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  REVIEW - Pacific Digital’s "DrumXtreme"

Pacific Digital’s "DrumXtreme", no drum roll
by Zack Bryce, Tech Lab Manager
July 23th, 2003

At first glance we thought that reviewing Pacific Digital’s “DrumXtreme” digital drums would be a nice segway into recording devices for audio and music producers, based on the promotional pitch the Marketing Manager gave them. After opening the box, we quickly dropped that thought and decided just to review it as an electronic drum set alternative to the traditional acoustic kit.
 
             Click on the pictures for enlargements

Three of us here at Tech-edge E-zine are long standing drummers from average to professional experience; and “haven’t played in a while”, to “currently doing the band thing”. I’ve played regularly since eight years old, and have both rock and jazz-fusion bands. I prefer as acoustic kit (drum set), but have frequently use digital drum for recordings. So we felt that our credentials are well in order to adequately review the Pacific Digital “DrumXtreme” digital drums.

I am going to tell you up front that we did not like this product at all, so consequently this will not be a very long review. This is no set suitable for recording purposes, playing in a band or even learning and practicing on. Sometime new technologies and manufacturing practices coming out of Asia, just isn’t progress.

The DX-50 retails only from Pacific Digital for $299 in the basic configuration (5 pads - which are three drums and two cymbals and a plastic bass kick pedal). A deluxe kit for $399 includes the mission high-hat plastic kick pedal and an additional cymbal.

The pretext for the DrumXtreme from Pacific Digital is that it is a set that an adult, juvenile or child could use as an alternative to an acoustic kit. We respectfully submit that we have to disagree in all cases on this basis; an instrument should be adequate to stimulate and encourage the player or student to progress. Pacific Digital’s DrumXtreme is completely unacceptable on that basis.

We saw a “review” by a writer for PCWorld and had to laugh at their “applause” for the product, we have to wonder if he actually played the drum (can he play?) or even opened the box? Typical PCWorld review. He quoted the manufacturers “spokesperson” that “Assembly should take about 35 minutes . . . 20 minutes by using a cordless power-screwdriver,"

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Our staff timed me assembling the kit from box opening and it took one person 2 hours and 12 minutes WITH an electric screwdriver! I’ve put MANY drum kit together, including a 14 piece Roland.

     Flimsy brackets don't hold electronic pads in place

While the metal tubular members making up the kit are strong enough, they are of insufficient diameter to keep the flimsy plastic attachment brackets, held together by one solitary screw from moving. Drums and cymbals must be stabile and unmoving; the triggered pads start to swing around on their tubular arms after a couple minutes of play no matter how tight you set the screw. NOT acceptable!
    Another flimsy bracket across from Pad distribution box

The five electronic pads, which take the place of drums and cymbals, are of pretty low quality and use individual mono channel cables to connect to the USB distribution box mounted on the frame. These pads neither feel like good ones, but also have terrible tactile feedback. Adjusting them to your personal needs, which is paramount to a drummer, is frustrating to impossible.

As I mentioned, you will need a computer to use this drum kit and I found that a slow computer with a poor sound card chip set will not do. I tried to use my old Compaq Presario 1200 (500MHz) and it was just to slow for running the software. An HP OmniBook we have here in the Tech Lab, running at 1.1GHz was acceptable and it has a decent sound card chip set.

The software that is included and necessary for the Pacific Digital “DrumXtreme” is difficult to install and is simply childish in appearance and use. A real drummer will be embarrassed to be seen using this. The selection of synthesized sounds range from real drums to salsa and oriental “sounds”? None, sound authentic.

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