Gear4Music WHD DD516-Pro Electronic Drum Kit
Web-based musical instrument retailer, Gear4Music, launched WHD earlier this year. The aim was to create a line of premium acoustic and electronic drums, sourced from a variety of manufacturers around the world, brought together under the WHD wing.
The extensive range of WHD drums is readily available from the Gear4Music website.
"A few hits around the kit demonstrate a pleasing response with a fairly realistic rebound, as if from a tightly tensioned drum."
Although the DD516-Pro set-up is sited at the top of WHD's electronic drum range, it still manages to come in a snippet under £400, so it will be interesting to see how it fares, given the fierce degree of competition that exists at this price point.
The review kit comes with a selection of rubberised pads, drum module and a drum rack, which, at first glance seems fairly typical of any budget e-kit.
However, digging deeper reveals that this five-piece e-kit has four dual-zone pads for the drums and two for the cymbals, allowing acoustic-like drumming facilities such as rim shots, cymbal chokes and cross-sticking - usually found on kits with a heftier price tag.
Other contents of the package include a bass drum pad assembly, a hi-hat pad, pedals for bass drum and hi-hat, a pair of hickory sticks, a metre-long wiring snake and a light but sturdy aluminium rack.
There are a host of drummer-friendly illustrations to aid a rapid set up.
The playable area of each of the drum pads is made from a thick rubber - which, unusually, is finished in white. In contrast, the underside of each of the pads is finished in grey, matching the plastic of the DD516 module itself.
The upper sections of the cymbal pads have a lathing effect for aesthetic appeal, with the lower rubberised portion being the playable area. All pads are velocity-sensitive and, according to Gear4Music, are designed to be stick-resilient and mark-resistant.
Given its wealth of features, the DD516 module itself is surprisingly compact, with much of the space taken up by buttons representing the layout of the kit that illuminate when each of the pads is struck or highlighted when in editing mode.
Connectivity is via USB or MIDI, and there's room for expansion with two spare sockets labelled 'TOM 3' and 'CRASH 4'.
To either side are sockets for the mains adaptor, 1.5mm headphone output and input for an iPod, mp3 or CD player, and the underside has a D-type connector for the pads.
Centred at the top of the module is a fairly large backlit graphics segment that displays tempo, bar count, visual metronome and other useful information, including song number.
With everything set in position, a few hits around the kit demonstrate a pleasing response with a fairly realistic rebound, as if from a tightly tensioned drum.
This accurately triggers each of the voices with no discernible crosstalk. Initially, when testing out the default kit, there was a positive 'click' as the pedal struck the bass drum pad, rapidly followed by a deep thud.
The snare seems to take everything in its stride, with no evidence of machine-gun-type noises, even when attempting a fairly tight buzz roll.
After testing out each of the drum sounds and kits and playing with the basic onboard sequencer, the fun continues with the Learning mode. This has a set of exercises designed to "help build speed, accuracy and stamina" - three of the most useful attributes a drummer should possess.
There are three basic 'states' to the mode; Follow Me - practice with one of 20 snare patterns; Score, which automatically records and scores the practice; and Playback, which does exactly what it says on the module.
Each drum pad responds well to every strike of the stick, and actions such as cross-sticking and cymbal chokes were realistic and easily achievable.
The elements of realism continue with a selection of credible drum sounds and, at times, truly inspirational pre-programmed rhythms - especially on the Latin-style tracks and loops. These stirred us into playing the kit with gusto and enthusiasm.
There's also plenty of room to expand the kit with the two additional sockets, and should you tire of the onboard drum sounds, there are plenty more to be obtained via the ability to interface with a PC/Mac.
Apart from the sound, pad response and price, one of the most impressive features of the DD516 is the set of pre-programmed songs. These appear to be thoughtfully constructed, extremely useful and importantly, are great fun to play along with - even the slightly tacky ones.
Realistic pad response. Excellent value. Room to expand kit. Handy tuition and pre-installed tracks. Mark-resistant pads.
Unusual white and grey finish. Some of the pre-programmed songs are tacky.
Overall this set-up represents terrific value that simply wills you to play and urges you to have fun.
Line in, left and right outputs, headphones, USB socket, MIDI in and MIDI out, trigger inputs (female) D-type DB-25
Ride and crash cymbals, toms and snare dual zone; bass drum and hi-hat single zone. Learning mode with 20 beats, 12 rhythms, 10 patterns
General MIDI Voices