Yamaha DTX920K Review
The DTX920K is Yamaha’s flagship electronic drum set. It comes with many new features and improvements including better response, more playability and the DTX900 drum module. It’s a five-piece drum kit with four cymbal pads but has space for 15 pads on the module, and therefore it is very expandable.
Who Should Buy the Yamaha DTX920K?
Costing several thousands of dollars, the DTX920K is not a beginner drum set, but it does have many functions that will be helpful to beginners. Some of these functions are the built-in coaching tools that are designed to improve your skills and timing on the set. You can also hook up your MP3 player, iPod or laptop to the DTX900 module for easy playing along.
You can certainly use the DTX920K as a drum set on which to begin your musical journey but it will typically appeal to experienced drummers. The textured cellular silicone (TCS) heads and rubber pad cymbals make the DTX920K an extremely quiet drum kit to practice on. If you live in built-up areas, an apartment or are sharing a house, then you’ll more than likely need to keep the noise down to a minimum.
The DTX920K has well over 1000 sounds on the module and has the capabilities to add more through USB. You can also use the set to connect to your home studio or DAW for easy drum tracking. Features like this make the DTX920K a suitable kit for recording enthusiasts as well.
Drums, Pads and Other Hardware
This five-piece drum set comes with larger drums than on earlier Yamaha models such as the DTX502 and DTX700 series of kits. With the DTX920K you get a 12-inch snare, two 10-inch toms and a 12-inch floor tom.
The pads were designed with consultation from professional drummers around the world. The end result is a set of drum pads that feels natural and comfortable to play on.
The response from the toms differs from the snare. The snare has a harder response that is closer to the standard tuning tension of a regular snare. The toms feel slightly softer and with more of a cushioning effect. But unfortunately, these pads cannot be tuned with a drum key, and therefore their tension is not adjustable. This is perhaps an oversight on their part, as many would expect a feature like this to be available on a high priced drum set.
The snare is free-floating and comes with its own Yamaha snare stand. This means that it’s far more flexible than any rack mounted drum and can take the strains of robust playing.
This 12-inch snare is playable both on its silicone head and on the rim. You can combine sounds between rim and head for a realistic sounding kit. The rims on all toms can be reassigned too, and that leaves more room for adding extra sounds to your musical palette.
Each drum pad on the DTX920K comes with a control knob to the side of the drum that can be assigned to control a number of different aspects of your drumming experience. You can use the knob on the snare to turn on and off the level of snare strainer, much like you can on a normal acoustic snare drum. On the toms this knob can be used to change the pitch of each drum which is way handier than doing so on the drum module, as is usually the case with electronic drums.
You can also use the control knob to alter a number of other features such as tempo and effects levels. This is particularly useful in live situations where you have limited time in between songs to set your sound for the next track. You can even use this control knob to scroll through different sounds on your kit, which will prove to be a very useful addition by Yamaha.
The hi-hat on the Yamaha DTX920K is a RHH135 model. It also comes with a Yamaha HS740A hi-hat stand on which to mount. The RHH135 pad feels good to play on and is very responsive in all positions, from open to closed. It will even respond to foot pressure when closed, much like a real hi-hat and pedal will. You can hear the pitch of the hi-hat sample raise as pressure is applied. This makes for more variety in you hi-hat which is a very expressive instrument on any acoustic drum kit.
For a bass drum we have the KP100 kick pad by Yamaha. This is a solid bass drum tower with a nice cloth-type head that absorbs the beater well. It stays in position well even when played at high volume with a double pedal. It also comes with another input on the side for connecting another cymbal pad to your setup. The KP100 is quite a realistic bass drum as far as electronic equivalents go, and it’s fun to play on.
The cymbals on the DTX920K consist of a hi-hat, ride and two crash cymbals. On first impressions they seem a bit on the small side for a kit of this price. The bell of the ride cymbal is quite small compared to both Roland and Alesis flagship models.
Each cymbal is three-zoned, meaning that it has multiple sensors for extra expression. You can choke each cymbal to instantly mute the sound and they have a quiet but healthy stick response. The edge of the hi-hat has a different feel to the bell and bow of the cymbal. It’s softer and absorbs the stick more than when you strike elsewhere. This can take a bit of getting used for some drummers.
Another feature that is unique to Yamaha is the addition of ‘pre-chokable’ cymbals. This adds another layer of realism to the DTX920K. You can pre-choke any cymbal by gripping it before you strike it. The end result is that realistic dulled sound you get with an acoustic cymbal.
The DTX920K rack is an RS700. This is a solid four-post rack with Yamaha cymbal boom arms and tom mounts. Each tom mount has a ball clamp so you can position the drum in practically any angle you like. The cymbal arms are equally as flexible and can be moved into any position or angle for maximum comfort.
You can also purchase the DTX920K with an alternate to the drum rack. Yamaha offer the DTX920HWK rack which is a set of three stands on which to place your drum, cymbals and module. This ‘hardware kit’ is more like the stands that are so popular with modern drum kits nowadays. The advantages of this setup are that it is more flexible than a rack and each stand folds up neatly for carrying.
The WS860A stands that make up this hardware kit can be used to hold two toms each as well as a cymbal arm. This means you can fit the whole setup on three stands, with the hi-hat and drum module on one stand. Bear in mind that if you plan on upgrading, you might need to invest in more stands on which to hold the new pads or cymbals. The DTX920HWK also takes up less room than a standard rack so it will save a little space in your setup.
The DTX900 drum module has 1326 sounds or voices built into it. This equates to 100 drum kits. Each kit can be edited and effects can be added to enhance your sound. The are 51 variation effects on board the DTX900 including reverb, chorus, distortion, flanger and delay, just to name a few.
Also on board the module are 9 different master effects. You can use these effects to put an overall sheen on your sound. The 5-band equalizer lets you tweak your sound even more. You can boost bass frequencies, cut mid or high frequencies and generally clean up your sound output. This is a useful tool especially when trying to perfect your sound for live performances.
In total there are 100 drum kits but you are not limited to these. The DTX900 can actually act as a sampler so you can create new and custom kit sounds. The stereo input on the module doubles up as a line-in for MP3 playalongs and sound sampling. The DTX900 module also has an SD card slot that allows for convenient importing of sample files.
In addition to the above sound manipulation features, you can also stack multiple sounds with the DTX900 module. This means that you can layer one sound on top of another for a cool hybrid-type sound. You can actually layer up to 100 different sounds on each pad on the DTX900.
You can hear the DTX900 drum module in action here:
On the front of DTX900 module there are individual faders that allow you to control the volumes of each instrument. There are 6 outputs on the back so you can send your kit to a desk as individual groups for ease of mixing. There’s also a digital out, a USB and 15 pad inputs for expanding the number of pads on your DTX920K. The DTX920K will work with any modern DAW such as Cubase or Pro Tools and is fully MIDI compatible.
The built-in sequencer allows you control over MIDI song files so you can mute the drum parts when playing along. You also get a range of different playalong songs that are great to play along to. For training purposes there are a few of Yamaha’s drum tutorial exercises. These modes are designed to help you improve your timing and accuracy.
The panel on the DTX900 drum module is nicely laid out and makes for a relatively intuitive experience. You can navigate through the sounds and settings easily, and making adjustments is a breeze. The display on the DTX900 is a bit old school looking and could possibly do with an upgrade. When compared with the latest Alesis Strike Performance module it looks very outdated indeed.
The triggering on the DTX920K is good and it feels like the triggering instantly responds to the stick attack. The module comes with some handy features such as the ability to sample and the ability to work with a USB flash drive for extra kit storage. The control knob on each drum is a nice feature too as it can be assigned to a number of functions for quick alterations on the fly.
The inability to adjust the tension of the silicone heads might not be to everyone’s liking. The response from the snare, toms and bass drum is very good and feels pretty natural, but it’s always nice to have options here. Another possible bone of contention is the cymbal pad size. They pale in comparison to the cymbals offered by both Alesis and Roland.
The sounds on the DTX900 module are a little clunky in comparison to the high-end Roland TD-30 and TD-50 modules. Many consumers feel that Yamaha need to up their game in this respect. Their sounds are fine for the entry-level kits and mid-range models, but when you are looking at the DTX900’s price range, you want the best.
Other Kits You Might Consider Instead
You could also take a look at the Alesis Strike Pro drum set, which is competitively priced at around $2500. That’s half the price of the DTX920K, and it comes with more drum pads and more cymbals.
The Bottom Line
Looking at other kits in both the DTX502 and DTX700 series by Yamaha, it becomes clear that they like to release upgrades. It would be typical to see another DTX900 series kit released quite soon with some of the features that this one is lacking in. That could be bigger drum pads, bigger cymbals and an improved drum module.
In terms of value for the money, the DTX920k is on the expensive side. The general consensus is that when it comes to the high-end kit sounds, Yamaha electronic kits are lagging behind. But overall, the DTX920K is a fine drum kit if a little overpriced.