DIY Drum Enclosure
Since New Day merged with Santa Rosa Christian Church in 2015, I’ve had the opportunity to help out in the area of sound. We’ve got a great team of sound technicians who are real servants.
One of the first things we did was move to the Presonus Studiolive 32AI. The digital board has helped us move to in ear solutions for the entire band. This dramatically reduces stage volume. When we arrived, everyone had their own amp for themselves and their own floor monitors and it was overpowering the FOH. Now, we’ve got up to 14 individual monitor channels where the mix is controlled by individual iOS devices (which is one less headache for the sound technician). Each band member plugs their own headphones into a Rolls headphone amp. These work great (especially for a $40 solution as opposed to something like an Aviom box that would be $400+/each. Band members are free to individually upgrade their own headphones and even go wireless if they want to.
We removed all the amps from the stage. The electric guitar amps are now secure in a back room turned up nice and loud so the tubes can sing. All that is left as far as stage volume was the vocalist’s sound wedge monitors and the drums.
Now, I know there are arguments for and against drum enclosures. For us in a medium sized traditional church auditorium, we wanted to keep the acoustic drums but minimize on the stage noise. We had one of those plexi walls, but it just didn’t look that great and without a top, the sound escaped and would overwhelm the rest of the band both on stage and in the Front of House. On a typical Sunday, the drums would be all the way down in the house and sometimes still overpower the rest of the band. Yes, I know…tell the drummer to play quieter. But there is something about the energy and power of some rocking drums during worship! We want the drummer to drum!
I started to look at enclosures to help control the overall sound. The Phoenix enclosures seem to the best and look amazing. Their team were very friendly and make a good product. But it was quite a bit out of our price range, especially when you put on a top, and ship it from Texas. I then came across this short video of a church that felt the same but decided to try to build it themselves. They were a real help and inspired us to see if we could build one.
I started designing it. Below is a rough design of what I came up with…
We went with a 90″x90″ design. We have a lot of weddings and events so we wanted it to be on wheels so it could be moved easily without having to take apart the drum set. The one piece in front glass gives a clean look.
We chose to use light aluminum frame hold most of it together as opposed to a heavy steel frame. We have a world class artesian bike builder, Jeremy Sycip in our church who helped us weld up the aluminum. His work is top notch, and his bikes are amazing. (Check out the pedal assist camping bike. It’s on my wishlist!) The angle and T-bar enclosed the glass quite well and also created support for the roof and floor. We got the metal from a metal supply place that could curve the metal to our desired radius. It took a while to find someone who could do angle and T-bar, but they’re out there.
For the base, we started to go with 2″x6″ framing which was heavy and we realized the entire design was too tall for our building. So we trimmed it down to 2″x4″ which was plenty sturdy. We put the casters underneath so there was about a 1″ clearance. We also put some rigid foam insulation and glued it to the bottom of the frame to help reduce noise.
We got the glass from Mr. Plastics in the south bay. They had some stock roll of lexan that was 1/3″ thick and 78″ high. That determined the inside height measurement which was plenty of room. They cut it to whatever length we needed. Once we had the metal frame built, I measured it and sent them the exact measurements. It was delivered rolled up in a pickup truck so it was pretty easy to transport. We also got an additional thicker piece for one of the side walls. We attached it with bolts coupled with roofing bolt washers that had little rubber pieces. The back and third side is plywood. (Builder’s note: we tried to pre drill holes as much as possible before we welded it all up. It makes bolting everything together much easier.)
I picked up a remote controlled LED multicolor rope light and installed it in the floor. The drummer can choose which color to use which makes the drums look great and he can see what he’s doing. I also attached two microphone mounts to the ceiling for cymbal microphones (this also reduced the overall footprint since we didn’t need the microphone stands). There’s a side door and since we have a curtain behind the drums, we left the back open. The Snake Head and power is in the back corner, so if we need to move it, we can just unplug everything it and roll.
It’s loud inside. So you need to make sure the drummer has sound isolating headphones or in ear monitors. Most of the drummers have their own IEM’s, but we also picked up some over ear headphones for those who forgot to bring their own. The thick carpet on the floor, acoustic tiles, and base traps help reduce noise inside. Everyone recommends NOT having a sound wedge in there as it will make your drummer deaf. It’s a good idea to have a few spare packs of ear plugs if the drummer just wants to practice.
Overall I’m pretty pleased with how it turned out. The house sound is dramatically reduced. The drummer can joyfully hit the drums and we can turn the volume up and down as needed. What we actually found out the first couple of weeks is that we had to turn up the drums and turn down the instruments to get a good mix.
It cost under $2,500 in supplies. As far as the labor, it took a bit, but thanks to people in the church volunteering their time, they made it happen.
A big thanks to Jeremy Sycip, Tom Niewald, Glen Wiemeyer, Scott Essig, Taine Meints, and Josh Chaddick for helping out with the project.
It’s been about 6-8 months since we’ve completed the project and I’m very pleased with the results. Now we can rock out during worship, and still control it well.