Sennheiser Element – Laser Drum Microphone System from Andy Greenwood on Vimeo.

We cover a lot of experiments that make an interesting proof of concept, or that make performance, frankly, more difficult but in interesting ways. Here’s an idea that might just work. You know, like might actually make an existing technology better.

The idea is this: rather than clumsily using gates to isolate individual drum mics, use lasers (“lazorrrs”) to measure vibration. And if the demo video is to be believed, it works damned well. You can use this to get better recordings, or use it to transform a drum into a better MIDI trigger (without just the mics alone), or both. It’s the work of Sennheiser’s California R&D folks.

Sennheiser, you might just want to start adding this to your drum mic kit. (Now, if somehow this could also make a little laser show appear atop the drums when coupled with a smoke machine, a bit like the silly security systems featured in action movies, we’d really be sold.)

Seriously, it’s a good idea. Cooper Newby of Sennheiser USA explains:

Here is our newest Sennheiser R&D prototype. It is a laser that triggers a drum gate or Midi trigger when the drum is hit without applying any pressure to the drum head. It could turn a live drum kit into a totally new instrument by accurately triggering effects or samples along with each specific drum hit. Here is a video demonstrating its live drum mic-ing applications to prevent microphone bleed though.

Thanks, Cooper. I’d love to see this move beyond R&D – or perhaps it’ll inspire other experiments, too.