Understanding Electronic Drums
Why buy electronic drums?
- Electronic Drums are virtually silent when played- practice anywhere, anytime with complete privacy
- With Digital Drums you can add digital effects that simulate the greatest concert hall settings
- Electronic Drum Kits have dozens of totally different drumkit sounds to play with- Rock, Jazz,...
- Electric Drum Sets are compact, lightweight and portable
- Electric Drum Kits offer hundreds of percussion sounds as well as drum sounds
- With Digital Drums you can play as loud as you want using headphones
- Most Electronic Drums modules have dozens of songs built-in to play along with
- Most Digital Drum modules can record your performances
- With an Electronic Drum Set you can plug in a CD player and play along
- With an electronic drum, drummers can actually turn down the volume in live sound venues vs. acoustic kits
- With electric drums you can fine edit your performance easily using the midi data and a sequencer editor
- Electronic drum comparison chart
- The first decision- what pad feel do I want? rubber or mesh?Rubber Pads feel like a practice pad, usually cost less and have a smaller design. Not all are created equally- the best are foam rubber over a harder rubber for more give and have a more natural bounce quality and generally last longer. Mesh heads are more realistic- they feel more like a real drumhead including the rebound and have more give. They generally offer better positional sensing and can be tuned like acoustic drums for the feel and rebound desired. As opposed to rubber heads, mesh heads will eventually wear out and need to be replaced.
- Number of 'zones' on a padRubber Pads feel like a practice pad, usually cost less and have a smaller design. Single zone- some simpler kits will have one zone per pad which means only one sound/recording will be triggered which usually will sound softer at lower strikes and have a harder sound when struck harder. They can sound more one dimensional. The kick pad only needs a single zone as it strike in on place only. Dual zone- two physically different areas on a pad like ride edge and bell, head and rim, choking cymbals,.. Triple zone- allows for rim, middle and bell of a ride cymbal or tom center, rim and a latin percussion sound.
- Pad SizeRubber Pads feel like a practice pad, usually cost less and have a smaller design. More of an issue for acoustic drummers due to smaller head size who have to adjust their playing style to work with the usually smaller electronic pads versus drumheads
- Velocity sensingSimplest is volume of pad increases with harder strikes. With better modules or some drum sounds or samples (recordings) in lesser modules, the actual sound or timber changes as the pad is struck harder for better realism using 'multisamples'. It could be a simple crossfade from a soft hit to hard one or could have more samples in between to offer more subtle changes as the pad is struck progressively harder.
- Positional sensingWith better kits the sound will change as you move the drumstick over different parts of a pad or cymbal for better realism- typically the snare and ride. With the snare hit in the middle of the pad it will be a thick full sound and grow brighter and thinner as you move towards the edge.
- DrumrackHow well built and sturdy is it? Will it hold up well? Will the pads not slip around?
- What do I look for in the drum module?Quality and variety of sounds- listen to the demo's, listen to a cymbal decay- does it fade too fast? drums strong and clear? Number of trigger inputs- room to add more cymbals and pads? will they be single or dual zone possibly using more trigger inputs. Editing capability- to tweak each drum sound and effects which can include tuning, pan position, decay, EQ, amount of fx level, .. all the way up to the material the drum is made of, tension level, CD input- so one can play along with their favorite songs Teaching- to dheck one's timing, training exercises, etc. Internal songs to play along with- the drums can usually be muted or not to play along with Ease of Use/Display- is it intuitive? Is the display understandable or too difficult? Number of outputs- 2 is usually enough except in a studio or live sound setup where the engineer would like to have the kick, snare, separated to process separately for more control of the elements Recording- using a midi sequencer- how many tracks or instruments can play simultaneously? How many Songs and notes will it hold in memory? Number of effects- does it have all the effects you might want and how many simultaneously?
- What is a Trigger?
connects the pad to the drum module via an audio cable to send midi control voltage messages
- What is a Module?
houses the actual sounds, editing and brain of an eelectronic drum set. The pads connect to it via cables.
- What are Velocity Curves and Velocity Sensitivity?
Curves- usually several to choose from to determine a curve for soft to loud. It can be linear or proportionately louder as struck or be more nuanced allowing a wider range at high velocities and a narrower range of sound at soft velocities, Sensitivity- adjusts for how hard or soft the user strike the pads with sticks
- What is MIDI?
an interface to connect a keyboard to the computer like USB port for printers. It sends note and other data from the keyboard to the computer or vice versa. Basically says play this note at this time at this volume level- it is not an actual audio recording. It also makes it possible for one keyboard to play another keyboard.
- What are Effects?
to modify and enhance the sounds in the drum module. e.g., reverb will put the drum set in a small room or up to a large concert hall
What is polyphony?
the number of simultaneous notes that can be played, though if it's a stereo sample/recording each note can use 2 notes at once. Its important for anyone who plays a lot of notes at the same time and holds down the sustain pedal. The earliest notes played will cut out when the limit is exceeded. This can happen with pianos with 32-note polyphony especially.
What is a Sequencer?
the number of a recorder with 1 to 16 tracks usually so that multiple instruments can be played back for fully orchestrated songs and can have elaborate editing capability. These can be downloaded to the computer with a midi interface.
Don't see the answer to your question?
Call us toll-free at 1 877 778 7845 and speak to our electronic drum experts