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Joystiq E3 sticks-on: Ion premium drum set

Ross Miller

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Last week, a handful of Joystiq crew got to make fools of themselves on the mini-stage before Harmonix's Rock Band Bash featuring The Who. Set up for us on stage was the new Ion premium drum set for RB2. Over the span of the night, we drummed through a handful of songs to get a feel for the set.

The drums themselves are very sturdy, and the cymbals are quieter and responsive. If you get a chance to play, our first recommendation is to make sure the cymbals are placed as far as comfortably possible from the pads so that you don't accidentally hit one while intending for another. We did that more than a few times and it threw us off a bit and caused us to miss a few more notes than we normally would have.

Some of the issues we had are due to how Rock Band programs the drums, which are great for the standard set but don't necessarily transfer well to the Ion premium kit:

  • Songs with fast, repetitive hi-hat beats (i.e. when you need to use two hands) will generally assign the hi-hat to the red pad, meaning you'll have to change your mindset back and forth on songs that capitalize on it, such as "Debaser" or "Everlong." The red pad is not able to have a cymbal attached to it.
  • Songs that feature both open and closed hi-hat sounds generally assign the sounds to separate pads such as yellow and blue, while in real life you'd have a foot pedal to open and close the cymbals. The Police's "Message in the Bottle" highlights both this problem and the previous issue since it assigns the closed and open hi-hats to blue and green, respectively, for a large chunk of the song.
A lot of our concerns can be chalked up to being unfamiliar with the new set, but for the $300 price tag, we're perfectly comfortable rocking out with the set we already have, or the smaller, expandable RB2 set (which you can bet will also be usable as a functional electronic drum set).

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