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E-Drum Perception

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  • E-Drum Perception

    First let me preface this post with my background. I have been playing percussion for over 15 years, and drum set for around 6 years. Up until about a year ago, I had only dealt strictly with acoustic drums. My journey began into the world of electronics by starting out with triggering my bass drums.

    In the past few months, I have been struggling with properly micing my acoustic drums. There always seems to be something off with the sound. Too boomy, too much resonance, too much bleed from other instruments, etc. I started looking into compressors, limiters, and all those expensive things and got very frustrated. Last weekend I added internal triggers to my acoustic drums (I am sticking with standard metal cymbals). The batter and resonant heads are both muted by Remo Muffls. They trigger quite well, but I have now sacrificed my entire acoustic sound. The raw drums sound something similar to cardboard. I’ve essentially made myself a very over-weight electronic kit, when it all boils down. This has led me to an internal conflict, one that I have been trying to find the answer to.

    Part of me has always had something feel “off” about electronic drums. It’s something about the visual perception that I find less appealing than that of an acoustic kit. Over the past few days, I have been asking musical and non-musical people about their general opinion on electronic drums. I find that much more often than not, they too prefer acoustic kits based solely on visual ascetics alone. I have been trying to figure out where my, and apparently a lot of other people’s, prejudice against the perception of e-drums comes from. Others have also stated that they feel e-drums are “easier” to play, taking less “skill”. I think we can ALL agree that this notion is grossly mistaken.

    I could easily stick with what I have going now (a hybrid), triggered acoustics; but, what is the point of breaking my back hauling around a 7 piece kit that could be easily ¼ the size and weight? I believe that part of this divide comes from e-drums being “too perfect”. They lack the sometimes inconsistent nature of acoustic drums that can be an integral part of their sound. A very good correlation that I can make is the comparison of a grand piano to an electronic keyboard. This holds an almost identical situation as the drums. For whatever reason, my psyche has an easier time accepting the pianos than the drums, though.

    Can anyone help me to understand where this generalized perception of e-drums comes from?

  • #2
    This is much-discussed topic at this forum as you might imagine. For me the pro-acoustic prejudice stems from several sources;

    1. They're what people have come to know as "real drums".
    2. A "real" instrument (i.e. the grand piano you cited) has a large measure of what I call "authority" because it is an authentic instrument. No one will ever say of a grand piano, no matter how bad it sounds, that it doesn't sound like a grand piano. Same goes for drums.
    3. A big shiny drum kit with lots of cymbals is a visual circus. This is why the Kodo drummers and Blue Man Group are so popular. People are not just after the sound when it comes to drums - the also enjoy the visual spectacle.

    I will tell you one member of the group who will LOVE an ekit - the sound man. No more problems caused by a dozen mics, cables, feedback, bleedover, etc. This aspect, and reason 3 above are the two main reasons edrums are so widely used in churches. They don't distract from the worship leader as much, and they can be dealt with reasonably well by amateur sound technicians.

    The reason your psyche has less of a hard time accepting an electronic piano over edrums is that electronic keyboards have been around a lot longer. There are very few acts who can afford to transport and maintain a grand piano, and the ability to call up a Hammond B3, strings, pipe organ, piano, etc. is just too good a deal to pass up anyway.

    The "too perfect" aspect you speak of is what I would call "nuance", and edrums have a long way to go in that respect. Roland is inching closer with positional sensing and interval sensing - the TD20s is a truly amazing work of technology. Many improvements are still to be made, though.

    As we edrummers learn to exploit the advantages of our instruments, they will gain wider acceptance. If we just use them as a replacement for acoustic drums, it will take much longer.
    I’d rather be told the ugly truth than handed a pretty lie.

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    • #3
      I am currently plugging into a TD-20. I can agree, that it some of the best sounding kits I have heard. Another point I have pondered: How many modern artists use e-drums in the studio, and gig with an acoustic set? I wonder if the numbers would be surprising. In my opinion, professionally mic'd drums (with all the bells an whistles) sometimes sound like what modern modules can produce.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by danovotny View Post
        In my opinion, professionally mic'd drums (with all the bells an whistles) sometimes sound like what modern modules can produce.
        Correct me if I'm wrong, but isnt that what drum modules are trying to acheive ? i.e. sound like the real-miked-compressed-EQed-FXed acoustic kit. And thats the reason why they are not widly acepted yet, some people think they don't sound like drums. (sounds like a vicious circle to me!)


        Keyboards have been a long for longer and have been more widly accepted amongst keyboardist too I think.

        Seems like synth were made to widen the keyboard players possibilites.

        WHile the edrum was made to replace the acoustic drum -- wich is likly to be much more complicated and have more chance of failing as a widly accepted musical instrument.

        I got my own little twisted solution to this whole mess.

        I just tell anyone who wants to know that acoustic and electronic drums are 2 different musical instruments and that I happen to play the electronic kind.

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        • #5
          Or, just describe your acoustic set at the kit you play when you want to go "unplugged".

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          • #6
            i like to use the Guitar as an analogy for the argument for or against v-drums/acoustic drums - way back in the early 1950's Leo Fender took a lot of criticism for his first incarnation of the solid bodied electric guitar, the "Broadcaster". many acoustic players jeered saying it was just a novelty, but how wrong they were. we now know the electric guitar has its own limitless possibilities and today lives happily alongside acoustics, it was never intended to replace anything but is now an integral part of most jazz and rock bands. i see electronic v-drums fulfilling its own spectacular niche in the world of percussion but never replacing acoustic instruments, many like myself love the look of acoustic drums and have managed to incorporate electronics into an acoustic set successfully, but have an acoustic set on hand so as to not miss out on any "nuances" therein - but as electronic modules become more sophisticated the percussion /recording scene will definitely get more interesting!
            http://vdrums.com/forum/showthread.p...760#post301760
            :cool:
            ;)

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            • #7
              And then there was when Dylan went electric...
              Man, we have come a long way since then. E-drums need to go a little further in people's minds, however.

              Wikipedia: Electric Dylan controversy

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              • #8
                Im of the old school and think A's will never be replaced. Not on stage anyway. As much as I like playing these E's (for my own satisfaction) I know I would'nt feel right with them on stage. Yea there great at producing the perfect sound, but you dont need the energy that A's require and transmit, and in my world, its the energy and the feel transmitted that counts.
                Ive never played E's on stage so I dont really know so this is just my perseption. Just to sit down behind a full A kit made me feel like God.

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                • #9
                  Would it be possible through proper module settings (mask time, retrigger, etc), to trigger unmuffled acoustic drums?

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                  • #10
                    Good point

                    Originally posted by John.b View Post
                    Im of the old school and think A's will never be replaced. Not on stage anyway. As much as I like playing these E's (for my own satisfaction) I know I would'nt feel right with them on stage. Yea there great at producing the perfect sound, but you dont need the energy that A's require and transmit, and in my world, its the energy and the feel transmitted that counts.
                    Ive never played E's on stage so I dont really know so this is just my perseption. Just to sit down behind a full A kit made me feel like God.
                    Good point John, don't get me wrong, I'm an avid vdrum player, want to gig with them (have only had the opportunity 3 times), but a question to all, would you rather sit behind a maxed out td20 or a totally maxed out acoustic kit.

                    Obviously Neil Peart has got it right with his 360 kit!



                    http://www.vdrums.com/forum/showthread.php?t=41835

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Charly View Post
                      Would it be possible through proper module settings (mask time, retrigger, etc), to trigger unmuffled acoustic drums?
                      Probably. Have you considered converting your kit using mesh heads? A lot of people use this approach, keeping the cymbals as you have suggested.

                      Originally posted by Charly View Post
                      would you rather sit behind a maxed out td20 or a totally maxed out acoustic kit.
                      If I had a road crew to lug the beast around and set it up for me, sure! Same way a keyboard player would prefer a grand piano and a Hammond B3 with a Leslie amp and a pipe organ. Same way the Moody Blues would like to have toured with a full orchestra.

                      E-drums solve a great many practical problems, but are not the ultimate performance instrument. I think that triggered samples will be used more and more as sound technicians find how much easier they are to deal with, but the crowd will always love the big kit with the flashy cymbals and the 8-foot gong in back, even if everything is a triggered sample.
                      I’d rather be told the ugly truth than handed a pretty lie.

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                      • #12
                        I have considered mesh heads. But agian, I would then truly essentially be transporting an oversized 7 piece kit. If I could get them to their natural sound, as well as being triggered, I could maybe justify it. Perhaps I just need to put some more time and effort into just micing them?

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                        • #13
                          I use my electronic drums on stage all the time. However, I did solve my perception problem by remounting my rolands into small acoustic drums. The result is a versitile set that fits into 4 suitcases and a cymbal bag. I use solid bottom heads painted black and mesh heads on top. Personaly I like the look of the black & white Roland V cymbals. My kit is black, white and chrome and I think it just looks right. On stage I am so used to having everything I desire at the push of a button-timbales, congas, bongos, 5 good sounding sets of toms, tamborines, cowbells, and on and on, that an A set just seems so backwards and limiting to me these days. The band I work with DEMANDS an e-drummer and I get paid pretty well so it must be working. I think that the more we have drummers who go out and use the E/V-drums in public and are proud instead of sensitive about it-the quicker they will catch on. But then again, I'm an old guy and I don't like to move heavy stuff around and really don't give s**t what other people think.

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                          • #14
                            Hello to all: I am new to this panel and have seen some interesting articles from several people all concerning Edrums. My name is **** Gail and I go by the name of "TECHNOKING" I have a very different story and message than most. Have been involved with Edrums for over 15years and if interested have several thoughts on this subject. My rig is 83 rack spaces for my E Drum Kit alone.

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                            • #15
                              Electronic Drums were not created so that drummers could play drums. Drums exist as their own sound acoustically. Electronic triggering called edrums were created with the idea in mind to allow any drummer who COULD play - to play any sound he could dream of creating and then apply this to creating music by playing or triggering these creations musically, in a rhythmic, polyrythmic or atonal format. This opened the door for great drummers to create an entire new format - and led the way for drummers that were also musicians to move on to other controllers and creating some new creative percussive led and odd toned rythmns and music.

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