Playing electronic drums is cheating

Drummers who want to use electronic drums for recording do still have an image problem. Other musicians, mainly other drummers do not consider e-kits for recording and claim using them is cheating. So the usual indie or metal drummer would have serious trouble convincing his band members to use an e-drumset for rehearsals. He’d probably be fired from the band if he suggests them for recording.

What is the argumentation of e-drum haters?

1. E-drums are not sensitive and every hit sounds the same.

I kind of agree if they talk about cheap entry level no name kits. But a good middle class e-kit has usually a velocity of 127 steps. That means the strength of a hit is divided into 127 different levels. I would even call it stepless.
velocityI want to see the drummer who manages to hit such an e-drum pad 3 times at the exact same velocity level. I doubt this is possible. Let’s go further into detail. Some advanced Roland modules offer a feature known as positional sensing. That means it matters where you hit the pad, either in the center or near the rim. The new Roland TD-25 for example, has 20 different hit locations between pad center and rim. Multiplied by 127 you can trigger around 2540 different samples. Drum plugins like Superior Drummer 2 support this feature and sample the same amount of signals.

I get the fact that some jazz drummers still notice the difference, but it does not really matter for indi or metal music. No one will notice that the recording was made with an e-kit.

2. Recording with e-drums is cheating

A normal drum kit is getting recorded with microphones and processed as wav file. Because of the mic blend (the snare microfon is recording the bass drum too, and the other way around) it is not possible to move the single hits (the wav) independently around. The drummer can still record the song bit by bit, but the timing of the hits cannot be adjusted afterwards. This is of course possible with recorded Midi files. Midi is not a recorded sound, it is data which triggers a sound sample. Every instrument such as snare or bass drum can be adjusted individually. And this can even be done by only clicking at the „Quantize Button“.

Midi notesThis does not mean every e-drummer is using this feature, because who wants to have a drum track that sounds like played by a machine. Actually cheating is possible, but that does not mean everyone is doing it. You can even leave a midi recording as it is to make it sound like playing with a human.

3. The sounds of e-drums suck

I agree that the sound of many recent modules does really suck. But no one with the intention to record a drum track would record the module sounds directly. Drum sample software solutions are used in this case. Superior Drummer 2 for example, offers sounds that are recorded with expensive drum kits, in an expensive studio, by professionals with expensive gear. These high end good quality drum sounds can be triggered instead of spending endless amounts of money to get the “Real Sound”.

The facts that the real recorded sounds lack quality, are expensive and inefficient do not stop the majority of bands. They want the „real deal“, although they are only producing indie music or hard rock. I totally agree if a jazz musician says he needs to record with a real kit. But it is ridiculous when little indie hipsters come around who are less than average on drums and play a boring standard beat, talking about recording the old way. What for?

This whole discussion on playing e-drums is cheating, is caused by wannabe artists who think every technical evolution is evil and destroys art.

sd.2 adI think it is a great thing to trigger sounds with an e-kit instead of spending ages in a studio and being broke afterwards. And the reality is that most bands do not have a big budget anyway, so why not using todays affordable technique? If it something you want to use, just spend time researching before buying your first e-drum kit and go from there.

Indication of source: Thoughts on Drum Mixing, Acoustic Drums, Electronic Drums, Triggers and Drum Libraries – Fakesmilerevolution

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