Yamaha DTX522K Review
Yamaha provide several different series of electronic drums to suit every price point and playing level. The DTX522K is part of their DTX502 series and is a mid-range drum kit. It comes with many new features that are not present in Yamaha’s DTX400 series and a few features that are present in their more advanced lines of electronic drums.
Who Should Buy the Yamaha DTX522K?
The DTX522K is an ideal kit for both beginners and established drummers. It has everything you’ll need to get started on the instrument and also it works extremely well as a practice kit.
Many acoustic kit drummers find it hard to practice due to the sheer volume of noise that play the drums creates. If you’re in an apartment or have neighbors next door, your choices are limited. You can either play on a practice pad or invest in an electronic drum set. The great thing about a kit like this is that it can be used to play live gigs as well. You’re not just purchasing a beginner instrument.
The Yamaha DTX522K is also expandable, so if you’re buying this kit you know that in time you can switch out a few parts and upgrade. You can change the pads for better quality pads. Likewise, you can swap out the cymbals for bigger and better models. This kit functions well right out of the box and can adapt and upgrade to meet your progress.
Drums, Pads and Other Hardware
The RS502 drum rack that comes with this kit is an improvement on the rack in the earlier DTX400 series models. With this rack you have more flexibility and positional options. The quality of the materials used is higher, and stability has been much improved. The snare can now be mounted on a ball joint which gives far more mobility and allows angles that were previously not possible.
The cymbal stands that support the pads are bigger and stronger, meaning things stay in place better when you’re playing. There is also more room on the racks’ lateral poles so you have more options when configuring your kit. There’s enough room now to place another tom beside the floor tom if you want to switch up your setup or if you plan on expanding some time down the line.
This is five-piece drum kit with a snare, three toms, a bass drum and three cymbals. The snare differs from the three toms in that it is a Yamaha XP80. This is a three-zone textured cellular silicone drum with superior trigger sensing than on the DTX400 series of kits. You can produce different sounds depending on where you play on this snare.
Playing on the silicone head surface is one trigger. Generally this is reserved for a typical snare sample but you can assign it to any sound you wish. Next is the rim, which can also be assigned to any sample, perhaps a cowbell or another auxiliary percussion sound. Finally, playing a ‘cross-stick’ on the drum triggers another sound of your choosing. The addition of the three-zone drum is one of the standout features of the DTX522K.
Each of the toms is TP70, a three gum-rubber pads. The pad absorbs much of the stick action to reduce the noise, while still providing a good bounce.
The KP65 is a similar rubber pad which functions as a bass drum trigger. You can hook up the KP64 with any bass drum pedal, either single or double and use it just like a regular drum. This pad is an improvement on the beaterless type of pedal that comes with the entry-level DTX400K drum set, although it will naturally produce a bit more noise when played on. This is one sacrifice that you must make to have the added realism of this feature.
All cymbal pads on the DTX522K are three-zoned and can be choke-muted by gripping the edge of the pad. The pads are very quiet to play on and perform well with the DTX502 drum module.
The DTX502 drum module comes with 691 individual drum, cymbal and percussion sound samples. The quality of sound is better than with the DTX400 series, and it has almost twice as much memory as the DTX400 module, meaning that there is more room for storing your own custom kits and presets.
The module has 1MB of flash memory that can be used in a variety of ways. You can use the extra space for importing samples, storing user drum kits and even importing MIDI song files. These are special features that are usually only reserved for higher-end drum set modules.
There are 50 factory kits on the DTX502 module along with 50 user kits. You can build your own custom kit selections easily and mix and match any sounds you like. You might find that you prefer one bass drum from a certain kit and a snare from a different kit. Piecing together your kits is very intuitive.
The samples on the DTX502 module have been compiled by Yamaha engineers and feature many of Yamaha’s acoustic range. You get a nice amount of clean acoustic kits along with some world percussion sounds too. There are also a few EDM-type drum sets, which are more suited to electro-pop, drum and bass or techno songs.
Speaking of songs, the module also comes with 37 built-in playalong tracks for you to jam along to. Selecting a song is easy to do and there is also a useful button for muting the drum track. This allows you to play with total freedom and test your ability to play in perfect time.
One improvement on the DTX502 module, up from the DTX400 series, is that now the headphone and aux ports are on the front of the panel. This makes for a tidier setup and means both are well within reaching distance of the player.
The MIDI importing capabilities of the DTX502 mean it will function as standard MIDI player. This compatibility allows you to download and import MIDI song tracks to the module and store them for playalong purposes. A nice feature of this MIDI compatibility is that each track is by default set to a metronome click, which can be left in or muted, depending on your needs.
There are a few drum coaching functions on the DTX502 module that are designed in a way as to improve the user’s sense of time. ‘Groove Check’ lets you monitor your tempo control and will give instant feedback on how you are doing. You can play along with a metronome and the module will use the visual display to show where in time you are playing. Playing ahead of the beat shows on the display to the right of center, while playing behind the beat displays to the left of center. Play exactly in time with the click and the DTX502 module will even speak to you and give encouragement!
When you have completed the Groove Check task, you can then go into further detail to check the individual components of your playing. For example, you might want to see how your hi-hat playing compares to your snare playing. The DTX502 gives you a detailed break down so you can observe when and how exactly your time is fluctuating. This is an invaluable tool for those looking to take their playing to a professional level.
The ‘Fast Blast’ feature is a mode that will be popular among those up for a challenge. This function monitors your speed on the drum set and will grade you afterwards. Simply use all four limbs in co-ordination together to play as fast as you can. You can use this feature to keep track of your technique process. By making a note of both hand speed and foot speed you can tell if your speed on the instrument is improving over time.
‘Rhythm Gate’ is a clever feature that is designed to make you more aware of your micro-timing. The unique feature of Rhythm Gate is that it will automatically drop out your playing if you stray too far from the timing of the metronome or song file. It works along the same lines as an audio gate, which will cut out any audio under a certain decibel level. In this case the gate is activated if and when your timing becomes too sloppy. It’s a novel idea and really helps focus the brain on perfect co-ordination.
This video demonstrates some of the sounds that are included on the DTX502 module:
The inclusion of a silicone drumhead for the snare will make the DTX522K a sought after drum set for experienced drummers. The silicone surface makes for a much more realistic experience and is kinder to joints and tendons too.
The DTX522K can be expanded on so if you want to upgrade your setup you can add more pads.
There are 691 sounds on the DTX502 drum module, along with the ability to store custom configurations and import your own sounds and song files. This makes the drum set a purchase with potential for greater longevity.
The freestanding hi-hat is not an ideal solution and is not the most realistic to play on. If you want a hi-hat that is compatible with a hi-hat stand, you’ll have to look at a higher-end drum set such as Yamaha’s DTX532K and DTX562K. You can swap out the hi-hat here for a better stand-mountable version but that is more expensive in the long run. It might be better to go for either a higher-end Yamaha or another brand model such as the Alesis Strike Pro or the Roland TD-25K.
Other Kits You Might Consider Instead
There are several kits from alternative manufacturers that may interest you if you like the features on the DTX522K. The Roland TD-11K is a similarly priced kit with the same number of drums and cymbals. You get a mesh snare head with the TD-11K, which is on a par with the feel of the DTX522K snare equivalent.
The Alesis Crimson II is another drum kit that rivals the Yamaha DTX522K. With the Crimson II you get a fully mesh setup, that includes five mesh drumheads (bass drum included) and four cymbals. It’s certainly one of the cheapest all-mesh drum kits available. Some drummers prefer the sounds on Yamaha modules to the sounds on the Alesis, and vice versa, so there will be a bit of subjectivity involved when deciding which kit is for you.
You might also want to look at the other kits in Yamaha’s DTX502 series. Both the DTX532K and the DTX562K offer improved features over this kit. The former introduces a superior hi-hat while the latter offers this plus the added benefit of silicone heads on all the toms. It’s worth noting that if you want these features, you can buy the components separately and upgrade the DTX522K later on.
The Bottom Line
Yamaha have produced a kit that will appeal to many drummers looking for an electronic solution. The DTX522K is solidly built and nice to play on. The module has an impressive dynamic range that allows for expressive playing and more realism.
The kit is fully expandable so if you want to upgrade at a later date you can swap out practically every component for a better model.
With the DAW compatibility this kit is ideally suited to home studios and MIDI enthusiasts. You’ll have no trouble hooking up the drum set to your computer to act as a MIDI controller to allow for even more kit sounds and configurations.
All in all, the DTX522K is a very good kit for the money.