Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Logitech’s electronic skins for Rock Band 2 and Guitar Hero


By James Booth

When Harmonix released the updated instruments with Rock Band 2, they made vast improvements to their design and performance. But the Rock Band or Guitar Hero experience can get even better with the addition of third-party hardware, namely Logitech's Wireless Drum Controller for the PS3.

"I loved them from the very beginning, and found them a pleasure to play."

Also available for the Xbox 360 and the Wii, at twice the cost of the entire Rock Band 2 Bundle, Logitech's Wireless Drum Controller is not for the faint-of-heart or casual gamer; it's designed with the more serious e-musician in mind. Shown in Figure A, Logitech's drum controller is more like a real electronic drum set than that furnished in the Harmonix bundle.


Logitech's Wireless Drum Controller for the PS3. (click for larger image)


Logitech's Wireless Drum Controller is packed with loads of features that make it a premium improvement over the standard drum kit. First and foremost, the drum pads are constructed with a silencing feature to reduce noise. The drum pads and cymbals are fully adjustable, ensuring a more comfortable drumming experience. The tension of the kick pedal is adjustable, making it more responsive. The entire kit can be broken down flat and leaned against a wall or slid under a bed so as to take up less space, like some of those SoloFlex exercise machines.

The brain box has all of the buttons necessary for a PS3 controller: d-pad, X, O, Square, and Triangle, as well as the PS button, Start, and Select. All of the pads and cymbals connect to the brain box by their own cord and color-coded socket, making not only for easy setup, but also easy customization. There is also one extra black socket for an unknown purpose, and a MIDI-in socket ostensibly for some future expansion. Figure B shows both the front and the back of the brain box.


Everything you need is on the brain box, and a couple we're not sure about. (click for larger image)

Although initially branded for Guitar Hero World Tour, due to the interoperability of the Guitar Hero and Rock Band instruments, Logitech's Wireless Drum Controller can be used on Rock Band 2 as well as Guitar Hero; it was with Rock Band 2 that I did my testing of this after-market expansion drum set.


The largest advantage the Logitech drums have over the Harmonix drums is responsiveness. From the lightest tap to the hardest slam, I never once had a problem with the missed hits or double-taps that some users have complained about. However, it's essential that your instruments are calibrated for the proper television you're playing on. Some TVs, LCDs and Plasmas in particular, have a lag between the display and the sound which can create errors in play. When properly calibrated, these drums were dead-on.