Ion Electronic Drum Kit

The Ion Kit is an affordable electronic drum kit

Welcome to the Ion iDM01 electronic drum kit review. I hope you find it both useful and informative.

To start with, we'll go through some of the background of the kit, what it is and what fresh amenities it brings to the lower end of the drumming world, then moving onto the individual parts of the kit and how its set up, and then a round up of where to progress. Also we shall cover the pattern elements of the machine - enabling you to pre-programme beats and loops and then either trigger them in real time - or have a set sequence play out at will.

Check out the drumkit here @ PlayRecord.Net:

ION iDM01 Electric Drum Kit

Background

The Ion iDM01 electronic drum kit is an out of the box drum kit from veteran electronic music makers Numark / Alesis. Put simply, it is a set of pads, a rack, two pedals and some boxes to plug the whole lot together - which will then make sounds like a drum kit when you hit them. The set also comes with Ion headphones, so that if volume is an issue, then slap the 'cans' on and all anybody nearby can hear is the tapping of your sticks on pads. Plug the box into a stereo or amp and away you go - the only ceiling to your volume is the equipment you then use. The IONKIT is also aimed at the lower / intermediate price point - meaning you can be a budding drummer in next to no time - without the cost of a full sized kit.

Any drummer who cannot play the drums whenever they want will know exactly what I mean when I say "volume sensitive areas". As in - you can't just play whenever you feel the need as, no-doubt, one of your friends, family, neighbours etc will not be too impressed and will quickly quash whatever groove you were previously into. And, to be fair, you can't really blame them! No offence, and as a drummer I feel I have the right to say that drums ARE loud, and sometimes hearing a beginner drummer bang out on his first kit with wild abandon for more than 20 minutes can become a little "trying". So this is where the IonKit comes in………. Wielding over 230 independent drum sounds, and comes with enough pads to faithfully recreate a traditional drum kit set up, this is a beginners dream. With this kit you can practice anywhere with power with almost no volume and taking up very little space. As a beginner you often do not want to be forking out over £300 for a kit which can sometimes not be really what you are looking for, and as a beginner sometimes you don't know what you're looking for! This baby now retails for just under the £300 price mark.


The individual Parts

Pads

The most obvious parts are the pads. They are different from any other drum pads which I have used before. Rather than the mesh heads of the Roland's, they have a flat plastic surface. This creates a nice level of bounce, so even with the kit completely switched off you can use the set-up like a regular practice kit. The pads have fantastic response, which can also be altered to suit your playing style. Let me explain a little more here. The response time between hits and the velocity of each hit can be changed via the iDM01. The velocity can be set to 7 preset levels, or alternatively can be set to quite, medium or loud. This means that if you're used to playing really lightly across the kit, you can put the velocity on loud and then when you play - you'll be coming through at a decent level. If your power is lacking and you need to work on some harder hits - put the velocity to quiet and you'll need to work a little harder to get the right volume. Velocity also affects the actual sound file that the box uses. On certain drums, the timbre changes at different velocities. A loud crack on the snare brings a higher 'pop', whereas a lazier tap will produce a lower sound.
Now to the response level between hits. Lets say you hit the snare drum twice. You can alter the percentage of level that goes to each hit. So you can have a louder first hit on your fill - but the corresponding hits after that are slightly quieter - or louder if you want! The default for this is set to 50/50 - which means all hits are equal - so don't worry if you don't want to mess around!
Each pad, and the IONEXP expansion packs come with the necessary wires, mounts and screws to hook them up. Everything you need!

Pedals

The pedals are black plastic full footboard pedals - as opposed to the cheaper Yamaha kits, and are micro-switched. They feel good underfoot and have a nice response, although if you are used to playing the kick drum with the ball of your foot and driving the power down from your knee then your style may have to change slightly. I haven't really road-tested the pedals using that style and sustained abuse may cause issues - but none I have heard of yet. There are two pedals, one for the hi-hat and one for the bass drum. They are both identical and the wires at the back of them, which connect them to the padbox, come out, meaning you can use either pedal for either function, and can be completely packed away when not in use.

Rack

The rack is a really well built tube system that requires approx. 30-40 minutes to construct the first time you put it all together. After that however - you can chop and change pieces in seconds without any hassle. The rack comprises of a bar across the floor, a supporting piece 90 deg at each end - each with an upright. Then attached to these are two more bars - parallel to the floor piece. The rack now has two tiers for putting the pads on (drums) as well as the uprights (cymbals). With the clamps in place for the pads - you can easily transport them around the rack by slackening off the screws and moving the mounts to exactly where you want them. The only thing you have to watch out for here really is the parallel bars where the drum pads go - as the uprights prevent you from totally taking the mounts off - without a bit of disassembly. Obviously you won't really be moving them that much when the kit is up, but even if you want to - 2 or 3 minutes is all it will take to sort it out.

Padbox

The padbox is basically a "stage-box" for the kit. What I mean here is that the pads don't directly plug straight into the iDM01 drum machine as such. The pads and pedals all plug straight into the pad box, via the named and numbered inputs on the back which make it instantly visible which wire is supposed to go where! This then plugs straight into the iDM01 drum machine via the enclosed MIDI cable. The padbox sits on the lower of the two top bars of the rack, in the middle and is held in place via a clamp and some nifty Velcro. Atop the padbox sits the iDM01 drum machine.

Drum Machine

The iDM01 drum machine is the heart and soul of the IONKIT. Without the drum machine (or brain, as they are called) then all your really dealing with is a traditional practice kit (albeit a very good one). The iDM01 sits atop the padbox and is attached to it via a Velcro strap which really holds it in place. After weeks of moving the kit around wholesale and giving it a thorough road testing the iDM01 has shown little sign of budging. Through the iDM01 you do the business. From here you can listen to the amusing demo - sorry guys (it's a decent demo - just a bit clichéd) , cycle through the available 50 preset drum sets, listen to 50 of the preset drum patterns or start creating. This is all done via a simple and continuous operating system. First up will be creating your own or 'user' kits, from which you can choose from 253 different drum sounds. These cover kick drums, snares, toms, crashes, high hats, splashes, rides, congas, bongos and various other kinds of percussion. This is by no means the end-all of drum machines - but the samples really DO sound good, and the quality really must be heard to be believed. Once you have saved yourself some nice sounding drum kits - its time to start playing! Without the use of an external amplifier, then all you will get out of the ION kit is the sound into your headphones (which is a very good level). If you want to be loud though, what you need to do is attach the drum machine to your home amp, mixer, guitar amp etc. via the enclosed 1/4 inch jack to phono cables for a true stereo sound. Each pad can be set to its own volume, and panned each way as much or as little as you want.

Using the iDM01

The iDM01 has some really outstanding features when it comes to recording. After you've spent a while listening to the pre-set kits and patterns - all you'll really want to do is to play and maybe even record with your new licks! The iDM01 really helps you out here. Push the record / compose button to toggle between the two and to select Record. Choose a pattern that's empty with the up and down buttons, and then go through the easy options screen to tinker a bit - or just hit play and start going! In the options you can name the pattern, set the tempo manually or better yet just keep tapping the stop button with your finger and the machine will calculate the tempo for you and set it to that! Easy. The drum machine will count you in (default set to 4/4 2 bar phrase) and then your away. The pattern will keep looping until you hit stop. So if you want to hear what some experimental beats sound like without being able to actually play them, you can put the tracks down one at a time. Start with the kick, put down a few beats, wait for the loop to start over again and then put down some snare - listen to it as it replays and then maybe add the hi-hat section in? Its all up to you. The ability to 'step record in real-time' really will help anyone out there who maybe isn't a drummer at all but wants to add realistic drum sounds to their tunes. Don't like your pattern? Just hit erase and start again. You can record up to 50 of your own patterns and with these and the presets you can create up to 100 songs. To do this you simply enter the number of the pattern you want and hit go - and then move onto the next. This was you can easily create a song simply by making a few patterns - then 'drawing them in' in this fashion. Alternatively fancy doing in ton the fly? You can also real-time record the songs. To do this you start playing a pre-recorded pattern and then queue up the next one. At the end of that 2 bar phrase (or whatever time signature / no. of beats you have it set to) it will automatically change to the next patter that you have selected. This way you can pick and choose how your song progresses on the fly.

Where to from here? The IONKIT comes complete with 5 x drum pads and 2 x pedals. This enables you to have a snare, high hat, 2 x toms and a crash, with one pedal for the high-hat and one for the kickdrum. This is the basic jazz set up for a drum kit and is perfect for the beginner. But you want more? Then what you need is the IONEXP. This is the ION expansion pack. This comes complete with 2 x extra pads, the arms, screws, mounts and cables to get you going. With the iDM01 there is space for an extra 4 x pads other than the 5 that come with the kit. 2 expansion packs and the iDM01 is full to the brim with drums! With this many pads you shouldnt go wanting for a while......

Check out the Ion Expansion packs @ PlayRecord.Net here:ION iDM01 Expansion Pack
Check out this great selection of guitar, drum and general music accessories we have put together for you - free guitar tablature search, online metronome / drum machine to play along to and we even have an online guitar tuner for you.
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