What's the best way to make 2008 more musical? That's right: get hold of an affordable electric drum kit. We did, and our office hasn't been the same since.
Most people enjoy having a quick bang... when they're in the presence of a drum kit, and we're no different. In fact, here at Crave we have genuine musicians writing about audio equipment, so when we're offered a fully fledged electric kit, we couldn't say no. Traps' electric e450 is a five-piece setup, complete with rock-solid hardware, electric cymbals and hi-hat, and a mounted sound-processing module -- and it's affordable too, at around £450.
Each drum and cymbal can have any one of almost 400 drum 'voices' assigned to it, or you can simply select one of many pre-configured kits -- there are powerful rock kits, some with a classic room kit sound, and even a bunch of electric options for those keen on freestyling some slick hip-hop grooves. Some of these are recorded samples of real kits, while others are synthesised. True, some of the kits sound a little too 'electric', but many are genuinely impressive.
So, the drums themselves. Each drum is fitted with a mesh skin, helping to retain the natural bounce found on regular acoustic skins. The result is pretty damn good, too -- subtle ghost notes and quick rolls are possible with only slight adjustment in technique. There's only one trigger per drum, so unlike on a regular kit or on an electric kit costing upwards of £2,000, the position of the drumstick's tip on the drum doesn't make a difference to the sound.
Cymbals are similar. They're easy to get used to playing, but choking them has no effect, and it makes no difference whether you're riding or tapping out some Buddy Rich-style jazz on the cymbal's bell. Other than that they're extremely easy to get used to.
The hi-hats are probably the most interesting, since they work like normal acoustic hats, in that they can be open and closed using a normal pedal. Well, sort of -- there's only one pad (acoustic hi-hats comprise two cymbals placed on top of each other).
We wouldn't consider the Traps e450 a replacement for a real kit, because there are just too many limitations that acoustic kits don't suffer. But in any environment where noise is a limiting factor -- and this is extremely common -- its compatibility with headphones, along with very low acoustic noise, is a crucial consideration. Functions like a metronome also make it great for learning crucial studio abilities, and recording functions will help you prove to your mates that the sick Portnoy fill you claimed to have pulled off at 3am wasn't a lie.
The bottom line is it's really fun to play and that's the best reason to be sat at a kit. Even after being used to traditional kits for almost 20 years, it was really easy for us to adjust to playing the e450. If you're stuck for space or just can't run to the expense of sound-proofing your spare room, the new Traps kit is well worth looking into. No, it's no comparison to offerings that cost several times as much, but for some convenient fun you'd have to be as mad as the Mad Hi-Hatter not to give it a try. Click through for more pics. -Nate Lanxon
These are the little triggers that detect vibration on the drum skins. The more vibration, the louder the reproduced sample.
This is the 'brain' of the kit -- it handles all the sound processing and drum sample assignments.
Setup's a piece of cake, as everything's colour coded.