Tag Archives: electronic drums

HXW / Avatar PD705 Review – Affordable Roland SPD-SX Alternative

I recently picked up an Avatar PD705 multipad / sample pad, and I must say that I am pretty impressed with this device. It is well built, triggers very accurately, has decent pre-loaded samples, multi-layering capabilities, a fair amount of editing features, USB import/export, and a large amount of expansion ports. That’s a lot of stuff for only $247, compared to Roland’s SPD-SX which is $719!

A cheap Roland SPD-SX?

The PD705 features 9 velocity sensitive The pads themselves feel good, and I’m experiencing no crosstalk, nor retriggering problems on all 9 pads. The built-in samples sound decent, not amazing, but not bad either. They’re definitely usable in a pinch. It has ports in the back for 4 external triggers (if you’re using splitters) or two dual zone triggers. It also has two foot switch inputs that can be used for hi hat control, bass drums, or changing patches. There’s two USB connections, A and B, one for importing/saving samples, and another for using USB MIDI. There’s also Stereo audio outputs, MIDI DIN connections, aux in, and headphone out.

The menu and controls are fairly easy to use once you get used to them and there’s the usual pad adjustments you’ll find in Roland devices such as threshold, sensitivity, muffling, tuning, pitch, velocity curves, MIDI, and several other settings I’ll go more into detail in my YouTube review of the device.

Importing samples is a bit cumbersome and not as simple as just putting some samples on USB and importing them, but it works and the final result is good. First you need to download Avatar’s Wave Manager software Then you assemble ‘kits’ within the software then import them into the device via USB. This can just be a bit time consuming because you can’t do much editing on the software, so you’ll still want to adjust your layering and other options on the PD705 once the kit is imported.

The good news it, it just works. Once you have your stuff imported and edited, you can create fully customized multi-layered sample based drum kits which play very well on the nice Avatar pads.

My biggest pet peeve of the device is the fact that none of the 4 trigger inputs default to a Kick sound on any of the preset kits. This is completely mind baffling to me as to why they would do this. Yes you can easily edit the trigger input to a kick sound, but I feel like most people will be plugging in a kick drum trigger into trigger input 1, and having it default to a hi hat sound is, quite frankly bizarre.

So which input is defaulted to kick? Switch 2! This choice is equally as bizarre. Why would anyone want a non-velocity sensitive switch input for kick drum over an actual trigger? Well they wouldn’t. Switch input 1 works as a hi hat controller out of the box, and I’m happy to report that both a Roland FD7 and KD7 worked perfectly for hi hat and kick drum inputs. 

Stay tuned for my full YouTube review on this device. Overall I think it’s very worth the money!

Can You Draw Me?

Pre-Order, or Pre-Save “Can You Draw Me?” Now! Worldwide Release on 12/4!

 

2020 was a weird year to say the least, so what better way to finish off the year than with a really weird album by Demonic Sweaters? Yes, “Can You Draw Me?” is weird, but I do not think it is weird in a way that makes it non-relatable to the average listener.

On this album I have returned to my roots and it is very synthesizer and drum heavy. Above all I believe this album conveys a consistent mood throughout. A mood of mystery. A mystery steeped in technology gone awry. A ghost in the machine.

The album is organically played, but electronically produced. My electronic drum set was used on most of the songs on the record using the Roland TD-8 and Alesis Nitro drum modules. Synthesizers and controllers used were the Kawai K1m, The UVI Emulation One, UVI Darklight, Casio CT-370 (Soundfont by DS), Akai MPD16, MidiPlus Classic 49, Mothman 1966, Mothman 2000, Elogoxa Cosmogirl, EGOkILLERversion2, and the Korg Monotron Delay, and some others I probably forgot about. Guitars and basses used were the Squier Mustang HH, Harley Benton RX-10, Rogue Fretless bass. Acoustic drums Tama Club-JAM Mini with expansion kit and Paiste Cymbals (on Space Dingo only)

You can pre-order the album already on Bandcamp, or pre-save it on Spotify!

‘Low Volume’ cymbals and drums suck, build your own e-drums instead

Okay hear me out here before you get tiggered, but I really think this trend of the past couple of years of “low volume” cymbals is really stupid. Yes yes, I get that some people (including me) live in small apartments with neighbors all around who really will not like you banging on full volume drums, but if the option is playing something that looks like a drumset, but sounds like awful garbage, like the example above, I’d rather just play guitar.

I started playing drums when I was 10 years old, and as a kid (and as an adult), the power, loudness, resonance, and tones of the drums, all are part of why I loved playing them so much. If I had something that sounded like cardboard boxes and baking pans, I never would have wanted to play them. So what can you do?

Well, what I do is rent a small room about 10 blocks away from my house in an industrial neighborhood for my drums, but I realize this option isn’t realistic for everyone, so option 2 is build your own electronic drum set. Even though I kinda hate electronic drums too, but at least they’re better than what you hear above. I built my own electronic kit back in 2009, and it wasn’t that difficult, here’s some  pics:

I’ve also made a playlist of youtubers who made some pretty awesome ones:

Or… you can just buy one (which is probably what I’d do now, haha.


E-kits have gotten a lot cheaper and better in recent years. But honestly, I would rather play any of the above than Low Volume cymbals with silent heads. At this point you’re just hitting drum shaped objects that sound like nothing. At least with electronic drums you can record them and have endless options of sounds. Plus they’re STILL QUIETER than LV cymbals and drums.

Anyway, I know this was a bit of a rant, but just had to get it out there ;P

The new Simmons SD2000 is the first electronic drum kit I’ve ever actually wanted!

Despite not even being out yet, the YouTube video being overrun by angry trolls, this drum kit is the first electronic set I’ve actually wanted. Simmons came back into the e-drum market a decade or so ago and has mostly been focused on lower end kits until now.

A few things immediately caught my eye about this kit, the classic hexagon shaped pads, the mesh hitting surface, the classic Simmons sound banks, and lastly but most importantly, the ability to sample and import your own sounds into the kit!

I really want one of these things!