One of the highlights of the Spring Musikmesse and the recent online MusicRadar Drum Expo 2013 was Yamaha's new DTX502. This new module is said to have a "vastly improved sound quality, highly expressive playability and user-friendly functionality".
It steps into the place of the DTX500, occupying the lower mid-range position of Yamaha's electronic kits.
Giving scope for varying budgets and playing applications, Yamaha has produced four five-piece kits to accompany the new module. Here we look at the top of the series DTX562.
The module has all the allure of any hi-tech gadgetry, with its shiny black top panel interspersed with a selection of clearly labelled, intuitively placed buttons, LED/LCD displays and the familiar quick access wheel.
There is over twice the memory capacity and around 250 more sounds than its predecessor. The DTX502 now gives the user a total of 691 drum and percussion samples and 128 keyboard voices. There is also plenty of space for user kits - 50 of them in fact - that's 30 more than the previous model. While many of the drum samples are taken from Yamaha's classic acoustic drums, this module is the first in the DTX range to incorporate additional sounds created by third-party VST developers.
You are not confined to these onboard voices however thanks to the USB port, which gives the user access to the wealth of drum sample libraries readily available. Also, when connected to a computer and using Yamaha's free downloadable Musicsoft app, you can transfer your own samples and midi song data into the module's on-board flash memory and back-up user-created kits and settings.
The review set is a combination of two packages: the DMR502 module/rack set and the top of the series DTP562 pad set. The lightweight and robust rack features a resin ball-type snare mount and the DTX502 module. The pad set includes the excellent KP65 kick pad and the triple-zoned XP80 snare which features Yamaha's excellent Textured Cellular Silicone head.
As well as on the snare, the DTX562 also features the TCS heads on all three of the 7" toms. There are three 131⁄2" cymbal pads - one each for the crash, ride and hi-hat. The RHH135 hi-hat pad comes in two sections - the pad itself and an additional sensor which sits atop of the supplied hi-hat stand.
When powering on for the first time the module requests the user to input kit type - an initial requirement for pad/triggering optimisation.
The interpretation of the module is both swift and incredibly accurate and the sound is literally striking. The samples are crisp and clean without being clouded or 'improved' with compression or masses of reverb - just a really great drum sound.
The selection of intelligently compiled kits and the small but diverse range of songs is equally impressive. Features on the cymbals such as muting, swells and choking is authentic and makes the whole set more enjoyable to play.
One particular kit which demonstrates a little of the DTX562 potential is the 'Funk Master' kit - this has the usual snare, hi-hat and kick but two of the toms are used to trigger/halt a funk groove while the other has some snappy organ solos - constructive and fun. So too are the practice routines which makes these kits great platforms for honing those drumming skills.
The pads of the DTX562 take a good kit up to a whole new level. It's instantly very playable, and appears extremely dynamic and responsive. The TCS pads respond beautifully and feel completely natural without over-exciting the sticks. The TCS snare, cymbals and KP65 kick are equally impressive.
The hi-hat pad mounted on the stand also feels natural and responds superbly. Producing all the usual hi-hat chops appears far easier and accurate than with just the hi-hat controller.