Why Electronic Drums?

Why Electronic Drums?

By Jim Haler, Yamaha Drums Product Manager
As a long time drummer, I’ve had a deep love for drums since I was a child. When I began playing, there was no such thing as an electronic drum, and the VCR hadn’t even been invented yet. I began gigging in the early 70’s; mostly playing what was on the radio, what would later become “Classic Rock”.


CubaseAI is included in the DTX-MULTI 12, DTX700, and DTX900, and by installing the free system extension you can use the buttons on the front panel to remotely control the software from buttons on the front panel.  Download the software for your DTX device here:




Did you know there are “patch name scripts” available for the DTX-MULTI 12, DTX700 and DTX900?  A patch name script is a way for you to select DTX kits and melodic sounds quickly and conveniently from a drop-down menu within the Cubase track inspector.  You can find the patch name scripts for these DTX instruments plus instructions on how to install them here:



- Link to attached zip file - “DTX PATCHNAME SCRIPTS JAN2012.zip”




When using triggers on your acoustic drums it is important for the drum head to remain in contact with the sensor as the membrane vibrates after a strike.  If you prefer to tune your top head with a loose feel, the head might move off and on the sensor, causing false triggers after your strokes.


To solve this you need to either apply more pressure from the sensor onto the head, or place some material on the head just under the trigger so that contact is not lost as the head vibrates.  Some acoustic drum triggers have adjustable sensors that allow you to adjust the sensor for more or less pressure on the head.  Whatever your case, try to keep contact between the head and the sensor so that the extra vibrations of the head aren’t triggered as separate hits.


Amplifying drums (electronic or acoustic) is quite different from bass, guitar and vocals in that drums have more “attack transients” (audio-speak for fast and loud sounds) and they also have a “wide frequency response” (tech-talk for the lows of bass drums, mid-range of toms and snare, and highs from cymbals).  

This year, at the 2012 Winter NAMM show in Anaheim, CA, Yamaha unveiled the new DXR and DXS series of loudspeakers.  These new powered speakers can handle any audio application, but they have some particular features that make them a great choice for drummers to amplify their DTX electronic drums - or acoustic drums when using microphones and a mixer. 

Here’s why these new, affordable speakers are so good for drummers:

*  FIR-X tuning (DXR series) - This technology provides a smooth frequency response (full sound) to the speakers with no phase interference (thin sound) that can be caused when the woofer and tweeter cross-over.  You don’t have to do anything - its built right in.

*  D-CONTOUR (DXR series) - This stands for Dynamic-Contour and it is a multi-band compressor that is simple to use.  It controls the level of each frequency range according to the application and human hearing characteristics so that you get the same full sound at any volume level.  There are two settings: one for MONITOR and one for MAINS.  Super easy.

*  D-XSUB (DXS series) - This provides the DXS series of sub-woofers with a BOOST mode enhancer (for punchy bass) or XTENDED-LF mode for added low frequency response (deeper bass).  Both are great for DTXdrums, or any of today’s modern music.

*  DSP-controlled Protection System (DXR and DXS series) -  This protection functionality promotes optimal performance of each component and optimum reliability without distortion even in challenging environments.  Dare we say, “Drummer proof?”

Check out the new DXR and DXS series of powered loudspeakers on the web:




In a previous article I discussed triggering loops using HOLD mode so that you can start/stop a loop voice with each alternating strike of a single pad.  But what if you want to use a different pad with a different loop voice to stop the first one?  The answer is to take the pad out of hold mode and assign each loop voice to the same ALTERNATE GROUP. 

When two or more voices are assigned to the same alternate group - only the most recently played voice will sound, and the earlier voice will be silenced.  This not only works with loop voices, any voice can be assigned to work this way.  As a matter of fact, any kit that features open and closed hi-hat voices uses the alternate group function.  It is perfectly acceptable to setup dedicated “kill-switch” pads that feature non-looping voices to stop currently sounding loop voices in the same alternate group. 

The alternate group function is in all DTX trigger modules and the DTX-MULTI 12. 

DTX Live:  SETLISTS  Some bands always play the same set every night.  But what do you do when you’ve setup a series of user kits for a specific setlist and your band leader or musical director informs you that tonight’s setlist is completely different from the one you have pre-programmed in your DTX module to step through?  Depending on the DTX model you are using, you have several ways to reorganize the order of your user kits.

For the DTX700 and DTX-MULTI 12 there is an “Exchange Kit” job function in the KIT modes, so with a pencil, paper and new setlist in hand, it is a fairly simple process to move the kits around to wherever they need to be for the new order setlist.  It is a

good idea to SAVE your data to a USB device before making any changes (as well as afterward) in case your band goes back to the old setlist again or switches between the two different versions.

For the DTX900 module, there is a CHAIN mode, that allows you to re-order up to 64 different “steps”.  A step can be a Kit, Song, or tempo/time signature.  You can have 64 different chains, so you can accommodate up to 64 different setlists.  Make sure to STORE your chain to one of these locations before turning off the power to the module!

DTX Studio: LAYERING SOUNDS  Layering sounds is a way to fatten up your back beat, deepen the sound of your kick, or simply add spice to any of your kit pieces.  The ability to layer, or stack, any sound on any pad is available with the STACK function of the DTX700, DTX900 and DTX-MULTI 12.

To layer a voice in the DTX500, you don’t need a special mode, but you must first turn on the “B” layer on the KIT2 screen.  Do this by highlighting the letter “A” in the upper right corner and rotating the jog-dial.  Once you have selected the desired voice for layer B you can set the volume, pan position, tuning, etc to whatever value you like.  Try some of these suggestions when setting up layers on DTXdrums:

BIG BEAT - Layer 2 different snares; one for attack and one for extra “fatness”.

SUB-KICK - Layer a T8 kick under your favorite bass drum sound for extra low end.

JINGLE TOM - Layer a tamourine voice with your floor tom; great for beach music.

80’s HAIR BAND - Try layering a reverse snare under your kick, and a reverse kick under your snare.  Set each reverse voice to the same alternate group and increase the reverb on the “normal” voices.  Stroke!

Stay tuned for more artist news and tricks and tips coming next issue.  Happy Drumming!