Our drum screen DIY project is done...

and what a difference it makes !

Hi there !

For those of you who remember, I asked a couple of questions a couple of months ago about advice on
1) The right drum set to buy for our church, 2) Cymbal upgrades for the kit and 3) drum screening (clearsonic).

The drum kit we have for more than a year now, the cymbals about 1 year and the screen/damping project ran for about 2 months (finished this weekend past).

This post is about the screen…

True to form (usually a little more enthusiastic than clever) we looked at the clearsonic system (and photos that a couple of forum friends mailed me from their own installations of it) and thought - why not make this ourselves ?

And so the adventure started: Gathered info, asked questions and sourced suppliers of the right materials.

The end result exceeded our expectations at roughly a quarter of the price of an off the shelf unit.

A little detail before the photos:

Elvin (our church’s resident handiman/diy’er/planmaker/crossexaminer/standards autority/soundman/all round nice guy) came up with his design of the traps/absorber panels and the screen.

The trap design is self explanatory from the construction photos. The only thing that I can note is that clearsonic’s absorber panels are 25mm and the ones we used are 50mm.

The feet for the finished panels are also from wood and can swivel, making it easy to move/position.

We’ve put the back panels in with a gap between the panels and the walls to be able to catch a little more energy. (You’ll notice the gap and also the bigger gap we created in the corner by placing the corner panel at a 45degree angle across instead of going in at 90…) We couldn’t put it further away from the wall as we don’t have that much stage space (but it works, so its a good compromise)

The screen is 6mm perspex (plexiglass) that Elvin got cut to size (1.73 m high). Then he cut the corners and attached the hinges as you can see on the photos.

We were slightly worried about the gaps between the panels (clearsonic uses a proprietary hinge system that also seals the gaps). After a long time of playing around with different ideas for hinges we decided to go with the plastic hinges (black, cause if you can’t hide them properly, then show them off proudly !).
We thought to give it a go with the gaps with the option of adding something afterwards to seal the gaps, should it be needed. It turned out that the effect of the whole thing has such a huge impact that it is hard to imagine that the little bit of bleed that goes through the gaps will make any noticeable improvement, so we decided that it is fine as is.

Now on to the experience.


We all can not believe that this made such a huge difference.
The sound guy that was on duty last night says it is like night and day.
Finally he is able to do with the mix what he wants to. He is not just pushing the rest of the instruments up to try and balance them with the drumkit.

On the stage it also makes a huge difference.
We could hear each other directly (even the singers on the other side of the band). Even if the monitors were off…

The monitor floor wedges can now be softer, making it easier to give a better sounding (less cluttered/noisy/muddy) monitor mix to everyone on the stage. The bass player can have his amp at a lower setting while still hearing it properly, helping in lowering the bass sound coming from the stage and crawling through the church without being controlled.

Playing the kit is also a pleasure. We thought it was going to sound ‘boxed in’ on the inside and make you feel isolated, but because of all the dampening, the kit just sounds warmer with slightly more presence. I played one tune last night on the drums to get the feel and it really works very well.

We send a ‘submix’ (using groups on the mixer) of just the lead (and one backup) singers and all the guitars to a headphone amp that the drummer then sets to his liking. The headphones also drowns out a bit of the direct drum sound and the overall effect is a earphone level that is very comfortable, while giving the drummer the best monitoring (and ‘in touch’ feel) that we’ve ever had.

Overall a very pleasant (and successful) excersize !

Take care !


The photos:

Part of the frame construction for the traps. The material is special acoustic fabric.

‘Staplegunning’ the fabric to the frame:

Suzet is the person we always turn to when help is needed in the sewing department.

Putting in the rigid fiberglass:

The complete kit:
We have a SM57 on the snare/hihat, a beta52 on the kick and a berry dynamic (!) overhead. Although the sound we can get is good enough, the next step is proper condenser overheads.

Another shot:

Me doing my thing in that one song:

Your drum shield looks great. I knew you’d be pleased with the results.