An Introduction to Drum Shields
A loud, explosive drum part is a wonderful thing - but not when it drowns out every other musician onstage. Because band members play in close proximity, live drums can spill into other microphones, and affect what other onstage musicians hear. This spill can muddy onstage vocals, etc. Drum shields rein in the extreme noise of drum kits in order to minimize onstage crosstalk, and maximize the clarity with which audiences hear each instrument. Of course, drum shields work with a variety of instruments - horns, for example - and can be used in both live and studio settings.
Setting up drum shields is a two-part operation; first, there's the screen, or shield, component. (Second is acoustic absorption, discussed in the following section). These screens are made from thick acrylic material; but because they're transparent, the drummer isn't obscured from view. These clear, upright screens act as sound barriers, keeping the drums from overwhelming other onstage musicians and mics. While some drum shield setups include only three panels, more extensive setups might completely surround the drummer on all sides - even from above. An engineer will construct drum shields according to the demands of a live or studio setup - where other musicians are standing onstage, and where other mics are positioned.
Sweetwater carries everything from three panel packages to full-fledged isolation booths. ClearSonic's A5-5 Panel package has panels are 5.5 feet high, 2 feet wide, and feature built-in hinges between the 5 panels. These hinges allow drummers and engineers to arrange the drum shield how they see fit. The ClearSonic A5-1 Section Add-On allows even more flexibility. For more complete isolation, check out ClearSonic's IsoPac packages. IsoPac B, for example, is a total iso booth measuring 6 feet wide, 7 feet deep, and 6.5 feet tall. Isolation booths are less common in live settings, but they're incredibly useful for studio recording and practice.
The panels themselves are only half of the drum shield equation. Drum screens are reflective, not absorbent, so the sounds they block bounce right back at the drummer and into the drum mics. These reflections can lead to a muddy or roomy sound in both live and studio settings. For this reason, drum panels are often paired with sound-absorbent materials, such as foam or baffles. These acoustic treatments line the inside of a drum shield, absorbing sound and reducing the reflections bouncing off the screens.
An isolation booth equipped with absorption panels will reduce excess drum noise without sacrificing clarity and authentic live drum sound. Engineers can buy single absorption panels (called baffles) - or packages like the ClearSonic LidPac 5-3D, which includes three baffles. Sweetwater offers everything you need for a professional shield setup - including support bars, replacement hinges, and more. Learn More
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