Pros: Inexpensive; Ideal for private practice; Full kit
Cons: Limited help for beginners; Cannot be used with other music software
Bottomline: An excellent starter kit, but unsuitable for serious musicians because of the lack of Midi support
Vista compatibility: Yes
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While the drums are certainly a fun instrument to play, a conventional kit takes up a lot of space and is too loud for discreet practice.
The Ion iED05, then, is a digital drum kit that plugs directly into a computer, which is used for playing the sounds. Add headphones and you have the perfect practice instrument.
Assembly can take a little while and the instructions are only supplied as a PDF on the CD.
There are pads and pedals for a basic kit of hi-hat, snare, three toms, a bass drum and a crash cymbal with choke button. Pads are no substitute for real drumskins but the ones supplied are fairly good with a decent level of touch sensitivity.
The included tuition is limited to three videos covering some of the basics. It is a rather brief introduction, and includes some things that aren't strictly necessary; we would have thought that learning how to twirl the sticks wasn't something a beginner needs to know. Complete novices will find that they will need to invest in some other form of teaching in addition to what is supplied.
Since the computer plays the sound, it can change depending on your preference: there are 17 presets covering plenty of kits from Latin to rock. A drumming game will be familiar to anyone who has ever played Guitar Hero and uses the coloured stickers on the drums to tell you which to hit. The mix of songs is curious, including some classical music as well as Jingle Bells and Happy Birthday. There are three difficulty levels, so it is not too challenging for beginners.
The biggest disadvantage is that the drum kit is not a Midi controller; instead, Windows recognises it as a game controller. This has no bearing on the setup process or the bundled software but it means it cannot be used with any other audio software. This is a disappointment because it removes the most useful part of using an electronic instrument, which is to edit tracks to remove mistakes. If you want to go beyond playing and start recording it would be worth spending the extra money for the next model up, the IED06, which does work as a MIDI controller.
For anyone who wants to learn the drums without waking the neighbours, though, this is a great starter kit.