Simmons SDC200 Drum Amp
A drum amp with a Symbol channel. Bob Henrit logs another innovation from Simmons
Let's face it, up until now there hasn't been an inexpensive or portable amplifier which allowed Simmons, or anybody else's electric drums, to sound as they were designed to. So far drummers have been forced to compromise with combos and the like, but never with really great results. If the top end was crisp, then the bottom end would be clicky and the middle indistinct. Simmons, being Simmons, were of course acutely aware of these shortcomings and have been working on their own solution for quite sometime. They knew exactly how they wanted their amp to perform but to achieve this had to invest in a degree of research and development, and enlisted the aid of a company called ILP.
Amplification of all the tone colours has always been a big problem with electronic drums because there are so many with fast transients. The bass drum has contributed to the problem because, unlike the bass guitar, it tends to move the speaker so often with the same amount of aggressive power. So Simmons worked on tailoring the speaker and the amp; they not only lightened the cone but reduced the distance between the coil and magnet. This helped with response and tightened the sound.
The other problem they had with coloration of the diverse instruments within the set was solved by equipping SDC 200 with five separate channels; all with specific and dedicated control. (Obviously you can't use the same eq for a bass drum and a hi hat.) So we find channels for bass and toms which have treble, bass and send controls while hi hat and snare have middle too. There's also a Symbal channel which we'll discuss later.
In addition each module set into the top of the facia has a volume control with a large hole in it towards the outside to accommodate the tip of your drumstick, allowing you to turn the pot. (Simmons recommend you set the unit at arm's length anyway). Otherwise we have an overall volume control set on the right hand side along with a matching return control. Both of these pots have the stick dimples too.
Since there's a fair chance that the player will be using more than one tom and cymbal there are three inputs at the back for these respectively and a corresponding number of small balance knobs within their modules on the front. However, you don't have to use these inputs for a dedicated instrument since it's an amplifier it doesn't particularly care what signal it sees; even a microphone is okay. Indeed, if you're plugging in an SDS9 with a stereo snare pad then the rim will come upon the Symbal channel and may be eq'd separately).
As you've no doubt guessed by the use of the words 'Send and Return' SDC200 has the facility to have an effect on any particular channel. It may be echo or repeat or what have you; simply plug it into the relevant jack sockets on the back and scintillate. Each channel's send will transport a different mix of the five channels and the large return knob (with the dimple) will mix the effect into the overall and combine 'wet' with 'dry'. While we're on the subject of inputs, there's a headphone socket on the back for private practice as well as a slave output. Otherwise one simply plugs in one's electronic drums via their individual outputs directly to the SDC200's designated channels.
Physically the amplifier looks just like a wedge shaped onstage monitor cabinet. It measures something like 600x450x690 and weighs a not inconsiderable 43.5 kilos. It is portable but slightly awkward for one person. The front speaker 'grille' is detachable via velcro and the 12" speaker, which is rated at 350W with a 3" voice coil, is thus exposed. It's set on the right hand side with a 'bomb site' type thick wire guard over it and a 25W 'bullet' High Frequency horn above that. As you'd expect the cabinet has been very specifically designed to cope with the EDK sounds, so the internal dimensions of the cabinet and its port are, of course, critical. So much so that only one size of inset handle could be used! As far as the amplifier is concerned it's rated at 200W RMS into 8ohms and is MOS-FET based. Simmons will no doubt be able to supply you with lots of other performance information, but all you really need to know is that it works bloody well.
It's not, it must be said, meant to work as a main amplifier in the concert hall situation; but it will work fine as a monitor. Several guys are already using them as such on American tours as we speak. However it's the club and small venue where it will come into its own. I can assure you that, having sat in front of it, it can be painfully loud. All that notwithstanding, this particular piece of equipment will enable the normal owner to hear his drums lives as so far he has only imagined they sound. I'd say that SDC 200 will be well worth saving up for and is a very good investment.
NB: Anybody who's really keeping up will no doubt think that I can no longer spell the word cymbal. Well, Simmons spell it with an S and I wouldn't be at all surprised to see a piece of equipment coming from them soon called, rather aptly, Symbal. We'll see.
Review by Bob Henrit
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