Two new products are heading for the shops from Simmons Electronics which are sure to generate a lot of excitement. 'IT's' drum expert Pete Randall managed to sneak a closer look...
£392.04 inc. VAT
If you've just purchased an SDS-7, you'll already be aware of the vast range of sounds available from it - and the EPB will expand that range even further. For example, if you have an old Gretsch kit or whatever, that you're fond of for its woody sounds, you can now sample those sounds and play them on your SDS.
The EPB measures just 12 1/2" x 8", and a sound source (via microphone or tape deck) can be plugged into the audio input at the back. From there the signal is converted to digital and stored in RAM (Random Access Memory); the results can then be played back and adjusted to achieve precisely the sound that you want.
The EPB isn't, of course, limited to drum sounds - it's possible to record and sample just about anything (a window shattering, for instance). Once you're satisfied with the sound, the sample is then saved by blowing into an Eprom (Erasable Programmable Read-Only Memory). The Eprom will only output stored data, and can be erased with ultra-violet light, or (for £41.00) Simmons' own erasing unit. A total of ten recordings is recommended without too much loss of quality; and the art of the EPB seems to be to match the length of the sample with the length of the original sound, so that, at maximum amplitude, you're using the fastest sampling rate possible. The only disadvantage with this unit is that it won't take more than 16K, and, as most cymbal sounds are around 32K, this is a slight drawback. The SDS-7 has a 32K capability, and I would think that, as electronic music becomes more advanced, long delays will be no problem for future models like the EPB. The main application of the EPB is to modify the SDS-7 sounds, and Simmons list several further possibilities for the unit, for instance using the using the external trigger which allows the sound stored in RAM or Eprom to be triggered by an external source, such as drum machine, drum pad sequencer, miked acoustic drum or tape track. A disc jockey, for example, could find the EPB invaluable to build up a library of jingles, phrases, noise effects etc. for use during a live performance.
Getting back to rhythm for a second, with the EPB recording in the loop mode and a sequence of music or a drum machine playing constantly, a selection of the music or rhythm can be sampled and, when played back and looped, will create a new rhythm which can be used as the basis for original music.
The EPB is a very versatile piece of equipment. As this is strictly speaking a drum review, I must confess I haven't delved too deeply into its technical aspects (I'll leave that to the keyboard/electronics wizards!), but I would suggest that you pop along to your local Simmons dealer and ask for a demo.
£250.00 inc. VAT
The SDS-1 follows a similar path to a device known in this country as the D-Drum - a self-contained, digital drum for which sounds are digitally recorded onto a chip, plugged into the unit and played. The advantage with the SDS-1 is that it can be used in conjunction with the EPB for sampling your own personal library of sounds.
Similar to the now well-known hexagonal pads in looks, but with controls and chip socket on the lower section of the pad a la the SDS-8, these pads have the new 'soft' feel, which eliminates 'Simmons elbow'. They also feature dynamic control, enabling the player to set sensitivity, volume and pitch in direct ratio to the force with which the pad is struck. The unit is battery-operated and has an external trigger which accepts signals from drum machines, miked acoustic drums, drum tracks on tape or sequencers.
One unique feature of the SDS-1 is its 'run-generator', by which tom fills can be mimicked as the pitch varies over a maximum four-second run.
The SDS-1 will undoubtedly be a good seller. At £250 it comes within reach of almost everybody, and I can see a lot of drummers buying this unit to add to acoustic kits. At the time of writing no dealers that I know of have the SDS-1 in stock, and I hope this can soon be rectified - in fact the only problem with Simmons products is that demand for them is such that they can be hard to find in the shops!
More information from Simmons Electronics Ltd., (Contact Details).
Review by Peter Randall
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