More and more drummers are searching for simple yet reliable ways to document their practice sessions and performances on their mobile devices with high-quality audio, and Yamaha recently developed a near-perfect solution: the EAD10 electronic acoustic drum module (list price: $629). The EAD10 also has some hidden values for studio and touring drummers, so let’s check it out.

What Is It?

The EAD10 consists of two parts. First, there’s a sensor unit that clamps to the batter-side bass drum hoop and houses an X-Y-configured stereo mic and a trigger sensor that’s activated each time the bass drum is struck. The second component is a compact sound module that contains a plethora of drum and percussion samples that can be played by the trigger sensor or by external piezos or pads. (Three additional inputs are provided, including one dual-mono jack that’s ideal for Yamaha’s DT50S two-zone snare trigger and two jacks for additional triggers or pads.)

The main unit also contains a handful of DSP (digital signal processing) effects, including distortion, delay, wah, phaser, flanger, reverb, and compression, that can be applied to the sounds captured by the stereo mic.

The back of the EAD10 module has a USB port for a flash drive (not included) that can be used for recording longer performances, and there’s a second USB port for connecting the module to a computer, smartphone, or tablet. There are two quarter-inch mono outputs, and there’s a 3.5 mm stereo input that can be used to send audio into the EAD10. The front of the main unit has a standard quarter-inch headphone jack.

The interface of the EAD10 is intuitive and easy to navigate. There are separate knobs for controlling the level of the master output, auxiliary input/metronome, reverb, DSP effects, and triggered samples. There’s also a large knob for switching between preset and custom sound sets (called scenes). Additional push-button controls provide access to metronome settings, sensor unit adjustments, the internal recorder, and other functions.

The EAD10 comes with an AC adaptor, a pair of connector cables, three hook-and-loop fastener bands (for securing the cables for a tidy setup), two adhesive cushions to help the sensor unit mount flush on crimped-metal bass drum hoops, and an angle-adjustable module holder that can be mounted to a multiclamp attached to a hi-hat or cymbal stand.

How Does It Work?

The EAD10 system is very easy to set up and requires almost no technical know-how to use. Simply connect the sensor unit to the top of the batter-side bass drum hoop, making sure that it doesn’t rub against the snare, toms, or other hardware, and then run the two cables from the sensor to A/B jacks on the main unit. Plug in some headphones, fire up the module, select a scene, and jam away.

The default trigger and mic gain settings provided a nicely balanced drumset sound with strong kick and snare tones, natural toms, and cymbals that sounded clean but sat comfortably lower in the mix. The stereo spread between the hi-hat and far-right crash felt accurately spaced. (As is the case with most condenser microphones, darker-sounding cymbals and deeper-tuned toms yielded the most pleasant and equalized tones.) The default scene, Arena, employed some large, ambient reverb and a resonant, smacking kick sample, which instantly put me in a classic rock headspace.

The trigger sensor performed flawlessly right out of the box, responding accurately to my playing dynamics. The reverb level could be adjusted from subtle to absurd, and turning up the effect knob added some super-punchy compression. By turning up the trigger knob, I could adjust the balance of the triggered and acoustic kick sounds from being completely acoustic to nearly all sample.

While I had no issues with the levels of the microphones and sensitivity of the trigger in the default setup, you can reconfigure the module by simply pressing the sensor unit button, selecting auto, and then striking each piece of your kit for ten seconds. The sensor will then be automatically calibrated to optimal levels for your playing style and setup. If you want to tweak the trigger and mic levels further, you can do so manually via the menu screen.

Applications

The first and most basic benefit of having the EAD10 is that it’ll likely inspire you to spend more time on your kit while you explore all the fun, exciting, interesting, and unusual sounds within the fifty presets and whatever custom scenes you create on your own. I lost track of several hours while I dug deeper into the more abstract scenes, like Cyclone, WowWow, and Whistler. And the funky, lo-fi vibes of the Dirty, BreakBeats, and Vinyl Loop scenes had me honing my Clyde Stubblefield beats for extended periods of time. The scenes featuring delay effects allowed me to select an exact tempo of the delay, making timing practicing more fun than with a metronome.

When practicing with the internal metronome, you can adjust the tempo, time signature, subdivision levels, and sounds. To record your practice, simply press the recorder button to enter the record menu, and press record. The internal memory allows for about 1.5 minutes of record time, but you can expand on that by connecting a USB flash drive to the back of the module. You can also record yourself playing along to backing tracks or other music by connecting an audio player to the aux in jack. If you would prefer to use the EAD10 as an audio interface with your computer, connect the module via USB, and select it as your audio input device in your preferred DAW.

If you would like to use the audio from the EAD10 when you record videos on your smartphone or tablet, you’ll need to pick up a USB cable with the proper connectivity for your device. Yamaha created a very powerful, intuitive recording app, called Rec’n’Share, which worked flawlessly with the EAD10 for recording audio and video simultaneously. The app can grab any audio file stored on your device, analyze the tempo, add a click track, and process the audio so that the tempo can be sped up or slowed down. The app also syncs with your social media pages, so once you’ve recorded a performance you’re happy with, you can share it with just a few screen taps.

While the EAD10 is a game changer for practicing and creating quick-and-easy online content, it also has potential to be a valuable tool in studio and live drumming applications. If you record the L/R outputs of the EAD10 (with varying degrees of effects) onto separate tracks in your DAW, you can blend them within your mix of close and room microphones to create an interesting layer of parallel processing. Or you can mute the stereo mic to use the EAD10 to record a separate track of triggered samples.

In live situations, the EAD10 could be used similarly, as a simple sample-triggering device, by muting the mic sensor and cranking the trigger output. This is a great option if you want to layer in samples when your acoustic kit is fully miked. For gigs in smaller rooms or in situations with less production, you could run the audio from the EAD10 to the PA and use it as a basic stereo drum mix. Or if you want a quick-and-easy in-ear monitor system, just run a mix of your band from the board to the aux in on the EAD10. As long as the audio being sent into the EAD10 is balanced, you should be good to go, and you’ll have the flexibility to tweak the level of your drums in your in-ears from your drum throne. Pretty cool, huh?