With the explosion of musical games lately, you knew some companies would start churning out some high end faux instruments to use with these games. Logitech's released a few already for the PlayStation 3 but in the past few months the 360's been getting the love as well. Today we have Logitech's high end drum kit that was first released on the PlayStation 3 but now comes compatible for the Xbox 360.
While I did see a prototype of the Wireless Drum Controller for the Xbox 360 at E3, I didn't get a chance to play with it like I did with the guitar. Well it's finally available and I'm here to get an up close look at the setup. First of all, the drums are based on the Guitar Hero World Tour setup of three drum pads, two cymbals, and a kick pedal. Let's start with the drum pads. What's really nice about the drum pads, and I think they did this with the Guitar Hero 5 kit coming out, is the edges of the drum pads are recessed. This enables you to hit the drum pad with a greater chance than say the original design. For the standard drum kits that come with the game, there's an annoying plastic piece that goes around the edges that produces a very harsh sound as well as feeling horrible when struck. The drum pads themselves are very quiet and offer great feedback when hit. It's definitely an improvement over the stock drum kits out there. Logitech offers up a better designed drum pad and the look pretty cool too.
The drum pads are attached to the frame individually on a rotating rod. The rods allow you to raise and lower the pads as well as tilt them in either direction when inserted into the holders. Individual attachments offer a lot more flexibility in placement of the drum pads so that they are comfortable for you. It's a very nice feature and a welcome one when you think of how inflexible the standard kits are. The rods are held in the holders through compression so you can slide them closer or away from you in any number of lengths constrained by the size of the rod.
Two cymbals, yellow and orange, sit up from the drum kit and can be raised or lowered easily. Compared to Guitar Hero World Tour's cymbals, you have a lot more range of movement on how high or low you want to place them. They are of a 3/8ths circle design just like the Guitar Hero World Tour kit. You have some limited range on what angle you want to place the cymbal though. By unscrewing the colored knob, you can then rotate the cymbal in a few positions and lock it back in place by screwing the knob back in. They do produce a little more sound than the pads though since they sit higher and are a solid piece rather than having a flexible drum pad but overall they are still pretty quiet.
All of the wires that protrude from each piece end in a spring wrap design. This makes the wires extend when needed but keeps them at a nice length when they aren't stretched. I didn't need to use any ties or anything as I felt the wires were of a good enough length, stretched or not, to be out of the way. I liked how the wires weren't just straight making the setup a little cleaner.
One nice thing that Logitech did was allow you to place the control panel wherever you want. Because of this, I have it sitting above the drum pads rather than below it like some drum kits. I don't know how many times I see people accidentally hitting that area causing the game to pause and throw the other players off their rhythm. The control panel holds all the regular Xbox 360 buttons on the front and all the connections in the back. As you can see, there's also a MIDI port as well f
or such things as using it on the PC as an electronic drum kit
. (Logitech clarified that it's only a MIDI in for future expansion. Apologies for the error on my part.) My one concern though is the attachments for the pedal, drum pads, and cymbals. They use the small plugs we're all used to but it didn't take much to pull them out. Now I never had any pop out while playing but I would've liked a more solid connection between the plug and the hole on the control panel. If you need to use a microphone, the rear of the control panel houses a standard Xbox 360 headphone jack for easy connection. Two AA batteries also fit into a compartment on the back to power the kit and it's rated for about 50 hours of play.
Something that companies started to do after the first Rock Band was to reinforce the kick pedal with some metal to make it a little strong. The Wireless Drum Controller has the same thing as the kick pedal's top is lined with stainless steel. The shaft that connects the pedal to the floor plate's still plastic though and I couldn't tell what the hinge was unfortunately. One nice feature though is there's a tension wheel underneath the kick pedal so you can adjust how much force you will need to press down on the pedal to register. If you want it looser so you don't tire down as fast, just turn the knob until the desired tension is achieved. Some folks like a stronger spring while others prefer a softer one so giving you the ability to adjust it is pretty nice.Unfortunately, the kick pedal retains the one thing I didn't like about the Guitar Hero World Tour set: the inability to keep it in place other than by the use of friction. With the Rock Band drum kit, you can put the kick pedal on one of the horizontal crossbars to keep it in place. The kick pedal for the Logitech Wireless Drum Controller sits freely and relies on some of the feet underneath to keep it place. It doesn't work very well on the carpet that I have so it would constantly move forward and I was only playing on a medium setting. When testing a few songs on expert setting, it didn't take long for the kick pedal to move into an uncomfortable position with the increase in amount of kick notes. I know that Logitech wanted to have the least amount of bars for easy fold up and storage but I would've liked to have something like a collapsible horizontal bar for the kick pedal to attach to.
Everything though feels like they are built to take a pounding. Each piece is solid and has a nice heft to it. The crossbar is metal and is designed to really hold everything together pretty well. We're not talking any plastic shafts as everything is metal that connects to a pad or cymbal. You're really paying for a solid piece of equipment here built to take punishment and built to last a long time. That's what I would expect spending over $200 for the set and I'm glad to see everything's constructed from highly durable materials.
You can see on the main crossbar some horizontal notches embedded into the frame. This helps keep the clip in position but it also prevents easy rotation of the clips. That's actually beneficial when playing because as you are banging away on the drum pads, you don't want them to rotate out of position. The notches also serve as a detriment though when taking it apart or putting it into position as you have to get the clip just right to close up. I had a hell of a time trying to get one of the clips to close up because the bar, notches, and clip design was preventing the hand screw from reaching the hole to latch on to. It took a little time to get used to how to latch it closed but it was a little frustrating the first few times.
The legs of the crossbar rotate out to let the drum kit stand up but don't lock into place. Even so, I found no issues when playing as they pretty much stayed where they are the entire time. You can also raise and lower the entire crossbar and what's nice is each leg has white notches etched in so you can see how high each leg is. This makes matching the two up a lot easier than to try and guess the length and they both lock into place with pressure clips.
The great, great thing about this drum kit is the ability to just fold everything in on itself and store it away in a relatively small space compared to other drum kits. Because everything's individually attached, you can rotate every piece around and produce a pretty flat setup as you can see in the picture. It does take a little more effort though to setup and tear down than say the Guitar Hero World Tour drum kit however. Since each item is attached to the main frame with a clip you would think it would be easy to unscrew a little and rotate around. The problem is it's only when the clip is unscrewed to a point where it opens up that you can rotate the piece around. So, it takes a little more effort to close back up and put into a position where the clip is closed up enough to screw together. The clips do have some rubber piece that seems like it would keep it from opening it up completely when unscrewed but I rarely ever had it work that way. It was usually opened all the way even though I tried to keep the small rubber piece in the slot. The handles, wires, and pad design can get in a way a few times when trying to put everything together or folding it up. I've had a few times where I had to move or unscrew another piece so I can place one I'm trying to put away in the right position. In any case, it does take some practice to get it moving around smoothly but once you do it's not that bad to set everything up or fold everything down again.
Like the Guitar Hero World Tour set, you can use Logitech Wireless Drum Controller in both Rock Band and Guitar Hero series of games and I used both plus The Beatles: Rock Band as well. Firing up the games, I found the drums to work perfectly well with all the games I tried. This is a stark contrast to the Guitar Hero World Tour set that I had where the red drum pad and orange cymbal would not register frequently. The drum pads had a nice feel when struck while they were also quiet as well. Everything seemed pretty accurate and I didn't notice anything wrong with hitting the notes with either the drums or the kick pedal. Like I said before, I loved how the drum pads felt when being hit as they give a nice bounce back when struck. Playing the Logitech Wireless Drum Controller with the pads and cymbals set to where I want them was such a joy compared to the default drum kits. It was hard to go back to the regular ones as they just didn't feel right anymore and I was spoiled by how I could place everything wherever I wanted.
You are going to shell out a lot of money for this set though as the cost of the Wireless Drum Controller is more than some consoles. At $229, it's roughly $22 less than the Ion Drum Rocker Kit I found on Buy.com for $251. Still, these puppies sure are solid and offer some nice features. It's really great to be able to fold all the parts up into a nice compact package for storage. While it does take a little more time than a stock drum kit to setup and teardown, the effort is worth it and you'll be able to adjust all the surfaces in a nice wide range of angles that's comfortable to you. It's just too bad there's no way to anchor the kick pedal as the thing moves way too much on the carpet I tried. Performance is solid and responsive and while I'm no expert drummer, I can definitely tell the difference between the Logitech Wireless Drum Controller and the default kits. It's built solid and built to last so those that do do a lot of drumming, the $229 might be well spent rather than purchasing the inferior plastic drum kits.