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  #1  
Old 07-03-2005, 09:10 AM
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'Lectric Drums


For most of my life, (career drummer), I swore I'd not be caught behind any of those "electric" drums. Same arguments. They look goofy. And worse, they sound "fake".

But equally many, many years back (although I was playing acoustic kits) I realized the value in triggering at first my kick (to mix in sounds to get those huge sounds I needed). And as time went by there were occasions when I did the same with toms and snare, always mic'ing them for the acoustic sound and depending on the need, maybe adding other stuff.

Then I began to realize that more and more often in the studios they were completely replacing sounds (in ProTools) with digital samples after I layed down a track. Those sounds were fantastic on their own of course.

But I had never heard an electronic drum set that was set up to produce sounds like that live (in real time). Not even sounds that in my opinion were decent. And then of course, the gear looked like toys and felt just as awkward to play.

Well a few years ago that changed for me. I got interested in a project where I needed some synthetic sounding drum sounds. So I had to do some looking at electronic drums options. Getting the synthy sounds I needed was no problem, but what struck me was how far the look and feel of the stuff was coming on, and how good some of the boxed stuff could now sound all around, even the acoustic drum sounds.

I started doing some more research, began to get really into it, and found that there were ways to get truly realistic samples triggering in real time and that there were even some options toward getting things to feel and behave more like the acoustic stuff that I'm used to. As I got deeper in, I started actually putting stuff together that hadn't been done, and inventing a few things (that came a bit later).

But anyway, while I don't presume to tell anyone what is "right" for them (what is "right" is whatever floats your individual boat). I can say with some degree of insight that very few people have any clue what electronic percussion can sound like or look like. The answer in both cases is it can look and/or sound like pretty much anything, and if you want it to look and/or sound like an acoustic drum, that is no longer impossible. In fact, it can be done very convincingly.

Yes, there are still differences. Both have their strengths and weaknesses. Both have limitations. You could make arguments for or against both if you like. But that is a huge shift for me personally to look at it that way. I thought of one as an instrument and the other as a novelty. And I was convinced that I probably always would. I'm not convinced anymore. I have electronic drums that sound better than most folks acoutic kits. Sure that has to do a lot with most folks not knowing how to tune, mic, effect, mix, records, blah, blah as well as maybe they could. But the point is, the technology is coming to the point where they are getting as good at emultating acoustic drums as electronic keyboards are at emulating acoustic pianos.

And I think that once folks really start to find out, it will be cool to see what happens next because sounding like traditional drums is just one of the tasks they can do (even though to this point it has been the sole test of legitamacy). They can do a lot of other things that haven't been tapped into yet. But I guess, one step at a time.

I'm working on finishing up an electronic kit project where the goal was to make it look, feel and sound as close to playing an acoustic kit as possible. The best way to guage that is to come play it, but short of that, I'll post some pics and video/sound of the progress as soon as I can get them approved. Its a work in progress but I won't make any other apologies. I think if you keep an open mind, you may be surprised at how they look and sound.

Playing them is a lot of fun and I can do it with headphones on in the next room while my kids sleep. I still have my acoustic kits too (and other electronics). But just thought I'd throw this out for discussion.



Here's a pic of the progress. I'll be replacing the heads with white ones (to look more natural) in the next week or two. I also have a matching hi-hat now ready that works and looks just like the real thing. The final touch will be some clear material that I'm having made to quiet the rims (instead of black) so it will be barely visible and I will work to tidy up and hide cables, etc., to complete the visual. How it works and what it can do and sounds like is 1000 times cooler though.
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  #2  
Old 07-03-2005, 05:52 PM
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Welcome to the forums, excellent read! Do you mind if we post this on the articles section of our site?
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  #3  
Old 07-04-2005, 09:13 AM
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No problem. I tried to upload a video (with sound) as well but got an error message.
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  #4  
Old 07-05-2005, 04:35 PM
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sweet, I wanted to get an electronic kit so I could play it in my apartment.. what are some good brands these days? I know the e-kits are getting pretty advanced now.. darn technology
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  #5  
Old 07-05-2005, 05:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jinusean
sweet, I wanted to get an electronic kit so I could play it in my apartment.. what are some good brands these days? I know the e-kits are getting pretty advanced now.. darn technology
Well, the really great stuff is (unfortunately) really expensive too (for now). So it depends on your specific needs and tolerances as to how much you want/need.

The answers also relate to how much function you want/need, how quiet you need it to be, how big, what kind and quality of sounds, etc.

But here's some general thoughts:

Hart, Roland, Yamaha and ddrum all make decent pads but others like Pintech and Dauz make attractive options too. "Best" is subjective. As far as the ultimate over the counter as of today, the flagship stuff from Hart and Roland is it.

For sounds, the simplest solution is a "module". Roland, Yamaha, ddrum and Alesis do the better modules. Roland's TD-20 is the current state of the art and will set you back quite a bit. Again "best" can be subjective, and it really depends on your needs. The sounds in the TD-20 are without peer in modules, but a decent sampler setup can of course blow them away. So it depends on how complex you are willing to go and how much you want to spend. That said, you can get really workable sounds from something as (comparatively) inexpensive as a Roland TD-3 (which is a newer basic module).

You can buy kits that come with pads and module or mix and match. Unfortunately, the prices are still IMO high, but hopefully that will be changing with increasing interest and sales.
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  #6  
Old 07-05-2005, 09:14 PM
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Vid Clip


Here's a link to a short video clip with sound (not great quality but enough to get the idea) as promised:

http://www.drumsetconnect.com/forums...#91;11782].wmv
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  #7  
Old 07-06-2005, 06:12 PM
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Yeah, I'm not a big fan of the electric drums. Your video did a good job portraying the shortcomings of the electric kit.. props to you

Your setup looks very nice and professional. The only thing i dislike are the cymbals which look a bit tacky and cheap-looking and you can tell that they are fake
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  #8  
Old 07-06-2005, 06:33 PM
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yeah, definitely... i'll be waiting for when the prices go down because quite frankly i do believe that electronic kits will be taking over one day.. and they'll be even better than the acoustic versions
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  #9  
Old 07-07-2005, 06:23 AM
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Chris Jude Chris Jude is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by palad006
yeah, definitely... i'll be waiting for when the prices go down because quite frankly i do believe that electronic kits will be taking over one day.. and they'll be even better than the acoustic versions
I don't think they'll ever replace their acoustic counterparts anymore that the electric guitar has "replaced" the acoustic guitar. I think both will be around and both will have uses (at least I hope so).

I personally love the feeling of moving big walls of air and generally just really laying into acoustic drums and cymbals. I enjoy the subtle nuances you can coax from acoustics. And (may sound goofy) but I think there is something very organic and satisfying in general about physically producing sound that doesn't fully translate to a digital rendering.

I for one will always want acoustics around too, regardless of how faithfully I can re-create them with anything (including, gulp, software).
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  #10  
Old 07-07-2005, 05:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Jude
Well, the really great stuff is (unfortunately) really expensive too (for now). So it depends on your specific needs and tolerances as to how much you want/need.

The answers also relate to how much function you want/need, how quiet you need it to be, how big, what kind and quality of sounds, etc.

But here's some general thoughts:

Hart, Roland, Yamaha and ddrum all make decent pads but others like Pintech and Dauz make attractive options too. "Best" is subjective. As far as the ultimate over the counter as of today, the flagship stuff from Hart and Roland is it.

For sounds, the simplest solution is a "module". Roland, Yamaha, ddrum and Alesis do the better modules. Roland's TD-20 is the current state of the art and will set you back quite a bit. Again "best" can be subjective, and it really depends on your needs. The sounds in the TD-20 are without peer in modules, but a decent sampler setup can of course blow them away. So it depends on how complex you are willing to go and how much you want to spend. That said, you can get really workable sounds from something as (comparatively) inexpensive as a Roland TD-3 (which is a newer basic module).

You can buy kits that come with pads and module or mix and match. Unfortunately, the prices are still IMO high, but hopefully that will be changing with increasing interest and sales.
So what would be a good model that would be quiet enough to play in my apartment, realistic enough for me to get a good feel on a low end type budget? I'm thinking about spending maybe a grand tops. I'm sure ebay has got some deals so maybe I can put something together on my own. drumbalya.com is pretty good too.. any suggestions?
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