By JJ Jones
Yamaha’s newly released EAD10 acoustic electronic drum module was a smash hit at this year’s NAMM show. A winner of their “Gotta Stock It” award, the EAD10 has spawned countless video reviews that rave about its features, giving it legendary status only months after its release. There are so many features, it’s almost hard to get your head around them all. I’ll simplify by telling you how you can use the EAD10 yourself, and why I think it’s nothing short of a revolution in drumming.
Yamaha told me that by asking their team, “What are drummers trying to do these days?”, they identified some of the main challenges facing modern players: creating unique sounds with acoustic drums, mic’ing drums fast, playing along with songs and hearing both music and drums through headphones, and quickly making and sharing drum covers for social media. Amazingly, Yamaha was able to create a solution to ALL of these issues with one product that retails at $499: the EAD10.
What Is it?
The EAD10 consists of a main controller module (similar to the “brain” of electronic drumset), and a “sensor unit”: a small metal cube containing a bass drum trigger and a pair of condenser mics that attaches to the top of your bass drum hoop directly above the kick pedal.
Falling in the “it’s so simple it’s brilliant” category: the EAD10 makes it possible to mic your ENTIRE acoustic drumset with ONE unit, and instantly transform it into a powerful, digital/electric hybrid with sampled sounds and studio-quality digital effects. Even if you’re not interested in using electronic sounds, think of the EAD10 as adding overheads, room sound and compression to your current acoustic drum kit without having to set up mics, stands and cables running to a multi-channel preamp and mixing through a DAW. It’s like listening back to a recorded, or even mastered, version of your drums through headphones, but in real time.
Hybridizing Your Acoustic Kit: New Avenues of Creativity
In the first ten minutes of messing around with the 50 preset “Scenes” included in the EAD10, I came up with a trip hop groove I’d have never created had I not been inspired by the kick drum sound of the “Low Rider” preset I dialed in. Next I played a super-chill jazz beat that I ended up recording, all because the “Calf Heads” scene made my drums sound like a vintage bebop kit from the 1940s. Finally, I dialed in the massively gated sounds of the “It’s 1985” preset and had a blast replicating Phil Collins’ famous drum fill from “In the Air Tonight”.
As you can guess, sounding like your favorite songs and drummers is not only fun, it’s inspiring. Take your creativity even further and record your own WAV samples, like claps or vocal phrases, and assign them to one of the 11 possible triggers in the EAD10 (in addition to the jack for the kick trigger, there are jacks for a snare trigger and two multi-zone trigger pads, plus a foot switch, all sold separately). Sit down at your kit and get lost! By giving you a whole new palette of sounds, and even making a mediocre drum kit sound awesome, you’re gonna wanna play your drums more — and that is ALWAYS a good thing.
Isn’t this already possible with an electronic kit, you ask? Well… yes and no. With the EAD10 you are ENHANCING real drum sounds, not just replicating them through triggers and rubber pads. It’s the best of both worlds: the feel of your own acoustic drums, combined with an entire world of sonic possibilities.
As A Practice Tool
If you wear isolation headphones and play along to songs when you practice, then you know it can be hard to hear your drums (especially the kick drum), and this makes it difficult to tell if you’re really syncing up with the track. With the EAD10, your drums come through your headphones along with the song (because they’re mic’d and triggered) and you can adjust the volume to find the perfect level (mix) of your kit with the music. I’ve been practicing with the EAD10 since I received it for this review and my timing and bass drum precision has gotten better over just a few days, mainly because I can hear myself now (especially the attack of my kick drum). Imagine the impact it’ll have on my playing as time goes on.
Recording With The “Rec’n’Share” App
We all know one of the best ways to improve your musicianship is to record yourself playing, but there are limited options for recording yourself playing along with a song. There’s the time-consuming route of setting up mics, stands, cables, and preamps, then importing the song into a DAW. Or, the easier-but-lower-quality method of using an app like Garageband with your phone’s built-in mic (or an external iOS mic).
But now, with the combination of the EAD10 and Yamaha’s Rec’n’Share app, high-quality recordings of you playing along to songs stored on your iPhone, iPad or a USB stick are just a few clicks away. You can slow down the original tempo of the song without changing the pitch, use the AB repeat function to loop playback of specific sections, add an incredibly accurate click for ease in synching up to the track, mix your drums with the song on the EAD10 itself, and even share that performance directly from your phone. Awesome, right?
(While the EAD10 isn’t a substitution for professional quality studio recording, it can enhance your tracks. See the “In the Studio” section below.)
Making videos, like drum covers to put up on YouTube or Instagram, typically means even more logistical steps: employ one of the recording processes above for audio, take video with your phone (or a camera like a GoPro), import the video and audio into video editing software, sync the audio and video track, and so on and so on.
The Rec’n’Share app eliminates most of these steps by taking video with the built-in camera in your iPhone or iPad and combining it with the high-quality audio from the EAD10. Just enable the camera in the app, hit the Record button, play, review, mix, and upload to YouTube – all from ONE app on your phone. No joke, it’s that easy. I’d say that’s pretty revolutionary.
More Awesome Uses Of The EAD10
For small and medium sized venues, use the EAD10 in place of drum overheads since stereo output jacks on the back can carry your processed drum mix to the front-of-house PA (or to your band’s mixer during rehearsal).
The auxiliary input on the EAD10 can work as a monitor mix input. And if your band uses in-ear monitors, you can add your drum mix and adjust your own levels right from your kit. Plus, since the EAD10’s metronome settings are saved in each of the 200 user presets, you could potentially dial in a different drum kit sound and click track for each song in your band’s set.
In The Studio
A great way to enhance your overall drum mix is by adding a track of the EAD10. It’s the equivalent having of a room mic mounted in the middle of your drum kit that picks up the balance and dynamics you hear as the drummer. (Neil Peart used to tape a mic to his chest while recording old Rush records to get this same effect.)
If you have a “silent” practice kit, for instance with Remo Silentstroke heads and Zildjian L80 cymbals, or even just muffled and muted regular drumheads and cymbals, the EAD10 can give more life to the sound in your headphones, minus the simulated feel of an electronic practice kit, since the organic sound (and feel) of your acoustic drums are still in play.
You Need This Thing
I think the EAD10 is an indispensable tool for learning and practicing, recording drum videos, and just plain old creativity and fun. There are certainly other devices on the market that perform some of the same individual functions — but, the snag of course is having to buy each separately. The magic of the EAD10 (and it’s companion Rec’n’Share app) is having a universe of features in one powerful package that’s fast and easy to use.
JJ Jones is a Berklee trained, internationally-touring drummer and educator. She has played with folk-pop darlings Girlyman, comedian Margaret Cho, Egyptian revolutionary Ramy Essam, and LA’s riot-pop band WASI, among many others. JJ is the founder of EmpowerDrumming.com, the only drum education company in the world exclusively for women.