📢 How best to get started with VST-e-drumming -> ( + avoiding bad purchases) 😊👉

Fri Mar 01, 2024 11:03 am (Last edited: Thu Mar 07, 2024 1:04 am)

📢 How best to get started with VST-e-drumming -> ( + avoiding bad purchases) 👉

VST-e-drumming has a lot to do with high-quality drum sound ❗️ (otherwise you as an e-drummer can "get creative" on off-the-shelf e-drum kits with their plastic module sounds which I can describe best as a caricature of acoustic drum sound -> even with module sound tweaks they can't get rid of that machinegunning plastic frequence - so when it comes to acoustic drum sound on e-drums, that plastic sound is definitely not my cup of tea!).

And VST-e-drumming is about latency ❗️: (for comparison:) an acoustic snare drum takes 2ms to the drummer's ear ; so 10+ milliseconds is definitely NOT the same!

So it makes not much sense to go with crappy computer onboard sound chips, poor audio driver emulations (like "Asio4All") and low quality/unsuitable headphones or headphones connected to poor headphone units/amps.

And it makes no sense to try to get a good performance ( = glitch-free audio at very low latency) on computes that are not capable to handle real-time audio (especially at higher Real Time CPU load).

There are also some important points that you should be aware of before buying an e-drum kit / e-drum hardware.

--> so let's start with the latter point e-drum kit / e-drum hardware:

e-drum kit / e-drum hardware / module (trigger device) :

When looking at e-drum / module manufacturers, there are siginficant differences in module latency (and the module latency is not compensable at all!) - so I suggest to get a fast(❗️) module / trigger device as other latencies (like the audio output latency) are added to the module latency (module latency: how long after striking the pad does it take to provide the midi event at the midi output of the module / trigger device. Btw, the "Scan Time" (scanning the waveform of the piezo signal in order to be able to carry out an authentic analysis (like which velocity and position has been played?) is a significant part of the module latency.

So avoid (cheap) Alesis, Millenium, Fame and all that Medeli-derived stuff (there are loads of those "brands") especially when it comes to the module / trigger device! Because these are slow (around 3 times slower than a fast Roland module)!

I suggest to get suitable modules / trigger devices like Roland modules or the Audiofront eDRUMin trigger-to-midi device.

Another component that should be well-considered: the e-hihat :
The e-hihat is a critical part, so here is my recommendation for the most inexpensive and at the same time suitable systems:

Roland "FD-9" + a good 2-zone cymbal pad like "CY-12(ct)" or Yamaha PCY-135

If you want an e-hihat on hihat stand, go with a Roland "VH-10/-11" connected to an eDRUMin (not a Roland module!)

--> So in order to keep it inexpensive and ready-to-go, you can get a (used) Roland TD-9 / -11 / -17 kit and modify the hihat a bit: don't use a "CY-5" for your hihat pad (as it suffers from internal crosstalk: EDGE hits can generate BOW notes , so get at least a "CY-8" cymbal pad for the hihat)
and don't use a VH-10/-11 without an (additional) eDRUMin trigger device. --> LINK

Note that Positional Sensing is only provided by higher class Roland modules and the eDRUMin.

computer :

Get a Windows desktop PC with a strong CPU like a good i7 as a minimum (the higher the default CPU clock (GHz), the better).
Avoid off-the-shelf Windows laptops as they are often not very suitable to handle demanding real-time audio tasks (because of hardware bottlenecks). Buy such a Windows laptop at your own risk! Avoid weak CPUs in any case ❗️.

I recommend a MacBook (Pro) in order to have an unproblematic laptop performance (preferably the ARM Silicon models "M1 / 2 / 3 /..." as they don't get hot (no fan! , no noise) and provide state-of-the-art real-time CPU performance 🙂.

16 GB RAM should be minimum ❗️

And of course audio-optimize your machines ❗️ (Windows: BIOS + OS | MacBook Pro: OS) -- You should find optimization lists and recommendations for your OS and CPU on the internet (google "real-time audio-optimization + OS").

One very useful tweak that enhances real-time audio performance is to get rid of virtual CPU cores - so deactivate e.g. "Hyper-Threading" on Intel machines.

audio interface :

Get a decent audio interface ❗️ (even when on Mac!) as it helps to enhance the real-time performance and to get the lowest latencies and ,of course, to get superior sound quality -- a stereo device for home use* and a multi output device for playing live gigs.

* I recommend PCIe devices like RME "AIO Pro" (for best performance / lowest latencies) and if you want a USB device (i.e. for your laptop / MB(Pro)), get an RME "Babyface Pro FS" (very high quality) or a MOTU "M2" if you want a very affordable one.

Don't use the built-in audio interface function of the Roland modules! This additional function was not designed for real-time tasks - so the native Roland ASIO output suffers from bad performance and high latency. It may be ok on Macs with monster CPUs (like the M1/2/3) as MacOS uses CoreAudio (Apple's own driver) BUT you'll still get lower latencies and better sound quality from dedicated fast audio interfaces.

headphones + headphone amp :

--> Use high quality closed-back headphones! I recommend AKG K-271 (and the high-end K-872).

And you should consider a good headphone amp (especially if the headphone unit of your audio interface is just too weak / you can't get your e-drum sound loud enough). Connect the HP amp to the line outs of the audio interface (use decent balanced audio cables to connect to a HP amp with balanced inputs!)) to have extra power (loud enough!) and superior sound quality ❗️. I recommend the Lake People "G111 MK2" which soundwise will make "pure e-drum heaven" possible 😊

software drum sampler :

Get started with Toontrack "EZ Drummer 3" as it works really good (without issues) right out of the box (there is also a DEMO version of EZ3 -> so you can try before buy!).
EZ3 does not provide raw drum audio like "Superior Drummer 3" - so it will be pre-processed and therefore very suitable for a newbie.
EZ3 has great kits and lots of different kit pieces / drum+cymbal models / presets onboard.

You can get personal support 😊 :

Consider a dial-in session if you want to optimize (fine-tune / customize) the EZ3 hihat openness translation and/or if you have a (Roland) module and want the Hihat Pedal 'Chick' louder. 🙂


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Fri Mar 01, 2024 4:10 pm
avatar  JoelDT

amazing information here!!


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Mon Apr 01, 2024 1:13 am

📢 DAW recommendation for VST-e-drumming ❗️👉 LINK


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Wed Apr 03, 2024 12:56 pm
avatar  Ilja ( Guest )
Ilja ( Guest )

thank you, that's propably the best info post you can find on e-drum forums


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Thu Apr 18, 2024 12:30 am
avatar  Jpiccione ( Guest )
Jpiccione ( Guest )

Thank you for such great information Martin!


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