Electronic Drums Buying Guide
How to Choose an Electronic Drum KitElectronic drums can add substance and versatility to any studio or live drummer’s arsenal. This BAJAAO Buying Guide includes information that can help you choose the right electronic drums for your needs – whether you’re a drummer, or simply want to be one!
How Do Electronic Drums Work?The operating principle of an electronic drum is really quite simple. It consists of a rubber pad or a mesh head, underneath which is a sensor. When the pad is struck, the sensor relays a voltage value to a sound module (sometimes called a brain). The sound module translates that value to trigger a particular sound, whether it’s a drum, a cymbal, or just about anything else, depending on the module’s features. The module also translates the velocity of the strike into a dynamic value so that it can reproduce softer or louder articulations that are part of the drummer’s performance. Some electronic drum and cymbal pads have two or three sensors underneath the surface. This gives a single pad the capacity to produce more than one sound. That allows, for instance, a snare pad to produce both a head sound and a rim shot, or a cymbal pad to deliver the sound of a bell, a bow, and an edge hit.
Acoustic Drummer’s Introduction to Electronic PercussionClassically trained percussionists may encounter a number of issues that required adjustments in their playing style. Electronic drumming is different in many ways. But there are ways to minimize the differences to make your transition easier. Here are five top issues: Sound Presence One thing that throws acoustic drummers off balance when they approach electronic percussion is the fact that the sounds they make emanate from a distant source, whether it’s a stage monitor or the house sound system. When you sit at an acoustic drum kit you’re right on top of the drums and cymbals, with the sounds “in your face.” With electronic percussion you’ve joined the world of amplified instruments, and while keyboard and guitar players are old hands at hearing their output come from a speaker that’s often several feet away, it will be new to you. One of your most important tools is a good monitor system that can return a sense of presence to your ears. It doesn’t need to be especially loud – in fact, a pair of small monitors work great because they fit into your setup and can be stand mounted. Latency MIDI is capable of handling several hundred notes per second. Still, you might experience a sensation of delayed response when you play an electronic pad. Part of this is psychoacoustic (the presence issue we discussed above) but there is a delay of a few milliseconds between attack and sound. This just takes a bit of experience for your ears to make an adjustment. Pad Feel Rubber pads and mesh heads definitely have different attacks, rebounds, and general stick response than acoustic drum heads, cymbals, or percussion instruments. But rubber pads have a familiar “practice pad” feel. They do require you to make some adjustments in dynamics, and their identical rebound characteristics from pad to pad aren’t like the changes you experience, say, in toms, where head tensions can vary. Mesh heads, on the other hand, can be tensioned to different degrees and offer more “give” when struck. They can also present some additional creative options. Dynamic Response Percussion instruments can be whisper-soft or deafeningly loud. Translating this dynamic range to electronic pads has always been difficult. This is actually an issue of the sound module’s ability to deal with the signal coming from the pads. Most modules restrict dynamic range to the MIDI standard 0 (silent) to 127 (maximum velocity). What many drummers never explore is the ability of most modules to be adjusted both for sensitivity and velocity curves. This gives you a much more playable kit. Striking Techniques This particularly affects percussionists. There’s no real commonality between playing a conga drum with your hands and striking a pad with a stick. Playing a guiro, for example, involves sliding a stick over the notches at varying speeds and tensions. It can be disorienting to strike a pad once and hear the entire envelope of the guiro sound play back. There are alternative controllers that offer a surface for easier hand playing. So are electronic kits different from acoustic instruments? Of course; so are MIDI keyboards and wind controllers. But with a little adjustment time and the suggestions we’ve made above, you may just find that you prefer the advantages of your electronic percussion kit to the limitations of “real” drums.
The Difference Between Rubber Pads and Mesh HeadsSince the pre-MIDI days of Simmons electronic drums, the prevailing design of most pads followed the rubber “practice pad” paradigm. Then Roland introduced mesh heads that emulate acoustic drum heads. There are plenty of applications for both types. Here’s a rundown of the qualities of rubber pads and mesh heads.
Electronic Drum Kits on BAJAAO and don't hesitate to call us if you have any question on 022 6105 4386. Now go play!