Newish Drummer looking for midi advice

Hello,
I am brand new to this site. Let me introduce myself. My name is Andy. I have been a musician for 40 years. I started playing guitar in 1980. I have played in rock, blues, old time, and original bands. I started playing drums about a year and a half ago. I have a Yamaha DTX 402 kit,. I use this for recording only. But I would like to expand what I can do with drums. So my question is, do I want to buy a set of midi plugins and continue with my DTX set, which can be mapped to any midi set of drums. Or should I just buy a better set of drums that has the midi drums built in? I've seen some sets by Alesis and Roland where they have literally hundreds of drum kits. It seems this might be easier, and I'd get a better drum kit out of it.

Thank you in advance for your help.
 

Griffin

Well-known member
if you run your kit through a computer and use VST drums (there’s heaps to choose from) you can use any drum samples you want. The main reason for more expensive kits is better pads, multi zone cymbals, mesh heads etc. the Yamaha doesn’t use midi drums it uses samples from real kits (roland uses midi sounds— just a difference between the brands) but if you want to expand the sounds but are happy with the kit I’d recommend using it to control a VST (E.g. superior drummer)
 

electrodrummer

Senior Member
So my question is, do I want to buy a set of midi plugins and continue with my DTX set, which can be mapped to any midi set of drums.
If you want to add extra sounds to your kit, you can, yes, but using a software instrument on a PC. There's plenty around, starting at "free".


Or should I just buy a better set of drums that has the midi drums built in?
You have "MIDI drums built in" (this isn't really a "thing" as such - no offence). Obs, being an entry kit you have less available sounds than a higher kit (see my data below)

Modules work like this (in effect)

Pad --> [[ Trigger to MIDI interface --> Tone Module ]] --> Sound

And this if you want to use a software instrument

Pad --> [[ Trigger to MIDI interface ]] --> MIDI --> PC --> Software instrument --> Sound


I've seen some sets by Alesis and Roland where they have literally hundreds of drum kits.
(you forgot to mention Yamaha with up to 1,644 user kits ;) )

SO....

Number of "kits" is not equal to the number of sounds. Kits are just collections of sounds, that are either pre-defined or "user". So, having more"kits", - i.e. memory slots - isn't a massive advantage unless you use more than the number you have in your module at a gig (unlikely - many edrummers only ever use 1 ;) )

You have Yamaha's entry level kit. Further up-the-line there are modules with more available sounds, and more "slots" for saving "user kits" (as well the ability to add your own sounds)

So:
402: Sounds - Drum and percussion: 287, Melody: 128 / Slots for saving your own kits kits 10
502: Sounds - User Samples + Drum and percussion: 691, Melody: 128 / Slots for saving your own kits 50
700: Sounds - User Samples + Drum and percussion: 1,268, Melody: 128 / Slots for saving your own kits 60
700: Sounds - User Samples + Drum and percussion: 1,115, Melody: 211 / Slots for saving your own kits 50 + 1,584 (USB)

AND

Don't forget sounds are tweakable and can have effects added etc.
 
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Well, I'm asking this question because I don't understand the midi world. I have two directions to choose from, and they both seem like the right direction. I could keep my beginner kit and buy a midi software package, and from my beginner kit, I could have/simulate multiple drum sets/sounds. Or I could buy a better drum set that already has several kit sounds built in. Or..... I could buy a better drum set and still buy a midi software.

Given that a good drum software costs several hundred dollars (Superior Drummer = $369), should I be investing my money into a better drum set or a software package? Or both? There are some Roland packages that boast 600 drum kits built in. I don't know if that's an analog output, or a midi output. I assume that's an analog output. So from a recording point of view, I would be recording two analog channels, not a midi signal. And that's where I am now.

I bought this kit I have thinking that I need something to record with but I don't know if I really want to play drums. Well, after 18 months or so, I find that I really enjoy playing drums, and I am sure I will continue. But I want to improve the quality of sounds I create.

So what are the advantages? If I buy a better kit, it will cost $1000+. What I do I get out of that that I don't already have? Or if I stay with my current beginner kit and buy software, where does that get me?

Please excuse me if I sound redundant. This is new to me. I might not be asking the right questions.
 

Griffin

Well-known member
It really depends if you want it as a recording tool or as a drum kit if that makes sense. A lot of people even with real high end drum modules (the brain with all the sounds) still use VSTs, others don’t.
But if you’re really enjoying playing drums and want to learn more and get better upgrading to something like the dtx532 or higher, or the Roland equivalent makes a lot of sense. You’ll get more sounds without need to pay for software but also better pads/cymbals that simulate real drums more... but it depends if that matters to you. Or you could just buy a new module to use with your existing pads— which would be cheaper. That said selling your kit would offset the cost of the upgrade.
 

electrodrummer

Senior Member
Well, I'm asking this question because I don't understand the midi world.
[not being patronising]
MIDI is a a way for instruments to talk to each other - been around since 1982. Play a note on one instrument and have it sound on another. In our example, hat a pad on a DTX, and a sound is generated by a software instrument on a PC. Note: A software instrument isn't "MIDI software" - but software that is triggered by incoming MIDI data (notes). You can also save the notes (instructions/data - not sound) and play it back later - electronic sheet music.


I have two directions to choose from, and they both seem like the right direction. I could keep my beginner kit and buy a midi software package, and from my beginner kit, I could have/simulate multiple drum sets/sounds.
You could, indeed. To that end, why not download some free ones and have a play. Download Cakewalk (it's now free) and contains a Drum Instrument. This will cost nothing and will give you a feel. (or add in Steven Slate free if you like). Simple $1 USB A->B cable and you're off.







Or I could buy a better drum set that already has several kit sounds built in.
Indeed. Don't forget "kit" is not equal to "sound". Kits are collections of sounds. The number of available sounds is the thing to look for, as per my other post. So - you could just switch your module for another higher-model DTX or bin the lot and start again.



Or..... I could buy a better drum set and still buy a midi software.
Obs.



Given that a good drum software costs several hundred dollars (Superior Drummer = $369), should I be investing my money into a better drum set or a software package? Or both?
Up to you. Listen to some things - modules and software instruments - and decide what good for YOU.

I have recorded songs and albums using just DTX module sounds for example. And no reviewer said "those drums sound bad". And play 1,000s of gig with module sounds from 100 to 10,000 punters. No complaints.



There are some Roland packages that boast 600 drum kits built in
Again - kits are not sounds. (are there any Rolands with 600 "kits"?). I have some 20-year-old old DTXs in my collection with 1000+ sounds (all tweakable)



I don't know if that's an analog output, or a midi output. I assume that's an analog output. So from a recording point of view, I would be recording two analog channels, not a midi signal.
Bit of a mix up here (no offence). MIDI is computer data. Audio is analogue. You can "record" both. It's always good to record MIDI data for later flexibility. It's like write sheet music, then giving it to different orchestras and audio recording the result. If you don't like the sound a month later - you can give the same music to another orchestra. I've posted on here a few times about the "best" way to record edrums.



But I want to improve the quality of sounds I create.
What's the issue you feel with your current sounds? They are samples of Yamaha's acoustic drums and sound pretty good out-of-the-box



So what are the advantages? If I buy a better kit, it will cost $1000+. What I do I get out of that that I don't already have? Or if I stay with my current beginner kit and buy software, where does that get me?
Down to YOU to listen to modules and software instruments to decide what YOU like - it's totally subjective. (and no, you don't need to spend $1000+ simple module swap will be far less than that. Even moving swapping the entire kit to the 5x2 series won't hit that, esp if you factor in moving the current kit)

Don't also forget - if you're talking about swapping kits - then you'll be changing pads as well. This is another big "issue". You will need to test drive a load of pads to see what YOU like. Yamaha silicone? Roland meshy stuff?





Where does that get me?
At the end of the day - it's down to what you like and the sound you want. Edrums are not acoustic drums, but there many out there that want their edrums to sound like ye-olde acoustic drums from the last century - your module already has these sounds built-in - sampled from ye-olde Yamaha acoustics - but obs if you want more acoustic sounds, yes, you add on another [software] instrument.
 
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Electrodrummer,
Good question. I'm not sure anything is wrong with my current sounds. I recently downloaded MTPowerDrum, the free version. And I record that through midi, and it sounds much fuller than the analog channel out of my DTX. That's not to say the DTX sounds bad, but the sounds I get out of MTPowerDrum sound fuller and deeper. Part of this is that I'm just so inexperienced at this, I get distracted easily.

I may try to download the Steve Slate drum parts to see where that leads.
 

KamaK

Platinum Member
Regarding the kit....

I recommend that you obtain "at least one" non-hard-rubber-pad. I have a DTX-532 instead of a 4XX not because I find it to be superior for MIDI, but it has one pad that meets my minimum standards for feel and expressiveness.

All the rest comes down to the software you choose. If you have a Mac like me, it's GarageBand/Logic. If you use windows, you have dozens of options to evaluate and decide on.
 

doggyd69b

Well-known member
Ok to explain midi to anyone that may be confusing it with the modules built in sounds.. MIDI is just ones and zeros, no sound or notes there.
The drum modules depending on quality and price will have built in sounds that are better or worse depending on brand and price. built in sounds are recorded drum samples of real or electronically produced drums hence why some modules sound very digital vs others that use real samples.
most modules today have MIDI capability which means that when connected to a computer via a USB (direct to computer) or a MIDI connector (through an interface) can convert the hits on the pads to MIDI signals (different numbers for different pads and different hit velocities from soft hits =low volume and different sound to hard hits = high volume and different sample. Now in order for the computer to play those midi signals it has to have some software that interprets them like some of you stated here, there are tons starting at free and going from there. if you plan to use software, your current module may be all you need to get good drums (which also happens to be the name of decently priced drum sample software).

if you plan to use the module's built in sounds then you have to play with different ones (or if you can just do a youtube search on those modules to find playing samples and hopefully help you make a decision). No set has the midi drums built in. most sets are capable of converting their signals to midi for a computer (with software to interpret it).
 

doggyd69b

Well-known member
To further add to the midi discussion, no module has midi built in, they all have midi capability.
I will present an example... I know a lot of you understand it but the original poster seems to still have questions.
you can have ANY module it can be the cheapest module as long as it is midi capable (you can then plug in the cheapest snare pad) as long as it works with that module. if you play that pad, and have the module connected to a computer, the module will produce midi data that the computer will then interpret depending on the software you have, like for example you can use a piano VST software and every time you play the pad, the computer will be interpreting the midi data and in turn playing piano notes. (there is a video of Rob Scallion doing this in YT. The beauty of MIDI is that I can for example use Steven Slate Drums, record my song with a Deftones sounding kit.. I later on decide that I don't like the way the toms sound, and instead of re-recording the song, I can just change the samples for the tom samples I like and voila instant change. I can even add double samples for example I can layer different snare sounds to create a unique sound, something you can't do with real drums....at least not at the same time. Now buying a new kit to play VST samples is just for better playability not for better sound, the samples are going to sound the same regardless of what kit you use, but your playing experience is going to be better with better drums (more realistic sizes, rebound etc.) I hope this clarified it a little bit better.
 
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