It was brought up, and now I am curious too. Coated Batter Bass Drum Heads?

Paradiddlediddle

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I mentioned in a prior thread (before it was deleted I guess?)
Would like some help in understanding music styles, tuning, and muffling methods used with coated bass drum heads. I generally like a punchy/staccato thud with my bass drums. I have had great luck with clear emads but what can I say, I'm always looking to validate what I don't know that I know..
Someone mentioned the "papery" sound present on coated heads and I agree with that statement, just curious if that is the sound folks are after with coated or is it possible to get a great punchy thud without the somewhat slappy overtones I have experienced on coated bass drum heads.

The reason I am so interested in this is that 3 out of the last 4 used bass drums I have purchased had coated batter heads pre-installed so I feel like I am missing a key tactic to apply them to my sound. I could see a coated head working and I love them on my smaller toms but that paper tone is something I have struggled with on both floor toms and bass drums when using coated heads. So feel like the methods on bass drum could carry over to my floor tom tuning issues I've had as well.
Thanks for the insight!
 

squidart

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Single ply coated heads are going to sound papery if tuned low. Crank em up a bit and try that. I love Ginger Baker's Cream era "papery" sound and I love em cranked like Max Roach... but hey, it just might not be to your taste. I don't think you're missing anything. You do you, as the kids say. :)
 

Ian S

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I recently watched these videos while researching my latest bass drum head purchases. I settled on the Clear Aquarian Superkick II as my choice (based on a couple videos, not just the Aquarian one below), but coated heads can have plenty of punch, and a few clear heads sounded almost a bit "papery" to me.


You can open the YT pages and the description has time stamps for each model, in case you want to compare specific ones back to back.. and use headphones of course...



 

LRod1707

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I wrote a nice long response on the last deleted thread within the last hour. I was responding to Mtarrani's experience with coated bass heads. I pressed "post reply" and the thread had been deleted, LOL!!
I hate when that happens!
Anyways, Mtarrani has woken my curiosity about this subject. Sounds like it really works well for him and I like that warm sound out of my bass drum. Currently only my reso is coated because it's the factory Ludwig Remo with the logo. My batter is a clear Aquarian Impact II which has a thick inner felt. I figure since my toms are all coated top and bottom for warmth, why not try it on the kick!
 

dcrigger

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Wow - what a phenomenal set of videos - and OMG it must have taken him days to that...

So for me - and I'm only talking about general all-around, most all styles, suitable for micing and recording.... again for me.

The video comparisons really do show the qualities of the heads - but for my general use, the single ply coated heads are all being played with nothing being used as muffling - which frankly, I would never do (again, for general purpose gigging and recording).

And that's where the video doesn't help - because while yes the heavily pre-muffled heads (the SK's and the EMAD's) all sound more like usable set-ups as presented. But... they all sound soft, small and muted. There's bottom end and with a hard beater there would some "tick" but the upper mid "smack" is all dull and controlled. And yet that is just what I know I need all I can get of - to cut through the music, to give the drum a solid transient without the engineer having to crank the upper EQ (and thus turn up a ton unwanted snare leakage).

Listening to the Evans' heads - the loudest, most intense SMACK came from the Coated G1 and the Coated UVI (to my ears anyway) - jump back and forth and notice how soft overall the EMAD's are by comparison.

And of course yes, there's a bunch lower mid ring and other junk with those that we don't want - but a towel or a small or medium pillow just touching the lower 4th (at the most of the heads) will dry that all up - while leave the leading edge of that SMACK intact.

Fact is - you can always add lows to a bass drum sound - but that intense leading edge transient is either there or it isn't - and trying to dial it in is always a compromise.

So yeah, I still find myself spitting the difference a bit and using Clear PS-3's or a Force I - but hearing these videos really points out to me how dumb that may be. And makes me understand even more why I've had engineers specifically request that I use anything but pre-muffled heads.... and have had some specifically request Coated Ambassadors because they know how well they are going to sound in the track.

Anyway - my 2 cents... for me (because I, like you, see and hear guys doing the exact opposite and sounding great) :)
 

ThomasL

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The sound of a felt beater on a fresh coated head is not very pleasant IMO. But, with a patch or moleskin pad attached, a coated head should in general sound warmer than a clear head, right? Or do you actually mean that a clear single-ply head tuned low and unmuffled sounds less papery than a coated one (excluding the beater attack)?
 

JimmySticks

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Man, agreed, that was a lot of work put into those vids!!!

Dare I say, more than it’s worth? I just gave them a quick listen and didn’t listen with headphones, but I’m guessing nobody in the audience would hear a difference in most of them. In a studio it might matter some, but they all got the job done adequately IMHO. It just seems like a big expenditure for little payoff. There doesn’t seem to be any dramatic differences like their would be changing heads on toms or snares. More marketing than substance?
 

Seb77

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The sound of a felt beater on a fresh coated head is not very pleasant IMO.
You're hearing the felt beater being eaten by the rough coating :) When I recently got my coated Ambassador batter, I played it (not terribly loud) with a hard plastic beater first, to wear off some of the roughness. I might either start using a felt beater or apply a patch though soon to protect the head.

Re: sound - I feel the coating adds some weight and thus weight to the sound, a bit shorter, but deeper at the same time. The attack sounds more broadband, some mids in there. "Papery" in a good sense, compared to cardboxy (CS dot) or plasticky( clear heads with a hard beater). When I changed the tom heads, I noticed the old coated Ambassadors sounded more papery when tuned low because the collar or the whole head head been stretched. The new heads had a more bassy sound.

A clear PS3 with a felt beater can be great, it's what I used for a long time, but if you're looking for more nuance, try a coated Ambassador and apply your own muffling. David Garibaldi and Dave Weckl both use them for a fusion/funk sound.
In some of their videos with more acoustic sound, you can hear a dirtier sound that is eq'ed out with something like a Beta 52.

I do hear quite bit of difference in those videos, but only on good monitors. You need good speakers or headphones to appreciate shootouts like this.
 

scaramanga

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I like single-ply, un pre-muffled heads because I want my bass drum to be as easy to get a sound from as the rest of my drums, without relying on monitors, and a big element of that is, as dcrigger already mentioned, high-frequency content.

I prefer a coated head because I find it sounds less "plastic" so my ear, and spreads those high frequencies across a broader range. I don't like my attack sound to be a pinpoint; I like a spread.

Also: those fancy bass drum heads are expensive!
 

Ian S

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Man, agreed, that was a lot of work put into those vids!!!

Dare I say, more than it’s worth? I just gave them a quick listen and didn’t listen with headphones, but I’m guessing nobody in the audience would hear a difference in most of them. In a studio it might matter some, but they all got the job done adequately IMHO. It just seems like a big expenditure for little payoff. There doesn’t seem to be any dramatic differences like their would be changing heads on toms or snares. More marketing than substance?

There are vast differences to be heard there, some sound similar, but overall, lots of different sounds. I'd suggest using good headphones and to sit through at least one full video.
 

JimmySticks

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There are vast differences to be heard there, some sound similar, but overall, lots of different sounds. I'd suggest using good headphones and to sit through at least one full video.
Yup, I’m sure your right, I didn’t give it a good enough listen.
 

pedro navahas

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I have a smooth coated ambassador on the reso side of my Catalina bop bass drum and a clear emperor batter, felt strip on the reso.
I have struggled the most with this drum, I just can’t get the sound I hear in my head.
I think I’m going to try and put the pedal on the front and see if that will work, I’ve always been hesitant to try a single ply head on a bass drum batter side.
 

Paradiddlediddle

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I think a challenge for me is separating how the kit sounds from behind the kit vs what it sounds like in front of the kit. Notably where the bass drum sits in the acoustic mix, with a loud snare and the hihat. This is why I've always tried to avoid ported reso heads when I can get away with it, to my ear the bass drum tone carries further with a non ported front head. I generally sink the beater into the head, even though I've tried to avoid that it's just naturally how I play
 
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dcrigger

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Man, agreed, that was a lot of work put into those vids!!!

Dare I say, more than it’s worth? I just gave them a quick listen and didn’t listen with headphones, but I’m guessing nobody in the audience would hear a difference in most of them. In a studio it might matter some, but they all got the job done adequately IMHO. It just seems like a big expenditure for little payoff. There doesn’t seem to be any dramatic differences like their would be changing heads on toms or snares. More marketing than substance?
While I think we have too many pre-configured choices - which reinforces the silly notion that manufactured muffling is superior to homegrown (It's not, but it sure makes for lots of different heads)

Listening on real speakers and just a reasonable volume resulted in pretty dramatic differences of sound. Differences that I believe would clearly effect how the drum would live - acoustically. As the demonstration worked its way from one of the spectrum to the other - the differences between adjacent offerings were often quite subtle. But jump from a UV1 to a EMAD and the audible difference is stark. Or at least it was for me.
 

cworrick

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I just listened to all 3 videos with headphones. A few had some subtle differences, but most were very noticeable.

My biggest questions are:
What was the reso head?
What do they sound like unmiced from out front? i.e. acoustic.

I also wonder how the Bass Drum size and wood affects the quality of the sound. Would the same head on a 26 sound as good on a 20?

My favorite head from all 3 videos (ON THAT DRUM) was the Remo Coated Emperor. But I tried one on my 20" years ago and didn't like it. I've played with a clear P3 for years. I've tried a few others and keep coming back.

I have to ask about the wood due to an experiment I personally tried years ago.
I worked in a music store. We had a slow day and two Yamaha kits on the floor in the same sizes: A Recording Custom and a Maple Custom. The MC came with clear Ambassadors on it and the RC came with Pinstripes on it. Both sounded fantastic. So we switched the heads. The RC sounded pretty good with the Ambassadors but it had sounded better with the Pinstripes. The MC sounded terrible with the Pinstripes.

Those videos are fantastic and I wish I could have had a resource like that years ago. But you also have to keep in mind the other two other factors when choosing a drum head.
 

jptrickster

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Not a very good rep of those heads. To me the Remo Ambassador coated was the bee's knee's but in real life that would not be the case by a long shot.
I think a challenge for me is separating how the kit sounds from behind the kit vs what it sounds like in front of the kit. Notably where the bass drum sits in the acoustic mix, with a loud snare and the hihat. This is why I've always tried to avoid ported reso heads when I can get away with it, to my ear the bass drum tone carries further with a non ported front head. I generally sink the beater into the head, even though I've tried to avoid that it's just naturally how I play
That in itself is a challenge. Every room has a different sound and acoustic properties. What may sound great in one room can suddenly sounds like crap in the next. We have to adapt with the many tools we have. Many head selections. Felt strips. Removavble foam rings, a rolled up towel, an internal muffler and the list goes on and on. My rig is very consistant always mic'd and amplified coming back thru the monitor. Eq through the pa to suit the room. Yes of course Super Kick or Emad with a slightly muffled Smooth white ported batter. Acoustic and amplified two different beasts
 

Ian S

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Not a very good rep of those heads. To me the Remo Ambassador coated was the bee's knee's but in real life that would not be the case by a long shot.

You're absolutely right the videos aren't a representation of what each head will sound like in the wild, on various drums in various rooms, mic'd vs acoustic.

But they do show the tendencies of each head in direct comparison, when put in a specific same 'baseline' context. Real world applications are always trial and error until you experience them, but I thought these videos did a decent job of highlighting the sort of 'naked' characteristics of these heads.
 


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