Drum monitor systems come in all shapes and sizes, from compact, all-in-1 units, to larger multi-channel designs. Wanting a simple monitor system to partner with my Yamaha DTX-750K electronic drum kit for small rehearsals and home practicing, I opted for yamaha’s MS-40DR; a system which sits comfortably in the middle.
The MS-40 is a compact and affordable drum monitor system, designed for use with their acclaimed DTX series electronic drum kits. It’s a 2.1-channel design boasting a pair of compact 2-way satellite speakers and a 6.5” sub woofer / amplifier unit. Output power is rated at 40W (20W X2) for the satellites and a further 40W for the sub.
The satellites are of a 2-way design, comprising a 3/4” tweeter and a 3” mid/bass driver, both magnetically shielded and enclosed in a cloth-fronted plastic enclosure. Input is via a single RCA jack mounted on the rear of each speaker – so there are no strands of wire to contend with when you’re setting up your kit in a rehearsal space, for example. The satellites also feature a neat clamp system, allowing them to be installed on your drum rack using the included clamp set. A hex key is included in the package for adjustment; it would’ve been nice to see the clamps utilising thumb screws rather than hex bolts to minimise the number of tools one must carry. That said, then mounted, the satellites are held firmly in place – and the clamps are suitable for any standard-size rack tubing.
The sub woofer unit features a 6.5”, magnetically shielded driver, and is of wooden construction with a rather flimsy cloth-fronted grille. I would like to have seen a more sturdy, kick-proof grille covering the sub as found on most amplifiers; if you situate your sub in close proximity to your kick drum, the sub is easily susceptible to the occasional accidental kick or the bumps and scrapes that are inevitable when you’re making adjustments to your setup.
I also wasn’t particularly impressed with the quality of the wood veneer covering the sub; the edges seem rough and unfinished and on my unit were starting to peal in places. It certainly won’t withstand being dragged across a floor, or even the odd bump or scrape that may occur if it leaves your home / studio environment.
Controls are limited to power, a bass control for the sub and an overall gain control. The included cable features an 8-pin connector used for both input and output. Output to the satellites is via the aforementioned RCA cables, and input is via 2X mono 6.25MM or quarter inch jacks. While the single-piece cable design does help reduce clutter by minimising the number of cables going to the amp unit, I would’ve much preferred the ability to use individual cables; as i suspect that should this cable (and it’s rather flimsy 8-pin plug and associated connector) become damaged, they will be difficult, if not impossible, to replace. The sub also features a permanently attached mains power cable, unusual given that most audio equipment (even at the cheaper end of the market) uses an IEC (or kettle lead) or figure of eight connector.
Setup was simple. The speaker clamps do not hinge open like many drum clamps do (which seems to be typical of Yamaha gear), so it was necessary for me to remove a couple of simple mounts and the rack tom support from my DTX to install the 2 satellites. Despite this, however, setup took less than 30 minutes, including positioning and tidying up the cables. I set the gain control to 3 quarters (to gain maximum volume with minimal distortion), and opted to control the overall volume using the control on my 700 module.
Sound wise, I was initially a little unimpressed. The sound produced is decent enough once you’ve balanced the amount of bass given out by the sub in relation to the satellites, though the satellites still sound rather tinny even when helped out by the sub (probably thanks to their plastic enclosures). For an 80W system, I’d expected more power too; the system is perfect for quiet practicing, but while it can certainly drown out the beating of your sticks on the (admittedly rather quiet) TCS drum pads, it won’t rival an acoustic setup with its volume.
I was also a little disappointed with the sub. For such a large unit, I’d expected it to be better able to reproduce kick drum sounds. However it’s a little lacking in the low end, especially for given the size of the enclosure. I also found that turning the bass control anywhere above half way produced significant distortion, even when the overall gain control was backed off.
Negatives aside though, if you’re looking for a system that can remove the need to use headphones with your E-Kit for quiet practicing, this may be the system for you. It’s very affordable, compact, and durable enough to withstand home use (though I’d avoid taking it outside of the home environment). The fact that the satellites can mount to your drum rack is a major plus, and a feature that many e-drum monitors on the market lack. However, those seeking a more powerful, more durable solution, not to mention a setup with greater versatility (outputs for live sound systems, mixing, EQ etc) will want to look elsewhere.