Sound Percussion Labs or SPL drum mutes are great for reducing the sound levels of your acoustic drum kit. There are a wide range of mute sizes and types available which should work on most drum kits.
Setup & Installation
These are pretty easy drum mutes to install, just like most other mutes out there. The mutes for the snare and toms are the easiest to install, they simply lay on top of the drum head. The cymbal mutes require you to remove any wingnuts to install, which is pretty easy as well. There is a hi-hat mute (the round mute with the hole in the center) that can also be placed on top of the bottom hi-hat cymbal if you really want to reduce hi-hat sound as much as possible.
The trickier part of installation is securing the bass drum mute. There are no instructions that come with these mutes, so it can be kind of awkward to figure out how to properly install the bass drum mute. There are two elastic strips, some foam blocks and some hooks. The elastic strips are threaded through the foam blocks and are held in place by hooking them to the bass drum lugs, and then the foam blocks press against the bass drum mute to keep it from falling off the drum head.
Here’s a quick video that shows how this works.
Overall these mutes do a good job of reducing drum kit volume. They take the overall level of the drum kit down by around 10-20 db depending on how hard you play. When testing volumes I was still pushing 90-100 db with with mutes on if I was playing aggressively. The perceived volume reduction felt like around 30-40%. The projection of the kit sound is reduced greatly though, so even though it’s not a huge volume reduction right next to the kit, it really makes a difference when listening from another room, for example.
One thing I was more impressed with in terms of volume reduction was the bass drum mute, which is an area where mutes can struggle sometimes. The fact that the mute covers the entire batter head on the bass drum helps reduce overall resonance and projection quite well. I’d still recommend using some additional measures on the bass drum such as stuffing it with more towels or pillows if you really need to reduce the volume more aggressively.
The sound quality of your kit changes quite a bit with these mutes installed, which is pretty typical for drum mutes in general. You lose a lot of the tone and attack of your drums and cymbals. Decay is reduced a lot as well, especially on the cymbals.
The snare drum still has some snare action to it, since there is no mute for the snare wired on the bottom. The toms lose a lot of resonance, but you still get some tone if you have bottom resonant heads on your toms.
The cymbal sounds are quite heavily affected by the mutes. Like other mutes, these remove a lot of the explosive energy and they reduce the sound to more of a clank depending on the thickness of your cymbals.
The hi-hats sound pretty decent with just the single mute on the top cymbal, you still get a little bit of crunch and sizzle out of the hi-hat. However, if you use the insert mute for the bottom hi-hat the sound is quite a bit more deadened. It’s nice to have the option, and I preferred to use these mutes with just the top mute on the hi-hat.
The kick drum manages to still sound the most natural, but it loses attack and projection, which is ideal for sound control.
Don’t take these observations as a negative, since these are the types of results you’d expect from any drum mute and the point of them is to reduce all the overtones and projection to reduce sound levels anyways.
Feel and Play-ability
The drum mutes feel fine during play, I didn’t really notice any major difference in how the drum felt while using the mutes. The tension of the drum head underneath still can affect the amount of rebound you experience. In my opinion these kind of make your drum feel like softer practice pads but with decent rebound.
The cymbal mutes worked well, but I found the mutes for the crash and ride cymbals to feel like smaller hit targets. If your cymbals rotate while you play the target will move around on you as well, which could be an issue, but you can tighten down the wingnuts on your cymbals to help keep them from rotating.
I use larger cymbals, and I found that these mutes didn’t fully reach to the edge of the 18 inch crash and the 21 inch crash ride on my kit. So if I wanted to strike the pad directly I had to avoid hitting the cymbal edges.
The hi-hat mute reaches all the way to the edge of 14 inch hi-hats, and it is a little wider than the other cymbal mutes. It plays well and I didn’t really have any issues with it. It does soften the feel of the sticks on the hi-hats, but that was to be expected.
The bass drum mute felt pretty transparent and I didn’t notice a huge difference in play-ability when the mute was on the drum. It adds around a 1/2 inch of thickness to your drum head, which can shorten the beater swing just a little bit, but it wasn’t as drastic as some other mutes I’ve tried and I liked that.
Build and Durability
I’ve had pretty good luck with durability on these pads, but they could wear out over time if you play a lot and use them extensively. I’ve heard that the pad on the center bass drum mute can sometimes fall off, but if that happens you can stick it back on there with some adhesive. For situational practice or less aggressive drummers they should hold up just fine.
Drum Mute Types and Sizes
These mutes come in a wide variety of sizes and most drummer should be able to find a combination that fits their kit. At my local Guitar Center you can buy these in a pack or individually.
The pack includes a 22″ inch kick mute, 10″, 12″ 13″ 14″ and 16″ tom mutes, a 14″ snare drum mute, hi-hat mutes and a ride mute. This is the pack I bought. My issue with the pack is the over abundance of drum mutes and lack of extra cymbal mutes. In addition to the pack I also had to buy an extra crash cymbal mute, which raised the overall cost to get what I needed for my kit. I think it would be better if this kit included an extra cymbal mute or two.
Individually, I’ve seen these available in 8″, 10″, 12″, 13″, 14″, and 16″ sizes for drums. I’ve only seen 22 inch pads for kick drums. The hi-hat pads are all designed for 14″ hats. There only appears to be one size of crash/ride pad but it has two mounting holes to help fit different sized cymbals.
- Drum and cymbal pads are easy to install and remove
- They really do deaden the sound
- Fairly durable
- Kick drum mute feels and sound good
- Lots of sizes available for the drum mutes
- Hi-hat mute has pads for both the top and bottom cymbal
- Cymbals rotating could move the pads off target
- No instructions to show you how to install the kick drum mute
- Kick mute appears to only be available in 22″ size
- Cymbal mutes feel small
- The mute pack should have more cymbal mutes
These are solid drum mutes and I prefer the approach to the kick drum mute over some others I’ve tried. I didn’t think the pack I bought had a very good combination of pads, so I’d recommend maybe just buying individual pads to fit your kit if you go with these, especially if you have more cymbals.