2000’s – New Millennia, PC Based Tools
In the post-grunge arena, music shifted as always to include more polished sounds, rock was bands like Creed, Nickelback, Incubus and Foo Fighters. Pop was very technically orientated; Brittany Spears and Justin Timberlake ruled the charts. Instead of the 80’s method of humans playing technology for the drum parts, it was more of the music production approach. We saw techno and house becoming more entrenched and the tools to produce that abounded.
The computer, even though very much a part of music in the late ‘80s and ‘90s, took a leap as they started to become powerful enough to allow most anyone to record, sample and experiment.
Software Solutions became more prominent in this time especially with music production and for the drummer who wanted to expand beyond the canned modules available. VST [Virtual Studio Technology] allowed for traditional hardware components to be used in a software environment, resulting in a host of plug-ins to be developed and integrated into the DAW [Digital Audio Workstation] environment. For the brave and PC-savvy drummer, this meant a seemingly never-ending abundance of sounds, textures and tones. For the MIDI drummer, this meant bringing a PC into the arsenal of rack toys they used. All the drum, synth modules, effects, samplers, etc. can be controlled by a PC. The possibilities were endless until you wanted to carry it all on a gig.
As the PC became smaller and more powerful–and most important, more stable–the drummer could leave the hardware behind and run a MIDI trigger controller direct into a PC and leave the weight behind. Yet these fantastic advances only attracted a small percentage of drummers; most drummers want to set up quick and play. The technology side, the software learning curve, and more complicated setup does not lend itself to most drummers. The majority of drummers did not want to calculate the latency of their rig.
These great software technologies were certainly taken advantage of by recording and live sound engineers. Drum replacement started to become more prevalent as the software increased in capability. For a recording facility, it is certainly an easier and more cost effective way to go. Let’s face it, recording acoustic drums is not incredibly easy, even after you get the tuning out of the way. Setting up mics and getting that right position, along with what sometimes feels like endless “tweaking.”
In contrast to the ‘80s, where we saw yearly new developments pouring forth, the 2000s were a slow down in development in electronic drum playing surfaces. Modules and sampling technology improved greatly, but the actual drums saw little improvement. A majority of kits produced still used rubber heads and had that plastic look associated with the design. We did get some new cymbal advancement in metal triggered and multi-zone capability. This was a great step forward in achieving a better feel from electronic drums. Alesis focuses on Electronic Drumming After the 2001 bankruptcy, Alesis–under InMusic Corporation–produces the DM5 kit in 2005; based on the DM5 module, with new rubber pads. In 2008 they produced the DM5 pro kit with acoustic drumheads that were dampened, a similar approach to what Clavia did in the late ‘80s with the ddrum product line.
They also added cymbals that were based on metal;with a dampening surface to minimize the sound. Alesis continued to add more kits, modules and cymbals in this decade, marking a firm entry to the E-drumming world.