Wednesday, October 19, 2022

Simmons SD1000 / SD1500 Most Underrated Drum Module


I recently picked up this Simmons SD1000 drum module, and I was pleasantly surprised at how freaking amazing this thing is! To give you a bit of background, the SD1000 originally came out in 2012, but was also included in the SD1500 drumkit which came out in 2014, but with a firmware update that expanded upon its already impressive features (more on that later). 

The SD1000 was the post-Guitar Center acquisition of Simmons, and previous to this module, they had mostly only released repackaged / rebranded Medeli drums. However the SD1000 was the first real attempt at a flagship e-drum since the 1980s for Simmons. The drums themselves were a forgettable assortment of rubber pads, with a fairly decent drum rack. However, the module that came with the SD1000 was packed full of great features only seen on Rolands and Yamaha modules at that time, such as dual zone snare, dual zone cymbals, SD card reader, onboard MIDI sequencer, FX, and a whopping 519 voices + 100 internal songs, as well as the ability to save user kits to the module, as well as to an SD card. 

The SD card can also be used to play MIDI files using the SD1000's internal MIDI sequencer. You could also record directly to the MIDI sequencer with the drums or even an external MIDI controller to play it's onboard voices like piano, guitar, bass, synth, and percussion! You can even quantize MIDI with this thing! The internal sounds are really not bad, and it really excels at electronic type sounds. There are a plethora of vintage original Simmons sounds, plus 808s, 909s, and lots of other great sounding electronic tones. There are also some really good acoustic sounds! The vintage Simmons samples are some of the nicest I've heard outside of an actual SDS kit. 

With the 1000 firmware update this thing really turns into an awesome beast of a module. The update expands the snare to 3 zones (center, rim/center, and rim) this allows you to play center sounds, rimshot sounds, and cross stick sounds all from the same drum without changing settings. This works on a standard 2 zone snare. Tom 4 is also expanded to 3 zones in a similar fashion, and can be used to trigger midi sequences, or a 3rd sound from the pad. The update also expands the ride cymbal to a 3 zone ride over a single cable, makes all other toms dual zone, makes all the other cymbals dual zone and chokable, and improves hi hat dynamics, as well as adds some new voices to the module. It's crazy they were able to cram this many updates into a single firmware update, but they did. 

Some warnings on the update though: DO THIS FIRST! Don't even create any custom kits or anything until AFTER you update the firmware, because YOU WILL LOSE EVERYTHING! I found this out the hard way. Backups made on the old firmware will not work on the 1500 firmware, so make sure if you get an SD1000 module, you update the firmware immediately before doing anything else. 

At the time of writing this post, these modules, while not exactly abundant, they are very affordable. Between $10-$150. Make sure you get one with a snake though, because I've noticed the snake doesn't seem to have the same wiring of any of the other drum modules I have. However, it does seem to work on most Simmons/Roland style pads. 

The module also features two expansion ports, standard MIDI input and output, USB MIDI I/O, Headphone Jack, L/R Master out, aux input, and powerful metronome. 

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