Yamaha pulls out all the stops with its revolutionary TCS pads in an attempt to make itself appealing to most drummers who still refuse e-drums. As a DTXPress owner and former user, the DTX540K is reminding me the feelings I had when I first left the acoustic path. Thus, I was very excited and had (too?) high expectations when I started this review. Half satisfied.
The End of a Polemic?
Indeed, Yamaha has been making huge improvements on its e-drum kits for several years and has effectively turn some unsuccessful and unauthentic toys into real instruments. From the very beginning of the e-drums history, the pads have been harshly criticized by many drummers because they were wrist damaging, too small and lagged far behind the performance of acoustic drums.
Yamaha took this very extended discomfort into account and has come back under the spotlight with a new pad generation. As part of the DTX500 series, whose products are based on the same sound module, the DTX540K offers TCS pads (Textured Cellular Silicone) combining silicone and air blisters for toms and snare drum, and 3-zone pads for cymbals, thus offering extended possibilities to drummers. While in the past they were only practice instruments for drummers living in apartments, Yamaha presents now its new e-drum kits as being much more sexy and capable of competing with products of other manufacturers and even with real acoustic drums.
Ultimate Removal Man
Having passed the transportation test — one of drummer’s favorite sports — it’s time for me to unpack the beast. All elements are perfectly well protected in four different cardboard boxes. The box with the RS500 rack is monumental, but after taking it out of its protection cover I was positively surprised to see that it was already assembled. Thus, I immediately forgave the effort required for transportation — and I could vaguely remember the nightmare it was to assemble the rack of my DTXPress. Yamaha has simplified things greatly and assembly is now a breeze: just spread out the two main upright posts of the rack and put the tom supports and the cymbal holders into the right position. All other parts of the product are logically sorted in the three remaining boxes so that assembling is not unpleasant at all.
Now let’s take a closer look…
To wrap it up, the DTX540K is a mid-range product with some pros and cons. Some elements are just perfect, especially the rack, the XP70, XP80, and PCY135 pads, as well as some features of the module that allow you to practice more efficiently. But the sounds, the PCY100 cymbal pads and the KP65 kick darken the picture a little bit. This results in a wandering between pleasure and frustration that makes you want to look at more expensive drum kits to reduce your dissatisfaction.
The price of the instrument seems a bit too high. But the price certainly has to do with the new-generation pads. For example, the only difference compared to the DTX520K are the XP70 tom pads, which results in a substantial increase in price. The DTX540K is in the same price segment as the TD 9 K2 from Roland — another giant on the e-drums market — whose pads have a different design (meshed heads) and feel. It’s all a matter of taste I guess. The pad war is still raging and there appears to be no end in sight!
Anyway, this Yamaha is a good practice drum set for a wide range of musicians and it offers a good playing comfort in spite of its handicaps. However, it didn’t convince me enough to take it on stage instead of my acoustic drum kit. But who knows what surprises the future will bring…
- TCS pads
- PCY135 cymbal
- RS500 rack
- User-friendly DTX500 sound module
- Practice-based features (metronome, groove check, play-along, record)
- KP65 bass-drum pad
- Badly placed volume control
To read the full detailed article with sound samples see: Yamaha DTX540K Review