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VH-11 The Real Problem (and the fix)

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  • VH-11 The Real Problem (and the fix)

    Hello everyone, first time I feel the need to post something on the boards because this topic could potentially evolve into something like the bell fix, and save thousands of VH-11s out there.

    Ok first of all, Roland released VH-10 recently which is a "cheaper" and "lighter" version of the VH-11 right? Well, not only that. Many report better feel and playability on the VH-10 because there is a huge design fault on VH-11. It is the vibrational coupling of the piezo and the hi-hat clutch, let me explain;

    You may not have noticed but, VH-11s experience false triggering during hi-hat pedal action (open/close). To test this, just give a light tap on the hi-hat clutch with your stick, you will see the bow sound triggers, which means even the slightest vibration on your hi-hat stand translates directly to the piezo through the clutch. People with poorly dampened hi-hat stands experience false triggering the most, but it happens occasionally even on the very best hi-hat stand. These false triggers are usually not too loud and get lost in the background during live playing, but it is very annoying to the people using VSTs for recording purposes. They constantly need to remove these false triggers manually and I have seen several topics on the subject in various forums including this one. Unfortunately none of them really understood the root cause, but Roland did, and solved the issue in VH-10 by decoupling the hi-hat center and the piezo on the bow, hence the different bottom design.

    Anyways enough mumble, let's move on to the FIX;

    Don't worry it is not irreversible and doesn't require ninja skills to pull off. Here is what you need;

    Drum key
    ​​​​​Phillips #2 screwdriver
    Needle nose pliers
    1/2 inch thick cushioning foam (soft and compressible foam like a car washing sponge)

    Here is what you do;

    *Using your drum key, remove the hi-hat clutch from your cymbal (first loosen with key, then unscrew the clutch)
    *Using your screwdriver, unscrew the bottom plate
    *Using your needle nose pliers, unplug the mini JST connector (very important to do this before trying to seperate bottom and top pieces, the cable between is very short, so beware)
    *Cut a circle out of your foam, 3 1/2 inch in diameter with about 1 inch hole in the middle
    *Place the foam right in the center of top plate, plug the JST connector back in and screw the top and bottom back together
    *Use just the screws on the outer circle when closing back your cymbal, the inner circle is the main path of our unwanted vibrations, they travel from hi-hat center to bottom plate, and we are trying to eliminate this. So leave the inner circle unscrewed. The compressed foam in between will prevent any movement around this perimeter and dampen the vibrations at the same time

    So if you followed this procedure, you can attach the clutch back to your cymbal and then on your hi-hat stand. It is done! You can test the improvement by again giving a light tap on the clutch. You will realize it now takes a much stronger hit to register. This easy fix will solve 90% of your false triggering.

    It is an easy fix, but I don't take any responsibility if you mess it up.

    Cheers.
    Last edited by Compatibilizer; 08-07-19, 03:34 PM.

  • #2
    As you can tell, I've been on a quest to dial in my VH-11 to perfectly simulate a real hi-hat. Today I stand victorious, and I will document every detail of this process. If you follow all the steps here, you will not be able to tell apart your VH-11 from a real hi-hat when playing with your eyes closed.

    1) First step is doing the vibrational decoupling I described above. This is needed to adjust your hi-hat stand spring tension higher than usual. You have to set your spring tension high because VH-11 is heavier than a real hi-hat. If you use VH-11 with a low spring tension, pedal action will not be as quick as you're used to, then you will need to adjust your foot timing differently and it will mess up your foot technique. But if you don't do the vibrational decoupling fix first, your VH-11 will give you false triggers on pedal action under high spring tension. So follow the post above, then adjust your spring tension higher until you feel your foot timing is the same with an acoustic hi-hat.

    2) This step is optional but my VH-11 needed it. The rim switch that detects an edge hit rests too deep inside the rubber cover. This is a good way to protect it against heavy hitters, but I am not one of them so I always found it hard to trigger the edge. Since I already removed the bottom cover in the first step, I also added a few layers of tape on top of the rim switch. This is done the same way as the bell fix. If you don't know what the bell fix is, just google "CY15R Bell Fix" and you will find some good videos. Only difference is you add the tape on the edge switch instead of the bell. I used blue painters tape to have it easily removable in case it didn't work, so I had to use 7 layers (blue tape is a lot thinner). It works quite well, so you can use duct tape and complete the task much faster. Probably 2 layers will be enough. After adding 7 layers of blue tape on the rim switch, my VH-11 started registering edge hits even on the lightest taps, but never had a false trigger or choke. Layers required for you may vary depending on age, playing style and even your climate. I know for a fact that rubber Roland uses change stiffness over time.

    3) This step is my favourite because it gives you a feature that is marketed as reserved to VH-12 and VH-13 only. It enables the reaction to foot pressure when your hi-hat is closed. Oh, it will also make your VH-11 more silent. And it will only cost $1 what else could you ask for? Here's what you need to do, first calibrate your VH-11 as normal using your module. If you don't know how, just google "VH-11 calibration" there are good videos. Then find the setting CC-MAX and set it to 127 or whatever the highest setting is. TD-30 has this setting right on the hi-hat calibration screen, but I know other modules have it too, just don't know which ones. This CC-MAX setting will change how bottom hi-hat controller reacts, and increases the resolution of closed hi-hat positions. At this point you will realize that your foot pedal feels extremely off. Magic happens when you drop a felt cymbal washer in between your bottom controller and top hat. Do this and play a little bit. You will be amazed when you see how natural your closed hi-hat sounds react to your foot pressure. I literally laughed out loud when I discovered this feature while I was just trying to make foot chicks more silent (the felt will also eliminate the thumping noise when playing foot chicks). Use the largest diameter felt washer you can find. If you have a spare CY-5 you're in luck, the original felt at the bottom of a CY-5 is exactly the same diameter with VH-11 bottom controller. So if you use it for this purpose, it will fully support the bottom of your top hat, which will prevent your top hat from swinging when your foot is closed, it will look and feel perfect. If use a smaller diameter felt, it will react the same, but your top hat will keep swinging a bit even when your foot is closed.

    4) At this point you should have a VH-11 that feels exactly like a real hi-hat. But it should also sound like a real hi-hat, and this last step will provide it. You may have already noticed that VH-11 has a hotspot problem. Unless you have a very low sensitivity or a modified trigger curve, hitting right on top of the piezo (exact opposite of Roland logo) will produce a much stronger response than the rest of the bow. Please don't assume that I don't know where the VH-11 trigger zone is. The response I describe here is the drastic difference between right on top of piezo and just 1/2 inch to the side. If you never realized this, set your trigger curve to LINEAR, increase sensitivity a little bit and play the bow of your hi-hat with the shoulder of your stick. This drastic change right on top of the piezo is the same hotspot issue as the one on our mesh head pads. The solution is also the same with mesh pads. We just need to use our compressor in limiter mode. When used correctly the compressor will eliminate the drastic spikes occuring on hotspots (both on VH-11 and mesh pads) without sacrificing any dynamic range.

    Some people suggest you should reduce sensitivity or use flat trigger curves like LOUD1 etc. to eliminate hotspots, but these solutions will limit your dynamic range. Don't do that, I understand some drummers prefer this limited dynamics setting (especially beginner rock/metal drummers) because it helps to keep a consistent volume throughout fast fills, but this will only reinforce bad habits. Always try to utilize the full dynamic range your e-drum offers. If the music you play requires you to keep consistent dynamics, it should be your muscles that accomplish the task not your module settings.

    To eliminate any hotspot issue without sacrificing dynamic range, just use compression and nothing else. You don't even need to tighten up your mesh head. My floor tom (pdx-100) mesh head is really loose, yet it has full dynamics and no hotspots whatsoever, zero. If I turn off its compressor though, all hell breaks loose.

    Anyways here are the compression settings that work best with my VH-11 but keep in mind that best compression settings depend on a lot of factors, so start with these settings and play around them until you're fully satisfied.

    Treshold -18 db
    Ratio 8:1
    Attack 0 ms
    Hold 220 ms
    Release 1500 ms

    Now that you got rid of the hotspot problem, you completed all the tasks, congratulations! Close your eyes and play with your new hi-hat. It should feel exactly like a real one.

    I haven't tried the VH-12 or VH-13 so I can not compare but I don't know how else my VH-11 could be any better now in terms of response and feel. I know how it came from factory and I was able to tell all it's shortcomings. Luckily I was able to fix them all. I hope this guide will help you too.

    PS: It would've been great if this was a video tutorial, but I don't have the equipment, and I didn't like the idea of uploading an amateur video on this, so I tried to explain it in detail here. Feel free to make a video tutorial of this guide if it works for you as well as it did for me.

    Take care.

    Comment


    • #3
      Great stuff, sounds plausible and fairly simple. Instead of the cheap video, maybe you could add some photos?
      •A kits: Mapex Saturn ltd. Mapex Meridian, Ludwig and Pearl snares, Paiste, Anatolian, DW5002TW•
      •SPD-SX, Roland RT triggers•
      •Ship kits: TD-12KV, TD-30K, TD-50K•

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      • #4
        This is excellent information. Thanks for posting! You should work for Roland.

        BTW, have you played a VH-10, and do you know if your fixes #1, 2, 3 are essentially part of that device's design? I'm looking to pick one up, but a used VH-11 might be a better option going with your fixes.
        Last edited by jpsquared482; 08-08-19, 07:26 AM.
        ATV aDrums & aD5, Pearl Mimic Pro & DIY, Agean R-series Silent Cymbals, Roland Handsonic HPD-20.

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        • #5
          Milos thanks, I thought a video would be more encouraging, allowing everyone to see how easy these really are, and it would certainly be easier to follow.

          ​​​​​jp^2 you're welcome, I am really happy with my VH-11 now and I am not easily satisfied when it comes to e-drums.

          Regarding your question, I haven't played the VH-10, but realized the false triggering problem was greatly reduced while watching 65Drums video "VH-10 vs VH-11" Take a look at 5:58 where Justin compares foot splashes, you'll see that VH-11 false triggers nearly on every foot open while VH-10 rarely does. That's why he finds it easier to do splashes on VH-10, but now my VH-11 splashes just as easily.

          So if you go down the VH-10 route, you won't be needing the fix #1, but you will still benefit from 2, 3 and 4.

          Comment


          • #6
            Alright I decided to upload a short video, it is not showing the procedure, but the outcome.

            Please excuse me for the video and audio quality, I had to use cheap PC speakers left from 90s, and recorded it through my phone. (I normally use headphones while playing)



            First I play some foot chicks to show thumping noise is gone.
            Then I do a few foot splashes to show vibration doesn't cause any false triggering.
            Later I move the module into view so you can follow the red LED which lights up when it detects an edge hit. Here you can check the response to quick open/close action
            Finally I show its response to different foot pressures. It is hard to hear the difference through these cheap speakers, but at least you can see how natural it moves. Sound response to foot pressure is actually near perfect when you listen through a high fidelity output.

            So tell me what you think, how does it compare with your VH-11?
            Last edited by Compatibilizer; 08-04-19, 05:13 AM.

            Comment


            • #7
              Fantastic OP, I can completely relate to everything you've written.

              I've mitigated this problem for years with delicate calibration, so the prospect of knowing a real way of improving this pedal / bow crosstalk exists with my VH-11 is certainly appealing.

              But you've also given me food for thought - just trading it for a VH-10... I always knew it was lighter, but not about the dampening till now! I was slowly leaning towards FD-9 / CY-13R combo.

              It's true what you say about higher grade hi-hat pedals too. It figures as dampening the movement is not something that would even be on the agenda of manufacturers. My only solution till now would've been to try add foam around the spring mechanism somewhere to stop the jolts through the rod.

              Hmmmm certainly a project to consider, thanks!
              ◾ Diamond Drums 4pc in Di-Noc carbon ◾ MegaDRUM
              ◾ Roland UA-1010 / cymbals / KT-10 (x2) ◾ Tama / Gibraltar hardware ◾ JBL LSR3 Series 2.1 Monitoring ◾ Pearl THMP-1
              PA Comparison Sheet

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Kabonfaiba View Post
                ... My only solution till now would've been to try add foam around the spring mechanism somewhere to stop the jolts through the rod.

                Hmmmm certainly a project to consider, thanks!
                Absolutely, thanks for reminding that, this was one of the first things I did too. My hi-hat stand used to have a small felt washer at the stopper mechanism, which was not nearly enough to absorb the shock, so added some foam there also. I forgot it was even there, but it should be another key component in eliminating this false triggering issue (or pedal/bow crosstalk as you put it, nice way to describe it by the way).

                Definitely try this fix before going into all the trouble, because I see that VH-10 still does false trigger on the rare occasion. I'm absolutely sure that I could achieve better isolation than VH-10, by just using a little sandpaper to increase the separation between top and bottom plate where I put the foam in between. At the moment I feel the foam is compressed too much in certain places, but I didn't feel the need to do that as it never false triggers for me anymore.

                Cheers.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by MilosDrummer View Post
                  Great stuff, sounds plausible and fairly simple. Instead of the cheap video, maybe you could add some photos?
                  Looks like a great solution. Can you please share some pictures of your modification?

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I am working on how to record audio directly from the module and sync it with video using Reaper. Then I will upload another video to show foot pressure response in an audible manner. I will disassemble my hi-hat again to take those pictures for you after that. But the write-up is pretty self explanatory, just start following the steps and it will be done in 15-20 mins.
                    Last edited by Compatibilizer; 08-07-19, 03:43 PM.

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                    • #11
                      Alright people, here is the video that I promised.

                      First check the links below to understand how Roland describes VH-13 as
                      "Just like an acoustic hi-hat, you can alter the closed tone by pressing harder on the pedal, and play foot splashes as well."
                      and shows off this capability in their promotional video.

                      https://www.roland.com/global/products/vh-13/
                      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_MsSzjGBNvU

                      On the other hand, VH-11 is described as
                      "VH-11 mounts on conventional hi-hat stands, and provides a similar playing feel to a 2-piece hi-hat"
                      and its promotional video shows exactly that, nothing more.

                      https://www.roland.com/global/products/vh-11/
                      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W3Dh0CQ8wlU

                      Now obviously, both of these drummers can even make an Alesis hi-hat sound like its the best one ever made, but carefully listen to their VH-11 video and realize how one-dimensional closed hi-hat sounds are. And in fact VH-11 sounds exactly like that with the factory settings, very limited tonal variation in closed hi-hat sounds. But there is another way... Enter my fix #3 and a whole new world opens up. This doesn't mean that VH-11 can do anything VH-13 is capable of, but it certainly can provide that rich tonal variation in closed hi-hat sounds through foot pressure.

                      The audio in this video was recorded directly from the TD-30 module with 24bit sound, and the final render had 2132kbps audio, which you could listen through hi-fi and hear every bit of sticking error I made during playing. Unfortunately Youtube added a second layer of processing, so it doesn't sound as good as the original render, but it is clear enough to hear what you need through any laptop speaker, still you're advised to listen through some better quality headphones.

                      Last edited by Compatibilizer; 08-07-19, 06:03 PM.

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                      • #12
                        Here are the pictures you requested, I've arranged them in order as a step by step walkthrough;



                        tutorial.jpg



                        Done!

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Yes! Thank you for taking this much effort, I wish I had my own vh11 to try this but someone else should soon come back with the results
                          •A kits: Mapex Saturn ltd. Mapex Meridian, Ludwig and Pearl snares, Paiste, Anatolian, DW5002TW•
                          •SPD-SX, Roland RT triggers•
                          •Ship kits: TD-12KV, TD-30K, TD-50K•

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                          • #14
                            Great pics and description. Seeing pictures does make a difference. When I get a chance Ill do this on my sons vh11. You also reminded me I could do with doing the cy15r fix. Ill get round to it eventually
                            Roland TD30 module on TD20 kit SD3 with various kits. Pearl Masters Kit, Yamaha 9000RC original natural wood finish. Cymbals from Zildgian Pasite and Sabian. Loads of percussion bits. Cubase and Wavelab always current versions.

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                            • #15
                              Noticing where you put the foam on the inside has given me some ideas.

                              Foam is probably the best bet - but I'm going to try some alternate materials to test a theory; is it more effective to cushion the shock or more effective to absorb it?

                              If the piezo is triggered by physical deceleration, then cushioning with foam would reduce that impact force. Looking at the disassembled clutch, I'm going to try replacing that rubber dampener and spring with two soft silicone washers instead, then add a thin layer of foam on top of the rotation stopper should sufficiently cushion upwards shocks. For the downwards shock, your foam washer on the motion sensor seems the best solution there.

                              So if the epicentre is from the clutch connected to the rod, I might actually try some sorbothane inside the VH-11 to absorb the shock before to gets to the piezo, instead of trying to pad it out. It could have adverse effect on the triggering - but I'm keen to try. I'm not too happy with the idea of leaving screws undone.

                              I won't need the tape, my edge sensor is sensitive enough.

                              Thanks for your work on this Compatibilizer!
                              ◾ Diamond Drums 4pc in Di-Noc carbon ◾ MegaDRUM
                              ◾ Roland UA-1010 / cymbals / KT-10 (x2) ◾ Tama / Gibraltar hardware ◾ JBL LSR3 Series 2.1 Monitoring ◾ Pearl THMP-1
                              PA Comparison Sheet

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