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Positional Sensing - Do You Care?

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  • Positional Sensing - Do You Care?

    I am still going back and forth on what direction I want to go with my new setup. I cant decide on just getting the Roland VAD506, a Roland digital upgrade package with the new snare, TD27, and 18 digital ride (June release date), or older Roland module and all DIY with Jerry ISM-6 triggers tom/snare. The primary advantage Roland has other than resell value of a complete VAD kit is the positional sensing. Regardless of what kit I go with, I will also be using Superior Drummer 3. As I have been giving more and more thought to the topic, it occurred to me that I have never used or thought of positional snare sounds on my acoustic kits. My genre of choice is top-40 pop/rock/classic rock//big-hair/grunge rock from the 70's through the early 90's. I play center of the snare with varying velocities ranging from ghost notes to hard strikes and rim shots. I assume the positional sensing is more of a brush and jazz style application. For those that use positional sensing, what is your application and how are you using it? For those who once had it and no longer have it, do you miss it?
    Last edited by csnow; 01-30-20, 10:00 AM.

  • #2
    Struggled with this decision when I bought by TD-17 setup. Ultimately I did not care enough to make it the deciding factor. I couldn't remember many times when I used the entirety of my acoustic drum head so I just went with the TD-17. Looking back, I don't regret it and I value more variety in the samples more than PS, which is why I'm currently researching a VST setup.
    Drum-Tec 5-piece Jam Series, TD-17 (drum-tec LSE), VH-11, CY-12, CY-13R

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    • #3
      Strike position on an acoustic snare is a big deal.

      Changing position affects the timbre and is also a key way of achieving vastly different dynamics (volume-wise). I naturally play all my ghost strokes towards the edge of the snare, for example.

      I haven't really seen anything that on an electronic snare that feels like it comes anywhere near to reflecting the dynamics of a real drum, though. I have a TD-50 and while the positional sensing is nice it's really not "realistic."

      May be different on a VST but it seems to me the number of zones is way too limited for a natural feeling.
      Roland TD-50 Digital Pack, Mapex V shells + UFO eBridge triggers.

      Comment


      • #4
        PS is like a cherry on the top. I could probably live without it, but it's nice to have an extra tone. I only hit off-center for grace notes and of course you have to keep in mind if you play along to songs it will be even less noticeable within the mix. BUT: I think it helps tell me when I hit off-center unintentionally. It kind of makes sure I'm accurate with my striking.

        No hot spotting is a lot more important than PS for me and from what I understand those trigger from Jman are multi-sensor so you'd be good.

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        • #5
          I agree 100% on the hot spotting. I will never go back to a center mounted trigger.

          Comment


          • #6
            no/reduced hot spotting >>>> positional sensing.
            Alesis STRIKE, PD-85 rack toms, PD-105BK floor tom, Mapex snare with ISM-6, PDP MX 22" kick with ISM, iron cobra 900 double pedal, hart e-cymbal2, CY-5 as splash, CY-8, CY-12R, L80 hi-hat with cheap-o trigger with goedrum hi hat controller. EZdrummer2+EZX/Addictive Drums 2 VSTs.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by winterson View Post
              no/reduced hot spotting >>>> positional sensing.
              Agreed, but that isn't an issue with the new Roland snare. I am just trying to determine if it is worth the extra coin to have the positional sensing and the digital ride. From the initial response, the answer appears to be no.

              Comment


              • #8
                Care? Nah.
                *** Never buy a module without MIDI IN ***
                Yamaha & Roland modules. DTX,TM-2, EC-10, EC10m, SP-404. Multi12. TrapKat. ControlPads. Octapad, SamplePad, Wavedrum. Handsonic. Dynacord RhythmStick. MPC. Paiste 2002/Signatures. Cajons. Djembes. Darbuka. Windsynth. MIDI Bass. Tenori-on. Zoom ARQ. Synths. Ukes.

                Comment


                • #9
                  csnow,

                  On acoustic drums, for the musical situations I often play, strike position is very important. And in general, strike position on every drum and cymbal is critical to me, because this is a hugely expressive aspect of the instrument and of my creativity and musicality.

                  For example, on the snare drum and toms, when playing Bossa Nova comping patterns, I play the entire head so as to achieve different textures and dynamic levels. On toms, this is especially useful when playing Latin and other world music, because strike position affects rim shots too. So, I use strike position for emulating timbale and other percussion sounds. For backbeat oriented music, like rock and funk, even though a consistent backbeat is the foundation, still, I play lots of accents and ghost notes all over the drums, for added texture and dynamics. Also, I play brushes quite frequently and with brushes position is everything - to achieve different brush sounds and effects, one plays the entire surface of every drum and cymbal.

                  Another example of position expression is flams. Sometimes I play flams dead center. Other times I play flams with the pickup note off center and the loud note dead center. Sometimes I reverse the position of the pickup and loud notes. Or, I play the pickup note closer to the edge of the snare and the loud note dead center on a tom. The permutations are endless, which is why strike position is such an expressive element of drumming and percussion instruments in general.

                  When I first started playing a Roland flagship kit (TD-30KV), I found the kit extremely limiting. A huge part of this is the poor positional detection. Yes, these flagship kits have positional sensing, but it provides nothing like the expressiveness of position on acoustic drums. Then you add hot spots and the kit becomes a royal pain to play. You're constantly adjusting and fighting the hot spots, but they never really go away. So you lose the expressiveness of position and the dynamics are wonky and all over the map. I have to think much harder when playing the Roland kit, because it only translates 25% of what I play into it; 75% is lost. And what it does translate, it often gets incorrect due to hot spots. Ouch!

                  Ironically, the best positional sensing on the kit seems to be the ride cymbal; it responds to different areas of the bow, shank accents, edge glances, and other ride cymbal techniques quite well. Bell detection is awful (though) and totally unreliable. I gave up on the Roland bells (I have more than one ride) and created my own solution for bell triggering.

                  So, back to your question. Given how limited positional sensing is in Roland modules, it's pretty much a no brainer to give this up in exchange for accurate and linear dynamic response. I've played pretty much every Roland kit with the exception of the new VAD and TD-27 kits. The TD-17KVX was a revelation. For the first time, on a Roland kit, I could play and not worry much about dynamic response. True, the TD-11 kits have side-mounted triggers and other low-end Roland kits also have side-mounted triggers or pads where hot spots are not an issue. The problem with these kits is their sound engines have such limited samples that once again dynamic and textural response become issues. TD-17KVX is the first Roland kit I've played where hot spots are gone, machine gunning is gone, and the dynamic response is fairly linear, reliable, and musical - what I play in is what I get out and I don't have to worry about avoiding the center of the drums.

                  Wrapping up, my summary answer is: to me, no machine gunning and no hot spots are both far more important than positional sensing. However, if I could have no machine gunning, no hot spots, and positional sensing, that would be the ideal situation. That said, underlining once more, at the most basic level, if I had to chose between no hot spots and no positional sensing versus hot spots and positional sensing, I'd choose prior over the later.

                  Hope this helps with your decision making. :-)

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    From what you say about how you play you don’t need it. I use it as I use the clangy sound of a snare when hit near the edge on my acoustic kit a lot and miss it if I can’t have it on my ekit.
                    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.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Thank everyone. I finalized my decision this afternoon and went with the Roland digital upgrade pack with the TD50, digital ride, and snare. I think this will provide the best playing interface to Superior Drummer. I am going to A2E my toms and use Roland hats and cymbals. My bass drum is already a Pearl Tru-Trac which I really like.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by TangTheHump View Post
                        csnow,

                        On acoustic drums, for the musical situations I often play, strike position is very important. And in general, strike position on every drum and cymbal is critical to me, because this is a hugely expressive aspect of the instrument and of my creativity and musicality.

                        For example, on the snare drum and toms, when playing Bossa Nova comping patterns, I play the entire head so as to achieve different textures and dynamic levels. On toms, this is especially useful when playing Latin and other world music, because strike position affects rim shots too. So, I use strike position for emulating timbale and other percussion sounds. For backbeat oriented music, like rock and funk, even though a consistent backbeat is the foundation, still, I play lots of accents and ghost notes all over the drums, for added texture and dynamics. Also, I play brushes quite frequently and with brushes position is everything - to achieve different brush sounds and effects, one plays the entire surface of every drum and cymbal.

                        Another example of position expression is flams. Sometimes I play flams dead center. Other times I play flams with the pickup note off center and the loud note dead center. Sometimes I reverse the position of the pickup and loud notes. Or, I play the pickup note closer to the edge of the snare and the loud note dead center on a tom. The permutations are endless, which is why strike position is such an expressive element of drumming and percussion instruments in general.

                        When I first started playing a Roland flagship kit (TD-30KV), I found the kit extremely limiting. A huge part of this is the poor positional detection. Yes, these flagship kits have positional sensing, but it provides nothing like the expressiveness of position on acoustic drums. Then you add hot spots and the kit becomes a royal pain to play. You're constantly adjusting and fighting the hot spots, but they never really go away. So you lose the expressiveness of position and the dynamics are wonky and all over the map. I have to think much harder when playing the Roland kit, because it only translates 25% of what I play into it; 75% is lost. And what it does translate, it often gets incorrect due to hot spots. Ouch!

                        Ironically, the best positional sensing on the kit seems to be the ride cymbal; it responds to different areas of the bow, shank accents, edge glances, and other ride cymbal techniques quite well. Bell detection is awful (though) and totally unreliable. I gave up on the Roland bells (I have more than one ride) and created my own solution for bell triggering.

                        So, back to your question. Given how limited positional sensing is in Roland modules, it's pretty much a no brainer to give this up in exchange for accurate and linear dynamic response. I've played pretty much every Roland kit with the exception of the new VAD and TD-27 kits. The TD-17KVX was a revelation. For the first time, on a Roland kit, I could play and not worry much about dynamic response. True, the TD-11 kits have side-mounted triggers and other low-end Roland kits also have side-mounted triggers or pads where hot spots are not an issue. The problem with these kits is their sound engines have such limited samples that once again dynamic and textural response become issues. TD-17KVX is the first Roland kit I've played where hot spots are gone, machine gunning is gone, and the dynamic response is fairly linear, reliable, and musical - what I play in is what I get out and I don't have to worry about avoiding the center of the drums.

                        Wrapping up, my summary answer is: to me, no machine gunning and no hot spots are both far more important than positional sensing. However, if I could have no machine gunning, no hot spots, and positional sensing, that would be the ideal situation. That said, underlining once more, at the most basic level, if I had to chose between no hot spots and no positional sensing versus hot spots and positional sensing, I'd choose prior over the later.

                        Hope this helps with your decision making. :-)
                        I think TangTheHump is "spot" on. Having said that, the TD-50 and TD-27 with the digital ride and snare seem to offer the best of both worlds, PS and no hot spots.
                        ATV aDrums & aD5, Pearl Mimic Pro & DIY, Agean R-series Silent Cymbals, Roland Handsonic HPD-20.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by csnow View Post
                          Thank everyone. I finalized my decision this afternoon and went with the Roland digital upgrade pack with the TD50, digital ride, and snare. I think this will provide the best playing interface to Superior Drummer. I am going to A2E my toms and use Roland hats and cymbals. My bass drum is already a Pearl Tru-Trac which I really like.
                          Your choice and all, but you made this thread to ask about value for money and then you get the TD50 digital upgrade which provides less value for more money than even the TD27 digital upgrade pack?

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Excessium View Post

                            Your choice and all, but you made this thread to ask about value for money and then you get the TD50 digital upgrade which provides less value for more money than even the TD27 digital upgrade pack?
                            Second this, I would buy the VAD506 outright if I was starting from scratch. Best of all worlds.
                            Roland TD-50 Digital Pack, Mapex V shells + UFO eBridge triggers.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              If you aren't using TD50 sounds, just triggering VST, then it makes most sense to buy the most expressive pads with the cheapest brain.
                              Regarding positional sensing - it is probably better to have it than not. In the genres the OP mentions, consistent sound is absolutely key. So when recording on acoustic drums I will be playing every drum in the centre of the head and trying to keep all the drum hits 100% consistent in timbre.
                              The very opposite of jazz, latin etc....
                              Toontrack sample libraries offer edge hits (at a minimum). So with a multi-zone pad you can play centre head, then hit off centre for a different tone.

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