Friday, 13 February 2015

Korg WaveDrum - WD-1 - The Original 1994 version.

This was one of the first drums to use "true Physicial Modelling".
It seems that only 700 to 800 were manufactured back in 1994 and they sold for a wopping $3K.
On initial examination this looks pretty steep for a electronic drum ????
However, once you realise what this actually is the price is understandable.

What we have under the hood are separate head and rim pickups, an arrangement of sensors and microphones that are used to trigger synthesized waveforms. The sound to be generated is not a sample. It is computed using a mathematical model (equations and algorithms) which are based on parameters that describe the instrument to be played.

For example, a simple drum's mathematical model will consist of  the materials and dimensions of the instrument, it's mass & density, it's stiffness, the properties of the membrane and how it can be played, the  resonance of the cylindrical body of the drum. We also need to describe the player's interaction with it, his/her movement over time.

Stereo audio outs on two quarter‑inch jack sockets.
The midi jacks don't allow you to plug this into your midi sequencer, or fix up my crummy drumming. I will just have to practice more.

Although physical modelling was not a new concept back in 1994, it was not until the increase in DSP power which brought costs down and made such instruments feasible.

The Wave drum comes shipped with 100 factory patches which you can tweak & edit.
For this to be made easier, Korg produced the  RE-1 ---- The Remote Editor.

The factory patches alone are amazing sonically as their character alters drastically depending on how you play them. Damping, pressing the head, striking the rim, scratching, rubbing, etc all produce totally different sounds from the one patch.

It's steep initial price prevented it reaching a wider audience and samples just can't convey how it sounds when played by an experienced drummer. The head & rim are very sensitive and respond without having to select any special modes. It will respond naturally to sticks, fingers, brushes, etc.

The head can be 'tuned' by means of five tension lugs, to give the required playing feel.
The skin is a Remo Fibre and can be replaced with a natural skin if needed.

So does it look more like a toilet seat or the bridge of the starship Enterprise?

I like to think the latter, but no matter what you think about it's appearance, it's sonic capability makes up 1000 times.

Some useful Links:
1. SOS - 1994 article
2. Korg's official website (global edition of the WD).
3. Original Korg Wave Drum Demo (Video)
4. SOS - 2010 article on the new WD
5. Korg WAVEDRUM Demo Performance (Part 1) 
6. Korg Forum on the original WD
For more info on the history of Korg Drum Machines Click Here

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