The Korg WaveDrum made waves upon its introduction back in 1994 as a big step forward for one-piece electronic drums. Korg has reintroduced it with enough new features to immediately rebrand it as a top-of-the-line addition to any kit. Unlike most e-drums, the WaveDrum uses sound modeling as opposed to sampling as its primary method of tone generation. This offers the performer a much wider range of articulation and performance. The WaveDrum, when struck, can interpret the difference between playing with sticks, brushes, mallets or hands. Even advanced techniques like pressing the head to change tone and and pitch have been included. The WaveDrum also features multiple sensors, for location-sensitive sound. In short, it's unbelievably versatile: you can use it as a standalone percussion powerhouse, or integrate it into your full kit to spice up your grooves.
Intricate sound creation system
The Korg WaveDrum features 36 DSP algorithms, allowing for some real processing muscle in its sound modeling. Analog, non-linear, and physical modeling are just a few of the synthesis methods available, and they offer you a wide range of sounds, from unbelievably natural-sounding percussion to full-on synthetic sounds. The WaveDrum also includes a PCM sound engine with 200 velocity-switchable sound samples, divided between head and rim tones. This dual-engine method of sound creation offers a rich variety of tones and sounds to all levels of player.
Edit parameters to create your own sounds
With this much power under the hood, who wouldn't want to tinker with what the WaveDrum can do? Korg offers drummers a huge range of options to customize the WaveDrum's sounds, and has included the ability to save up to 100 of those settings for later recall. Percussionists can change waveform and sound parameters like pitch, decay, reverb, and delay, and they can also modify elements of the modeled sound, like changing the head on a simulated drum. These varied methods of sound manipulation mean that no matter what your background--whether you're a synth-acquainted studio shut-in or are more familiar going by intuition and drum knowledge--Korg gives you the means to make the WaveDrum sound how you want it to.
Natural, comfortable feel
Like the best of all electronic drums, something that distinguishes this drum is not only that it allows you to have access to a wide variety of realistic sounds, but also that it allows you to do things that simply aren't practical from the standpoint of performing acoustically. Most people aren't up for the hassle and expense of lugging a set of congas, massive gong, and African talking drums from gig to gig, let alone the contortions it would take to play them all in the same song. With the WaveDrum, you get all these sounds a many more in a single piece of gear, and you can switch from one instrument to the other on the fly. What really sets this instrument apart from other high-end percussion gear, though, is its tactile sensitivity. This is always the biggest hangup for a drummer trying to get into electronic drums--so often, the nuances you're able to affect as a drummer are lost when you play the pad. A bad electronic drum can feel like you're hitting a button instead. With the WaveDrum, that's no concern--the pad's sensitivity to technique and touch is unparalleled among drums, making this an awesome addition to anybody's kit.
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The original Korg WaveDrum amazed the music world back in 1994. This legendary musical instrument was instantly famous for its innovative design, performance possibilities, and unique sounds. Well, hang on tight; the power-packed, affordable next-generation WaveDrum is here today and ready to make musical history. Again.
Unprecedented sound, response, and performance
Sonically richer, programmable, and intensely sensitive, this 2nd generation WaveDrum is bursting with more than enough power and expression to create its own musical legend. The extreme dynamic range challenges the response of an acoustic instrument. WaveDrum responds instantly to any and all playing styles, from subtly-nuanced tapping and stroking to aggressive, rhythmic assaults. From traditional acoustic percussion instruments to unique sounds previously impossible to obtain, WaveDrum serves up an enticing treasure trove of sounds. With WaveDrum, you're always in control. Instruments that normally require special techniques to play, such as tabla, conga, etc., can be played with ease. Create your own unique performance style, filled with unparalleled levels of expression and originality. Built to travel, the compact and lightweight WaveDrum is ideal wherever your musical dreams take you - from casual playing through to a full-on recording session or a live concert performance.
Open the door to new musical journeys
The Korg WaveDrum delivers inspiration and satisfaction to creative performers seeking higher realms of expressiveness and sounds. Moving beyond traditional drum and percussion sounds, WaveDrum also provides totally unique sounds that are not available in the real world, and offers ways of playing to achieve greater levels of musical expression. Imagine changing the pitch randomly with each hit, or playing melodic phrases simply by choosing a musical scale and applying pressure to the head. Imagine no more, WaveDrum does it all. While opening doors, WaveDrum is faithful to its roots. Traditional hand-drum techniques, such as adding pitch and tonal changes to a strike by pressing the head, have been previously unobtainable on an electronic instrument. No longer. WaveDrum can process and respond to these intimate performance gestures as no other instrument can. These same techniques provide a wealth of performance possibilities. For example, WaveDrum can produce sitar and tambura sounds at the same time. You can produce tambura sounds alone by hitting the head, adding the sitar sounds by applying pressure to the head before hitting it. Applying further pressure can change the pitch of the sitar within the selected scale. Only WaveDrum is able to offer such astounding versatility.
Multiple sensors deliver more expressiveness
Acoustic percussion instruments produce sound naturally, in direct response to a physical impact, be it gentle or abrupt. WaveDrum, although an electronic musical instrument, creates sound exactly the same way. The head and rim pickups are directly used as a sound source to be processed by the DSP (Digital Signal Processing) algorithms, and they also trigger the PCM sound engine. Together with the pressure sensor under the head, the WaveDrum responds to each and every subtle finger and hand motion (hitting, rubbing, scratching etc). as well as to the traditional hand drum techniques of open shot, slap shot, heel and toe, mute, etc. Of course, the WaveDrum responds not just to your hands, but to other playing materials as well, such as sticks, mallets, and brushes. The rim has two types of notches, small and large, and these can be used to elicit a tremolo-type effect by scratching with sticks, etc. Combining the rim sounds with the head sounds can create an even richer, more original performance.
DSP synthesis and PCM samples combine
The WaveDrum contains 36 DSP algorithms to conjure an abundance of synthesis methods; analog, additive, non-linear, physical modeling, etc. Using these building blocks, you can create various instrument sounds, natural sounds, or purely synthetic sounds - in addition to WaveDrum's own unique voice. The PCM sound engine - the other important part of WaveDrum's sound creation system - contains 200 sampled sounds; 100 for the head, and 100 for the rim, with velocity-switching capabilities. Certain algorithms allow you to combine a specific DSP method and a PCM instrument to the head, and assign a different combination to the rim. This method of controlling multiple sounds within a single program delivers a fantastic playing experience, rich in sound. In other algorithms, the velocity and tone of the strike are used to control the PCM sound, creating a responsive interaction that far surpasses any sample-playback device, one rivaling that of an acoustic instrument.
WaveDrum begins with a foundation of traditional pop/rock drum sounds such as snares, kick drums, tom toms, and more. WaveDrum also lets you explore a wealth of cultural knowledge, delivering a vast collection of percussion sounds from many eras and cultures around the globe, and throughout time. Ethnic percussion instruments, although seemingly simple in structure and performance, are capable of expressing the complex emotions of a culture. These include popular percussion instruments such as cajons, congas and tablas; metallic instruments such as cowbells, and triangles, along with rare ethnic percussion sounds. With WaveDrum, you have instant access to instruments such as the udo, a clay pod percussion instrument; the jegog, a bamboo gamelan marimba from the island of Bali; a talking drum from Africa, gongs, and many other instruments that often require special playing skills. Not strictly limited to percussion sounds, WaveDrum includes stringed instruments such as the sitar, koto, and berimbau as well. For every sound, WaveDrum adds its own modes of expression, in addition to faithfully re-creating the original sounds.
100 preset programs + 100 of your own
The 100 preset WaveDrum programs range from high-fidelity emulative drum and percussion sounds to a world of unique sounds. There are a range of parameters available for editing and tweaking to create sounds to suit your own music or style of playing. In addition to making changes to pitch, decay time, loudness, reverb, delay, and curve (intensity) of the pressure sensor, you can completely alter the sound by, for example, changing the head material parameter from skin to metal. The combination of DSP and sampled sounds can also be changed to create totally new sounds from scratch. These programs (up to 100) can be stored in the user area. The WaveDrum also has a Live Mode, which can store up to 12 favorite programs (from the preset or user programs) for selection instantaneously during performance.
Jam-along functions for added fun
Sure, you can enjoy the WaveDrum just by playing the sounds alone, but the dynamic and interactive WaveDrum adds some special features that provide jam-along abilities for fun or practice. Practice your paradiddles or simply wail away along to 100 loop phrases from various musical genres. Using the AUX input, you can mix in the signal from any audio source - CD, MP3 player, or even an additional WaveDrum. The options are endless.
Ready, Set, Go
Portable, compact, and lightweight, WaveDrum is ready for any musical outing. Hold WaveDrum on your lap, or play it standing like a hand drum. Place WaveDrum on an ordinary snare drum stand, or add WaveDrum to any electronic or acoustic drum kit. Use WaveDrum as part of a DJ set-up, or add a percussive element to your keyboard rig. WaveDrum is the ideal accent for any vocalist or front person. Using the headphone output allows you to practice in private, anytime, anyplace -- without fretting about the neighbors!
zZounds Expert Review
There are two schools of thought when expanding beyond the sounds of an acoustic drum kit. Many drummers start by adding percussion pieces to their rig. A cowbell here, a vibraslap there, and pretty soon you're out on the street trying to score a guiro or a set of claves. The expense (and the weight of your hardware) can really add up fast. Alternatively, some drummers add some sort of electronic trigger pad into the mix. You can get any number of oddball sounds that way; if you're willing to sacrifice realistic tone and natural playing feel, that is. What's a drummer to do?
Korg provides a pretty good answer for this conundrum with the updated re-release of their classic WaveDrum percussion modeler. The WaveDrum features a fully tunable (and replaceable) Fiberskyn head for a completely authentic feel. A combination of pristine percussion samples and detailed acoustical modeling interact with the pressure-sensitive playing surface to deliver a tone that matches the feel.
Hands On The WaveDrum
While I'm sure the electronics in the WaveDrum are highly complex, Korg took great care to make the interface very easy to use. After pulling my demo model out of the box, I powered it up with the included AC adapter, hooked up a pair of headphones, and was making music in minutes by scrolling through the presets. At just under 14 inches in diameter and about 3 inches tall, it's close to the size of my piccolo snare, so I set it up in a snare stand. The WaveDrum weighs less than five pounds, so you could just as easily play it in your lap, but the stand mount seemed like it would be more comfortable. With the tuned head, I could see how you might want to mount it up higher like a conga or djembe.
Beyond the 1/8-inch stereo minijack headphone output, the WaveDrum has a pair of unbalanced 1/4-inch main outputs for connecting to an amp, mixer, or recording device. There's also a minijack Aux input for connecting a CD/MP3 player. This is handy for jamming along to your favorite tunes. The Aux input is routed to both the headphones and the main outs simultaneously. If you really want to get crazy, route the output of one WaveDrum into the input of another one and roll two-handed.
Real-Deal Playing Surface
The first thing that caught my attention while checking out the presets was the responsive feel of the ten-inch head. It's very sensitive, and responded to all the typical hand-drum techniques with accuracy. Light taps with the fingertips on a conga patch produced a variety of tones instead of triggering a single sample over and over and over. When I smacked the edge hard I got a nice ping, and cupping my hand in the center of the head delivered a nice boomy whomp. I was even able to get a change in pitch when sliding my finger lightly across the surface after a strike.
The WaveDrum can also be played with drumsticks, and even has enough sensitivity to pick up the subtle characteristics of mallets and brushes. You can create some cool roll effects by sliding the stick across the ridges at the edge of the playing surface. Regular stick rolls work just as well, too. It took me no time at all to get comfortable with the feel with hands or sticks. I used the included key to experiment with head tension, and it felt much more natural than the rubber pads or mesh heads found on other e-drums.
A Plethora Of Percussion Sounds
More than just another sample trigger, the WaveDrum blends highly detailed synth modeling for an amazing amount of tonal variation. There are so many variables that impact the sound, from the pressure you apply to the skin, to the force of the strike, to where on the playing surface you make contact, each thump sounds unique. Special transducers send information from the Fiberskyn head into the DSP synthesizer, meaning the actual acoustics are accounted for in the sound output. The detailed expression really shined through for me.
Insane In The Brain
Korg has been around the block more than a few times with their professional synthesizers, so it's no surprise the WaveDrum's synth capabilities are on point. The sound engine contains 36 DSP algorithms to make subtle adjustments to every beat. Combined with the 200 high-quality samples, you get an exponential number of possible sounds. Korg created 100 preset patches for more common percussion usage, and left another 100 spots open to store your own creations. Scrolling through the presets, I found a number of useful options, from acoustic and electronic drums sounds to traditional percussion instruments such as bongos, congas, djembes, tablas, and, of course, cowbell. There were also plenty of not-so-traditional percussion emulations, including steel drums and even a pretty convincing jaw harp. Rather than just scanning from patch to patch, I felt compelled to take some time to explore the wide variation of tones available all across the head.
Some of the more exotic patches actually blend multiple sounds for a whole new level of creative expression. Take the D&B Synth patch, for example. Applying subtle pressure on the head triggers a swirly synth pad, with a fat kick drum and snappy snare activated depending on velocity. Strike the rim, and you add a blend of percussion and melodic tones. Just working your way around all the position and velocity possibilities on a patch like this is enough to (happily) eat up a chunk of minutes.
Coming up with your own patches is fairly painless with the intuitive interface. You're working with a basic display, an encoder, and six buttons to access editing functions and global parameters. You can set up the mix of sounds and DSP algorithms, adjust zones, add dynamics, and more. Walking through the manual Korg supplies was straightforward, and I was able to whip together a few usable custom creations in 5-10 minutes.
I Miss You, MIDI
As with virtually every other electronic music device on the planet, I naturally assumed there would be some sort of MIDI interface on the WaveDrum. You know the saying as well as I do, and I sure was surprised to find no trace. After some reflection, it makes sense, though. The WaveDrum patches are extremely detailed, much more so than the MIDI standard allows for. Just stepping the velocity sensitivity down to MIDI's 128 increments would be like trying to play an XBOX game on an old Atari system. What do you do with all that extra info?
The downside of all that added expression is trying to recreate a specific sound or sequence of sounds. Finding the right position, velocity, etc, to reproduce the intended effect will take some time to master, but that's part of the fun.
Bottom line, I think the WaveDrum is a fantastic addition to an acoustic kit. It has the right combination of authentic feel and natural sound, all at a price that is considerably less than buying all those percussion instruments (not to mention the time to become proficient at playing them) separately.