Simmons shakes it up

Sunday, 15 September 2019 9:55 am

When I heard that Simmons was launching a 2000 w drum amp, I presumed that we were about to see a new chapter in e-drum amplification. The Guitar Center-owned brand had already drawn a line in the sand with its DA200S, which remains a stand-out product. So, I expected something extra-special with the DA2012B.

What I got was enough raw power to shake the walls.

The DA2012B addresses one of the main limitations of most e-drum monitors to date – pure grunt. It delivers plenty of oomph, and what’s most noticeable is the low end.

I tested the DA2012 with a range of drum modules, but to assess its bass capability, there’s nothing like a recent Roland module, where the sound design is focused on delivering low-end thump in bucketloads. The result: more bass than I could cope with, even before cracking up the Bass Control dial.

Treble was also well handled, with nice tingly cymbal tones and solid hi-hat reproductions.

So, the 12” bass driver and the unspecified high-frequency compression driver clearly can do their job.

What is lacking though is the finesse of the DA200S with its three-channel equaliser and additional sub control that really allows you to shape the output. The new amp, in contrast, only has Bass and Treble controls and, therefore, little control over the mid-range.

The DA200S also has the advantage of a stereo image with excellent separation. Good as it is to have for monitoring, a stereo image is not a deal-breaker – and even if you’re using the DA2012 for a live performance, you can probably get away with positioning the cabinet centrally. If stereo is essential, then you’ll have to buy a second unit and use the Smart Stereo functionality, controlling both speakers from one unit which is designated as the master.

Where the DA2012B does have an advantage over the 200S is on the input side. The 200 has left and right drum inputs, a stereo line in and a separate Aux input. (The new DA200SB also has a Bluetooth input, but it’s not clear if this overrides the aux or not.) The 2012B boasts “five simultaneous stereo inputs” – two L/R ¼” input channels and a third which houses another ¼” pair, a 1/8” stereo jack and the Bluetooth input.

The Bluetooth is very easy to set up and performed well, with no noticeable latency.

I tested the “five simultaneous inputs” claim and, indeed, you can feed all the inputs at the same time; but, of course, there’s only one volume dial for the third channel, so you would have to balance the output levels on each of the sources if you wanted to use more than one at a time. Interestingly, I was able to feed all the inputs at the same time without getting the lag and muddiness you often find when the driver gets too many impulses simultaneously.

The other notable difference between the 200 and 2012 is the design: the 200 is built to sit on the floor, like a guitar amp or keyboard amp while the 2012 can either be positioned horizontally, on the floor, or vertically, on a standard pole. The 2012, which is actually three-quarters of the weight of the 200, has dedicated “voicings” or DSP settings for floor or pole mounting, with ‘normal’ and ‘boost’ variants for each. I found little need to deploy the boost settings in either orientation, but could discern subtle differences between them.

Overall, I am impressed with the sheer power of the DA2012B, but wish it had some of the qualities of the DA200S, especially more control over the midrange and the sub. Of course, just as two heads are better than one, a stereo image would also be great – but perhaps Simmons is merely trying to upsell customers into a two-speaker set-up. And maybe that’s not such a bad thing. A small band could easily dump the rest of their gear and use two DA2012Bs with a small mixer in some settings.

Of course, the big disappointment for readers outside the US is that Simmons amps are built for 110 v and are not distributed outside of America. But who knows, if they get enough enquiries, maybe that will change!

  • Watch out for a full, detailed review by our monitor maestro, Scott Holder, in the November digitalDrummer.