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digitalDrummer_feb_2017 (original)_Layout 3 15/01/2017 1:28 PM Page 1


Edition 29 February 2017

The global

drumming e-zine

benefits from
Ben Todd

NAMM debuts

Emily D. Davies

digitalDrummer_feb_2017 (original)_Layout 3 31/01/2017 12:58 PM Page 2

digitalDrummer_feb_2017 (original)_Layout 3 15/01/2017 1:28 PM Page 3

--from-the-editor-is published by


ABN: 61 833 620 984
30 Oldfield Place

Brookfield Q 4069
Editor & Publisher
Allan Leibowitz

Solana da Silva

Emily Dolan Davies
Scott Holder

Mark Norton

Luke Oswald
Raul Vargas

Cover Photo
Brendan Buckley

Design and layout
‘talking business’

Support digitalDrummer

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digitalDRUMMER, February 2017

THERE’S NO DOUBT that electronic percussion has become
mainstream. E-kits are squeezing out acoustic sets on retail
floors around the world as prices fall and technology improves.
You just have to compare the current crop of beginner e-kits
to the models of five or six years ago to realise how far we
have come.
And electronic drums are not just a low-volume beginner
option for amateurs. Increasingly, high-end kits are finding
their way into churches, clubs and entertainment venues
everywhere, thanks to their high-quality sound, versatility and
ease of use. Just ask any sound guy if they prefer to mic an
acoustic kit or take direct feeds from a high-end module!
As we read in our profiles of artists this month, electronic
drums are a cornerstone of professional performance. Take,
for example, Brendan Buckley, best known as the drummer
with Shakira. His current set-up includes two Roland SPD-SXs
with several trigger pads placed around an acoustic kit, and a
KD-7 kick trigger under the floor tom. He uses the onboard
sounds of the multipads, but also runs samples through his
MacBook Pro, running Abelton Live.
Cirque du Soleil drummer Ben Todd, meanwhile, shares his
experiences with a full Roland TD-30 kit which allows him to
access scores of different sounding drums to augment the
various songs in the show. Electronics also allows Ben to play
a full-size kit on the confined stage without drowning out his
band colleagues – and gives the mixing desk some clean
signals to work with. “Without electronic drums, there’s just
no way the drums would work in this show,” he says.
Finally, UK drummer Emily Dolan Davies, who has played with
Bono, Bryan Ferry and Tom Bailey, started out with e-drums
as a kit so that her “parents and neighbours weren’t driven
crazy”. Nowadays, she says, it’s a gateway into endless
creativity and opportunities.
Recognising the importance of e-drums, digitalDrummer has
thrown its support behind the latest initiative of the Electronic
Percussion Industry Council (EPIC). The new initiative focuses
on the development of guidelines for e-drum education, aimed
at establishing educational standards and providing greater
access to electronic drum instruction and drumming
experiences in high school and college music programs. We
will be working in collaboration with the Technology Committee
of the Percussive Arts Society and leading online drum
educator, as well as other renowned
educators and artists – and if anyone is interested in joining
in, please contact me.
2017 is looking like a great year for e-drumming and we hope
to share the highlights along the way.
So, please enjoy this edition and stay tuned for more.


digitalDrummer_feb_2017 (original)_Layout 3 31/01/2017 12:42 PM Page 4

The global electronic drumming e-zine
Edition 29



February 2017


They beat the rest

The people have spoken and there are a few familiar
faces among the winners of the 2016 digitalDrummer
Readers’ Choice awards.

New triggers, new module, new sophistication
Roland’s new flagship kits feature next-generation
triggers, a full-size kick drum and a new top-of-the-line
module. Allan Leibowitz took one of the first demo kits
for a test drive.

What’s old is newish again

Yamaha’s DTX900 module was launched in 2010 and still
heads up the Yamaha e-drums range. Scott Holder tried
the new, refreshed DTX-920WHK kit.

New stuff at NAMM

The music industry struts its stuff in Anaheim each year at
the NAMM Show, and Allan Leibowitz went along to see
what’s new for electronic drumming.


Brendan Buckley

Los Angeles-based Brendan Buckley is best known as
the drummer with Shakira, but he has played with Julio
and Enrico Iglesias, DMX, Gloria Estefan and a host of
other big names. As he tells digitalDrummer editor Allan
Leibowitz, he seldom plays without some electronic
elements in his kit.

No clowning around

Adelaide’s Ben Todd has just wrapped up a role in Cirque
du Soleil’s Australian tour of its show Kooza. He tells
digitalDrummer how electronics helps him in the pit.

digitalDrummer_feb_2017 (original)_Layout 3 15/01/2017 1:28 PM Page 5



How I use e-drums

UK drummer Emily Dolan Davies has been a professional
drummer since leaving school aged 18, and has played
with Bono, Bryan Ferry, Thompson Twins’ Tom Bailey and
many more. Here is her e-drums perspective.


Starting out with samples

Luke Oswald often gets asked about the basics of sample
triggering. He compiled this guide to help those starting out.

New-look iLok

Software licence protection is one of the unfortunate
realities of life – like death and taxes.


A metronome on steriods

Some drum apps have built-in metronomes, but they’re
often quite limited. digitalDrummer found a stand-alone
solution that is so much more than a timekeeper.


Plating up a new design

Last year, Mark Norton shared his plans for bucket drums.
Now, he moves up in sophistication with a new drum


Let’s go Latin

Raul Vargas explores a couple of the most popular
rhythms in World Music.


My Monster Kit

This month, we head to Ontario, Canada to check out Rick
Demone’s kit.

ws ... Get the latest e-drum news at ...
digitalDRUMMER, February 2017


digitalDrummer_feb_2017 (original)_Layout 3 15/01/2017 1:28 PM Page 6

They beat the rest

The people have spoken and there
are a few familiar faces among the
winners of the 2016 digitalDrummer
Readers’ Choice awards.

Schack has regained his e-drummer
of the year crown. Schack, who won
the accolade two years running
(2013 and 2014), was the clear
winner in the latest poll. His thirdtime win automatically elevates
Schack to the digitalDrummer Hall
of Fame – and, co-incidentally, he
also scooped the pool among the
nominations in the HoF category
this year.

digitalDrummer_feb_2017 (original)_Layout 3 15/01/2017 1:28 PM Page 7

digitalDrummer_feb_2017 (original)_Layout 3 18/01/2017 12:16 PM Page 8

While many nominees use e-drums as part of
their musical arsenal, Schack has become
synonymous with digital drumming, using his
Roland gear live with touring drum and bass act
Besides extensive live performance with Netsky
and SquarElectric, Schack is an international VDrums demonstrator and part of the Japanese
music manufacturer’s e-drums design team.
There was a tough contest for honours in the edrum product of the year (hardware) category,
which was won by Roland’s new TD-50 (see
review on page 10).

The kit, with its new module and next-generation
digital snare and ride triggers, made its debut in
September 2016 and recently started shipping

The new Roland flagship was a controversial
choice because few readers have actually played
the kit – or even heard it in real life, and initial
video demonstrations were panned for their poor
sound quality. But readers have apparently
recognised the triggering innovations and the
enhanced editing options available with the

The TD-50 narrowly defeated the wireless
Versatrigger system which got a digitalDrummer
Editor’s Choice award when it was reviewed in
May 2016. Since then, the range has been
extended with the addition of a universal
transmitter that can be used with any existing
electronic drum or cymbal trigger and the
introduction of a wireless hi-hat controller.

Gen-16 Access Tool


Roland TD-50KV kit

Zildjian, which picked up an award for its
Gen-16 acoustic/electronic cymbals, had
its new Access Tool selected as the 2016
software product of the year. Building on
the capability of the original editing tool
used to create and modify the “sound
shapes” of the cymbals, the new tool
boasts a simpler, more app-like interface
that removes the need for detailed
understanding of sound processing. The
revised tool is recognised for its ease of
Also recognised for ease of use was the
runner-up, the independently produced
SPD-SX Editor reviewed in
digitalDrummer’s August 2016 edition.

digitalDrummer_feb_2017 (original)_Layout 3 1/02/2017 4:30 AM Page 9

Retail royalty: Sweetwater (left) and Long
& McQuade, Andertons and drum-tec
(below) were chosen at the top dealers.

Sweetwater was the overwhelming
choice as e-drum retailer of the year
for the USA, retaining the title it
picked up last year for the first time,
while Germany’s drum-tec ousted
Thomann as the top dealer in
Europe. Long & McQuade was
voted top e-drum retailer in Canada,
while Andertons took the title for the
UK and Melbourne’s GH Music
grabbed top honours for Australia.
digitalDrummer thanks all those
who made the effort to vote (almost
20% more votes were cast than last
year) and congratulates the winners
and the worthy nominees for the
2016 awards. Watch out for some
exciting innovations in the ballot at
the end of this year.

Kimberly Thompson

Johnny Rabb

Peter Erskine

Jonathan Atkinson

Kimberly Thompson Quartet

Collective Soul

Howard Jones/Kim Wilde

Stevie Wonder/Tracks

“Every song has its own
feeling and its own sound.
With e-drums I can program
completely different sounding
kits for each song and access
them at the touch of a button
in the studio or on stage.”

“I love acoustic drums and I
always will but I can’t imagine
playing music today without
using electronic instruments
and technology along side my
acoustic kit. Understanding
how e-drum modules and
software work is essential
for me— and every modern

Professor USC
ArtistWorks Instructor

“The vast majority of tracks
you hear on radio feature some
type of programmed drums.
Being able to bring those
sounds to live music is a key
part of my job. Understanding
electronic drums is vital to
recreating those sounds and,
ultimately, keeping the artist
and the audience happy.”

“In order to ‘play the record’
when I’m on the road, I often
have to replicate the recorded
drum sounds. I rely on my
multipad and triggers to get
the job done.”

“E-Drums form the core of our
drumset proficiency program
at USC’s Thornton School of
Music. All contemporary music
students are required to take
one semester of drumming. We
could not teach a classroom
of drummers without the
electronic kit.”

Stanley Randolph

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