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I'm trying to evaluate speakers that will sound good with our Roland TD-9 V-Tour e-drums. The TD-9 sounds pretty decent with headphones.

When the e-drums are plugged into a Mackie 808S powered mixer with Mackie speakers, the e-drums don't sound very good through the Mackie system (lacking bass kick). But when I play recorded music mp3 through the Mackie system, the drums on the mp3 sound much better.

Why is that? Is it because the recorded music playback is at lower levels? Is it because recorded music is compressed (less dynamic range than live)?

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Compression etc. will definitely be a factor here – a good part of the job of a mastering engineer is to make sure the record will also sound good if played under less than optimal conditions.

However, perhaps more important is the simple fact that you perceive the same sound different if you use the speakers as live monitors, especially if you're playing the drums yourself, compared to listening to a recorded track.

That doesn't mean the speakers are necessarily insufficient to amplify the e-drums live: the result will probably not be as punchy as if you used an acoustic set, but since, for the audience, the speakers don't serve a monitor role, they may not care (perhaps they'll be glad, even...).

Consider adding some kind of extra monitoring, so the drums also “feel” good while playing. In-ear is of course particularly useful for e-drums.

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