Are the Rock Band 2 instruments really quieter? (A semi-scientific study)


Observation
Harmonix has claimed that Rock Band 2 will have "quieter and more natural feeling drum pads" and guitars with "quieter buttons" than their original Rock Band counterparts.

Hypothesis
Rock Band 2 instruments are quieter than their original Rock Band counterparts.

Continue reading for our experimental method and results!

Experimental Method




Drums

Each drum set tested will be placed on the floor at a set distance from a microphone hooked up to a laptop. The experimenter will record the sound of the drum pad strikes at three different intensity levels:
  • Light: Gravity pulls the drum stick down to the pad from a set height, with little to no additional force input from the experimenter.
  • Medium: The experimenter hits the pad with average force, as he/she would if playing the game.
  • Hard: The experimenter hits the pad as hard as possible.
For each intensity level, the experimenter will hit each pad three times. The microphone recording will be analyzed for the decibel rise of each strike above the baseline background noise. The results for each drum set and intensity level will be averaged and compared.


Guitars

Each guitar will be placed on a level surface, with the frets set next to a microphone hooked up to a laptop at a standard distance. The experimenter will hold down the guitar to prevent any undue vibrations, then press each fret in sequence at three different intensity levels.
  • Light: Each fret is pressed as gently as possible and depressed slowly to control the spring back.
  • Medium: Each fret is pressed sharply and allowed to spring back freely.
  • Hard: Each fret is pressed quickly and distinctly, as during an intense hammer-on section.
The microphone recording will be analyzed for the decibel rise of each strike above the baseline background noise. The results for each guitar and intensity level will be averaged and compared.

Results and Analysis

Drums


Avg. loudness of drum strikes (in dB above baseline)

Intensity
Rock Band
Rock Band 2
Change
Light 6.00 4.33 1.67
Medium 16.42 9.58 6.84
Hard 24.17 25.08 -0.91
Overall Avg. 15.53 13.00 2.53


The difference in loudness at the light intensity, where the drum stick was simply allowed to fall onto the pad, was minimal. Both sets of drums were relatively quiet at this level, though the Rock Band 2 drums saw much more "bounce back" when the stick was allowed to drop.

The largest difference between the two drums was observed at the medium drum strike intensity, which was designed to emulate normal play conditions. While the difference in loudness is definitely noticeable, the Rock Band 2 drums did still have a noticeable "thwacking" sound at this level.

Surprisingly, the Rock Band 2 drums were actually overall a little louder when struck as hard as possible in our tests. Interestingly, the yellow and blue "inner" pads were louder on the Rock Band 2 set, while the red and green "outer" pads were louder on the original Rock Band set (see appendix below). For all practical purposes, these differences were negligible -- both drum sets are, unsurprisingly, incredibly loud when struck incredibly hard.

It should be noted that the natural springiness of the Rock Band 2 drums makes them much easier to play functionally at a lower intensity level. This means that the actual functional loudness of the drums during actual play may be significantly different than what is shown in these tests.

Guitar

Avg. loudness of fret presses (in dB above baseline)
Intensity
Rock Band
Rock Band 2
Change
Light 10.00 3.00 7.00
Medium 12.4 7.2 7.2
Hard 16 7.4 8.6
Overall Avg. 12.8 5.87 6.93

At all intensity levels tested, the Rock Band 2 guitar frets were noticeably quieter than the original Rock Band guitar. The original guitar frets had a distinct "springy" sound when popping back up, a sound that was almost entirely absent in the Rock Band 2 guitar. It should also be noted that the spring for the strummer seems significantly quieter on the Rock Band 2 guitar, though the extent of the difference was not tested.

Conclusion
Rock Band 2 instruments are indeed quieter than their Rock Band counterparts under normal play conditions. Additionally, the added springiness of the Rock Band 2 drums and the quieter springs in the Rock Band 2 guitar make the new instruments much easier to play lightly and, thus, more quietly.

Appendix
Average loudness of drum strikes, broken down by intensity and pad.





This article was originally published on Joystiq.