This article is not for you.

It’s for your neighbor, or your roommates, or…maybe your poor parents.

Or rather…

It’s to help you keep your neighbour or your folks at bay, so that you can keep drumming and practicing at home.

Here’s a quick overview of what we’ll cover:

 

How to Muffle Drums for Practice

Scroll table to the right for more

 Electronic DrumsSound Proof RoomDrum Isolation boothSilent Drum KitNoise isolating platformsMod your drum kitPractice pad kitsAlternative DrumsticksAir drumsOthers
Cost$$$$$$$ - $$$$$$$ - $$$$$$$ - $$$$$ - $$$$$ - $$$$$$$
Accessibility

Easy to Purchase?
YesNo. Need a bit more researchYes (if DIY, will take time to gather material)YesYes (if DIY, will take time to gather material)Yes (if DIY, will take time to gather material)YesYesYesDepends
Speed of implementationFastSlowSlowAverageSlowAverageFastFastFastDepends
Amount of Noise Reduction40% – 80% (depends on how hard you hit)95%40% - 80% (depends on built)40% to 70%80% (on impact sound)30% - 85%75% (for housemates) - 100% (for neighbors)35%100%Depends
How close it is to an acoustic Drum Kit
Is the placement of drums the same?
Yes, it is build like an acoustic drum kitSameSameSameSame (if you use the acoustic / e-drums on the platform)SameNo. Unless if you place practice pads over all your drum headsSameCloseDepends
Rebounce or FeelLessSameSameLessSameDepends on mod usedSlightly more than normalLessNoneMay not impact
ExampleRoland TD-11KV-S




Click to check latest pricing
Use of Sound Isolation Foam Boards




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P.S. there's more to sound proofing than this.
ClearSonic MegaPac Drum Isolation Booth




Click to check latest pricing
Mesh Drum Heads or Low Volume Cymbals ( See Below)


Roland TD-11KV-S




Click to check latest pricing
Mute Pads or Cymbomute ( See Below)


Drumeo P4 Practice Pad




Click to check latest pricing
Drum Brushes or Drum Rods ( See Below)


Aerodrum




Click to check latest pricing

 

We explore the methods, strategies, tools and accessories that will allow you to be silent when practicing drums at your home or in your apartment or condo.

Here’s a quick navigation on the various methods, click to skip to them:

How to Muffle Drums for Practice
#1 – Electronic Drums
#2 – Sound Proof a Room
#3 – Isolating Drum booth
#4 – Silent Drum Kit Options
4i) Mesh Drum Heads
4ii) Low Volume Cymbals
#5 -Noise isolating platforms
#6 – Mod your original drum kit
6i) Mute pads
6ii) Cymbomute for Cymbals or Hi Hat
#7 – Practice pad kits
#8 – Change your drumsticks!
#9 – Air drums
#10 – Other Creative Ideas
5 Criteria for a method to be suitable to be ‘silent while practicing drums’

Let’s get right to it:

#1 -Electronic Drums

Roland-TD

See what other Roland-TD users say about how loud it really is

The most direct method.

Get an electronic drum kit, plug in your ear piece and you’re about as silent as you can get.

Plus, these usually come with an electronic module that is packed drum sample tracks as well as other tracks that could turn your drum kit into a one man band.

You can expect electronic drums to be about 40% – 80% quieter than acoustic drum kits.

Avoid those plastic/silicon drum heads, or heck even the rubber drum heads if you want something closer to the 80% range.

And control your drumming strength, or else it’s going to end up equally noisy.

Pros

  • Fuss free solution to silent drums while practicing.
  • Easy to set up – plug and play.
  • No need to tune.
  • May have additional features that could allow you to jam to your favorite music without ‘disturbing’ your neighbors.

Cons

  • Expensive.
  • May not sound real.
  • May not feel like a real drum kit.
  • Takes up more space.
  • Depending on drum head material, might still be considered ‘noisy’: rubber heads are noisier than silicone heads.
    Mesh heads are the quietest ones so far.
  • Rubber cymbals may still be noisy

#2 – Sound Proof a Room

sound isolation foams

This is an expensive option, but gives you a private space and can (almost) completely cut out the drum sounds traveling out.

This option might be a little more time consuming compared to the rest of the methods mentioned in this article.

But you will end up with the quietest set up where you can play to your heart’s content without pissing off the neighbors or your parents.😉

Having a soundproof drum room will cut out about 95% of the sound.

Low frequencies might still leak out, but it shouldn’t be able to travel far.

Pros

  • Can (almost) completely cut off drum sounds traveling out of room.
  • Can play real drum kit at normal sound levels inside.
  • You’ll have a private practice space 🙂

Cons

  • Most expensive option.
  • Most time consuming option.
  • You need a spare room.
  • Room may not be versatile for other purposes.

There’s more to soundproofing a room than just pasting Acoustic Panels of Foam (but these are great at minimizing mid to high frequencies), stay tuned I’ll share an easy way to soundproofing a room with a small budget soon!

 

#3 – Isolating Drum booth

ClearSonic MegaPac Drum Isolation Boothp.s. drum kit not include. LOL

Also known as the ‘drum isolation booth‘.

This option involves building a booth or a mini shed or room just for your drum kit.

It’ll be a set up that’s pretty much like soundproofing a room, except the drum isolation booth is a standalone ‘room’ that you build from scratch.

You can expect to cut off about 40% – 80% of the drum sound going out.

Pros:

  • You can play on your original, real drum kit within the booth.
  • Relatively easy to set up.

Cons:

  • May not be as affordable as replacing drum heads, if you choose to purchase pre-built solutions.
  • Might take up too much space within your apartment or condo.

 

How to DIY a soundproof drum isolation booth:


(all videos used were compiled from YouTube)

 

You can also choose to purchase pre built drum isolation booths solutions and set up it at home.

Here’s a video of the ClearSonic MegaPac Drum Isolation Booth:

 

#4 – Silent Drum Kit Options

Basically, you will replace key components in the drum kit with ‘silent’ versions.

This method will be relatively cheaper and somewhat easier to implement compared to the first 3 options.

All you need to do is to replace the desired drum head or cymbals to muffle your drum kit.

You can expect to muffle your drums for practice by 40% to 70% with these options.

 

We take a look at each of the key component and compiled video comparisons below:

i) Mesh Drum Heads

pearl mesh drumhead

These are super easy to use!

All you need to do is, change up the drum heads on your pre-existing drum kit and you’re good to go!

Plus, if you need to bring your drum kit for live gigs, you can switch them out easily too.

What are ‘Mesh Drum Heads’?

Mesh drum heads feature a mesh surface usually made of single or double ply fabric, that doesn’t product too much noise when you drum.

The tautness of the mesh allows it to produce a rebound. However, you tend to get lesser rebound on a mesh drum head compared to any of the usual plastic or polymer heads.

Mesh drum heads also tend to be less durable.

It is made of fabric and the areas that you regularly hit with your sticks or pedal will tend to dent or lose their tautness over time. Good quality mesh drum heads can still last for about a year, depending on your playing style and the type of music you usually play.

You can get them in a set for your snare drum, toms and bass drum head:

remo silentstroke propack

The Remo Silentstroke series is said to be as silent as ‘fingers snapping’.

Pros

  • Silent.
  • Provides great rebound and playing feel.
  • Fits on most drum shells, even the bass drum.

Cons

  • Being silent means you might not enjoy the sound of your mesh drum heads as the drummer.
  • Relatively less durable than regular drum heads.
  • Take note! Rim shots will still be noisy.

 

There are many mesh drumhead options in the market.

The top of the range is the Remo Silentstroke series. (you can check it out on Amazon here, or read what other users say about it here)

It is relatively more durable than the other options in the range and provides a similar sound to the acoustic drums, except quieter.

Plus, it provides more rebound than the acoustic drum heads as well.

 

remo-silentstroke-14

 

Hear the difference the Remo Silentstroke makes against the acoustic drum heads with this video comparison:


(all videos used were compiled from YouTube)

 

 

Now, although the drum heads are a major component of your kit, let’s not forget about the cymbals.

I’d say it’s more irritating to hear random crashes coming from your neighbour’s house.

So, don’t forget to muffle your cymbals or get silent cymbals.

Pair mesh drum heads with:

ii) Low Volume Cymbals

These low volume cymbals are metal cymbals filled with holes. I think the holes kill the vibrations and hence results in a low volume cymbal sound.

Depending on the brand and build of the cymbal, the sound quality and durability may vary.

My go to Low Volume Cymbals is the Zildjian L80 series (click to read what other drummers think).

It is surprisingly quiet while retaining most of the actual cymbal sound characteristics.

Zildjian claims that the L80 series is about 70 to 80% quieter than regular cymbals. I think it’s about close to their claims, if you play at with the same strength you’d use on the traditional cymbals.

If you are hitting hard on the cymbals, it may not be that much quieter.

Plus, you’d risk breaking the L80 cymbals.

Holey Cymbals:

 Zildjian L80 ride

The Zildjian L80 claims to be 80% quieter than normal cymbals of the same size.

Pros

  • Silent.
  • Available for all cymbals and even the hi-hat.

Cons

  • May break easily because the holes in the cymbal make the overall structure weaker.

 

Listen to the comparison between Zildjian L80 cymbals vs normal acoustic set cymbals:

 

#5 -Noise isolating platforms

So, you’ve done your best to silent your drums using all the methods above, but are still getting complains…especially from the neighbor living in the apartment unit directly below yours.

You’ve probably missed out on this key drum silencing tool.

You see, while you are enjoying yourself and going crazy with your drum pedals, especially the double pedal…all your neighbor is hearing is constant banging coming down on them from their ceiling!

When you step on your drum pedal, a portion of that energy is transferred into your flooring and converted into sound energy that travels downwards.

This is sometimes referred to as impact sound or kick pedal noise, and it is also present from electronic drum kits.

Energy from triggering the pedal is dissipated as sound downwards.

So, how do you reduce the noise from your drum pedal?

And, how do you kill the impact noise that your neighbor downstairs is complaining about?

 

The answer is noise isolating platforms!

The purpose of these platforms is to absorb the sound produced when you step on the drum pedals, be it on your hi-hat or bass drum.

They can reduce the downward impact sound by about 80%.

Although you don’t really notice it as a drummer, but those who live right below your apartment will get an amplified version of that thumping as the energy is dispersed as sound energy.

You can build your own noise isolating platform for your drum kit!

There are loads of DIY noise absorption platforms or DIY drum sound absorbing riser on Youtube.

 

2 simple ways to make your own drum noise isolating platform:

DIY Sound Absorbing Drum Riser:

 

Kick Pad Noise ‘Spider’ Platform:

 

I think the 2 DIY solutions above work way better than anything you can buy off the shelf.

If you have space and would prefer a sturdy platform, go with the riser.

It is an easier project and is relatively more comfortable to play on.

The noise spider is more suitable for drummers who want the flexibility to shift their drum practice area.

 

Off the shelf noise isolating platform options:

But, if you are lazy and want to ‘work smart’, here are some off-the-shelf noise isolating platform solutions:

Roland NE-10 Noise Eater Isolation Pad & Isolation Foot

Sold Separately

 

These are to be placed directly below your drum pedals as well as fitted onto the stands of your hi-hat or bass drum legs.

They absorb about 60% of the impact sound from your pedals as well as those being transmitted from the hi hat or bass drum legs.

Listen to the difference below:

You can pair the Roland Noise Eater with their floor mat for better impact noise isolation:

Roland TDM-10

Roland-TDM-10

Helps to keep your drum kit in place as well 😀

 

 

#6 – Mod your original drum kit

Don’t want to have to rebuild or give your entire drum kit a face lift with the silent drum options?

Then here are some accessories that you can use to reduce the ‘noise’ from your existing drum kit.

Do note that there is a limit to how much sound these options can reduce.

You might want to control your strength while playing the drums with these.

i) Mute pads

Also referred to as ‘sound off pads’.

These are rubber pads that you place on your drum heads and rubber sleeves that seat on your cymbals and hi-hat:

Vic-Firth-MUTEPP6-Fusion-Drum-and-Cymbal-Mute-Pack

They reduce about 75% of the noise but the rebound from these pads are not the most desirable.

But they really do help mute the drum.

In fact. you end up with ‘dead’ thumping sounds mostly.

Remember to disengage your snare wires on the snare drums if you use this option.

This is how they look like on your drum kit:

vic firth Mute Pack
source: Ebay

Pros:

  • Don’t need to get a new drum set, or replace drum heads, just place the mute pads on your existing set up.
  • Relatively quick to implement, with exception to the hi-hat mute pads.
  • No need to tune.

Cons:

  • Sounds dead. You might as well use practice pads.
  • Doesn’t replicate the bounce of a real drum kit.

ii) Cymbomute for Cymbals or Hi Hat

Mute pads or sound-off pads for cymbal kill the sound and reverb by the cymbals.

If you’d like to keep the reverb, you can consider the Cymbomute:

cymbomute

Its basically an elastic band that you wrap around the edge of your cymbal or hi-hat that reduces the vibration and volume of your cymbal by about 55%.

With the Cymbomute, you will maintain the characteristic reverb and higher frequency ranges.

Plus, you get to retain the original sound of the bell as well.

Here’s how the Cymbomute work and sounds:

iii) Rubber rims

So, you’ve muffled your drums, or reduce the sound off your drum heads and cymbals…

All is good until you hit that rim shot.

And the neighbour is at your front door again -.-

Get rubber rims!

Pintech Percussion Silentrim

Even if you are using mesh drum heads, if you are not changing your drum shell, you might piss off the entire apartment when you hit that faithful rim shot.

Rubber rims are just rubber gaskets or tubes that you can fit over your drum rim. They kill the rim shot noise by close to 85%.

Installation is rather easy, just fit it onto your drum rims and you can start drumming.

Pros:

  • Silents the rim so that you can continue playing those rim shots.
  • Fits most drum sizes

Cons:

  • ok, i said that it was easy to install. It is, except that you have to fit it on all your drum heads (except for the bass drum). And that can be time consuming.
  • May not last long for heavy or frequent rim shot takers.

iv) Silent Kick drum beater

Silent Strike Bass Drum BeaterSilent kick drum beaters usually feature a foam beater that absorbs the sound of your bass drum.

They reduce the beating sound of the bass drum by about 30%.

Of course, if you could hold back while hitting the pedals, that would help with the noise as well.

These help to take out most of the sound from your bass drum if paired with the next method.

Plus, they are really easy to use.

All you need to do is to switch the drum beater attached to your drum pedal.

If used with the mesh bass drum head, your bass drum would be almost mute.

Pros

  • Silent when used with mesh drum heads.
  • Relatively cheaper and easier to change as compared to changing drum heads.

Cons

  • If used on a regular drum head, you’ll still get a thumping sound.

v) Stuff your bass drum up

Ok, you’ve got your drum head, cymbals and even bass drum beater settled.

But your bass drum is still too loud.

It’s time to stuff it up! (In fact, I usually stuff my bass drum before adding any other drum silencing tools to it).

You can use pillows, cloth, any similar fabric that can fill up your bass drum without damaging it. Fill your bass drum to the brim.

bass drum porthole
How many pillows can you fit in your bass drum?

And you should immediately hear the difference. (Muffles the bass drum by about 80%).

You can also do this for other drums like the snare and toms, although it is not recommended.

The resonant drum head would have to bear the entire weight of whatever you stuffed into them, and this could wear out the lugs overtime.

For snare and toms, use mesh drum heads instead.

Pros:

  • Easy to implement.
  • Relatively cheap.

Cons:

  • May damage bass drum shell if not done correctly.

#7 – Practice pad kits

Practice pads come in various sizes and designs.

vic-firth-practice-pad

If you are practicing to build muscle memory around the kit, you can place these on your existing drum kits, or get dedicated drum practice pad stands to replicate a drum kit.

Alternatively, you can consider the Drumeo P4 practice pad that comes with 4 different surfaces and tones.

These will reduce your noise by about 75%.

Pros:

  • Relatively silent – when your sticks hit the rubber there will still be sound / noise.
  • Relatively cheaper option, if you don’t replicate the entire drum kit.
  • Relatively long lasting.
  • Easy to set up.
  • May provide the right bounce and feel of a real drum.

Cons:

  • They all sound the same, don’t expect different tones.
  • You’ll probably get tired of them pretty quickly, ha.
  • Can’t really practice rim shots.
  • Can still be pretty noise if placed on snare drum – try to reduce or control your drumming strength.
  • No readily available pads for the bass drum and cymbals.

#8 – Change your drumsticks!

If all the methods above are not to your liking, this is the minimum you can do.

  1. Switch out your regular drumsticks.
  2. Use drum brushes or drum rods instead.

Both the brush and the rod are quieter on the drum heads. Just try them out on your regular drum kit.

Drum Rods

Drum Brushes

However, do not expect this to appease your neighbor fully. Especially if they have sensitive ears.

This only reduces the sound by about 35%, if you are not hitting hard.

Pros:

  • Cheapest option.
  • Easy to implement.

Cons:

  • Reduces noise slightly. You might want to pair this method with practice pads.
  • You will lose the rebounce of the drum head.
  • Only works for drum heads and cymbals, but not bass drum.

#9 – Air drums

No kidding.

Technology has brought us far. We now have virtual air drums that triggers very similarly to a drum kit. And, they can detect strength and loudness to a certain degree too.

You get to practice around the kit, virtually.

But you won’t be building much muscles, nor speed around the kit.

And don’t expect any rebounce or similar feedback…yet.

Pros:

  • Not need extra dedicated space for drum kits.
  • Definitely silent.
  • Not the cheapest option, but still rather affordable.
  • Not need to tune.

Cons:

  • No rebounce nor feel of a real drum.
  • Cannot train speed.
  • Cannot train stamina.
  • Need some time to set up.

2 virtual drumming kits to consider

Aerodrums

aerodrum

Here’s a great review on how the Aerodrums work, and how much space you’d need to use it for your drum practice:

 

Freedrum

freedrum

Click to see how Freedrum works

 

#10 – Other Creative Ideas

This is a hack from Matt on silencing the drum cymbals.

According to him, clipping a clothes peg on your cymbals (except the hi-hats) will reduce the volume and also minimise decay.

Or, you can just use a cymbal muff or cymbal mute that operates like a dampening gel.

 

5 Criteria for a method to be suitable to be ‘silent while practicing drums’

So, how did I compare these home practice drum muffling methods?

These are the 5 criteria I referred to when testing the methods above.

The aim here is to retain the original feel of the drum – i.e. the bounce, the response and the feedback you get on both your sticks and your pedals, while playing the drums.

And at the same time, we want to minimise the sound (or, what your neighbour might describe as ‘noise’ or ‘rattle’ or ‘din’) as much as we can.

We compared the methods listed above using these 5 criteria:

#1: Cost

Look, we just want to keep drumming and practicing in comfort of our apartment.

I don’t know about you.

But I’d want something that reduces the drumming sound to the minimum, without breaking the bank.

So, cost is the #1 factor I looked at.

 

#2: Accessibility

If there’s a miraculous method to muffle my drums for practice sessions such that only I can hear it, it’s great!
But if the method requires me to fly to China to buy an exclusive accessory, then no thanks.

I’ll want a solution that is easily accessible, while providing the maximum muffling effect.

 

#3: Speed of Implementation

And look, I wouldn’t mind dedicating a weekend soundproofing a room.

But I’d rather not wait a week to get sound isolating glass doors or walls installed.

And, I wouldn’t want to rebuild an entire house or tear down my wall or that sort of crazy stuff.
I just want to play. And I want to play now, without the neighbours knocking at my door.

 

#4: Noise Level

I know, to us drum kits produce music.

But often times, our neighbours/parents label it as ‘noise’.

And this is the whole purpose you’re here right?
Of course I’d factor this into our criteria!

I’ve noticed that Noise level can be directly proportional to cost and speed of implementation.

For example: muffling using rubber pads or tubes is in some cases cheaper than low volume drum heads or cymbals. But the noise level is higher compared to the slightly more costly muffling alternatives. It’s all about finding the balance.

In summary. The less noise, the better because, happy neighbour & parents & roommates, happy drummer 🙂

 

#5: How close it is to an acoustic Drum Kit?

When practicing, on top of building coordination and speed, we want to be building muscle memory around the kit.

Hence, on top of reducing the noise level, I want to ensure my set up is pretty close to an actual drumkit.

Otherwise, why not save the time, effort, money and stick to the good old practice pad?

 

#6: Rebounce or Feel

Similar to above.

You’d want to have a drum head that is as close to the real deal as possible.

The rebounce of a drum head helps with your speed and playing style. If you are always practicing on a dead surface without rebounce, you’ll not be able to play a real drum set to its full potential.

Conclusion

We’ve covered about 10 different ways you can muffle your drums for practice. Especially if you stay in an apartment or a condo with neighbors next door or downstairs.

You can choose from more ‘extreme’ methods like soundproofing a room to changing up your drumsticks, or even stick a clothes peg on your cymbals.

Let’s not give drumming a bad name.

And do what we can do not irritate the neighbors while still being able to practice and improve our drumming skills.

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