Ion Drum Rocker - First Look
You've broken your foot pedal again, after stomping through "Ace of Spades" one too many times. Sellotape is holding up your green snare drum, and you're pining for your crash cymbal hits to actually feel like you're battering a sheet of metal.
The Rock Band drum kit is a little on the weedy side, let's be honest. In attempt to make it vaguely portable, Harmonix cut a few corners leading to complaints of broken foot pedals and a lack of realism. Even with the cut corners, it's not exactly portable and is rather noisy.
But Ion, which spends a lot of its time making USB turntables and electronic drum kits, has stepped up to the plate to improve the drum experience for Rock Band and Rock Band 2. The Ion Drum Rocker has the four pads and foot pedal of the original, along with a couple of cymbals that replicate the blue and green pads' functionality.
We managed to get some drum time at IFA and it's approximately 50,0000 times more sturdy than the official kit, and is considerably more customisable too - you're able to adjust the positions of individual drums if they don't suit your mutant body-shape.
Individual pads can register hit velocity and are much quieter than the official version of the kit. The kick pedal is also reinforced with cold hard steel, so it should last a bit longer than the plastic original. It has optional spikes on the bottom too - so it won't slip away from you.
After a little bit of a wobbly start, thanks to having to mentally unlearn and re-learn the positions of the pads, we were swiftly knocking out White Wedding and Eye of the Tiger on hard mode. Bashing the cymbals to end a fill and activate overdrive just feels so much more right than a little tap on the green pad.
But such an awesome drum experience doesn't come cheap. The Drum Rocker costs over £240 from resellers on Amazon. As a result, only those who are really really serious about their Rock Band setup need apply. One nice bonus, though, is that once you've mastered Rock Band and Rock Band 2, the whole kit can be transformed into a regular electronic drum kit with the addition of a "Drum Brain" from Alesis. You can then go and join a real band.
VerdictIon's Drum Rocker isn't for those who aren't 100% committed to their Rock Band drumming. If you aren't totally in love with the game, then it's probably best to stick with the original kit.
However - if you're frustrated by the imprecision, noise, and lack of durability of the kit that comes with Rock Band, and you're considering taking your drumming to the next level, then the Ion Drum Rocker looks to be worth the outlay.