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Modern Drummer Article Acoustic vs Elect.

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  • Modern Drummer Article Acoustic vs Elect.

    Anybody read the latest MD article titled, "Acoustic VS. Electric in the Studio"?

    I was shocked to hear the "big" shots say they don't use the V's that much (if at all). And for JR Robinson (who initially was a big v drum endorser) to say how amazing the DTXtreme was - I was very surprised!

    We talk about how to tweek the V's to get an acoustic sound and these guys seem to imply that he electronic stuff isn't used that much! I can't believe it - the V's are awesome in the studio.

    What do you guys think about this? Are we all barking up the wrong tree? I don't think so.

  • #2
    Originally posted by Harlock:
    ...budgetwise, Vs are better. But with 'almost' unlimited recording budget, acoustics are better with the right studio & equipment.
    More common, certainly. But the advantages of e's are more pronounced the further you go below the pro recording level. At that highest level, mike placement, rattle, crosstalk, headroom, feedback, effects, eq, mix, etc., are handled routinely with very specialized and expensive gear. Even in the higher end of the mid level studios these issues that e's help with can sometimes pose challenges with a's. As you get into the more run of the mill studios, you get pot luck. Some are crap, some are outstanding.

    But remember to compare apples and apples. Acoustic drums still require proper miking, isolation and effects to perform adequately for professional commercial recording. Pro studios have all the gear and are extensively familiar with this instrument and the techniques required. Also, fewer drummers play the newer e instruments, and it requires some additional effort to stand up at that same level. And it also has some tradeoffs.

    First, to perform at that level, keep in mind that your module's effects, no matter how convenient for out of the box practice, are rudimentary. When used well, they can produce previously elusive amateur results, but in a commercial application, the signals would need to be dry (or even possibly the drums would only be used to trigger much higher quality samples from a sampler). Fact is, the sample quality of contemporary modules just isnt' that great, even though CD's will eventually be dithered to 16 bit. But that is o.k., the same effects those studios use for acoustics can be applied to the e's, and they can work with dry V quality samples or better sufficiently if need be.

    So what's the problem? Use in general still falls in favor of a's because they are more comfortable to a wider range of musicians and studios because of familiarity, and they currently remain more subtly expressive. Also, at the highest level, there is little interest in reinventing the wheel. It would take extra effort to trigger e sounds in most cases, and if it is being done to generate something like an acoustic sound, there is little point. Pro studios' A/D converters will capture an actual a sound as good or better than anything you will trigger from a contemporary module, and will also capture the very subtle nuances which are also familiar to the ear and to work with for the engineers. If it ain't broke don't fix it and don't try to build it out of something new. (It is considered to be a superfluous step that has the potential to introduce problems, with seemingly little advantage over the real thing at this level.)

    The main reason an e drum might be used in a commercial production today, would be to do something that an acoustic drum can't (sonically i.e. non-traditional sounds), or due to the artists endorsement(s)/insistance, but almost never to produce a traditional drum sound. The instrument would simply be made available and recorded without the limitations of weak samples and/or effects and/or 127 levels of velocity (not an issue with ddrum I know) but you get the point.

    To the other 98% of drummers the e's represent additional advantages in recording that make them highly convenient and desireable to work with. They are a dream come true to the home recordist.

    All that said, we are talking very esoteric here. Some incredible things can be accomplished on e's, with relative ease, and even with modest recording equipment. That's nothing to sneeze at. If you have an unlimited budget and you are looking for sonic perfection, a's offer a lot of subtle coaxes of sound that don't translate to e's, and e's boxed sounds are weak. E's as triggers for samples do compete, but this is unnecessary in the no budget world unless you are after a specific set of sounds you can't get with a's.

    Comment


    • #3
      A high end studio gets a world class drummer, who only plays acoustic drums. He enters the studio and there sits a beautiful TD-10 with the module sound set for fantastic recording. He hates "electric" drums, so what does the studio do? Get an acoustic kit, and processes it up with all the toys. From my findings, drummers in general are not that fond of "electric" drums. With that said, no matter how good the E Drums are, even if they are better in the studio than acoustics, their will always be that narrow minded drummer that just has to use acoustics no matter what. Every drummer using and appreciating E Drums are the minority. We the underdogs, the experimenters, the open minded cutting edge people that will try something new even though it goes against what the masses prefer. Personally, I think E Drums are a lot better than acoustics in many applications. Recording is one. I'd rather use E drums in a studio. For every one of me, there are hundreds of drummers, perhaps thousands that feel differently towards E Drums. Chances of E drums not getting a fair shake, and a bad rap is very good. It will take years of education before acoustic drummers find out what e drums are really about.

      Comment


      • #4
        Dr Kildrum,
        I just want to say that I find your posts not only entertaining and interesting, but informative as well.
        I hope you type more quickly than I, or else that would have taken you a month to type.


        As for my own less polished opinion on this, I think that people are either recording with Acoustics because they feel more comfortable with them, or because they're afraid to break out of the status quo. Look at Raymond Herrera, who triggers everything for the studio and uses triggers live also, but still clings to that ugly acoustic set.

        Why?

        I don't have an answer, but I'd be fairly annoyed if I found out that any of these tired geezers had some moral or traditional delema with Electronic drums.

        After all they're taking an acoustic kit and using every trick under the sun to make it sound the way they want it to, be it mic placement or tons of various effects that don't happen with just a set of drums and a mic. So they take an acoustic set and **** the **** out of it so it sounds wonderful.

        I'm not saying it's the same thing, but I'd question anyone that objected to Vs simply for their completely digital sound, versus an analog sound that's been put through the musical rock tumbler.

        If, on the other hand, they just like the feel of acoustics better....well then, to each his own.

        BINARY

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by BINARY:
          Dr Kildrum,
          I just want to say that I find your posts not only entertaining and interesting, but informative as well.
          Thanks, BINARY. Ditto.
          Originally posted by BINARY:
          I hope you type more quickly than I, or else that would have taken you a month to type.
          Hmm. Too much spare time spent at lap top on road makes for good typing skills. That and diarrhea of the mouth makes for a locquacious combo.

          FWIW, most of the name players that I have been around in the studio with triggers, mainly use them to supplement or color the acoustic sounds. Rarely straight triggered sound. Most say they want to retain the expression characteristics of the acoustic drums they are comfortable with or at least that's the party line.

          For the record, I don't think there is anything wrong with e drums for recording even at the highest level if you are willing to go about it right. I would respect an engineers likely advice of triggering at least 24 bit dry professional samples rather than plug and play retail stuff, and let them color with effects to my specs, in a serious project, but short of that, I know just in my own meager studio I can get (if I do say so myself) pretty f'in good results with just TD-6 and TD-10 (which I often do for a scratch track). It's so much better than what I'm used to, it is really quite a luxury.

          For actual tracks, I prefer to trigger an Akai sampler and layer dry sounds, adding effects afterwards with outboard gear, and handling any eq in the mix and compression (if needed) at mastering, but all that is not necessary. One of the superb aspects of e's, is that they are so adaptive to what you want from them. With just a TD-6 and your triggers of choice, you can get amazing music with so many options and cushy bonus features, everything else is just gravy.

          I frankly would love to see e-drums push the envelope and record more big time popular music, not just ultra processed sounding e-drums, either, mainstream music...I sometimes wonder which one of you is going to step up to the plate first and hit one out.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by dr. kildrum:
            I prefer to trigger an Akai sampler and layer dry sounds

            I second that emotion



            ~BIN

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by BINARY:
              If, on the other hand, they just like the feel of acoustics better....well then, to each his own.

              BINARY
              Mark, this one sentence speaks volumes. I am one to admit that I definitely prefer the "feel" of acoustics over the E's. But more importantly than how I feel, is how I play. And in the case of A's, I do know my chops are way better than with the E's. Therefore, even though I am open-minded enough to appreciate the advantages of E's, - in the studio, that's me being recorded and I would definitely want to go down doing my utmost best.

              My $0.02,
              -Marc.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Marc.:
                Mark, this one sentence speaks volumes. I am one to admit that I definitely prefer the "feel" of acoustics over the E's. But more importantly than how I feel, is how I play. And in the case of A's, I do know my chops are way better than with the E's. Therefore, even though I am open-minded enough to appreciate the advantages of E's, - in the studio, that's me being recorded and I would definitely want to go down doing my utmost best.

                My $0.02,
                -Marc.

                Well, I hauled out my accoustics last night to sub in a local blues band. First time in over 18 months, I played the A's. They felt -

                are you ready?

                Just like my V's. Since I use accoustic cymbals on my V's, there was little to no difference in feel. Sure, the side stick on the snare was a little different (couldn't figure out why I didn't have to have the stick on BOTH sides of the rim for a minute!).

                So - I no longer buy the expressiveness issue - at least for how I play. The MAIN difference to me was the volume levels.

                You may all open up your whuppass now.

                - Hans
                - Hans

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by hmasing:
                  So - I no longer buy the expressiveness issue - at least for how I play. The MAIN difference to me was the volume levels.

                  You may all open up your whuppass now.

                  - Hans

                  Are you saying that if you put your acoustic and V-snare side by side, you can replicate every expressive nuance you can get from the a-snare with the e-snare? I'm talking every bit of the dynamics, the variety of tones based on attack and position, etc., etc., etc.?

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by dr. kildrum:[BR]
                    Are you saying that if you put your acoustic and V-snare side by side, you can replicate every expressive nuance you can get from the a-snare with the e-snare? I'm talking every bit of the dynamics, the variety of tones based on attack and position, etc., etc., etc.?[/B]
                    Well, of course not. But you don't drive a race car to haul manure, either. They *are* different instruments. But -

                    When banging 2 and 4 on a backbeat, I found out that except for minor differences in technique, the A's played about the same as the V's. Sure, I'll admit I liked the FEEL of the accoustic snare a little more - it felt a little more solid. Probably because it's a 14" head compared to a 12" head, and I play a really meaty Premiere 7" deep snare that sits nice and high. But - I found that I get much better/cleaner open stroke rolls on the V's, for example, and my ghost strokes were a little better on the V's. I have played them exclusively, like I said, for the past year and a half - so I may have to adjust my technique again to play the A's, but - I dig my V's, and will use them in the studio when I record with this band (turns out I am now their "A" drummer).

                    Since Swamp Blues bands don't fit the metaphor of electronic drums, I'm going to play the A's for this gig for now. I *may* trigger them through my TD-10, tho! Put on mesh heads and rim triggers and go from there.

                    - Hans

                    - Hans

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by hmasing:
                      Since I use accoustic cymbals on my V's, there was little to no difference in feel.
                      Hans, a mixed set does not count. Especially so, since the cymbals are struck many, many more times than the drums (unless, of course, you're one of them 'bad-ass fill' types, but still ...).

                      Go sell it to someone else. I'm not buyin' it.

                      ----
                      -~

                      ps. And pay attention. The topic deals with studio recording - far different than playin' with live w/the 'local blues band'.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I have to disagree with the analogy provided by 'hmasing'. I've used the same car to both haul a few bags of bark mulch (which contains manure) and race in a weekend autocross. Of course, I wasn't trying to record either event.



                        Here's what I really want to know: Why does everyone else get their Modern Drummer before I do?



                        William Reeves - President
                        Logistix Productions, Inc

                        http://www.logiztix.com

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I live in Connecticut, and even the drummer who lives two houses down from me gets his MD before I do! It's not fair! Whine, *****, moan! (My wife taught me that, I'm already better at it than she is!)

                          Stu,
                          on a caffeine high
                          "Fry that sound effect, Moriarty, we're having it for breakfast"

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Thought I'd chime in on this, since I go back and forth between A's and E's weekly... I play the A's an average of one night a week, and the E's about 3 nights a week.

                            Since I use acoustic cymbals on both, some might think I'm not making a fair comparison, but I've also used electronic cymbals before, too, for rehearsal/gigging/recording and quite simply, they suck. Although I've only demo'd the V-cymbals, they do feel a little more like a real cymbal than a fixed pad. This doesn't address my main issue, though.

                            I feel that, although I'm not a huge jazz guy, cymbals are perhaps the most expressive part of a drum kit. Some might argue that the snare is, which I agree with in some situations, but I don't think that anything else has the infinite variety of sound and dynamics that cymbals do. I played with a couple of different modules, but the cymbals always sounded "canned" and unnatural. When I added the acoustic cymbals to my V-Pro kit, I truly fell in love with it.

                            The snare is nowhere near as expressive as a good acoustic snare. I have some nice A snares, and I love to play them... For the music that my main band does, though, the 5,000 levels of dynamics aren't really necessary. The E drums provide a consistency and instantly interchangeable bank of sounds that work well for many applications. Yes, you can play a buzz roll, after a fashion. Ditto for cross-sticking, flams, ghost strokes, and a variety of other nuance-dependent techniques. It doesn't do those things as well as an acoustic snare, though. Kinda like, a Honda Shadow is a nice motorcycle, but it isn't a Harley and never will be. Appreciate it for what it is. I'll keep my Harley, though.

                            I think (and don't take this the wrong way) that one big thing about e-drums is that they are more forgiving of poor technique. They can make a mediocre player sound much better than he is. You can "dial up" certain sounds, dynamic levels, and settings that will allow a neophyte drummer to create sounds and patterns that would require a talented and experienced drummer to achieve on acoustics.

                            Trust me, this isn't a slam on E-only drummers, since I play my E's the majority of the time. They really are apples and oranges, though. The V-drums are great for what they are, which is an electronic percussion instrument, but they are not and will not replace acoustic drums. 2 different animals, and each have their place.

                            I remember a guy on this forum awhile back talking about taking drum lessons for the first time, and the teacher pointing out to him that he had poor technique as a result of learning to play exclusively on E-drums. He had to learn much more finesse and control to play as well on acoustic drums as he did on the E's.

                            I've found that, at least for me, occasionally playing on the acoustics keeps me "honest" with my technique. You have to be firm and consistent with your kicks, because there is no dynamics curve to adjust in order to cover up your inconsistencies. An acoustic snare has no rim trigger to sound out that perfect rim shot every time - you have to be precise and consistent. If you want your tom fills to sing out on acoustic drums, you have make sure you are playing with the appropriate dynamics and technique to work with your head selection and tuning.

                            I guess my meandering point is that I love E-drums for what they are. Easy to play, record, gig with, consistent, and flexible. If I want unlimited endurance, I can use lighter sticks and increase the dynamic sensitivity.

                            Acoustic drums have nuances that no amount of sampling or modeling can capture. They make you work for what you get, and are a much more physical and tactile experience.

                            I'll never give up either, and will use both to play, record, and perform live. I won't be an extremist (read: closed-minded) on either side. Any drummer who scorns or avoids either A's or E's is missing half the fun.

                            -Danny


                            [This message has been edited by fartnokker (edited October 19, 2001).]
                            -Danny

                            Build a man a fire, and he'll be warm for a day. Set a man on fire, and he'll be warm for the rest of his life.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Well stated!
                              Steve

                              'I only ever quote myself - except when I quote someone else' - me

                              , plenty of , and , , triggered acoustics, , and a plethora of PA blah blah freakin blah...I mean does anyone care about the specifics of pedals, speakers, processors, hardware or anything that I'm using?? :confused: Hmmm, maybe this is an appropriate place to mention that I tried out a new cymbal stand the other day...

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