PocketDrum from Aeroband: Are the Sticks a Gimmick?

I got an email this morning from Indiegogo highlighting some of their more popular campaigns. The message subject read The Drum Set That Fits In Your Pocket. I was intrigued. 

Check out the PocketDrum campaign at Indigogo!

Overview of the PocketDrum

The PocketDrum is a set of portable electronic drum sticks that connect to your phone’s various drumming apps via Bluetooth. 

Think of as electronic air drumming.

It appears GarageBand and the official Aeroband app are the only ones supported currently, but the developers say they are working on more.

Here are some of the features:

  • Latest Bluetooth 4.0 technology — super fast, no latency
  • Works with two apps currently — GarageBand and Aeroband
  • You won’t disturb others, as it’s silent with headphones
  • Vibrating motors in each still emulate the sensation of hitting drums
  • Each drumstick is very lightweight
  • Three fun modes included — tutorial, game, and free

Aeroband is marketing the PocketDrum at both professionals and amateurs alike, though I cannot see a real professional use for these.

Sounds and Zones of the PocketDrum

The invisible drum set allows you to play a crash cymbal, closed hi-hat, bass drum, snare drum, and a hi-tom. Seems a little limited, but they say that more sounds and play areas are on the way.

No Camera or Surface Needed

PocketDrum is unique in that, you don’t need a camera or a surface to set it up. A very similar product with far more features called Aerodrums, doesn’t need a surface but does require the use of a webcam (a Sony Playstation 3 Eye camera, specifically).

Latency

Aeroband’s PocketDrum has very low latency, coming in at just 6ms of delay.

I doubt that it will be noticeable, but generally, anything under 10 ms is undetectable by us drummers. On the flip side, anything above 15 ms can become a significant problem.

PocketDrum In Use

As you snap each stick to make a hit, a nice-looking LED moves toward the front of the stick as the motor vibrates, giving a needed response.

Different sounds are made with varying levels of force. How hard you play controls which sounds will play from each instrument.

Battery Life

As you may have guessed, the PocketDrum sticks run on batteries. Aeroband claims ten hours of playtime on one charge, which is an excellent duration.

The Kick Drum Sensor

The entire time I was reading through the Indiegogo campaign, I had to wonder, how do you trigger the kick drum?

I always hated drumming apps that made you tap the kick drum, so I hoped that wasn’t the case here.

Fortunately, Aeroband has converted its PocketGuitar into a foot sensor. The only issue, of course, is you have to buy both the sticks and the foot sensor.

Okay, enough about the features. Let me dive into my thoughts on PocketDrum.

Pricing

As it stands right now, you can back the project for $69 and receive the PocketDrum Lite. The Lite comes with one pair of sticks without the LED light.

It includes a USB charger, wrist strap, stick case, and instruction manual.

The Indiegogo Exclusive is the same pair of sticks with the LED lights.

The Aeroband Classic Set sells for $120 and features the (1) PocketDrum Sticks and the (1) PocketGuitar controller for the kick drum.

The last perk includes two PocketDrum controllers (without the kick sensor) for $155.

The pricing seems a little steep if you ask me, but I understand, given this is a crowdfunded project.

My Opinion on PocketDrum

PocketDrum from Aeroband is an exciting concept, to say the least. It’s not an innovative product I’d personally use, but the gift could be helpful for young drummers.

I consider PocketDrum more of a novelty than anything else. I don’t see it being conducive to learning the drums if there aren’t any playing surfaces that you can either view or feel. However, the experience looks awesome and fun.

The price is a little high. The portable nature of PocketDrum is appealing, but it’s hard to justify spending over $100 on an app with sticks. 

Since the sticks cannot connect to a digital audio workstation via wireless Bluetooth MIDI, many users will be drawn to other products that can do just that.

Many companies recently have tried similar products, but I haven’t seen any mass-market appeal for something like electric air drumsticks. Aerodrum and Freedrum are just two names that come to mind.

I genuinely want the designers and developers to do well (they’ve raised over $200,000 in support, congrats!).

However, for actual drummers, the product is most likely not right for learning the drums. Hobbyists and kids can benefit far more and will have a much better time using PocketDrummer.

If interested, check out the Aeroband PocketDrum Indigogo campaign!

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