NUX DM-7X review: What is it?
Are we living in the golden age of electronic drum kits? It seems drummers have never had so much choice when it comes to digital drum sets - with a multitude of wallet-friendly brands giving industry behemoths Roland and Yamaha a serious run for their money. Brands such as NUX, Alesis, Donner and Millenium Drums are turning the tide on expensive electronic kits, making this instrument even more accessible than ever before.
Today we turn our focus to the NUX DM-7X, a feature-rich drum kit from a leading force in the affordable music gear space. Chances are if you frequent music stores - or indeed the MusicRadar site - you'll be aware of NUX. Perhaps best known for their inexpensive versions of classic guitar pedals, the budget brand does a whole lot more than that. With everything from digital pianos to multi-effects units, guitar amplifiers, wireless systems and, of course, electronic drum kits in their catalogue, NUX has something for every type of musician.
Their beautifully crafted flagship kit offers players a satisfying alternative to the noisy acoustic drum set, with a familiar set-up most performers will enjoy. Boasting a trio of 8" toms, a 10" snare, a specially designed kick drum, a 12" hi-hat with control pedal, two 12" crashes, and a 14" ride, this kit can be configured in a variety of ways to cover an assortment of playing styles.
Teaming up with celebrated drumhead manufacturer Remo, the DM-7X comes fully loaded with Remo-branded mesh heads, which provide excellent triggering, a large strike area and a very authentic feel. Furthermore, the DM-7X also comes with 30 customisable kits, practice aids, a recording mode, five coach functions, as well as Bluetooth audio for jamming along to your favourite tracks.
NUX DM-7X review: Performance & verdict
We all know the fun part of electronic drum kits is hitting them as if your life depends on it - not setting them up. Fortunately, the DM-7X is a breeze to get up and running so you'll be rocking in no time. In fact, it was even easier to put together than its little brother, the NUX DM-210, which we reviewed last year.
While you still need to build the curved stand yourself, the mounting brackets come pre-installed on their respective bars making it very straightforward to put together. For the most part, the instructions are easy to follow, but again, like the previous model, they forgo written directions in favour of diagrams. This didn't cause us any trouble, but then again, we've put together a number of these kits. If you're completely new to setting up a digital kit, you may not be able to interpret the pictures as easily.
Once erected, the stand feels solid and sturdy and should stand up to the force of even the most enthusiastic drummer. The stand is also incredibly adjustable, meaning the kit can be configured in various ways to suit your playing needs. A clever detail we enjoyed was the "quick disassembling cymbal arm lock" which as the name suggests, allows you to effortlessly remove or adjust the two crash cymbals without a drum key.
Roland TD17KV: With all-new pad designs, sounds derived from the flagship Roland TD-50 module, as well as Bluetooth audio, this Roland kit is a brilliant option for those on the hunt for an all-mesh set-up that more than delivers on sounds.
As we previously mentioned, the DM-7X comes with a full complement of Remo mesh heads - a major upgrade from the previously reviewed beginner electronic drum kit, the DM-210. It was only a few years ago that this technology wasn't available outside of Roland, so it's great to see budget brands being able to use these brilliant Remo heads.
As you'd expect, both the snare and toms feel responsive and durable, with just the right amount of bounce. Even though each drum is "tuneable" just like a real kit, we didn't feel the need to adjust the tension on any of the drums. Straight out of the box, the drums felt like we expected, so we left them as is.
Of course, it's not enough for an electronic drum kit to just provide the tactile feedback you get from an acoustic kit. It must also offer the same level of expression tonally. Thankfully, the DM-7X does a good job of processing the various dynamics in which a drummer plays, generating a wide spectrum of sounds. Each of the pads are velocity-sensitive, with the tone realistically changing depending on how hard you strike.
Another massive upgrade from the previous kit comes in the form of the cymbals. The hi-hat and two crashes use the same 12" pad, while the designated ride cymbal uses a 14" pad. While some budget kits opt for a narrow strike zone, NUX supplies a cymbal that can be struck anywhere on the pad - just like the real deal!
Better yet, these pads are multi-zoned, offering multiple tones depending on how it's played. The ride cymbal offers the most with bow, edge, bell and choke, meaning you can play the DM-7X exactly as you would your acoustic kit without worrying about not being able to recreate the exact drum part of your favourite track.
Finally, that brings us to the sound of the DM-7X. Now, this is where the praise for this NUX kit gets a little less glowing - mind you, only a little. Don't get us wrong, this drum kit sounds pretty good, with a number of preset kits more than doing the job - Rock Kit 2 was our personal favourite. That said, as the NUX sits comfortably around the £1,000 mark, we can't help but compare the tones to that of their premium stablemates, Roland and Yamaha.
Coming loaded with a total of 30 kits - considerably more than their most obvious competitor, the Roland TD17KV and a little less than Yamaha's DTX6K3-X - it's true to say there are enough quality sounds onboard to satisfy more players. However, we did find ourselves having to edit almost every preset to get them to our liking - especially in the volume department.
We found ourselves having to rebalance the kits, bringing the volume of the cymbals down so they didn't drown out the toms and snare, while bringing up the volume of the kick to ensure we could hear it over the other drums. Luckily, this is easily done by pressing the instrument button on the face of the module and adjusting the levels, tone and tuning of the drums to our liking. It's also worth noting that you only need to do this once, as any changes will automatically save for future use.
Of course, this being an electronic drum kit means we can forgo the internal sounds completely, instead using third-party software to take care of the tones. In our tests, we hooked the DM-7X up to Toontrack's Superior Drummer 3 - via a USB cable - and the results were nothing short of magical. It was a breeze to map, and it triggered the sounds perfectly. So, if you are looking for a more fun and engaging way to input your MIDI drums, then the DM-7X is a brilliant option.
Lastly, we want to mention the inclusion of Bluetooth audio streaming, which means you can play along with your favourite songs via a phone, laptop or tablet. This was very simple to set up - taking just seconds to pair - and is a brilliant feature that we simply couldn't live without.
NUX DM-7X review: Hands-on demos
NUX DM-7X review: Specifications
- Drums: 8" Tom x3, 10" Snare x1, 12" Hi-hat x1, 12" Crash x2, 14" Ride x1, Hi-hat control x1, Kick x1, Kick pedal x1, DM-7X Module x1
- Number of kits: 30
- Features: Metronome, Coach, Reverb, REC, Songs, Bluetooth, USB MIDI, All Mesh Drum Heads
- Connectivity: Headphone out, Output, Power In, USB Midi, AUX In, Tom4 Trigger-in
- Contact: NUX