A few months ago I started to see ads for the Yamaha EAD10, some form of new drum gadget that was supposed to make your kit sound better. Instantly I knew I wanted to see how that would effect the teaching studio.
EAD stands for Electric Acoustic Drum, and the system essentially consists of a sensor unit and a brain, or “main unit” as Yamaha calls it, to process those signals. The unique portion of this setup is the sensor unit, housed in a heavy duty cube, and consisting of a stereo microphone AND a drum trigger. It looks kind of like a borg cube. The unit clips to the bass drum, which places the microphone centrally to the kit as well as activating the trigger when the bass drum is played.
The sensor is connected to the back panel of the main unit via a set of stereo cables. The sensor is not the only trigger the main unit can handle, as It has expansion for a snare trigger and even two electronic drum pads. Also here on the back panel is an AUX IN connection, and the MAIN OUTs. There is also a jack for a footswitch, which depending on the type can turn the unit on or off, control the volume, or trigger sounds. It will work with not only your hihat controller footswitch, but probably any old piano or keyboard footswitch you have lying around. As for these USB ports, we’ll come back to them later.
The front panel has a display, a handful of controlling buttons, and 6 control knobs. The main unit processes the signals in settings known as “Scenes.” The three components of each scene are the triggered sounds, the effects, and the reverb. The balance of each is easily controlled by the three knobs labeled for each. The other knobs on the front are the scene knob, used to easily switch between the scenes, the audio/click knob used to adjust the overall volume of other audio and the built in metronome, and the master volume knob. Yamaha has included 50 pre-programmed scenes, but left space for 200 user settings.
The main unit comes equipped with a multitude of kick and snare samples already in it, as well as many other sounds, totaling 757 samples, but if none of those are to your liking you can import your own as well through the USB port on the back.
A thoughtful feature is separating the idea of “effects” from “reverb” allowing the user to shape the tone of their mix with the effects before putting it into a space. There are 21 separate available mic effects and 10 trigger effects. These range from simple compression, to distortion, modulation, phasers, wahs, and tempo dependent delays. There are also 11 separate reverbs built into the unit.
Using the EAD10 on a Muffled Kit
Many, if not most private instructors that teach out of a studio have to teach on a kit that has been muffled in some way. These are of course unideal conditions pedagogically because it creates an unrealistic situation where the student misses out on the tone and dynamics of the drumset. They learn all of the coordination, but none of the sound or feel. One of the first things that intrigued me about the EAD10 was the possibility that it could give the muffled kit more life.
I tested the EAD10 I wanted to show a large amount of possibilities in the most efficient way possible because I wanted to show what it could do instead of giving you one recommendation that I think is best. For many in a muffled kit teaching situation, particularly those housed in a music store, equipment may be provided for the teacher and thus they may not have the option to change it. This was my situation when I taught in a store. For others that provide their kit, changing the setup to the setup I recommend may not work for them, or be an expensive jump, particularly if they’re adding a $500 electronic drum setup on top of it all. To do this I created a ‘Jellybean’ kit of typical muffling situations. For cymbals I used a 20″ ride muffled with a Cymguard, and a 16″ L80 Crash and 14″ L80 Hihats. I put a Remo Silentstroke mesh head on my 13″ tom, and a 16″ Sound Off on my floor tom. The kick I just stuffed full with a heavy blanket. It admittedly comes off a little louder than it should for this kind of setup. I tried a bunch of different options on the snare, a Vic Firth Mute, a Real Feel pad, an Aquarian Superpad, a quiet tone, and a Remo Silentstroke on a piccolo snare. Yamaha also sent along a DT50S snare trigger to test with the EAD10, so I tried that with all the snare options but the Superpad and the Real feel pad.
Given the option between teaching on a muffled kit and an electronic kit, I tend to choose the muffled kit as I find the electronic kit is often a distraction to students. Even if I keep the setup and sounds used conservative, the novelty never seems to wear off, and it never really feels like we’re playing drums. The EAD10 offers a nice balance in between these worlds. It gives a little more life to that muffled kit, while not betraying what your eyes are seeing by outputting a sound that is completely foreign to the instrument you are playing. It is at the very least created and mixed from that initial sound. Even if there are sampled sounds involved, the original sound is still in the mix.
The EAD10 as a Mixing Solution
The EAD10 is well setup to take the place of other sound reinforcement solutions you may have used in your lessons previously. With it’s built in metronome and aux in, it’ll only take a couple of sets of headphones and a y-adapter to replace that boombox, mixer, or whatever other setup you perviously used. The EAD10 excels at being simple, yet giving you the needed controls in this case. If you’ve used only a boombox or bluetooth speaker before, this gives you an easy way to have much better control of levels and mixing. If you had a full on mixer setup, this simplifies that setup into what you need, and getting rid of the things you don’t. The control dials on the front of the unit make mixing quick and easy, yet there is also depth for tweaking within the internal menus of the main unit.
The Internal Audio Recorder
A really nice feature for teaching is the internal recorder for the EAD10. This allows you to capture either its internal audio, or audio from the aux in. Most of us stream music these days, so the aux in capture is probably not as useful, except for the idea of capturing audio off of a student’s device so that they don’t have to be leashed to the unit. It also keeps you from having to use their phone to control it. What I like to use the internal recorder for though is recording a student playing to a song, and then letting them listen to their performance without the background track. This gives the student invaluable honest feedback about how they sound and how much they may let another player prop up their performance. In this case the EAD processing helps their sound to be a little more professional and will hopefully help them to understand that sounding good is not fully dependent on gear, or recording, but mostly on their performance.
Teaching with the Rec N’ Share App
The EAD10 will connect to the Yamaha Rec N Share app. This will allow you to use your smartphone or tablet to create videos using that device’s camera and the audio from the EAD10. I don’t see this as necessarily a great use for in an individual lesson, not that it couldn’t be used that way, but to do so would take a setup time that was not insignificant when compared to the entire lesson. That being said if you planned to do it often you could set yourself up in a way to make it easy to do.
To connect a device with a camera to the EAD10 you will need a USB A to B cable as well as a camera converter appropriate to your device. You will also need some sort of mount or at least a place to secure your device in a location to give you a shot that is both appropriate and looks good. That can be harder than it looks. I did not have a mount for my iPad, so I had to put it on a music stand in front of my kit.
I think a better use of the connectability of the EAD10 to the Rec N Share app for teachers is that it is an easy way to create good sounding and looking videos for your students to learn from. As a teacher you can create an example for your student and then send it through your device to them, whether it be to a social media site like youtube or your lessons facebook page, or a more direct way by email or text.
My initial interest in the EAD10 was solely to see if it could help to add more life to a muffled drumset in the teaching studio. It does that, though not as much as I was hoping it would. To be honest, what I was hoping for was that it would take a muffled kit and make it sound like an unmuffled kit, and of course the only way to do that is to unmuffle the kit in the first place. Nevertheless it certainly does improve the sound and feel of a muffled kit.
What I was surprised at was how much I liked using the EAD10 for other aspects of teaching. Having the extra sounds, or just different sounds, caused my students to listen more to what they were doing, how the way they played affected the outcome of their sound. The recording feature came in quite useful for capturing student performance, and was much quicker to access then pulling out my phone to do it, and while I am happy with my video recording setup, if I did not have an interest in creating high end video content and was looking for a good looking, good sounding, easy solution to creating content for my students, the EAD10 is a no brainer. I think most of all I would recommend the EAD10 to those who are looking for an all around audio solution. The easy ability to mix in music with a high quality drum sound and keep it all contained with simple controls that also have a deep level of customization is great, and honestly a thing that I was not expecting when I started working with the EAD10. it’s a really elegant solution to the studio problem.
At $500 street price, the EAD10 can’t be called inexpensive, to purchase one you are making an investment, but I think Yamaha would be justified in asking a higher price for all of the equipment and development that is in this product. For that price I did not expect the amount of controls, samples, and settings that come with it. I essentially expected a plug and play device that kind of worked one way. What I got was a fully developed product with a lot of depth and thought put into giving the user many options. I think if the EAD10 offers solutions you are looking for, it is worth every penny.
What did I miss? How would you, or are you using the EAD10 in lessons that I haven’t thought of? What other technological marvels are you using in your lessons? Let us know by leaving a comment below or sending us a tweet @musiciansnotes with the hashtag #tnt. Other than that make sure to like, comment, subscribe, all that stuff. Let’s hit it!