Drum RIMS & Hoops: What You Need to Know About Them?
Posted in Learn | Last Updated on June 3, 2019
A long time ago in a state far, far away (OK, make that late 1970's USA) Gauger invented a system called "Resonant Isolation Mounting System." or RIMS aka hoops. The idea was, that hardware should not intrude into the drum shell, but the drum should be free to vibrate by isolating it from damping effects of hardware. This was a good idea at the time, unfortunately, in some circles, it has been elevated way out of proportion, especially by young drummers that weren't around at the time.
If any of you remember the 60's, drums back then had direct mount hardware, and often 3-ply shells with reinforcement rings. These drums were fat and resonant sounding. They didn't cut and project optimally, so other ideas came about. Ideas like acrylic, which was much louder (by about 30 percent) and metal drums. But by the mid 70's, the market was wandering into thick, heavy wood ply shells. Sonor, Rogers, Tama and the rest abandoned the old conventions and made shells that were massive, like 12 and 13 mm.
That's is twice as thick as today's average 6 mm shell. Those drums did a couple things that the 60's drums did not. The shell was so thick, that high frequencies were more prominent, not to mention potential cut and volume. The other thing that happened, was that they lost that near-field fatness that 60's kits were famous for. Along with that, they lost that round tonality in favor of a stadium-like projection. The drumhead was more influential on the tone than ever before.
The basic sound of the 70's to the mid 80's was often thuddy and flat. Single-headed concert toms and very damped. With few exceptions, most hardware to mount toms went through a hole in the side of the drum. This hole, along with all the hardware bolted to it exacerbated the dead sound. Gauger's idea was to free the drum up from this burden and extract more resonance from these toms. They have been around in one form or another since the late 70's.
RIMS came about in an era when the preferred studio tuning was mid-range or below. It appears that Hal Blaine's tuning preferences were emulated by other producers--and the drummers they hired -- Jim Gordon, Russ Kunkel, Steve Gadd, etc. --(and eventually the rest of us). If you read Gauger's MD interview or did as his ads suggested and listened to a suspended vs. a mounted tom, clearly the suspended tom yielded more lows and mids.
This sound is great if you're close mic'd; the drums sound fat and huge. Unmic'd, or live, (far field) however, one might want to raise a drum's pitch so it'll project, or not get eaten up by the other low and midrange frequencies on stage. If a drum is cranked, sustain is shorter anyway, so little is gained by a suspension system.
The buying public got duped into thinking that for some reason, this was always a requirement and that the effect was greater than it actually was. Sure, the thick Rogers XP-8 Keller shells sounded better with rims. But the market was not staying with the heavy shells forever. About 1984, Tama led the return to thinner tubs with the Artstar prototype that Neil Peart of RUSH is seen playing floating on a raft.
These shells were significantly thinner than the other shells of that era. And as a result, more resonant. The market soon followed suit with 6 mm being the new "medium" thickness. These shells were much more lively than the heavy shells. And companies like Pearl even offered shells that were 4-ply with rings again. Not quite as thin as the 60's, but the construction was more consistent, and it provided a way to get 60's like resonance, but with better projection.
So where does this leave RIMS?
Well, from past experience, hoops have the greatest effect on thicker stadium-style shells. Using them on 60's drums, or even modern DW collectors are like having speed brakes on a turtle. The minimal effect is not worth the high cost. Have I ever compared them side by side? Sure. Most recently, I visited a drum shop that had a new Pacific MX kit with rims. Nice, fat resonant sound. Next to it was a 60's Rogers kit with ye olde direct mount hardware. Even with no rims, the Rogers were *significantly* more resonant and fat. It wasn't really a contest---the sound was clear as a bell.
On one of my kits, I have swapped back and forth between RIMS and OPTIMOUNTS. I much prefer the optimounts because the drum doesn't bounce, and I don't need to take the drum off the mount to change drumheads. With the same heads, the hoops added no significant resonance (to 6 mm shells) but they did make the drums bounce around a bit and lose the focus they had. When it comes to drums like carbon fiber, fiberglass, and aluminum, the shells are 3 mm or less...hoops are irrelevant in this arena.
A directly mounted drum already resonates more (and much more loudly) than any wood shell with RIMS. Yamaha's YESS mount is also a superior system to rims, and incidentally, the best looking/least obtrusive system on the market.
The bottom line is that there is as much bovine scatology about RIMS as there are facts. hoops do help in certain circumstances, but negligible in others. So don't let anyone (especially Gauger) tell you that they are always better or always required. Never say it around a Tempus or 60's Rogers owner, unless you want to get laughed at. Try it yourself some time with an open mind. The benefits you think you are getting are a lot less than you actually are...or that the price demands in most cases.
And ask yourself: does any non drummer notice?
Ironically, you read and hear complaints about the "dead 70's" sound and the greatness of RIMS. Yet Steve Gadd (YESS) Vinnie Coulaiuta, Mike Portnoy, Joey Jordinson and others damp their resonance DOWN, thus defeating any benefits of extra resonance that RIMS (or drums for that matter) have.
Free up the shell! Then muffle it! Brilliant! NOT!
At least if you are going to hold the stance that RIMS are of benefit: then let the drums sing openly, otherwise, there is no reason to have them.