Logitech goes wireless with new high-end guitar and drum kit Guitar Hero controllers

At last month's Logitech preview in New York, we got our hands on some serious musical instrument accessories coming to the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 that are licensed by Activision to work with Guitar Hero games.

The Logitech Wireless Drum Controller has fully adjustable drum heads and cymbals. When we quickly demoed the kit we noticed the heads are also fitted with a unique padding--which we're told reduces noise when hit. The entire kit is collapsible, too, which is good when floor space is an issue. The company claims it'll get up to 50 hours of … Read more

'Silent Drum' makes noise at music competition

Updated at 10:40 a.m. PDT, Wednesday, March 11, with more details on the instrument that took second place.

Imagine Keith Moon relentlessly pounding away with a set of drumsticks. Now imagine him making sounds simply by moving his hands around the head of the drum.

That's more or less what he'd be doing were he using inventor Jaime Oliver's Silent Drum Controller.

First place winner in the first Guthman Musical Instrument Competition sponsored by Georgia Tech's Center for Music Technology, it's a transparent drum shell, illuminated from the inside, with an elastic head. As one presses it, the head deforms and a variety of shapes with peaks are created reflecting the shape of the mallet or hand.

A video camera captures these shapes and sends the images to the computer, which analyzes them and outputs the tracked parameters.

Not a drum you'd find in the music shop at the mall, but that was exactly the idea behind the contest, which solicited new instruments--in physical or virtual manifestations, and played by humans, robots, or computers--that enhance music performance and creation.

Nearly 30 inventors from seven countries performed on Georgia Tech's campus to demonstrate their instrument's musicality, design, and engineering features and compete for prizes--$5,000 for first place, $3,000 for second, $2,000 for third, and free copies of the Rock Band for those nabbing fourth through sixth place. … Read more

Make your own beats

iDrum lets you choose from several preset beats or you can make your own using an intuitive interface. While you could dive right in and make your own, it's very useful to play a preset beat and watch how drum sounds show up in the unique interface. Beats are broken down into measures and you can zoom in to insert sounds at your chosen intervals. You can then create several measures and use the touch screen to copy and move them around to your specs. You also have the ability to adjust the volume using sliders for each sound. … Read more

DigiDrummer Lite

DigiDrummer Lite is a free, simple drum simulator that lets you play eight different drums in a reasonably spaced, four-by-two grid using your touch screen. As with most musical instrument-emulator apps, the sound (using actual drum samples) is considerably better while using headphones or external speakers with subtle, fairly high-quality audio--although iPhone headphones are probably up to this free app's most likely use: namely, killing time and/or entertaining kids. More serious musicians should also check out the paid version of DigiDrummer and other similar apps, to get access to different drum sets, the ability to record, and more. … Read more

Play the drums--on your chest

The days of beating your chest, Tarzan style, are way over. These days, it's cooler to rap out a beat instead, heavy-metal drummer Dave Lombardo style, thanks to ThinkGeek's $29.99 interactive Electric Drum Kit Shirt. It features--get this--seven actual playable drums. There's even an embedded speaker with volume control, powered by four AAA batteries.

Wear it to the next Guitar Hero World Tour party where, even if your buddies run out of instruments, you'll never feel left out as you can always front your own rock band. Ba-dum! Catch this fun gimmick in action in … Read more

Crossfade TV: Nina Simone, UFO!, Red House Painters

On Crossfade TV this week, the Download Music crew checks out a cool new set of previously unreleased recordings and interviews from the late jazz/blues/gospel/soul artist Nina Simone called Protest Anthology; a few new songs from electronic artist UFO! (not to be confused with the Brits who brought you the classic-rock staple "Too Hot Too Handle"); and the brand-new album from Sun Kil Moon, the name Mark Kozelek seems to be sticking with (after long-ago retiring his previous band name, Red House Painters).

Crossfade TV is a collaboration between Download Music and CNET TV.

For modders who march to a different beat

Some cynics out there might have thought the drum cases from Spotswood Custom Computers were just silly novelty items. Au contraire: Not only have they been popular, but there's a new model that's bigger and--depending on one's point of view--better than ever.

The L-24 is part of the company's "water-cooling" line, measuring 24 inches in diameter and 18 inches deep. That's big enough to house 12 fans, "three triple-fan water-cooling radiators, extra-long graphics cards, a 1600W (or larger) power supply, two 5.25-inch CD/DVD drives and 15 3.5-inch hard drives,&… Read more

The world's most boring-looking drums

Next to guitars--real, virtual or something in-between--the most popular musical instruments we've seen on Crave are drums. From fingertip pads to several types of rollaway versions, percussive gadgets appear to be everywhere. But they usually don't look like a cookie sheet.

That's what the "Ion Digital Drum Station" resembles, though ThinkGeek nevertheless claims that it has "eight natural feeling, velocity-sensitive drum pads." They also come with their own sticks, headphones and MP3 inputs to help create custom tunes, or you can just play along to programmed patterns with 233 sounds available … Read more

Drum or hatbox drive? You be the judge

How's this for the latest in PC designs? Drums. Yes, like the kind that you bang on, all day if you must, with or without sticks.

When fellow Craver Brian Cooley posted an item months ago about the Spotswood kick-drum computer, we assumed it was just something from one of the obscure sites he surfs, in between 007 blogs and single-malt scotch retailers. As it turns out, he may actually have been on the cutting edge of a new trend, the latest example being the "Shadow" hard drive from Suissa Computers.

Although it's not a full … Read more

'Motoman' bot shows it's got rhythm

It's good to see that the Japanese haven't forgotten about cultural entertainment in their apparent quest for a human-free society. At least their robots haven't, anyway.

The recently unveiled "Motoman" was initially assigned to such mundane tasks as sorting mail, for example, but it's already showing that it's got rhythm too. Four of them, to be exact--two twin-armed models and two welding versions.

The robots displayed their prowess on the taiko drums at the Kokura Gion Daiko Festival, an event that Pink Tentacle says is almost 400 years old and is known for … Read more