Cracking the NFUZD code

Monday, 16 March 2020 9:30 am

There are some good deals around on NFUZD pads after the e-drum range was put on ice a few years back. But how do you connect them to a ‘regular’ module?

For those unfamiliar with NFUZD, it was meant to be the “next big thing” in electronic percussion when it was launched in 2015. Produced by KHS Musical Instrument Company, the manufacturer of Mapex and other well-known brands, the launch NSPIRE kit consisted of four silicon drum pads, a kick trigger, two rubber-covered e-cymbals, a movable one-piece hi-hat and a module loaded with a custom version of the BFDeco VST.

The pads are something between Pearl’s ePro Live pads and Aquarian’s onHeads – well-designed custom pads that fit snugly over regular drum hoops, like Tupperware lids.

Sounds good? Well, there were a couple of drawbacks, including a proprietary wiring approach using 1/8” four-pole mini-jacks. The pads also didn’t trigger fantastically. And there were issues with the module, but that’s another story.

From time to time, digitalDrummer gets reader questions or posts on our Facebook group about compatibility of the pads with Roland or other modules.

On its own forum, NFUZD steadfastly insists the pads don’t work with non-NFUZD modules, but that’s not quite accurate.

Some time ago, digitalDrummer experimented with cables and by trial and error managed to get the pads working with third-party drum brains. However, the four-pole jacks are small and fiddly, and very difficult to connect, making this DIY task quite demanding and probably beyond the capability of most amateur tinkerers.

As US retailers seem to have stepped up their discounts, there seems to be growing interest in using the push-on pads with mainstream modules, and one suggestion was to use a mini- jack to RCA cable commonly used for video cameras.

These connectors have three RCA jacks (white, red and yellow) on one end and a mini-jack on the other. The four-pole mini-jack goes into the NFUZD pad. You will also need a 3.5 mm stereo mini-jack to 2 RCA female splitter cable for the connection to the module (and that also requires a 3.5 mm to 6.5 mm adapter). I know this sounds like a lot of stuff, but these are all popular cables and connectors and you’re only looking at a few dollars per drum.

The beauty of the RCA connectors is that you can experiment and work out which cable goes with which to ensure triggering. In my case, I had to wire white to red and red to yellow.

Of course, the physical connection is only part of the challenge. You also have to dial the pad into the module, remembering that the NFUZD pads are piezo/switch rather than piezo/piezo (in other words, they’re wired like Yamaha pads rather than Roland pads). Not surprisingly, I got optimal triggering on a Roland module using a ride cymbal preset.