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REVIEW

KickPort Drum Insert

For years drummers have been stuffing pillows, blankets, foam and other materials to provide dampening with the objective of achieving better definition and punch. In doing so, the natural resonance of the drum is sacrificed in two ways: One, anything coming in contact with the shell chokes the tone, and two, the internal dampening materials reduce the resonant space.

The KickPort Drum Insert is designed to enhance the sound of your drum by doing three things simultaneously:

  • Ports the kick drum in the same manner of a bass reflex speaker cabinet which boosts low frequencies.
  • Adds ideal dampening directly to the resonant head which allows you to remove most if not all of the internal materials thus reclaiming all of the natural resonance and tone of your drum.
  • Focuses the air as it exits the kick drum and this compression increases punch.


The overall result is more lows, more tone, better definition and more punch in varying acoustical environments. Additionally these are benefits the drummer can feel behind the kit.

Tips & Suggestions

Future Percussion Concepts, the makers of the KickPort, recommends that dampening materials only touch the batter head, not the resonant head. They also recommend that you use a reinforcement ring around port hole. See Installation Instruction Sheet. The port hole size should be 5" to 5.5" inches and should NOT affect the sound. Moving the KickPort around in the hole will vary the tone slightly depending on the position, so find the sweet spot.

The KickPort has been used with great results by drummers utilizing many different drum and head combinations. The preferred drumheads are those with more density, especially for the resonant head. Personal favorites are the Remo Powerstroke series on batter and the Remo Emperor (2 ply - 7 mil each ply) on resonant. We also really like the Remo Powerstroke 3 (single ply - 10 mil) on resonant. Sometimes several small pieces of tape may need to be added to the inside edge of the Mylar underlay on Powerstroke 3 to eliminate noise that may occur. This trick is also successful with the Evans Eq3 and similar resonant heads with the internal Mylar underlay.

PLEASE NOTE THAT DRUM HEADS WITH FELT OR FOAM MUFFLING RINGS ON THE RESONANT HEAD WILL TAKE AWAY MOST OR ALL OF THE GREAT QUALITIIES OF THE KICKPORT - YOU ARE ADVISED TO REMOVE THE FELT/FOAM OR USING ANOTHER HEAD.

The KickPort is an innovative tool designed to increase the possibilities and take your bass drum several steps further. There are many great pro and non pro drummers experiencing the same incredible results demonstrated at the 2009 NAMM show.


REVIEW

To fully appreciate and hear the results in the above video,
connect your computer to high quality audio system,
preferably one that incorporates a sub cabinet.


In my video review (above) you can see and hear what the KickPort does and doesn't do with my Kick drums. I used a 18x22 and 16x16 in my testing. I also used AKG 414 mics; one close to the port, the other futher away at ear level. I didn't use a Kick mic because every Kick mic is designed to color the sound. In fact, in the areas where the KickPort is supposed to excel, any of the popular Kick mics would remove it. Don't believe? Have a look at the spec sheets, more specifically the frequency curve for a Beta 52 or AKG D-112; those are just two examples. Notice the drop from 50Hz and below?

For those who have seen/heard the KickPort in action at a trade show (eg. NAMM Show), you would definitely hear a difference when the KickPort was added to the drum. A huge difference? That's subjective and will vary from individual to individual. Still, the KickPort does make a difference. However ... what you are hearing at the trade show is Future Percussion Concepts drum, which they have had ample time to work with and adjust to get the results the wanted. How does it work on other drums? How will it work on your drum? The only way to tell is for you to try it out for yourself and see ... but that means you have to purchase the KickPort in order to get your answer. Personally, I don't like that.

What a lot of people also fail to realize, which the manufacturer does try to make known, is that they have to use SPECIFIC drumheads in order to make the KickPort work. Not only are they using a specific brand of drumheads, but they also are using specific models. One big turn off for me is that in order for the KickPort to work, you have to use a two-ply drumhead on the resonant side of the Kick drum! Who in the world does that?! There may be a few people out there, but most drumhead manufacturers recommend and package their Kick drumhead packs with a SINGLE PLY resonant head. So now, not only do you need to get the KickPort, you now have to spend money on a new two-ply drumhead for the resonant side of your Kick drum. Suddenly the expense of test driving the KickPort is looking less and less favorable ... especially since you don't really know if the device will work for you they way you think.

Myself and others who have taken a scientific approach to our reviews have also noticed that the slight acoustic frequency gain that you get with the KickPort is completely lost once you start playing the full kit. Slap a Kick mic on the Kick drum with the KickPort inserted and watch that mic remove what little you gained acoustically. Doesn't make sense to me.

So all of this to say ... and I mean this in the kindness way ... don't be naive and assume that what you hear on one particular drum AUTOMATICALLY means the device is so fantastic and will work for everyone.

I wanted the KickPort to work; I really did. I like the idea and concept, but I think they need to do more testing. They need to come out with a product and statements that clearly define what that product is and isn't. If the KickPort only works with a select combination of drumheads, then in my opinion they should sell the KickPort with those drumheads. To me, to do anything but that is very misleading.