There are some pieces of equipment which are easily left off your wish list until you’ve used one. For me, that was a drum loom. We’d never used one for any of Graffic Jam’s sessions, and naturally, had no idea what we were missing out on.
Before using a drum loom, we plugged every drum microphone into a seperate XLR chord, which merged into a tangly mess in the middle of the stage which closely resembled a rat’s nest. We then tucked it to one corner of the drum stage and put the patch bay in front of it so that the trip hazard was out of the way for the band and our film crew. Then one day we used the Audio Technik’s custom made twelve way, eight metre drum loom (AT12WDL8M for short).
A set of twelve labeled and colour coded XLR cables branch out from the trunk, which is designed to be situated in the centre of the drum kit, underneath the drummer. The chords branch out, much like a tree, in an efficient manner so as to reduce the amount of slack which would ordinarily have to be dealt with if using regular XLR chords. All of the lines are perfect size, except that the overheads could perhaps be a bit longer. They are the perfect size to suit the preference of most sound engineers in live sound situations (which is relatively close-miked overheads). However you will find yourself stretching them to their limit if you’re running your overheads pretty high (which is what we do to reduce shadows when we’re filming). The obvious work around to this is to have two one-metre XLR cables handy.
Setting it up can be a little bit more annoying and time consuming than just a bunch of XLR’s, but that comes with the welcome trade off that pack down is much quicker and easier. The nature of the beast is that it gets tangled as easily as Medusa’s hair (we had to untangle it three times during setup), but perhaps that was because it was our first time using it and we weren’t mindful to keep it from tangling. I can imagine someone who’s more familiar with the setup process of this loom would have a much easier time charming the serpents. At the tail end of the session we found the tables had turned. Instead of facing the tedious task of untangling twelve knotted XLR cables, we quickly wound up one drum loom.
Aesthetically this loom us much more pleasing than our previous setup. Not only can you barely tell there are any chords from the front of the drum kit. But there’s no longer an array of trip hazards converging at an ugly nest right in the way of where our film crew may want to stand. This is exactly what drum looms are designed for, to be neat. Not only does it look better on camera, but it reduces dreaded OHS concerns. The combination of these two make the stage (and therefore you as a sound engineer) look more professional. And the added bonus of a quicker pack down means you’re more likely to get to the bar in time for happy hour.