Page 1

ddnov2013v2_Layout 3 7/10/13 11:16 AM Page 1

Edition 16

NOVEMBER 2013

The global electronic drumming e-zine

Miller’s tale SD1000 review Doctor Smith e-Kicks tested


Š2013 Avedis Zildjian Company

GEN16 DIRECT SOURCE PICKUP

THE NEXT GENERATION Introducing the new Direct Source Pickup from Zildjian. A one-of-a-kind pickup design for use with Gen16 acoustic-electric cymbals as well as Zildjian acoustic cymbals. Eliminates feedback, phasing, and cross-talk. Reproduce a natural acoustic tone. Enhance with reverb. Or use the Gen16 Digital Cymbal Processor (DCP) to tone shape any cymbal in your setup. Seamlessly integrates with both edrum and acoustic drum sets. Perfect for live performance applications. Visit gen-16.com for more information.

SOUND LEGACY


ddnov2013v2_layout 3 4/10/13 2:22 PM Page 3

--from-the-editor-is published by

DigitalDrummer

ABN: 61 833 620 984 30 Oldfield Place

Brookfield Q 4069 AUSTRALIA

editor@digitaldrummermag.com

www.digitaldrummermag.com Editor & Publisher Allan Leibowitz Sub-Editor

Solana da Silva Contributors Scott Holder

Jeremy Hoyle

Adam Manning

E. Doctor Smith Cover Photo

Russ Miller

Design and layout ‘talking business’

Support digitalDrummer If you like what you’re reading, please make a donation.

Copyright:

Forget the legalese and just play fair! We work hard to produce digitalDrummer. Please respect that and don’t rip off our content. In this age of electronic publishing, it’s obviously tempting to “borrow” other people’s work, and we are happy to share our stuff — but please ask first and be sure to include a link back to our website on anything published elsewhere.

digitalDRUMMER, NOVEMBER 2013

I WAS RECENTLY asked to speak at a dealers’ conference on the rise of electronic percussion and passed on the observation of one dealer that were it not for e-drums, they would be selling very few percussion products. This has been helped by the increased competition at the entry-level end, with a number of new products now available – like the Simmons SD1000 reviewed this month. Both my research for the presentation and my discussions with dealers afterwards showed that electronic percussion is still a mystery to many in the retail market. It’s a range they have to carry because the distributors are pushing it and customers are apparently asking for it, but it’s not something they know much about. And it shows. One of the stories I tend to share with industry people is a local, established and seemingly professional music store which had a “do not touch” sign on a new electronic drum kit. Clearly, that’s exactly the wrong way to go about selling e-drums. It tells the customer that the kit is so fragile that they can’t test it out. There is, unfortunately, a lack of insight on the shop floor, and very few retailers have staff who understand – let alone show any enthusiasm for – electronic percussion. Sure, we can argue about who is to blame – the shop owners, the distributors or the individual sales people. But regardless of who is at fault, there are a few lessons that all music retailers should learn if they stock e-drums: 1. Make your floor stock enticing for testing: ensure it is plugged in, powered up and connected to the best headphones you can afford. 2. Make sure the kit is properly set up: ensure everything is connected to the right inputs and outputs and the correct pad settings are selected. 3. Protect against user abuse: at the very least, back up all the settings and do a factory reset and restore at the start of each day to ensure the kit is back to its optimal settings. 4. Provide enough stock for customers to compare products. You can’t expect someone to make a $5,000 investment without being able to put the product head-tohead against its rivals. 5. Consider the after-sales needs of customers. The customer relationship doesn’t end when they take the box out the door. They’ll need replacement heads, cables, additional triggers and possibly even warranty support. Hopefully, our retail readers will take some notice of these tips. And to help raise standards, perhaps drummers can make sure they pass them on – together with any of your own tips – to your ‘friendly’ music store.

editor@digitaldrummermag.com

3


ddnov2013v2_Layout 3 13/10/13 7:56 PM Page 4

The global electronic drumming e-zine Edition 16

6

8 14 18 24 4

November 2013

TALKING-POINT

Quality or quantity

Most modules now have 100 or so kits or patches. How many of those do you actually use and would you prefer to have fewer but higher quality kits?

GEAR

Beginning in a big way

Scott Holder was surprised when he had his first encounter with the new entry-level Simmons SD1000.

Handy advance

Roland recently updated its hand percussion range with the launch of the HPD-20 Handsonic. Adam Manning was among the first to get his hands on the new instrument.

Best foot forward

Lately, there have been a few new e-kick debuts, prompting digitalDrummer to line ‘em up and test ‘em out.

Just for kicks

There’s some debate over the origin of the bass drum pedal, but there’s no doubt that the Ludwig Drum Company received the first patent for the type of designs we use today. Ludwig has come a long way since 1909, and no drum kit today is complete without a bass pedal. digitalDrummer canvassed a number of pro drummers

www.digitaldrummermag.com


ddnov2013v2_layout 3 4/10/13 2:22 PM Page 5

30 36 38 42 45 46

profile

Profile: Russ Miller

Russ Miller has played on multiple Grammy award-winning recordings with combined sales of over 26million copies. But, he’s also an e-drum inventor and has collaborated with Yamaha and, more recently, on Zildjian’s Gen 16 line.

PERFORMANCE

How I use e-drums

Not only is he a great drummer, but E. Doctor Smith is also a bit of an inventor. However, when he saw the Zendrum, he gave up on his own invention and showed his genius on the new instrument.

TWEAKING

Tweaking the TD-30

Last edition included some tips on tweaking the Roland TD30. This month, Jeremy Hoyle digs into the module for optimal performance.

VST

It’s so logical

The eagerly awaited upgrade of Apple’s Logic DAW has produced a powerful program which is very easy to use, as Allan Leibowitz discovered.

ACCESSORIES

Some delights for your stocking

‘Tis the season to be drumming, and here are some of the products that have crossed the digitalDrummer desk and which would be great additions to your holiday shopping list.

gear

My Monster Kit

Nathan Reid, a writer and a producer in West Hartford, CT, has turned to Diamond Electronic Drums for his studio kit.

digitalDRUMMER, NOVEMBER 2013

5


ddnov2013v2_layout 3 4/10/13 2:22 PM Page 6

--TALKING-POINT--

Quality or quantity?

Most modules now have 100 or so kits or patches. How many of those do you actually use and would you prefer to have fewer but higher quality kits? Here’s some of the chat from the digitalDrummer Facebook Group.

Michael Amann: It's always cool to say you have them. I use about five. But you can buy custom kits from V Expressions; they are excellent.

Rob Duggan: I use about six in the module, all of my own making. Preprogrammed kits to me are usually rubbish. I prefer to build my own personal library. In fact, I would prefer a blank bank and just a library of voices to build custom kits. In all my years of playing live and recording, I have never once used a factory preset. Not once. 10 HIGH quality kits would suffice me. And then a FULL editing capability on those 10 kits. Plus an extensive sound library of 10 or so different voices for each kit piece. That would be cool!

Jeremy Hoyle: I don't use any of my TD-30's patches. I use about seven kits I've either built myself or bought from V Expressions Ltd. All are approximations of recorded kits from bands whose sound I like. The factory presets are at least 50% rubbish. Unusable for anything other than showing module features no-one uses because they're outdated and still hanging around from 20 years ago. If you have a TD-30 and don't/can't get into the details of creating sound modifications, you're missing out on 100% of this module's strengths. Fine, if you like the presets, you're just very much in the minority.

Alan Ratcliffe: Huge amounts of patch storage are simple these days, so I don't see it as an either-or choice. As with any gear, presets are never going to compare to a patch tweaked for your precise purposes, but are a good starting point for a custom kit.

6

Dave Chetwynd: I use about five patches and tweak them. It's nice to have a start point to return to regarding the applied effects chain as that has a dramatic effect on the patch. I would like to see Vex packs on discs or gifted as purchase vouchers with every Roland kit sold. Those guys did a lot of hard work and deserve it. For sure, lose the trash patches - but who decides what is good and bad, because one man’s trash is another man’s gold.

www.digitaldrummermag.com


ddnov2013v2_layout 3 4/10/13 2:22 PM Page 7

Sรถren Kรถstel: There is a "base kit" with my "best of" from the module/Vex sounds and from this I create a kit for every song by exchanging instruments, tweaking mixer settings, muting instruments and letting pads trigger a sound or effect on a sampler via MIDI. Steve Monti: I wish the companies would put similar pro apps like Superior Drummer/BFD into the units that we could chop and change. Hard discs are so cheap now so memory surely wouldn't be a problem. I could certainly do without a lot of the daft presets in my TD-30. Why do these companies still bother with 909s and 808s - we all have those samples many times over!

Daniel Reid: Basically, when I had my TDW-20s, I started with Vex ... tweaked to my own ears .... copied them and changed a few instruments to suit the song or feel I was looking for. I ditched my TD-30 (before Vex had the offerings that they provide at the moment) for the 2box after demoing them for a year side by side in their stock configurations. The 2box won out because of sound quality and cost effectiveness. Even the stock audio was better IMHO than the offerings from the TD-30 (not that the 30 sucks or anything...it's a great piece of gear). The 2box just suited what I wanted out of my kit better than the TD-30. Now with the limitless VST applications for it, it would take a complete overhaul of the Roland flagship to get me to switch back. Join the discussion. Add your comments here.


ddnov2013v2_layout 3 4/10/13 2:22 PM Page 8

--Gear--

Beginning in a big way

8

www.digitaldrummermag.com


ddnov2013v2_layout 3 4/10/13 2:22 PM Page 9

Scott Holder was surprised when he had his first encounter with the new entry-level Simmons SD1000.

THE OPTIONS FOR entry-level e-drum kits have never been better and as more come onto the market, we’re seeing features typically found on intermediate kits being “squeezed” into a beginner’s kit … or at least a beginner’s price point.

Earlier this year, Simmons released the SD1000, its first significant updated e-drum offering since the SD9K kit came out in 2008. With an introductory-level MSRP of $699, it has what you would expect from a kit at that price: rubber pads, a static HH and two cymbals (ride and crash). What makes it more of an intermediate kit is a fantastic looking rack and a module with a fair amount of tweakability, full MIDI functionality (not just MIDI Out) and an extensive range of built-in sounds. Approaching this review, I had been playing nothing but another introductory-level kit for over six months. As a result, I inevitably spent a lot of time comparing how the two played, how they sounded, and how each differed in terms of what it meant to be a “beginner’s” kit.

The basics

It’s a standard five-piece kit: three toms, one snare, hi-hat, a kick, a crash and a ride. It includes a pair of sticks, but you need to provide a kick pedal and throne. All are connected via a wiring harness similar to that on the Roland TD-9. The length of each cable is sufficient to allow for a decent margin of pad and cymbal placement. The harness also contains two additional cables for optional pads labeled Tom 4 and Crash 2, although like most modules, you can assign anything to the additional pads. Simmons states its previous pads are not compatible with the SD1000 module. Of course, I couldn’t resist plugging in a cross-

digitalDRUMMER, NOVEMBER 2013

section from my collection. Most worked well, including a Roland CY-14, Hart Dynamic Acupads, even a Yamaha XP100SD snare provided two-zone capability. What this means is that you can expand or “upgrade” the kit past the rubber snare and toms down the road. One thing that isn’t cross-compatible is the HH controller. Set-up took around 90 minutes. The threesided rack comes with two sides already attached and all clamps mounted. The instructions were clear. When completely assembled, it’s not as lightweight as the Yamaha DTX-450 we recently reviewed, but still far lighter than my usual gear. It also comes with memory locks, so tearing down and setting up is easy.

The initial highlight is the rack. No hidden wiring, but it has a low profile, the plastic clamps are robust and have perfectly designed wing nuts. They also clamp down tightly, thus I never had any slippage. It just looks awesome.

The module

The box is feather light and connects to the drum pads via the cable harness. Eight of the 10 pad inputs are dual-zone, the kick and hihat being single zone. With MIDI IN/OUT/THROUGH plus MIDI/USB, the module is fully functional, exceptionally so, given the overall price of the kit. Navigation is about what you’d expect from any intermediate module these days.

The module comes with 515 voices (or sounds or instruments), a robust number, especially considering most are not gimmicky sounds. The emphasis here is on drums, not necessarily percussion, “boingy sounds”, etc., although there’s a decent enough selection of percussion sounds to make most drummers 9


ddnov2013v2_layout 3 4/10/13 2:22 PM Page 10

happy. I particularly liked the inclusion of instruments like Brush Toms, Rototoms and 95 different kick drums. One glaring drawback was the extremely limited number of crash cymbals - just two. Moreover, the crashes are designed to be single-zone, thus, no edge voices. Given the huge range of everything else fundamental to a five-piece drum kit, the limited crash choices are odd. There are 55 preset kits that cover everything from rock/pop/metal to jazz, orchestral and even some of the original Simmons e-drums for those looking for a specific retro feel. You can easily copy a kit into one of 44 open user kits for editing. You can save all this onto a standard SD card. What’s more, you can take a MIDI file from the SD card and load it onto the module to be a user song.

Adjustable parameters are what you would expect from any intermediate-level module. For kits, these are gain, pan, pitch decay and reverb level, while individual triggers have adjustments for sensitivity, threshold, curve, retrigger cancel, crosstalk, rim sensitivity and a specific setting for the HH pedal, “splash”, which is helpful for heel chics/splashes. Overall effects settings consist of seven preset reverb types which can also be combined with a four-band EQ.

There are 100 preset songs, 25 of which are loops, hits or tap patterns. Like kits, these can be copied into 100 additional user songs for editing. It took me a little while to figure out the navigation and saving sequence to get a loop/hit/tap assigned to a specific pad and then un-assign the pad’s voice; the manual isn’t as clear as it could be on this. The training part of the module involves the preset songs in which you can mute the drum parts and play along, a nice feature; I spent an afternoon cycling through all the preset songs and found it addictive and helpful. You can record what you play by simply pressing two buttons, and then the module waits to record upon your first hit. You can then save that to a user kit for additional editing. The sound engine is something entirely new for Simmons - Variable Attack Response (VAR). Officially VAR “combines more internal memory and intelligent sample triggering across four different velocity zones for each

10

trigger input”. What this means is that any given pad/voice, let’s use the snare as an example, has four “hit levels”: light, medium, hard and slamming hard. The module has two samples assigned to each of those “hit levels” (velocity zones) and the result is a varied sound. External connections consist of MIDI IN and OUT, a MIDI/USB output, a 3.5 mm stereo input and an L and R 6.3 mm output for mixers/amps.

The robust MIDI connections mean you can set up almost anything and include the SD1000 in the MIDI chain. As I do with every potential MIDI controller, I hooked this up to my computer running Toontrack’s EZDrummer. Not only was it plug and play, you can change MIDI notes on the module side which provides a ton of flexibility in changing pad assignments to the VST sounds on the computer side. HH articulation in VST was pretty good and I was pleasantly surprised by the cymbal swells.

The pads

The kick/tom pads and the HH controller are identical pieces of hardware to those found on the new KAT Percussion e-kits – albeit in different colours.

The upright kick (S1000KIKS) is rubber and a bit softer than the snare/toms. The response is good. It’s large enough for a double kick pedal and it’s stable. One complaint: there’s no way to attach it to the floor or any way to make it catch on a rug as there are no anchor bolts. Instead, there are four rubber knobs built onto the bottom of the kick which I didn’t find at all useful in stopping the entire rig from sliding away from me whether I was on a floor or a throw rug.

While we’re still on the floor, the HH controller (S1000HHC1) is the only potential weak point in the kit. It’s a big thing and reminds me of the venerable Roland FD-7, but the Simmons controller is very stiff and there are no physical adjustments to the pedal itself. This means the distance travelled from fully open to fully closed is “a lot” by comparison with other pedals I’ve used over the years. The HH cymbal is single zone and does not choke. HH articulation is what you would expect from a module at this price point:

www.digitaldrummermag.com


ddnov2013v2_layout 3 4/10/13 2:22 PM Page 11

open/closed, half-open, foot close, the closing HH sound and heel splash (or chic).

The snare (S1000PAD9D) is a two-zone, 9” rubber pad with a surprisingly soft rubber rim. With the VAR sample modeling on the module, the snare’s sounds are fairly dynamic and the actual pad is very responsive and, importantly, consistent across the entire pad surface and rim. I played along to one of the preset songs with extensive ghost notes. I muted the drums and found the pad could easily replicate the preset. By the time you read this, Simmons will have made a change to the module which will allow the snare a third zone; in this case, a cross-stick sound. It will be laid out similar to that of Yamaha’s newer snare pads in that one half will produce a rim hit, the other half will provide cross-stick. A free firmware upgrade will be available for existing SD1000 users. The 9” toms (S1000PAD9S) are single-zone and similar to the snare in feel, with a raised, soft rim. The pads are responsive and the sound variation is good.

bounce didn’t show any real differences, playing the pads side-by-side did. The Simmons pads, like the Yamaha pads, were bouncier - maybe not “mesh bouncy”, but they just felt better.

Stick noise on the cymbals was about what I’ve tested on the Roland CY-8 and the Alesis DMPad ride; bounce was also about the same. The crash/rides consist of one dual-zone (S1000CYM12DC) and one single-zone (S1000CYM12SC) 12” cymbal that chokes. They are offset-mounted, like Roland’s CY-5/8 and Alesis’s DMPads, but are not wedgemounted. Instead, there’s a circular ball mount that attaches to the cymbal arm which has a flange that fits into the cymbal to prevent rotation. How much swing you get depends on how tight you screw in the wing nut.

Bounce and stick noise were quickly estimated by setting up an old Roland PD-7 and a Yamaha tom pad from a DTX450 kit. The sound is deeper than the Yamaha pads and about 2-3 dB louder. Bounce was about the same as on the Yamaha. One thing I have noted is that these newer rubber pads do have some subtle improvements over the old, rockhard PD-7s. They are softer and while measuring

digitalDRUMMER, NOVEMBER 2013

11


ddnov2013v2_layout 3 4/10/13 2:22 PM Page 12

The ball mount end allows for some swing, unlike the other cymbals but still not much. That’s a limitation of any cymbal like this but how important that is to any drummer is impossible to say.

Both cymbals are quite responsive and choke easily. The single-zone pad actually is velocity sensitive or, in this case, it’s the VAR sample modeling at work. You can hit the cymbal lightly and get what you’d expect, but thwack it hard in the centre and you get an entirely different sound - almost to the point that you think it’s a dual-zone pad. The actual dual-zone pad is used as the ride, giving you edge/bow hits. As you read this article, Simmons already has a three-zone ride cymbal for sale and it doesn’t need a second cable taking up a valuable “extra” input on the module. The HH cymbal is 10” and single-zone but the VAR sample modeling provides a surprisingly wide range of sounds.

As I said in my review of the Yamaha DTX-450, the big question for any kit involves the cymbals, namely how “realistic” they are, particularly the crash and HH. In that regard, I was pleasantly surprised with the SD1000. Both crash/ride cymbals produced subtle, realistic swells. The VAR sample modeling gave a good variety of sounds across the entire strike area of each cymbal. Even the

12

single-zone HH cymbal had varied sounds. I just wish there were a couple of more crash sounds to choose from. HH articulation, like with every cymbal/controller combination, took getting used to and I wished the controller was just a little bit less stiff.

How does it play?

I’ve been playing exclusively on a rubber padbased kit for six months, so moving from one to another was seamless. I like the fact that everything is just a little bit bigger than what you normally see in a beginner’s kit. One thing I’ve learned is that rubber pads are different now than they were 10+ years ago. Putting the Simmons tom pads side by side with the pads from the Yamaha DTX450, a Roland PD-7 and even my old Concept One pads shows that old pads like the latter two are rock-hard when compared to the newer designs. It’s a subtle thing but it also helps explain why moving back and forth from this to mesh isn’t as jarring as one might think. It’s also easier on the hands and wrists. The cymbals were a pleasant surprise and the wide variety of available kits and songs should not only keep beginner drummers busy, but experienced drummers engaged for a long time. While everything was “a little bit bigger”, the kit didn’t feel big. It’s compact and the lowprofile rack should make it fairly portable.

www.digitaldrummermag.com


ddnov2013v2_layout 3 4/10/13 2:22 PM Page 13

How does it sound?

Out of the box, the rock kits (or Maple) are a bit reverb-heavy. That’s not actually a bad thing, plus you can always dial that back. I found the basic voices on the SD1000 were on par with the TD-12, keeping in mind that the “sound engine” on the TD-12 and the Simmons are many years apart. Not all kits on the SD1000 are created equal. As Allan found when reviewing the KAT Percussion KT2 kit (August 2013), some kits excel and others don’t. I spent a lot of time practising on the 80s Rock kit and found that over time, the cymbals sounded more and more like those on my old expanded TD-10; I haven’t had that thought after playing six months on the DTX-450. That said, several of the rock kits and specialty kits do shine and you can always change cymbal type and tweak the sound. As mentioned, it is surprisingly good at cymbal swells. It didn’t have the seamless edge-tobow flow that I can dial into the TD-12, but it’s far better than the DTX450. The VAR sample modeling is akin to Roland’s “positional sensing” and I found the SD1000 sounding the same in that sense, particularly when playing snares and rides on it and the TD-12 (which has positional sensing). The HH is really the only area where the beginners/budget aspect of the kit shows. Sound quality is fine but only having a single zone and a basic controller means the overall HH experience is exactly what you would expect from a kit at this price.

Overall

Simmons has come a long way with this kit in terms of sounds, playability and customisation. Plus, it’s at a price that is downright amazing: I can’t think of any other kit that offers this much bang for the buck and the rack is gorgeous.

One of the biggest fears anybody has when purchasing a beginner's e-kit is the possibility of “outgrowing” it, both in terms of the hardware and the module. That is not an issue with the SD1000. Simmons has upgrade options (snare, ride) and if you want to move to mesh using non-Simmons gear, that’s also viable. If you are a VST player looking for a very good kit that doesn’t break the bank, the SD1000 would be perfect since it has plenty of MIDI options. The downsides are the singlezone HH cymbal, limited crash cymbal sounds and the lack of effective anchoring on the kick pad unless you go the carpet scrap route. digitalDRUMMER, NOVEMBER 2013

Specifications

Drum Sound Module: SD1000 Max Polyphony: 64 voices Drum Pads: 3 x 9” single-zone rubber; 1 x 9” dual-zone rubber Cymbals: 2 x 12” dual-zone, chokeable; 1 x 10” Hi-Hat Kick: 1 x 9” upright rubber No of kits: 55 (storage for 44 additional User kits) No of voices (instruments/sounds): 515 Voices Parameters: Gain, Sensitivity, Threshold, Curve, Retrig Cancel, Crosstalk, Rim Sensitivity, HH Splash Effect Types: Reverb (8 preset types; 4band EQ) Songs (Patterns): 110 Click Tempo Range: 30-280 bpm Pad Connection: ¼” to ¼” stereo Interfaces: MIDI In/Out/Through, MIDI USB Outputs: 1 x 1⁄8” stereo (headphones), L/R ¼” mono (TS unbalanced) Inputs: 10 ¼” stereo (for pads); 1 x 1⁄8” stereo Street price: $680

13


ddnov2013v2_layout 3 4/10/13 2:22 PM Page 14

Handy advance

--Gear--

T S R FI OOK L

Roland recently updated its hand percussion range with the launch of the HPD-20 Handsonic. Adam Manning was among the first to get his hands on the new instrument. 14

www.digitaldrummermag.com


ddnov2013v2_layout 3 4/10/13 2:22 PM Page 15

THE HPD-20 CONSISTS of 13 individual percussive pads that give the user direct access to tuned and untuned percussive sounds from all over the world. Striking the pads with hands or sticks allows the performer to directly access the desired sound. However, the instrument best responds to hand gestures similar to that of the conga/bongo technique.

Instrumentalists who have experienced the dramatic difference between weighted keyboard actions in comparison to unweighted keyboards will certainly understand when I say it’s like playing a weighted keyboard – it works. Along with the feel, the user will also note the ease of musical command that one can exhibit over the instrument, as intricate dynamic markings and musical articulations are easily achieved when using the HPD-20.

The instrument’s playing surface and response have come a long way. This new instrument provides the user with more performance possibilities than any other electronic hand percussion instrument on the market. While the instrument can be utilised as a compact replacement tool for traditional percussion instruments, it’s on the modern electronic stage where it really comes to life. Most of all, its new digital compatibility and performance surfaces is where the instrument shines over previous models.

Along with its new and improved musical aptitude, the HPD-20 sports 850 ready-to-play sounds, with the additional capacity to import up to 500 of your own sounds via USB.

digitalDRUMMER, NOVEMBER 2013

Additionally, performers can record their own sounds/rhythms and save them to USB.

Upgrades aside, the true test is in performance mode, and Roland’s YouTube channels abound with stunning examples of the Handsonic at work. Interestingly, one will observe how the instrument is predominantly used within an electronic musical context. TC Spitfire, who is an electronic music producer, explains on the YouTube channel how the instrument can be used in the studio. Spitfire claims that the HPD-20’s musical expression allows him to perform and record percussive tracks rather than using samples. He also sees this method of creating beats as faster than trying to find samples.

Another demonstration by Tioneb provides a direct insight into the electronic performance capabilities of the instrument in combination with a BOSS Loop pedal. This clip shows how a producer would approach the instrument in performance through looping techniques.

The HPD-20 integrates seamlessly with the modern DJ rig and music software programmes - and this is where the instrument comes to life. If you are a young percussionist, this instrument will provide a direct way of tapping into the expanding performance medium of today: DJing. This can be achieved by performing as a percussionist with a DJ in an attempt to provide a more interactive and rhythmical performance experience for the audience. Alternatively, you can develop a concept whereby both roles as a DJ/Drummer

15


ddnov2013v2_Layout 3 13/10/13 8:06 PM Page 16

Specifications are performed simultaneously. Percussionists who incorporate computers and a combination of electronic percussion instruments into live performance often produce rewarding and interesting results.

What Roland has produced with the new HPD20 is a percussion instrument that’s useful in the studio and on stage; furthermore, it’s an instrument that will possibly inspire the younger generation of percussionist/drummers. And it’s this generation of percussionist that will ultimately think of new ways of performing with the instrument. This instrument is a step in the right direction for Roland and I’m quite interested to see how musicians of the future will utilise it. Effectively, this instrument amalgamates various roles and skills, all of which will ultimately keep young musicians employed in the future. In many ways, this instrument is the beginning of a new performance landscape for a percussionist/drummer/DJ and producer.

Pad:10”, 13 sections, pressure-sensitive Kits: 200 Instruments: 850 Kit Chains:15 chains (50 steps per chain)

User Instrument

Number of User Instruments: Maximum 500 (includes factory preloaded user instruments) Sound Length (total): 12 minutes in mono, 6 minutes in stereo File Format: WAV (44.1 kHz, 16 bits)

Effects

Multi-Effects: 3 systems, 25 types Ambience: 10 types 3-band Kit EQ

Quick Rec

Resolution: 480 ticks per quarter note Recording Method: Realtime Maximum Note Storage: approx. 30,000 notes Export File Format: WAV (44.1 kHz, 16 bits) Controllers: D-BEAM,Realtime Modify knob Display: Graphic LCD 64 x 128 dots

Connectors

OUTPUT (L/MONO, R) jacks: 1⁄4-inch phone

type

PHONES jack: Stereo 1⁄4-inch phone type

MIX IN jack: Stereo 1⁄4-inch phone type TRIG IN jack: 1⁄4-inch TRS phone type

HH CTRL jack: 1⁄4-inch TRS phone type

FOOT SW jack: 1⁄4-inch TRS phone type

MIDI (IN, OUT) connectors

USB COMPUTER port: USB Type B (Audio, MIDI)

USB MEMORY port: USB Type A

DC IN jack Interface: Hi-Speed USB (USB Audio, USB MIDI, USB Flash Memory) Street price: $900

 Adam Manning is a percussion teacher from Newcastle University, Australia and an electronic percussion performer. 16

www.digitaldrummermag.com


ddnov2013v2_layout 3 4/10/13 2:22 PM Page 18

--Gear--

Best foot forward Lately, there have been a few new e-kick debuts, prompting digitalDrummer to line ‘em up and test ‘em out. Allan Leibowitz shares the results. 18

www.digitaldrummermag.com


ddnov2013v2_Layout 3 13/10/13 11:52 PM Page 19

with absolutely no need for tweaking. The same was true of the older TD-6. Triggering on the 2box was also perfect in stock settings, and on almost any trigger configuration. The K3 took to the DTX 700 like a duck to water, again triggering perfectly in the stock trigger setting.

Noise level: 78-82 dB. Initially, I thought the use of a softer beater would reduce the noise, but it had little effect.

Pintech K3 Ergokik

Description: Based on the Nimrod aux trigger, the K3 consists of a 14cm tube mounted on an angled stand that attaches to a kick pedal base plate. The connecting plate is grooved, but it didn’t quite fit the Demon Drive and needed a bit of packing – a small piece of cardboard was sufficient to ensure a snug fit. The K3 ships with a stylish bent-shaft, wooden ball beater.

Build quality: The Pintech trigger is solidly built, with the same rubber sensor protector arrangement as the Nimrod. One curious aspect of the design is the output jack, which is positioned on the pedal side, rather than the outer edge. Playability: The K3 feels good under the pedal. It has a decent amount of bounce and the rubber does a good job of emulating an acoustic head. The trigger is wide enough to accommodate a double pedal. Triggering: On the TD-30, the K3 triggered perfectly in almost any setting

682Drums KTR-7 E-kick

Description: This totally new product consists of a 12.5cm rubber semicircle mounted on a rubber base which extends to form the pedal linkage. At 7.5mm thick, the base attaches easily to the pedal. The jack is located on the outside face.

Build quality: The KTR-7 is much like the Pintech Ergokik in that it is based on an inner tube, but the rubber covering is much thicker – at around 1cm. No beater is supplied.

The bulk of the e-kicks were tested with a Roland TD-30, a Roland TD-6, a Yamaha DTX 700 and a 2box module, using the stock kick trigger settings. A pearl Demon Drive pedal was used for those solutions which required a separate kick pedal. Besides triggering, we measured acoustic noise levels and monitored the playing action and also evaluated the build quality.

How we tested

digitalDRUMMER, NOVEMBER 2013

Price: $72

19


ddnov2013v2_layout 3 4/10/13 2:23 PM Page 20

Playability: The KTR-7 feels natural, with just the right amount of rebound. The strike surface is wide enough to accommodate double pedals. Triggering: Triggering was excellent on both the Roland TD-30 and the TD-6, in stock kick setting as well as other pad settings. On both the Yamaha and 2box modules, sensitivity needed to be raised a bit – probably because of the insulating property of the thick rubber housing.

on all the modules except for the TD-6, which was far more accommodating. Once dialled in, triggering was excellent on the TD-30, the DTX 700 and the 2box. Noise level: 79-83 dB with the supplied soft beater. Price: $99

Noise level: 78-81 dB – using a soft beater. Price: $65

Hansenfutz Futz Practice Pedal Hart Hammer Kick Inverted Beater Bass Drum Trigger

Description: At 15cm wide, the Hart Hammer Kick inverted beater bass drum trigger was by far the heavyweight of the field. Based on the Hammer aux trigger, it is solid and steady, easily fitting to the kick pedal with more than enough room for a double beater arrangement. The pedal ships with a soft beater, and extra beaters were available for double-kick set-ups.

Build quality: The Hammer looks indestructible.

Playability: The Hammer feels natural, with a good amount of rebound. The strike surface is wide enough to accommodate double pedals. Triggering: Because of the amount of rubber packed round the sensor, the Hammer required a slight sensitivity boost 20

Description: The Hansenfutz Futz Pedal was developed as a practice tool, but, for some time, a Pintech sensor has been added to create an e-kick solution.

Build quality: The Futz pedal has recently been revamped and although it is a plastic product, it seems well built and solid. The Pintech trigger addition is cased in plastic and also looks robust.

Playability: The playing technique is perfectly normal in this beaterless pedal. And, what’s more, you can adjust the tension, just as you can on a regular pedal. There’s even an optional spring for those who want to get a real workout.

Triggering: Triggering was a little on the hot side in stock settings on the TD-30 and the 2box, and sensitivity needed to be dialled back slightly. There was no need for tweaking on either the DTX 700 or the TD6. Once dialled in, responsiveness was even and realistic. Noise level: 78-82 dB. The noise level was low, but there is a distinctive click which some may find irritating.

Price: $50 (Plus $27 for the Pintech RS-5 trigger)

www.digitaldrummermag.com


ddnov2013v2_layout 3 4/10/13 2:23 PM Page 21

sensor. It’s well designed and neatly assembled.

Triggera Krigg

Description: This beaterless trigger uses the footboard to strike the trigger sensor, eliminating the need for a beater. The strike area is about 6cm x 5cm, and overall, this is the most compact solution on the market. I needed quite a bit of packing to attach the unit to the Pearl base plate, but once in place, it was secure. Build quality: There’s not much to the Krigg – a mounting plate and a horizontal

Playability: Because you’re using your normal pedal, the feeling is very natural. There is a bit of a learning curve because the impact sensation is right under the foot – as opposed to at the end of the beater, but this soon feels normal. Triggering: Triggering on the TD-30 and the TD-9 was excellent in stock settings, while the 2box also needed absolutely no adjustment. The DTX 700 required just a slight sensitivity boost.

Noise level: 71-73 dB – by far the quietest trigger in the test and without the click of the Futz. To quieten the Krigg even further, it is possible to attach a rubber pad under the pedal, but this may reduce the triggering somewhat. Price: €48 ($65)

-reviews continue on page 22

The The Alternative Alternative eDrum eDrum Kit Kit

www.AlternateMode.com www.AlternateMode.com


ddnov2013v2_layout 3 4/10/13 2:23 PM Page 22

Yamaha KU100 Tested by Scott Holder

Alternate Mode eKIC

Description: The eKIC is more elaborate than the other e-kick solutions. It consists of a base plate mounted on two feet, a trigger box (the latest box has an input as well as an output for chaining pedals) and a separate sensor pad made of the nuBounce material used on the trapKAT and drumKAT products. The eKIC can be bought with a pedal or as a stand-alone. It needed some packing to attach to the Pearl pedal.

Build quality: The eKIC is well made and cleverly designed. The separation between the sensor and the connector box should reduce the threat of damaged connections over time.

Playability: The nuBounce material has an excellent, natural feel. The unit is, however, only suitable for a single pedal. Triggering: Triggering was excellent on the TD-30 and the TD-9 in stock kick settings. On the 2box, it needed a very slight sensitivity boost, and a tad more sensitivity on the DTX 700. Once dialled in, it had an excellent dynamic range.

Description: It looks and feels like a hi-hat controller, most notably Yamaha’s HH65, but it is slightly lighter than the already lightweight HH65. Build quality: It’s light and mostly plastic, so won’t feel substantial. However, every piece of Yamaha e-drumming gear I’ve tested has been rock solid, so there’s no reason to think the KU100 will be any different.

Playability: This is a “soft” pedal with no way of changing the tension; thus, the rebound or dead-stop “thunk” feeling you get when pressing down on a conventional kick pedal was missing and disconcerting. Yes, I got used to it, but I still much preferred a conventional, upright kick.

Triggering: It triggered fine with a DTX400 module, a Roland TD-12 (with slightly increased sensitivity settings) and an Alesis PercPad, but in order to get a big audio response, you have to really slam down on the pedal with the ball of your foot. Noise level: We didn’t test dB levels, but found it to be significantly quieter than a couple of upright kick pedals. Price: $65 (incl pedal and stereo cable)

Noise level: 77-81 dB. The nuBounce was certainly a quieter playing surface than some of the rubber products.

Price: $79 (incl beater and a cable). The eKIC with pedal costs $145.

news ... Get the latest e-drum news at www.digitaldrummermag.com/news ... 22

www.digitaldrummermag.com

digitalDRUMMER, NOVEMBER 2013

23


KAT Digital Drums

Why be a gamer when you can be a player?

Visit KATPERCUSSION.COM to watch the phenomenal Antoine Fadavi demonstrate the incredible level of performance you can expect from KAT Digital Drums.

The KAT KT2 Digital Drum Set

Hundreds of high quality drum sounds, advanced features, pre-programmed set-ups, versatile connectivity—all at a price that gets you started making music today! (shown with optional equipment)

KAT_Antoine_DD.indd 1

KATPERCUSSION.COM

7/12/13 11:36 AM


ddnov2013v2_Layout 3 9/10/13 6:36 PM Page 24

PHOTO: JEREMY HOYLE

--GeAR--

Just for

kicks

There’s some debate over the origin of the bass drum pedal, but there’s no doubt that the Ludwig Drum Company received the first patent for the type of designs we use today. Ludwig has come a long way since 1909, and no drum kit today is complete without a bass pedal. digitalDrummer canvassed a number of pro drummers about their weapon of choice ... and here are their selections: 24

www.digitaldrummermag.com


ddnov2013v2_Layout 3 9/10/13 6:36 PM Page 25

Russ Miller

Mapex Falcon Double

I have used the Mapex Falcon since 2010, after extensively auditioning a range of pedals. I have used it every day, on every session and show and, other than a few (screw tightens) small tweaks, I have had no issues. The thing I love about the pedal is the incredible flexibility of the design. You can change hubs (fast or power), add weights to the beaters, have a strap/chain or direct drive and it has a virtually unlimited (locking) spring tension. Also, the footboards are a really good size. I use this set-up: Primary pedal is a felt beater (Yamaha), the strap drive with the “fast” hub and a medium to medium-low tension. The slave beater is the Falcon beater with a 10g weight in it, the chain drive option and the “power” hub. This pedal has a medium tension on it. I weight the slave beater and use the “power” hub to help even out the tones created by the left foot and the right foot. It helps my left foot (slave) pedal playing quite a bit.

Justin Schiada (my drum technician) and I hit it with a small amount of WD40 on the springs, other moving parts, etc. periodically and that’s the maintenance!

Scott Rockenfield

Pearl Demon Direct Drive P-3000D

I currently use the Pearl Demon Direct Drive P-3000D drum pedals. They are simply one of the best drum pedals I have ever used. I use them on our current world tour and I hope to be using them soon in the recording studio.

The responsiveness of these pedals is exactly what I have been looking for. They give the utmost expression to my playing and seem to make it very easy to get through hours of playing each night with the least amount of effort.

The only adjustments I have made are the tension of the pedals and the height I prefer for the beater. Other than that, these pedals play perfectly right out of the box for me. I would seriously suggest these pedals to any drummers looking for the smoothest and most durable pedals for their playing. They are simply the best pedals that I have ever come across in over 40 years of playing drums.

In October 2010, digitalDrummer included a special report on kick pedals. The feature contained reader reviews of some of the more popular products and an informative column on choosing the right pedal.

To access the October 2010 edition, click here. digitalDRUMMER, NOVEMBER 2013

25


ddnov2013v2_Layout 3 9/10/13 6:36 PM Page 26

Stanton Moore DW 9000

I use the DW 9000 pedals for just about everything. The singles and doubles are both great. I like that they’re very smooth and sturdy. I like to use the DWSM 103 felt beaters on just about everything. They give me a nice round tone. I use a double pedal to control my remote 26” bass drum and it works great! Here’s a little trick Terry Bozzio taught me years ago: eliminating one of the universal joints when going to the remote pedal makes for a sturdier connection, but I had DW make me a 24” linkage rod so I could eliminate both universal joints. This also put the 26” bass drum at the angle that I wanted. This little trick has made the remote bass drum situation very sturdy and reliable. Sometimes, I like a more lightweight, portable option for jazz gigs or rehearsal situations. I like the 6000 pedal for this (it has radius rods and can fold up) but I had DW put a double chain on it. This makes the pedal feel a little sturdier while maintaining the lightweight portability. I also find myself playing rental and backline kits at festivals and clinics. In this case, I take a 9000 or 5000 pedal, adjust the springs to be as loose as I can get them without the pedal falling apart. I love my DW pedals, even if I have to leave home without them, a quick adjustment to the springs and I’m good to go!

Chester Thompson DW 9000

For the last few years, I have been using the DW 9000 single and double pedals. I have found them to be easy to adjust and fun to play. When I play the double pedal, I use a very different setting on the left pedal and it has never been a problem to set and later tweak it to feel great. Because I do quite a few clinics, it is important that I can quickly get everything set up and ready to play without feeling I am fighting the equipment. The 9000 has consistently been great in that setting.

Jonathan Atkinson DW 9000

I use the DW 9000 single pedal, both live and in the studio. I have a maybe unique perspective on this pedal, given that I probably do 50% of my work on rental drums, so sometimes the gear provided can have seen some serious usage! The DW 9000 pedals seem to be pretty indestructible, and I’ve certainly had pedals which have a high mileage but still function perfectly. I don’t have to do anything to them except ensure that the spring tension is roughly in the middle. I play heel up, and also I play the kick very hard. My balance behind the kit revolves entirely around my pedals. The 9000 means that I’m never struggling in that regard. For my electronics rig, I use the FatPad by Drumtech (formerly the FatKat) which I think is the best kick pad out there: light, very small profile, perfect triggering and easy to fit next to an acoustic kick pedal. Great! 26

www.digitaldrummermag.com


Extended Footboard Ad 2013 (Dig Drummer).indd 1

10/10/13 4:53 PM


ddnov2013v2_Layout 3 9/10/13 6:36 PM Page 28

John Mahon

Yamaha DFP9500D

I use a Yamaha DFP9500D. It’s a direct drive, doublechain model with adjustments for beater angle, footboard angle and spring tension. The pedal frames have stabiliser bars cast into them below the rocker shafts to eliminate flex.This keeps the bearings in alignment and gives the pedal a smooth feel. That is the most heavy-duty pedal Yamaha makes. Basically, I’m standing and playing so I want it to be a real heavy-duty pedal - not so much because I’m playing it very hard, but mainly it’s very stable, smooth and can take the beating of the road.

I found that with electronic kick drums, the more solid the pedal, the more ‘real feel’ I seem to get.

Compared to other drummers’ pedals I’ve played, I would say my spring tension is light to medium. I don’t need to work harder than necessary! I don’t make any modifications to it. I like the felt side, but when I’m recording, I will sometimes switch to the hard beater. It’s great to have the options. Always have options in the studio - engineers will love you.

John Emrich

Gibraltar G class

Lately, I have been using the new Gibraltar G class pedal. To me, it has a smooth feel that I am looking for. I use the same pedal for electronic and acoustic gigs, unless I am playing Zendrum, in which case, I use a FAT pedal.

I like the feel of chain drive pedals with a heel plate. I play heel down and that is very important for me. In the past few years, pedals have gotten a lot heavier. I prefer to “not” feel that weight because it feels like I am pushing something down. The new Gibraltar has a lighter foot plate and feels more like I am tapping on the ground. The base plate and posts are sturdy and do not move. This helps me not feel any extra movement if I bury the beater to create a short attack and change the pitch of the drum. I do not play the bass drum too hard, so maintenance is usually not a problem until I’ve had a pedal for about a year. At that point, parts that rub together start wearing out from the friction. The best advice I have is to be careful how it is packed up between gigs. That can often do more damage than playing it.

The one thing I do have with me for all gigs is multiple beaters. It is important for me to have multiple choices for the drum in different environments. I have an older Yamaha felt beater, a second Yamaha felt beater with an additional layer of German felt that I added, a rubber beater, a home-made wood beater, and a Square Danmar wood square beater. I also carry a plastic beater that I only use on electronic drum sets like my DTX 900. I hate the sound of plastic on an acoustic set, but everything travels in one bag.

28

www.digitaldrummermag.com


ddnov2013v2_Layout 3 13/10/13 8:13 PM Page 29

Michael Schack

Tama HP-900SW Iron Cobra

After many years of trial and error, playing different types of single and double pedals of different brands, I definitely stick to Tama’s HP-900SW Iron Cobra. This, for me, is the ultimate double pedal for the energetic touring drummer, playing both acoustic and electronic drums and constantly “throwing” these pedals in and out of flight cases. It actually comes with a very user-friendly and robust casing. The best things about this pedal are the inspiring playing feel, with any kind of shoes and socks - always consistent; the practical design and features, all easily accessible while in action (in between songs, that is); and the fact that it truly is the strongest pedal on the market. The Iron Cobras don’t need any modification, since it’s all there. And there’s no need for maintenance, except for tightening all adjustable screws when new out-of-the-box. I have never broken one single joint or other part on these pedals in these last five years.

Dirk Verbeuren Tama Speed Cobra

I use a Tama Speed Cobra chain drive double pedal. I was lucky to test one of the early prototypes of this pedal and it was love at first sight! The Speed Cobra is part of my essential equipment. I never play on another pedal unless I’m forced to at gunpoint. I had to go back to the Iron Cobra once and, although I had used it for many years prior, it felt a little bit like a primitive ancestor in comparison. What I like most is the long pedal boards. They make a world of difference when it comes to speed and precision because of the wide range of foot positioning they allow. And they look great. It took me a few months to fully adjust. I set the spring tension to about 95% and replaced the felt beaters with rubber ones. Other than that, it’s out of the box.

Pedal care

My maintenance involves oiling the joints every few months. I’ve used it for close to three years now, and it goes everywhere with me on tour. It’s truly solid and reliable.

Paul Snyder has some care and maintenance tips: 1. Keep your pedal clean. A rag and whiskbroom are handy for this. 2. Once clean, occasionally lubricate the bearing, but not so much as to leave a build-up which can collect dirt and debris. 3. Check springs and spring connections for weak spots or wear. 4. Check key rods for good tension, being careful not to over-tighten. 5. In particular, be sure to check the key rod that tightens the beater so as not to lose the beater mid-performance. 6. When attaching the pedal to a bass

digitalDRUMMER, NOVEMBER 2013

drum hoop, be sure the pedal is set level. This ensures better pedal performance and relieves stress on the hoop and hoop clamp. 7. Keep extra parts like springs, beaters, key rods, spring connecting parts, etc. 8. Keep a small tool kit that includes screwdrivers, pliers and a set of metric and standard Allen wrenches. 9. Last, but not least, a good pedal bag or case can help ensure a long life for your pedals.  Paul Snyder is a drum technician at Studio Instrument Rentals (S.I.R.) Nashville. 29


--Profile--

Miller’s Tale 30

www.digitaldrummermag.com

PHOTO: KAMAL ASAR, VIC FIRTH

ddnov2013v2_Layout 3 7/10/13 10:45 AM Page 30


ddnov2013v2_Layout 3 13/10/13 8:14 PM Page 31

Russ Miller has played on multiple Grammy award-winning recordings with combined sales of over 26million copies. He’s played with Ray Charles, Tina Turner, Nelly Furtado, Hilary Duff and Andrea Bocelli and is now reaching a new audience as part of the band on American Idol. But, as Miller tells digitalDrummer editor Allan Leibowitz, he’s also an e-drum inventor and has collaborated with Yamaha and, more recently, on Zildjian’s Gen 16 line. digitalDrummer: Tell us a bit about how you got into drumming?

Russ Miller: I started when I was very young, around eight years old. I lived with my grandparents a lot and my grandfather had played drums when he was young, and while he hadn’t played for a long time, he was a great music enthusiast. So, there was always a lot of music playing and a lot of big band records. I actually started playing swing stuff first – along with Buddy Rich records, Gene Kruper, Count Basie records. And then, when I was a bit older and went to high school, I discovered rock, like AC/DC, and thought that was really cool.

When I started playing, I began taking lessons and back then, you actually learned how to read music and learned technique, playing on a pad for years before you even got a drum set. My first teacher was actually blind, believe it or not, and he had all these rudimentary books memorised. I remember just reading and playing and he’d go: “no, you missed the 1/16 note and the ‘ee’ of ‘three-ee’”. So, I started taking lessons when I was eight and I never stopped. I think it’s really important that you have a coach. You know, Tiger Woods may be the greatest golfer that ever lived, but he’s got a coach. Sure, the coach isn’t better than him, but it’s a third-party perspective of what you’re doing. dD: So when did you decide this was what you wanted to do for a career?

RM: When I was around 11 or 12, I was around a drum shop in Ohio and I remember seeing drum clinics with Roy Burns and Bernard Purdie, and I saw a couple of shows and that’s when I made the decision that that’s what I wanted to do. I never really wanted to do anything else and there were moments in my life when I wasn’t able to play full-time and I had to valet park or work in a factory, but I was digitalDRUMMER, NOVEMBER 2013

never a valet parker who wanted to be a drummer. I was always a professional drummer who for that month had to valet park.

dD: And your first paid, professional gig. When was that? RM: I was actually in a band when I was 15 years old with a bunch of 30- and 40-year-old guys and we played clubs and weddings and things in Ohio, and I actually ended up in electronic drums through that. I had been very into the Simmons kit and I had saved up some money and bought one of the first Simmons kits second-hand, and because I had that kit, I got this gig in a Top 40 show band and from about the age of 16 on, I played about four or five nights a week. Back then, that’s all you were hearing on the radio – all those Simmons sounds. dD: That’s a neat segue into talking about edrums, so what gear have you used and owned over the years?

RM: I remember the very first thing I bought was a Boss handclap machine – literally a guitar pedal with a rubber pad on it and it made like a handclap sound. Then there was another one which had like a Syndrum sound. Then I saved up for the Simmons kit and because I was growing up at a time when electronic drums was just starting, I was very influenced by it and really into it from early on in my playing. I was heavily involved with drumKat back in the day. I helped put together presentations for those guys for smaller shows and things and, later on, ended up being one of the key design artists for the Yamaha DTX system around 1995. That was when Yamaha got back into electronic drums. They had a kit called the PCM in the very early ‘80s, but it didn’t last very long. And then they were out of the electronic drum market until the mid-90s. dD: And what was your role on that first DTX product?

31


ddnov2013v2_layout 3 4/10/13 2:23 PM Page 32

Russ uses e-drums on American Idol

RM: I was key in pad design and how the pads felt and I also came in with some inventions that were implemented into that system. The first was the ride cymbal cup pad. The bar pad BP 80, with two pads on it, was another of my products and I also designed two systems called the Latin Expansion Kit and the Drum Set Expansion Kit – both additions for the acoustic drum set. I also did a lot of assignments of how the kits were laid out, what sounds were on what kits, the design of the kits and also helped a lot with the actual sampling. From that module on, almost all of the drums in DTX modules were my studio drums. So, I’ve been involved ever since ’95 – on every high-end system along the way, especially with the feel of the pads and the sounds. And when they started to add loops, I would play a lot of those, too.

dD: What are some of the biggest changes and developments you have seen in the range since the early days?

RM: As with everything, the memory capacity has grown, enabling better sample quality, but I think the biggest change has been the pads.

32

The new silicone pads are pretty amazing: they feel great, they’re fun to play, they’re not stressing on the body; and the cymbal pads have made a big jump from the old triangle forms. Yamaha has always struggled a bit with the usability of the system. I always felt Yamaha’s systems could do more than some of the others on the market, but you had to dig further into it. It reminded me a lot of drumKat, which was the best system that was ever made, bar none, and probably still is. But because of the complication of it for the average consumer, it’s hard for it to take. The Roland stuff really nailed that user-friendliness.

dD: These days, you are probably best known in e-drum circles for your work with Gen 16. Can you tell us a bit about that?

RM: Well, of course I’ve been a Zildjian artist for some 20-odd years, so I’ve always been around the sound lab guys. But connection was primarily with John Roderick, whom I have known for a very long time. When he got to Zildjian, he gave me a call and said he was going to start this new division and asked me to be involved in what they were working on because of my experience with electronics.

www.digitaldrummermag.com


ddnov2013v2_layout 3 4/10/13 2:23 PM Page 33

I’ve been involved ever since ’95 – on every high-end system along the way, especially with the feel of the pads and the sounds.

dD: So when you got involved, was it a usable product, or still taking shape?

RM: Well, I feel it’s been a work in progress. And I understand that, having been involved in a lot of products over the years. You know, you can’t fly straight to the moon. You have to take the ship into orbit, open the hatch, see what happens – you’ve got to do that. And I think components of the Gen 16 system got nailed right out of the gate. I felt like the AE lowvolume cymbal was a really cool sound and a

really cool product. The pick-up system had challenges until the Direct Source system that’s coming out now. It was more a practice tool and for low-volume, small venues. It was difficult to use in a professional large-venue setting. You know, it’s creating mic fields, so you have five more mic fields that are out of phase around the drums and you already have your other 13 mics on the kit, so it was a bit of an issue. Now, with the Direct Source stuff, it’s spot on and I use it on American Idol, and lot of other pro situations.

Are you ready to unlock your full potential on the drums?

Successful Drumming is backed by a 90-day money-back guarantee


ddnov2013v2_layout 3 4/10/13 2:23 PM Page 34

dD: Okay, looking at your day-to-day work, what do e-drums allow you to do that you possibly couldn’t do with acoustics?

RM: I used the DTX kit solely on the last American Idol ‘mentor sessions’, because they were changing the themes so much from week to week that it was like one week would be ‘80s and then next 2010-2012 music, and some things would be more rock and it was really difficult to get all the tones ready quickly. In that situation, I was sightreading, so I had to come up with a system that allowed me to access a lot of sounds that I would need for a lot of styles, just at my fingertips. I had a full DTX rig, some Gen 16 cymbals, a multipad and probably six or seven small pads around the kit with different sounds. That allowed me to get to stuff quickly without having to programme something. But I even use electronics in other stuff – even with Andrea Bocelli, where I had a multipad for shows, for example, where there was no timpanist. And on a lot of the house band stuff that I do, I end up using a multipad and a couple of pads to get instruments to the front of house clearly that would be difficult to mic with that many people on stage – like a shaker or a triangle, or something like that.

And then on sessions, it’s not so much playing the stuff live, but on stuff like movies, it’s often about sound design. So it’ll be a combination of me creating some form of loop that’s working with what I’m doing acoustically on the drums or some other percussion. Sometimes a producer will like the feel, but ask for something other than ‘common drum tones’, so I’ll go back and retrigger out of ProTools into modules and layer it to create some more ambiguous tones. I mostly use module sounds,

34

but do sometimes use EZdrummer samples, via Logic and MainStage.

dD: What do you think is the next big thing in electronic percussion? RM: I think it’s leaning towards these hybrid systems like Gen 16. I keep seeing people trying to make electronic drums look like acoustics.

I think someone needs to spend the money looking into a new triggering facility. There are some that we worked on with Yamaha that just got kind of set aside for budgetary reasons, but I think the piezo trigger thing has run its course. I mean it’s been around for a while – it was in the Simmons stuff and we’re still using it. The FSR stuff in the Aquarian inHeads is really, really hip and I am interested in spending some time with that stuff because it would be good to be able to incorporate quickly on a gig - to turn an acoustic drum into an electronic drum in real time, almost. I think the triggering is going to be the key. But I think all the companies are facing a problem because it’s hard to sell high-end gear of any type. So it’s hard for them to put a lot of R&D and money into high-end gear because the sales are so far down. But we’re not going to have breakthroughs at $600.

dD: You touch on something important there – the explosion of low-end kits. And what you get in a $600 kit today is mind-blowing compared to even five years ago. And this means that a lot of kids starting out will begin their drumming experiences on e-drums. How is that going to impact on the next generation of drummers?

RM: I think it can be great or it can be bad. The good part is that they have a different www.digitaldrummermag.com


ddnov2013v2_layout 3 4/10/13 2:23 PM Page 35

Russ R us s Miller M i l le r Yamaha ah a DTX D T X (Full) (Fu l l ) Rider R ide r 2013

Forr m Fo more o re iinformation n f o r m at i o n visit: v is i t: www.russmiller.com w w . r us sm i l le c om (2)K P125W (2)KP125W K Kick ic k Pa Pads ds

PPCY135 CY135 CCymbal y m b a l Pa Padd

PPCY155 CY155 Ride Padd R ide Pa

PPCY135 CY135 CCymbal y m b a l Pa Padd

PPCY135 CY135 CCymbal y m b a l Pa Padd GGen-16AE e n -16AE 10 10”” SSplash pl ash

PPCY135 CY135 CCymbal y m b a l Pa Padd XP-100T Pad

XP-100T Pad

XP-120S Snare Pad XP-120T Pad

DDTX900 T X900 Module Mo du le PPF1000TW F1000T W "Falcon" "Fa l c o n" Dbl. Dbl . Pedal Pe d a X's (2) Pe

XP-80 Pad DDCP CP Mo Module du le

XP-70

HF1000 HF 1000 "Falcon" l c o n" HHi-Hat i-H at "Fa RHH135 H H135 W/ W /R Padd HHi-Hat i-H at Pa

XP-70 Pad DDTX900 T X900 Mo Module du le

XP-120T Pad T775 Throne Th ro ne

SF1000 SF 1000 "Falcon" "Fa l c o n" SSnare n a re St SStand t and

Y am ah a Ba rPad Yamaha BarPad

Miller’s current e-drum set-up combines a Yamaha DTX kit and Gen 16 cymbals

GGen-16AE e n-16AE 20”” CChina 20 hi n a w/ Rivots i vo ts w /8R

Rack AE R ac k

Yamaha ah a DDTX T X 900 SSeries e r ie s Kit: K i t: Mapex/Zildjian/Yamaha Ma e x il ian ah a HHardware: a rd wa re : Z Zildjian i l i a n GGen-16AE e nHybrid b r id CCymbals: m b a l s: A take the from 2 - KP125W K Punderstanding 125W Kick K ic k Pads Pad s of what tonesZidjian Zare i i a navailable GGen-16 e n-16 AE rrack ck w with i t h t woRM: sside ide eextensions x telot n s i oof n s guys 10 10”” nowadays GGen-16AE e nSplash p l adon’t sh 2-X XP70 P70 Pads Pad s 18 - Gen-16 G e nfor -16 us, AE R Rack aac k CClamps l am p s career aspect as 20 20””seriously GGen-16AE e nChina has i n a they w with i t h 8-Rivots 8need -R i v o t sto. a percussion instrument, whereas 1-X XP80 P80 Pad Pad Mapex M a p e x Falcon Fa l c o n SF SF1000 1000 SSnare n a Stand and GGen-16 e n-16 ““DCP” DCP ” Mo Module du le They was a snare drum. course, 2-X XP100T Psnare 100T Pads Padrum ds Mapex M aOf p e x Falcon Fa l c o n HF HF1000 1000 HHi-Hat i-H a Stand a n d need to be well educated about what’s and VVic look iticlike there are 2-X XP-120T 120T Pads Pa d s a lot of sounds in a2snare, - PF1000TW PF1000but T W you FFlacon l ac o n Do Double ubl Pedals dhappening als ic FFirth i atSticks: k s: a business. It’s 1-X XP120S Phave 120S Snare Sto n a re Pad Pad to execute them Mapex M a p e x of T775 Throne ne R Russ us s someone M Miller i l le r SSignature ig n atto u reoffer R RMWB MWyou B Brushes Br us h e s very difficult to get learn out it. Th Inrothe 4 - PPCY135 CY135 Cymbal C y m b a l Pa Pads ds 8-Y Yamaha ah a CL940 ((Long) L o ng ) TTom mA Arms r ms R Russ us s M Miller i l le r SSignature ig n at u re SM SMIL I L "H "Hi-Def" i-De f Sticks ic k s just to listen to you play the drums. You way they have this unlimited ofCCymbal 1-R RHH135 Hsame H135 Hi-Hat H iH at Pad Pa d 7 - Yamaha aworld h a CH755 ym b a l A Arms r mmoney s have to operate in the high percentages of 1 - PPCY155 Cpossibilities, Y155 R Ride ide Pad Pad there’s also this huge detriment 1 - Yamaha ah they BP-80 80aren’t Barr Pa Ba Padd learning how to extract the your field. If you were a doctor or an architect, that

you would be very Yamaha atones h a DTX D T X Electronics: Eout le c t rof o n ian c s: acoustic instrument. Porter e r & Davies Dav ie s Yamaha aeducated, h a Speakers: S e a k e rs: up to date with happening the tools, 2 - DTX900 D T X900 Modules Mo du le (w/Mounts) /Mo u n t s ) Gigster G i s te w/ BC B C Gigster G ig s te r Round R o u n d Throne Th rwhat’s o ne 2 - Yamaha Ywith ah aall DXR15 DXR 15 Active A c t i ve Speakers Smedicines, p e a k e rs Practising on electronic drums isSpgreat for 15 - Stereo e re o Cables C a ble s (10-15ft) (10-15f t) 1 - Speakon e a k o n Cable C a ble (12ft) (12f t) 2 - XLR to t o TRS T RS Cables C a bleneed s (15ft) (15f t)to have the or technology, and drummers movement, independence and muscle 2 - Mono Mo n o Cables C a ble s (12ft) (12f t) 1 - XLR to t o Speakon Sp e a k o n Cable C a ble (12ft) (12f t) same thing. A lot of times, musicians forget to spend time on about the fact that this is a career. It’s not cool an acoustic instrument so that you can SShure h u re M Microphones: ic ro ph o ne s: SM58 ffor o VOX to not know. understand how those tones come out of the R Russ us s M Miller i l le r uuses: se s: M Mapex a p e x DDrums r ums aand n d HHardware, a rd wa re Yamaha ah a DDTX T X EElectronics, Zildjian Remo Vic le c t ro n ic s, Z i ldAnd ji a n CCymbals, y m b a l s, R e mo DDrum r um HHeads, eto ad s,have V ic FFirth i electronics. h SSticks, ic k s, today, you have They cymbals. SShure h u re M Microphones, ic ro ph o ne s, M May ay E/ E/A Mic ic Mo Mounts, u n t Porter e r & Da Davies v ie Tactile c t i le Mo Monitoring, n i t o r i ng , Me Meinl i n Percussion, rc us s i o n, HHercules e rc u le s Mu Music s ic & M Mic ic SStands, t a n d s, SK SKBB CCases ase s are a part of what is happening. And it’s not aand n d Pr Prologix o l o g i x Pa Pads d s eexclusively. xc l us i ve l me is the people who have What impresses just mastering a kit, you need to understand made electronics their thing. For most of us, VSTs and Logic and ProTools. So having the it’s this hybrid thing: we grew up playing information is essential and having the tools is acoustic drums and electronics were a part of essential and, to be honest, there’s no excuse our toolbox, but it wasn’t our act. It’s become because the stuff isn’t expensive. Even if you more and more a part of mine over the years, bought a midline DTX kit, it’s a great tool. So and guys like me who do a lot of different stuff have the gear available and have some chops just have to know how to use electronics. And on it. For me, it’s about utilising technology as you have to have chops on ProTool and Logic a tool to expand the palette of what we’re and everything else so that you can make doing – not a crutch. loops and record and whatever.

DTX Modules M o du le s need n e e dbut to h have ayou ve D DIMM IM MR RAM Ahave M memory, also

dD: That brings us to tips for drummers. What advice would you have? digitalDRUMMER, NOVEMBER 2013

35


ddnov2013v2_layout 3 13/10/13 8:16 PM Page 36

--PErformance--

How I use e-drums Not only is he a great drummer, but E. Doctor Smith is also a bit of an inventor. However, when he saw the Zendrum, he gave up on his own invention and showed his genius on the new instrument.

My electroNic Musical journey began back in the ‘80s when i started programming sequencers, computers and drum machines with my friend stephen Bray, who was writing songs and working with Madonna in New york, then in la. i also experimented with a Dynacord rhythm stick they had lying around.

i was a big fan of Bill Bruford’s drumming and the simmons electronic drums that he used in his groups earthworks and King crimson. i was really excited to get my hands on a basic fivepiece simmons sDs9 kit, then to add six more

36

pads, a roland PM-16 interface, a yamaha tX7 and an alesis Hr16. i used that kit on and off until 1995, when i made my first Drummstick.

some musical friends who had once opened for Bela Fleck & the Flecktones and knew about my e-drumming asked me if i’d ever thought about creating a “drumitar” like Futureman had done with his synthaxe. While mulling the idea over, i remembered having seen singer Bobby McFerrin tapping on his torso during a duet with Wayne shorter, which had conjured up images of how alphonso

www.digitaldrummermag.com


ddnov2013v2_layout 3 4/10/13 2:23 PM Page 37

Johnson and tony levin approached the chapman stick. that was the inspiration for the design of the Drummstick, a 2”x6’ piece of oak with 16 triggers that would be played vertically. i went to radio shack and to a music store to buy parts, and a few weeks later, the Drummstick was born. since then, i have played the Drummstick and toured with a number of bands and recorded several albums on the edgetone records label in the san Francisco Bay area, where i live. i’ve been honoured to have had some great jams with some amazing folks — Bon lozago, Howard levy and Bill Kirchen, to name just a few! i first saw a Zendrum at a NaMM show back in the ‘90s and thought it was great, but i still preferred the ergonomics of the Drummstick. one day, a friend surprised me with a maple ZX he’d just bought, and happily let me program it and try it out. the first thing i did was to flip it up vertically, so i could play it the way i play the Drummstick. although the straps weren’t in the right places, it worked well enough. after 20 minutes or so, i’d programmed the ZX to a playable level. it was so incredibly responsive. i immediately loved it.

in 2007, i finally made the switch. the Zendrum corporation’s David Haney built a beautiful, black “Jimi Hendrix ZX” for me, which was modeled after Hendrix’s Fender stratocaster. after i replaced the strap locks so that i could play it vertically, it worked like a charm. When Haney and John emrich announced the new eXP model last year, i took a look at it, saw that it had been redesigned to allow greater left-hand trigger access and to be worn vertically, and i knew i had to have one. i bought the first-ever production model, and it’s been a dream come true. My Zendrum technique is based on my nearly 20 years of playing the Drummstick. My left hand carries a lot of the snare, open hi-hat, crashes and sample triggering. With my right hand, i do my signature finger rolls, as well as carry the basic kick, ride, closed hi-hat, snare and toms, split between multiple fingers. i was really happy when i discovered that i could put the eXP on over my right shoulder, a la Hendrix. this gave me more range with my left hand, allowing me to use the eXP’s additional triggers more comfortably. so far, i haven’t used any pedals, but you never know.

live, i’m a hybrid of new school meets old school, so i use a MacBook Pro with BFD2 and GarageBand for my basic kits, along with an digitalDRUMMER, NOVEMBER 2013

alesis DMPro. i also use iDrum to trigger my pre-recorded samples. My rigs vary, depending on the size of the venue, and my sound is fed into either a Fast track ultra 8r, a tascam us1800, or Presonus usB/MiDi interface. i use either an alesis iMultiMix 9r or a Mackie mixer and a pair of Mackie srM450s. For recording, i mostly use GarageBand, logic and Protools. i also enjoy using Darin Kadrioski’s Zendrum editor app, Zenedit.

i am a perfectionist when it comes to the audio quality of my drum sound. e-drums allow me to control reverb, eQ and volume, no matter the venue — indoor, outdoor, wherever. this is something you don’t get with acoustics, especially when it comes to percussion, because not all sound engineers are created equal. i also enjoy the ability to pack up in 15 minutes and being able to fly with a Zendrum, a usB interface and a laptop anywhere in the world!

Equipment list: Zendrums eXP and ZX Drummstick x 3 Dynacord rhythm stick alesis DMPro, D4 and trigger i/o MacBook Pro with BFD2, GarageBand, iDrum 10-piece simmons sDs9 kit six-piece Ddrum D2 kit with Hart heads roland octopad Meinl cajon Mackie cr1604, 2 x Mackie srM450

37


ddnov2013v2_layout 3 4/10/13 2:23 PM Page 38

--TWEAKING--

Tweaking the TD-30

Last edition included some tips on tweaking the Roland TD-30. This month, Jeremy Hoyle digs into the module for optimal performance.

LAST TIME, WE ensured that all the pads were properly tensioned, so it’s time to individually calibrate each pad (drum and cymbal) to respond as you expect.

If you haven’t reset your module, now is the perfect time to do so.

Make a back-up first, of course. You can reload any kits you may have already made, but the initial objective is to begin trigger tweaking with a ‘clean slate’.

For the sake of ‘baseline’ settings, let’s focus on the Studio Kit (Kit No.1 in the presets), even if it’s not to your liking. The objective is not to tune the kit’s sounds, rather the triggering response from each individual pad. Default Pad Settings

The module has been automatically reset to factory default pad settings. If your kit consists of different pads, change them to the correct (or closest) pad setting in the list. It is also

38

highly beneficial to set your Pan controls in the Mixer to match your pads’ physical locations at this stage, if you haven’t already done so. Part of the ‘immersive’ experience is hearing sounds come from where you expect them! Baseline Volume Settings

Using the default Studio kit, set both the kit volume and each individual pad’s ‘instrument’ volume levels in the mixer to a standard level. This will help you to determine individual pad output (eg. the pad in Tom 1 position may be quieter by default than the same model pad in Tom 2 position) and this will provide a better baseline for mixing later on. Set your kit volume to 120 and all your instruments to 100, for example. You’ll be surprised how much variation in pad and individual instrument volume there can be – based on physical variations in the pads and also the TD-30’s instruments/mic positions for each instrument.

www.digitaldrummermag.com


ddnov2013v2_layout 3 4/10/13 2:23 PM Page 39

Tip: Leave the front panel faders alone for fine-tuning much later in the process. Dynamics

The aim of the game is to find each pad’s ‘sweet spot’ to get the largest dynamic playing range possible – from the lightest tap to the hardest hit, and everything in between. To achieve this, there are two settings you need to adjust first up. Don’t think about instrument volume at this stage – you’ve currently set that in the mixer.

Roland’s terminology can be confusing at times, and they often don’t explain things well.

‘Sensitivity’ (aside from velocity, which is misused) is at odds with most people’s understanding of the term. Most believe this setting affects how ‘sensitive’ a pad’s response will be. However, sensitivity simply adjusts the volume of your lightest hits - making them louder... so it’s more like a ‘minimum volume’ setting.

Your best bet here is to hit each pad as hard as you reasonably would playing normally, and adjust Sensitivity down (lower number) until you stop peaking the meter. You shouldn’t see red except with your very, very hardest hit.

Curves and Hot Spots Roland’s centrally mounted head trigger system enables positional sensing (the distance from the centre to the rim of the pad) and changes drum sounds to match. This is particularly useful on the snare (also on toms – and, albeit with a different trigger system, on the ride).

However, the system also introduces the risk of a ‘hot spot’ on the pad: the area directly above the head sensor, where a sudden and dramatic volume increase (peaking the meter at 127/red) is very easy to do.

Threshold equates more closely to how most people think of sensitivity. Threshold

If you’re trying to maintain the widest dynamic playing range from your pads, then set your Threshold as low as you can (0 is actually acceptable, but not always possible).

So long as this doesn’t create crosstalk issues, and your playing environment doesn’t cause false pad triggering (like from a bass stack on a wooden stage), then you shouldn’t have any concerns with using a setting of 0. The rule of thumb is ‘the lower, the better’.

Sensitivity

Now we know Sensitivity does not actually make a pad more ‘sensitive’, how do you use it? Easy … look at your hardest hits. The green/orange/red bar scale meter will show you how hard your hardest hits are registering. Red is ‘bad’ if you’re activating it with anything other than your hardest ‘this stick’s going through the pad’ hits. The meter peak is a velocity of 127 - the highest level - and like most things audio, shouldn’t constantly hit the limit.

digitalDRUMMER, NOVEMBER 2013

Source: Owner’s Manual

39


ddnov2013v2_layout 3 4/10/13 2:23 PM Page 40

The hot spot can be effectively countered through several tuning techniques, without loss of playability.

creating your own kits (or better adjusting Roland’s stock kits), but your triggering should no longer be of concern.

This will increase your lower-volume, quieter/lighter hits (think ghost notes being louder) but will cut the dramatic change in volume down considerably.

Personal preferences can be further accommodated with further tweaking of adjustments, and the more you play, the more you’ll discover what those are for you.

The simplest and most effective is to use a LOG 2 curve in your trigger settings, rather than the default Linear setting (Manual, p133).

With a bit of luck, you now have a fully repeatable and decent understanding of setting a baseline with your triggers.

In combination with compression settings for the instrument being used (try different settings – COMP SOFT 1–2, COMP MED, COMP HARD, LIMITER, EXPANDER - Manual p68), the hot spot can be completely eradicated.

Custom Kits

This takes some time to adjust to personal expectations, but it is worth the effort.

Listening while editing is the best way to go about kit construction.

Similarly, adjusting the Head/Rim Adjust (Manual, p134) can affect the hot spot and how easily the transition from head to rim occurs with rim shots.

Instrument Volume Time to Play

Now you should have every pad individually calibrated to respond to your playing style. Some identical pads will have the same settings, some will vary. But all should respond with full dynamic range. Your next issue when playing will be tweaking individual instrument volumes in your kit.

This is relatively easy to achieve, and you’ll do 95% of the work with the Mixer (NOT the front panel sliders, yet). Mix it up

Assuming you have already panned your instruments to match their physical position and set all individual instrument levels to 100, you should now adjust each instrument to better suit your playing expectation.

This should take you very little time to adjust, now that all your pads are calibrated, and you’ll be getting every pad into the ‘sweet spot’ where the playing feel and sound become truly immersive.

You may not like the Studio Kit that much, but it should at least play well now! There are a myriad of options available to now begin

40

This is where the real fun begins. Whether it’s Bonzo’s Vistalite or Lars’ Tamas, we’ve all got ‘dream kits’ we want to match.

The easiest way to do this on the TD-30 is to use a WAV or MP3 on a USB stick with a song (or songs) that contains the kit sounds you’re aiming to reproduce. You’ll sometimes be surprised how bad the kit might sound played solo, but how well it fits into a mix once you’ve tuned it up. Instrument Selection

Not everything is as it seems.

You might know an artist’s kit spec inside out, but there’s no guarantee that they used those instruments when recording. Add to that the producer and engineer applying mic’ing tricks, compression, gating, EQ and a number of other studio staples, and that 14x8.5” chrome-over-brass snare with a coated batter head might sound more like a 12x3” maple piccolo with a clear head ... which makes your life pretty hard. There’s also Roland’s take on certain instrument sounds and differences in base instruments on modules of various generations, but at least the TD-30 has some great starting points. In any case, your ears are the only thing you can trust, so you’re going to have to keep hitting a pad for a while during song playback and try to find the right ‘base’ instrument that fits the general tone of what you’re hearing. Mic Position

This is one of the more underrated features of the module and, like its acoustic counterpart, can have one of the more profound effects on

www.digitaldrummermag.com


ddnov2013v2_layout 3 4/10/13 2:23 PM Page 41

And then there’s the easy way …

getting the sound you’re looking for from respective instruments. Mic position can dramatically alter the volume of an instrument (as one might expect, moving the virtual mic closer or further away), but also the instrument’s brightness and depth. This little feature might help hi-hats sound clearer in the mix or give the kick or toms a bit of punch (attack). It’s well worth experimenting with mic positions before altering the sound of the kit with broader controls. Instrument Variables

Once you’ve selected the instruments (one-byone), you’ll also find tuning ‘notes’ gets you a lot closer. The fundamental pitch is the second most important parameter after the correct instrument is selected. Head tuning (in the module, not your just-tuned mesh head!) and shell depth or material (where editable) will move you in the right direction – be aware, that although subtle, shell depth and head tuning can almost cancel each other out at times, so set one at a time and see which variation gets you closer to the fundamental tone you’re seeking. Of course, concentrate on one instrument at a time and keep working at it until its sound virtually ‘disappears’ into the song – the less you can hear it, the more you’re matching the recorded sound. Compression, EQ and FX

Finally, there’s a lot in recorded drums owed to producer’s tricks and preferences. If you don’t know how the kit was recorded, there’s no quick answer to setting compression, EQ or FX - it’s all trial and error. Hopefully, though, by this stage, you’ve got the basic instrument sounds pretty close and you may find that’s good enough. For those wanting to go the extra mile, beginning with compression is probably best advised. Find the basic setting that adjusts the instrument sound closer to the target, and then adjust the EQ where the sound is still lacking (it might need a little more mid-range punch or low end added to the sound, for example). FX are probably the last thing to add, be it in filters or ambience, but once you’ve got the instrument sound dialled in fairly close, these should be a lot easier to add. Happy Tweaking.

digitalDRUMMER, NOVEMBER 2013

WHEN THE TD-30 first launched, we likened it to a sports car running on regular unleaded fuel. The module has enormous capability which is not fully exploited by the stock kits. Now, all that has changed, with pro tweakers V Expressions launching the first two packs for the TD-30 module. The Vex packs are not new sounds, but rather detailed tinkerings with the stock Roland sounds, aimed at emulating popular kits. They are easily loaded into the module via the USB port. In fact, the addition of the port has made it easier than ever before to update the patches. There are two custom VEX packs for the TD-30 – Strike and Essentials: Rock. The former is based on kits while the latter emulates artists’ sounds including tuning and effects. I tested Strike, a collection of 50 kits and nine custom cymbal packs. The kits are set up for a standard TD-30KV rig and cover a variety of well-known drum sets – from a 1979 Tama Imperial Star to a 2008 Gretsch 125th Anniversary Walnut kit. There are plenty of bread and butter kits – a Ludwig 1980 Rock power drum set, a Pearl Masterworks Mahogany/Maple hybrid, a Yamaha Stage Custom and a 2013 Sonor Ascent. Even more impressive is the range of exotic kits, from a 1965 Leedy to some Crush Acrylics, a Dunnett kit and a Sleishman maple set. The cymbal collection includes the usual suspects of Sabian AAX, Zildjian K and Paise Signatures, but there are also some unusual instruments from Dream Cymbals, Soultone and Bosphorus. The sounds are almost VST quality and, of course, are further tweakable using the TD-30’s extensive FX and ambience controls. In short, the VEX packs take the TD-30 to a new level and while the dedicated tweaker may be able to achieve the same results through trial and error, for me, these expansion packs are no-brainers at $50 each. -Allan Leibowitz 41


ddnov2013v2_layout 3 4/10/13 2:23 PM Page 42

--VST--

It’s so logical The eagerly awaited upgrade of Apple’s Logic DAW has produced a powerful program which is very easy to use, as Allan Leibowitz discovered.

THERE’S SOME BAD news for drummers worldwide. You’re about to be replaced by a $200 computer program that allows songwriters to not only grab and arrange drum loops, but actually control every aspect of the player.

drummers based on their playing styles, which are described in the app. Each drummer has a bunch of variations to choose from, and even within those, you can adjust the style between loud or soft and simple and complex – much like the Drum Jam application.

The good news, however, is that you can harness their abilities for your own purposes by using the new Apple music production tool as a Digital Audio Workstation (DAW).

These are not loops, per se, but tracks that can be altered on the fly in real time and recorded in both audio and MIDI.

Your competitors are Kyle, Logan, Anders, Max and Jesse, the virtual drummers who make up Logic Pro X’s Drummer function.

Although the Drummer function is clearly not designed for us stick-wielders, it’s one of the niftiest applications I have seen, so it’s worth a bit of explanation. Drummer automatically lays down a drum track, and users can choose one of the

42

There are further tweaking options in the next pane, where you can select which kit pieces are used, how they are played, the intensity of fills and the degree of swing.

Without going into too much detail, not only can the playing style be edited, but the actual drum sounds can be manipulated to an astonishing level if you want to dig in. And, with a bit of trickery, you can actually get the virtual drummers to play virtual kits from your own VST collection. www.digitaldrummermag.com


ddnov2013v2_layout 3 4/10/13 2:23 PM Page 43

be an issue. In fact, I was able to load instruments from all my VSTs without any difficulty.

Logic also has a powerful new Drum Kit Designer plug-in that uses real samples to enable the creation of some great-sounding kits.

Okay, so the threat with Logic Pro X is that it represents a direct competitor to the session drummer. And, it is a real threat because what I saw and heard during a one-on-one demo by an Apple product specialist was really impressive and totally intimidating. In the right hands, this really is drummer replacement, with the engineer having absolute control over every sound and almost every stick or brush stroke. But of more interest to the digitalDrummer audience is Logic’s use as a DAW. Admittedly, using Logic Pro X as a VST host is a bit like using a sledgehammer on a walnut. The Apple demo showed how Logic can be used to craft the most professional audio products, all in stunning 64-bit detail.

Non-pro users will find the interface relatively intuitive – something Apple has honed with GarageBand.

The 64-bit part may be limiting with older VSTs, but since most of the big names in e-drums have progressed beyond 32-bit, this shouldn’t

 , â‚Ź 2 9

The most appealing thing about the program as a DAW is its interface. In Apple tradition, it’s all neat and logical, looking a bit like GarageBand on steroids.

Look and feel

In a download world, Logic Pro is only available in soft copy, from the App Store. It’s a big download, especially if you grab all the audio content and plug-ins which weigh in at almost 40 GB. You don’t need to download it all at once – and, in fact, if you’re just using it as a host for your VSTs, you’ll need a fraction of the material. And because it’s an App Store purchase, you can run it on any of your registered Apples.

 , â‚Ź 2 9

It took me a while to work out how to access my VSTs. Actually, you can only load the AU version, but that was not an issue with the sample packs I tested – BFD2, SD2, Steven Slate, NI Abbey Road, Drumasonic and Addictive Drums. All of them loaded like a charm, and only a couple of Kontakt-based packs needed the MIDI changed to “omni�.

The main panel is called the Main Window, and that’s where the tracks are assembled (in the Tracks space). Drummers will spend a bit of time in the channel strip, where VSTs are located under the Instrument bar. Besides the software instrument, users can also access a bunch of audio effects and MIDI plug-ins.

Besides VSTs, Logic Pro X contains a number of drum kits, all of which are editable. You can tune drums and edit the FX on the instruments. While VSTs like Superior Drummer and BFD have extensive audio editing tools, Logic Pro X

 !"# !  " TheANALOG87pl ugi nscoul dh ol dt hei r !"#      $ ! &!  a ndar esi mpl ywi t houtequ alatt hi sendof

  #'! !(!  t hemar ket . "-Fut ur eMusi c

 -  "     â‚Ź 3 9 o wnagai nstsi mi l arpl ugi nsatanypr i ce,

 " #  &!   " Abar gai npr i cedqui nt eto f $    )* !"# d ynami csandEQ pl ugi ns

    ! !$   t hatoper at ebeaut i f ul l yand !   #+ ! ( s oundf ant ast i c. "-Comput erMusi c

 , â‚Ź 2 9   G e t t h eb u n d l e f o r

 , â‚Ź 2 9

 â‚Ź 9 9

       mo r ei nf or mat i onanddemover si onavai l abl eat

  w ww. ear eckon. com


ddnov2013v2_Layout 3 13/10/13 8:20 PM Page 44

gives you further tweaking ability – either with dry feeds or with the processed sounds from your VSTs. There are, for example, some impressive delay and echo effects. For the more basic VSTs, Logic provides even more opportunity to enhance and shape the sounds.

Remote access

Apple knows that every serious Mac owner also has an iPad, so it has offered a free app that turns your tablet into an additional workspace for Logic Pro X. You can use your iPad as a playing surface like a drum pad or keyboard to trigger sounds on the main computer, or as a remote to control any of the sliders and knobs in the mixers. And, even more helpful to beginners, if you use the help function in Logic Pro, the answers pop up on your iPad so that you don’t have to waste valuable screen real estate for pop-up messages.

Bottom line

Logic Pro X is an extremely powerful audio production tool, presented in a user-friendly format and, like an onion, you can peel away layers to get deeper and deeper into the production process.

It is clearly way more than any weekend warrior drummer will need to drive his or her favourite VST program, but there’s no doubt it’s tempting enough – and easy enough – to ensure many of them will start messing around with more advanced techniques and tools. The biggest surprise with Pro X is the pricing. Where previous incarnations have run to hundreds of dollars, this offering is available for around $200. If you’re new to Logic and want to learn your way around, I would strongly recommend the latest training offering from Groove3. The Logic X Pro Explained tutorial, presented by Eli Krantzberg, covers everything from basic navigation to hands-on production. Over five hours, the tutorials start with project creation and run all the way through to recording and mixing.

The material is well organised, and you only need to watch the relevant bits, rather than sitting through the whole five hours. If you want to get even more out of the program, the $35 training pack is a small price for time you’ll save learning through trial and error.

44

Specifications

System requirements 4GB of RAM Display with 1280-by-768 resolution or higher OS X v10.8.4 or later Requires 64-bit Audio Units plug-ins Minimum 5GB of disk space. 35GB of optional content available via in-app download.

Plug-ins 67 effect plug-ins including Pedalboard, which includes 35 stompboxes 18 software instrument plug-ins Customised instrument tuning system including 97 fixed tuning presets, equal-tempered, customised and Hermode tuning 17 instrument and effect plug-ins with true surround support Sound Library 1,548 Patches for Audio, Auxiliary, Software Instrument and Output tracks 3,647 Apple Loops covering electronic genres: Hip Hop, Electro House, Dubstep, Modern R&B, Tech House, Deep House and Chillwave 848 EXS24 Sampler instruments 3,655 plug-in settings for 85 plug-ins 30 Ultrabeat electronic drum kits with 750 unique drum sounds 666 reverb spaces and warped effects for Space Designer 32 groove patterns for Arpeggiator MIDI plug-in Compatibility Open projects from Logic 5 or later Open GarageBand songs directly in Logic Pro Support for Core Audio-compliant MIDI and audio hardware Support for Audio Units effect, instrument and MIDI plug-ins ReWire support for Propellerhead Reason, Ableton Live and other compatible applications Import and export of AAF, OMF, Open TL and XML (Final Cut Pro X) projects Import and export of MIDI regions as MIDI files; export of MIDI and audio regions as Apple Loops Export music notation to MusicXML Play AIFF, WAV (BWF), CAF, SDII, Apple Lossless, eligible MP3 and AAC (noneligible files will be converted to PCM) Record AIFF, CAF and WAV (BWF) Bounce to AIFF, WAV (Broadcast Wave), CAF, SDII, MP3 and M4A (Apple Lossless, AAC) Burn any bounced audio directly to CD or DVD-A (PCM audio only)

www.digitaldrummermag.com


ddnov2013v2_Layout 3 13/10/13 8:21 PM Page 45

Some delights for your stockings

--Accessories--

‘Tis ThE sEasON to be drumming, and here are some of the products that have crossed the digitalDrummer desk and which would be great additions to your holiday shopping list …

TDrum Triggerball Beater

The cute little orange tennisball beater made its debut with the 2box kit and is now being used with all sorts of kick pedals on acoustic and electronic triggers. The beater (shown here with a TDrum bass drum patch) has a meshfriendly rubber head and a good solid feel with just the right amount of bounce. available readily in Europe (and via online stores that ship globally), the beater sells for around €15.

StageWorks Rimma With the move to full-size bass drums, e-drummers now have a new place to store their sticks and the Rimma is a stick holder designed to fit onto the hoop or rim. The neat and

digitalDRUMMER, NOVEMBER 2013

compact plastic holder sits on top of the bass drum hoop in front of the drummer, providing easy access and quick release of sticks. it holds two sticks and comes with a choice of grip plates designed for thinner or broader sticks. The Rimma is available from drum stores or online at around £15 for the Limited Edition in a fancy box.

Black Widow Drum Web

Tired of chasing your kit around? Fed up with lugging heavy mats or rugs? Check out the Black Widow Drum Web, a compact nylon surface that keeps your drums and pedals in place. small enough to fold up into a drum bag, the Drum Web holds everything in place with its inbuilt Velcro strips, while your drum throne provides the anchor stability. it’s a really neat solution to a perennial challenge, and is by far the smallest, lightest drum mat on the market. it even comes with its own carry bag and special marking strips that allow you to place your pedals in the same position every time.

available direct from Black Widow or through the major music stores, the Drum Web sells for $79.99.

45


ddnov2013v2_layout 3 4/10/13 2:23 PM Page 46

--gear--

MONSTER

My

kit

Nathan Reid, a writer and a producer in West Hartford, CT, has turned to Diamond Electronic Drums for his studio kit.

The kit: A Roland TD-30-powered Diamond Electronic Drums kit with Zildjian Gen 16 AE cymbals

Drums:

Two 18x18 kicks, 13x7 snare, 8x8, 10x10, 12x12, 13x13 and 14x14 toms and a PD-85 piccolo trigger.

Cymbals:

Zildjian DS Pickups with a mix of Gen 16 and acoustic cymbals. Modules: Roland TD-30 and two Gen 16 DCPs.

Nathan’s story:

I grew up in North Carolina and toured as a drummer during the late ‘70s and all through

46

the ‘80s. Towards the end of that time, I began to spend more time in the studio and less on the road as a touring drummer. I think I’ve used almost every drum machine ever invented from the first experiments with a Fairlight, Linn Drum, Oberheim and most of the Roland line. After finding Diamond online, I first tried out a snare drum and was so blown away with the build quality, the look, the quality of the triggering, and the feel of the drum-tec mesh heads that a complete kit was a given. The whole process took about six months, and they have only been in place for a few months. www.digitaldrummermag.com


ddnov2013v2_layout 3 4/10/13 2:24 PM Page 47

Share

your kit

Nathan in the driver’s seat and his module stack (below) and his kit before shipping (above).

WARNING

For their own safety, digitalDrummer advises impulse purchase-prone readers to avoid this feature.

digitalDRUMMER, NOVEMBER 2013

47


ddnov2013v2_layout 3 4/10/13 2:24 PM Page 48

gear G uide CUSTOM KITS

AUXILIARY TRIGGERS

Samurai

dad_nov2013v2_Layout 1 13/10/13 7:27 PM Page 2

Drumming power packed into a distinctive design. Primed to play. Accurate triggering. Lightening response. Priced to move fast. Full kits from£1,599. www.diamondelectronicdrums.com

KICK TRIGGERS

DEALER

ELECTRONIC TRIGGERS

Your extra kick! Simply the best The KTR-7 E-kick is a heavy duty kick trigger for single and double pedals. Outstanding responsive trigger quality, great sensitivity and superb isolation characteristics to prevent cross-talk.

$65

48

Heavy Duty Accepts all single and double bass drum pedals where the beater can be adjusted Excellent dynamics 1/4" jack connector output (6.35mm) Special air rubber on the bottom for excellent isolation characteristics.

DIY just got easier thanks to the new Quartz Percussions harness-mounted trigger system. The dual-zone model includes a 35mm trigger mounted on an adjustable harness and a 35mm piezo connected to a ¼” female stereo jack. Mono versions and column -type shape triggers are also available for the easiest conversion of toms and bass drums. The harness system builds on the success of the reliable and popular Quartz cone triggers, precision-made for perfect triggering. See us on YouTube or find out more and place your orders at www.quartzpercussions.com

www.digitaldrummermag.com


ddnov2013v2_Layout 3 13/10/13 8:22 PM Page 49

gear G uide MESH HEADS

The best heads for electronic drumming, made by Aquarian Drumheads, are now available in Australia. Featuring Hart’s proprietary heavy-duty mesh, providing virtually silent operation. It’s a noticeable difference that you can feel.

To order in Australia, click here

GOING

MARKETING

Your ad here

for less than $200 CLICK HERE digitalDRUMMER, 2013

60

CABLE MANAGEMENT

GET ORGANISED

digitalDrummer cable label sheets are running out at just $5 each (including postage).

www.digitaldrummermag.com

E-CYMBAL KITS

The leading DIY acoustic-to-electronic cymbal conversion kit is now available in 2box versions. Stealth Drums’ popular kits can now be used for crashes and splashes and for the most responsive three-zone ride on the market. The kit contains all the parts you’ll need plus easy-to-follow instructions.

www.stealthdrums.com 49

www.digitaldrummermag.com


Missed a review?

ddnov2013v2_Layout 3 10/10/13 3:17 PM Page 50

Using the search function and the archive option, you can search the past three back issues for any content, including our reviews and head-to-head comparisons. Or you can use the Back Issues tab on the website.

ORDER NOW: The entire digitalDrummer back catalogue on DVD - Only $30*

*including shipping

Digitaldrummer november 2013 lr  

digitalDrummer November 2013

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you