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HXW Music is a company focused on creating electronic drum sets. They’ve been around for more than ten years—in 2019, they first brought their kits to the US market on Amazon.
HXW currently offers two drum e kits: the SD61 and the SD201-C.
A representative of the company reached out to me via email and asked if I’d like to have a look at their drums. I happily obliged.
For the sake of transparency, yes, I did receive this SD201-C for free from the HXW.
I’ve had about a month playing around with the new Avatar SD201-C electronic drum kit by HXW, and I have to say, I’m rather impressed.
I was initially hesitant since I hadn’t heard of the company before, but I think HXW may be able to make their mark and compete with the more prominent name brands in the US.
Avatar HXW SD201-C Review
In terms of comparison, the SD201-C seems like close competitor to the Alesis Surge Mesh, in terms of specs. It’s relatively affordable but more expensive than the Surge Mesh.
The naming scheme is a little strange and cumbersome, but this is true to most electronic kits (for example, Roland’s new release is the VAD506).
The SD201-C is a five-piece mid-range electric drum kit with three cymbals. HXW touts high performance, vivid dynamics, and accurate response.
Just like all the other competitors today, the kit features mesh drum heads. All drums and cymbals are dual-zone. The cymbals also include a choke feature.
The Avatar drum module includes 346 drum and percussion sounds, 20 presets, 30 user kits, and 15 play-along songs.
Compared to other mesh drum pads, Avatar’s remind me of actually playing a drum head. It’s by no means perfect, but there’s a particular give to them right out of the box — they’re not as bouncy and responsive as Roland and Alesis pads.
Of course, you can adjust the tension of the heads to make them more responsive, but I think they feel great right out of the box.
The kit is compact, and I do feel a little constrained while playing. Most kits this size are similar, so this isn’t exactly a negative.
The snare drum mounts to the frame of the set — not the biggest fan of this myself, but most e kits do the same thing. I may try using a real snare drum stand to see the difference.
The dynamic response on the pads is fantastic. I was shocked at how the module was able to pick up on the lightest of taps.
The rims, on the other hand, are a different story. They seem to have a tough time accurately capturing quick bounce strokes depending where you play.
As I circle around any given pad’s rims, varying accuracy of triggering occurs with fast double strokes. I thought maybe it was a setting problem with the module, but no matter what I changed, it remained a problem.
But this is a small issue — I can’t conceive of a time where I’d need to do fast double strokes on the rims. If you’re using the kit for practice, this is a non-issue.
Surprisingly, the cymbals are decent. They feel rather cheap when playing, but the triggering functions excellent.
The cymbals included are larger in diameter (12″) than what you get with the Alesis Surge Mesh — a plus in my book.
And the hi-hat. It works better than my nearly $2,000 Alesis Strike drum kit. I couldn’t believe it. I thought for sure the hi-hat would be an issue.
Doubles and fast six-strokes are no problem between both the edge and bow sensor. Opening the hats mid-way poses no issue, either.
The Drum Module
One of the more disappointing aspects of the SD201-C is the drum module. The sounds aren’t the greatest, but they get the job done.
Take my personal review of the samples with a grain of salt. I’m rather cynical about drum sounds on electronic drums, so for you, you may have a different experience.
Newer drummers will most likely be happy with the kit presets and sounds.
That said, there is one thing HXW should change before running additional production of this kit—the mix levels of the drums.
Right out of the box, the cymbals are far too loud overall, and adjusting the volume levels isn’t the easiest.
And besides, no matter what I tried,
I could not get my level changes to save in the module. There probably is a way to save to user kits, but I couldn’t figure it out. Not yet, anyway. I eventually got some kits to save, but I’m not entirely sure how I did it.
For playing along to music, I’d suggest skipping the included play-along songs. Instead, use an auxiliary cable and connect your devices to play to music.
One thing to note—there is only one line output for connecting to a PA or speakers. I’m not sure if it’s a stereo output, as it doesn’t state in the manual. I’ll be testing it when I find my stereo splitter.
Use with VSTs
After my initial impressions of the included sounds, I had to see if I could use drum VST plugins with the kit. And thankfully, you can. They work excellent!
There is a little bit of MIDI mapping you’ll need to do. GM drum mapping isn’t standard out of the box.
But adjusting to the correct values only takes a few minutes. Playing along with my Addictive Drums 2 libraries is a blast.
The pads need work in terms of the rim triggering, but don’t change the mesh pads! They are stellar for the money. The cymbals are decent — could be a little thicker for added durability, in my opinion.
The kick tower should be a mesh pad, but the rubber does the job. However, Alesis does provide a mesh kick pad for less money, so they’ve got HXW there.
No matter which brand you choose, don’t just write a company off if you haven’t heard of them before. You might end up surprised.