With the new DWe hybrid electronic/acoustic drum kit we can see what Roland was up to when they acquired Drum Workshop, and the results look pretty sweet.
Drum Workshop launched the DWe drum kit back in November 2023, so it’s been just a couple months now since it’s been out in the wild. It’s starting to land in some drum shops and my local drum shop was setting one up on the floor last week. I got to play around with it a little bit at the time and it was surprisingly fun to play, and is a good example of where electronic drums could be going in the next few years.
These are electronic and acoustic hybrid drums, so they can be used for either. All you’d need to do to switch between the two is replace the heads. The shells are 100% maple and made at DW’s factory in California. These drums implement a proprietary drum trigger technology that offers a very dynamic and natural response if you’re using them as electronic drums. And another awesome thing about them is that they are completely wireless with no latency.
I didn’t even know it was the DWe kit sitting there until somebody at the store pointed it out, it looks like an acoustic kit until you take a closer look. There’s no cables, everything is completely wireless.
According to Drum Workshop, the triggers in the drums create up to 5 zones and the sound engine can produce 18 dynamic layers per drum, which makes for very nuanced and natural response during play. The cymbals have hard surfaces like an acoustic cymbal and offer three zones (edge, bow and bell) as well as chokes and 360 degree response. The kit includes the DW Soundworks software which is the virtual instrument that produces the digital sounds. It sounds like DW will be releasing more kits over time that can be downloaded and added to your drum kit library.
The downside is that these are pretty expensive, starting at over $7k for a complete kit from the prices I’ve seen at different retailers. However, when you consider that they can be used as acoustic and electronic drums, as well as the other advantages they offer, the price starts to look a little more reasonable. Consider that you could easily spend thousands of dollars on both an electronic and acoustic drum kit if you require both.
It will be interesting to see where this technology goes and how these drums are received by drumming community, and if prices come down over time. At their premium price they will most likely first be adopted by only the most serious of drummers or those with cash to burn.