Traps E400 drum kit

A story, a mini review and a plug

I share this incase it helps…

As some of you may remember I’ve been trying to move forward from the MIDI/Fruity drum tracks I’ve been using for many years. A few months back I tried recording my son’s acoustic drum kit with pretty average results really. Add the hassle of setting up the gear at the other end of the house, waiting for everyone to go out, and trying not to annoy the neighbours I pretty much gave up on the idea.

I then toyed with a Yamaha DD55 that I got on Ebay. It went back onto Ebay after a few months.

I then looked closely at the new entry-level Ion electronic kits. I found one “ok” review and one poor review. I tried a kit in a local shop and decided it wasn’t worth the money.

So I decided to go for a “proper” e-kit. All my old junk and unused toys went on ebay and in a matter of months I had nearly enough for a second hand. (Ebay is wonderful for raising money for new toys!). I had my eyes on a Yamaha Dtxpress II but they were a little out of my price range and I’d run out of toys to sell on Ebay.

I then stumbled across the Traps E400. Not only are these made by a company just down the road, they are cheaper than the Yamaha, and come with mesh heads. Anyway, a week or two later and a quick go on one in a local shop clinched the deal.

I got an excellent (and I mean excellent) deal from Absolute Music Solutions who are also just down the road from me. I also got excellent service, hence the little plug.

So, the kit… well you can read about it on the website if you’re interested but what I can tell you is that I’m really pleased. It’s pretty sturdy, comes with “proper” drum hardware and I’m really pleased to have mesh heads. The weak points are probably the drum trigger module itself (so my next stop will probably be an Alesis D4 somewhen down the line), but as a baseline kit it’s fantastic. At present I’m content to monitor with the built in sounds but record the MIDI for later triggering of samples.

So, there you have it. If anyone is interested in knowing more, please ask.


Mark

Oh, yeah. I’ve just made my first DIY trigger. Woohoo.

Hi Mark A:
I have to ask you…

Can you roughly guesstimate how much investment you’re likely to put into this when it’s built up to an acceptible set of Durm tracks?

Over here… RADAR Wayne and I are playing with paraellel ideas… We rarely agree on what is an acceptable investment to produce an end-product that… if we hear IT we will agree… We know there are studios that specilize in precussion Tracks… You just send your ideas to them and they send you back “World-Class” tracks… If you want… you fly your drummer in and he does the tracks… And they’re right… The only thing is… Ya need “World-Class” money to get them…

Haveing said that… Wayne is “Toying” with the idea of this Utility…

http://www.circular-logic.com/index.html

And

I’m playing with the idea of replacing the drum “Hit’s” with

http://www.drumagog.com/

Mabey, between the two utilities along with some other ideas we are working on, we’ll find some kind of satisfactory 'Middle Road"…

Ya know… world Class drum Tracks come with real mics, real electronic hardware and real drums… but, at a cost that few of us are willing to invest, to get… Magic Tracks… The mics alone cost 20 Grand… Let alone the acoustic enviroment… I’d like to know where IT ALL ENDS…

Bill…

[EDIT]
I hope you don’t take this as a negitive reply to you topic…

A nice sounding set of Drum Tracks is a difficult task to complete… along with a good sounding Bass Track… in the technical sense, that is… :O ???

Hi Bill,

I have several ambitions with this project.

My middle son is learning the drums and sometimes his practice time is curtailed due to the noise of his acoustic kit. I’m hoping that this near-silent kit will encourage him.

My eldest son plays guitar and I’m keen to record us all jamming together. Again, much easier with the e-kit.

I’m not really a drummer but I can play a bit. I love learning to play instruments so another aim is to learn to play drums better. Recording is my primary hobby so I enjoy getting new “toys” to learn and play with.

Finally I’m hoping to be able to record a few drum tracks to my own songs. By recording the MIDI out of the e-kit I can use a sampler, Vsti, or module to get the drum sounds I want. I can edit my mistakes, generally tidy up the tracks, cut-and-past the good bits… and hopefully have some fun on the way. Eventually I hope I will need to invest less time to get a reasonable drum track than I do with programming.

At present I’ve invested £400 on the kit (all funded via Ebay!!! Woohoo!). As it stands the kit is perfectly usable for all my above aims. For another £100 an Alesis D4 drum module will give me the chance to build “better” sounding kits when practicing and jamming with the kids… but that will have to wait for now (run out of stuff to sell on Ebay!).

Being an inquistive sort of chap who like to learn, I’ve been looking at DIY triggers, so I’ve just built a really simple DIY trigger to give me an additional cymbal on the Traps’ “add on” port. That cost literally pennies.

Will I get pro-drummer quality drum tracks? Probably not. Will I have fun jamming with the kids, learning some more stuff, and playing to my own tracks? I sure hope so.

Hope that answers your questions. Thanks for taking an interest.


Mark

Hi Mark:
That Alesis D4 Box Is something I wish I could find locally, here… They were relativity expensive when they came on the market… I don’t think there anything better than them… Or at least I don’t think there is… If there is, I don’t know what it could be… The trigger inputs are sensitive to dynamic touch… Just great… Are they findable, on E-Bay?

I’ve had rather dismal results makeing drum trigers… I have my version posted on that page I have… After spending the time I did, on their design, I got a drummer in to put them through their paces… He told me the way IT was… IT wasn’t what I wanted to hear, but… he-was-right… For the fun of it… go to the page, if you haven’t already and have a peek at them… The “Trigger” is a Piezzo element… in reverse… Energy-In… Voltage-Out… I think they could be modified with that “Mesh” Material… you’re talking about… Mabey…?? What do you suppose that “Mesh” material is? or… would work… AS?

Bill…

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That Alesis D4 Box Is something I wish I could find locally, here… They were relativity expensive when they came on the market… I don’t think there anything better than them… Or at least I don’t think there is… If there is, I don’t know what it could be… The trigger inputs are sensitive to dynamic touch… Just great… Are they findable, on E-Bay?


Yes, I still see them on Ebay in the UK but the prices are getting higher!

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I’ve had rather dismal results makeing drum trigers… I have my version posted on that page I have… After spending the time I did, on their design, I got a drummer in to put them through their paces… He told me the way IT was… IT wasn’t what I wanted to hear, but… he-was-right… For the fun of it… go to the page, if you haven’t already and have a peek at them… The “Trigger” is a Piezzo element… in reverse… Energy-In… Voltage-Out… I think they could be modified with that “Mesh” Material… you’re talking about… Mabey…?? What do you suppose that “Mesh” material is? or… would work… AS?


Well, Bill, I’m not a drummer so perhaps my DIY trigger is poor too! At present I’ve got it setup as a cymbal - I hit the pad, the cymbal goes “crash”! It’s velocity sensitive but whether it would be up to the demands of a proper drummer I don’t know.

The mesh heads seem to be just that - A very fine, tight black mesh. Not sure exactly what material it is. The heads can be tensioned like normal heads. In the Traps kit the triggers are external and sit on top on the mesh heads.


Mark

Hi Mark !

Glad you got going with this. Best father son activities in the world are the ones where there is a common interest/passion. I can imagine as a father it must be a thrill to do something with your children that both enjoy !


How did you make the trigger ?

Why I ask ? It depends on your ‘drum brain’ and the complexity of the sounds you want to replace its built in with. I got an idea for cymbals from PEdwards. 1st off I had the regular ‘sandwich’ type trigger for cymbals, but then (after seeing his) I decided to make one from perspex (plexiglass ?).

Link to foto

This had two advantages:
1: It looked cooler !
2: Because of the neopreen on the trigger it behaves as usual and feel good (and a good even energy transfer onto the piezo trigger), but also the added bonus of when I hit onto the bare perspex close to the mounting point it sounds like a bell sound (on the ride). This is because of the transfer of energy directly onto the perspex, and my drumbrain’s sample to have a bell sound for high velocity hits. I actually do not have to hit harder for that sound, I can just hit where the bell would have been on a regular ride.
You need multi layer samples for this tho’

Bill, the mesh heads uses the same piezo trigger, but you make a little stiff foam ‘cone’ with the piezo sandwiched into it, and the the mesh head touches the small point of the cone and transfer energy into the piezo that way. PEdwards went down that route for his DIY drums, I went the sandwich/mousepad route. Mesh heads have a way more natural feel and last longer on DIY triggers IMO (my piezo’s get whacked from the plates all the time - my hotglue skills isn’t up to scratch). I’ve also seen (again the same piezo) pro triggers that you clip onto the rim of a drumhead. It pushes its foam against the head and ‘feels’ the vibrations. IMO the quickest way to convert a kit to midi is to replace the heads with practice mesh heads and fit these babies to the rims and attach to a ‘brain’.



Sorry for rambling…

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Glad you got going with this. Best father son activities in the world are the ones where there is a common interest/passion. I can imagine as a father it must be a thrill to do something with your children that both enjoy !


It certainly is Wihan. Music is, and has been, my passion for most of my life. To be able to share it with my kids is great.

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How did you make the trigger ?

Why I ask ? It depends on your ‘drum brain’ and the complexity of the sounds you want to replace its built in with. I got an idea for cymbals from PEdwards. 1st off I had the regular ‘sandwich’ type trigger for cymbals, but then (after seeing his) I decided to make one from perspex (plexiglass ?).


Well at present my trigger isn’t much more than “proof of concept”. I have a piezo trigger wired to the module, and taped to a foam pad hanging on the kit. My plan is to buy/make a practice cymbal and try the trigger on that. Longer term, if I get an Alesis, I’d like to play around with add-ons like adding a second trigger to the cymbals for a bell sound.

That’s a nice looking DIY kit in your photo. What’s the drum brain?

I did consider going DIY but I figured that after having to buy the brain, kick pedal, rack etc I’d be better off looking at a ready made kit and adding to that. I was impressed with the Traps kit as it comes with a “proper” kick pedal, a more conventional looking/operating hi-hat, and of course, the mesh heads. And I got such a great deal on price. So far I’m loving in. It feels good when that happens - just like your new PC.


Mark

Hi again !

It’s a Roland TD-6V.

In retrospect, if that kit that you got was available back then I would not have gone through the effort. It is indeed a good looking kit.
And mesh heads allround !
I happened to have a broken kickdrum pedal around, and a buddy just mounted it on a steelplate with one of the triggers, so that costed next to nothing. At the time I got the value (functionality wise) of a kit double the money than what I paid for it. 8 months later the South African Rand strengthened against the US$ to such an extend that I would have bought the TD-3 off the shelf. (But still at a much higher cost than the DIY kit)

But yeah, I like the feeling of ‘getting more than what you paid for’ !

W


Edit : You gonna do a modern version of ‘Father and son’ from Cat now ?

I got some old computer parts laying around here… But I can’t imagine anyone getting any use outta the parts I have when I get done with them.

I’m a Make-Do kind of guy when IT comes to hardware…

I got some ODD Sticks Ram and some processors and power supplies and some old CD Burners and all… But I’m still useing the P-111’s that should have been in the landfill sites 4 years ago… I got some old vintage audio hardware that’s on it’s way back… 20 years old or more… Old Easter Bonnet stuff… or an old pair of shoes… How can I part with that stuff… Marconni, designed IT…

I’ll look at your page and see if I can get any ideas from your drum triggers and all… That perspex idea sounds interesting… The problem with my triggers , so the drummer told me was… if he played with the Kit for more than 10 minutes he’d tare the hands outta his forearms… Not being a drummer… how could I have foreseen that?? It’s not how they look… It’s how they play… so-he-says…

Bill…

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if he played with the Kit for more than 10 minutes he’d tare the hands outta his forearms.


That’s what’s better about the mesh heads.
My setup (mouse pad type of stuff) really hurts your hands if you are heavy handed.

anyone know where to get these drum kits in the USA?
No one has them it’s all in the UK.

On the Traps site they do have an “international” section but there’s no content there at present except an email address. Suggest you email them and at least register an interest or ask the question.

Mark

Hey:
I’m hurt’in myself if I continue with this dial-up… How can I look at these links if I fall asleep before they buffer/load?

Anyway, I’m becomming a better drummer while I wait-and-wait… Tapping my fingers while I WwAaIiTt… I’m working on moving my fingers independently…

How/where do I look for this pop-up screen that I’m getting? Something on this computer is looking/searching for “Auto-Play”… I’d like to be able to turn this off…

Bill…

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How/where do I look for this pop-up screen that I’m getting? Something on this computer is looking/searching for “Auto-Play”… I’d like to be able to turn this off…


What does the pop-up look like Bill? Do you only get it when connected to the Internet?

I’ve emailed Traps this morning with a couple of technical questions regarding the triggering.

Hi Mark:
It started a week-or-so ago… It’s on this Xp Desk… I don’t see IT on other xp Desks I have or on the '98SE desks… Just this one…

At some strange un predidtable times, a Window’s screen pops up with a searching flashlight. Looking for “Auto-Play”… then it dissapears just as fast as it comes up…

I think IT’s one-or-both of the DVD Drives looking for a CD or DVD to Play/Open…

I don’t want to do a Restore to an earlier date… just for the Nag of this Pop-up… But I must have triggered this to happen somehow… Or I may have installed something that the drives are looking for… Who Knows?? lol… It must require resourses from thwe sustem/set-up to make this happen… … However, I don’t know where to look to shut this action off… It would be nice if I could discover where to look, and all… so it don’t bother me. anymore… I don’t think I set this up… and if I did, I don’t know what IT was that I set up… I think I may have updated the Windows Media Player recently… Mabey, IT was something to do with that…

Bill…

Sounds like a Windows autostart. Anything in the CD drives? Any USB harddrives, memory sticks plugged in?

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I’ve emailed Traps this morning with a couple of technical questions regarding the triggering.


Well I got a reply from Traps from Bob Henrit no less!

Awesome.


Mark

Hi Mark:
I had a CD in one of the drives and I have a few hand-held usb storage devices powed up… But it’s weird… I’ve had those sorts of things running at times in the past… and NO Auto-Searching before … Say… two months ago… or even say two weeks ago…

At the moment, I removed the CD from the DVD drive… And… no pop-up just yet… anyway… But, mabey I’ll put it back in and see if the Auto start begins to pop-up… just to see… if IT does… :O ???

Could IT be a WMP v10 issue?

Bill…