Simmons Stryke6 iPad Drum Controller
By Dendy Jarrett |
You’d be hard pressed to have been a young drummer in the '70s or '80s and not remember your first exposure to electronic drums. I certainly remember Donna Summers' "MacArthur Park" and the driving electronic backbeat. I wasn’t sure if I liked it, but it certainly got my attention, and I had to know more. Those first sounds were produced by early entries into the electronic market by Syndrum and Synare, but the game changed when Simmons entered the scene. Electronic drums before Simmons were single device “enhancement accessories” for drummers. Simmons released their distinctive hexagon-shaped pads as an entire electronic kit in 1981 and ushered in an entirely new era of drums and drumming. Simmons grew to become a dominant player in the electronic drum kit world, but as trends changed, their business started to decline.
In 1999 Simmons officially closed their business after drummers started to return to acoustic kits. In 2005 Guitar Center acquired the rights to the Simmons trademark, and began making and marketing electronic drums again under the Simmons name.
Electronic drums can be intimidating—even for the seasoned professional. Enter Stryke6 drum controller. While this may appear as only an entry-level device, it can actually be a useful and fun way to step into the electronic arena.
Opening the box to playing the pad takes literally a minute or two, and what drags it out to a minute or slightly more is the downloading of the accompanying app. It’s truly a WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get), straightforward device with an easy learning curve.
The controller connects directly to your iOS 6 or higher device (iPad 2 or later), or any computer with USB or MIDI. The app provides sounds, but even more interesting to me is the ability to use it in conjunction with your favorite DAW (in my case GarageBand™).
Stryke6 wasn’t really designed with the pro player in mind, but if you are a pro player, you can still benefit. What drummer doesn’t still play the countertop or dashboard, or any other surface that's convenient? The drum controller comes with an inexpensive pair of plastic sticks and you're encouraged to use them to prevent crosstalk on the pads (i.e., accidentally triggering a pad other than the one you were intending to trigger), but I played on the unit with my regular sticks and had no challenges. (Of course, I was not playing hard as I realize Stryke6 isn’t designed for that type of playing.) As I grow more comfortable with the pads, I would actually consider playing a coffee house gig with the unit. I think it would be fun, and the setup would be quick, quick, quick!
The Stryke6 drum controller features:
• Six velocity-sensitive pads to trigger any compatible app or MIDI software
• Kick and hi-hat pedals for a real drum playing experience
• Free Simmons Stryke App (downloadable at the Apple App Store)
• Learn to play with easy, fun color backlit pads and the Stryke app
• Works with all USB/MIDI-compatible iPad and computer applications
• Small footprint is ideal for any studio where space is at a premium
• Comes with all cables, including for 30-pin and Lightning connector iPads
While the Stryke 6 wouldn’t hold up to the rigors of playing live if incorporated it into a drum set, it would certainly do for a light coffee house stand-alone application. But it was designed more with fun in mind. And because of this, it is one of those few products that would appeal to a wide audience of young to old—both drummers and “wanna-be” drummers. The build quality is very well executed, the design element visually appealing, and the learning curve is instant. And the best part: it's completely affordable fun that doesn’t break the bank.
Dendy Jarrett is the Publisher and Director of Harmony Central. He has been heavily involved at the executive level in many aspects of the drum and percussion industry for over 25 years and has been a professional player since he was 16. His articles and product reviews have been featured in InTune Monthly, Gig Magazine, DRUM! and Modern Drummer Magazines.