Renoise + Electronic Drums Questions

Dear Planet Renoise,

I had a little trouble deciding what forum to put this in, but I’ve got a couple hardware-related questions. Soooo, I’m strongly considering picking up the new Roland TD-4S V-Drums. I was originally just going to get them so I had a way to practice drumming (since I have neighbors next door, etc.), but then I saw THIS video: It made me realize how fun it would be to sequence tracks in Renoise with a couple drum parts taken out, and then play the Roland drums with it.

But - I don’t know a ton about hardware, so I don’t know exactly what I’d need. I’m guessing that the only additional equipment I would need is a small mixer (so I could then send both Renoise and the V-drums out to the amp/headphones together), right?

Also - does anyone have any experience with playing electronic drums live, along with a sequencer on a laptop (I’ve got a Macbook Pro)? Specifically, does the vibration from the drumming make the computer go all wacky, skip, and/or shut down?


I had the chance to see Michael Schack (the guy in the video) with his Roland V-Drums earlier this month - quite an impressive performance.

A complete V-Drum set usually comes with a Percussion Sound Module. You either use the sounds the module generates and send the audio to your mixer/audio-interface, or you could send the MIDI data from the module to your audio interface to trigger your own samples on your computer.

If you are not aiming for a complete set and only want to go the second route of using MIDI exclusively you would have to get a Trigger to MIDI Converter along with your chosen V-Pads/Cymbals setup.

I used to have a a Roland TD3. It has a couple of sound in/outputs + headphones, as well as midi. So you’d go:

midi cable from drums to computer.
sound output from comptuer to drums
headphones from drums to ears.

that’s all you’d need, really. On the TD3 there wasn’t a way of controlling the input sound volume :( Not sure about the TD4 unit – the manual is on the Roland site so go have a look. If you plan on playing it through the amp, then you can take the combined sound from the drums and put them straight into an amp. Though like I said, there might not be a volume control for the input on the drums, so you might be better off with a mixer.

Also: As long as you don’t sit the laptop ontop of the drum kit, I see no reason why any vibration would effect it, any more than the phatass club speakers do.

ps: Word of advice: Whilst the drumpads themselves are very quiet, the act of you smacking your foot against the floor isn’t. Whilst it’s obviously nothing like the sound of an actual bass drum, you still might annoy anyone below you if it’s going on an upper floor of some kind.

Ah yes, I read that you could use the pads to trigger samples and VSTs. I know a lot of people use it for things like Toontrack’s Drumkit From Hell. Actually though, I was planning to keep it simple and ONLY use the sounds from the Roland module.

although I never tried what you describe, I think you would be unsatisfied with the results, unless you are aiming at using VDrums’ electronic drumkits.

at least this is based on my experience with Roland TD-20: this module has position sensitivity, meaning that the sound of the strikes also depends on where on the pad you stroke it. This information is of course saved as a MIDI CC message so, if your intention is to sequence the drum parts by hand, you will not have satisfactory results with acoustic drumlines.

a better alternative would be to play the drumkit and record it to Renoise. I tried this with Renoise 1.8 and it was not a good experience because of low resolution in Renoise, but with Renoise 2.0 this has improved a lot so the result could be better

Thanks for the info, Pod. :) Very helpful. To be honest, I didn’t even consider using the mix-in jack on the module to use for the computer’s output. Now that I think about it, you’re right - I could probably get by without even buying a mixer, if I did that. It’s unfortunate that you probably can’t adjust the input volume on the module, BUT… if I’ve got the laptop running Renoise right next to me, I can always just use the computer’s volume keys to adjust it. (Although, the little Behringer mixers are only $50 and pretty adorable.)

As for vibration affecting the computer, I’m glad that won’t be a huge issue. I’ll just have to get some shitty folding table and throw my laptop on it on a padded surface (uh, and also hope that that won’t make my computer overheat and explode, instantly killing my audience).

Yep, now we can quantize. Woooo!

But actually, I wasn’t even intending on recording the V-Drums at all. It would strictly be a live thing. My tentative game plan (or more specifically, my random elaborate daydream that I just thought of this week that was inspired by only one YouTube video :) ) would be to keep my tracks with only drums sequenced in Renoise; I wouldn’t record the Roland. And then when I’d play live, I would take some of the drum tracks out, and play the Roland drums live over it. So fortunately, I don’t think the annoying snags you’re talking about will affect me. Yay.

You could also just pipe the output of the drums into your laptop’s linein. At one point I had a friend plug his bass into my drums, and the drums went to a standard stereo. Two other guitarists had proper amps, and it all worked out rather well. I was also able to wear my headphones to cut our their noise + listen to myself. Not bad considering.

edit: Of course, that wasn’t live, that was just practice/jamming.

Dude, that was a nice video. Michael Schack has my respect.

Having owned a ddrum4SE set for many years, I can tell you not to get too excited about triggering VSTs/etc.

The main problem with electronic drums is the midi bottleneck. Even if you filter (or disable) CC messages, you’ll probably be really frustrated with the timing problems (not to mention latency).

Now, what I have not tried is one of the newer Drum Trigger to USB devices (I think Alesis makes one).

If you’re just playing Phil Rudd-style, you might have no problem, but for anything relatively complicated I always had problems. Still, please report back if you end up trying this. I’d be happy to be proven wrong!


i have roland triggers on mesh heads running to the tmc-6 trigger to midi convert box. upon first playing i thought i was having latency issues…low and behold…you simply have to get used to the sound coming from a speaker rather than the drum itself. renoise is an amazing drum brain for those that are looking to play the breaks you have been chopping up. as far as the v-drum/toontrack style velocity based sounds, i have no use for 50 different snare samples being triggered as per where i strike the drum and how hard. that is more for people trying to recreate real accoustic drums…which is why i keep a real snare and cymbals in my setup…i am playing classic breaks and such where volume of individual hits is the only factor…just as when you program them. again…renoise IS an amazing drum brain fully capable of much more than basic roland brains.