I had a chance to give the new Simmons SD500 a good test run and for the price ($499.00 street) it’s not a bad little edrum kit.
The kit comes in one big box. In the box you will find that the rack is pretty much put together for you. All you have to do is take the packing material off and swing out the two side extensions and snare arm. You may need to loosen the wing screws before doing this. Once those are extended tighten down the wing screws. The manual does a pretty good job showing how to assemble the rest of the kit. Once set-up you now have a standard five piece drum set configuration.
Closer look at the SD500:
– Rack: The rack has redesigned plastic clamps that hold the triggers really well. They don’t feel flimsy and feel nice and solid (as far as plastic clamps go). The steel tubes of the rack appear to have a slightly textured powder coated finish and makes for a very solid base for the kit. Having the crash/ride cymbal mounts coming out of the two upright legs is also plus at this price range.
– Cymbal Triggers: The cymbal triggers of the SD500 track very good. There’s no hot spotting anywhere on the strike surface. Again, this appears to be a new design for Simmons. The magic to the “no hot spots” is where they placed the trigger sensor, The opposite end of the cymbal that is away from the strike surface. This type of configuration is not new, but it is new to Simmons kits in this price rage.
One other thing I really like on the cymbals is the small cable hook. On each cymbal there is a hook that holds the trigger cable perfectly against the trigger itself. This may seem like a small thing, but it goes a long way to help make the cable management look good.
– Kick Trigger/Pedal combo: I really like the idea of this integrated kick trigger, however I feel that the trigger itself is just okay. When using it on a padded surface (like carpet) be sure to use the included velcro strips to help keep the pedal in place. Without the velcro strips the pedal will “walk” away from you. What I would really like to see improved on this integrated kick trigger is a longer spring adjustment screw and a metal spring cam (where the spring mounts to the pedal shaft on this kick trigger is plastic). Because of it being plastic, overtime I feel it will either break or bend to the point the spring will not stay on. Please keep in mind that I’ve had this kit set-up for about a month and you can already see the spring cam post is bending.
Normally I would adjust the screw at the bottom of the spring, but it is already adjusted out as far as it can go. That is why I suggested that Simmons use a longer spring adjustment screw. I do like the feel of the trigger itself. It isn’t bouncy and its fairly quiet physically which is a huge plus. Overall I think the integrated kick trigger will be fine for those just getting started with drums. More advanced players will find the pedal a little sluggish.
– Hi-Hat control pedal: Nothing fancy, but it does work well. It’s a switch based controller that allows for foot chick, open, half open, & closed sounds. No heel splash which I don’t see as an issue at this price range.
– Drum triggers: The best way to describe the drum triggers is, they are softer than they look. At first glance they appear to be standard solid rubber triggers, but they’re not. The outer surface is solid rubber, but just under that surface is a foam layer that adds some cushion to the feel of the pad. Other than that they are pretty much standard rubber pads. Over all the drum triggers have a good feel, but again more advanced users may find the subdued stick rebound a little tiresome. For a beginner drummer the subdued stick rebound is a plus for building up sticking technique. That foam layer has another benefit which is, it cuts down on the physical noise that the pad makes when struck.
– Drum module (Brain):
The big plus about the SD500 kit is the module’s sounds. There is plenty of good kit sounds to satisfy just about any kind of music taste in the SD500 module. What’s really cool is the SD500 module sounds like it has a few of the same samples as its bigger brother the SD1000 module. It also has the same V.A.R. technology which really helps to cut down the machine gunning sound of the samples when playing rolls. The module button set-up is very good as well. Like most drum modules in this range, it does use the 25 pin din connector for plugging in the different triggers via a cable snake. The buttons have a good spacing to them and I really like the size of the volume control knob. The blue back lit LCD display is crisp and easy to see. The module also includes a “Stick Holder”, but to be honest I prefer to use it for my head phones.
As much as I like the SD500 module, I feel there are a few minor things lacking with it. The module always starts up on Kit “K07:Classic Rock”. Don’t get me wrong, I like the sound of that kit, but it seems odd to start on kit #7 instead of kit #1 and there seems to be no way to change this. So keep in mind that if kit #7 isn’t the kit you like to play, you will need to always select your kit on start-up since the module doesn’t remember the kit you last played when it was on. The other thing I wish this module had was the ability to back-up your user kits/settings to your computer via USB midi.
Overall I think its an impressive kit and a pretty good buy at $499.00. The kit is fun to play and the module sounds a little better than what one would expect from an edrum kit in this price range. If you are a beginner to just inside the intermediate range of drum skill and want to get your feet wet in electronic drumming, then the Simmons SD500 might be right up your alley. For more information on the new Simmons SD500 Electronic Drum Kit, be sure to visit: www.simmonsdrums.net.
(companion video to follow).