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My DIY (finally)

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  • My DIY (finally)

    Hi guys,

    Long time reader, and infrequent poster here from New Zealand. I have started setting up my DIY. It is far from complete. But it will look something like this:

    20" kick drum with single zone triggering (using a 27mm piezo placed in the center of the drum) - using double kick pedals with felt beaters on single ply mesh heads.

    14" snare drum using 2x 27mm piezo (center + rim). However, I only have guitar cables around, so will need to buy a stereo TRS cable to try dual zone triggering (unless you can suggest a way to use 2 mono cables? )

    10", 12", 14" toms with single zone triggering

    3 x 15" crash cymbals using 27mm piezo stuck 1/3 distance between edge and bell, closer to the edge.

    1 x 18" ride cymbal with dual zone triggering (bow + bell)
    1 x 14" hi hat

    [haven't quite worked out how I will trigger these properly, but may end up experimenting using a 50k slider pot connected to my hihat stand's pedal as others have done, and if it doesn't work out, i might end up using a vh-11 seeing that people have used it before with no problems]

    [my cymbals are quite 'special'. I will post more on them, once they are finished]

    All these pads are routed to my Alesis Trigger IO and then via USB to my Laptop Turion 64 2.0Ghz + 2gb RAM + FL Studio 8 + Addictive Drums VSTi
    which runs Vista Basic (and Ubuntu 8.04 on a separate boot)


    So far, I only have 2 piezo's and 2 mono cables to play with, so have set up a rudimentary snare drum, and a rudimentary cymbal (both single zone obviously)

    For the snare, the piezo is mounted on a wooden cross member, with a pretty firm felt cymbal washer (similar diameter) on top of it, and a rubber leg protector (really really firm) on top of the washer, and in contact with the head. It is very crude, but I have been very pleased with the sensitivity of the trigger so far. I have been using a pretty low gain setting, and very low threshold values. My retrigger setting is at around 30ms. I have been using a logarithmic curve. I've found that it picks up my quiet playing very well, seems to perform adequately on rolls, and I have not noticed any double triggering so far. I have noticed that when playing very fast combinations on the snare, some notes are accented/louder (even when not intended). Not sure why this is, but I think it's possibly because the contacts on the piezo aren't great (initially they fell off, and i rejoined them), the ceramic on the piezo seems to be damaged, and the head on the snare is not tensioned evenly. I also plan on using roland cones for the final version.

    My plastic cymbal is triggered from a 27mm piezo taped directly to the underside of the cymbal (I have the ceramic portion adjacent to the cymbal surface). I stuck a square of foam rubber material on the striking surface which plays pretty quietly. Obviously, the quietest notes don't trigger because of the foam surface, but you don't have to play too hard to trigger soft notes. I have noticed that it tends to reach maximum velocity pretty easily though (so it's super sensitive), and the dynamic range is not ideal. Again I'm using a logarithmic curve, which seems to accent quieter notes better than linear. I also noticed some re triggering so have set the retrigger setting to 50ms and it seems to abolish this problem. The other thing is that the practice cymbal has a grooved surface, which I'm sure must have some impact on the way the piezo functions. My custom manufactured cymbals have a smooth surface, so I suspect the results will be a little different there (perhaps more even triggering?)
    In any case, the cymbal performs pretty well on fast and slow playing, and currently the cymbal 'swell' is pretty damn good considering I've only played around with it for a day now.

    Between ASIO, FL Studio 8 and my laptop, I've got my latency down to <10ms running about ~250 samples. (I can get it down to 3-4ms minimum). It plays well - but I have noticed that when I'm playing along to music, on fast rolls it does get out of time - however, this may be because I haven't played drums in a while!!!

    Altogether, the impression is of very pleasing results. I currently have a fantastically realistic sounding snare drum which would rival my acoustic snare any day of the week, and 1 cymbal which is probably not quite as nice as my Zildjian ZXT Titanium Pro's, but I'd still perform with it, at it's current quality.

    The overall cost of my DIY is likely to be WELL less than NZD$1000 (about USD$720). That is, the cost of everything. The trigger IO, all the piezos, all the heads, the plastic cymbals, cabling, extra cymbal stands, drum rack etc.

    [Just as an indicator - a TD20 set costs around NZD$11,000, and a TD12 around NZD$5700. I can't even get a TD3 set for less than NZD$1000. ]

    I think this goes to show that you can certainly make a good attempt to produce some very nice sounding drums using the Alesis Trigger IO, without having to splash out a lot of cash, but spending the money in the right areas. When I first started out on this DIY path, I very nearly went out and bought a TD12. Instead, I chose to save my money, and give this a shot.

    As I mentioned, I'm far from completed, but I suspect the quality of my DIY will easily rival a TD12 or TD20 (without any additional work obviously). The most pleasing aspect of this is that I didn't need to be a large corporation to do it, and I did it at a fraction of the cost, without the resources that Roland (and others) have at their disposal.

    But probably my greatest asset was having this forum. Without it, I don't think I could have anticipated what sort of problems I might face, and I don't think I'd have any idea how to set up the drums. I guess the success on my part is largely the success of the 'v-drums forum corporation'. Well done team!!

    [Youtube videos to demonstrate the performance of my snare and cymbal coming soon!]

  • #2
    Your DIY kit sounds great from what I've read. I look forward to your video or any pictures you might put up.