Rock Band 2 might not be out yet, but ION was kind enough to send us the new Drum Rocker Premium Drum Set a couple weeks early. Built like a tank, this thing makes the original Rock Band drum set look like the toy it is -- we're talking aluminum tube construction that apes traditional electronic rack kits, soft trigger surfaces that register velocity, and quarter-inch connections that'll make modding a dream. Of course, all that heft means that set-up took over an hour and it eats up just about twice as much living room space as the original with no easy way to take it down, but if you're a hardcore fake rocker and you don't have the DIY chops to roll your own, this is $300 you're gonna want to spend. A couple more quick impressions after the break, and tons of pictures in the gallery.

Update: Joystiq also got a chance to check this bad boy out, they didn't like it quite as much as we did. Take a peek here.

ION Drum Rocker Premium Drum Set Hands on

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  • The kick drum pedal is fairly beefy, and while it's not quite some monster DW rig, it's pretty nice for what it is -- it's certainly going to stand up to abuse better than the Harmonix unit. The action is fairly light, but you'll have to get used to it.
  • The pads are way nicer than the original kit's, but they still don't feel like drums, more like really nice practice pads. It'll be interesting to see how they work when used with a game that registers pressure-sensitivity.
  • The cymbals are just duplicate pads -- you can actually pick which color you want to double. That led to some odd patterns in Rock Band since the game doesn't know about cymbals, but we'd bet that Rock Band 2 and Guitar Hero: World Tour have it sorted.
  • We definitely had to re-calibrate Rock Band to make this rig playable, so don't expect to be able easily to swap between kits or anything.
  • Sadly, it doesn't register as a regular MIDI controller when plugged into a computer -- hackers, get on it!

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Hands (and feet) on with ION's Drum Rocker Rock Band Premium Drum Set