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Linux-compatible hardware drumkit?

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usernamenumber
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Joined: 04/17/2010

Hello all,

I used to love playing drums back in the day, but haven't owned a kit in years. Reading articles about people using rock band drums and hydrogen to play around have inspired me to start looking at the possibility of using a linux-based laptop as a cheap brain for an electronic kit.

I would like to ask here if anyone has advice on building or cheaply purchasing a kit that could be plugged into my laptop via usb and then used with hydrogen (or something else) for mapping custom sounds to the pad hits. Is this possible, especially with things like pressure-sensitivity, without lots of latency? If so, and anyone has links or other advice to share, it'd be greatly appreciated.

I actually have access to an old set of XBox 360 drums, but it seems that unlike the Wii and PS3 kits, they don't detect as a joystick and so don't seem like they will be easily usable. In any case, it doesn't have some important features like pressure sensitivity, so while they might be fun, I'm hoping that there are better alternatives out there.

Thanks in advance for any help people can offer!

pablomme
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Joined: 04/17/2010

I recently bought an Alesis DM5 kit for about 300 GBP (333 EUR, 446 USD), which I connect to my computer via a MIDI-USB adapter. There are cheaper kits, but it wasn't clear to me if they were able to produce MIDI. The DM5 was the second-cheapest option which supported MIDI.

Rock Band-style drums are fun for a while, but the lack of pressure sensitivity is a killer. If you find a USB kit that is pressure-sensitive you would need to write some code for ALSA to trigger MIDI events (joy2key wouldn't help here, clearly, because hydrogen couldn't possibly detect how hard you hit your "keyboard"!). I don't have a clue on how to do that, but other people may be able to help.

Latency is not a problem (even for an on-board soundcard) if you configure the ALSA buffers properly. The optimal values may depend on your system; for reference, I use period_size=256 and buffer_size=1024 with a sampling rate of 96kHz.

wolke
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Joined: 03/30/2010

hiho,
a friend and i planing a h2 usb midi device with 8 piezo trigger pads 8 endless rotary encoder and some toggle buttons for transport and other switch functions (e.g select pattern in pattern-mode, record on/off, mute or solo, playlist next/prev. song). also it will get 8 6.3mm inputs for external trigger pads. all based on an atmel avr controller. think in february 2009 we have our first prototype ready.

if we get an working device we planning an open-sorce product.
than you can get schematics, controller software and construction drawings.

usernamenumber
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Joined: 04/17/2010

Thanks for the suggestion, pablomme.

At least looking at http://www.audiolines.com/product.php?productid=19552, the Alesis seems to come with a brain already, so I am curious what the advantage of using Hydrogen instead of the hardware it comes with is, or did you find one that did not come with a brain?

usernamenumber
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Joined: 04/17/2010

This raises another question: Looking on ebay, I see some good deals on individual pads like http://cgi.ebay.com/Alesis-DM5-Extra-Pad-Great-Condition-NR_W0QQitemZ330293111060QQcmdZViewItemQQptZLH_DefaultDomain_0?hash=item330293111060&_trksid=p3286.c0.m14&_trkparms=66%3A2|65%3A15|39%3A1|240%3A1318] this[/url] and [url=http://cgi.ebay.com/Alesis-DM5-Extra-Cymbal-Great-Condition-NR_W0QQitemZ330293111276QQcmdZViewItemQQptZLH_DefaultDomain_0?hash=item330293111276&_trksid=p3286.c0.m14&_trkparms=66%3A2|65%3A15|39%3A1|240%3A1318, which lead me to wonder whether I couldn't just assemble a simple kit to play around with from parts.

However, my assumption had been that I could somehow just plug a bunch of (daisy-chained?) pads into my laptop and use hydrogen instead of a brain, but is that correct? What is the minimum hardware I need in addition to a bunch of pads to interface a laptop using hydrogen to make the actual drum sounds?

wolke
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Joined: 03/30/2010

you need an midi controller (midi or usb) to plug in such pads. into my previous post i describe such a controller.
mostly this pads are piezo pads. they only send an small impulse with different amplitude (hit velocity). an other peace of hardware must convert this impulse to a correct midi message. this will do the midi controller.

pablomme
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Joined: 04/17/2010

I bought the DM5 with the brain, plus a MIDI-to-USB adapter. It should be possible to get the pads (which are electronically very simple) talking to the computer directly, if you're willing to build something like what wolke says he's prototyping.

The point of using hydrogen is that the drumkit sounds in the brain are absolute rubbish (I don't think they can be replaced, but I may be wrong), while hydrogen allows you to make nice layered kits with whatever samples you like. Plus it can be used to do proper recording etc.

One point to note: in my experience the DM5 kit is extremely fragile, particularly the cymbals --I've had the wires snapping off the sensors and I've had to weld them back on--. If I had to buy the kit again I would spend 75% more money and buy a better one. One with dual-trigger cymbals for a start! But besides that I'm quite happy with it, given its price.