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Can I Get a Rim Shot? Working with Electronic Drums

Electronic drums can be a great tool for a church if you know how to properly use them.

Drummer Upgrade? Not Quite
The sound of your electronic drum kit is controlled through a module located on the drum rack.

This module can control the sound you hear (congas instead of toms), the drum head sensitivity, and in some cases the EQ of each kit piece.

Get your drummer with the best ear for sound and have them go through each piece of the drum kit to make sure the sounds and sensitivity are set to the best setting.

Next, within these modules, kits have song functions where they can play out drum/percussion sounds automatically. Make sure your mixer drum channel(s) EQ is set straight up.

No cuts or boosts. Have the drum kit play a song (using the acoustic drum sound) and have the drummer listen while sitting in the sanctuary. They can then go back to the drum kit and tweak the EQ of each piece as best fits.

Quick, To The Mixer!
Once the kit is set to the optimal sound, you have to look at it from a mixing standpoint.

In the case of a kit with multiple audio sends, you’re in the best situation where you can tweak the EQ of each kit piece to match the song-brighter cymbals, less-prominant kick drum, etc.

In the case of a single audio send, it’s a bit more work. I like to focus on three areas; cymbals, snare, and kick. I’ll focus on snare first to get that nice snare sound that often drives a song.

This is with my mid-range EQ’s. Next, I’ll use the high EQ for the cymbals. Lastly, I work on the kick drum with the low-end EQ. Altering any of the EQ’s can effect the sound of something you’ve already set, like the snare, so you’ll have to deal with that aspect in single send mixing.

Also in the case of the single audio send electronic drum kits, when they are set up optimally in the module, you might not have to EQ them at all. But as each song is different, a little boost here and cut there is likely necessary.

While electronic drum kits may come with a few headaches, I’m sure you can see their benefits as well, especially in a small sanctuary.

Hopefully my words will help you get a better sound out of your drum kit and even given you some direction if you are thinking about getting a new electronic drum kit for your church sanctuary.

Do you love or hate e-drums? Have you recently made the switch? How do you get them sounding their best? Let me know in the comments below!

Ready to learn and laugh? Chris Huff writes about the world of church audio at Behind The Mixer. He covers everything from audio fundamentals to dealing with musicians. He can even tell you the signs the sound guy is having a mental breakdown.

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