Loads of bang for your buck

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Guestzz123's review of Session Pro DD505


“Loads of bang for your buck”

Written on: 10/03/2012 by Guestzz123 (2 reviews written)

Session Pro DD505
I bought a well used set of these a few months ago on Ebay. When it arrived I found the condition was not a good as I had hoped, but after playing with it for a while this ceased to matter. I'm an old school 'real' kit player who hasn't played for far too many years, so 'rusty' doesn't scratch the surface.
The good:
The bounce from the snare is surprisingly good. Much better than the 70's practice pad I was expecting. The toms and cymbals are not quite as good as the snare but still OK.
Adjusting the cross-talk and response curve settings make a huge difference to the response and the sound of the kit. Finding this feature was quite a relavation. This can be individually set and saved into a user kit for each pad. Getting the right setting can make even a dodgy drum roll can be made to sound smooth and creamy with the right setting. Some voices are velocity sensitive and allow a lot more colour and expression. EG max velocity on some of the snare voices gives a rim shot the ride cymbal gives a 'cymbal bell'. Some of the tom sounds simulate the stretch of the head the harder you hit them. You have to tweak the velocity curves to make this usable, and a velocity curve setting to get the best out of one feature is not necessarily right for another. I have set the same voices across several user kits with different curve settings in each as I find this feature really useful.
In amongst the mostly bland and 'plastic' voices there are a few really good ones.
The open-close response of the HH pedal can be adjusted. Some voices take advantage of this to give a 'half open' sound.
The dual zone features of the snare and cymbals are worth every penny.
It sounds a lot better through a good PA amp and speakers than a small practice amp or headphones.
The headphone jack on the brain has worn and does not make reliable contact with the jack plug. I've overcome this by forming a very slight bend in the jack plug. Having said that, I use an amp and speakers via a mixer and if I want to use headphones, I run them from the mixer.
What you loose out in sound quality (and it's not all that much) you gain many times over in variety. You can take a whole percussion section with you including A tamtam, and timps. With a keyboard in tow you can have tuned percussion as well.

The bad:
The 50 songs are a waste of time once you've played them once. The memory should have been used for more user kits and voices.
The trigger is missed if 2 pads are hit exactly together. This can be overcome by careful setting of the cross-talk feature.
The brain drum buttons do not trigger a midi out signal.
The midi out is not 100% compatible. There are issues between the 2nd tom and the ride with certain types of connected midi equipment. There are some patch work-arounds on the net, but I've not found one that I particularly like.
The clamps that fix the drums to the frame are brittle and can easily break if fitted incorrectly. Great care is needed.
The rubber Tom head pads stretch and distort. This doesn't really affect my playing, but it's annoying.
The kit cannot be extended, but the Midi function will allow another brain to be linked.
The cymbal voices do not sustain anything like a real cymbal does. It makes the choke feature somewhat superfluous but not totally redundant. I would certainly rather have it than not.
I'm used to playing a real drums using different parts of the head for different volumes, bounce, and tone. I really miss this.
I'm reluctant to mention this as because I now know the issue exists I can notice it whereas I hadn't given it a thought before. There is a very slight latency between the strike of the pad and the sound. It's not much and not noticeable in normal use. I only discovered it whilst trying to adjust out the trigger issue above.
It fits in the corner of the spare bedroom without taking over the whole room.
The drums pack into a single suitcase and the frame can be folded virtually flat. The whole thing can be carried in and out of venues in one trip. I even beat the guitarist to the bar!
I love this kit. It's great fun and despite the bad points, I'm really pleased with it. I would much rather have this old but better featured kit than a new entry level kit for the same money.
For me, It's versatility far outweighs the disadvantages compared to an acoustic kit. It doesn't 'look' like a kit should, but that doesn't worry me. I don't think a digital kit will ever replace an acoustic one in much the same way that a keyboard won't replace a symphony orchestra or a concert grand, but it's a instrument in it's own right and deserves it's place in a drummer's arsenal.

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Nickhotspur's Response to Guestzz123's Review

Written on: 10/10/2013

excellent, thanks. I have an accoustic set in the living room, stuffed with cuddly toys. I have just missed out on a Yamaha Explorer Electric Kit on ebay , and came across a pro-session kit so your advice is weell received.

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