Okay, so I'm the worship leader at our church. We are currently trying to decide what to go with as far as drums. Our sanctuary isn't huge. We have about 100, sometimes 150 in worship. Our sanctuary could probably hold about 200-250 people. Our stage isn't large, but we could fit a smaller acoustic set (we wouldn't need a full set anyways).
We're trying to decide between digital and acoustic. I'm talking with several people about this. The guy who would play them has his own set opinion, but I just want to know what different people think.
Some of the concerns of acoustic are:
-too much for our sanctuary in volume (even with a shield)
-too much for our sanctuary in size
-a pain to move when we redo the stage (we do this probably 4-5x a year)
Some of the concerns of digital are:
-do they sound as good as acoustic? or is it just going to sound cheesy
-whether or not our soundboard can handle it currently
My team members have other concerns, but I'm just looking around for thoughts.
Many things to consider. There are pros and cons in both acoustic and electric.
1. What is your budget for a digital set? You would be best to get a decent Roland Set (maybe Yamaha), but both will cost you several thousand. (Like $2500 to $5000 for better Rolands). Higher end e-drum kits sound better than cheaper ones of course. Also, you can get an audio interface and a PC or Mac and get a program like Superior Drummer and route all the drum sounds out of the audio interface one audio channel per drum sound. You can really go to the extreme with sound adjustment and get drums sounds that sound like recording studio quality on stage. This may be better than acoustic drums once tweaked. Your sound system speakers and everything have to be good to handle the sounds though. Cheap speakers or an inexperienced sound person can make them sound really weak or bad too.
2. Do you need to really control the volume if it is an acoustic set? The church I have been playing at completely enclosed the drums with an insulated homemade "booth". With this you will need good mics, great sound micing techniques and set up to get the drums sounding right. If you have an older congregation and need lower volumes, elctronic drums sound more attractive of an idea. Younger congregation (that likes more volume), acoustic sounds more attractive of an idea.
3. What do your drummers play and prefer? Most would say acoustic. Acoustic sets offer a more dynamic range of sound and when played and mic'd properly hard to beat the sound with e-drums. Each hit on the drum is unique, not a repeated sample. Of course great e-drums and software can vary the drum sounds a lot too. Acoustic drums can get away with no mics in a smaller church. With as many as you have you will probably have to mic. To get the drums to sound good, you will need a good sound system, good mics, proper micing and a person who knows how to adjust them and run sound properly. This will be true of both types of drums though.
Maybe it would be possible to borrow or rent some of both in your area and try them on stage. It might become obvious.
Greetings in the Name of The Lord~!
Our church in the beginning we were using Tama Superstar for 150 pax congregations (that was about 8 years ago). and later we changed to Yamah DTXIII Explorer in end of year 2008, and our congregation was about 200 pax. and now (since 2010 end of December) we changed back to Yamaha Stage Custom with 5 pc cymbal settings with drumshield, congregation now about 260 and keep growing. This is a little bit of my church history of our changing of drum. We may not be like as hectic as your settings that you keep changing stages 4 - 5 times per year (wow... maybe is creating new atmosphere for the worship setting? I don't know... Maybe I can get this movement in our church too to create new fresh look times to times :)), but my sanctuary is about like yours, able to held up to 250, maximum that makeing people hardly to move around, 280.
I'm not saying acoustic is best or digital is worst. Here are some of good points of digital:
- Able to control sound from mixing board (note: soundman need to know what is he doing and please go through a 2 channels DI box. And yeah, only using 2 channel, compare to if you're going to mic up 7 pc mic set to drum)
- Able to customize own settings (many presets, many banks, and for our DTXIII is sufficient since they don't really go and tune the eq, pitch, reverb, echo, delay, etc. although is included in this module... You nedd to know what you're getting for your digital actually. not about the sense of touch but money also will be spent on these other extras that you may not know. and oh yeah, good for teaching new kids to drum, too.)
- lighweight. (for your situation I think this the best point)
- Drummer feel awkward when playing digital drum.(from our experience, some churches I know they preferred digital feel and their controllable volume even the drummer whacked like a die hard rocker) even there is sound come out from the personal monitor for drummers, they don't "feel" the drum (including myself, as a drummer and sound tech to my church).
- need to be very (maybe quite) accurate to the sensing pad area. If a bit off the sensing area, you hit as hard as you can, the sound is not projecting out.
- If people messed up your seeting, and you forgot to set your preset, need to reset again. And is not one second or two second to get it fix back to your setting.
- limited adjustment. all are linked, so if you just wanna move your snare pad, you gonna move your hihat pad and crash pad together, after you change this part, you're going to change other also...
- Drum sound artificial.
I don't think I need to explain to you about acoustic since you having one and you should know their plus and minus point, yes? ;)
Mostly I think for our church setting and value, our drummer most importantly is that they are able to "worship" at ease. In our setting the drummers changed to digital is because the congregations made noises that drummer is too loud (that time we're not able to afford drumshield). We changed, but drummer made noise, unable to get the "feel" of the drum, soon the whole worship team felt something lacking, unable to "feel" the drummer. This is what we experienced. And at last the whole team, PLUS the deacons, congregations, pastors AGREED to change back to acoustic. All of us felt there's something missing in digital. And now we're happy church that not only the congregations able to worship in ease, and the drummer play with his whole might unto the Lord!
Thank God for this recent years this new drum we brought in, with drumshield (although we bought lesser than what we ought need to cover the sound; please check with clearsonic for their full set of isolation for drum. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gGoI02jxDP0
we now only have 6 piece of the acrylic shield, later year we will bring in more isolation pad and add two more of acrylic shield to get the ideal isolation, then add in the 7pc mic set to the drum.), it is enough to lessen the complains from the congregation.
Hope I help you in any ways in your decisions of changing.
our church just went through the same decision at my church. We did lots of research and went with acoustic. We bought a used Gretsch Club kit for $1,000 (it has upgraded cymbals). The advantage is that the bass drum is smaller (not quite as loud) and the set is overall a bit smaller (takes up less space on the stage). The main deciding factor was simplicity. Less things to plug in and balance in the system (we do not shield or mic our drums). This means that it is important for the drummer to "play to the room".
You mentioned that your drummer has his own set - meaning electronic? If so, that could really play into the decision.
Hm... been a while since I posted here... but...
I've been through this drama about 10x over my span or worship involvement in 6+ churches. I've had hybrids where we had "travel" kits, I've seen handsonic improvisation and I've even lugged one of my 3+ Electronic Drums kits every Sunday I played for a while.
I've probably heard every excuse known to man about why electronic are "bad". I have a 60's Grey-Oyster Ludwig kit just like Ringo played and I still play my Roland kits more often. Just more practical for me. I can dial up almost any sound I want, just like my electric guitar.
*BUT* that took years of getting used to it.
The best advice I'd give is invest in something the people will use. Sometimes there is a fine line between "right" and "smart" thing. They say the best camera is the one that's with you (Chase Jarvis - http://thebestcamera.com/). The best kit is the one that get used.
I thought of a lot of things to say, but really that sums it up. Hope that helps...