Shopping e-drums, your recommendations please?

Ian S

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I'm shopping for an electronic kit. Prefer a 4-piece with hi-hat and one cymbal.

I've done some research, mostly looking at Roland TD series but open to others. So much lingo used in this circle and I'm not a techie. It's hard to figure out what some of the differences are between various kits and modules and I would really appreciate your recommendations.

I want a quality product, but I don't want to spend more than necessary. Used is.. not preferred. I'd rather go new with anything electronic, mostly because I'm not an electrician. I am open to used if necessary though.

This kit won't be used for anything except practice in my living room, so I do not need bells and whistles. For instance, I don't care about having hundreds of programmed drum kits in the module, especially if I can import my own sounds.

However, there are a few key features and functions I want it to have.

1. quality, built to last, for years I hope.

2. dynamic strike sensing? I've seen people talking about "velocity layers"? I'm under the impression this has to do with what I'm asking for here, but I want all pieces to distinguish my hits in a range from soft taps to loud hits and all in between.

3. positional sensing would be nice, at least on the snare drum (be great on toms too, but this is not a deal breaker), rim clicks would be fantastic, but not necessary.

4. I want to use a real hi-hat stand with hi-hats as realistic as possible.

5. I only want one cymbal and I want it to be large. I am annoyed by the idea of a 13 inch ride cymbal. I guess this is not a deal breaker but I'm really hoping to find a larger cymbal.

6. I also would like to be able to choke the cymbal by grabbing it.

7. I'd prefer something that's not too loud when not amplified. My apartment has pretty thick walls, but I do have neighbors on all sides and if possible I'd like to be able to play even late at night, with headphones. I don't know how generally loud these kits tend to be, and this isn't a deal breaker either, but it would be nice.

8. Also, I understand there's something bad called "machine gunning".. it seems this is when a buzz roll cannot be detected properly? Is this correct? Anyhow, that would be a major buzz-kill! This kit should be able to detect rolls properly.


So with all that, do you think I will have to splurge on the TD-50? It has the 18" cymbal I want, and the positional sensing and velocity dynamics seem perfect. But are there other options I should look at?

Will the 18" cymbal work with a previous module, like the TD-20? Even if that just means its 3 digital zones won't work the same? Like down to two zones and no longer digital? Am I understanding this correctly?

Or are there other kits out there with larger cymbals? (never saw any in advert pics... they all look tiny)

I apologize for being so naive, and I have tried to look this stuff up, but I haven't found an encyclopedic resource which makes this stuff easy to figure out. Any help will be huge to me, THANKS!
 
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jazzerone

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Some people like used cars, some people like that new car smell. Just be aware that as with new cars, the smell wears off and the day after you leave the dealership you are driving a used car.

Beyond that, if you have the scratch to jump on a new TD-50, ignore my previous comment and dive right in. You'll get everything you described in your want list, plus some things you say you don't need (such as bells, whistles and hundreds of programmed drum kits).

Your questions, in order:

1. It doesn't sound like you're constrained by budget, as in "I'm looking for a Ferrari in the $1500 range", so anything you buy new at the upper end, like a Roland TD17 or above, will be of high quality and will last for years. Except the GAS you get from e-drums is way worse than the GAS you get from acoustic drums, so you won't be keeping it for years anyway.

2. Again, at the upper end of newer e-kits, dynamics and positional sensing are standard features.

3. See #2.

4. You have to get to the TD17KVX before you get a "real" hi hat as part of the package, but you can add this any kit as long as the module supports the hi-hat pad.

5. You don't get to an 18" cymbal until you get into TD-25 models and the 18" requires a module with a digital input, so you can't add this to lower level kits that don't have a digital input. 16" and 15" cymbals work in non-digital rigs; I have a 15 and it feels plenty big. Remember, with e-cymbals you're not replicating sound based on dimensions as you would with regular metal cymbals. With e-cymbals size, literally, has nothing to do with the sound you get. It's all in the module.

6. Choking cymbals: Standard at this level.

7. And here we come to the dreaded "not too loud when unamplified" dilemma that plagues all e-drum players. Obviously, compared to acoustic drums, e-drums are the quiet whisper of a gentle summer breeze... if that breeze were to sound like somebody whaling on a set of Tupperware containers. In short, e-drums make noise and there's no way around it. If you have downstairs neighbors there's a very good chance they're going to hear the thud-thud-thud of your bass drum pedal. Aside from that, there will be the constant, rhythmic whappity-whappity-whappity of you striking rubber cymbals and mesh head pads. The best way to get a feel for this is go to the store, sit down behind the e-drum kit of choice, and play it WITHOUT headphones. Hear that? That's how much noise they make.

8. Machine gunning is an old, persistent problem with e-drums, particularly the snare. Positional sensing and dynamics have cured some of this, but it's not completely gone; you will hear the difference between this on e-drums and a-drums. It depends on your tolerance level. Having said that, there are some (expensive) cures. One would be to buy your e-kit, then immediately upgrade the module to something like the Pearl Mimic Pro (I use this... zero machine gunning... $1500-$2000 just for the module, depending), or VST's (much research, more money, computer, audio card, etc....). Otherwise, I would guess you'll hear some machine gunning, as differentiated from acoustic drums, but it won't be a deal breaker.

Now, having said all that, I wouldn't buy a new kit if I were you. Yes, it's a turn-key bundle with all the features described above, but it's a waste of money, which you could spend on building a used kit with many more pieces and parts that you will be much happier with. The Roland TD-50 goes for 5 grand, new. You can buy a used TD-50 module for less than $2000, or a TD-30 for around $1500, and then add your 4 pads, hi-hat and cymbal and save yourself a couple thousand dollars. Plus, all kidding aside, the new TD50 kit you buy for $5000 will be worth exactly the same as the used kit you build for $3000 the day after you get it home.

But, some people really dig that new car smell, me among them. Bought a lot of new cars in my day. Good luck.
 

Ian S

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Thank you jazzerone for the detailed reply. Most of what you say confirms a few suspicions I had, which is very helpful.

I am constrained by budget, insofar as I should be as responsible as possible, I don't want to dig too deep of a credit card ditch.

I guess I should have clarified, used vs new is nothing to do with resale value or the 'new car smell' or similar reasoning. It is purely based on my level of expertise in electronics, probably not being able to fix something myself if it arrives in less than working order, and with no warranties to rely on, etc. I just don't want to initially spend what would still be a lot of money to possibly receive a module with wiring issues or pads that immediately need refurbishing or replacing of sensors etc.

As for the rest, it sounds like maybe I need to look at Pearl Mimic Pro, and I'm not sure I've even heard of VST's. Seems I just need to spend more time researching.

Thanks again!
 

wolfereeno

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Some people like used cars, some people like that new car smell. Just be aware that as with new cars, the smell wears off and the day after you leave the dealership you are driving a used car.
Your whole response should be pinned x 1000.

Slew, depending on where you are maybe go to a store and try some kits in person. Buy from a place you know and you can always go back and ask questions. That's the easiest. I suppose even some of the better online places - sweetwater or kraft can be called any time.

Otherwise I'd recommend buying used too - you get much more for your money. These days between reverb, ebay and paypal, you get pretty good buyers protection. Try to buy from people who have some history. I would not recommend craigslist unless you connect with a nearby neighbor.

And, I mean, I'm not sure you need to be an electrician or even a plumber to setup an ekit. I assume you can setup acoustic drums or connect up a stereo so you basically have the right skills! The manuals are available online if the guy doesn't have em. And there's always a factory reset sequence that starts you to square 1.

It's kind of hard to break something like a Roland kit. If a pad is out and needs to be fixed or replaced, that's not a big deal or big expense. As long as the module works, and they're built like bricks, the rack and stuff is fairly sturdy stuff.

Parts of my kit like the rack and several of the pads are more than 23 years old. My Td30 module and the rest of the vdrum mesh pads and cymbals are between 8 and 15 years old. And I play all the time. The only think I've ever broken are some of the rack clamps that used to easily break from over-tightening. But I've never broken a pad or even had to replace a single head - ever.

FWIW, I get all the sensitivity and features I need out of an older module like TD20 or 30. But the sounds are not as good as the latest drums. But frankly the sounds of a td50 aren't that good compared to VST's these days. So for my money, and older module is fine.
 

lrod1707

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Some people like used cars, some people like that new car smell. Just be aware that as with new cars, the smell wears off and the day after you leave the dealership you are driving a used car.
I look at it a bit different. Let's say the new car will cost me $4000 more. That $4000 gives me a car with zero miles, brand new parts: tires, brakes etc.., full factory warranty, lemon law protection and many other factory new car benefits which you dont get on a used car. I have no idea why the last owner traded in the used car and I don't want to find out. If the new car has issues, I'll be the first to find out about them and the lemon law protects me. My brother in law bought a 2 year old supposedly Certified pre-owned Grand Cherokee with 20,000 miles 5 months ago. It's in the dealer weekly with the same issues and he's got zero recourse. He saved a grand total of $5000 buying that vehicle over the new one. I'd rather spend the extra money for my family's protection by buying the new one! The argument I always hear about depreciation is bogus to me vs. the benefits of buying the new car.
I'm talking cars though, and maybe houses as well (new plumbing, electrical, A/C, structural warranty etc..) other cheaper, non life dependent things I feel are OK to buy used.
That's just me though!
 

Ian S

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Thanks very much guys. Yeah I did a lot more reading and I've changed my tune quite a bit.

Plugging in and setting up the kit, doesn't scare me. I was pessimistic it might have bad wiring or a faulty module, maybe dropped too many times and of course I wouldn't noticing it until the 14 day returns period has passed.. etc.

I'm open to buying used though. I think at this point, I'm leaning toward piecing together a kit from scratch rather than buying a set. But there's a lot to consider and I'm a bit overwhelmed at the moment. I like the features and apparent quality of the Pearl Mimic Pro but it's much more than I was hoping to spend on a module. I'm intrigued by the pads from ATV, I've read a few times that they have a feel very close to an acoustic head feel, which would be really ideal.

So now I'm looking at modules first, especially those that work with other pads and triggers.
 

jazzerone

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Your last sentence is the most important one. Spend all the money you can afford on the best module you can find. The e-drum world is filled with new buyers who spent all their time and money trying to find and buy pads that feel "exactly" like acoustic drums (which they never will, no way no how), then they plug them into an older, cheap module and can't understand why their e-drums don't sound good.

Not saying the feel of the pads aren't important, but even the cheapest rubber drum pads will sound 10x better plugged into a Mimic Pro or a TD-20 than the best, most expensive mesh or ATV heads will plugged into a TD-8. Unlike with acoustic drums, it's not the drum that drives the sound, it's the module.

If the Mimic price causes you to flinch too much, there's a lot of used TD-20's & 30's out there, plus there's Yamaha and Alesis modules that a lot of players like (not familiar with those, myself) that will give you great sound and not break the bank. Also, you should visit the vdrums forum and read up on VST's. Lots of good info there about buying e-drums as well.
 

Ian S

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Thank you jazzerone. My research took me to a couple of posts on vdrums forum last night. So much to read everywhere, information overload right now.

I'm probably overthinking things too.

Original plan was to get something that felt as close to an acoustic kit as possible, sound quality was secondary because there is no plan to use this kit for musical projects. It's only meant to be for routine daily full-body practice so I won't be so rusty when I finally get to play my acoustic kit again.

So despite being caught up in the wind here with some amazing modules, I think I need to come back to my first thoughts and go from that angle again.

On that note I should probably make new topics for slightly more specific questions I have right now. Again, thanks so much for your thoughts.
 

wolfereeno

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Unlike with acoustic drums, it's not the drum that drives the sound, it's the module.
Yup - feel is largely psychological. Have a module that doesn't respond well to dynamics or latency and you find yourself fighting the drums. But most modules I've owned have been fine or can at least be tweaked.

Buying by parts makes a lot of sense.
 

Ian S

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It's odd, now that I've been looking at used parts, even building a four-piece with one cymbal and a hi-hat, when I add the prices all together collectively, the difference between used parts and a brand new Roland kit is minimal, and in some cases the used parts added up to being more expensive than the new Roland.

So really on the fence at the moment, feeling like the Roland TD-27 would be a solid investment. Too recent to easily find a used one, but the quality of build and issues like dynamics and latency seem to favor Roland.

I thought I read somewhere that Roland modules don't work well with pads from other brands, although now I can't seem to find a clear description of this issue. But I guess I don't have a huge problem being limited to Roland pads.
 

wolfereeno

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I wouldn't buy it literally one bolt at a time. Buy a starter set you can add on to. See if you can find decent pads, rack, etc with an older module. You can always upgrade a module - esp right when roland announces a new one on the market. I started with a Td7 kit and upgraded modules when the used prices were good. So I had TD10, 20, and finally 30.

Now that I use mostly VTS's (superior Drummer 3) I probably won't upgrade the module again until there's a giant leap. And I use a mix of roland pads of every era, a few yamaha cymbals, and a Kat pedal with my td30 module.
 

Ian S

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Thanks man, that really seems like the way to do it. I had almost decided on a TD-27, but for my budget it's really not the most responsible choice I could make. I start thinking I've decided on something, then learn something new and have to reassess. I'm just now figuring out about VST's. I did join vdrums forum and reading a lot there to see how people are doing it. This is a rabbit hole I think I could get quite lost in.
 

wolfereeno

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Thanks man, that really seems like the way to do it. I had almost decided on a TD-27, but for my budget it's really not the most responsible choice I could make. I start thinking I've decided on something, then learn something new and have to reassess. I'm just now figuring out about VST's. I did join vdrums forum and reading a lot there to see how people are doing it. This is a rabbit hole I think I could get quite lost in.
Just get it. It will be clean and new. You probably won't need to replace the module ever. The TD50 module is way overpriced with too few improvements IMO.

Used TD10-30 sets can def save you money but you'll have to compromise on the cymbals and HH. Maybe BD depending on how it's configured. But those are cheap and easy upgrades and having spare PD7 or PD9 pads is very useful.

But with a TD10 or 20 module, you'll yearn for better sounds and need to explore VST's or module upgrade sooner. That said, they'd still be awesome for practicing. A TD30 module adds a USB midi out which is nice to have for VTS's since you can plug right into a computer without a MIDI interface. Do TD10 through 30 sound great? Meh. But good enough for a lot of fun, practicing, etc just not great for recording.

FWIW, this is my kit a few years ago. Since, I've upgraded a couple of the cymbal pads to more cymbal like ones, and the outboard rack is gone. The whole thing sits on a wood platform to absorb sound - I had my neighbors bedroom right under me at the time. They didn't even know I played drums until we were moving out! I still use the TD30. I never really wanted a roland HH. The HH pad footpedal combo is OK for me. The rack and some of the rubber pads go back to my 22 year old TD7 kit. I've played these for like a billion hours. LOL.

 

Ian S

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Thank you both very much. I really appreciate all of your help and advice.

Yeah, just some last minute nerves. But I keep coming back to the TD-27, it sounds nice enough to me in the demos, and I'm sure I'll play around with VST's too anyway.

The digital snare and 18" digital ride are enticing. I play big cymbals on my acoustic kit. Usually two 22". Size is depending, but nothing smaller than 19".. I don't use crashes or splashes.

So the smaller e-cymbals just look all wrong to me.

I'm still studying though, and may yet change my mind again. I've just found EFNote, can't find a price so I emailed to ask, but they are very interesting.

 

wolfereeno

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I'll say this one last thing if it helps, IMO anything under say $2,700 for a new kit seems fair. But I think what Roland and others charge for the higher end kits is insane. Especially the ones that look like real drums. Unless you're doing a stadium tour, having acoustic sized electronic drums is just a waste of space.

Also, for the low price of a USB or midi cable, you can play around with VST's. And to my ears, the $2,500 TD50 module doesn't sound close $300 worth of VST samples (superior drummer 3.0, hands down).

However I do approve of any and all lights!....

IMG_1181.jpg


IMG_1182.jpg
 

jazzerone

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Lights... yes, definitely lights.

VST's certainly do outperform any drum module out there, but don't forget that there are significant hardware prerequisites... for starters a good laptop computer with an excellent soundcard. Still cheaper than a TD50 module, but just sayin', it's not as simple as downloading an app or buying some software.
 

wolfereeno

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... it's not as simple as downloading an app or buying some software.
I keep it kind of simple.

I have a Behringer with multiple inputs in my studio but I don't have any sound card when I use my laptop. And now that I'm connecting the TD30 to the computer with USB instead of midi, I just plug it right in. For hosting the VST's I use Reaper, which has an infinite trial and costs $70 license. So the only splurge for me was ponying up for Superior Drummer , which I did after being disappointed by most of the other VTS's I tried.
 

jazzerone

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I keep it kind of simple.

I have a Behringer with multiple inputs in my studio but I don't have any sound card when I use my laptop. And now that I'm connecting the TD30 to the computer with USB instead of midi, I just plug it right in. For hosting the VST's I use Reaper, which has an infinite trial and costs $70 license. So the only splurge for me was ponying up for Superior Drummer , which I did after being disappointed by most of the other VTS's I tried.
Just goes to show how little I know about VST's, since this does sound pretty simple.... need to learn more before I spout off.
 

Ian S

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Nice set up wolfereeno, I dig the lights. And thanks for chatting about Reaper and the VST's too. I need to learn this stuff.

Anyway I've talked myself into the TD-27. I'm hoping I can swing it by Xmas or so.
 


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