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Old 06-09-2018, 07:40 AM   #1
brainwreck
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Default Your experience with playing and recording electronic drums. Pros and cons?

I'm finally about to give the world of electronic drums a go (waiting on a kit to arrive). My reasons for doing so:

- I need a lower volume solution for playing and recording drums.

- I much prefer playing acoustic drums over anything else, but something that I can hit with sticks has to be better than tapping in parts or programming parts. I enjoy playing drums.

- The dynamics are always severely screwed up when tapping in drums using a keyboard or pad interface, and tapping in drum parts always ends up in lots of manual programming, which pretty much makes tapping in parts pointless.

- Programming drums is wayyy too tedious for me, and it takes away from the fun of playing drums. I can make it work for an end result, but I much prefer the process of playing on the fly.

I may end up not liking playing an electronic kit, but it's worth a try. My biggest concerns are the translation of dynamics/velocity and how the latency might affect the feel of playing.

What has your experience been with playing and recording electronic drums? I think the pros of electronic drums is obvious. But how about the cons? How has the translation of dynamics been for you? Does the latency bother you when playing through drum samplers?
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Old 06-09-2018, 07:50 AM   #2
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I'm a little biased here because I've spent the vast majority of my time playing drums on my Roland V Drums kit.
For the lowest latency, the internal module sounds are pretty much latency free.

The best quality and realism will come from a VST though. My V Drums kit is based on two Roland modules, an expanded TD20 (essentially a TD30) and a TD12. These modules are hugely configurable for personal dynamics and are very responsive and quite natural using mesh head drums. I built most of my kit by converting acoustic drums to mesh head electronic ones which is a pretty straight forward process for anyone who is comfortable with hand tools and a soldering iron.

For most of my recordings, I use Toontrack Superior Drummer 2 (I do plan to upgrade to V3 soon) and on my laptop (Sony Vaio Duo 11 with i5 3317 CPU and 4GB RAM) I can run it at lowest latency without a problem. I actually don't have a problem playing the kit monitoring from SD2 rather than the module sounds.

I usually use the module sounds when practising or just jamming to something because all I have to do is turn it on and play.

I haven't played any other E kits (Yamaha or such) but am very happy with my Roland kit.

Last edited by ReaDave; 06-09-2018 at 07:56 AM.
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Old 06-09-2018, 07:54 AM   #3
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I must add here that the level of enjoyment you have with an e kit will be VERY dependant on the time you spend setting up the dynamics to suit your playing. That can vary from "what the hell is this rubbish" to "this is surprisingly good" even with the exact same kit.
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Old 06-09-2018, 08:04 AM   #4
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There are some real advantages.
- Moving and set up time is reduced about 90%
- You can dial up custumized kits. Roland lets you specify diameter, depth, shell material; etc.
- If you record the midi it creates opportunity to remix kit levels inside a DAW using velocity scaler plugins for each individual drum instrument, or to trigger an entirely different kit from the same performance (either by routing midi back into the kits 'brain' or by triggering a VSTi.

Possible problems: midi latency. NEEDS to be properly compensated for from the beginning. Even short latency will screw up drummer performances more than any other instrument.
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Old 06-09-2018, 08:18 AM   #5
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I'm not concerned with moving them around. They will be permanently set up at home, always on and ready to play, most likely with a single 'kit'. Pretty much a lower volume acoustic drum substitute without a bunch of fiddling once they are set up and dialed in. That is, if it works out.

Anyone measured the MIDI latency from a Roland module? I haven't seen anyone do this yet, so I will be doing it after my kit is set up to satisfy my own curiosity. In general, I have found very little technical information about electronic kits, such as latency specs. What I tend to run into is a bunch of run-on discussions in which no one ever gets down to taking actual latency measurements.

Edit: There is a thread here saying that Roland module latency from hit to MIDI message out it typically around 4-7 ms. https://www.gearslutz.com/board/geek...-megadrum.html But still, no actual measurements taken there. If that is accurate, add that on top of your audio out latency (and any latency added by a sampler), which might end up in the 10 ms ballpark give or take a few ms.
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Old 06-09-2018, 08:55 AM   #6
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Also, any tips on dialing in dynamics is very welcome. Most likely I will end up running Addictive Drums 2 as the sampler. I also have Ezdrummer 2, BFD Lite, Reason Drum Kits 2, and the stuff in NI Komplete. But Addictive Drums seems to have much more extensive control over MIDI input for dynamics and such.
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Old 06-09-2018, 09:09 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brainwreck View Post
I'm not concerned with moving them around. They will be permanently set up at home, always on and ready to play, most likely with a single 'kit'. Pretty much a lower volume acoustic drum substitute without a bunch of fiddling once they are set up and dialed in. That is, if it works out.

Anyone measured the MIDI latency from a Roland module? I haven't seen anyone do this yet, so I will be doing it after my kit is set up to satisfy my own curiosity. In general, I have found very little technical information about electronic kits, such as latency specs. What I tend to run into is a bunch of run-on discussions in which no one ever gets down to taking actual latency measurements.

Edit: There is a thread here saying that Roland module latency from hit to MIDI message out it typically around 4-7 ms. https://www.gearslutz.com/board/geek...-megadrum.html But still, no actual measurements taken there. If that is accurate, add that on top of your audio out latency (and any latency added by a sampler), which might end up in the 10 ms ballpark give or take a few ms.
I'm not at all familiar with the MIDI latency of the newer modules (I believe they now use USB MIDI) but I haven't noticed any perceptible latency when playing my kit using the module sounds and headphones. I haven't measured anything though primarily because I've never felt the need to. Latency with VST instruments is no different to playing any of my VST synths from a hardware keyboard. It is totally dependant on your system and interface.

Quote:
Originally Posted by brainwreck View Post
Also, any tips on dialing in dynamics is very welcome. Most likely I will end up running Addictive Drums 2 as the sampler. I also have Ezdrummer 2, BFD Lite, Reason Drum Kits 2, and the stuff in NI Komplete. But Addictive Drums seems to have much more extensive control over MIDI input for dynamics and such.
Don't rule out Superior Drummer 3. They have done a TON of work on making it natural to play from an e kit. Even SD2 has gone through many improvements and it now works extremely well from my kit. Cymbal chokes work out of the box and the hihat response is now FAR better than when it was first released. If you get that set up right on your module, it should work well with SD2 or 3. It does here on SD2.

As far as setting up triggers is concerned, I generally set the sensitivity so I get maximum MIDI velocity on my loudest hits. I then adjust the threshold and crosstalk controls to minimise false triggering from adjacent drums. That is a little trickier on my kit because I'm using two modules and they don't communicate crosstalk information between them. That means I have to use the threshold controls to minimise that and I lose a little bit of very light sensitivity. It's only really noticeable on a few kit pieces that are mounted on the rack right next to each other though. For the most part, it isn't a problem.
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Old 06-09-2018, 05:34 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brainwreck View Post
Addictive Drums 2 as the sampler
I use AD2 with an edrum kit as well. Very natural sounding sample library (though the room sounds a little trashy).

One tip I can share (I won't admit how long I'd been using AD2 before I discovered this): click the question mark in the top-right corner of the AD2 window, then select "Map Window" from the drop down.

This will bring up a tool that lets you map your edrum kit's output to AD2, and it contains presets for most popular drum kits.

AD2 has a range of notes dedicated to the hihat at different open levels. Among other things, the mapping tool will map your hat pedal CC message to different hat samples so you get a very expressive digital hat.
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Old 05-13-2019, 10:16 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brainwreck View Post
I'm finally about to give the world of electronic drums a go (waiting on a kit to arrive). My reasons for doing so:

- I need a lower volume solution for playing and recording drums.

- I much prefer playing acoustic drums over anything else, but something that I can hit with sticks has to be better than tapping in parts or programming parts. I enjoy playing drums.

- The dynamics are always severely screwed up when tapping in drums using a keyboard or pad interface, and tapping in drum parts always ends up in lots of manual programming, which pretty much makes tapping in parts pointless.

- Programming drums is wayyy too tedious for me, and it takes away from the fun of playing drums. I can make it work for an end result, but I much prefer the process of playing on the fly.

I may end up not liking playing an electronic kit, but it's worth a try. My biggest concerns are the translation of dynamics/velocity and how the latency might affect the feel of playing.

What has your experience been with playing and recording electronic drums? I think the pros of electronic drums is obvious. But how about the cons? How has the translation of dynamics been for you? Does the latency bother you when playing through drum samplers?
I've largely had good experiences. Over the years I've converted several acoustic kits to electronic ones. My current and longtime kit is a Sonor Safari, with Pearl black mesh heads, ddrum redshot triggers, a Roland CY-5 for hi-hat (with FD-7 pedal), and Zildjian L80 cymbals with Magnatrack triggers screwed onto them.

The response is great, assuming you set up your trigger settings properly. I hate the sounds of my module (Roland TD-9), so I connect via MIDI to Superior Drummer 3. I used Superior 2 for years but really love the stock kits in SD3.

If you're looking to capture realism, when recording drums... stay away from the internal sounds and go right to Superior, or Steven Slate, or anything you prefer. Not only are all the kits fun to play but they just sound utterly brilliant.

Please let me know if you have any additional questions. Been recording this way for at least 10 years. You can hear Superior 2.0 on this record I did with my friend (shoegaze/dreampop):

http://oustedrecords.bandcamp.com/al...e-fading-stars
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Old 05-13-2019, 10:35 PM   #10
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Something really annoying that I noticed with Addictive Drums 2 and some older Toontrack EZX's is that low attack kick samples for low velocities aren't provided, making feathering the kick impossible. In other words, when feathering the kick you still get a fairly hard kick attack. I guess these sample sets were made with programming in mind primarily rather than playing or only playing within a limited velocity range, which is too bad. And these sample sets have generally less velocity resolution than say the kits in Ezdrummer 2. And as already mentioned previously in this thread, the fake rooms in Addictive Drums 2 leave alot to be desired in comparison to recorded room mic channels used in some other sample sets. Using reverb for room mic channels in a drum sampler is a lame approach, if you ask me. It is just never going to sound like a real room.
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Old 05-16-2019, 03:27 PM   #11
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So far I have been moving back and forth between my desk and drums, and I would definitely like to work out a setup which would allow for doing things in Reaper and a drum sampler while sitting at the drums. I could place a monitor on a floor stand just between the cymbals, but I'm not sure yet what to use to replace keyboard and mouse. I suppose something to replace mouse input should be enough, but it needs to be wireless. Anyone found a good setup for this? Maybe just using a wireless mouse on the floor tom would work ok, laying it out of the way when I'm not using it.
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Old 05-16-2019, 04:30 PM   #12
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just been playing with my setup into AD drums 2 and, it needed a few tweaks but response very dynamic - more than happy, am using aerodrums and what it does do well is the dynamic response.
(love having the ekit benefits, but additionally taking up barely any room and is essentially a permanent setup - i move it's cam to little holder i made, plonk my pedal rig down and ready go.. )


99% of kits have altered dynamics via FX btw in ad2,
e,g clean black beauty has no fx and seems pretty dynamic to me, to the point of having to whack the volume right up to hear the soft hits.

the kick section 'response > filter' can muffle the lowest hits btw if thats any good for your softly soft kickin'

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Old 05-16-2019, 06:59 PM   #13
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the kick section 'response > filter' can muffle the lowest hits btw if thats any good for your softly soft kickin'
I tend to run kits in AD2 with everything off, meaning all effects, response filter, envelopes. Just dry samples. Jumping over to EZD2, I notice a signifacant difference in dynamics. It is far from perfect (natural response) too though.
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