"Surely some mistake.... Simmons pads with the Pearl name on them? You've been messing around in Photoshop again haven't you?"

Actually no!

The picture to the left is, in fact, the Pearl DRX drum synth kit. Looks very familiar, doesn't it?!

Following the success of the Simmons SDSV and subsequent products, Pearl were obviously keen to lay their 1979 Syncussion legacy to rest once and for all with the release of a more 'serious' electronic drum and percussion system. The Pearl DRX-1 was born.

However, quite what they were thinking in cloning the Simmons pads so exactly (right down to the kick drum's non-slip, spiked spur supports) is anyone's guess!

Being a long-time devotee of the original Simmons, I remember being outraged when the DRX-1 was released and I saw the first photos! Why Simmons didn't respond with some sort of legal action is a mystery too! All I can assume is that Simmons didn't have the disposable cash to spend pursuing a law suit. Perhaps, as well, Dave Simmons hadn't patented or copyrighted his design. I guess we'll never know.

But the similarities didn't end with just the pad design....

Like the Simmons, the DRX-1 comprised a set of pads which were used to trigger a 'brain', a 19" rack-mount unit that housed the electronic circuitry that generated the sounds.

But this is where the DRX-1 differed. Whereas the Simmons featured a panel full of knobs that were easy to grab and tweak even in live performance, the DRX-1 was altogether different as you can see (right).

Initially, I thought that this was a weakness until I discovered that the thing had memories where sound settings could be stored and so, with the press of a button, you could dial up a whole new kit to play. This made the thing ideal for live (and studio) work and an ideal recipe for succes you would have thought - fashionable electronic drum sounds that can be recalled with the press of a button AND from a respected drum manufacturer who had been in business since 1940. Not so....

For whatever reason, the Pearl DRX-1 wasn't a massive success for the company (or rather, if it was, punters saw those pads and just assumed it was a Simmons - bad move, Pearl!!). Whatever, the DRX-1 never achieved the status of the Simmons in the annals of electronic musical instrument history and to be honest, I had quite forgotten about it until I was contacted by regular Ozzie Hollow Sun contributor Dean Morris who sent me a pile of samples from his own, original DRX.

If the DRX-1 was a clone of the Simmons on the surface (at least with its pad design), its sound generating principles were pretty much identical too. However, Pearl did improve on the design quite significantly. In Dean's own words:

"The DRX-1 was an interesting box (still is) in that as well as the noise and oscillator sound source, there was a control called "overtone" which could be used to vaguely approximate the different tuning of the bottom head of a drum. As well as that, the filter had controls that allowed the user to vary both the attack of the filter, and its tonality. This tonality, then, affected the tonality of both the noise source, and the oscillator. By varying the attack and tone of the filter, a huge number of variations could be made on sounds.

These features, more than anything, were the deciding "sound" factors that convinced me to change from the SDS. The other factor was the pads. The Pearl pads were, and are, a delight to play."

Frankly, I was astonished at the sounds I heard! I had thought that the Simmons reigned supreme for this kind of electronic kit sound and that nothing could touch it but Dean's samples proved that I was wrong. They have all the punch and dynamics of the Simmons and will serve well as an alternative (or addition) for the Simmons if you need some overtly electronic drum sounds.

Note that some of the tom and snare sounds are pretty much interchangeable and you can use any of the toms as snares or vice versa - some even make good kicks! Feel free to experiment!

I'm extremely grateful to Dean for this rare soundset and it's fair to say that thanks to this contribution, Nostalgia is the only sample collection to contain these sounds.