Yamaha’s new DTX6 range is a force to be reckoned with.
Historically, Yamaha and Roland have shared the crown in the field of electronic drums, but the more recent introduction of Alesis into the frame and a relative paucity of new offerings from Yamaha has seen the latter fall beneath the radar somewhat, with only the entry‑level DTX402 range and DTX Multi12 in their current catalogue. The fantastic EAD10 (reviewed in SOS April 2018) did, perhaps, give us reason to believe Yamaha hadn’t abandoned the fray completely. However, that was really more of an incursion into the increasingly popular territory of hybrid drumming than anything resembling a full return to the electronic drum market.
There have been rumours of new products coming from Yamaha for some time, but the announcement of the new DTX6 range in November still came as something of a pleasant surprise to me, as I’ve been impressed with the kits I’ve reviewed in the past and the EAD10 was an innovative and exciting product. So does the DTX6 range put Yamaha right back in the game?
The new range comprises the DTX6K‑X, DTX6K2‑X and DTX6K3‑X, all three kits being based around the new DTX Pro module (see the ‘Kit List’ box for a full configuration run‑down of each kit). I’ve been sent the top‑of‑the range DTX6K3‑X to have a look at and test, so without further ado...
The most striking feature (no pun intended) of the DTX6K3‑X is the pads. Mesh pads are pretty much the norm on electronic kits these days, so the inclusion of something different instantly makes this kit stand out. Both the 8‑inch XP80 snare and 7‑inch XP70 tom pads feature Yamaha’s unique Textured Cellular Silicone (TCS) playing surface. This isn’t a new design — in fact, it has been part of the Yamaha range for over 10 years — but it may not be familiar to you. The playing surface is made from a silicone gel material that has the appearance and texture of a coated drumhead. During the manufacturing process, it’s filled with millions of tiny bubbles that give the head a very realistic and natural feel. Not only do these heads feel great to play, they are acoustically very quiet. This may not seem like a big deal when you’re bashing away with headphones on, but to anyone living in the same house it’s a definite plus point!
Due to the unique head material, the pads themselves aren’t constructed in the same way as their mesh head counterparts. There is no need for a drum hoop or tension lugs, so they take on a more solid and compact form. Surprisingly, though, the XP70 tom pad is only single zone, so you don’t have the option of assigning a second sound to the rim.
The XP80 snare is slightly larger, with an 8‑inch TCS playing surface and two rim zones: one for rim shots, and a second discrete zone at the upper right for cross‑stick playing. You can, of course, assign any sound to the rim zones, but these are the default settings.
The cross‑stick zone is a great feature and enables you to instantly play rim clicks using the normal technique of laying the stick across the drum. Oddly, the manual makes reference to an ‘XP125SD‑X multi‑piezo’ pad but, apart from a line drawing of a more substantial‑looking pad, that’s about as far as it goes for information. The manual does, however, state that the DXT Pro module supports positional sensing on the snare (with the appropriate pad), so unless Yamaha are suggesting you use other manufacturers’ pads, this would imply that a new snare is in the pipeline.
Bearing in mind that this is a flagship kit, Yamaha have perhaps gone against the grain a little by including relatively small pads that, because of the TCS heads, take on an even more scaled‑down form factor than their mesh counterparts. Your opinion on this is going to be primarily based on what you use the kit for. If you’re looking for something that has a big physical impact for live use, size may be an issue for you, but if you need a quiet and compact kit for practice and recording, the DTX6K3‑X is ideal.
The DTX6K3‑X ships with three PCY135 13‑inch, three‑zone cymbals. They have a fairly standard rubber construction, with a small slot to locate them correctly on the cymbal arms. To have all three cymbals supporting edge, bow and bell zones is a great feature. In addition to offering a far more realistic playing experience, by mimicking a real cymbal, this provides more flexibility when designing your own kit, allowing up to three sounds per cymbal. All cymbals also include the ability to choke, exactly like a real cymbal, when held at the edge.
Connecting one of the cymbals to the ‘Ride’ input of the module enhances its performance by adding positional sensing. A feature previously unique to Roland, positional sensing enables a cymbal sound to change (typically getting brighter to darker) as you move across the bow area from the...