1. XM: Hi Dave, first of all, have you played any Edrum kits before? If so, which brands or models were they?
Dave Hicks (The Eyeball Kicks): Yes, I’ve played a rather old Roland TD-3 V-drum kit with rubber pads quite a bit, but I also play newer Edrum kits whenever I visit music shops.
2. XM: How did the XM Classy Series C-Plus-9SR Edrum kit compare with the Roland one in terms of look, feel and sound?
Dave Hicks: Look, they really are incomparable. The XM kit’s drumhead skins were made of a new type of mesh; it’s the closest thing I’ve played to a real drum. The sensitive feedback in your hand was just like a real kit, so you could use more sensitivity in your playing. Rubber pads and Roland V-drums just don’t give you as much. As far as looks go, these are great looking drums, and the XM cables look really pro and slick. The interface was very easy to use. It took about 15 minutes to figure it out without any instruction. It’s very intuitive.
3. XM: What do you think about this kit’s sensitivity? There are 99 levels.
Dave Hicks: The fact that you can program it so harder hits trigger second sounds is awesome. You just have to hit the drum harder – you don’t have to adjust any settings. I’ve never seen anything like it. Harder hits also had richer tones, and not only a change in volume. This would be very useful for playing different styles of music in a single set. You could play jazz and turn the sensitivity down, and then you could play some heavy rock and turn it right up. I liked the fact that even if you hit the drumhead softly you could program it to sound loud. The adjustment in volume would also help a lot when practicing at home.
4. XM: You can adjust the actual tuning of your cymbals and drums. Is this useful?
Dave Hicks: Yeah, more control over the surface means you can emulate a live kit, just like you’d adjust an acoustic kit’s skin, nuts etc. It’s not just emulation that is important here. You can truly make a unique sound for yourself, rather than sticking to using stock settings. All drummers want their own sound, and you’ll have it here because you can control all of the parameters.
5. XM: This XM Classy Series Edrum kit comes with 8 built-in drum kit sounds you can mix and match for each drum’s individual triggers. What are your thoughts on this?
Dave Hicks: There are not as many kits as with many other brands, but once you hook the module up to a PC you can have any sound you want. I love triggering non-drum sampled sounds. Australia already supports live drums at home, as we have sound proofed garages and larger living spaces. For me, I’m excited about the digital sampling element in Edrums.
6. XM: This kit can work together with programs like Easy Drummer, Pro Tools and Ableton, via a USB and laptop. What do think about this?
Dave Hicks: This is paramount because you can then have total control over the sampling capabilities.
The XM Classy Series C-PLUS-9SR electronic drum kit played by Dave Hicks of The Eyeball Kicks.
7. XM: You can download WAVE files of any sound you like, and download more drum sounds online via the special XM driver file for samples. What could you see yourself doing with this function?
Dave Hicks: I’d download sounds that last for a bar or two, and then play along with it as it runs. Really, I’d like to be able to play along to looped beats.
8. XM: Each drum has 3 triggered sounds: Hoop, drumhead and rimshot. Many Edrums on the market only have 1. You can program each trigger individually. What could you do with this?
Dave Hicks: I’d totally freak it out! I’d do some crazy stuff with it. For example, I could create a send and return loop from trigger to trigger, which would be great for reggae music, as well as innovative songs.
9. XM: Each cymbal has 4 triggered sounds: bell, surface, edge and choke. You can program them individually. What could you do with them?
Dave Hicks: I’d create a basic drum machine on a single cymbal; I’d put actual drum sounds on the cymbal! I like to think outside of the box; I’d use it in a way that isn’t necessarily what it was created for. Traditionally, you could also turn one cymbal parameter right up, and turn the others down, E.G for a song that you only need a choke on. This could simplify your playing.
10. XM: The skin is like a real drum, but it lasts for up to 3 years. Do you feel like you can play heavily on it?
Dave Hicks: Yeah. The true test though is a live gig with a band. Give it a real bashing. It handled hard hits well. I’m amazed this meshhead skin lasts 4 or 5 times longer than a real drum skin. Great!
11. XM: You can plug your MP3 player into the module via a CD-input (phone-in, phone-out jacks). Would you use this function to play along to your favourite songs? No laptop is needed.
Dave Hicks: I’d use this function to write new beats to recorded guitar tracks etc. You could record what you play as you go via MIDI output. Then I’d send the beats straight back to the guitarist. You could move to London, but keep the band together! I’m joking…
12. XM: How do the drums actually feel?
Dave Hicks: They’re bouncy, fast and responsive – very intuitive. For me though, I’d like to be able to have floor toms that feel flat, slow and dead. Can XM also create a mesh that feels soft and unresponsive?
13. XM: What do you think of the hi-hats? It is very difficult to emulate real metal cymbals. The XM hi-hats offer Surface, Bell and Choke functions, as well as 4 adjustable positions. You can even do Foot splashes.
Dave Hicks: Personally, they seemed too soft for hi-hats. They didn’t feel dynamic enough. It’s the hardware, not the software that could be better, and this goes for all brands of Edrum kits. They’re all typically rubber. I’d like something harder and more bouncy. As far as these functions go, the more options the better, so it’s good to see XM attempting to be like real hi-hats. The software is like a real hi-hat. A hi-hat is the most versatile part of the drum kit. We use it for timing, use it with every beat, and hit it the quickest – it’s a very important piece. It really needs to feel right. I don’t use foot splashes like funk and jazz drummers. This entire kit would be great for progressive jazz drummers.
By Jesse S. Somer, XM eDrum
(Continued in Part 2)