How to use digital drum effects in V-Drums

Tuesday, October 29th, 2013

A drummer’s sound is not just down to the tone of the drum itself. By using the built-in effects, it’s possible to just about recreate any drum sound you like and perform it with V-Drums.

Think of your favourite drummer. Now think of a favourite track (or album) they performed on, one that you know well. When you listen back to that track, it’s different to other tracks or albums they performed on, right? Sure, the drummer’s style, groove, and playing ability all define their sound – but that’s not what we’re discussing here. Part of the drum sound on that track is down to actual kit they used, where it was recorded, how and even when they recorded it.

Let’s take that one stage further. The drummer performed the track. He may have even tuned the kit used on the recording. But the recording engineer and the producer had a large influence in the sound of the drums on that record – microphone techniques, room ambiance and even effects, all helped to create the drum sound you are hearing on the record.

In the past, a studio-quality effects rig would resemble the USS Enterprise and require a touch of genius to work its magic. But nowadays, effects are digital – much simpler to use, and far more compact. In the case of V-Drums, the effects are in-built. And, thankfully they’re studio quality.

Why use effects?

Thanks to COSM modelling technology in V-Drums, it’s possible to take any single instrument within the internal sound library and edit it. Tuning, muffling (or damping), shell sizes, snare buzz and more… it’s all there to play around with. You can then recreate, or ‘model’ any sound you want. It could be a huge drum sound from a favourite record, or it could be creating your own custom drum sound.

But, the drum sound alone might not give it the ‘presence’ or the professional shine that help bring the drums to life. Playing a kit ‘dry’ i.e. no effects applied at all, can sound a little wooden (no pun intended). Add in some effects and suddenly the drum sound comes to life – because that’s how real life works.

In fact, adding some basic effects can make the difference between the kit sounding nearly right, and sounding really right.

The basics: effects explained

Let’s start with ambience. A ‘dry’ drum kit sound is devoid of any echo or ‘reverb’ at all. You have the drum sound via the microphones, but not the sound of the environment around the drums.

If you were stood in the room with the drummer, listening as they played, not only would you hear the drums and cymbals directly, but you would hear the drums’ sound bouncing off the walls (reverberating, to give it its technical term), all around the space you are in. So you have the actual sound of the drums, and then the sound of the ‘room’ or the ambient space. These combine to give the overall sound hitting your ear drums.

Adding ambience to a V-Drums kit is simple. Whether it’s a TD-4KP V-Drums Portable kit, a TD-11 series, TD-15 series or TD-30 series module, you will be able to add ambience. We’ve made it easy to use too – we’ve created pre-set ambience environments such as ‘studio’, ‘hall’, ‘basement’, ‘garage’ and ‘stadium’ to name just a few that you can instantly apply to your drums. Each of these can also be edited, so you can get the ambience just right.

You can ‘send’ that effect to individual drums too. In some modules, such as the TD-30, you can say how much of the ambience you want on each individual drum and cymbal – just as you would in the studio. In other V-Drums modules, you can turn the ambience on or off on each individual drum.

Multi-effects: going a step further

Ambience and reverb are just two simple effects available. Multi-effects offer a a multitude of ways to applyeffects to your drums, opening up the sonic possibilities and letting you create studio drum sounds similar to those off favourite records from past and present. This comes into its own for the cover band drummer – imagine getting Bonzo’s ‘Levee Breaks’ kit sound spot on at the gig by using some delay and reverb!

Multi-effects are built into the following V-Drums products:

– TD-30 module/kits

– TD-15 module/kits

– SPD-SX sampling pad

– SPD-30 percussion pad

– HPD-20 HandSonic pad

Multi-effects are simply a range of effects than can be applied to the kit one at a time. These include echo, delay, reverb, filters, flanger, distortion, compression and many more.

As with ambience, these effects can be sent to individual drums and cymbals so that you can have more, or less of an effect on each drum. You can also edit the effect parameters themselves, so you can tailor the effect to your needs.

Real-time effects

In Roland percussion products, such as the HandSonic HPD-20, SPD-SX sampling pad and SPD-30 percussion pad, you can turn an effect on the kit on or off and can change the effect as you play.

In other words, you could play a sound or a beat, apply an effect to it and change it as you play (i.e. in real-time). Check out a V-Drums demonstrator using real-time effects in the SPD-SX sampling pad.

Now you know what effects can do, it’s time to try for yourself. Who knows, you might create a drum sound that impresses so much, other drummers will be trying to create it for themselves!

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