Klone Dual Percussion Synthesiser
A simple, twin-pad drum-synth - from the Klone Kit people - put under the E&MM microscope by Geoff Twigg.
The Klone Dual Percussion Synthesiser is a far more sophisticated beast than its predecessors. It offers - for a price tag of £299 - the chance to create exciting new (as well as boring old) analogue drum sounds. This is achieved by using the shells from the re-designed Klone Kit II, fixed on a heavy-duty tripod stand, fed into a new and far more flexible control panel containing two VCOs, a modulating LFO (unfortunately, this only affects Drum 2) and two very flexible Voltage Controlled Filters.
In giving the drum synthesist so much control, Honky Tonk Music (the Klone's designers) are pursuing to a logical conclusion the line of approach hinted at by the flexibility of the snare sound on the Kit II, and the only doubt in my mind is precisely how they feel the Dual Synth fits into the market. If, on the one hand, it's a stand-alone outfit, then at the price it's a cheap, two-drum kit; on the other hand, and this seems more likely, if it's meant to complement Kit II, the latter becomes a seven-piece kit for £800, and must therefore stand comparison with the acoustic alternatives. With this in mind, I'm still not totally convinced by the bass end of the oscillators on the Dual, or indeed on the Kit II. They don't seem to go low enough, or have the real punch a rock drummer needs. Above this range, however, they're superb.
The two black pads on the review model were mounted on a chromium-plated tubular steel frame of the 'Quick' type, and purpose-built for Honky Tonk by Jacques Capelle in France. This frame is well made, though some of the plating looked a little suspect and might not stand up too well to constant gigging. The three fixing brackets at the top of this stand are fully adjustable, and you can fix the pads and the control module at virtually any angle to suit yourself. Each clamp on the frame has an ingenious locking lever that folds over and holds the boom frame secure.
The touch-sensitive pads are of ABS plastic, in black, red or white, with a quarter-inch jack socket mounted in each. The actual playing surface is a rubber pad, which gives a reasonable stick bounce, mounted on plywood with a contact microphone in the centre. These pads respond well, even to tapping with a finger, and the feel and appearance is a great deal better than the first Klone Kits, which were very much the poor man's Simmons. Those first kits, built on the Remo RPS10, would stand up to very little real hammering, as they were designed to be a domestic practice outfit....
The control module is simple in design and construction. The box itself is made of steel and measures 23cm wide x 18cm deep x 6½cm high at the back, where the sockets are, sloping down to 3cm at the front, with small rubber feet on the base. There is also a threaded hole in the base for mounting onto the frame. The mains lead, approx. 2½ metres long, is wired straight into the input stage, and all sockets are quarter-inch jacks. There are two input sockets, one for each pad, and all leads are provided.
There are two main outputs, a mixed mono out and a mono/stereo headphone out, which as anyone who lives next-door to a drummer will testify, can be extremely useful.
Now to the controls themselves. The two oscillators are identical, and have identical controls. To confuse you slightly, but also to make an exactly symmetrical layout, these controls are laid out in mirror image. So, the outside columns of pots are: Decay time; Pitch bend; Tuning; Balance. Next column in has Filter sweep; Resonance; Filter mode; and Filter frequency.
Next to this, and next to each other at the bottom of the display, are the volume knobs. Finally, in the middle of the panel is a Modulation section, on which every parameter of oscillator 2 may be modulated by a third oscillator. I hesitate to call this an LFO, because although it can be slowed right down, it will also generate fairly high frequencies. Its range is roughly 3Hz to 2kHz by my reckoning, and at the top of its range, this oscillator is clearly audible.
The front panel also sports three LED indicators - one for each trigger input and one for the Modulating oscillator. It's obviously useful to be able to see, quickly, which oscillator you are triggering with which pad, and the speed of the LFO is clearly indicated.
As anyone who has seen a Klone Kit II will know, the major difference and improvement embodied in the Dual Percussion Synthesiser is the control stage on each drum sound. Where the revised kit has three (crucial) controls for each drum, namely tuning, damping and volume, this pair of pads has ten controls for each, with a very welcome opportunity to modulate Drum 2 with a choice of Pulse Wave, Triangle Wave, VCA or VCO2 as available sources. This modulation may be directed, at variable frequency, to Pitch Modulation, VCA or Filter control, and provides an excellent and exciting source of variety without compromising sound quality, as is the tendency with the current favourite methods of enhancing cheaper drum synthesisers - EQ and effects.
This, for me at least, is the success of the Dual Percussion Synth over the standard Kit II. Honky Tonk Music have at last managed to give us not only a reasonably made and moderately priced electronic drum kit, but also true flexibility and the ability to synthesise some very musical sounds indeed.
The Klone Dual Percussion Synthesiser carries an RRP of £299 Including VAT, and readers requiring further details should contact the manufacturers, Honky Tonk Music, (Contact Details)
Review by Geoff Twigg
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