Music

Digital hand drum pounds the beat with acoustic-like expression

Digital hand drum pounds the b...
The aFrame can be laid flat on a table or stand, placed on the floor like a cajon or strapped around the neck
The aFrame can be laid flat on a table or stand, placed on the floor like a cajon or strapped around the neck
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The aFrame can be laid flat on a table or stand, placed on the floor like a cajon or strapped around the neck
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The aFrame can be laid flat on a table or stand, placed on the floor like a cajon or strapped around the neck
The sensor-packed playing surface is said to have the feel of an acoustic percussion head
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The sensor-packed playing surface is said to have the feel of an acoustic percussion head
Musician Christopher Hardy trying out the aFrame digital hand drum
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Musician Christopher Hardy trying out the aFrame digital hand drum
The diamond-shaped laminated bamboo frame is home to the sound engine electronics
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The diamond-shaped laminated bamboo frame is home to the sound engine electronics
The aFrame is reported to capture and output player nuances at the surface through the application of filter algorithms called Timbre EQ
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The aFrame is reported to capture and output player nuances at the surface through the application of filter algorithms called Timbre EQ

Japan's electronic instrument maker ATV Corporation has revealed a digital percussion instrument called the aFrame. Yet another digital instrument that's promised to give players an acoustic instrument feel, the hand drum has a playable surface stretched over a handsome bamboo frame and is claimed able to respond to subtleties in a player's tapping, stroking or pressing like no other digital percussion instrument can.

The aFrame is based around something the company calls Adaptive Timbre Technology, which is reported to capture and output player nuances at the surface through the application of filter algorithms called Timbre EQ to dynamically generate a huge variety of classic or modern electronic tones and effects. The sensor-packed playing surface is said to have the feel of an acoustic percussion head, with natural bounce and friction properties.

The aFrame can be laid flat on a table or stand, placed on the floor like a cajon or strapped around the neck. As well as housing the playing surface, the diamond-shaped laminated bamboo frame is also home to the sound engine electronics, including digital signal processing technology and internal memory capable of storing up to 80 user tones.

The diamond-shaped laminated bamboo frame is home to the sound engine electronics
The diamond-shaped laminated bamboo frame is home to the sound engine electronics

The sonic palette is accessed via back-illuminated navigation/selection keys and a scroll wheel, and a two-line LCD information display shows current selections. The instrument is powered from a wall outlet, though the company does suggest making use of its USB port to plug in an external battery pack and also suggests plugging in a guitar-like interface to go cable free. The black box behind the playing surface also sports a headphone jack, volume knob and 0.25 in outputs.

The ATV Corporation, founded by music instrument veteran Ikutaro Kakehashi, is currently showing "forthcoming" availability, with pricing still to be announced.

Have a look at Masaki Yoshimi playing the aFrame in the video below.

Source: ATV Corporation

Masaki YOSHIMI plays aFrame

2 comments
Dan Parker
It sounds as though you can't change any parameters while you're playing. You just pick a sound and then use the top cover to modulate that sound. Personally, I found the constant upper register note in the video annoying. If you could program different zones in the playing surface to emulate a trap set or cocktail set, it would be more useful in a gig situation. Drummers would be happy not to have to haul all that gear around.
MikeSnyder
Hey Dan, You can change to any of the 80 different presets at anytime. The aFrame isn't a drum or percussion controller designed to mimic existing acoustic instruments. Rather, it is a new class of percussion instrument that makes it possible to use acoustic sound of the player's strike as a starting point to create new tonalities using DSP (digital signal processing). Doing what you describe is possible with many long-time available products such as the Yamaha DTX-Multi12, products that have become the mainstay of a drummer's gear for over 30 years. If you'd like to create that kind of setup for yourself, I'd be glad to give you some recommendations—it sure can save the back! All the best, Mike Snyder Product Manager Drums & Percussion The Americas ATV Group Corp USA