silent bass drum monitoring system Feel and experience sound like you’ve never felt it before!
a drummers story...

I’ve been a working drummer for over 25 years, and there has ALWAYS been a major issue, which is that of bass drum monitoring. We all know how fundamental the bass drum is during a live gig. The chest thump at a properly amiplified gig is the foundation of the sound and feeling of a live band. And who is it in the whole venue that feels that thump the least? Yes. The drummervhim/herself.

At best, monitoring is a haphazard affair, unless the drummer has the (rare) luxury of the same monitor rig and monitor engineer every night. But this also has it’s major drawbacks, which I will discuss further on. Hearing and feeling your bass drum is not just an issue at the bigger gigs. I grew up as a musician playing for many years in venues ranging from small pubs to larger clubs, outdoor gigs, etc. Very occasionally the acoustics would be favourable, or the band I was playing with quiet enough for my bottom end to be adequately present, but this is indeed very rare. Even rehearsing is frequently a problem. Usually all you get back is a sound akin to flicking a Barbie doll’s arse with a thimble.

Over the years I have attempted to tackle the problem in many ways. First of all, pure power technique is not the solution, because the sound fires out of the drum away from the player anyway, and onstage bass and guitar amps drown out all the bottom end, even in only moderately powerful situations. Also, resorting to a dynamic playing level of 809 / 10 as the basic starting point is not condusive to intricacy or subtlety. Some people use a hard disc with a hard beat, but all that gives back to you is a harsh click. I want weight.

The next solution was to get bigger drums and using less dampening. I ended up with a Bonham-esque Ludwig 26" with felt strips and no hole. Now this is a great instrument, and with practice did the job, since the air moves both heads, and the player gets a big sound coming back... But then I presented it to sound engineers at gigs. In the "old" days (pre early 70s) this was the norm (monitors hardly existed, if at all), and the engineer would happily stick the mic in front of the unported head. Not now: "Can you take the front head off mate?", "Kin ‘ell that’s boomy", "What’s this, the Salvation Army?" etc.

Then of course I starting putting a mic on a "normal" lightly dampened ported drum. (20" / 22" / 24"). All very nice for out front, but nothing for me.

The next stage was to buy a powered sub. This is actually a good solution, but they are BIGvand HEAVY.

So, to bigger gigs and touring. Yes, sometimes the monitoring is great. Sometimes. Often, the monitor is a poxy little wedge that reduces the sound of my beautifully tuned Sonor to a Tupperware box.

Then I heard about Tactile Sound Monitoring (bass thumpers, etc). This is mainly used by the major players in conjunction with IEMs (In Ear Monitors), as these can’t replicate the big thump required. This got me thinking and researching, and whilst on tour with Oysterband, I discussed this with tech-guy extraordinaire Tim Porter. We did online researched, and looked at all the systems on offer. Tim being Tim said "I can do better than any of ’em". And he has.

AND SO THE BumChum WAS BORN! ("Bumchum" was going to just be the working title, big in the end it simply had to bevcalled that!)

This beast has changed everything. My search for the solution is now over. It has more impact than two 18" subs, but is TINY and SILENT! No more bottom end pollution of the stage for the sounmand (and signer / horn players etc) to fight against, and the rest of the drum sound can open right up!

I’ve been touring extensively with my BumChum, and it is FANTASTIC.

dil davies
a techs story...

For my sins, I’ve been a sound guy and a tech all my working life. I guess I first mixed monitors as a school kid, trying to get the last ounce out of the rehearsal room’s two-speakers-on-a-stick PA system and was lucky in so much as the equipment available to working bands grew in sophistication at the same pace as I grew my career. But I quickly discovered that the damn gear kept on breaking, so I’d better get really slick with the soldering iron, if I was going to survive.

Ahh, the 70’s... there were no rules, you made it up... you could try anything... and what worked well, became the industry’s standard. All the years I spent as a monitor man, the two hardest people to please simultaneously are your drummer and your FOH guy. The poor chap out front is trying to get a good drum sound and all he has to work with is the mush from the monitors and backline in every mic. Poor sod of a drummer can’t hear a thing (what do you expect? There’s a Marshall stack on one side and an Ampeg bass on the other) All he can hear above the stage noise is an echo of the PA from the back wall of the hall, which is about a second late... and he is pleading for you to turn him up. And so the volume wars start

Fast forward lots of years and a few million miles and I’m sitting in the bus on the way to an Oysterband gig, discussing stage sound with Dil Davies. I don’t have a problem here, I’m mixing FOH and Dil’s kit is exquisite for me.. I’m only using 4 mics and the stage sound is very low, so it comes across beautifully with hardly any EQ applied. We are touring on in-house systems, so there is absolutely nothing similar from night to night. I find that I’m tuning the PA to Dil’s kit because it’s the only consistent instrument. But he’s not getting any real wallop in his monitors and it’s pissing him off... Dil is showing me some of the available shakers and thumpers (mostly old cinema tech) that he’s pulled up on his iPhone. I’ve seen and used tactile enhancers on some drummer’s rigs and I have been pretty unimpressed with all of them. They all seemed to need Kilowatt sized amps and complex processing only to twitch like a dying gnat... what’s the point?

But then we found some guys that were making vibration transducers for the US military to use in their flight simulators. Very small, very sensitive, very powerful, ultra reliable... I just had to get hold of one and try it out. Several weeks later and a box arrives from the States... I’ve already strung together a preamp, some procesing and a power amp, ready for ‘the thing’. So, I plug it in, sit it on the bench, say ‘boo’ in the mic... and the damn thing leaps clean off the bench into my lap. As I wipe away the tears of pain, I’m thinking ‘Blimey, that’s gonna work!’

During the 90’s I spent my time as Chief Engineer for a big corporate production hire company. We spent a lot of time and effort repackaging the delicate AV electronics into rugged, road-proof and fast-to-rig modules. I got really good at it. Some of my kit has toured incessantly for 15 years, night after night, without a failure. That kind of return on investment makes a hire company very profitable.

I put all my experience into the design of the flightcase and internals of this device to get the ultimate in strength and reliability.A week or two later, when the first prototype is complete, Dil arrives with drum kit and we set it all up... The first couple of hits on the kick drum and Dil’s eyes nearly bug out ! He stops, turns it down, and tries again... then turns it down some more, plays a bit more and turns it down even further, a big grin on his face.‘How is it’? I ask... ‘Insane’ is the reply ‘I can get twice what my sub gives me with it set low... if I turn it up full, it feels like my head will fall off’

Since then, he’s not played a gig without it. The backline guys are delighted, no more lugging huge boxes about. The monitor guys (when there is one) are delighted, they get fast and easy setups. The FOH guy is delighted, all the drum sounds are sweet and clean for the first time. The Band are delighted, better and quieter sound on stage for everyone.

Best of all, there is a drummer that has rediscovered getting the most fun out of playing every night. Less gear, faster setup, consistent sound every night, no matter how large or small the gig is... what’s not to like about a BumChum? The old sub-and-amprack are on ebay, never to be seen again.

Dil Davies Tim Porter

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