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PostPosted: Mon Mar 19, 2018 10:53 pm 
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Ron brought to my attention the v-expressions service some time ago, and I decided to take a chance on one of their products. This thread is really intended to answer Ron's questions about my experience, but hopefully it will help others as well.

v-expressions is an outfit that creates downloadable sets of drum kits for use in Roland e-drums. I have a Roland TD-15 module and opted for the "evolution" pack - basically 50 kits that are modeled after specific existing drum kits (e.g., 1983 Ludwig Vistalite). They also offer up "Masters" packs, which I believe are intended to emulate a particular famous drummer's sound.

The install was pretty straightforward and went off without a hitch. The install for my module uses a USB memory stick - download the .zip file to a computer, unzip it and transfer it to the USB, put it into the TD-15 and follow the instructions. It dumps the 50 kits into the Roland's 50 user memory spaces, so will overwrite anything you already have there. I had created 3-4 kits already, including my favorite "generic practice kit," so I saved those to the USB before I loaded the new ones just in case I wanted any of them back

The manual suggests you grab a notebook and write down all of your pad settings as this bulk import operation overwrites those with the v-expressions defaults as well. I did this just in case, and did go back in and put some of the settings back the way I had them (drum sensitivity curves, etc.). I did not go far enough in writing things down and it created a problem that took me quite some time to figure out. After the download, my hi-hat pedal (especially when doing "stepped" hi-hat stuff) was no longer very responsive to velocity - it seemed I either got a very soft or very loud stepped hi-hat sound when I pushed down on the pedal, with no correlation between velocity of the "step" and the resultant sound. I fiddled with the sensitivity settings and such until my face turned blue. I started thinking my hi-hat pedal was failing. I finally figured out that the v-expressions default for the hi-hat pad was actually the upgraded one, not the one that came stock with my set. My module was looking for a different hi-hat pad than the one I had, and the results weren't pretty. Once I reset to the proper pad type all was well. Glad I got that sorted, but it was probably a month of frustration I could have done without...

So, how do they sound? I wasn't impressed with them at first, but am warming to them. First, all of the kits come preset with varying degrees of reverb - all of it way over the top, in my opinion. Also, I found the same "relative volume" issues present in all of the kits (my playing style, perhaps?). The bass drum and ride cymbals (and sometimes crash cymbal) were all way to loud, and the hi-hats way too quiet. I went through all 50 kits, turned off the reverb, and reset the relative volumes of the pads (no small feat considering that each kit has different sounds that require a somewhat different mix).

Now that I've gone through that process I can say the best part is the variety of snare sounds, followed by the cymbal sounds. I've always seen the tom sounds as the weak part of the TD-15 palette, and think the same of the v-expressions kits (although they are decent). Unfortunately, I don't have a lifetime of experience playing a variety of real drum kits, so can't judge these based on that. It's certainly fun to randomly scroll through the presets and let the sounds dictate the direction of my playing for the moment. Also, the effort I put into editing and such has certainly made me more familiar with my TD-15. I had found little to like in the TD-15's factory presets by way of "regular old acoustic drum kits" and this module really helped out there.

I expect I will delete the 4-5 "electronic" kits (based on Simmons and old Roland 707/808/909 drum machines) and create a few of my own kits in those slots by picking and choosing elements from these new sets. I did reload my original "generic practice kit" into the lone remaining user slot while I was still getting my head around this stuff because it didn't seem very usable at first.

Having said all that, yes, I would spend the $40 to purchase this product again. It took a good bit of work to get to its potential (and each time I randomly pick a kit to play on, I'm still tweaking the relative volumes), but I think the number of "natural-sounding" drum kits I now have was worth it (the factory presets in the TD-15 are pretty over the top, as with presets for most any piece of musical equipment - intended to impress in the store).

v-expressions offers a $20 piece of software that allows you to easily save, load and move kits around on your system using your computer. I don't think I need it, but it would certainly be worth checking out if one were to purchase more than one v-expressions module and run out of memory slots. There's a free trial period on that.

Anyway, probably way too much info, but there you have it.


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 20, 2018 1:39 am 
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I admire the perseverance shown in this narrative. I hope you get the sounds you want as you continue your quest!!

Re verb on drums, a bit of verb goes a long way. But, like salt, you miss it at first if not there. especially till you get used to not having too much salt (as in most processed and prepared foods). I am not a seasoned recordist of acoustic drums but have had occasion over the pasts two weeks to mix some live drum tracks. A touch of room verb on the snare and a mild verb wash on the mix, applied to the stereo track, seems in order. To achieve "roominess", I often use a mid-Side stereo array on "room" recordings (Usually choirs but on the kit in this experience). No matter whether e drums or acoustic there is always lots of tweaking, but the process of tweaking a preset starts at a different place than "discovering" a mix of live drums within close-mic'd tracks that often seem, at first, to be fighting with one another.

While you were looking on how to adjudicate how much is too much verb, I was looking to discover how much is enough!

Keep at it!!!

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 20, 2018 4:47 pm 
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Thanks for a very nice review of the V expressions. I've spoken to Alan several times before he got sick. I've just never pulled the trigger. The main reason is I'm still not totally convinced, their tweaking of a digital sound is going to make that much of a difference. Granted, many people on the V Drums forum love them and that alone should make me try them. Thing is, V-Express is basically maximizing the digital processed sound already there, working in a recording studio that is well soundproofed and tuned. They're not creating new sounds, but just working with the existing sound to give it a similar sound to say a DW or Pearl, or Ludwig, etc. It's something any of us with knowledge could do with the module we have. Then again, we could all probably build a house too, but we defer to the experts in the field.

With all that said, I've often considered the sampled units available these days. The one I've been watching is this: Pearl Mimic Pro

But, the real possibility is, I'm looking for a nice deal on the TW-30 module and sell my TW-20 Expanded.

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 21, 2018 2:54 am 
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Byron - the whole aspect of reverb for recordings is something I've yet to get into with this kit as I really haven't done much recording (still learning to play the danged thing). I found just turning off the reverbs for now made me feel like I was sitting right there in the middle of the kit (I use headphones). It's a little disorienting sitting there with headphones on and banging on a drum set that sounds like it's at the other end of a cavernous, concrete convention center. :D

Ron - I understand where you're coming from. I had issues with spending money on something that (in theory) I already had. In hindsight it was $40 well spent because it opened my eyes to some aspects of my set and broadened my usable sound palette without me having to spend tons of time I don't have to get it. I guess that's it in a nutshell for me - spent a little money to save a lot of time. Heck, I've spent twice that just tracking down a set of drumsticks I like. :?

That Pearl rig looks pretty cool - way out of my league at this point. Best of luck on your quest.


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 21, 2018 3:39 pm 
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JM wrote:
Heck, I've spent twice that just tracking down a set of drumsticks I like. :?


What drumsticks did you end up liking?

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GSMUSIC: Hey RZ, Im not no upper class american, the gear I own is what I have special to me. My car sucks, my house sucks, my nieghborhood sucks. Does yours RZ? Does it?

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 21, 2018 4:09 pm 
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I finally settled on the Vater Mike Mangini signature model - the Wicked Piston. It's an interesting combination of being on the long side and being weighted toward the tip.


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 22, 2018 7:09 pm 
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JM wrote:
I finally settled on the Vater Mike Mangini signature model - the Wicked Piston. It's an interesting combination of being on the long side and being weighted toward the tip.


Very nice. Here's the ones I ended up with.

Image

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 24, 2018 5:55 am 
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Oooh, those are pretty. I will have to check them out. Almost every other pair I have are Vic Firth for some reason - except my ProMark Neil Peart pair. They don't work at all...I still sound like me. :? :D


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 24, 2018 2:38 pm 
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hello there,
excellent information that will be used ... we have a roland td20 set in the studio which is suffering from "everything is too loud and effected" ... we all have personal monitor mixes (but not individual drum mixing, just left and right)... i will forward this page to the drummer so he can glean a little bit of "how to" ... i have sat in the throne and tried to back down certain presets but the sounds get refixed by the drummer(s) ... hopefully we can come to agreement on settings ...
thanks
mark


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 27, 2018 3:44 pm 
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hudrodguy wrote:
hello there,
excellent information that will be used ... we have a roland td20 set in the studio which is suffering from "everything is too loud and effected" ... we all have personal monitor mixes (but not individual drum mixing, just left and right)... i will forward this page to the drummer so he can glean a little bit of "how to" ... i have sat in the throne and tried to back down certain presets but the sounds get refixed by the drummer(s) ... hopefully we can come to agreement on settings ...
thanks
mark


The TD20 is pretty easy to adjust. I've done simple things like changing out cymbal sounds and on a couple of kits, I've raised the kick drum level. I recently added a small cymbal that I turned into a cowbell for a Blookrock song I'm fond of playing drums to. I connected my old ipod to the TD20 and can adjust the drum level to the music. It's an awesome way to play and with headphones, the wife just hears bad tapping.

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GSMUSIC: Hey RZ, Im not no upper class american, the gear I own is what I have special to me. My car sucks, my house sucks, my nieghborhood sucks. Does yours RZ? Does it?

rz-land


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