Sound Reviews – Lego my Gobo

ClearSonic Drum Shields

Yes, tube amps are LOUD, but we love their tone. Unfortunately, classic guitar tube amps need to be played loud to sound good. That’s because their output tubes need to be driven into distortion to produce the rich harmonics they’re famous for. That loud sound level can wreak havoc with your worship service because few, if any, churches are designed for concert level guitar amps.

What’s a music minister to do? You want your musicians to play with emotion, but that usually means turning up the amp. And loud amps in a small room will assault the congregation with a too-loud mix. Remember, any loud sound from the stage will force the house mix to be at LEAST that loud. Thus begins the war of the SPLs (Sound Pressure Levels).

CSPJB4-largeEnter the humble GOBO. Named for the fact that it goes between the sound source and the listener, it can help reduce the SPL of say, a loud drummer, or loud guitar amplifier. Note in the picture to the left, a Clearsonic Plexiglas partition is positioned in front of a short amp stack (guitar head with one speaker cabinet). There’s a sound absorber panel behind the speaker to trap the sound that’s reflected (you don’t want it echoing off the back wall, do you?) and a microphone placed in between the baffle and the speaker. This not only prevents the guitar speaker from blasting the congregation sitting in front of the amp, it also isolates that microphone from other loud stage sounds (drums and other amps), which can help clean up the mix.

CLE_ISOPACKADARKSpeaking of drum kits, they’re another instrument that’s difficult to play softly. Again, a loud drummer forces you to make the whole mix louder, which can be WAY too loud for many church goers. Tame that loud drum kit with a Plexiglas gobo. But don’t place your drum kit against an untreated back wall and expect the Plexiglas panel in front to kill the sound. Without rear absorption you’ll only cause the sound to reflect back off the wall and into the room. Absorber panels placed behind the drum kit (shown on the left) actually convert the sound energy into heat rather than letting it bounce around the room. Clearsonic also makes an absorptive ceiling over the drumset for maximum sound control. Just place your microphones inside the gobo, and you’re ready to roll.

You might also consider in-ear monitors or headphones for your drummer in case he needs to hear other instruments on the stage (most don’t). Another benefit of the drummer “in the box” is that the drum kit sounds louder to the drummer since the sound is reflected right back in his face. This can help him play with a lighter touch since he can hear his own drums. And for mixing in a small room, a softer drummer is ALWAYS better.

Go to for their whole product line of sound control devices.

Copyright Mike Sokol 2015 – All Rights Reserved

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