Preview: Ion Drum Rocker

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By Norman Major III
Contributor

I got a chance to sit down with the new Ion Drum Rocker at CES. Boasting the fact that it doubles as a percussion kit, Ion had a few setups available, but without Rock Band. It has a small module which controls the function of the kit that can be swapped out. One of the modules allowed me to play Rock Band 2 on the PS3.

The first thing I noticed was that the set-up is very similar to the Guitar Hero: World Tour drums. A major difference between the two is that you have a choice to either play the ride and crash cymbals or play completely on the regular pads. There is a big advantage to that, as you can choose your optimum play style to improve your score. The downside is that you might get used to your set, and when you play on someone else’s normal set, it can throw off your performance.

The drums themselves are study. They also don’t make a lot of extraneous sound as you pound on them. The cymbals seem to be made of the same material as the cymbals for World Tour, but they are completely rounded. It’s important to point out the cymbals still only recognize contact on a small raised wedge — so the full shape is just for looks.

The drum pedal has a professional quality to it. It’s backed with a metal border, and it seems to be able to take a beating. I tested it out with Bon Jovi’s “Living on a Prayer” on Expert difficulty. It was a little heavy, with a slow spring action. I was missing notes that I thought I should be hitting. The pedal isn’t attached to the main kit, so it has the potential to slide around, although to help those with carpets, there are pegs that screw down into the carpet on the top of the unit. Fortunately, the Ion booth had carpet, so I didn’t lose the pedal completely.

After I completed my song, a little queue had formed to play, so I moved over to a kit that had an Alesis drum module attached. It was playing a salsa loop at the time so I tapped on the different drums to see the sound they made. I think with a good sound system, this could serve as a decent practice drum set. I’m sure we are not too far from seeing a band in a bar using one of these for their percussion. That will be the day…

I’m hoping to spend more time with the unit soon so I can write a full review. I think that the unit shows promise, we will need to see how it responds with both RB2 and GHWT, and how well the drum pedal stays put in my living room.