We’re rolling out some promotional posters and postcards for the 2012 Brooklyn Based Immersion Event series! Do you like to explore unfamiliar neighborhoods in Brooklyn? Solve clues to win fab prizes and partake in complimentary Brooklyn Brewery Beer? The second immersion of the season is Saturday May 12 from noon to 6pm. Brooklyn Based is hitting Red Hook and Columbia Street with Brooklyn Brewery. Sound like fun? Additional details can be found at Brooklyn Based.
About a week ago a shiny new Vermona DRM MKIII analog drum synthesizer arrived in the mail. After bringing it into the studio and introducing it to all it’s new friends, I plugged it in and have spent every extra moment with this thing since. It sounds absolutely fantastic. There are 8 little synthesizers baked into this thing each specializing in a specific drum sound. You have Kick, Drum 1, Drum 2, Multi, Snare, Hi Hat 1, Hi Hat 2, and Clap. But of course, with every sound parameter having a knob, the range of sounds that are possible are not limited to these generic names.
Kick, Drum 1, Drum 2 all can substitute for fabulous Tom, or bongo sounds. Drum 1 & 2 also have extensive analogue FM bell or sizzle capabilities. The Multi channel is great for claves, cowbells, and other tonal percussion. The Snare sounds incredibly rich and it’s unique character really stands out with fast rolls or flams. Both Hi Hats sound distinctly different and have quite a range allowing you to go from snappy tings to buzzy vintage electronic cymbals. The Clap on the machine also is very useful for supplying a fast breaking impulse noise, and it notably also has a warm sound parameter that simulates reverb.
Sound aside, what impressed me the most was the build quality and the several additional touches that allow this tool to really shine in the studio. You can tell that this product was designed by the talented engineers at Vermona from the ground up; a great deal of thought was clearly put into how to make the machine as useful as possible within a modern studio. For instance, my favorite feature on the whole machine is it’s ability to take an insert effect in it’s individual channel output jacks. These outputs are more than just 1/4″ mono output jacks to send the individual drum out to a mixer. Depending on what type of cable you feed them, they will perform different tasks. A mono cable will disconnect the sound from the main outs. A stereo to mono cable will leave the sound at the main outs and route it out the individual output. Finally to my joy, a stereo Y cable to 2 mono leads will allow you to send the audio out to an effect & then accept a return signal on that channel. This insert ability in addition to the optional CV/Gate inserts on the back panel allow this drum synthesizer to roam free in the untamed world of modular synthesis. Experimenting with this has returned very rewarding results.
I have read some articles on the web that moan about the lack of extensive midi implementation on the machine. It’s true, it is very basic; but midi is not what this machine is all about at all. This Drum Synthesizer is about getting your hands dirty. It’s about turning knobs, taking full control of each sound and where the sound goes. It’s about how the sounds are triggered, or how it it interacts with your other gear. You get to define it’s relationship with your other equipment and it’s place in your music. If you have an adventurous spirit, you might even become a better sound designer with this thing. Already it’s given me many ideas to try with other gear. If you are only looking for a device to control every parameter and presets via your DAW, you’re better off choosing a drum rompler, or soft synth like Waldorf’s excellent Attack virtual drum synthesizer.
To sum it up, the Vermona DRM MKIII has renewed my faith in drum synthesis. I have often preferred to making drum sounds on my other more feature rich synthesizers, or using samples via Native Instruments Battery than to using some of the off the shelf drum modules, but I was pleased to find that a dedicated box like this one brings so much new creativity to the table when it comes to drums. You should not underestimate the sheer fun factor of this machine, it’s totally a hands on experience that can easily become an addiction.
If reading this made you at all curious about what it sounds like, here’s my first track using the Vermona DRM MKIII. Made in honor of the machine itself. Viva la good design!