Category: Electronics


  • Roland Celebrates 50 Years With New Concept Drums

    Roland turns the big 5-0 this year, and they are celebrating with a new e-drum concept called the D-Flux. The triangular pads look a lot like Roland’s Alpha drums, the company’s first foray into electronic bangables way back in 1985.

    Roland Alpha Drums circa 1985

    The D-Flux, however, will build on all of Roland’s considerable experience and success with the sounds and mesh pads of its venerable V-Drum series. The really interesting part of the new D-Flux is its take on the kick drum—now essentially two horizontal belts that purportedly replicate the dynamic feel of a drumhead.

    I’m intrigued for sure. The triangle-shaped pads do make sense in terms of saving space (you can nestle them right against each other), but I still profoundly love the look of Roland’s gold-standard V-Drums, especially the Acoustic Design series. It could just be that my old-ass eyes can’t see the future very well.

    The D-Flux isn’t for sale yet or perhaps ever, but it is supposed to be out on a “global tour” where some lucky drummers can get sticks on it.

    Roland has also put together a retrospective of their e-drums. Though clearly a marketing piece, it’s still a good read if you are interested in some of the major moments in the history of electronic drums.

    More pics and a vid of the D-Flux below.


  • Roland’s Octapad SPD-30 Is in Stores

    And it will only set you back $799 (MSRP). Those eight bones get you eight trigger pads, 50 built-in kits and hundreds of cutting-edge drum and percussion sounds, 30 types of multi-effects, and a bunch of external trigger inputs. The SPD-30 also has a Phrase Loop recording feature that allows a player to loop recorded sounds in real time and then overdub additional parts or sounds.

    But no one really cares about that stuff. Here’s how cool it looks with a full Roland kit.


  • Prices for Surge Electronic Cymbals

    Yep, we still got a big old crush on Alesis’s new Surge cymbals. We reported that they were shipping in September, but now we know exactly how much cash they’ll set you back. Check out the press release below.

    [Press Release]

    Cumberland, R.I. (Dec. 10, 2008) – Alesis, the world’s leading manufacturer of professional audio equipment and studio electronics, announces that its series of SURGE Cymbals is now shipping. Crafted from lathed brass cymbal alloy and acoustically dampened with a clear vinyl layer, SURGE Cymbals features integrated piezo triggers in rugged ABS housings. The cymbals deliver acoustic-cymbal look, feel, and response with the added benefit of electronic-sound module flexibility: SURGE Cymbals’ sound.

    SURGE Cymbals are available in two complete sets and five individual models, enabling drummers to customize their setup to their taste. SURGE Cymbal Pack contains a SURGE 12” Hi-Hat Cymbal, a SURGE 13” Crash Cymbal, a 16” Dual-Zone Ride Cymbal, and connection cables. SURGE Cymbal Pack with choke contains a SURGE 12” Hi-Hat Cymbal, a SURGE 13” Crash Cymbal with choke capability; a 16” Dual-Zone Ride Cymbal with choke capability, and connection cables. Models designated ‘with choke’ feature a large strip on their underside, which, when squeezed by a drummer, sends a message to the connected sound module to stop the associated sound that is playing. SURGE 12” Hi-Hat Cymbal, SURGE 13″ Crash Cymbals with and without choke, and SURGE 16” Dual-Zone Ride Cymbals with and without choke are each available separately, included necessary connection cables.

    SURGE Cymbals are included with Alesis high-end electronic drumsets including the DM5 Pro Kit with SURGE Cymbals and the USB Pro Drum Kit. SURGE Cymbals are compatible with most major manufacturers’ drum-sound modules and nearly any cymbal stand or mounting system for use with electronic and acoustic drumsets.
    “SURGE Cymbals are the perfect way to upgrade or add onto your drum kit,” noted Adam Cohen, Director of Business Development, Alesis. “There is simply nothing like SURGE available from any other electronic-drum manufacturer.”

    SURGE Cymbals are now shipping to musical instrument and pro audio retailers and are available at the following MSRPs: Surge 12” Hi-Hat Cymbal, $199.00; Surge 13” Crash Cymbal, $249.00; Surge 13” Crash Cymbal with Choke, $299.00; Surge 16” Dual- Zone Ride Cymbal, $349.00; Surge 16” Dual- Zone Ride Cymbal with Choke, $399.00; Surge Cymbal Pack, $579.00.


  • Drum Triggers: How Much Shit Do They Suck?

    Will drums and technology ever really get along? While amp heads and effect pedals are a necessity for almost all guitar players, the nature of drums produces a whole slew of purists that can’t stand the idea of a bunch of geeky gear controlling their sound. Though 808s and V-Drums have their niches (hip-hop and stay-at-home dads, respectively), kick drum triggers are very contentious, especially in metal where double bass is commonplace. It’s rare to find a metal dude who doesn’t have a fairly strong opinion on triggers; they’re either “totally brutal” or “cocksucking garbage.” So let’s check out the two contrasting opinions.

    Triggers Rule: If you want to keep up with the speed of modern metal guitarists, triggers are a necessity. There is no way, especially live, you can keep a consistent drum sound with the tempos of many grind and death metal bands. You’re already probably getting drowned out by your band members and their asshole amounts of gear. You’re up there to play, and the kick drum drives so many songs that if you can’t be heard then the song suffers. Think of the song. With the Red Shot Kick Drum Trigger from ddrum, you barely need to carry any gear and you don’t have to worry about pads muffling the tone. Even the fastest feet on Earth, Tim Waterson, uses triggers and he’s, well, the fastest fucking feet on Earth. Triggers rule, they aren’t going away, and you need to get on the right side of history.

    Triggers Drool: Why in the fucking world do you want your kick drum to sound like a giant typewriter? So you can play faster? I got an idea: practice. Talk to someone like Dave Witte who does single foot blasts with no triggers and ask him if he can play fast enough for your shitty “shredding” metal circus. And where is the feeling? You may as well just play a tape of you drumming while you sit there and toss sticks in the air. If you need to be heard, tell your band to turn down or get the sound guy to turn you up. Or use your trigger money to buy a bigger kick. Anything so I don’t have to hear that sound. And even if you like the soulless tapping of triggers, I can’t imagine anything less metal than having a little glowing sound module right next to you. That should be reserved for your beer, pussy.

    So who’s right? Feel free to use this rating system and let us know:

    1. Triggers suck all of the shit.
    2. Triggers suck shit, but I could envision a world where they could possibly only suck.
    3. Triggers kind of suck, but they’re getting better.
    4. There are some perfectly good reasons to use triggers, which I would like to tell you about.
    5. You can have my triggers when you pry them from my cold, devil horn-shaped fingers.

  • Alesis Is Giving Away Awesome Stuff…

    And all you have to do to win is sign up for the Alesis newsletter. The October issue is about to drop, and we’re told it’s almost exclusively for drummers. Don’t thump around the bush with this, because one lucky-ass subscriber will win an iMultiMix 8 USB. Read all about the prize here…or better yet just give it a quick eye-humping below.


  • Akai Professional’s XR20 Beat Production Station

    It might not be as orgasmic as playing real drums, but making beats on a drum machine is still a shitload of fun. With Akai’s new XR20, you can even take the shitload of fun on the road. It’s billed as a “portable beat production station” loaded with 700 sounds geared toward R&B and hip-hop beats. Other key features of the XR20 include:

    • 99 preset patterns and 99 user patterns
    • Backlit LCD
    • Bright, glowing, backlit pads that follow the beat
    • Microphone input and headphone output
    • Pattern Play Mode (different patterns can be triggered from individual pads)
    • Drum Roll/Note Repeat feature
    • $499 MSRP

  • Performance Percussion Goes Electronic

    Primarily known for its line of budget acoustic drums, Performance Percussion has entered the sub-$1,000 electronic market with the new PP900E. The kit features five drum pads, a kick pedal, and three cymbal pads (including a hi-hat pad and control pedal). The drum module comes with 215 high-quality voices and 20 preset kit sounds. The entire package retails for about 800 bucks, but we did find one U.K. store selling it for $662.13. At that price point, you’re going to be sacrificing a whole lot of sound quality and feel…but it beats the hell out of playing on telephone books.


  • Alesis Ships DM5 Pro With Surge Cymbals

    We wrote about Alesis’s new Surge cymbals way back in March, and now it looks they’re finally shipping….with a DM5 Pro no less. Or maybe it’s the other way around….

    Whatever the case, Alesis’s flagship electronic kit comes outfitted with the venerable DM5 sound module, which features more than 500 studio-grade sounds and 21 programmable drum sets recorded at 48kHz in stereo with ambient effects.

    800 bucks also gets you a dual-zone snare pad, three tom pads, and a kick pad with 8″ mylar, tension-adjustable drumheads and 2.3mm triple-flanged counterhoops. Surge cymbals are made of brass cymbal alloy and feature built-in triggers; a 12″ hi-hat, 13″ crash, and a 16″ dual-zone ride are included. Pretty damn sweet.


  • Mandala High-Def Drum Pad Released

    What exactly is a high-def drum pad? Beats the piss out of us, but we do know that Danny Carey has been playing a Mandala pad forever. That, thumpers, is endorsement enough.

    …But if you insist on the details, here are some easy-to-follow bullet points:

    • The Mandala plugs into a PC or Mac with a USB cable.
    • One pad can accommodate up to seven different sound zones.
    • The surface detects 128 strike positions from center to edge.
    • There are 128 strike velocities (from soft to hard) with no false triggers.
    • Each pad is handcrafted and thoroughly tested before it is shipped.
    • The Mandala will set you back $349.

  • New Yamaha Gear…

    Newish Yamaha gear, that is. The company pulled the sheets off this stuff in January at NAMM, but sweet bangables usually take a while to get into the hands of us wee consumers.

    First up is a new Stage Custom kit in birch. It’s described as Yamaha’s “first mid-priced birch kit,” but in fact it’s Yamaha’s individual reaction to the industry-wide panic precipitated by PDP. Once DW’s younger bro started offering affordable kits in what were once considered premium woods (maple and birch), other manufacturers had to follow along. Even Pearl finally caved in with its Vision series. If you want the best now, Big Drummer Brother tells you to buy bubinga.

    Of course, you could just forget the wood altogether and go electronic. Yamaha’s got you covered there too with its redesigned flagship e-kit, the DTXTREME III. It comes in regular and special flavors. Both get you three-zone drum and cymbal pads, over 1,000 onboard sounds, and over 100 MIDI voices. The special edition also comes with Yamaha’s new Hex Rack System. Take a gander below. And as always, stop drooling on the screen.


  • Surge Electronic Cymbals From Alesis

    Whoa. And double freakin’ whoa.

    If Alesis’s new e-cymbals play as good as they look…well, then at least one DC’er is officially getting plugged in. The Surge line features, so sayeth the press release, a “custom brass-alloy with a special, clear dampening layer to merge the look and feel of real cymbals with the flexibility of electronic cymbals.” The series comes in a 12″ single-zone hi-hat, a 13″ single-zone crash, and a 16″ dual-zone ride. All can be mounted on standard cymbal stands.


  • USB Roll-Up Drum Kit

    I shit you not. It’s made by a company called Brando (if you click on the link, beware the never-ending demonstration video) and costs 42 bucks. That’s right: two figures. 42 . It doesn’t appear to be much more than a toy, but I’m powerless to resist anything I can plug into my Mac and make even faintly drumistic noises with for less than $100. Fuck, I’m buying two.


  • New Roland V-Drums

    Sweet! Roland has introduced a new series, the TD-9, to fill out its venerable line of V-Drums. Those of you lucky enough to be attending NAMM (our badges, alas, appear to be lost in the mail) will be able to try a kit out. No word on pricing yet, but the series is mid-level. $2,000?


  • This Music Sequencer Has Balls

    Lots and lots of them. Beats are programmed by putting the balls in receptor cups that represent different parts of a drum kit—kick, snare, hats, and (yes!) cowbell. It was designed by Peter Bennett, who’s working on his PhD thesis tentatively titled “Interaction-Design Techniques for Multimodal Musical Interfaces.” What any of this will mean for drum-machine design we have no idea. But maybe future drum techs will have to add “ball polishing” to their list of duties.