Rim vs Head level/velocity discrepancy

Hi, I know this has already been covered a few times in the forum but I can’t seem to find a definitive answer in any of the posts so just wanted to raise it again. When I train my acoustic snare (with a real drum head not a mesh head) there is a much higher level registering from the loudest hit on the rim than the loudest hit in the centre of the drum. When I look at the velocity I/O page it is very noticeably different. When I hit the rim hard I can achieve maximum values at the very top of the scale whereas the head of the drum only ever peaks at about the half way point. When I check the MIDI velocity values being output in to Ableton the rim can achieve up to 127 whereas the head only reaches around 70 maximum.

I have tried experimenting with velocity curves, etc but without setting a separate velocity curve for the rim and head it is very hard to adjust the values satisfactorily. It’s not a big deal if triggering separate samples from each part of the drum but if mapping one sound across the entire drum and controlling the notes or pitch, etc with timbre the rim notes are noticeable louder than the ones on the head.

This issue seems to have been brought up a number of times so I’m wondering if it’s something that you have looked in to addressing with a software update or if you have any other solutions? I’m mostly using Sensory Percussion as a plug-in in Ableton Live to send MIDI to device in Ableton so the velocity values are important. Perhaps it’s less of an issue when the sounds are being triggered from within the Sensory Percussion software itself. Any help and advice appreciated!

Thanks, Stuart

Hi Stuart,

Thanks for posting! There’s a few things that could be happening.

  1. Make sure the angle of the sensor is correct.

  2. There are variances between how the sensor reads the rim vs head on different drums. One quick hack to try is putting two pickup elements side-by-side on the drum (right next to each other, with no space in between the two dots). It will boost the head signal by a bit.

  3. But, if you feel like the discrepancy is too much and can’t be overcome with these tweaks, write an email to support@sunhou.se with a diagnostic report attached. Be sure to hit the drums on the head and rims while the report is running, and we’ll see if there are any issues with your sensors.

Regarding the software velocity tweaking per-pad, thanks for the suggestion, we had not considered it because that can largely be done at the sample level. But, for MIDI I can see how that would be useful. We will look into it as a future update.


Thanks Steven. It’s definitely not an angle issue. I might try the double pick up hack. I would still be interested to see if the response is normal anyway so might do the diagnostic report just for you guys to check out. I’m pretty experienced working in Ableton Live so can no doubt figure out a way around it using velocity curve editing or adjusting the velocity gain on individual MIDI notes but if there’s anything that can be adjusted at the source to save hassle that’s obviously preferable.

I should also have said this happens with all my snare drums so is not specific to one particular drum. I have also swapped the sensors around different drums on the kit and the sensors all behave in the same way so it’s not an issue with the hardware sensor. When I use an SP sensor on an 8" LP micro snare I have (which is tuned super tight) that one seems much more balanced in level between rim and head but my floor tom has a similar discrepancy between rim and head levels to my snares.

May be is not helpful … I use to adjust the velocity inside Ableton using Sampler in this way I can adjust the range and the fade in-out of every single zone and in the same zone also for different sound depending of the velocity