What young person with an interest in music hasn’t at some point wanted to play drums. I know I certainly did but it takes a very special parent to parent to be able to cope with what must surely just amount to noise during the learning stages. Depending on your musical stylings, some might consider it noise even after you’re all practised up. I assume that is the reason why I didn’t get to play drums and instead gravitated to the guitar. Now, my younger brother is a drummer but he didn’t take it up until after he had moved out of the familial home and as his roommate at the time, I was more than willing to cope. But imagine if you didn’t have to deal with the ruckus during those important developmental stages. Thanks to electronic drums that is now a very real possibility.
Electronic drums aren’t a new phenomenon by any means but have always existed as a significant financial output restricted to “real” drummers (with cash) and the like. Technology has allowed for significant improvements in the output that electronic drums make as well as allowing for more affordable, entry level options to hit the market in recent years and adding their name to that list is Carlsbro. Carlsbro is a U.K. company that has been in business since, according to their logo anyway, 1959 and had primarily made amplifiers for musical instruments as well as speaker systems. They have now entered the market with products like digital pianos and as we will be looking at here, electronic drums.
Unlike the regular acoustic drum set that we are all used to seeing and hearing, electronic drums produce no audible “drum” sound simply by hitting the electronic pads which are representative of the drums on an acoustic set. You have pads for the snare, toms, and bass drum, as well as cymbals. The pad has a sensor which functions as a trigger that tells a control unit to play a sound associated with that pad. Hit the snare and you will hear the control unit produce what sounds exactly like a snare and it all happens in real-time with no discernible lag whatsoever. To hear this, you can run an audio out cable to a computer/audio interface/mixer/speakers or you can wear a set of headphones. And there is how you appease friends and family alike. While wearing the headphones and hitting the pads, it is if you were sitting at an acoustic set and happily pounding away and yet to those in close vicinity would hear nothing except perhaps the faint thud of your sticks on the rubber pads.
The Carlsbro CSD130 is an 8-piece electronic set that comes with 20 preset drum kits onboard that cover the gamut from acoustic rock drums to sounds more aligned with drum machines or electronica. There are 250 different “voices” or sounds as well that allow you to add some subtle, and not so subtle, changes to each of the pads within a given drum set. This would let you, for example, use the snare sound from one kit and the bass drum sound from another and also 3 different tom sounds that can then be saved into one of the 10 user defined kits. This presents the opportunity to configure a much wider variety of drum configurations beyond the 20 presets and even allows you to fine tune and adjust parameters within each for even more flexibility.
The snare drum has a dual zone so you can get a full snare hit sound or a rimshot. You have 3 7.5” tom pads overall which are the equivalent of 2 top mounted acoustic toms and a floor tom. The bass drum is a pedal unit with a 2” pad and there is also a 10” crash cymbal and a 10” ride cymbal. The entire unit mounts to a 3 legged rack system that easily folds up and can even be carried in an optional backpack weighing less than 40 pounds in total. There is also a pedal unit for the 10” hi-hat that lets you hit it as an open hi-hat or as a closed hi-hat. You can even hit it open and then snap it shut with the foot pedal or with only the foot pedal you can duplicate the sound of opening and closing the hi-hat without even striking it.
The main controller unit, or the brain as they are often referred to as, comes with a few different setup configurations. It has an auxiliary input so that you can connect an mp3 player and play along with your favourite song, it has 2 ¼” outs to connect to an audio interface or mixer in mono or stereo, and it has a headphone jack. There is also a midi in/out connection as well as a USB interface that will allow you to connect directly to a computer. You can record and playback from the control unit as well as adjusting volume and sensitivity. There are also 20 different demo songs onboard that you can play along with in one of two modes. You can include the drum track from the song or you can turn the existing drum track off and only hear your drumming. I’ll be totally honest, the demo songs are cheesy and horrible but work if you want to play along and hone those chops. The CSD130 comes in many pieces and has to be put together but there were generally easily to understand instructions and all the hardware and electronics needed to get going. The Carlsbro CSD130 even came with some drumsticks. One component noticeably absent from the package was a drum throne so keep in mind that you will have purchase one separately.
As far as playability, there are some very good things to say and a few less good things to keep in mind as well. The sound is simply great. When I first hooked up and started to play them, my wife upstairs didn’t know that I wasn’t playing acoustic drums as she said that it sounded absolutely real to her. There was no latency with hitting the pad and hearing the sound at all. The pads feel great and I found them to have no significant difference in feel or response than my brother’s more expensive set from a different manufacturer. Now the CSD130 obviously doesn’t have the same bells and whistles but you could likely purchase 5 of them for the cost of the more expensive brands. Recording into my digital audio workstation (DAW) was a breeze and provides a lot of room for creativity and flexibility in my home recording setup. Now, I found the snare drum to be a bit low and also a bit far from the hi-hat but as I am not a drummer, that may just be a thing I need to get over. They seem sturdy and well built but I obviously can’t speak to their durability. The snare pad is white while the others are black and while nothing has happened yet, I can see it getting scuffed in the future and even though it isn’t a major deal, my OCD will not like it at all. I also have had some issues with getting everything to remain tightened and in place. I am constantly re-tightening connections and adjusting tom or snare pads as they slowly start to move while I am playing them. My biggest misgiving about the CSD130 could turn out to be entirely off base but as all of the cables from the sensors combine together into 1 plug, which makes setup a snap BTW, I can imagine that if 1 cable fails that you would have to replace the entire assembly since you can’t simply replace 1 cable on its own. So here’s hoping that never becomes an issue.
This is coming soon to Best Buy and you will be able to find it by searching Carlsbro or looking here.
Bottom line is that the Carlsbro CSD130 offers unmatched value for the money and is the ideal introduction to drums for beginners or in my case, for a musician wanting to add an affordable drumming option into a small home studio setup. It won’t break the bank and does everything that you could want to and more so if this is something you are interested in, or plan to gift to some lucky Bonham in the making, drop by your local Best Buy to ensure that it meets your needs and then simply enjoy!