Modern technology has gotten to a point where electronic drums can function and operate, with no discernable difference from traditional setups. Electric drums only suited quiet drum practice sessions in no distant past, but you can deliver sounds like a conventional setup nowadays. However, it still requires some add-ons and technical workarounds to achieve the desired output. Below are the two best methods to amplify your electronic drum outputs, their peculiarities, and drawbacks.
1. Drum Amps
You can get an AMP for electronic drum set units to amplify your setup on a broad range of frequencies. Sub-woofer amps are more commonly-used units and often have a quick plug-and-play operation.
- Cost: The primary advantage drum amps have cost. Amp units are relatively cheaper than alternative options and would often deliver value for money.
- Flexibility: Drum amps are compact and give extended frequency ranges. Unlike other amps for guitars, drum amplifiers transcend mid-range frequencies, allowing you to change EQ values quickly.
- Extra Input: One bugbear to drum amplifiers is the limited input support. You can only plug in one additional instrument, which is either not adequate for a full band setup, or means more units and bulk.
Drum amplifiers are pretty much plug-and-play, and you would only need a piece of ¼” instrument cable. Connect the wire to your electronic drum. Then, pay attention not to use the headphone output, as they have amps pre-applied.
Upon connection, your drum module sends mono sound to the amp, and you can increase the volume on the amplifier. Finally, you can tweak the master volume on your electronic drum as you continue playing sessions.
2. PA (Public Address) Systems/Mixer
The PA system is a more elaborate method to amplify electronic drums, with multiple instruments, typically in a band setup. It requires a substantial amount of add-ons, thereby costing more in the long run.
- Flexibility: Where AMP for electronic drum set boxes would only accept one extra instrument to amplify, a PA system supports several instrument connections. It is suitable for outdoor performances and practice sessions.
- Output: Comparatively, public address systems deliver fuller, richer sounds than regular amplifiers, which would come in handy if you would be playing in a medium to large-sized room or space.
- Lack of Bass: Public address systems are not versatile in bass delivery. If your primary concern is bass, you would need to spend extra for a proper sub-woofer.
- Cost: You will have to spend more on a decent-sized PA system, and when you consider the other peripherals, the setup is relatively expensive.
- The first method of connecting a PA system to your electronic drums setup is to use a ¼” inch cable on the L/R audio output. You can join the wire into the L alone, in which case you get mono output. Connecting to both L and R outputs gives a panned surround sound. Generally, the panning takes the default position of the individual drums, but you can customize it.
- The second method requires an XLR (External Line Return) cable and a DI (Direct Input) box. The DI box allows for extension without loss of sound. Connect the box to the drums through the XLR cable, and link the DI box to a mixer afterward. However, you may need to get multiple DI boxes to achieve stereo outputs.
A PA system typically wouldn’t work standalone and requires add-ons to improve the experience. Some of the essential add-ons are active and passive speakers.
- Active Speakers: Active speaker units typically pair up with mixers for a more resonant, broader sound. It works in a straightforward plug-and-play fashion.
- Passive Speakers: Passive speakers go into amplifiers first before the connection links into a mixer. Usage is dependent on the wattage of the amplifiers, so it helps to pay attention to how much watts your drum amplifiers can handle.
If you plan on taking your electronic drum for practice sessions or small gigs, you have to amplify its sounds. As listed above, AMP for electronic drum set units would deliver sound outputs on the cheap while PA systems proffer more flexibility. Pay attention to the dedicated mixers and cables in order not to distort the performance.