The Right Angle
M&A's new electronic drum kit
Chris Everard discovers an electronic drum kit to rival the Simmons
The war between Simmons, Klone, Pearl, Dynacord, M&A and everyone else is really hotting up, with overnight price blitzing and D-day type saturation advertising being the main artillery. M&A have dropped several devastating bombs of late by updating their electronic kits to excellent standards while still keeping the retail prices stable. These kits are probably the best value electronic percussion on the market and the K2 offers amazing value for money. This is reflected in the quality of these kits, which are capable of producing just as many varied sounds as their main rival, the Simmons SDS8.
The kit I tried out was the K2.7D (stands for seven drum) which proved excellent. The construction is amazingly solid and strong, with Premier hardware being used throughout. The pads come in either shiny polycarbonate form, or with a coating of rubber — according to which sort of playing feel you require. I tried the polycarbonate pads which proved to be better than the Simmons SDS5 pads because they have some bouncey response, the SDS5 was always like hitting formica table tops! I'm told that getting this response from the pad without degrading the pick-up sensitivity was a major breakthrough, and its a closely guarded trade secret as to how it was exactly achieved. The feel is perfect on these pads, and there's no 'pick-up miss', all of the strikes on the pads are duly acted upon by the electronics. These kits have been built to withstand fantastic amounts of wear and tear, the quality control at the factory involves someone smashing the bare pick-ups with a cricket bat! To test the overall strength of these pads the manufacturers decided to drive a Transit van thirty times over one before they agreed that the design was adequate!
The electronics are housed in a durable metal case which is 19" rack mountable. Each channel is for all intent and purposes identical. Going from top to bottom, each one features:- jacks sockets for aux trigger and direct output, level control, pan pot, click content, noise filter, balance between the VCO and noise content, VCO pitch, VCO sweep, pad sensitivity, decay, trigger LED, pulse on/off selector and finally the mode switch for choosing either the factory preset, or your own user defined sound. The master section features the jack left and right outs, bass and treble for each, headphone socket with its own level control, the 'micro-sequencer' and main power switch.
Having an on-board stereo mixer is extremely useful, especially when a mixer for linking up to a power amp isn't available. The factory preset on each channel is internally variable (unlike on the SDS8) so that you're not forever doomed to always have the same sounds at your disposal, though the alterations will have to be made in conjunction with a qualified service engineer. The micro sequencer only effects the first three channels of the unit (the first two being factory preset as bass and snare respectively) and is really just a selection of eight 4/4 licks to play along to.
The sequencer can be started and stopped using a footswitch. The pulse button on each channel sends a regular trigger pulse internally to that channel and the speed is variable via the same pot used to vary the speed of the micro sequencer. This feature makes setting up the kit very easy, as it leaves your hands free to see to the mix or to set the correct sound up without having to hit the pads. You can use the pulse facility as a built in metronome too, or even as a back beat to a complicated rhythm using for instance a cowbell sound.
M&A also supply a pedal which can be used to control any channel, the best thing about it is that when inserted into a channel, the pad can still trigger the sounds just the same, so, it's possible to have for instance a double bass drum kit with just one channel set up for that sound. It can also be used to control any channel in such a way, so as to cut off or open a gate sound, thus it's easy to set up a cymbal sound with long decay and have hi-hat effects at the same time!
The sounds are very powerful, with an enormous amount of versatility at hand. The factory presets are very good, with nice cracky tom sounds and a red blooded snare and bass to match. All the customary Simmons sounds are attainable, along with a wide selection of noise orientated sounds to impersonate (or replace — however you wish to look at things) cymbals of every kind. Altogether, the sound creating potential of these kits is excellent. Having the factory preset changeable (even though its a bit of a cumbersome way of doing it) is an excellent idea which I can see as being one of the main selling points.
The M&A also has the huge advantage of being externally triggerable from almost anything! Each channel can be independently triggered and negative as well as positive signals will be accepted, probably somewhere in the region of —5v to +15v or perhaps even greater than that! One big drawback with the Simmons SDS8 is that the sequencer it's meant to link up to is more than twice the price of the actual kit.
With a 7 drum kit costing well under £800 I can see this M&A range being a real winner.
Review by Chris Everard
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