Written by Daniel Lamontagne
MONTREAL – Drummers have heard about Yamaha Electro Acoustic Drums (EAD10) module several years ago. It consists of a sensor unit with a XY stereo microphone pair and a trigger sensor, that one fastens to the bass drum hoop.
The main unit of the EAD10 is mounted to one of your stands (hi-hat or cymbal stand) and comes equipped with large knobs to adjust volume, preset scenes, and different effects among others.
It is an interesting tool to hear you playing while practicing, to add several effects to your sound, to make videos (with your phone) of yourself playing, and to record your tracks (in stereo) on a USB memory key. But if you want to record semi-professional tracks at home, is it sufficient by itself? Can it be combined with other microphones as part of a home recording studio? Let’s find out!
DISCLAIMER – This article was not sponsored. All the equipment used and tested in this article was bought with my own money!
The drum kit used was a 1997 TAMA Starclassic Performer (Birch-Basswood-Birch shells; 12-14-22 inches) with Remo Emperor Coated as batter and Diplomat Smooth White as resonant for the toms, and a combination of Evans EMAD Clear batter/Ambassador Coated resonant on the bass drum. The snare drum used was a Ludwig Supraphonic from the early 80’ with Ambassador coated/Ambassador snare-side. The internal muffler was engaged with medium pressure. All cymbals are from Sabian.
Two AKG P170 condenser microphones were used as overheads, and a Shure SM57 was used for the snare drum. All cables are from Digiflex.
The audio interface was a Steinberg UR44 plugged into an old (2013) MacBook Air. Logic Pro X was the DAW used for recording and editing.
The overhead microphones were placed vertically over the cymbals, equidistant from the EAD10 microphone pair (approximately 40 inches, or 1 meter). Two cables were connected between the output jacks of the EAD10 and input jacks 5 and 6 in the back of the UR44 interface. The EAD10 Scene selected was P013 Room Rev with a touch of reverb. Five audio channels (Overhead L & R, Snare drum, EAD10 L & R) were recorded.
Let’s hear the results
The following sound samples were produced with the stereo pan adjusted to approximately 2/3 of the maximum value for left and right channels of both the overheads and the EAD10. The stereo pan of the SM57 was 0 (right in the middle). No EQ nor compressor was used. First, a short drum groove :
The following samples are : EAD10 only; Overheads only; EAD10 + Overheads; and EAD10 + Overheads + SM57 (better with good headphones or stereo monitors).
With only the EAD10, the bass drum is overwhelming. We clearly hear the snare and the hi-hats, but the crashes are not punchy enough for my taste. The stereo effect is poor, with all sounds coming from the middle.
With the overheads only, the bass drum feels more distant, but the snare and the hi-hats are crispier with more high-ends, and the crashes push quite well. The stereo effect is far more pronounced, with the hi-hats and 16-inch crash coming from the right, and the 18-inch crash clearly from the left.
Combining the EAD10 and the overheads creates a track well balanced while maintaining the stereo effect of the overheads. Adding the SM57 on the other hand did not improve the track in a significant manner, even though it was placed close to the striking surface of the snare drum.
The following samples are : SM57 only; EAD10 only; Overheads only; EAD10 + Overheads; EAD10 + Overheads + SM57.
The SM57 catches all the nuances of the brush strokes. With the EAD10, we clearly hear the bass drum while the snare drum feels distant. With the overheads, both the bass drum and the snare drum feel distant. Combining the EAD10 and the overheads creates a track pleasant to the ears, but the addition of the SM57 definitively improves the track with all the nuances of the brush strokes.
Here are some samples with a 12-inch rack tom and a 14-inch floor tom. No damping on the Remo Emperor heads: EAD10 only; Overheads only; EAD10 + Overheads.
There is not a huge difference between the EAD10 and the overheads. The toms feel closer with the EAD10, but the stereo effect is better with the overheads. Once again, combining both produces a track pleasant to the ears.
The EAD10 is impressive picking up quite nicely the bass drum, the snare drum, the toms and the hi-hats. Adding a pair of overheads will definitively give you punchier crashes and a real stereo effect. Miking the snare drum with an additional microphone is only useful if you use brushes.
This being said, what if you are on a stiff budget? Using proper EQ and compressor settings in your DAW, you can balance the drums and cymbals to create a track with the EAD10 only that blends nicely with the other instruments.
The drum track in the following song was recorded using only the EAD10, and directly on a USB memory key (no audio interface or computer needed). Enjoy!