The ATV aD5 e-drum module is one of 2016s most interesting new releases in terms of electronic drums. I was really excited when this module was announced and I speculated about it in one of my recent posts. Fortunately, ATV gave me the chance to test this device and they have sent me a module for a video review.
I tested the aD5 for over 1 month and spent several hours with it. Here is my conclusion.
The module itself made a really good impression to me. It is heavy, has a clean brushed aluminium cover, it is small and looks overall just really valuable. ATV did not save costs when building this device. The best connectors, expensive knobs and even the screws look everything but cheap. It looks retro and modern at the same time. For me, one of the best-looking e-drum modules ever.
The device comes with a small mounting plate and a power charger, including different adapters for different countries power sockets. All trigger pads are connected via multicore cable. Many e-drummers don’t like multicore cables because of the limited flexibility when setting up the kit. However, there would not be enough space for individual trigger cable jack plugs, so there is no other way than a multi-core cable for such a small module. My problem with this cable is the length of the individual cables. Some of them are simply too short for my drum kit. I had to strain them across my kit, to be able to connect everything. This left only one position for the modules itself (Near the rack tom). This could lead to problems in case you want to set up a kit with bigger pads or more space between the pads.
The LCD is nice and blue, but also a bit limited in resolution. The pixels are huge, which does not fit 2016, especially where other manufacturers do already go for touch screens and colour displays. ATV kept the module clean and simple with avoiding unnecessary buttons and knobs. The module does only contain the minimum in terms of controls.
The module contains the usual connectors for headphones, master out, mp3 player input and 2 additional pad inputs. An interesting part is the ATV Link connector. I assume this can be used in future for connecting additional devices.
The menus are really user-friendly and easy to use. The Trigger Wizard is a program that helps you to setup your trigger pads. You select a brand (drum-tec, Roland or Yamaha) and follow the modules instructions. After hitting the pad 3 times soft and 3 times hard, the setup is finished. The individual trigger settings (e.g. sensitivity of the zones) can be modified in case you feel the need for more adjustments.
The same procedure follows for the crosstalk setup. Every e-drummer knows the problem of triggering several pads by accidently hitting another pad. This issue is caused by the rack transferring the vibrations. The module will instruct you to hit all pads strongly, to eliminate this false triggering. This is a nice and simple feature that deserves attention.
BTW: I did not use conventional trigger pads that are supported by the aD5. I used my own trigger systems which are very similar to drum tec’s systems or most Roland pads.
Trigger setups can be saved onto your SD-Card, in case you want to save them on a 3rd party device or just take them with you to another aD5 module.
The module features 5 drum kits at this moment.
- Vintage Studio
- Real Groove
- Metal 9000
- Legacy Jazz
You can also create custom kits with components of all kits listed.
Every kits volume can be adjusted separately. The single instruments allow only pan and volume adjustments. No additional instrument editing features are included. That means you can’t change the pitch of your snare to make it sound different. ATV will deliver more kits and instruments via future software updates. So this might only be a temporary concern, if even seen as such.
The instrument samples, triggered by this module, are great. You hear high-quality drum sounds from real acoustic drums, without any latency. Especially the cymbals do sound gorgeous. The ride and the crashes are my favourite ones. They sound so real, it is unbelievable. The toms, snares and bass drums do mostly sound good too.
Mixing in music is similar to the Roland TD-11. You plug in your MP3 player and play to the music. The problem is, that the mix in volume cannot be adjusted by the aD5. You have to adjust it in your player or via the ad5 drum kit volumes. Setting up the volume for a play along is too complicated this way. You are better off with a mixing desk for play along.
The dynamics are great. I believe this module can help me to become a really soft and gently drummer, that uses accents and learns how to play hard and soft. I was used to playing my e-drum set full on with all the force that I have. But this has now changed with this module. The aD5 forced me to play more dynamically. I have to be afraid of turning into a jazz drummer now! This makes it a great module for drum practice.
Who should buy an ATV aD5?
- The guy that wants plug and play
- The e-drummer that does not want to spend hours on adjusting trigger settings
- The person with a small compact e-drum setup
- People that hate reading user manuals
- Musicians that don’t want to deal with computers or software
This needs to be improved:
The short multicore cable is a big flaw in my opinion. I wish ATV would have used longer cables.
I struggled with the hi-hat. I used both a VH-12 and a VH-13 hi-hat and it was not possible to achieve a result that is as good as to what I am used from the Roland modules (TD-9, 12, 20 and 30). The menu offered a lot of settings to adjust the hi-hat, but I could not get what I wanted. To be on the safe side, I contacted another person with an aD5 and a VH-11 to see if it is a different story with the Roland VH-11 hi-hat, but unfortunately it is not. The same problem occurs.
The hot spots of my centred cone trigger pads were also kind of a problem. It took some time to find a good setting that decreased hot spotting. Therefore I would suggest using rim near triggers like the Roland RT-30, 2Box Trigits or Triggera Intrigg’s. These triggers are not picking up the signal in the pads centre and will deliver a better trigger result in combination with the aD5.
The tom rims cannot be triggered. I know this sounds picky, but triggered tom rims make an e-drum kit much more realistic. It is a nice to have a feature that everyone in the e-drum community seems to like.
And my last complaint is the missing built-in Metronome.
The good news is, that ATV can fix almost all those little flaws via software update. We now live in a time where we buy an electronic device that is not completely finished. The software can always be updated and improved after a product has been released. This is a common approach for almost everything, from iPhone to PlayStation 4. I am pretty sure all little flaws will disappear after a few more updates.
The features that are top notch:
- easy setup
- crosstalk and trigger wizard is revolutionary
- the toms sound awesome, the cymbals sound incredible
- You can save trigger settings on the SD Card
- The latency is very low: 2.1 ms
- The module looks great
The ad5 is a great electronic drum module for drummers that just want to play and not mess around with trigger settings for ages. It offers great sounds and a really simple user interface. Its price of 1020€ might appear high, but remember you do not only buy this module, you buy future updates that will extend and improve this device consistently.
I would use this module in combination with a converted 4-5 piece acoustic drum kit, containing Triggerra Intrigg’s or Wronka EasyTriggers.
Find the Module here: http://www.drum-tec.de/modules-atv-c-76_250.html