Thursday, May 4, 2023

What are the Best Electronic Drum Modules for A2E conversion?

I get asked this all the time. What are the best electronic drum modules to buy for acoustic to electronic drum projects? Can you just use the Alesis Nitro/Surge module for A2E? 

Let's answer the second question first. No. 
Well, yes you can, but it won't be great. Alesis Nitros, or really ANY Alesis module will not make a good A2E module because of its lack of parameter adjustments which allow you to fine tune triggers. Your results with an Alesis module will likely be horrible to 'sort of okay'. That being said, avoid Alesis modules. 

Here's a list of modules I like and that I think make great A2E modules.
  1. Roland TD-17 - The Roland TD-17 is a moderately priced module that has excellent built-in sounds, USB audio/midi, sample import, and is all around the best module you can get in its price range in my opinion. Personally, I would even place it above the TD-27 because of its price advantage, and I had better luck with configuring acoustic triggers with it. 
  2. ATV XD3 - While not nearly as full featured as the TD-17, the ATV XD3 has extremely low latency and excellent onboard sounds. It is about half the price of the TD-17 as well. A wide variety of triggers will work with it as well. Even though there are little trigger adjustments (even less than Alesis!) it seems to do just fine with just about any trigger you connect to it. Simplicity is its strength!
  3. Roland TD-8 - The Roland TD-8 is an older module, lacks USB, but has standard MIDI i/o. The sounds are a little dated, but also some of them are quite nice. It has 4 individual analog outputs, a ridiculous amount of onboard sounds ranging from acoustic, to percussion, and electronic. It also has man of Roland's V-Drum editing parameters such as shell depth, tension, head type and room ambience. (the TD-17 has all of these too). You can usually find them for under $400. It also features many individual inputs without using a cable snake. 
  4. Roland TD-6 - BEST BANG FOR YOUR BUCK! The TD-6 has the exact same sounds as the TD-8, but with less editing features and a smaller screen and less outputs. However, that being said, you can usually find the TD-6 for under $200 which makes it a great choice for A2E. It has a lot of inputs, and the onboard sounds are very decent. 
  5. Roland TD-27 - If you're looking for a flagship module that isn't $3k, then the TD-27 is for you. While personally I do not like it as much as the TD-17, it does have advantages such as multitrack USB audio, more onboard sounds, and editing features. In addition to that, it is actually newer than Roland's official flagship module, the TD-50, which I think does not sound nearly as good as the TD-17 or TD-27. 

Based on this list, I encourage you to research all the specific features for each module to figure out which one is right for you. But I have personally tested all of the modules in this list with A2E projects, and all of them work very well. I hope this list helps!

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