Fastest triggering module?

Cableaddict

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I own a pro studio, and use a partially-electronic drumkit. - Just two kicks, four toms, a pole pad, and an auxilliary snare drum. I have been using a DDrum2 brain since 2003.
I'd like to upgrade to better & cleaner sounds, but I'm very worried about trigger time.

note: The term "latency" is often used for this, and I guess we could here, but that sometimes leads to discussions of computer throughput, and that is NOT my concern at all. Please bear this in mind
I am JUST concerned (right now) with how fast audio comes out of the module, after the pad is hit.
This is because, even if I later replace the sounds, I want the absolute fastest response for the drummer & band while they are recording.

In 2003, I had tried a top-end Roland Pro kit, but the response time was absurdly bad. IIRC, the kick was around 15 ms! I therefore bought a used DDrum2. It has worked great with HART Pro pads. Less than 2 ms for every pad.

So, as I said above, I'd like to upgrade, but only if I don't get more than maybe 4-5ms maximum.

I don't really need bells & whistles, so I'm considering an old DDrum3 brain. However, I'm reading pretty positive things about the newest modules from Roland & Yammy. Still, I can't seem to find hard, verifiable data on exact trigger times, anywhere. I'm kind of amazed about this.

I also love that these modules (if I am reading correctly) can pass all of the stick data to a computer via USB, which means (again, if I am understanding correctly) that I would no longer need preamps and audio interface channels for each pad. That would be lovely !

---------------

SO:


1: Does anyone have a list of verified numbers, listing trigger response-times for various "newish" modules (and maybe when using various pads? ) I'm referring to the TD30, TD50, DTX900M, etc. - Also maybe current but lower-cost modules as well, which might have less features but be be just as fast.


2: Am I correct about how the USB communication works with the latest modules? - Because if that is NOT the case, then I'll just go with DDrum.


Thanks
 

TDM

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Here you go. From Digital Drummer Magazine. See diagram below.

As I understand it, in terms of latency, the TD-50 is similar to the TD-30. I have not seen any latency figures for Pearl Mimic Pro and Alesis Strike, yet.

Drum Module Latency
(Click to zoom.)
module_latency.jpg
 

TDM

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Quick answers.

"1.) Does anyone have a list of verified numbers, listing trigger response times for various "newish" modules (and maybe when using various pads)? I'm referring to the TD-30, TD-50, DTX-900M, etc. Also, maybe current but lower cost modules, as well, which may have less features but be just as fast."

See diagram I posted above! :icon_smile:

"2.) Am I correct about how the USB communication works with the latest modules? Because if that is NOT the case, then I'll just go with DDrum."

USB works in two ways with current modules. Important, this is very specific to each module.

MIDI over USB. Most modern drum modules output MIDI over USB. As such, this data can be recorded (on your computer) using a sequencer. Then, you can use the recorded MIDI data to trigger VST drum sounds. Also, as I'm sure you're aware, you can use MIDI data to trigger VST drum sounds in real time.

Basically, MIDI over USB means you don't need a MIDI interface box between your drum module and the computer. Due to the much faster speed of USB as compared to traditional MIDI cables and MIDI hardware, ostensibly MIDI over USB has a speed / latency advantage. But, MIDI over USB doesn't always provide superior results and sometimes provides inferior results. See my next paragraph.

Some module vendors provide specific USB drivers for their modules while other vendors depend on the generic MIDI over USB drivers in certain operating systems (such as Windows and Mac OS). There are times when generic MIDI over USB drivers don't work as well as old fashioned MIDI. I like to have real MIDI ports and USB over MIDI, so that both options are available.

Digital Audio over USB. A few drum modules (TD-50 comes to mind) output multiple streams of digital audio over USB. This is not MIDI data and it cannot be used to trigger VST drum libraries. Again, I'll underline, it is digital audio data. With the TD-50, you can output 10 simultaneous streams of digital audio for isolating snare drum, toms, cymbals, etc. All of this comes down a single USB cable. Essentially, for recording, between your module and computer, this saves the need to have a semi-expensive analog to digital converter box with lots of analog inputs.

Personally, if I had to chose between one or the other, I'd take individual analog outputs instead of digital audio over USB. There are a multitude of uses for individual analog outputs, both in the studio and live. Also, computer standards change very quickly. Ten years from now, will digital audio over USB still work and still be supported? Maybe or maybe not. Will USB itself be around ten years from now? Again, maybe or maybe not. Analog outputs always work.
 

Cableaddict

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Thanks, TDM. Lots of great info here !

I'm especially intrigued about digital multi-drum audio via USB. Oh my, that would be handy, to put it mildly! (I'm not worried about ten years from now.) I would still use the sounds direct out of the module, for tracking, but it would be great to not tie up so many preamps for recording, and also not HAVE to replace with VSTi later.

-------

- But I have to ask, re the latency numbers: Where did they come from? I have numbers for a few of those modules, from very picky sources that I can trust, that are a little bit different. For instance, the TD-30 is almost universally clocked at 4 ms, the 2Box (kick & toms) at about 4.5 ms, etc.

Maybe some variances are due to differing head tightness, etc, but I don't see any way the TD30 could be 3ms, (especially since it doesn't do analog triggering) and that's a very big deal for me. Then again: 4 ms vs the Ddrum's 2.8, jeez, maybe I'm being waaaay too picky now. Ughh ....

Well, regardless, this is very helpful just to see how these relate to each other. THANKS!

-----------------------------------

## Also, I assume, yes, but these numbers are all "stick hit to audio out of the module," correct? Many times you find numbers for the midi info out, which is not what I need right now.



I'm kind of leaning toward a newer Roland module now, vs an old, hard to repair Ddrum. it will cost me more, but I need to do it right, so... Still a tough decision.
 

Cableaddict

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UPDATE ON "AUDIO OVER USB" :

You had me very intrigued, but I just read up on this, and it's not at all what I had hoped.

Both the TD-30 and the TD-50 can only record a single stereo track of audio over USB, in real-time. The TD-50 also has some kind of 4-track PLAYBACK, but that's confusing. It still says only one stereo track into the DAW.


So... Feh. No big deal at all. Basically useless for tracking. Since you'd have to go back and re-record all the sounds anyway, via recorded midi, this is no better than any other module since the Ddrum 2.
 

Cauldronics

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TDM said:
Here you go. From Digital Drummer Magazine. See diagram below.

As I understand it, in terms of latency, the TD-50 is similar to the TD-30. I have not seen any latency figures for Pearl Mimic Pro and Alesis Strike, yet.

Drum Module Latency
(Click to zoom.)
module_latency.jpg
I've been meaning to reply to this for a few days so here goes.

First, the DTX-502 being nearly the slowest is not good! That's the module I've been using. I would've thought I could hear and feel 12ms of delay, but my ears and mind have been fooling me. Combined with the DAW reporting 2.5ms RTL it was acceptable (to my surprise, now) but I was unaware it could be quite a bit faster with a different module.

It looks like a ddrum or equivalent module with that kind of speed is in short order for me next. Do you know of any figures for more recent modules?

I can score a ddrum, but don't need any onboard sounds so I'd like to get a trigger-only module.
 

TDM

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Cableaddict said:
UPDATE ON "AUDIO OVER USB" :

You had me very intrigued, but I just read up on this, and it's not at all what I had hoped.

Both the TD-30 and the TD-50 can only record a single stereo track of audio over USB, in real-time. The TD-50 also has some kind of 4-track PLAYBACK, but that's confusing. It still says only one stereo track into the DAW.
Quick reply because I'm having a super busy day. I'm not sure where you got your information, but it is incorrect about the TD-50. The TD-50 outputs ten (10) simultaneous streams of digital audio over a single USB cable. So yes, with the TD-50, you can record all ten streams into your DAW with just one USB cable. The catch is the sounds. You'll want to replace them because the TD-50 still has the characteristic "Roland synthetic drum sound" that sticks out for miles. The TD-50 sounds better than the TD-30, but it's not remotely in the same league as Pearl Mimic Pro (hardware drum module implementation of Steven Slate Drums 5) or a high quality software VSTi library.
 

TDM

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About the latency figures I posted, those come from Digital Drummer Magazine. If I recall correctly, those figures represent the time from stick hit on a pad to corresponding audio output at the analog outputs. Each latency number is an analysis of two digital recordings: a recording of the acoustic stick hit on the pad versus the simultaneous recording of the audio output of the module. For MIDI triggering (i.e. stick hit on pad versus MIDI note output at MIDI Out port or MIDI over USB) the latency numbers may be quite different.
 

Chayro

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Once you get hooked on DDrums, that's pretty much it, IMO. Try to find a DDrum3 module if you can. I haven't played every other electronic kit, but I've played quite a few and, while Roland has great processed sounds and a lot of manipulation, nothing I've ever played matched the realistic and instantaneous response of the DDrums. I just saw a 3 on Ebay for 1200. Just snap it up. It was the best there ever was IMO.
 

mgdrummer

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I'm a big fan of the ddrum stuff, I had several ddrum4 brains over the years and even had a ddrumAT for a brief period of time. I'm really surprised at the latency listed for the 2box module as that is essentially what SHOULD have been the ddrum5.
 

dboomer

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I once used the Ddrum3 and it was very fast. Unfortunately the sounds kinda suck. I would imagine the answer would favor modules that do not convert trigger to midi and then midi to sound which is the way I believe the ddrum3 worked.

That said, your are experiencing something like 3ms of latency when you play an acoustic kit just based on the distances from the drum to your ears. Also I thinks that if you are micing your kit through an all analog IEM mix you are actually reducing the latency compared to not mixing the drums.

We did a lot of testing of how latency affected musicians ability to play along with others and found that for most everyone the magic number was about 11ms with only a very few that were affected down to 8ms. IEMs for vocalists can be another matter altogether though.
 

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I've had quite a few modules, all current at the time, over the past 20 years. IMO the ddrum3 is still king for non-cymbals. I had a setup using a TD20 for cymbals with Roland cymbals and my ddrum3 with either ddrum3 pads or Roland pads for drums, percussion, etc.. The ultimate e-setup, IMO. I stupidly sold the ddrum3, but I needed the money att. I haven't found one in as-good condition or with as many sounds as mine had. If you can find one in good condition and everything works get it.
 

ARGuy

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Another module worth looking into is the Boom Theory 0.0. I don't know if "maximum scanning time" and latency are the same thing, but Al claims 1.75ms, and he really knows his stuff when it comes to triggering.
 

wolfereeno

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How are you monitoring your sounds? You should not notice latency if you're listening to the headphone or main outs of a module that has internal sounds. Even my 20 year old Td7 is fast enough to "feel" correct and immediate. I can't outplay it and I'm reasonably fast. (i use a td30 primarily)

For recording, or listening through the computer, there are many other factors. If I'm using the monitoring function of my workstation (reaper), there's added latency of the sound interface. If I'm triggering samples, there's additional midi + sampler latency. There are all kinds of options to tune those things.


What I do for recording is listen to audio of my drum module but also record midi and deal with using samples later, so I'm not distracted by the latency. If I'm just practicing, I listen to the outputs of my module, always, and leave the computer/interface out of it.


BTW, I wouldn't rule out Alternate Mode
 

Cableaddict

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Here you go. From Digital Drummer Magazine. See diagram below.

As I understand it, in terms of latency, the TD-50 is similar to the TD-30. I have not seen any latency figures for Pearl Mimic Pro and Alesis Strike, yet.

Drum Module Latency
(Click to zoom.)
View attachment 330017

Been a long time, but I can say with certainty that Digital Drummer Magazine is full of garbanzos.

I bought a DDrum4SE based on that, and sadly found that my original info of 6 ms was correct. That's because, unlike the DDrum 2 & 3, the 4 series converts the pad info into midi BEFORE triggering its audio. Where the magazine got 2.5 ms must have required wiping afterwards.

And I tried a TD30, based on the magazine's listed 3 ms. Nope. 4 ms, just like my earlier info said.

My friend bought a 2BOx Drumit3. I measure about 3.6 ms for the kick & 3.5 ms for the snare.
The magazine said 5 ms. Did they just make that up?
Me thinks they were paid off by Roland to make the TD30 look good. Seriously.
-----------------

Well, absolutely NOTHING beats the 2.3 ms I get from my DDrum3 brain.
Sadly, it's getting old, and the midi has stopped working on it.
Sigh .........
 
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Whitten

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Me thinks they were paid off by Roland to make the TD30 look good. Seriously.
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I know the publisher and that is absolutely not the case. Pet peeve of mine is people posting slanderous comments without any facts whatsoever, especially when they do it behind an anonymous screen name..
I also work with some of the V-Drum people at Roland and they do NOT 'pay people off' for anything.
I expect Roland produced the latency figures and Digital Drummer just reproduced them. Maybe Roland produced the figures in an ideal situation I don't know.
I record midi via v-drums and have had no latency issues. I don't like the brain sounds so I trigger EZdrummer (for monitoring nice drum sounds) while recording the midi for later sound generation.
I think USB is handicapped by trying to relay midi AND sound. That may introduce more latency I don't know, I'm not an expert.
People seem to think the newer Roland v-drums have the best performance as triggers. So that's what I would recommend.
 

dboomer

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You have to consider that in-to-out latency considers scan time settings, which affect tracking quality. So simply looking at the latency number may or may not tale this into consideration as you are seeing different times for different drum types.
 


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