Author Topic: Amplification for e-drums  (Read 21046 times)

puttenvr

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Amplification for e-drums
« on: July 15, 2009, 02:30:21 PM »
For a proper amplification of electronic drums (e-drums) a powerful sound system is needed. And with powerful I don’t mean hundreds of watts, good for smoking your ears. No, more important is the ability of the sound system to handle the signals from an e-drum properly.
E-drums generate very strong signals with trancients. Trancients are ‘sounds’ without a recognizable frequency or tone, such as the buzzing of a snare drum, or the hit (attack) from a drumstick on the plastic head. Amplifiers and loudspeakers must be able to handle those trancients without distortion. In addition, an e-drum produces a wide field of frequencies, from deep basses to treble from a bright sounding snare or splash cymbal.


What does watt tell?
When manufacturers sum up the specs of their sound system, they only talk about the number of watts. For instance 2 x 200 watts or 2 x 400 watts. But these figures don’t reveal the actual output of the sound system. It’s important to know how many watts (power) the system needs to convert electrical energy into acoustic energy (sound). If a large part of the power disappears into heat, then we have nothing. A more useful indication of a sound system’s capacity therefor is the Sound Pressure Level (SPL). The SPL is determined by placing a microphone at 1 meter from a loudspeaker, which receives the electrical energy of only 1 watt. The yield of the output is given in decibels (dB).
A value of 80dB/1W/1M means that the measured SPL is 80 decibels at 1 watt at 1 meter. Some amplifiers (amps) need 200 watts of power to do this. Others 400 watts. There are loudspeakers with a high return, which don’t need a powerful amp. And there are loudspeakers with a low return, even when driven by a 500 watt amp. So the SPL tells us how efficient a sound system transforms energy into sound.

Most cheap sound systems do have a moderate SPL. As well as cheap sounding loudspeakers and dubious electronic parts. Now have a look at this diagram …

Number of Watts          Output
200 watt             120 decibels
400 watt             123 decibels
800 watt             126 decibels
1600 watt             129 decibels

What we see, is that doubling the number of watts only increases the SPL with 3 decibel. It is therefor impossible to say that a soundsystem of 400 watts will be good enough for electronic drums. We always need more information.


Requirements
A good sound system for electronic drums should have …
-   Enough headroom (capacity) for handling incoming signals without distortion
-   Enough SPL to transform energy into sound
-   Separte loudspeakers for the low (middle) and high frequencies. The size of the bass speaker (a 12, 15 or 18 inch woofer) doesn’t tell us much about its capability to handle the lower tones. The SPL and freqyency range do.
-   The tweeter (a horn shaped loudspeaker for high frequencies) should have a 1,75 inch coil. The coil is not the horn you look at, but the round magnetic thing behind it. In general, a coil from 1 inch screams the snares and cymbals too much. A larger coil will provice more beautiful higher tones
-   Two amps (bi amping) for handling the low and high frequencies separately. Handling the lower tones requires other strenghts from an amp than handling the high frequencies
-   Enough and separate inputs for the kick drum, tomtoms (prefer stereo), hi-hat and cymbals. A mixer is prefered.
-   A built in limiter or compressor.
A bass guitar combo isn’t suitable for playing e-drums on high volumes, since it’s made for bass guitars and not for drums. A home (cinema) sound system will be blown up as well, when pumping up the volume.


Sound systems
For electronic drums different types of sound systems can be useful.

Keyboard combo
-   Benefits: compact // speakers and amplifier in one housing // can easily be found in shops and on internet, new and second hand
-   Disadvantages: mostly mono // when one of the parts is damaged, the whole system is useless // limited number of inputs
-   Attention: watch the SPL and frequency range of the loudspeakers
-   Tip: Roland KC-880 combo, some old Peavey keyboard combo’s


E-drum combo
-   Back in the 1980s Simmons (SDC 200), Peavey (ED 300) and Tama made special combos for e-drums. Today the new Simmons (DA 200S, DA50), Alesis (TransActive drummer) and Roland (PM-10, TDA-700) have them
-   Benefits: special made for electronic drums // compact // the Alesis even has an Ipod docking station (…)
-   Disadvantages: same as with keyboard combos.
-   Attention: both the Alesis and Simmons combos are suitable for low volume use. The Roland TDA-700 can handle more and will be a decent monitor in live situations.


E-drum sound systems
-   Roland (PM-3, PM-30) and Yamaha (MS100DR, MS50DR) offer special sound systems for e-drums. They consist of 1 woofer with built-in amp(s) and 2 satelite loudspeakers
-   Benefits:  special made for electronic drums // quite compact // affordable
-   Disadvantages:  good enough for low volume home practicing, not for live use // some systems have few inputs


Powered speaker
-   A compact plastic housing with 2 loudspeakers and 1 or 2 built-in amps
-   Benefits:  quite compact // affordable
-   Disadvantages:  same as with combo // some of them sometimes overheat
-   Attention: watch the SPL and frequency range of the loudspeakers
-   Tip: Mackie SRM 450 and JBL EON G2 or the new EON series


PA system
-   Separate mixing console, amplifiers, cross over and loud speakers
-   Benefits:  powerful // good sound // parts can be assembled separately
-   Disadvantages:  not compact at all // quite or very expensive


In ear monitoring (IEM)
-   Mini loudspeakers for in your ears
-   Benefits:  monitoring is possible at low volume // no need to carry around sound systems // IEM reduces dangerous sound levels // leave amplification to where it belongs: with the professional sound guys
-   Disadvantages:  good IEM’s are expensive // with some systems the lower frequencies are missed
-   Attention: IEM requires a good mixing console with enough AUX canals, a (wired or wireless) Belt Pack and – last but not least - good In Ear monitors. In general the expensive systems are the best, although prices decrease. In Ears with a 2 or 3 way ‘speaker’ system are capable of producing enough low frequencies. Some of the universal IEM’s can be updated with custom made sleeves, which penetrate your ears deeper. These sleeves will provide  more low end than any foam or plastic tip ever will do. Full custom made IEM’s are even better sounding and more comfortable to wear. Sometimes a drummer wants to add extra low vibrations by using a Butt Kick of Bass Shaker (a speaker for mounting below the drummmers throne which will give vibrations)
« Last Edit: July 16, 2009, 12:41:17 PM by puttenvr »

TrommelTheo

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Re: Amplification for e-drums
« Reply #1 on: July 15, 2009, 09:09:38 PM »
puttenvr,
very good thread and plausible argumentation. For Rehersal-Rooms are good aktive Monitor-Speaker like Mackie, JBL or, a little bit cheaper, db-audio enough.
On stage, I prefer In-Ear Montioring with my own Mixer for Music/Voices and Drums. You´ll got your own Mix with a siutable volume that wont hurt your ears  ;D and no Guitar-Player can torture your ears.

Greetz
Theo

UC

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Re: Amplification for e-drums
« Reply #2 on: July 15, 2009, 09:55:20 PM »
...and no Guitar-Player can torture your ears.

Hahahaha yeah. Try playing with a DJ too - those cuts and scratches HURT :D

p.s. great breakdown puttenvr, I learnt a lot from that.

puttenvr

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Re: Amplification for e-drums
« Reply #3 on: July 16, 2009, 08:06:54 AM »
On stage, I prefer In-Ear Montioring with my own Mixer for Music/Voices and Drums.

Yes, stupid I forgot In ears for monitoring. I use IE myself
Great for monitoring and home practice and let sound technicians do the amplification job !

Thx for the fine comments.
Hope this article will contribute to some learning. I am not a technician but
a drummer

TrommelTheo

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Re: Amplification for e-drums
« Reply #4 on: July 16, 2009, 09:17:12 PM »
UC, take a few scratch-sample on your coming Drumit five to going your DJ on his nerves  ;D

Puttnvr, at the moment i am working with a low-price wireless In-Ear (DBaudio iem 300) and i´m sad to thow away the money into the fire *lol*
Best Inear for a Drummer is still the wired one with your own good mixer and very good InEars. About the Bass-Shaker: I needn´t a Vibrator under my seat *lol*

Theo

puttenvr

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Re: Amplification for e-drums
« Reply #5 on: July 17, 2009, 07:29:30 AM »
Right, there is enough low end on my Westone ES-2 in ears and don't need a shaker, too. The more electronics and cables I use with my drumkit, the more nervous I get ...
Some people also use Enhancers in their sound system. Perhaps they will improve bad sounding e-drums, but I don't get (hear) it.

airdrummer

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Re: Amplification for e-drums
« Reply #6 on: November 17, 2009, 10:47:52 AM »
For my actual millenium mps 400 (shitty) e-drums i use a TAPCO TH-15A 250W RMS and it's awesome I recommand it.

great sound and equalizer with an half-parametric medium potentiometer!!!

Powerful and lightweight (only 32lbs)

Perico

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Re: Amplification for e-drums
« Reply #7 on: December 15, 2009, 01:08:30 AM »
Hi,
I'm gonna order the DrumitFive, and I want to buy some HiFi gear too : a DAC, an amplifier and a pair of speakers. To be clear I would like to connect my Pcit to the DAC>amplifier>speakers.
Is it possible to connect an edrum to a classical HiFi system?
Or do I have to buy a special gear like a PM-10/30 from Roland or some powered speakers like the Mackie SRM450?
I know that I can play edrum with earphones but I know that one day I would like to play without.
Another question? is it possible to use powered speakers to lesson music the way I would like to do, and enjoy? or will it be frustrating?
I assume each system is done for is own purpose but as I don't have any knowledge in the sound area I would like some advices.
Thanks and sorry for my english. I try I try! :)

wbrs

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Re: Amplification for e-drums
« Reply #8 on: December 15, 2009, 01:55:19 AM »
I wouldn't use anything for HiFi you will probably destroy it in a matter of minutes. Edrums require really heavy duty full ramge speaker systems.

puttenvr

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Re: Amplification for e-drums
« Reply #9 on: December 15, 2009, 06:19:04 AM »
Perico. please read the story at the top of this page.

Perico

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Re: Amplification for e-drums
« Reply #10 on: December 15, 2009, 12:41:17 PM »
I've read it Puttenvr. :)
I just wanted to have some comments about my personal case.
Anyway I have understand that is not a good idea to use HiFi gear, so I'll not, for sure!
I'll buy something else for the DrumIt.
What do yo use for amplification if you do not only use earphones?
It will be interesting to have some feedbacks about various amplification systems. Personally it's just for a home use.
About the powered speaker, do you need to have 2? Sorry for my naive questions! :)

HM

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Re: Amplification for e-drums
« Reply #11 on: May 21, 2010, 04:43:15 PM »
My personal monitor, The Box MA1220 MKII performed well live with the DrumIt Five, and it has an ok sound considering its price of 200 euros. It has enough power for everything I can imagine if it can placed right behind your chair, having a max SPL of 123 dB @ 1 m. The sound is perhaps not very good compared to very expensive speakers, but I think it is not very bad either.

puttenvr

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Re: Amplification for e-drums
« Reply #12 on: May 21, 2010, 08:58:41 PM »
What do yo use for amplification if you do not only use earphones?
Sorry for answering so late, but this forum doesn't always hightlight the active discussions for me, so clear. Must be my age and my eyes ...
Yes, at this moment I only use Westone custom in ears. Live we run the system through a decent PA system. To be honest: I always use my acoustic drums live. At home I use a normal headphone
Quote
About the powered speaker, do you need to have 2? Sorry for my naive questions! :)
No, 2 speakers is only for stereo. Better invest in a speaker and sub speaker for the low frequencies

franz-tanz

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Re: Amplification for e-drums
« Reply #13 on: July 30, 2010, 05:23:33 PM »
Hi everybody ,
Read the threads above and
thought to mention that I ordered the Box RA10 from Thomann. Very cheap active speaker
http://www.thomann.de/de/the_box_ra10.htm

Don't know, going to check it out. I just need it for home practice for my ddrum4 triggering superior drummer
As far as the SPL is concerned, its 113db max as is written on the link.
I can report my experiences with the RA10 if somebody is interested.
Greets
franz

uups last thread in may!! ........
« Last Edit: July 30, 2010, 05:25:26 PM by franz-tanz »

macleod

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Re: Amplification for e-drums
« Reply #14 on: July 30, 2010, 09:09:00 PM »
Hi everybody ,
Read the threads above and
thought to mention that I ordered the Box RA10 from Thomann. Very cheap active speaker
http://www.thomann.de/de/the_box_ra10.htm

Don't know, going to check it out. I just need it for home practice for my ddrum4 triggering superior drummer
As far as the SPL is concerned, its 113db max as is written on the link.
I can report my experiences with the RA10 if somebody is interested.
Greets
franz

uups last thread in may!! ........

I am anxiously waiting for you review - thinking about that speaker from Thomann too.... Thanks in advance!