There are many ways of upgrading digital drum kits for added power and flexibility – here are four…
Electronic drums have taken over the percussion world, it would seem. Due to their low noise and practical nature, a digital kit has become the first choice for beginners.
You might think that, unlike acoustic drums where it’s simply a matter of attaching a new drum or cymbal, expanding digital drums is difficult or even impossible. Well, you’d be wrong.
Here are four great ways of upgrading digital drum kits.
Upgrade the brain/ sound module
This is one of the simplest methods of supercharging the power of your digital kit. The brain is the source of all of your sounds, and the power behind every other feature that your drum kit is capable of. Swapping it effectively makes your kit entirely new (but with the same trigger pads).
All drum triggers work in pretty much the same way, and most connect using ¼” jack plugs, so it’s very unlikely to have compatibility issues, even across brands.
Most of the major brands sell drum modules separately, too. So, if you wanted, you could take your old TD-3 kit, and make it new again with a TD-15 brain.
One thing to note, however- if you are upgrading from an older V-Drum kit to a newer one, you might have to buy the new loom cable that the modern kits use. Always check the connections…
Add extra drum triggers
A lot of electronic kits feature additional trigger inputs, for the purpose of adding more triggers at a later date. V-Drums from the TD-11 upwards offer this, for example.
As stated above, most electronic kits have triggers that function in the same way, so adding additional pad or cymbal shouldn’t be a problem if it isn’t the same brand.
Just about all of Roland’s V-Drum components are available to buy separately, so you can add anything from a mesh pad to a cymbal, to a hi-hat trigger easily.
Just remember, you’ll need a mount for any new trigger (unless you go for something like the Roland bar trigger)
Roland also makes some great acoustic drum triggers, making it easy to integrate elements of your acoustic set-up into your digital kit.
Trigger computer software
Nearly every electronic kit has a USB connection and/ or MIDI connections. If you have a computer with good onboard sound, or an audio interface, there’s plenty of scope for triggering sounds via software.
Most DAW packages (such as Ableton Suite or Reason) come complete with massive sound libraries, including plenty of drum sounds. Hook your kit up, trigger some of these and POW! Upgrading digital drum kits has never been so easy…
There’s plenty of dedicated drum plug ins, too (Toontrack and FXPansion produce some excellent examples…)
Plus, if you have an iPad or iPhone, and one of the compatible V-Drum kits, you can take advantage of the free, Friend Jam app, and compete in coaching exercises with people from around the world.
Add a performance pad to your rig
If you don’t have any additional trigger inputs, there are still ways of upgrading digital drum kits. One of the easiest is by adding a performance pad to the set-up.
A performance pad is an all-in-one unit that comprises a set of playable trigger pads and a sound module or sampler. Capable of being played on their own, they can easily be set up within an electronic kit and massively expand its capabilities.
The Roland SPD-SX sampler and SPD-30 Octapad are both great examples of this.
Each of these will add raft of new features to your kit, and if you already have a V-Drum kit and an iPad, it might even be free, too!
Joe is a contributor for the Dawsons Music blog. Specialising in product reviews and crafting content to help and inspire musicians of all musical backgrounds.