room to work around the kit when setting up the mics, allowed good visual communication between the drummer and the other band members, and it kept the kit somewhat out of the way for when people walk through the live room to the control room (which is on the opposite end of the building from the front door). It also allowed my own band plenty of room to set up a guitar amp on one side of the kit and a bass amp on the other for rehearsals, since that’s how things would normally be set up on stage during a live performance. Continue Reading »

Yamaha CBR12 Passive Speaker Review

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The Yamaha CBR series of loudspeakers are passive versions of Yamaha’s powered DBR series. It uses the same cabinets and (presumably) the same drivers as the DBR, minus the built-in mixer and power amp, and (being passive) include a passive internal crossover network. The DBR12 generally gets very good reviews from owners, so my expectations for the passive CBR12 were high when I purchased 4 of them to use primarily for monitor wedges. I wasn’t disappointed. Continue Reading »

Behringer P16 Personal In Ear Monitoring System

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The P16 is Behringer’s personal in-ear monitoring system. The features and performance of this system rival that of competing systems (e.g. Aviom, Allen & Heath) that cost 4 or 5 times as much as the Behringer. After using the P16 at church twice a week for over a year now, I thought it was time for a comprehensive review of this system for others who may be interested, but may be unsure of exactly what components they need to integrate it into their own existing sound system. Continue Reading »

The Stereo-to-Mono Summing Cable That No One Makes

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Have you ever used a stereo-to-mono “Y-cable” or TRS (Tip/Ring/Sleeve)-to-TS(Tip/Sleeve) cable for combining two audio outputs together, or for summing the Left and Right channels from a single stereo output to mono? For example, maybe you wanted to connect the stereo outputs of your computer, CD player, iPod, iPad, Android tablet or phone into a single 1/4″ input channel on an audio mixer. Or maybe you needed to sum a stereo signal to mono for connecting to a single subwoofer. Or maybe you were mixing a song in your home recording studio and needed to check your mixes in mono on a single “grot box”, like the Auratone or one of its clones (Avantone Mix Cube, Behringer Behritone C5A, C50A, etc.). If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably done this, but what you may not know is this: a Y-cable or stereo-to-mono cable used to SPLIT a signal into two outputs is being used properly. A Y-cable used to MIX or COMBINE two signals into one input is being abused, and may even damage your equipment! Continue Reading »

In Ear Monitoring with the Behringer X-Air XR18

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As I’ve written about previously, I’m the proud owner of a Behringer X-Air XR18 digital Wi-fi mixer. I love this thing. After using it for about a year now, I could never imagine going back to an analog mixer and a huge rack full of heavy analog gear for my live sound system. One of the things I like about the XR18 is its flexibility. When I recently decided to go to a wired in-ear monitor system for myself (I’m the drummer in the band), I discovered there are no fewer than 3 options for doing so with the XR18. The other guys in the band will continue to use floor wedges, but after getting accustomed to using in-ear monitors at church for several months now (and abusing my own ears mercilessly for over 25 years playing drums), I decided to do the same thing with my own PA system. Continue Reading »

Acoustic Treatment 101

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A while back, I received an e-mail from a friend asking me about acoustic treatment options for a practice room that he is setting up in the basement of his home. He plays the drums and guitar, and he said that the reflections in the room were terrible. Knowing that I had spent a lot of time and money on treating my studio, he was curious about what I had used, and what I would recommend that he do for his room. Continue Reading »

A Gear-Buying Strategy for Small Recording Studios

One of the most challenging aspects of building a recording studio is knowing what equipment to buy and when. Where do you start? What should you sink most of your money into early on? The sky is the limit when it comes to how much money you can spend, so it can be very difficult to know what to buy first–should you buy a great mic and a mediocre preamp, or a great preamp and a mediocre mic? What about converters? Should you invest more in high-quality converters early on, or save that investment for later? Continue Reading »

A Better Way to Record the Audio for Your Church Services

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I’ve been using a Tascam DR-40 portable recorder for over a year now to record our band reharsals and services each week at church. After each rehearsal, I import the recorded audio into my DAW, export each song as an MP3, and e-mail those MP3’s to the other members of the band so we can evaluate our parts, practice them, and listen to the songs to help commit any new ones to memory. I’ll often do the same thing after our services, just so we can listen back and hear how everything sounded out front during the service. I also want to begin posting the pastor’s sermon each week on the church website, but recording the sermon with the DR-40 has brought some challenges (more on that in just a moment). Continue Reading »