Best Real Feel, Tunable Elect. Drums

Bluest

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Hello and cheers to all at Drumforum. Thank you for letting me in here. I am a professional drummer and music teacher from Massachusetts, US. I play a DW kit, and a Premier Signia kit as well. I live for drumming and love the job so much.

I am super interested in finding a brand / model of electronic drums that will allow me to play any number of kits and samples in Logic Pro X. I use a Roland V Drums kit at one of my teaching jobs... it's mostly those hard rubber pads; the snare is a tunable mesh kind. I am not thrilled with either of these.

Disregarding the noise issue... I understand they would be louder... I hope to get some advice and examples from you guys of electronic drums with actual real feeling heads. I picture almost with the tension and bounce of a timbale. Diameter is not a big deal; I'm okay if they are only 8" or 10". I also don't need a lot of them, but kick, snare, floor tom... maybe one cymbal as well. I am most concerned to find something that is tunable, with bounce and real feel similar to an actual drum. I realize I can put triggers on my acoustic drums... that wouldn't suit my purpose. I want to find electronic MIDI drums that bounce and feel real, because the heads essentially are real... if there is such a thing. What about Alesis 'RealFeel' drums?

The brain / module doesn't matter that much to me. I just need something to manage the multiple inputs from the pads and route it to my computer. Thank you guys so much, sincerely, for any replies or help.
 

Frank Godiva

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Unfortunately a tall order. The Yamaha DTX silicone pads offer another type of feel, but they are not tunable.

You have hit on a major shortcoming around electronic drums IMHO, the lack of true feel and nuance fails to develop and maintain the technique required to play acoustic drums well.

It's the difference between a bike and an exercise bike. Any kid can jump on a Pelaton and pedal away but go outside and try and put em on a real bike going down the road and they can't maintain balance and fall over. The stationary bike does not take you anywhere and is meant to be easy to lower the barrier to entry. That's why when you put on a real bike, they still don't go anywhere.

Electronic drum fail to develop balance critical to playing the real thing and therefore loss much in translation, but something is better then nothing in the times we live in.

Hope this helps.
 

Bluest

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Thanks so much for your reply! So there are none available commercially with essentially a real head on them? For example, the Alesis RealFeel I mentioned looked kind of like an ebony head, from the pictures. I realize that doesn't tell me much, a picture, but I was hoping someone produced something like I described.

I looked up the Yamaha pads you mentioned. This sounds okay. Have you played them? They tried to make it feel acoustic.
 

Frank Godiva

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I do have the XP10 silicone snare pad, the previous generation top of the line rubber pads that came with the 900 line TP100 for toms, and all the top end yammy hi hat and cymbal pads. It's my Pelatone that's a real nice exercise bike, but it's still a stationary bike that won't move you. I use it more as a practice pad kit with the sound off and a small speaker playing the tunes to practice quietly. No experience with the Alesis stuff. The Roland is the closest thing I know of
 

Tommy D

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I have played Yamaha's DTX Silicone pads. They are pretty darn nice feeling. They are, however, not replacable, not tunable, they dont fit in to an A2E conversion and you have to use Yamaha modules to run them. I play Roland mesh heads on my A2E converted kit and I have just gotten used to them. I really don't notice the difference in feel any more. Sure it feels a bit different but I really think drummers need to understand that E-kits are not meant to replace A-kits. An electric guitar does not replace an acoustic guitar. A keyboard does not replace a grand piano. Its a different tool to open up more possibilities to the musician. You just have to understand that the tool will act and behave a little differently than the other tool. A carpenter doesn't ask, "What nail gun feels like a traditional hammer?"
 

dboomer

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Different doesn’t mean better or worse. It’s just different.

I have mesh headed pads and silicone ones. Mesh is interesting because you can set the tension any way you want. So instead of hitting a floor tom and have it feel like you hit a pillow you can have it tighter and make all the pads feel like hitting a snare drum.

The only pads that bother me sometimes are the cymbal pads. No matter how I try I cannot play a super fast jazz ride pattern on a rubber cymbal.
 

jazzerone

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I have played Yamaha's DTX Silicone pads. They are pretty darn nice feeling. They are, however, not replacable, not tunable, they dont fit in to an A2E conversion and you have to use Yamaha modules to run them. I play Roland mesh heads on my A2E converted kit and I have just gotten used to them. I really don't notice the difference in feel any more. Sure it feels a bit different but I really think drummers need to understand that E-kits are not meant to replace A-kits. An electric guitar does not replace an acoustic guitar. A keyboard does not replace a grand piano. Its a different tool to open up more possibilities to the musician. You just have to understand that the tool will act and behave a little differently than the other tool. A carpenter doesn't ask, "What nail gun feels like a traditional hammer?"
Absolutely second this. The "which e-drums sound and feel like real drums" question has been around since day one, and the answer has not changed since the beginning of time: None of them. Like Tommy said, for everything you gain in one area, you give up something else and for one simple reason... e-drums are not a-drums.

Best advice is to play different set ups, rubber, mesh, silicone and see which feels and suits you. Just like with "real drums" there's a million opinions out there about which ones are the best.
 

gbow

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and you have to use Yamaha modules to run them.
While I totally agree with Tommy's statement, there is one error. You don't HAVE to use the Yamaha module to run them. There are other modules that support the Yamaha pads, specifically the 2box drumit 3 and drumit 5 mk2 work well with the yamaha pads. There may be other modules as well.

Not trying to argue here, this is a subject that is difficult to keep up with. Many of these modules add support for various pads via software updates, so it's really hard to keep up with what modules support what pads. I just happen to know about the 2box units because I've been contemplating buying another module and have been studying this subject a bit.

The 2box units are very interesting because they offer some of the most realistic "acoustic" sounds of any module and also support adding your own samples. There is also a 3rd party software product that will extract the sounds from just about any VST computer program and format those sounds for use in the 2box units. A very nice and powerful feature to obtain good realistic sounds.

Thanks, gabo
 

Tommy D

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While I totally agree with Tommy's statement, there is one error. You don't HAVE to use the Yamaha module to run them. There are other modules that support the Yamaha pads, specifically the 2box drumit 3 and drumit 5 mk2 work well with the yamaha pads. There may be other modules as well.

Not trying to argue here, this is a subject that is difficult to keep up with. Many of these modules add support for various pads via software updates, so it's really hard to keep up with what modules support what pads. I just happen to know about the 2box units because I've been contemplating buying another module and have been studying this subject a bit.

The 2box units are very interesting because they offer some of the most realistic "acoustic" sounds of any module and also support adding your own samples. There is also a 3rd party software product that will extract the sounds from just about any VST computer program and format those sounds for use in the 2box units. A very nice and powerful feature to obtain good realistic sounds.

Thanks, gabo
I had a 2 box module. I believe it was the Mk1 version that I made my own triggers for with mesh heads. Tough module to use, IMO. Editing kits required the use if a computer which is almost impossible to get a feel for how the kit will sound as a whole and if the dynamics and different sound layering will work accurately. It ends up being a lot of computer to module back to computer back to module... Even then, the kits still sounded fairly "electronic" to me. Honestly, no better than a Roland TD-30 sound. Different than a TD-30 but still not sounding like a "real" acoustic kit. Normally I am fine with this as I'm not someone who thinks electronic kits are to replace acoustic kits, but 2Box (the company) and many, if not all, of its users praise the module for having "real" drum sounds. They may be real recordings of an acoustic kit, but they play as if they are recordings and not like a real sound coming from a drum.

So when it came to using the 2Box vs the TD-30 I chose the TD-30 because the sounds were equally as good (in my book) and the ease of tuning and kit setup/creation was vastly better than the 2Box.

That said, I did not know the Mk2 2Box modules could work with the Yamaha pads. Thats pretty cool. I suppose the Pearl Mimic Pro and potentially the Alesis Strike Pro modules (though someone would have to confirm this) could work with the Yamaha pads.

Again, feel wise, the Yamaha TCS pads are really nice. Honestly, probably a bit better than mesh. However, I believe their overall downsides outweigh their positives.
 

dboomer

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There are basically 3 schemes for triggers (pads)... piezo, switches or FSRs. FSRs are pretty rare and only work with a special triggering system as they require power (similar to phantom power). Aquarian uses FSRs. They far more common type are piezo with either switches or additional piezos for the rims (or edges in cymbal pads). The piezo part of the pad will work with just about any brand and model although you may need to tweak the wiring. Most modules have the ability to accept switches or triggers for the rim trigger (again it may take a little rewiring). I have Roland, Yamaha, Nfuzd and a few other brands. They all work with Roland, Yamaha, Nfuzd and 2Box modules with a little adjusting.
 

dboomer

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The 2box units are very interesting because they offer some of the most realistic "acoustic" sounds of any module and also support adding your own samples. There is also a 3rd party software product that will extract the sounds from just about any VST computer program and format those sounds for use in the 2box units. A very nice and powerful feature to obtain good realistic sounds.
The 2Box units basically run VSTs. And you can load the samples from any of the VST drum packages directly into the 2Box module (with the help of a computer). That means that for each pad you can assign 128 different samples that correspond to the 128 possible volume levels that MIDI will allow. Not all samples inside actually use all possible 128, but a lot of them use at least 80-90. Compare that to Yamaha and Roland units that might use 16 samples and then electronically interpolate between them
 

gbow

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Thanks for that input Tommy. I agree that they are just different things, acoustic vs electronic. These days I mostly use my ekit to play in quieter situations where an acoustic kit is too loud. I know a number of "one man band" guys who play guitar and sing, some times they like a drummer that can blend in without being too loud. So while I like to have reasonably realistic sounds, it's more about being able to play a full kit instead of the dreaded cajone!

These days, with arthritis in my hands, playing cajone or congas or any hand drum just kills my hands.

It's interesting, when I first got into electronic kits, it was because of the difficulty of getting a good drum recording for rock and pop records in a small studio.

Small studios at that time ran anywhere from 8 channel to 16 channel tape, typically had very poor/small rooms for recording, and had limited outboard gear.

As such, you either had to use a very few tracks for drum recordings and/or bounce things so many times you got a lot of hiss and noise. It was ok for styles of music where you had a more raw drum sound, jazz and a few other styles because you could record two overheads, kick and snare (4 tracks) and use minimal outboard processing. But if your room was crap, you still had a hard time getting good recordings.

The first time I used a ddrum ekit, the producer thought I was crazy, but after we got the album finished he was ecstatic with the drum sounds. They sounded like "real" drums with a lot of pop/rock processing, did it all with one overhead track and one track to sync the midi computer and no outboard processing! It was a godsend. I did drums for countless albums that way.

Electronic kits are an anomaly, it seems every other electronic thing has decreased significantly in price and improved significantly in power/performance. Ekits have progressed some, but not significantly since the early 90s and they are incredibly expensive. And with modern DAWS and vst plugins, recording drums has never been better. I generally use about 14 tracks even for a 5 piece kit these days and have virtually unlimited processing gear.

Even for a small to mid sized live gig, the ability to do an acoustic kit right is pretty easy these days. It's all very awesome! The only need I have for an ekit these days is for the few times when I want to play for very small/quiet gigs. Most of those are private situations where everyone knows everyone, including the musicians.

But that's just my world, everyone has their own situation, so there are certainly other uses for a good ekit.

gabo
 

bpaluzzi

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There are basically 3 schemes for triggers (pads)... piezo, switches or FSRs. FSRs are pretty rare and only work with a special triggering system as they require power (similar to phantom power). Aquarian uses FSRs. They far more common type are piezo with either switches or additional piezos for the rims (or edges in cymbal pads). The piezo part of the pad will work with just about any brand and model although you may need to tweak the wiring. Most modules have the ability to accept switches or triggers for the rim trigger (again it may take a little rewiring). I have Roland, Yamaha, Nfuzd and a few other brands. They all work with Roland, Yamaha, Nfuzd and 2Box modules with a little adjusting.
One correction -- "FSR" and "switches" are the same thing. It's a force sensing resistor -- it responds to pressure, not vibration (like a piezo). The only difference is if you're using it to control the behavior of the pad in conjunction with a piezo (e.g., "choke" capabilities / edge hits on most cymbal pads, rims on Yamaha silicon pads) or if you're using it for the entirety of the pad -- Yamaha DTXMulti 12, Alternate Mode DrumKat / MalletKat / TrapKat, Aquarian InHead / OnHead (which are partnered with Alternate Mode).
 

dboomer

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Why would you think they are the same? As you said, an FSR is a force sensing resistor. Generally you apply a bias voltage to it and read the result as a measure of pressure. A switch is simply a switch, it’s binary and is either on or off They are not interchangable.
 

bpaluzzi

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Why would you think they are the same? As you said, an FSR is a force sensing resistor. Generally you apply a bias voltage to it and read the result as a measure of pressure. A switch is simply a switch, it’s binary and is either on or off They are not interchangable.
Sorry, but you're wrong here. The "switches" used on all electronic pads are FSRs. I invite you to take one apart and find out for yourself. I've done it, multiple times. There are no physical switches used. It's a membrane switch, which is an FSR.
 

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