The 7 Best XLR Cables for Sound Quality

Best XLR Cable for sound quality

XLR cables carry the audio signal from your instrument or microphone to mixing table, amp, PA and other devices. A good cable is crucial for the sound quality. No matter how expensive your gear is, it’s not worth much without a good cable.

When someone mentions quality gear, most people usually think of musical instruments, microphones, amps, mixing tables etc. On the other side, sound engineers know that every single piece of musical equipment is equally important. The quality of cables are an often overlooked element in the chain.

XLR cables are one of the most common types of cables when it comes to both studio and live performances. Many electric instruments still rely on classic line in/out cables, but XLR cables can be a much better solution, especially if there’s a long way from an instrument to a mixing table or other device. On the other side, microphones predominantly use these types for decades.

The 7 Best XLR Cables – Summary

Popular cable with a good balance between price and quality
High-grade XLR cable, designed for the pros
Budget cable with decent quality
Cheap and very popular cable with numerous color options

You will easily recognize an XLR cable jack by its pins. The most common are 3-pin jacks. When someone mentions XLR, people usually think of these. Variants with 4,5,6,7 and more pins are also available, but they are not used as often.

Just like every product on the market, these ones also come in various price ranges. Some are cheap, while some are designed for pro use. Even if your budget is tight, you can find a decent one. The things you should consider when choosing the best option are mainly about connector quality, cable core, and shielding.

When it comes to connector quality, online reviews from other users are a good indicator. You will easily find out if some connector is durable enough or if there’s some potential issue, such as unwanted buzz or similar things.

On the other side, cable core seems pretty straightforward. The thicker the cable, the better sound quality. If you want a cable with a top quality, go for a copper core. This core is oxygen-free, which should guarantee best-possible sound quality. However, most professionals actually don’t hear the difference.

Speaking of the shielding, there are three main types – Tin Plated Copper, Copper and Aluminum laminate. If you need a quality cable for live performances, tin plated copper would be the best choice, due to its great flexibility.

The last but not the least is the cable length. Do not get a long cable unless you actually need it, as this can have a bad effect on the sound quality.

Here is the list of some quality cables that you can find around:

1) Mogami Silver Series XLR Microphone Cable

If you’re looking for a quality cable with an attractive price, this one is a great choice. Mogami is a well-known name in the audio industry. For several decades, it has been a synonym for quality products.

Nowadays, it offers three series of XLR cables – Silver, Gold, and Platinum. As you may presume, it’s about entry-level series in this case. However, even this most basic cable keeps a high level of quality and durability.

The company claims every cable is hand assembled. It comes in different lengths, so you probably won’t have bigger troubles to find the one that fits best to you.

2) Monster Prolink Performer 600 Pro Audio Microphone Cable

For those who want premium quality, Monster Prolink Performer is an excellent choice. This is a top-grade product, so don’t be confused with its high price tag. With this one, you can count on spectacular sound quality.

Moreover, the company offers a custom XLR connection system, which offers additional flexibility and durability, so much important for live performers. Also, there is a unique shielding technology, which ensures crystal clear sound and keeps from any kind of unwanted noise.

3) AmazonBasics XLR Male to Female Microphone Cable

Among cheap XLR cables, this is a decent choice. This cable is cheap, but it actually has some quality to offer.

The first thing that you’ll notice on this cable is metal housings of connectors, which ensures good protection. Also, you can count on a quite decent copper spiral shielding, which keeps this cable pretty quiet. Of course, the cable comes in different lengths. A one-year limited warranty is included as well.

4) Audio-Technica AT8314 XLR Cable

Choosing a product from a renowned manufacturer is always a good option if you’re not so experienced. This cable comes from the famous Japanese company that has been considered as one of the biggest names in the audio industry. Among numerous other product, they offer XLR cables as well.

This one is a mid-range product when it comes to price. It offers good overall quality and some of the company’s unique design solutions. The first thing you’ll notice is the quality of XLR connectors.

Additionally, there is a quality PVC jacket, as well as dual cooper outer shields, which make this product very durable and reliable for live performances. Definitely a great choice if you want good value/money balance.

5) LyxPro Balanced XLR Cable

The LyxPro is another value option that I would like to recommend. Considering the price, this one actually doesn’t really feature any major points of weakness. It comes with quality PVC inner shield, which offers a 98% coverage.

With such figures, you can count on a great sound quality. In terms of durability, there are metal XLR housings. It comes in various colors. This can be quite useful for identifying different cables in complex set-ups.

6) Your Cable Store 10 Foot XLR

This is a very affordable XLR cable. The sound quality is good. Also, you can use it without any worries for live performances, considering metal housings.

The shielding quality is also on a decent level, so you won’t have bigger problems with noise. The cable comes in various lengths with different options for colors. Definitely a great budget cable.

7) Planet Waves Classic Series XLR Microphone Cable

This list ends with the Planet Waves Classic Series XLR cable. This is also a quite affordable product, which comes with several strong points.

One thing that you’ll hardly find on other cables of this price range is a very good corrosion protection, which seems critical for the contact reliability. These connectors are nickel plated and feature metal housings, which guarantee great durability as well.

The shielding is also quite decent, so you can also count on a quiet operation. All in all, a very good value for the money. The product comes in different lengths.

Conclusion

Those would be some of the best and most popular XLR cables you can find around. As you can see, these products come in a pretty wide price range. Some are very cheap, while others are quite expensive.

So, identify your priorities and needs before purchasing. Determine your budget, and then check things like cable length, shielding, and connector quality and similar things. Once you’re done with these, the choice shouldn’t be that hard.

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The Best Drum Mics for Acoustic Drums

drum mics

If you are new in the world of drum mics, you should know that acoustic drums are probably the hardest instrument to mic. The reason is quite simple. Acoustic drum offers a large spectrum of sounds, you can count on a pretty strong signal picked by your microphone.

A quality microphone needs to deal with all unwanted noise and to be able to pick all the nuance and details, crucial for playing dynamics.

So, let’s say that you are a drum player that has never used microphones for live performances, or you want to start recording. The most natural choice would be to pick some quality drum mic kit.

These kits usually feature pretty much everything you need, including not just different types of microphones for different drum parts but also several accessories. The most important are mounting clamps of course. With them, you can easily mount the microphone on the drum and make so-called close mic.

Besides easy mounting, you will need some XLR cables, which is another piece of accessories that these kits usually include. Finally, expect to get some case, where you can pack all the mics and other parts.

The Best Drum Mics and Drum Mic Kits

This seems like a perfect choice for someone who is a complete beginner with drum mics. Not only that you’ll get all needed pieces in a single case, but you can also count that this kit will cost you less money than if you decide to buy each piece separately.

Another good thing to know is that there are different types of these drum mic bundles. If you need to mic drums for recording, you should go for studio microphones.

On the other side, live performance requires a microphone that will be able to deal with all the unwanted noise that comes from all directions. In this case, you should go for dynamic microphones.

Once you get known with these tools better, you can start building your own kit, by purchasing each piece separately. There are tons of quality microphones designed for specific drum parts, like overhead drum mic, kick drum mic, snare drum mic, tom mic etc.

These pieces usually feature much better quality compared to ones in drum kits. Of course, the price is much higher also, so you will need much more money to complete your own drum microphone kit.

Here are some of the best products you can find on the market:

Shure PGADRUMKIT5

This is a pretty basic drum kit that comes from a highly renowned manufacturer. This kit consists of five mics with different characteristics, perfect for specific areas. You can count on three PGA56 microphones that are especially for toms and other drums.

For the kick drum, you need something that perfectly collects sound from heavy bass sources, so PGA52 seems like a natural choice. This one can be used for bass amps as well. Finally, there is a classic PGA57 dynamic microphone. This universal microphone seems perfect for snares.

Besides microphones, you can count on all necessary accessories. There are cables and mounts for all microphones, as well as a nice hard case. The overall quality of this kit seems pretty decent, while the price is relatively affordable. Definitely a great choice for beginners.

Pyle-Pro 7-Piece Kit

This Pyle-Pro is a great drum mic bundle for beginners. It is cheap, reliable and consists of 7 microphones. Basically, there are three types of mics in this kit. As you may presume, there is one large unit, which is designed especially for low frequencies.

For snares, toms and other drums, this kit offers four smaller dynamic microphones, that can catch a pretty wide range of frequencies. Finally, you get two condenser overhead mics, which are perfect for cymbals, but vocals as well.

Of course, mounting systems for all microphones are included, while a fancy-looking hard case seems pretty convenient. Also, it is important to mention that all mics feature common dimensions and that can be mounted on various types of a microphone stand.

The overall quality isn’t spectacular, but you must consider that this is a low-budget product, with the attractive price as its strongest point.

Lewitt DTP Beat Kit Pro 7

If you’re looking for something highly professional, here is the kit for you. This is a top-grade product, which comes with 7 high-quality microphones. The most interesting piece in this kit is definitely a kick drum mic.

This bass mic features two capsules, both dynamic and condenser. Such design eliminated the possibility of common phase issues, while the sound quality is amazing as well. Rest of the kit is also all about top-quality mics. There are three DTP 340 TTS dynamic mics, perfect for toms.

On the other side, a dynamic MTP 440 DM takes care of snares. Finally, you can count on a pair of top quality condenser overhead units, which feature cardioid capsules. Of course, mounts and case are included as well. Definitely, one of the best kits you can find around.

Shure PGA52-XLR

For those who prefer building drum mic bundles on their own, the most important part of the kit would probably be a quality drum kick mic.

This is the same one that can be found in the company’s PGA drum kit. It might look expensive but definitely features amazing quality. One of its strong points is a cardioid polar pattern, which deals with unwanted noise very well.

Sennheiser E604 Dynamic Cardioid

When it comes to snares and toms, this is the unit you definitely need to consider. This cardioid dynamic microphone offers a great value for the money. It picks drum sounds amazingly well while keeping it clear from unwanted noise.

One of its strong points is great sensitivity, which is crucial for drummers who care a lot about playing dynamics. Also, the construction of this mic is very durable, while the mounting system guarantee installation in a matter of seconds. Another amazing thing about Sennheiser E604 is that the company gives a 10-year warranty.

AKG PERCEPTION 170

Despite the low price tag, this condenser microphone is a decent representative of the renowned company. Thanks to its cardioid design, this unit works pretty well not just for drum overheads, but acoustic guitars and other instruments as well.

It features solid metal construction and covers a frequency range from 20 Hz to 20 kHz. Moreover, it comes with a switchable 20-dB pre-attenuation pad. A great value for the price. Definitely worth of buying.

Audio Technica AT2041SP

There is no need for some special introduction of this highly-renowned company. Pretty much all microphones that come from this manufacturer are characterized by excellent quality. What makes this condenser microphone so special is its stand.

Besides amazing sound, this mic comes with a stand that can be used to mic various kinds of instruments. Many use this one to mic a piano but for us, it seems amazing because you can easily mount it on a hi-hat. It also works perfectly as overhead drum mic.

Summary – The Best Drum Mics

These are some of the best and most popular drum mics that you can find around. Before you start with making your own mic bundle, be sure to identify your priorities and needs.

There are plenty of budget options, but on the other hand, there is a great choice of single unit drum mics for more experienced players who want to spend a bigger amount of money and get superior sound quality. In that case, a top-quality kit sounds great, but if you’re really picky about your sound, then buying single mics are the way to go.

Of course, it all depends on your budget and how much money you want to spend. All in all, the drum mics on this list are all good quality ones.

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6 Drum Games Online Using Your Keyboard

Whether or not you are a drummer, drumming on a computer sometimes could be very fun. It is a great way to cut your time when you’re bored or you want to have some fun with your friends. Moreover, those drummers who are still learning could find plenty of useful things and learn some new beats or improve their feel.

There are plenty of online drum games available today. Many developers offer their simulations of drum kits in order to provide some fun. These games are very simple and easy to use. In most cases, these are good for a nothing more than making noise. However, there are also games that could be quite educational. Some of them offer drum lessons, step-by-step learning of popular beats, sheet music and much more. This could be a pretty interesting way of learning new things in drum playing. Still, most games are actually nothing more than noise makers, so everyone could use it. In most cases, the way you play is simple – via keyboard, though a mouse can be used as well. Some games are designed for both desktop computers and smartphones, tablets and similar devices, so you can play on a touchscreen as well.

Here is the list of some popular virtual drum games. Please note that some games could require flash player, but most of them won’t:

1) Virtrual Drumming

Virtual Drumming is a great website. If you are a drummer, you will find a bunch of useful thing on this address. One of them is this virtual drum game, which looks pretty amazing. It offers a pretty nice graphics layout, which comes with a pretty convincing drum set look. Great thing about this game is a variety of options. You can choose one of the numerous drum kits to play on it. Most of these kits are inspired by some of the world’s most famous drummers like Travis Barker, John Bonham, Ian Paice, Lars Ulrich, Mike Portnoy and many others. Besides these “artist” sets, you can also choose some of the original kits, simply named as Vintage, Hip-Hop, Double Pedal etc.

The way you play this game is easy. Each part of a drum set has its designated button on your keyboard, so you can easily combine different sounds. If you feel more comfortable, you can use your mouse instead, or combine it with a keyboard. Of course, you can configure controls according to your preferences. Besides the pretty convenient look and easiness of use, this game also offers pretty nice sound quality. On the other side, there are no tracks to play along, which could be considered the biggest drawback of this game. All in all, probably the best online drum game you’ll find.

Besides the game, you can find a lot of other useful things on this address. For example, it offers numerous lessons for both beginners and advanced drummers, all of them for free. It starts with the most basic things like stick and foot controls but also goes through some common basic beats. Moreover, there are even drum parts of some rock classics. Advanced players will find more complicated drum beats lessons like Afro-Cuban and Samba, as well as numerous trancriptions. All lessons are designed in “step-by-step” manner, so everyone can learn them. Definitely a great website to visit!

2) Online Drums Set: Play the Epic Drum Set

Session Town is a website that offers various kinds of music apps and games. Among them, you can find this drum game as well. The first thing you’ll notice about it is a really non-apealing look. I would say that designers of this game definitely didn’t put much effort in creating this game, at least when it comes to visual appearance. On the other side, the game works quite good. You will find several pads with simple drawings. Each one is for specific drum part and each one delivers pretty decent sound.

The best thing about this game is its easiness of use. You can play it in several ways. The most basic way would be via keyboard. Once again, every drum part has its designed button on a keyboard. Of course, a mouse cursor is another inevitable method. Finally, you can play this game on a smartphone, tablet or any other device that features a touchscreen. This is definitely the most convenient way to play any virtual drum game.

As I’ve already mentioned, this website offers plenty of other useful games and apps. Some of them are a virtual piano keyboard, interval ear training, online metronome and an app that will help you to learn how to read music. All these are great tools for learning in a fun way.

Go one step further: Get a drum pad or roll-up drum kit

Compact roll-up drum set, with built in speakers, foot pedals, drum-sticks, and power supply
A low cost all-in-one electronic drum pad, with foot pedals and built-in speaker
Popular electronic drum pads, with foot pedals and built-in speaker

Also, check out our buyer’s guides on electronic drum pads and roll-up drum kits for more information on these.

3) Bookaboo Drum Kit

Despite it looks like a little kids game, it is actually a pretty interesting tool for making some noise. It comes with pretty flashy, circus-like look, so you’ll probably be suspicious at the beginning. Once the loading is finished, you will find a common layout, which seems quite the same as in other virtual drum games – a bunch of pads with different look and sounds, with even marked letters for easy playing on your keyboard. You can use a mouse as well. The game seems effortless to play, though the sound quality could be better. Besides drum parts, you will notice some kind of a metallophone at the top of the screen, so you can even play some notes if you wish. It should be quite interesting for youngsters.

4) Playdrumsonline

This game is primarily for fun and you definitely won’t learn anything about drumming with this one. Compared to most drum games, this one doesn’t simulate drum kit. It features a layout that will most of us find familiar with guitar hero. Basically, there are several different colors and lines, which you need to hit by a designated button on a keyboard in a specific time. Once again, it doesn’t have much in common with drum playing. On the other side, it is a great game for fun or to make your time shorter. A strong point of this one is that there is a pretty large library of songs to play along and all of them are well-known hits of popular music.

5) Y8 Drummer Game – Requires FlashPlayer

Unlike games from above, this one requires flash player. However, we shouldn’t take this necessarily as a drawback. This drum game looks very basic. Moreover, it is built over some old drum kit photo, so my first thoughts about this game were how old is it. Its design looks pretty archaic, just like those quiz games from the 90s. Still, it is quite playable game. You can turn on/off the key map of designated keyboard buttons, but the thing that separates this drum simulator from others is that it also offers pretty convenient mouse playing. You just need to go point the cursor on specific drum part, no need for clicks. In that way, you can easily make pretty cool beats. All in all, a very simple but well-made virtual drum game.

6) Buckle Virtual Drum Set – Requires FlashPlayer

This one also requires a flash player but offers pretty nice-looking graphics. It comes with the very basic drum set, which consists of ten drum parts in total. These can be played via keyboard, but with a mouse as well. Still, a keyboard works much better, mostly because of number-based control configuration. The sound quality seems decent too. When it comes to additional options, there are few presets with most common beats to play along.

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The 5 Best Electronic Drum Modules – Including Drum Brains and Trigger Modules

The Pearl Mimic Pro Drum Module

A central part of your electric drum kit is the drum module. Thanks to advancements in these devices, the times of awkward, clunky sounding electronic drums have passed.

Today, more and more drummers are turning to electronic drum kits, realizing all the benefits that these instruments have.

First of all, electronic drum modules are excellent recording tool. Most of these products offer such amazing sound quality, which mimics acoustic drum sets, as well as offering sounds that are simply not possible on them.

Some modules feature more than 60 kits integrated, with sounds that have been recorded in some of the world’s finest studios, by famous sound engineers. Basically, all modern modules come with amazing sound libraries, and most of them also feature SD card or similar slots, so you can also import your own sounds and make this device even better.

Thanks to the amazing sound quality, as well as to great flexibility that allows numerous trigger inputs, these modules are also an excellent thing for live performances. While practicing on such versatile instrument, you will have more chances to expand your musical expression and improve you playing in total.

Note: Our list also includes a couple of trigger modules, which are a great tool to electrify your acoustic drum kit and get additional features that would be of a great help in both recordings and live performances.

The Best Electronic Drum Modules

Very well respected, high-end drum-brain from Pearl
The drum brain from Roland's flagship v-drums set
Very high quality Yamaha drum brain
Very affordable and popular drum trigger module

Pearl Mimic Pro Drum Module

When two top-class companies pull their best sources, you can expect nothing less than one of the finest electronic drum modules around. This Pearl drum module is powered by the newest drum library of the famous producer and software expert Steven Slate. So, besides Pearl’s recognizable quality, you can count on drum sounds that have been recorded in some of the most famous studios around. This module comes with 60 drum kits in total, which perfectly mimic the original sound.

The module comes with the fantastic 7-inch touchscreen interface, which is extremely transparent and offers pretty simple navigation, which ensures so-much-appreciated easiness of use. Also, the software is extremely fast, which is crucial for the user’s convenience. Additionally, there is a 120 GB SSD, as well as SD/USB connectivity, so you can store all of your favorite samples.

Another novelty is an advanced sensor technology, which reduces false triggering to a minimum. These sensors are extremely responsive, so you have plenty of room to adjust the velocity. Since there are 16 ins and outs, this module can work well even with the largest kits. You can monitor your playing, and also record a dry signal without FX. Of course, there is also MIDI connectivity. A 12V DC power supply is also included.

Roland V-Drums TD-50 Drum Sound Module

The latest version of the famous module series comes with a bunch of improvements. While the overall layout might look unchanged, the software is completely new. The new Prismatic Sound Modeling engine brings an amazingly realistic drum sound, characterized by beautiful colors and great dynamics.

The first thing that you’ll notice on TD-50 is a bunch controls. Most players will appreciate all those onboard knobs for EQ, reverb, compression, saturation etc. With these controls, creating natural ambiance seems almost effortless.

The core of this module is the new Prismatic Sound Modeling engine, which besides amazing sound offers plenty of modeling options. You can set thickness and overtones of each drum shell, and thickness and size of each cymbal. Additionally, there are 30 built-in effects, like saturation, compression etc.

This module also allows you to import any kind of library via SDHC card. Once you upload the library, you can start editing your kits. Thanks to the Snapshot feature, you can A/B before and after. If you don’t like what you’ve made, just scrap it and start over again.

When it comes to ins and outs, you can send the signal through either balanced stereo XLR outs, or unbalanced ¼ stereo outs. MIDI in/out is also included, while USB port is a perfect feature for home recording since you won’t need an audio interface.

Yamaha DTX900 Electronic Drum Module

The DTX900 relies on Yamaha’s proven 64-tone polyphonic tone generator, which offers pretty good sound dynamics. This unit offers 50 drum kits with natural sound. Besides good audio quality, it comes with very user-friendly design, in Yamaha’s traditional layout, with plenty of analog controls.

Of course, this module is designed primarily for live performances, but it can serve as an excellent practice unit, especially if we consider a built-in music sequencer. Basically, there are numerous preset songs. You have full control of these pieces, so you can mute pretty much every part of the song, including rhythm part, bass or any other part. So, play with instruments you want and work on your skills. Additionally, there are Rhythm Gate and Groove Check features, as well as an onboard metronome. Definitely, great tools to improve your technique.

All in all, you can count on thousands of drum sounds, 50 presets and 50 user kits, two USB ports (Type A and Type B), 2-track real-time recording, MIDI in and out and many other features for the price that is significantly lower compared to key competitors.

Yamaha DTX502 Electronic Drum Trigger Module

This trigger module looks like a pretty capable alternative to expensive sound modules. For a very affordable price, you can successfully hybridize your drum kit with this trigger module. It is a new, upgraded version of the previous DTX500 module and it comes with a bunch of novelties.

The new model delivers almost twice wave ROM and 250 additional sounds. With such large offer, it definitely can make great sounds when connected to pads. It comes with hi-quality drum and cymbal sounds that are designed by top-class VST developers. With 691 sound and 50 kits in total, DTX502 is ready to take your playing to the next level.

It can be used successfully both for practice and live performances. Easiness of use is one of the strongest points. The trigger’s design is very simple and consists of only several buttons, one data wheel and a small LCD screen. It is good to know that you can import MIDI files, while USB connectivity definitely makes things much easier.

Roland TM-2 Trigger Module

In many cases, the best way is to keep things simple. The TM-2 trigger module is a compact and extremely intuitive device, which seems like a perfect tool for all those who need an affordable and easy-to-use unit.

It comes with a very simple design, with only a few buttons but with a strong interface that offers numerous sounds.There are more than 100 professional sounds in total, which are designed for layering with acoustic drums as well. Moreover, there is an SD card slot, so you can use your own sounds too.

It offers several onboard effects, including reverb, flanger, and delay. MIDI conversion is included too, and the great thing about this device is that you can connect to any other controller. Speaking of connectivity, TM-2 works with both acoustic drum triggers and drum pads.

It is compatible with BT-1 Bar Trigger Pad, KT-10 Kick Trigger Pedal, V-Pads, and V-Cymbals. A lack of editing options is probably the only bigger drawback of this unit, though many would say we shouldn’t be asking for more, considering the price tag. An AC adapter is included, though the unit can be powered with four AA batteries as well.

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Alesis Nitro Mesh Kit Review – Are The Mesh Heads Worth It?

 

alesis-nitro-mesh-kit
Image courtesy of Alesis

Alesis have become a real contender in the electronic drum set market. They have hit hard in the last few years with numerous new kits aimed at low to mid price points. The company is now continuing the very popular Nitro series, with the new Alesis Nitro Mesh Kit.

During our original Alesis Nitro review, I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of the kit. I had originally expected it to be absolute junk at the low price point.

The Alesis Nitro Mesh kit is quite similar to the standard Nitro kit. However, it comes with a big upgrade: the use of mesh heads instead of rubber ones for the snare and tom pads.

The Alesis Nitro Mesh is not far off the price range of the Nitro Kit. So it’s still a very affordable instrument.

Similar Electronic Drum Sets to the Alesis Nitro Mesh Kit

The mesh head version of the Alesis Nitro Kit
The Alesis Nitro Kit with rubber heads
A previous generation version of the Alesis Nitro Kit

Key Features of the Nitro Mesh Kit

The new Alesis Nitro Mesh set comes with a familiar overall design:

Tunable Mesh Heads

One of the most important novelties that come with this kit are the new heads for the snare and tom heads.

Please keep in mind that the kick pad is still made of rubber. However, that’s not a major surprise. Also the cymbals are still made of rubber, which even very common in high-end all-mesh electronic drum sets.

These heads include a more natural feel to cheaper rubber heads. They are also tunable, which means that you can customize rebound and sensitivity. This is very much a matter of preference for drummers, so it’s great to have the option to tweak it how you want.

nitro-mesh-head
Mesh heads contain woven fibers and sensors. They feel much more like a regular drum head than rubber heads. They are also tunable, to allow for changes to the feel of the rebound.

These heads are also quiet, which is a great benefit when practicing in a house or apartment.

These mesh heads are actually quite similar to the heads on higher end Alesis products. However, the main difference is that the pads are smaller than high-end mesh pads. Though, they’re still very playable.

Hardware

alesis-nitro-mesh-kit-side

There are eight drumming elements, including drum pads, kick pad, and cymbal pads.

There is an 8” dual-trigger snare and 3 single zone tom pads (also 8-inches in diameter). These are not massive pads, but they’re still pretty easy to play on.

The cymbal section consists of three familiar pads – crash cymbal with choke, hi-hat, and ride cymbal. The hi-hat comes with reasonable foot control. It doesn’t use an actual hi-hat stand, but you could really expect that with a kit in this price range.

All three cymbals feature 10 inches in diameter.

These are all mounted on a four-post aluminum stack.

Finally, the kick tower (thankfully) allows you to use a bass drum pedal. I think this is a much better option than kits that have a simple foot-switch kick.

The kit usually comes with drumsticks. Though if you’re serious about drumming, I’d recommend investing a few bucks in high-quality ones.

Software

This kit uses the same Nitro module. So you will know what to expect if you’ve already tried out the Alesis Nitro kit.

It’s a decent module. It’s easy to use and allows for easy drum kit switching and recording.

It has preset songs that allow you to drum along to. The module is MIDI compatible, which enables you to connect the kit to your computer for external sample triggering and recording. You can connect the kit to a PA or amplifier for gigs and practice.

Recording

Most electronic drum kits include recording feature and this one is not an exception. Moreover, there are actually three ways of recording with this unit.

The first way would be the simplest one. Just hit the “rec” button on your module and record your playing. Though you can’t export sounds caught in this way, it is a great tool for listening to your playing, hearing mistakes etc.

The second method would be via audio output. Just connect the module with some recording device and you’ll get pretty decent sound quality. It is a very simple method. Even your smartphone could work.

Finally, there is a good old MIDI conversion. This module offers a lot of connectivity, so you can use either MIDI in/out or USB port. Just find some recording software and use your electronic drums as MIDI triggers.

Practicality Aspects

All these specs sound very nice, but let’s go through some common practicality issues:

How loud is this kit?

Considering that this kit is designed primarily for home practicing, one of the most important issues is loudness. Fortunately, the mesh heads which are pretty quiet.

Is this drum kit suitable for kids?

Simply said, yes. This is a budget kit and designers from Alesis appreciate the fact that most beginners are youngsters. Pretty much all kids over seven years should be able to play this kit, especially if we consider that drumming pads are adjustable.

The only potential issue would be reaching foot pedals, but that‘s the problem that all young drummers need to deal with, no matter the drum kit.

Storage

The Alesis Nitro Mesh kit is quite compact, including the aluminum racks and foot pedals. So, you shouldn’t have any problems storing it. It can also be collapsed in and stored in a corner of the room while not in use.

Is the Kick Pad big enough for double bass pedals?

In general, two beaters from double kick pedals should be able to fit. This depends on your model of double bass drum pedal. Please keep in mind, that you might not get as much sensitivity from your hits, as the beaters will be further towards the edge of the pad.

Final Verdict

The Alesis Nitro Mesh Electronic Drum Set belongs to the budget class of electronic drum kits. It delivers very decent quality with some much-improved mesh head surfaces compared to previous models.

Of course, it probably won’t satisfy the needs of very advanced players, apart from their basic practicing. However, these players usually prefer far more expensive kits.

All in all, it’s another move from Alesis to make quality electronic drum sets much more attainable for beginner and intermediate players.

Mesh heads are by far the material of choice compared to rubber heads. If you have the option of picking either the Alesis Nitro Kit or the Alesis Nitro Mesh Kit, I’d go with the mesh version!

alesis-nitro-mesh-kit

 

Images courtesy of Alesis

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10 Great Drum VST Plugins to Take Your Beats to the Next Level

drum-vsts

Drum sampling and synthesis have been around for decades. In early days, these instruments were a synonym of electronic music. Today, these units are an integral part of the music industry of all genres.

Not only is electronic drumming used by DJ’s and producers of electronic music, but even pop music producers use this tool largely, in order to cut their expenses by replacing a human drummer. It can also help get a cleaner and more refined sound.

Even traditional drum machine devices are not as frequent these days. Modern technology brings drum machines in a form of software, which makes the things even better and cheaper. Today’s market offers various kinds of drum software.

You can find plenty of emulators of iconic vintage instruments, samplers, step sequencers, all-in-one plugins, as well as virtual studio acoustic drum kits.

Whether you’re a pro or someone who want to use this plugin for fun, you can find the perfect one for you. The offering of plugins is huge. Some of them are designed for professionals, with excellent sound quality and a pretty high price tag. On the other side, you can also find free software of a pretty decent quality.

Here is my list of 10 Electronic Drum VSTs that can take your beats to the next level:

1 – Xfer Nerve – Paid

Although it might seem too expensive, this EDM drum machine offers a great value. First of all, it is important to mention that this plugin is designed by experienced dance music producers. Versatility is definitely its strongest points.

You can either create your own beats by using the sounds you already have or use some of the thousands of presets, patterns and sounds that come with the product. You can count on very rich effects section, as well as on up to 8 stereo outputs.

It is a perfect tool for pretty much every electronic music genre, which offers excellent sound quality. Despite numerous options, it doesn’t seem to be complicated but rather very simple to use.

2 – Native Instruments Battery 4 –Paid

This is the newest version of the drum sampler that comes from a renowned German company that is well-known for its software and hardware for audio creation, production, recording, DJ-ing etc.

This plugin has a lot to offer. First of all, you can count on a huge library of samples, with 143 top-quality kits. Despite tons of options, it seems quite easy to use, since main parameters like L-R switching, Volume, Key Range, Reverse, Phase invert and similar things are easily accessible.

It’s a great tool for electronic music producers. You can buy this one either separately, or as a part of complete NI Ultimate package.

3 – Single Cycle Vintage Drum Elements – Free

For many of us, there is nothing better than a sound of an old analog drum machine. This AU/VST plugin mimics the sound, as well as the look of the legendary Yamaga RX5 drum machine, which was used by numerous icons like Vangelis, The Pet Shop Boys, Depeche Mode, Louie Vega and many others.

It comes with 4 drum kits (Yamaha RX5 Kit 1, Yamaha RX5 Kit 2, Synthetic Kit, Ethnic Kit), 1 FX set and 4 instruments (Bass, Clavecin, Marimba, and Orchestra).

It’s extremely easy to use since it comes in a classic 12-pad layout. All preloaded samples are very good. Not bad at all for a free plugin.

4 – Arturia Spark 2 – Paid

Arturia Spark 2 is one of the best vintage workstations that you can find around. It offers probably the biggest sound collection of classic drum machines.

Although this plugin is impressive in pretty much all aspects, I would say that its strongest point would be an impressive library, which includes more than 2800 instruments, numerous banks, and patterns created by professionals etc.

Practically, it covers pretty much all music genres, so everyone can use it. It is a perfect tool for all those who want to spice up their music with a strong vintage flavor. This is the updated version of the original software, which brings several novelties, including new mixer, new graphics, tabbed pages and much more. Definitely a great value for the money!

5 – Superior Drummer 3 – Paid

If you are a songwriter who searches for a hi-quality drum kit emulator for recording, this is the one for you. Designed by award-winning engineer George Massenburg, this plugin offers a top-tier sound quality. It is also extremely easy to use since its graphics emulate conventional drum kits.

There are six drum kits in total, as well as various other instruments. The sound library is huge, while MIDI conversion works very well. Besides traditional drum kits, you can count on more than 350 vintage drum machines, as well as on 35 mixer effects.

Such additional features make this product suitable not only for traditional pop and rock genres but for electronic producers as well.

6 – Djinndrum – Free

This is a pretty simple piece of software which emulates the iconic Linn LM-1. This classic drum machine was used by numerous pop icons, including Michael Jackson and Prince.

The graphics closely mimic the legendary unit, with almost identical controls and configuration.

Although it is free, it offers pretty decent sound quality. Ok, it might be a little dry for some, but nothing that a good EQ can’t fix. Definitely worth of trying.

7 – D16 Drumazon – Paid

The Drumazon is definitely of the most realistic sounding drum machines that you’ll find around. It emulates the iconic Roland TR-909 drum machine, both in terms of sound and looks.

Every single sound of the original has been captured perfectly, so this software seems to be a real time machine. Compared to the original, it offers a few enhanced controls, which makes it easier to use.

Still, you will need some time to get used to controls and that is probably the only drawback of this produces. Everything else works perfectly, including top-tier sound quality. Also, the price is very attractive, considering the value you get.

8 – Dub Turbo DrumTROOP – Free

This plugin definitely could be a good alternative to expensive drum software. Although free, it offers a pretty good quality and plenty of features.

First of all, it is pretty easy to use, thanks to highly transparent control. Also, it features pretty nice 3D graphics with several skins in the offer. In terms of sounds, there are 16-20 of them per kit. Still, the best thing about the plugin is that it works pretty smooth on every computer.

It doesn’t have high system requirements at all. Just two 1GB of RAM and 2 GB on a hard disc, despite tons of features, attractive layout and up to 16 outputs. Above all, it offers pretty decent sound quality. Definitely worth of trying.

9 – Ableton Live Drum Racks – Paid 

The best thing about Ableton Live Drum Racks is its ease of use. It keeps everything simple which, along with affordable price, is the main reason why this software attracts such a wide range of users.

It is specially designed for producers that require rapid workflow. It consists of tons of samples.

You can count on more than 160 analog-sourced drum kits, 10 custom macro-mapped drum kits, as well as more than 200 slick drum groover that could be a great starting point for your work.

Some of the classics that are included are Arp 2600, Moog Minitaur, EMS VCS3, Roland SH-101 and Juno-60. It is important to mention that this plugin requires Ableton Live 9 software.

10 – Audiorealism ADM – Paid

There are many plugins that emulate vintage drum machine but this one mimics three of them.

It is a software that emulates three legendary drum machines from Roland – TR-808, TR-909, and TR-606. It is a perfect tool for all Roland lovers who want to get an authentic sound of iconic units for the 80’s for a pretty affordable price.

Moreover, you can take the best sounds from each unit and use them in a single interface, which gives countless possibilities. It is a great way to create your own custom kits and patterns by picking out the most desired sounds from each of these three iconic drum machines.

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6 Best Drum Triggers for Better Live Sound and Greater Expression

drum-triggers

Electrifying your acoustic drums can be beneficial in many ways. They can really improve your live sound, as well as increase the sonic opportunities for your playing.

There are several methods to make a hybrid drum kit, but triggers are a very convenient and cost-effective way.

The main principle of working is quite simple. Basically, these devices are nothing more than a sensor that picks up the signal from your drum heads. It sends the signal to a drum module or sample/percussion drum pad by a wire.

One of the strongest points of these devices is ease of use. The installation of these devices seems almost effortless. Basically, you only have to attach the trigger to your drum shell and connect it to a drum by a wire.

The 6 Best Drum Triggers

Here is a short list of some of the best drum triggers that you can find on the market:

Fantastic and solid dual zone trigger
Popular cheap acoustic drum trigger
Trigger up your whole kit with this affordable and quality set
Kick trigger from one of the biggest names in drum heads

Most of the manufacturers offer their own, patented mounting system, tough I would say that all of them are very similar. The process of mounting is extremely quick. A matter of seconds, I would say.

Though most of us see drum triggers as studio and home practice devices, these units are actually amazing tools for live performances, especially for small venues where drummers can’t control loud drum heads and where assistance from professional sound engineers is necessary.

If you have a quality drum module, you can adapt electronic sound so well that will closely mimic acoustic drum.

Some of these devices are actually dual sensitive. In practice, this means that you can pick different kinds of sounds. For example, Roland RT-30HR is a dual trigger, which recognizes and separates rim and main head hits. This is really great for sound and effect diversity.

Of course, these are just some of many great things about drum triggers. Benefits are numerous.

1) Roland RT-30HR Dual Zone Trigger

Introduced about three years ago, RT-30HR represents a new generation of Roland’s drum triggers. It is a pretty compact and convenient device which fits pretty much every drum hoop, both classic and inward-curved designs. It is made of hi-quality ABS plastic, with a sturdiness that will stand any stray stick, though there probably won’t be many of them, thanks to the extremely low-profile design. You can count on long-term use for sure.

The RT-30HR Dual Zone Trigger is designed to pick both head and rim strikes. It seems like an ideal tool to get a MIDI tone from your acoustic drum. An ideal trigger to play electric sources. Also, it is compatible with pretty much all related products from Roland, including TM-2, TD-series V-Drums modules, and SPD-series percussion pads.

2) Roland RT-30K Kick Trigger

This device is one of the newest additions to Roland’s drum trigger lineup. Introduced three years ago, RT-30K is a trigger designed especially for bass drums. It comes with the company’s recognizable easy-mounting system that makes the drum ready for playing in a matter of seconds. One of the most interesting parts of this trigger is a convenient self-mounting system, which automatically puts the sensor in optimal position against the drumhead. Speaking of the sensor, it offers great sensibility and response.

The trigger is made of hi-quality materials, mostly ABS. It seems very durable, definitely able to stand any stray hit of your mallets. Another convenient feature is compatibility with other Roland products, including TM-2 Trigger Module, TD-series V-Drums sound modules, and SPD-series percussion pads. A connection cable is also included.

3) Pintech Percussion RS-5 Acoustic Head Trigger

Pintech RS-5 could be a great choice if you are looking for a cheap alternative to professional triggers. Despite the low price tag, this product offers pretty decent quality. First thing you’ll notice is an interesting “Kwik Clip” mounting system, which actually works very well, and keeps the trigger in place perfectly. Besides quick mounting, this product also offers a decent-quality sensitivity and response.

It can be used both for home recording and as a silent electronic kit converter. In the first case, you just have to connect the trigger with some drum software and create your own sample. On the other side, if you need a quiet electronic drum kit for some small gig, just mount RS-5 to mesh heads. It works amazingly. Finally, you can use this trigger even as contact mic for acoustic guitars.

4) DDRUM Acoustic Pro Triggers

This kit seems like one of the most reliable trigger kits around, especially if we consider the price. Unlike most of the triggers that are sold separately, this product comes as a complete drum trigger kit that consists of five units. There is one bass drum trigger, one snare drum trigger, and three tom-tom drum triggers. Looks like it has everything you’ll need.

All the triggers are simple and easy to use, the signal quality is very good and you can count on great sensitivity and response. On the other side, many consumers see its mounting system as the weakest point. Not that these triggers are hard to mount, or that they are unsteady. The problem is that there is no any kind of protection that will keep your drum shells from damaging.

5) Aquarian Kickzone Bass Drum Trigger

Another good trigger if you are looking for a cheap alternative. This one is a bass drum trigger, which comes with a pretty simple design. Designed to work off the vibration of any bass drum head, it offers decent quality and amazing simplicity of use. Though I would recommend it primarily for practicing, it could be used for live performances as well.

One of the potential issues could be a mounting system for the cable. There is an adhesive backing that should keep the cord stable, though it doesn’t look promising. Some small modifications for better attach would be highly recommended.

6) Yamaha DT-50K

For the end of this short list, here is a product that comes from one of the most renowned names in the industry of musical instruments. This Yamaha DT-50K is a hi-quality trigger that comes with a lot of great features. First of all, it offers an excellent sound quality.

Count on amazing response and sensibility. Also, it features a metal body, which guarantees excellent sturdiness and years of use.

Still, the mounting system is probably the strongest point of this trigger. The system is quite simple but very effective. Attaching the trigger requires no more than a few moments. It is very safe, so you won’t have to worry about damaging your drum shells. Once mounted, the trigger works perfectly and don’t affect the natural drum sound at all.

Acoustic Drum Trigger Module – The Brain of Your Hybrid Drum System

Once you get drum triggers, you are halfway in the process of acoustic drum electrification. The other part of the process would be getting a trigger module. This is the essential part of every hybrid drum kit, which works as a brain of a whole system. It usually features a bunch of sounds, on-board effects etc. Other inevitable parts of the trigger module are things like trigger inputs, PA and headphone outputs, MIDI ports etc.

One of the most popular acoustic trigger modules is Roland TM-2. This is a quite affordable unit, characterized by the amazing simplicity of use. Setting up this module seems effortless since the number of buttons is minimal. Since functionality is the strongest point of this unit, there is a pretty large number of built-in sounds, around 160. There are also 11 effects as well as several other functions. Also, it comes with an SD card slot, so you can easily import your favorite presets.

When it comes to connectivity, Roland TM-2 comes with one PA output, one headphone output and two MIDI ports (In and Out). Another convenient feature is that the unit can be power supplied both by cord and batteries, which is great for those who appreciate portability.

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The 5 Best Midi Drum Pads for Producing and Live Performance

midi-drum-pads

In the early days, when MIDI standardization was in the beginning, midi pads were reserved only for professional musicians and producers who wanted to spice up things with a few electronics.

Four decades later, MIDI instruments and other devices are an essential piece of equipment for everyone who wants to make music. Thanks to the rapid technological progress, these devices aren’t as expensive as before and can be found in every home studio.

One of these devices is MIDI drum pads. These are great pieces of gear that you could use to get some kind of a natural extension on your live performances. On the other side, it is a perfect studio tool, which will help you a lot in producing new tracks.

The main purpose of these pads is to create drum lines. However, since they use MIDI, you can map them to whatever purpose you wish on your music production software.

Please note, if you’re looking for a standalone sample pad that acts as its own separate instrument, then you should check out our popular article on electronic drum pads. Sample pads are generally MIDI-enabled, so they can perform the same features as MIDI drum pads.

The 5 Best MIDI Drum Pads

What Should You Look When Choosing MIDI Drum Pads?

There are few things you should keep in mind when choosing MIDI drum pads. Think about your needs. What size drum pads do you need? Do you want extra knobs and controls for effects? What is your budget?

Another important thing to consider what software or hardware you’re going to use this MIDI drum pad with. Though MIDI is compatible with all good music production software, so there’s not much to worry about here.

Also, consider things like size and weight. If you want to carry your device from place to place, it should be small enough to fit your bag, not to mention that heavy pads could be pretty inconvenient. Think of power supply as well. Fortunately, compact MIDI drum pads are usually operated with a USB port, which is a huge benefit for someone who is in a constant move.

Finally, find a piece that guarantees good playing dynamics. Pads must be sensitive to velocity if you want to express yourself in a proper way.

1) Akai Professional MPD218

This is an entry-level model from Akai Professional. Thought budget products from renowned manufacturers can often be overpriced, this one definitely offers a lot of value for the money. After all, it is probably the most popular midi drum pad around.

Besides affordable price, the strong points of this device are good overall quality, transparent controls and easiness of use. Though a pretty small pad, it offers a pretty decent number of options. There are 16 pads that offer decent sensitivity, which is crucial for the dynamics of your playing. On the other side, the material of these pads is a real dust magnet, so count on frequent cleanings.

A software is also included and it works amazing. It is pretty much the same version of the software that the company sells separately for hundreds of dollars, which sounds unbelievable.

All in all, you definitely won’t make a mistake if you choose this one.

2) Korg nanoPAD2 Slim-Line

This model represents the second generation of super-compact nanoPAD series. The evolution of this device lasts for a full decade and the new version comes with some significant upgrades, especially in hardware. This device now comes with 16 pads instead of 12, which was the case with the original model.

On the other side, we didn’t see a lot of software upgrades. Moreover, the company left out a few functions, which would be a bit of disappointment to some. However, I’m pretty sure that you will hardly get anything better from other manufacturers, considering such an affordable price.

Considering all the pros and cons, I find this Korg nanoPAD2 Slim-Line a pretty good deal. It is a perfect tool for your home studio, especially if you are a beginner and don’t want to spend hundreds of dollars to get some advanced features that you probably won’t use at all.

Long story short – compact dimensions, great hardware quality, sensitive pads and basic, but reliable functions.

3) Akai Professional LPD8

Akai also has a strong competitor in this segment of mini drum pads. Unlike Korg nanoPAD, this one comes with only 8 pads, which might seem inconvenient to some. On the other side, there are also 8 rotatable knobs which can be used for every software parameter. For those who prefer old-school analog controls, this is definitely a big advantage.

Speaking of the hardware, the overall quality is pretty good. Pads feature excellent sensitive velocity, so you can count on plenty of dynamics. There are four programmed banks, while the device is USB powered, which makes this drum pad pretty portable.

When it comes to disadvantages, someone would say that rotatable knobs are too small and that could’ve been designed better. Also, the pad is a real dust collector. Of course, we can agree that there are few things that could have been done better, but it seems unfair to consider these things as disadvantages at this price tag.

4) Native Instruments Maschine Mikro MK2

I’m sure that you’ll be amazed by all the things that are packed in this quite compact unit. The evolution of “compact Machine” started ten years ago. The second-generation comes with a familiar appearance, though few revisions have been made.

First of all, the Native Instruments Maschine Mikro MK2 is smaller than its predecessor. In order to make this unit as smaller as possible, there are no more two transparent screens that characterize the original model. This one comes with a single, though a little bigger, screen design. This will require a little bit more navigation than before, but I’m sure you’ll get used to it pretty quickly.

There are 16 pads and all of them are characterized by an excellent response to both velocity and aftertouch. Besides excellent playability, they also come with fancy orange backlights.

A hi-quality hardware is beneficial for sure, but the biggest trump of Native Instruments Maschine Mikro MK2 is software. It is compatible with various operating systems and works super-fast. Also, the software offers you the ability to host third-party plug-ins. In practice, this means countless editing options.

5) Akai Professional MPK Mini MKII

The Akai Professional MPK Mini MKII is one of the smallest all-in-one MIDI controllers that you can find around. Unlike other products from the list that feature drum pads only, this one comes with a keyboard as well.

The upper part of the unit is pretty much the same as Akai LPD8. There are 8 drum pads, as well as 8 rotatable knobs. The lower part of the device comes with a classic MIDI keyboard, as well as with the joystick which is positioned at the upper left corner.

The unit is USB powered and it is compatible with various operating systems including Windows, Mac, and iOS. Super compact dimensions make this combo MIDI device a highly-portable unit. Definitely, a perfect tool for beginners, especially if we consider its highly-affordable price.

Summary – The Best MIDI Drum Pads

It doesn’t matter if you’re just an amateur musician or an enthusiast who like to mix and create new tracks in a studio, this is definitely a piece of equipment you need to have. Benefits are numerous, for both musicians and producers.

You can count on superior workflow, plenty of practicality and easiness of use. Above everything, you will have a better musical expression, expand your knowledge and probably become a better musician.

MIDI drum pads don’t cost a fortune anymore. You can find a decent unit for less than a hundred dollars, so there is no reason why you shouldn’t try, even if your budget is tight.

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5 Awesome Examples of Creative Electronic Drum Sets and Hybrid Kits

drummer-inspiration

Today I’m dedicating a post to have a look at some awesome drummers that are using hybrid and electronic setups.

These setups are all about being inventful and experimenting. They are using more than just stock electronic drum sets. You will also notice that ‘less is more’ for some of these, and it shows that a really minimal setup can actually make you look even more epic. Therefore, you don’t need a massive budget to build one of these type of sets yourself.

On the other hand, the first two drummers on this list really go all out with their epic sets.

You don’t have to be a DJ or producer to use hybrid style set ups. However, it’s pretty common for drummers to start producing their own music once they start getting in depth into these.

Some of the drummers on this list are famous, while others are steadily gaining their following.

KJ Sawka

KJ Sawka, is the drummer from the bands Pendulum and Destroid. Look at this fantastic kit set up. He uses a combination of triggered heads and acoustic sounds.

If you look closely, you’ll see the triggers attached to the rims of each of the drums, and an electronic drum trigger module at the bottom left of the video. From the looks of it, he’s using Roland’s newest triggering technology, and they sound fantastic.

He’s even using some pitch automation on at least one of the e-drums too. Very inventive and interesting.

He’s a heavy user of Ableton Live, and has even created sample packs directly for use in that DAW.

Also, he’s a great drummer.

AFISHAL

Now for something completely different. AFISHAL is a drummer/DJ that has a massive following online. He uses his own fantastic electronic drum pad and light show setup. The pads are used as triggers to Ableton live on his laptop, which he uses to create a live drumming/DJ combo.

This is definitely the most inventive looking setup out of this list. This would be an incredibly fun kit to play on!

Brennan Benko

Listen to the tasty sound of this. With fantastically processed samples, he uses a kick trigger with a really punchy club 808 sound. Another user of the Roland SPD-SX, I think you’ll notice that’s a very common thing amongst great hybrid setups.

Great acoustic and electronic combinations here. Notice the microphone placement, and the tasty sound he’s getting from the rim shots. He’s still decided to go with the presence of an acoustic kick drum. Why wouldn’t he, it sounds amazing.

Caleb Breaux

Another very cool player of hybrid drum setups, Caleb is a drummer/producer that uses a very nice combination of gear as a drummer/producer.

He has put together a bunch of cool videos that you can check out on his Instagram. He often uses a small amount of drum pads, hats, and a Roland SPD-SX. He’s also a big fan of the fantastic Roland 404, a great old sampler that’s still as relevant as when it first came out.

It’s easy for drummers to feel like they’re stuck in the background, Caleb is a perfect example of someone that’s being in the limelight while also having a great time on his kit!

Camellia Akhamie Kies

Camellia Akhamie Kies is a professional drummer and DJ with a US military veteran background and big resume in music education. Originally born in the German City of Heidelberg (go there, visit the castle, it’s lovely… but hey, this isn’t a travel blog).

Camellia’s setups vary a lot depending on the context. In this example, she uses the powerful percussion pad capabilities of the Roland Octapad along with the sampling power of the Roland SPD-SX, a dream combination for those that have the budget!

She blends electronic pads, with acoustic drums, and percussion instruments. She also sometimes replaces her kick drum with a cajon (very useful for portability).

Conclusion

It’s easy to get lost in the standard formats of electronic drum sets, but some really amazing stuff can come out if you’re willing to experiment a bit and be creative.

After all, music is about expression, creativity, and performance.

You can start off small, such as using a few pads. Later on, you can really build on your knowledge, process effects and samples, use MIDI, triggers, etc!

I hope you’re feeling inspired! Do you have some other cool examples of electronic and hybrid drum setups? I’d love to hear about them, and I’ll likely feature them in part 2 of this post.

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Best 7 Steel Tongue Drums – Compact and Melodic Percussion

steel-tongue-drum

No matter if you’re musically experienced or not, a steel tongue drum is definitely one of the instruments you should try.

Beautifully sounding but yet easy to play, this instrument fits everyone. It doesn’t require years of training, or thousands of dollars like it’s the case with hang drums.

Steel Tongue Drums are not electronic instruments, but they’re pretty epic so I wanted to write a guide on them!

About Steel Tongue Drums

It all started in 2007. Inspired by hang, as well as by some other instruments like whale drum and tambiro, Dennis Havlena invented this amazing instrument more than ten years ago.

Base design and working principle have a lot in common with the original hang, though there are diversities as well. It features a propane tank-like shape, with the base cut of. The top side of the instrument features seven-to-ten “tongues” that are cut radially. The size of the tongue determines the note, though there are several other ways to get desired tone. A common way would be to add weight with a neodymium magnet. It is a great solution for getting desired scale while keeping the same or similar tongue size.

Speaking of scales, here is one strong point of this instrument. Just like hangs, a steel tongue drum can be tuned in pretty much every key. First models featured pentatonic or common diatonic scales, while newer tongue drums come with such variety of tone colors.  All in all, you can stick to common major/minor scale and its modes, but also try with something more exotic, such as traditional Japanese, Arabic, Oriental, Egyptian, Balinese and many other scales.

Best 7 Steel Tongue Drums

1) HAPI HDMINIDAKE Tongue Drum

Definitely one of the most popular steel tongue drums around. This manufacturer offers a variety of models of different sizes and scales. This one comes tuned in an exotic Akebono scale in D. With such intervals, you can count on a lot of beautiful notes that are perfect for relaxation, meditation, yoga and similar things. The overall quality of the product is very good, especially if we consider its very affordable price.

Tones are rich and with a good resonance, while the instrument seems quite loud, despite compact dimensions. Speaking of dimensions, this one measures 8×5.5 inches and weighs only 3.4 pounds, which makes it highly portable. A nice travel bag is included, as well as a pair of mallets. All in all, a great value for the price.

2) Pearl PMTD9LYD690 9 Note Tongue Drum Lydian

Pearl is a household name when it comes to drums and percussions, but they make steel tongue drums as well. In accordance with the company’s reputation, this model features very good overall quality. It is made of high-quality steel and features 9 tongues, or 9 tones if you wish. The distinctive part of this instrument it that it comes in Lydian mode. For those who aren’t that familiar with music theory, this scale is a perfect example of how just one note can make a huge difference. It heavily relies on a common major scale but adds a very special flavor with its raised fourth degree.

3) TOPFUND Steel Tongue Drum

While most people see this instrument as a perfect tool to make some exotic sounds, someone would still prefer more common notes. If you’re that kind of a person, here is a steel tongue drum for you. It comes in the most common scale – C Major. Such note choice makes it perfect for various kinds of music. The overall quality seems very good, while 12 inches in diameter provide fairly loud sound. In addition, there is a pair of mallets, as well as a beautifully-designed travel bag that will keep your instrument safe from bumps and scratches.

4) Tongue Hand Pan D Celtic Minor

This steel tongue drum is a real hi-quality product. It is handcrafted in Russia and features a premium-quality, 2mm thick steel. It offers excellent sound characteristics, which are maybe even on par with the sound of some hang drums. Its D Celtic Minor key promises a lot of beautiful tones if you prefer that more traditional and spiritual kind of a sound.

Besides amazing sound and material quality, you can easily notice great craft skills. It doesn’t just sound beautiful, it also looks very impressive, thanks to a slightly distorted shape and beautiful tongue pattern.

The price might seem too high, but the value is really amazing. Definitely worth the money!

5) Meinl Sonic Energy STD1BK

Many consider that a good product is the one that offers an excellent balance between quality and price. This one definitely meets such criteria. It is a well-made instrument which offers a quite rich tone and excellent tuning. It comes in A Minor key, a common scale that can be used for a variety of genres and music styles. Speaking of the styling, there is no fooling around. This is a pretty straightforward, common-shaped steel tongue drum, which prefers functionality over visual appeal.

Besides good quality, it also features few usual pieces of accessories – a pair of mallets and a nice carry bag.

6) GUDA DRUM Freezbee

Unlike most tongue drums that are rather practical, this one also features very attractive look. Designers of this instrument put a lot of effort into creating beautiful circular patterns. There is also a nice rope decoration. Only by looking at this one, you can be sure that it’s about some exotic scale.

The sound of this steel tongue drum definitely follows the styling. Tuned in so-called Arcane scale, it offers a pretty unique expression, perfect for orient music and similar styles.

7) ZENKO EQUINOX

This ZENKO tongue drum offers great built quality. With 9 perfectly tuned notes, you can count on a lot of rich sounds, characterized by excellent resonance. It is tuned in so-called Equinox scale, which could be considered as a common minor key, but with a few spices. It might seem expensive, but the overall quality is amazing. Quality mallets and a gig bag are also included.

A Cheap Alternative to Hang Drums

So far, you’ve probably realized that steel tongue drums are quite similar to hang drums. So what’s the deal? The biggest advantages over hangs are price and availability. Original hang drums from PANArt are not available anymore, though the Swiss company still offers a variety of interesting musical instruments. On the other side, there are various replicas that come from different manufacturers. Some of these are good, some aren’t, but all feature very high price tag.

While a common hang drum usually costs thousands of dollars, a decent steel tongue drum can be found for a few hundred dollars. Ten times lower price is a strong argument, but how about the sound?

Does It Sound as Good as Hang Drum?

Everyone who tried both of these instruments would easily agree that hangs offer a richer and more colorful sound. A hang drum is also much louder, which seems natural if we look at sizes of two instruments. Because of that, many manufacturers offer mallets as a part of steel tongue drum kit. It is a great way to make this instrument louder. Still, such approach definitely has a bad effect on dynamics and diversity that come from playing with hands.

Considering the difference in price, these disadvantages are something that everyone would expect. Still, is it ten times better? Probably not.

A Brief Conclusion

Buying an instrument like this one is definitely beneficial. It could be a great tool if you want to color your musical expression. Pros of these simple instruments are numerous. First of all, this is a great alternative to hang drums, especially in terms of price. Also, a tongue drum is relatively easy to make, so it’s no wonder that there are numerous models on the market. Such diversity in all aspects, starting from the price and scales, gives us a lot of possibilities.

Of course, listen carefully to the sound of the musical scales of the steel tongue drums, so you can easily find the one that perfectly fits your musical expression.

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