An electronic drum kit consists of three main components: a trigger, a ‘brain’ and an output. The trigger, usually a drum struck with a stick, like a regular drum, sends a signal to the brain (called a module), which then records the intensity of the beat and assigns the signal a sound transmitted to the output, usually a speaker or headphones.
Each module can be connected to several triggers or drums – thus one drum set is built. The module contains pre-programmed virtual drum packages (or custom drum packages defined by the user) and assigns a different sound to each trigger. From the musician’s end, the instrument is played exactly as an acoustic drum kit would be played. The only differences are the sounds it produces and the subtle tactile differences between hitting a real drum head and an electronic drum.
Although a character trigger can in theory produce a given sound, depending on the Module, most drum triggers are specially designed to resemble their acoustic counterpart. As with a traditional drum kit, an electronic drummer kit consists of a snare drum, a hi-hat, a drum, toms, a crash bar and a bike path.
Snare drum and tom use the same pads – their function depends on their location and the sound assigned to them. The pads are hit with a stick to activate the shutter button. Most pads will be able to detect the speed of the blow and have varying volumes depending on how hard they hit. Higher end pads will even have concentric zones that produce different sounds depending on where you hit the pad. A blow directly in the middle of the snare drum gives, for example, a full strong blow, while a hit near the edge gives a ‘rim shot’ sound.
Crash and driving cymbals work in the same way, although they are shaped differently to mimic the look of an actual cymbal. A strike in the middle of the cushion makes a clearer sound, as if you were beating a cymbal bell, while a strike near the edge gives the familiar spray sound.
The sputtering trigger is available in two main types: a cushion that is hit by a traditional kick pedal or an electronic pedal with a built-in trigger. The cushion and the traditional kick pedal combination are advantageous, as it can be used with any pedal, which gives a more genuine feeling and action. The pedal with built-in trigger is simpler and a little more sensitive because there are fewer moving parts.
The hat is a combination of a standard drum case and a foot pedal. Press the ‘closes’ button hi-hat, which makes a louder sound when the cushion is turned. This way, the pad and foot switch work to function like a traditional hi-hat set.
The main advantages of electronic drum kits via acoustic drum kits are that they are easy to record and adjust sound. Of course, a given drum on an acoustic set produces only one sound and is only variable in how hard it is beaten and the drum is tuned. Meanwhile, an electronic pad can be assigned to trigger some sound. Configurations can be changed in flight and let your drummer play with a reverberating, dirty garage rock kit for one song, a muted jazz kit for another and a glitch techno kit for the next.
Acoustic drums are also infamous for recording, requiring several expensive microphones and expert placement. Recording and production of live drums in the studio is a fine art that few amateur producers can succeed with. Recording an electronic drumming, on the other hand, is as easy as recording the output from the module. For a basic setting, you can simply run a line from the module to the mixer. For more advanced productions, you can record it in MIDI, where you can further fine-tune the recording and sounds.
Despite the advantages of the electronic drum, it is still less popular than the acoustic drum in most genres of music. There are a couple of reasons for this.
For one, electronic drum kits are usually more expensive than acoustic drum kits. While some large box retailers offer electronic drum kits for under $ 500, you can often get a reliable and versatile electronic drum kit is probably a little more expensive. Also, while an acoustic drum kit does not need any amplification (in fact, it often needs to be muted), an electronic drum kit requires headphones or a monitor in order for it to be heard. This also increases costs.
The fault of electronic components is also a bit of a gig. Although the brand drum kit is quite reliable, generic kits may not be as responsive or may have other technical glitches. Being a sophisticated piece of electronic equipment, there is much more that can break down in a digital drummer than an acoustic drum.
The most important complaint about electronic drumming among musicians is the authenticity of the sound. While technology has advanced in leaps and bounds, it is almost impossible to convey a digital drum kit as an acoustic drum kit on a recording. Apart from some of the very advanced kits and drum samples, any musician will be able to see an electronic drum in the mix and in many genres the generated tone decreases from the overall sound. In short, nothing beats the real thing.
Continuing the purist’s wireless’ contempt for the electronic drum kit, it’s important to note the difference between an electronic drum kit and pre-programmed drums The musicians behind an electronic drum kit are as competent as those behind an acoustic drum kit, as the same level of musicality is necessary for to be able to play the instrument. The only difference is how the sound is produced. Sequenced drums, on the other hand, are programmed by hand on a computer or a sequencer and are played only as if they were on a tape. While this may seem similar on a sound level – as the individual drum sounds are both digitally produced – the way the beats are recreated in real time is vastly different. Drum loops are played by a computer, in the same way that programs run. An electronic drumming is played ‘live’ by a human, just as an electric guitar or a visual thesizer is played live. The electronic drummer has revolutionized the realm of percussion in much the same way that the synthesizer has expanded the possibilities of keyboard instruments. While the sounds collected from a traditional acoustic drum set can only be varied with rhythm or dynamics, an electronic drum kit can produce an almost endless soundtrack, from jazz brushes to agricultural sounds.