In houses of worship, large and small, getting good sound isolation can be a huge challenge. Whether the need is to separate the drums from the rest of the ensemble or to help control the overall stage volume, the ClearSonic 5 Panel Drum Shield is an easy and convenient way to get the job done.
Developed by ClearSonic Manufacturing Inc., the ClearSonic 5 Panel Drum Shield consists of 5 clear 1/4" thick acrylic panels measuring 5 1/2' (66") x 2' (24") hinged together accordion style with transparent hinges. The Shield features cutouts at the bottom for easy cabling and has a total weight of 85 lbs. for easy transport. The base of each panel has a steel reinforced semi-transparent rubber like trim base to protect the panels and the floor from scratching. They provide a good amount of sound isolation, alleviating the problem of the drums overpowering the other instruments on stage. I could also see them being instrumental in minimizing bleed in live recording situations. Knowing the benefits of good isolation, the ClearSonic appealed to me right off the bat although I did have some concerns. How does the ClearSonic affect the drummer's interaction with other players? Is the drummer adequately able to hear what the other musicians are playing on stage? What kind of effect will sound rebounding off of the ClearSonic have on the overall sound of the drums out front and to me (the drummer)?
As far as hearing what the other musicians are playing is concerned, in situations where the drums are behind the amplified instruments and /or the P.A., you will definitely need adequate monitors. Once the monitors are dialed-in, communication on stage should be a cinch. Sound rebound is an issue with the ClearSonic. One positive aspect of sound rebound is that you won't need to have the drums loud in your monitor mix. It can become a problem if the mikes pick-up the rebound. There are pads available that can alleviate it, so it is no big deal. One drawback I experienced was the feeling that I was separate from the rest of the ensemble. I think that was because I have never played behind a shield before and it could take a little getting used to.
To sum it up, the ClearSonic 5 Panel Drum Shield is light and easy to collapse and transport. It does exactly what it is supposed to- isolate the drums to prevent sound bleeding. From the drummer's vantage point, with good monitors, the ClearSonic is relatively unobtrusive. From a musical director's perspective, the ClearSonic is an excellent tool providing necessary sound control over every performance.
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