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As seen earlier in the blog, we received our drum isolation booth. I figured I would put up a review on it here.
At North Ridge Community Church we have a very nice acoustic Pearl Custom drum set. The kit sounds really great and with our drummers they can really make it come alive. The problem is, that our drum set sits so far forward on the stage, the congregation gets a full ear of drums. Also to make this a bit more problematic, we mic the drums and put them through the PA. So when listening to the worship set while in the room your ears hear not only the kit sound but also the sound from the PA. This makes the sound a bit muddy and hard to decipher where to listen.
Other issues of the acoustic set, is that the stage monitors had to be loud enough to let the musicians hear themselves. Adding into this, we have a choir that sings in our traditional service. The choir microphones picked up a LOT of drums and not much choir. Because of this I had to place 6 microphones onstage to close mic the choir, as you may know, every mic added lowers your gain before feedback in a live situation. This was problematic for us as we couldn’t get enough volume out of the choir before feedback would induce.
Enter ClearSonic IsoPac A! This shipped in via 8-9 boxes, the heaviest being 116 lbs! After opening up all of the boxes and recycling those it was time to build the booth. The clearsonic panels come assembled and ready to fold out to surround the drums. They ship with a paper protective cover that you need to peel off. The manual states that once the paper is removed from the panels you cannot return it anymore. After removing the paper from the main shield and the upper set of shields you need to place some plastic connectors to attach the upper to the lower set of clearsonic panels. I got an extra helper to aid me at this point.
After getting all of the clearsonic panels built it was time to setup their “sorber” panels that go behind the drum set. Once those were in place I moved the drum set into place. Following the drum set was to wrap the clearsonic shield around the front and sides of the drums. The sorber lids go on top being supported by two telescoping metal support bars. Sorber panels attach via Velcro stickies to the clearsonic panels. After adding the final touch of a fan to keep the drummer cool you are finished!
There is plenty of space within the booth. It is quoted to be 7 ft wide, 9 ft long and 6.5ft in height. Because it is a booth that you setup yourself you can fit it into any shape you need to.
Aesthetically it is beautiful. This is the nicest looking booth I have seen. Most of the booths that you see are pretty atrocious. ClearSonic offers this in a light grey and a dark grey version for the sorber panels. I decided the dark grey to match our color scheme of the church.
Cable routing is easy, there are small 45 degree cutouts between each clearsonic panel. Also there is the space between the sorber panels and the clearsonic shield. Along the same topic with cable routing, depending on how much stuff your drummer has setup in there, I found there is plenty of room for normal microphone stands.
Cooling is a large problem and concern with drummers and isolation booths. The IsoPac A is NOT fully sealed off. The back part of the booth has about a 1.5ft gap between the roof and the rear sorber panels. This space as well as a fan makes it quite nice inside. I added one more fan sitting on the ground to point up towards my drummer.
Upon walking into the booth and closing the sorber panel behind you, it gets very quiet, to the point where if someone is talking outside the booth, you can’t hear them unless they yell. Playing drums inside the booth is pleasing, the sorber panels do their job of absorbing a lot of the reflections inside of the booth.
Volume savings are amazing. Before the booth our drum set in the congregation and onstage would get to 95dB easy. After installing the IsoPac A the dB level is at 70-75dB. AMAZING! Onstage we had to put the drums into the monitors for the musicians to keep on time. Overall stage volume lowered as we were able to drop the volume on the stage monitors.
The choir no longer complains about the drums being too loud on stage. And I have been able to reduce to 4 microphones for the choir which has allowed me to get 6dB more gain out of the system for the choir. The bleed into the choir mics has reduced tremendously.
My only complaint about the booth is that it is dark. To compensate for this we added a small halogen parcan inside to light up the drummer.
Overall for less than $2k getting the benefits of this drum isolation booth was amazing. Very much worth the cost for this. Aesthetically pleasing and with huge volume savings are the biggest pros with this. ClearSonic makes other sizes and products to aid in lower stage volume and isolation of instruments. Check them out online at http://www.clearsonic.com.