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Here’s What 100 Hours of VR Drum Practice Gets You

Virtual reality drumming app Paradiddle recently accepted submissions for VR drummers to show off their skills. One drummer, who says they’ve never played drums in the real world, submitted a killer cover of ‘Assassin’ by MUSE. Yet another case for the power of VR training: YouTuber ElNeax claims to have “never played a drumkit in my life, either acoustic or electronic.” But after 100 hours in VR drumming app Paradiddle, he would have had me fooled:

According to a spokesperson for Paradiddle, the virtual drum kit is not offering any assists to the drummer in this case (like quantization or visual queues). “It’s all being played live on top of a drumless track,” they told me.

While VR drums clearly lack the force-feedback of the real-deal (which can be critical for certain drumming techniques), it’s clear that practicing in virtual reality has equipped ElNeax with a sense of rhythm and jam becoming of any ‘real’ drummer.

Paradiddle, which has been available in Early Access on Steam since 2017, lets users build their own drum set by providing a ‘palette’ of different drums and cymbals, which can be dragged, dropped, and scaled into any arrangement. The sound of each element is dependent on how hard it’s hit, and in some cases (such as ride cymbals) the location will change the sound as well.

What’s more, because it’s virtual reality, you can even create ‘impossible’ drum arrangements, like a cymbal fused with a drum so that both can be played simultaneously with one hand (we can see this in action in ElNeax’s ‘Assassin’ cover).

Virtual Reality Is For Phones, Too. One of the biggest misconceptions with virtual reality is that you need to buy expensive viewing gear in order to participate. That is not true at all. In fact, the latest cell phones allow you to use it as a device for virtual reality. You might need to make or buy an additional piece to use it for that, but it is usually at a low cost. Google, for example, offers a 3D cardboard kit for your phone for less than $10.

Alongside in-game recording and sharing tools, the app also offers MIDI and USB device input, allowing electronic drum pedals and other input accessories to trigger bass drums or hi-hat position for more authentic control. MIDI output is also supported so that users can tap into their own sound samples through a DAW.

The case for practicing drums in VR seems pretty compelling, even with the lack of force-feedback: drums can be costly, especially as the size of the kit grows, not to mention the space they take up and the intrusive audio that’s the bane of apartment neighbors and family members alike. VR offers the potential for a drum kit that’s unobtrusive to the real world while being only limited by your imagination.

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