New Gear 2009: Electronics
By DRUM! Staff Originally published in DRUM! Magazine's 2009 Trade Show New Products Report
The DRUM! crew hit the 2009 NAMM trade show with a full complement of photographers, video gear and extra freelance writers designed to help us cover every single new product our readers might see in the coming year. At the end of it all, we had amassed specs and info on more than 450 products. Here's our Electronics report. Look for related stories on drum sets, hand drums, cymbals, hardware, accessories, sticks ... well, you get the idea.2Box
Swedish company 2Box wowed us with the DrumIt Five electronic kit, a slick little number in orange trim featuring 99 fully editable kits, a floating rim design, and heads ranging from 8" to 14" in a choice of regular, mesh, or rubber. Armed with 4 GB of flash memory, the DrumIt Five module allows you to trigger loops by hitting a pad, as well as download wav or mp3 files. Chokable four-zone cymbals, a mounted controller, and a proprietary rack system design round out the package ($2,500).
Without a doubt the best thing about the new and improved DrumKAT is the hi-hat pad on either end of the board so you can split your strokes when doing sixteenths. The Kat now has ten pads with an extra nine trigger inputs. Available with 3.8 or Turbo 2000 software. DrumKAT 3.8 ($1,485) and DrumKAT Turbo 4.5 ($1,783).
Redesigned from the ground up, the 24-pad TrapKAT now has softer pads and a much lighter chassis. Software update is from version 3.1 to 4.0. TrapKAT XL 4.0 ($2,431).
John Blackwell rocking the USB Pro kit drew a decent crowd at Alesis’ booth, but that was just a teaser. Plug the Pro’s Trigger iO interface into a Mac or PC, dump in the FXpansion BFD Lite software, and you’re ready to rip. MIDI compatibility lets you track your performance so you can go back and tweak the parts you want. The 8" Mylar heads on the multi-zone pads can be replaced with any brand of head. Any model of single or double bass pedal can be attached to the standing kick tower, which includes a tunable 8" Mylar playing surface. The kit comes with a Surge hi-hat, as well as a Surge crash and dual-zone ride cymbal, the latter two being chokable. The 1.25" tube rack is fully adjustable ($899).
This is the second generation of the popular Fusion series for drummers and percussionists, and it’s so new it’ll just be hitting the market when this issue hits the stands. The series will include upgrades to the F-4 mics for toms, the F-5 for snare, and the F-6 for kick drum, which you can get in a variety of pre-packaged kits along with the current F15 condenser, all packed inside one of those cool aluminum carrying cases.
Seems like we’ve gone all Hannah Montana, but there’s no denying Audix’s new series of Designer microphones are fun. The limited edition Camo series includes Winter Camo, Desert Camo, Jungle Camo, Forest Camo, and Pink Camo. The designs will be available for the i-5, which is ideal for snare miking ($179). The next set from the Designer series should hit this summer.
Electro-Voice’s PL Series offers drummers miking packages in convenient, drum set-specific packs. The PL DK4 (one PL33 dynamic, supercardioid, kick drum mike, and three PL35 dynamic, supercardioid, tom/snare mikes) is tailored specifically to a 4-piece kit. There is also a PL-DK4 Plus, and PL-DK5/PL-DK7 packs for a 5-piece kit. Their non-reflective, textured satin finish and fine mesh Memraflex grilles add to the series’ sleek appearance. And the shock-mounted capsules offer extraordinarily low handling noise and minimal off-axis complications. Comes with firm-exterior 600 Denier nylon gig bag with shoulder strap.FXPansion
FXPansion’s booth got its Drumline on with Big Orchestral Marching Band, the company’s entirely new VST pack for BFD1.5 & BFD2 with 38 GB of new sounds. Timpani, orchestral chimes (both covering 1.5 octaves), four tonal bass drums, marching quads, and a Groove Suite with hip-hop and street-band beats are just a few of the this program’s goodies.
Users of BFD2, the company’s popular VST drum program, can now enjoy the full benefits of BFD2.1, a free major upgrade with gobs of plug-ins, improved synth engine, load-on-demand RAM optimization, and too many other things to mention.
FXPansion added a wide range of downloadable drum sets in BFD2.1 format, including 60GB worth of various Yamaha kits and 11 artist series snare drums at $50 each set (plus the JEX expansion set — only $30 if you already own a kit — and the Octobon-style Decatom Expansion set). Also new for this year are third-party expansion packs for the BFD2.1 platform. They include Platinum Samples, Jim Scott Collection, Modern Drummer Snare Drum Selects, Vol. 1, Steven Slate Drums, and Japanese Taiko Drums. All packs ship on DVDs in BFD2.1 format.
The new MA-201 fet large-diaphragm condenser microphone is the solid-state alternative to the company’s popular MA-200 tube mike. Many engineers are going back to overheads and room-miking techniques rather than throwing dozens of microphones on a kit, and the 201 succeeds in both applications ($695).Muse Research
Muse’s new versions of its plug-in players — the touring-musician-oriented Receptor 2 PRO and the composer-oriented Receptor 2 PRO Max — have three times the hard drive bandwidth, ten times the networking bandwidth, and double the raw processing power. Both versions come pre-installed with Univers Sons USB Plugsound BOX instrument library, a $700 value at no charge. We spotted Will Calhoun and Chester Thompson demonstratintg these players at the Muse booth. Receptor 2 Pro ($2,599), Pro Max ($3,199).
Muse also debuted a “mini muse” receptor known as the Muse Box, which runs programs such as Addictive Drums without a hitch, and is an ideal expander for people who want better sounds for their V-Drums rigs. Available late summer/early fall ($899.)Ocean Way Drums
Software maker Ocean Way Drums has introduced a lower price point with the Expandable series, a customizable package with the same features as the Platinum HD and Gold editions, but at half the price. The Silver edition contains nine multi-channel kits and 30 GB of 24-bit/48k audiophile samples ($499). The DL edition contains five kits, 10 GB of 24-bit/48k samples and a Download Card redeemable for two additional kits or one multi-channel kit ($249).
This booth was pure eye-candy with its phantasmagoric drum kits used by Soul In The Machine, a Blue Man Group-esque percussion ensemble that has recently become a Pintech endorser. Otherwise, e-kit players were interested in the new and improved dual-zone VisuLite hi-hat system that features enlarged strike area, increased sensitivity, and an actual working pedal for choked, closed, splash, and chick sounds.R.E.T. Percussion
At its bustling booth, R.E.T. showed off the Stealth LE. This new addition to the Stealth line of electronic drum kits has one less cymbal for a smaller price point.
Gunstock is the new stain for the Fusion Pro line. But it’s not just on the surface where the Fusio Pro has changed. R.E.T.’s plug-and-play system with Virtual Percussion Technology (VPT) has become compatible with a wide range of stand-alone software as opposed to modules. All 10" and 13" drums now come with Evans heads.
Roland’s wing of the convention center was one of the most fun places to hang out at NAMM. With additions to its sound library, greater versatility, and ergonomic design, the TD-4S Compact V-Drums target drummers who a looking for a mid-price kit with a small footprint and expanded beat vocabularies. Getting Johnny Rabb to shred on it all weekend was a nice bit of marketing savvy too ($1,199).
It’s compact, solid, and feels good in the hands, the H4n’s onboard X/Y stereo condenser microphones are arranged with the right and left mikes on the same axis. This ensures equidistance from sound source to prevent phase shifting, and each mike capsule is adjustable from 90 to 120 degrees. Drummers will especially like the H4n’s onboard mikes to get a room mix while simultaneously recording a stereo mix from the mixing board for a live recording ($349).Shure
Shure is now bundling its legendary SM58 dynamic microphone with its innovative X2u USB Signal Adaper. With the X2u you can digitally record direct to a computer with any mike — dynamic or condenser — thanks to built-in phantom power. In addition, the handy X2u includes an integrated pre-amp for setting gain control and sample rates up to 48 kHz at 16-bit ($199).
You can target toms, hi-hats, and cymbals with the SM27 — a large-diaphragm, side-address, cardioid condenser microphone. With low self-noise and extended frequency response, the SM27 picks up percussive nuances and drum resonance with fidelity, which makes it a great overhead mike.Tascam
Tascam’s DR-07 portable microphone picks up close-range instruments and ambient sounds with consistent fidelity. The dual electret condenser mikes are built in flush to the unit’s hardware dimensions, which makes the chassis work as a secure single piece. Records in wav or mp3 format with 24-bit quality ($195).ToonTrack
ToonTrack has improved upon its EZdrummer series with its Jazz EZX version featuring sampled sounds from Roy Wooten’s kit recorded at Nashville’s Blackbird Studios.
ToonTrack’s EZ Player Pro software is an expanded version of EZ Player Free that allows you to combine all your MIDI onto a hard drive before sequencing and test different instruments before tweaking them.
Billed as a drum replacer, the company’s Drumtracker program lets you host independent or stand-alone software for converting your drum sounds to MIDI. Refine parts of a single file — right down to individual notes — alter velocity and thresholds, and export all drums to a single or multi-track MIDI file.