Yamaha Electronic Drums
Yamaha have long been providers of quality musical instruments, from grand pianos to electric guitars. On this page we will focus on the Yamaha electronic drums line and discuss its variety of models in detail, from the cheapest beginner set to Yamaha’s flagship kit.
Entry-Level Drum Sets
The DTX400 series is Yamaha’s entry-level series of electronic drums. You can choose from the DTX400K and the DTX450K whose differences will be touched upon shortly. The DTX400K is a sub-$1000 drum set with five drums and three cymbal pads. Each pad on this kit, both drums and cymbals, consist of a rubber surface with internal triggering.
Rubber pads may lack the comfort of more expensive drum heads but they are very durable and will put up with a lot of heavy playing. There is also more noise from a rubber pad which can be an issue if you are looking for a totally silent kit. On the other hand the DTX400K comes with a beater-less bass drum pedal. This pedal helps keep down the noise by not having a standard pad. The pedal works by using internal triggering when you push your foot down.
It can take a bit of time to get used to the bass drum pedal on the DTX400K if you are not used to playing with your heel down. It is possible to play different techniques on this pedal but it lacks the feel of a real pedal. There is no sense of beater response that is typical of a real bass drum pedal. The beater-less option does mean that you can easily position the pedal, but make sure you use a carpet or mat underneath to keep it in place.
The DTX450K differs here in that it offers the option of a real bass drum pad. The pad is made from the same material as the other drum pads and has a springy response. This inclusion of a pad means that you can hook up your own favorite bass drum pedal and play just like you would on a real, acoustic kit. The DTX450K is about $300 more expensive than the basic DTX400K but it does come with a Yamaha bass drum pedal included as well as an improved snare.
The snare on the DTX400K is the same pad as on all the other three toms. It’s a perfectly playable pad with a healthy stick response. But it’s a bit on the small side at 7.5 inches and does not have a playable rim. The only triggering on this pad is on the surface of the drum.
The DTX450K offers a three-zone pad instead which can trigger different samples depending on where you strike on it. It’s the same size as the previous snare pad but has much improved sensitivity to dynamic playing.
Moving onto the hi-hat you’ll find the same model on the DTX450K as on the DTX400K. This is a free-floating hi-hat controller which connects to the drum module with a cable. The pedal has a similar design to the bass drum pedal on the DTX400K and is not connected to a hi-hat stand. It works in the same way as well, with internal triggering that senses your foot positioning. You can play the hi-hat fully open, fully closed or half open. The controller can also be used to ‘splash’ the hi-hat by quickly pressing and releasing.
While free-floating hi-hat controllers lack the realism of an orthodox hi-hat, they do have some benefits. They take up less space and are also easily repositioned, which is handy if you are giving lessons on this drum set. They are also extremely quiet to play on which helps keep the overall noise down. And finally, this hi-hat controller can be reassigned to function as another bass drum. This is a great feature which allows you to get familiar with double bass drum playing without needing to fork out for an expensive pedal.
The DTX400 module features on both sets and comes with 10 drum kits built-in. There are also 10 playalong songs and 10 drum tutorial exercises. In total, there are 169 drum sounds on the DTX400 module including jazz, R’n’B, rock, pop, electro, percussion and more. You can also customize your own sounds and store them on the module.
The playalong songs range in style and tempo so as to help with your progress as a drummer. You can play along to swing jazz or hard rock on the set of your choosing. The DTX400 module has some nice exercises too. There is a tempo trainer which gives instant feedback on your ability to play with a click. Simply play along to the click for a short period and the DTX400 module will literally tell you how you did.
‘Rhythm Gate’ is an innovative feature that also trains you to keep better time. The way it works is that if you stray too far from the click metronome in your playing, the rhythm gate will automatically mute your playing. This is a very clever addition and lets you know in real time how you are doing tempo-wise.
Mid-Range Drum Sets
Yamaha’s DTX502 series is their mid-range selection of drum sets and comes with a few notable improvements over the DTX400 series. This series is aimed at more established drummers who want a higher quality of drum set.
The DTX522K is the lowest model in this series and at first glance doesn’t look too dissimilar from the DTX450K. It’s a typical five-piece setup with a bass drum, snare, three toms and three cymbal pads. The bass drum on this kit is a standalone pad which functions with any standard bass drum pedal.
One noticeable difference is the inclusion of the DTX-PAD drum pad in place of the snare. It’s made out of textured cellular silicone (TCS), and is designed to give an ultra-realistic feel. It’s quiet to play on and has a nice stick rebound.
The cymbals on the DTX502 series are all three-zone and have improved triggering. You can play on the bell of the ride for added realism too. This is a feature that was lacking in the DTX400 series where, in order to produce a ride bell, you must play with greater force.
The hi-hat on the DTX522K is a freestanding controller pedal much like the one on the DTX400 series. There is an increased dynamic range and expression with this pad and it functions more like a real hi-hat. You have more control when playing the hi-hat in semi-open positions.
If you don’t like the freestanding hi-hat design you can upgrade to the DTX532K. This kit has the same module, yet comes with a more realistic hi-hat. In this case, the hi-hat is stand mountable and actually looks and functions like the real thing. The top cymbal pad is secured to the hi-hat stand in the normal way with the use of a clutch. Yamaha include the hi-hat stand in the DTX532K package as well, so that’s a bonus.
On the upper end of the DTX502 series, we have the DTX562K. This kit is a fully silicone pad setup with Yamaha’s DTX-PADs on the snare and the three toms. The addition of silicone toms comes at a price of approximately $1000 more than the that of the basic DTX522K. Included in that price uptick is the improved hi-hat that comes with the DTX532K so it’s actually a pretty decent upgrade overall.
All kits in this series come with the DTX502 trigger module. This module is a step up from the DTX400 in more ways than one. It contains far more sounds as there are 691 samples vs. 169 on the DTX400’s. In addition, it has more playalong songs and the ability to store your own custom kits.
Included in the DTX502 module are a host of effects which you can add to your drum kits for more variety. There are reverb effects and an equalizer to tweak your sound – which can be especially useful when playing at live gigs.
You can choose from 50 drum kits on which to play, and also store 50 of your own configurations. The DTX502 module has a higher quality of sample than the DTX400 and a wider range of trigger response too.
High-End Drum Sets
At the top end of Yamaha’s production line we have the DTX700 series and the DTX900 series. The DTX700 series has two kits available, which we will look at next.
First up, the DTX720K is a fully high-end pad, five-piece drum kit with the inclusion of a mesh bass drum head. This mesh head is bigger than the earlier rubber equivalents as seen on the DTX502 series of kits. It can easily accommodate a double bass drum pedal and is a pleasure to play on.
With the DTX720K you essentially get the best of the DTX502 series with both a better drum module and the mesh bass drum. It retails for only a few hundred dollars more than the DTX562K.
In contrast to the DTX720K, the superior DTX760K is a marked improvement. It comes with more cymbals and better drum-pads. You get four cymbals, which are the hi-hat, two crashes and a ride cymbal. Also, the tom and snare pads are of a higher quality than on the DTX720K.
The snare on this kit is free-floating, so it’s designed to sit upon a snare stand like in a regular acoustic setup. It’s bigger in size too, measuring 10 inches in diameter. The two front toms are both 8 inches, and the floor tom is 10 inches in diameter. Yamaha also include the snare stand so you won’t need to spend anymore there.
The number of sounds on the DTX700 module has been increased to 1396, which is enough to keep you entertained for long periods. There is USB connectivity on the module too, which means you can import your own samples to create custom kits. Connecting to a Mac or PC is a breeze and Steinberg’s Cubase software is also included.
The DTX900 is Yamaha’s flagship model and is a culmination of all their innovation to date. The DTX920K is at the high end of the electronic drum price range, but comes with some cutting edge features. For your money, you get a fully high-end pad, five-piece drums set with four cymbals. There are silicone DTX-PADs on the snare and toms, and a mesh bass drum along with Yamaha’s top-end cymbal range.
The cymbals are chokable so you can easily mute them by grabbing the outer edge. Also the hi-hat is two-zoned, allowing you to play on either the edge of the cymbal or the bow for different dynamics. The toms and snare have playable rims which means you can assign any sample you wish to them. Yamaha say they have matched each drum head’s tension and feel so as to maximize consistency in your playing experience.
The DTX920K’s module contains the usual selection of playalong songs, sound samples and DAW compatibility. You have increased control over your song playback and can do cool things like mute certain instruments in a song. You can also record your performance in real time which is very handy for sound checking at gigs. Simply play and record a short passage of drumming, play it back and hop out front to hear how you sound. Included too are drum exercise functions such as Rhythm Gate and Groove Check. These tools help you improve your timing and accuracy on the instrument.
Yamaha cater to all consumer demands and playing levels. You should be able to find a kit to suit your requirements, be it beginner or expert. Whether you need a kit to practice on that won’t annoy the neighbors, or you’re a professional touring drummer looking for an all-in-one electronic solution, Yamaha ensured they have something for everyone.
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