To port, or not to port, that is the question!

the_dude

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If I'm going to mic the bass drum I prefer a ported head so I can place the mic all the way inside. Used a short mic stand at one point but inevitably some stringed instrument idiot would run into the stand.
 

MitchLyons

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Porting and non porting can both sound great but lately I’ve been telling myself just tune the drums to how they sound good from behind the kit because I haven’t had a gig in like two years so why do I really care what it sounds like in front of the kit :)
Different strokes for different folks! If it works for you, that's all that matters. I play out and tour when there's not a pandemic, so my needs are different than someone who doesn't gig out. I will agree that some kicks *do* sound better unported.
 

dcrigger

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So why kill the tone too much by porting?
But it's not "too much" if it is matching the method used to create the bass drum sounds off of 95% of the records I'm looking to emulate.

Much like putting Diplomat resos on the bottom of toms in order to create a bunch high frequencies that I have no use for. Putting a unported front head on my bass drum adds nothing I need and creates nothing but things I have to work to contain and/or work around dealing with (mic positioning, access to muffling, beater bounce, etc.)

This is just my take - for what has worked for my work and for the way I hear things even when working for myself.

YMMV
 

hsosdrum

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14x22 bass drums, Fiberskyn PS3 batter heads, Fiberskyn PS3 reso heads w/muffling rings cut down to half their original width, no other muffling and NO PORTS. That way they sound like drums, not cardboard boxes. I always play off the BD heads so I never have to worry about the beaters kicking back.

If I'm ever in a situation where I may be miked I bring my own bass drum mics (D112s) and stands, since sound folks sometimes don't have a matching pair of bass drum mics. Place 'em one hand-width off-center and three finger-widths away from the heads and that's my sound — I'm not looking to emulate anyone else.
 

Cauldronics

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Some people say that with a large hole like those Yamaha‘s it’s almost like playing with no front head at all but that is not true. I’ve experimented this year with tuning that head low and high and it definitely makes a difference in sound overall.
I wonder if the sound difference is due more to the tension applied to the shell when the rods are tighter or looser.

In other words, maybe the shell is being dampened a little more with tension coming from the rods or front head, even with much of the head not there. Or it could have the opposite effect and make the drum more resonant.
 

RyanLovesDrums

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I wonder if the sound difference is due more to the tension applied to the shell when the rods are tighter or looser.

In other words, maybe the shell is being dampened a little more with tension coming from the rods or front head, even with much of the head not there. Or it could have the opposite effect and make the drum more resonant.
I’m not sure but I’m still trying to find the sweet spot of that drum. I’m getting closer. But I remember when I was trying different tunings a while back it seemed that head did have a part in the sound.
 

Cauldronics

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But it's not "too much" if it is matching the method used to create the bass drum sounds off of 95% of the records I'm looking to emulate.

Much like putting Diplomat resos on the bottom of toms in order to create a bunch high frequencies that I have no use for. Putting a unported front head on my bass drum adds nothing I need and creates nothing but things I have to work to contain and/or work around dealing with (mic positioning, access to muffling, beater bounce, etc.)

This is just my take - for what has worked for my work and for the way I hear things even when working for myself.

YMMV
Good points. I haven’t liked the sound of a ported head enough to stick with it I guess, and I got used to all the muffling and dampening it takes to reign in (or not) a solid front head.

This thread is gonna make me want to try ported once again. It would be nice to achieve a good sound without all the attachments.
 

dcrigger

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Good points. I haven’t liked the sound of a ported head enough to stick with it I guess, and I got used to all the muffling and dampening it takes to reign in (or not) a solid front head.

This thread is gonna make me want to try ported once again. It would be nice to achieve a good sound without all the attachments.
Again everybody's perceptions of this all vary from person to person.


I actually really find it that complicated - 1. two heads in the range of PS-3 type to plain simple single ply. 2. a port in the which ever head is thinner and less damped (if they are different). 3. some single item for muffling.

Certainly #3 can vary - but it doesn't have to that much. For years, I simply carried a regular size, real feather pillow and used it religiously. These days, the pillow can occasionally be a bit much, so I'd probably carry something like a bath towel as well... or not.

But that's really all there is to it - heads and something for muffling. With the added plus being - that when there drum sounds a bit muted in a given room or a bit to open when recording the song - I can just reach in there and adjust things a bit. Right then, right there.... in moments. And that's - at least for me - a lot more difficult with a unported drum (unless I stick entirely with external muffling... which I generally do).
 

Cauldronics

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Again everybody's perceptions of this all vary from person to person.


I actually really find it that complicated - 1. two heads in the range of PS-3 type to plain simple single ply. 2. a port in the which ever head is thinner and less damped (if they are different). 3. some single item for muffling.

Certainly #3 can vary - but it doesn't have to that much. For years, I simply carried a regular size, real feather pillow and used it religiously. These days, the pillow can occasionally be a bit much, so I'd probably carry something like a bath towel as well... or not.

But that's really all there is to it - heads and something for muffling. With the added plus being - that when there drum sounds a bit muted in a given room or a bit to open when recording the song - I can just reach in there and adjust things a bit. Right then, right there.... in moments. And that's - at least for me - a lot more difficult with a unported drum (unless I stick entirely with external muffling... which I generally do).
Yeah, that's what I've done when (infrequently) using a ported head. Some kind of muffling either inside the drum or built into the batter like a PS3, or both. A lot of drummers can get a great sound like that, but the times I've tried, the unported sound was better to me. It's a preference I haven't tried to change much over time because it has worked.

Ported heads are something I would like to get down so I'll try again.
 

itsjjp

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My 22" vintage Superstar kick is deep and sounds amazing without a port, but I grew tired of arguing with sound guys and did a standard offset port big enough for wide kick mics. Still sounds great, just not my preference. Tradeoff is livable for sure. Batter is Remo CS black dot/clear with integrated outer zero-ring. I forget the actual model, but it's newer in the last few years. I run that without a beater pad and nothing in the drum. Reso head was custom made by a local graphics shop, Max Heads of Downers Grove, IL. It's like plain white Ambassador, but the screen print seems like it added sound control all over the head and it's not very responsive compared to an actual Ambassador. Again, a trade-off for vanity. I'm okay with that too, punchy, deep or high/jazz. Long story short, port if you plan to play live gigs with sound reinforcement.
 

bolweevil

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I've done both, but by the time someone adds an emad, a PS3 or superkick, felts, pillow, etc. the resonance argument is moot for the most part (same for virgin bass love).

I like a ported head because
1. I have poor technique & bury my beater a bit & I like the feel.
2. I can't stand to see upset & confused soundmen.
3. I added an Evans pillow not because I needed it for sound, but simply because I got tired of my front man kicking over my stand. So I just throw my D112 in my bass when we run our own sound.

But if it feels right to you to have a non ported head or you just like the look, I say go for it.
Your #2 reason made me chuckle. So true.
 

pr_miguel

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No port. Nothing in the batter, a felt strip in the reso. You can control the boom simply by high or low tunning the reso. When you have a port, there's no way to high tunning the reso beyond a certain limit.
 

cletus72

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I've done both, but by the time someone adds an emad, a PS3 or superkick, felts, pillow, etc. the resonance argument is moot for the most part (same for virgin bass love).

I like a ported head because
1. I have poor technique & bury my beater a bit & I like the feel.
2. I can't stand to see upset & confused soundmen.
3. I added an Evans pillow not because I needed it for sound, but simply because I got tired of my front man kicking over my stand. So I just throw my D112 in my bass when we run our own sound.

But if it feels right to you to have a non ported head or you just like the look, I say go for it.
I like to see soundmen cry.
 

Monday317

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Bass reso:
Non-ported=Cannon
Ported=Not so much
What do you guys like?
Not talking about miking, strictly the sound!
I'm currently using non-ported!
After much research and actual experience I can say:
Proper porting and tuning can often eliminate the need to use muffling on your bass
It can give your bass drum the kind of low-end thump at nearly any size without being boomy
If you want to port, the optimal diameter of the port is about 18% of the diameter of the bass drum head, rounded up to the nearest inch.
For instance, a 22" diameter head will sound great with a 4" port.
 

Monday317

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Bass reso:
Non-ported=Cannon
Ported=Not so much
What do you guys like?
Not talking about miking, strictly the sound!
I'm currently using non-ported!
Porting has worked well for me for years. Saves having to fiddle with muffling and gives the bass drum a powerful sound when properly done. After much research and experimentation, here's what I have found:

Getting the right size of the port is critical. Too large and you might as well pull the bass reso head, or put in a mesh head. Too small and it only serves as an easy way to get a mic cord through.
The optimal diameter of the port is about 18% of the diameter of the bass head, rounded up to the next half-inch. For a 22" head, a 4"-diameter port is best. If you get up to a 7" port, you no longer have a functioning reso head.

The port absolutely should be offset from the center for best results. A centered port reduces the volume and punch of the beater. The offset port should be at least a "generous" inch or so in from the rim. 1-1/2" would be more than adequate. It can be placed at any angle on the head, the effect will be the same. I prefer 6:00 myself, but anything will work.

I f you like the look of multiple ports, simply try to stick with the 18% guidance where possible. Two 2" ports on a 22" reso head will have virtually the same effect as a single 4" port. I've seen two 1"-ports with a 2" in the center on a 22" bass that looked kind of cool.

Of course, if you want to try larger ports up to say, 6" on a 22" drum you can, but you'll look some resonance and a little bottom end.

For the math-challenged the 18% recommendation looks like this:

16" uses a 3" port; 18" uses a 3-1/4", though you can use a 3" ring without any issue. If you run across a 3-1/2" ring, your drum won't suffer, either. 20" & 22" use a 4" port; 24" uses a 4-1/2" port; 26" is optimally ported at 4-3/4" but a 5" trim ring won't be a deal breaker. My 28" happily plays well with a 5" ring, though a 5-3/32 would be ideal for a drummer with OCD. Not I.
 

AaronLatos

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I have drums set up every way: full front (with internal mics and without), ported, no front head. I'd really prefer not to have to choose. But if I had to, it would be full front with an internal mic- can get more sounds out of it than anything else, both acoustically and under mics. That's also because one of the sounds I HAVE to have for the music I do (jazz and Americana) is a wide open, rattly and earthy tone. If I didn't need to have that, I'd probably go for a small port, as the little bit of inherent dryness is pretty useful.
 

jakeo

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In these types of questions it's hard to answer without context - studio set - set always set up in the house - gigging set - metal - be bop- etc. For my gigging situation - ease of use and simplicity are paramount. I'm playing the usual blues classic rock where the kick is the only drum miced and there's no sound man. A non ported head would just add an unpredictable variable the band does not need.
 

Jawshoeuh

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I usually keep two reso heads around, one ported and one not. I like the feel and sound of an un-ported bass drum myself, but it's not that big of a difference, so for my regular gigging kit I'll use a ported head as it's generally more convenient.

I remember years ago at a little club watching some guy take a box cutter and butcher his reso head on stage to cut a sloppy port for the sound guy, and I just thought like, A: it makes no difference how the kick is mic'd in this crappy room on this crappy PA, lol, and B: you cut the port so badly that you're going to have to buy another $35 head now :icon_lol:
 


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