Dampeners, mutes, silencers, whatever you want to call them, may possibly be the most important items that we look at in the whole of the percussion section. Your neighbors will thank us!
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You may have just bought your drums, unpacked them, set them up, played them for 2 minutes, only to realize that they are loud! Your next thought may be, how do I soundproof my room? Before you get the egg cartons out, you may want to first consider just buying some mutes! These inexpensive accessories are the best way to muffle the drums so that you don’t receive 5 noise complaints on the first day of your drumming career. If your heart is truly set on DIY drum muting and then you’ll want to check out this video. If you want to go one step further and build your own soundproof room then this site for you.
Parents – if you have just bought an acoustic kit for your kid, this should be your next stop. As the incredible and supportive parent you clearly are (given that you are buying them a drum kit), you will want them to practice as much as possible… that is until about 5 minutes after they actually start playing, at which point you will want to snap their sticks in half. This is why you should buy mutes. Either that or a practice pad, which is great for them to practice their rolls on well into the night. Having mutes on will of course affect the sound and response produced by the drum (it is not like hitting the head directly) so you will need to play with them off at times, but they are great to get the feel for the drums, practice techniques and pick up speed at the start, all without making a sound (or near enough!).
You certainly can and there’s an abundance of makeshift materials you can use to do so, but these can ruin the feel when you connect with the drum and can be quite a nuisance. So before you start stuffing old sheets inside the bass drum and covering your tom in t-shirts, you might want to consider splashing out for the real deal after all the mute pads are pretty cheap even on a budget. Sticks getting caught in t-shirts can be a bit of a deterrent when trying to practice and as a beginner learning is tough enough without having dirty laundry flying everywhere.
So you don’t want a practice pad and you have given up on the idea of fashioning your clothes into a makeshift mute – time to look at the best drum mute pads that you can just take on and off the drum head to silence as and when needed. Another option is buying silent heads which we will look at as well.
In our number one (and only!) spot are the SoundOffs by Evans. Evans, who for decades have been drumhead pioneers have shown that they also know how to make things quieter with these wonderful mutes. Unlike other mutes which completely kill the feel and response, Evans have done everything in their power to preserve this and have done so fairly well. As such practicing won’t feel like you’re repetitively hitting a piece of dead wood. For an incredibly affordable price, you get 4 mute pads with sizes ranging from 12-16″ so these will cover most standard drum setups. Whilst they claim that it reduces 95% of the volume this isn’t true, it is more like 75% but that is still pretty impressive.
So if you are looking to mute your practice we would say look no further, Evans have you covered. If you have a jazz configuration or smaller set up then you will want to get their fusion pack with smaller pads.
If you need a bass mute then they have that too!
Another solution as we mentioned is to buy Remo’s Silentstroke Drumheads. These durable 1-ply mesh heads provide an incredibly realistic drumming experience, if not a little pingy when tuned to the higher tension parts of the range. Many people look to electronic drums as a solution to noise reduction but these do that job perfectly. These heads are top quality, sturdy, responsive and durable and cover all size ranges. You cannot compare the feel of a practice pad or mute pad to these heads. Designed specifically to reduce noise and feel real, both of which they do. The mesh heads shift enough air to engage with the bottom head surface so that there is a clear pitch difference between the drums. They are great for practice, especially for teaching a student, as the teacher can talk whilst the practice session is in progress. The only downside is that unlike a mute pad you can’t whip them on and off as you like. Also, you can’t use brushes on them as they simply snag the mesh.
Overall these wonders of technology manage to silence the sound of your drumming but still retain the right feel, response and tone so that you aren’t compromising your drumming experience.
Our last review is actually a mix of the Zildjian L80 low volume cymbal and the Remo Silentstrokes above. This is the ultimate silencing pack, providing you with quiet without taking away from the experience. There are cheaper ways to mute your kit as this pack is a little pricey but ultimately it is great value for money because you are getting all of this:
Zildjian’s: 14” Hi-Hats, 16” Crash, 18” Crash Ride & Remo’s Silentstroke drumheads – 10”, 12”,14”, 16” & 22”
You get a lot of kit including 3 low volume Zildjian cymbals which are held in high regard. Although it should be noted that the Zildjian low cymbals only kill off about 75% of the sound so you may still want to pick up some cymbal mutes if you plan on playing well into the night!
If you are going to all that trouble to make sure you don’t wake up half the block you will need to get some cymbal mutes too. Whilst you can look at getting yourself some reduced volume cymbals such as the Zildjian L80s above, these will still produce some noise which if you are playing late at night you will still want to reduce. So took into account what is out there and whilst Cybomute produce some decent dampeners we found that they tend to slip more, didn’t fit perfectly and the elastic tends to stretch and pull out of shape. That is why our best cymbal mutes are, silent drum roll please……. Evan’s SoundOff Cymbal Mute. Surprise surprise, they are at it again and this time for cymbals.
They have one for ride cymbals and hi-hats. They both look slick, sound quiet and are really well engineered to fit tightly and give a good response. In a range of sizes, the SoundOff by Evans Ride Mute, 20 Inch is well worth the money and the peace it provides.
Even with all of these silencers and dampeners, if you are in an apartment or on the top floor of a house then a lot of thuds will travel through the floors. If this happening with you and causing problems with the neighbors downstairs then you should look into buying a noise eater or platform. They will reduce the vibrational sound by a further 75% or so. These are the best two options:
These are not cheap solutions though and nor are they perfect but if it really is a problem then you should look into getting one of these. You can build what is called a ‘tennis-ball riser’, but this DIY project will cost you nearly as much as the Roland Noise Eater in materials and take up a lot of your time. As well as this it is less stable and not nearly as effective at noise reduction.
The best solution if you are in an apartment, is to talk to your downstairs neighbors, tell them the problem you’re having and see if you can come up with a solution together (maybe they are out at certain times or don’t mind in the first place). If in a house, have the drums downstairs if possible. One further solution is double or triple up on the carpet. Buy a square of carpet or two and set up on that. Just make sure it is stable as otherwise it will be pointless as you won’t be able to drum. Failing all of this you may want to consider an electric drum with a beaterless pedal, such as the Roland TD-1KV V-drum which we have reviewed. If you are reading this though you probably have your heart set on an acoustic set. So between the damps, mutes and noise-eater platform you will effectively reduce the sound and vibration. It may not be cheap but it is the most effective way to practice on a real kit.