Sphero Specdrums Review

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If you haven’t heard of Sphero before, they produce robotic products, mainly focused towards the younger market. The last time we tried them out was when they released their Star Wars Droids, which was a lot of fun. Their latest product, brings music into the mix, with a product called Specdrums. As a drummer, or more ex-drummer now, I was quite excited to try this out, so got one sent to us. In brief, Specdrums is similar to an electronic drum kit / trigger pad, where you hit certain colours to activate a sound. Is it that simple or is there more to it?

In The Box

When unboxing, you will find either one or two rings, depending on which version you purchase, a play mat, a USB cable, carry bag and instructions. Everything comes neatly presented in a small cardboard box. The ring itself is mostly made from silicon, it’s bendy and will fit any finger, regardless of hand size. You wear the ring the opposite way round, so the large part is on the inside of your hand. This part has a small sensor, which is used to trigger the sounds. There is also a micro USB port for charging.

The mat or play pad is about the size of a standard computer keyboard and its a simple coloured mouse mat you could say. It’s easy to roll up for easy storage, yet when unrolled it lays very flat on your surface. There are 12 coloured areas, 1 – 8 are number while 9-12 are denoted with shapes.

Set Up

The first stage of set up requires the ring to be fully charged, this will take a couple of hours and you’ll need your own USB adapter to charge or plug it into a laptop etc. While the ring is charging, you need to download the free Specdrums Music app, both available on iOS and Android. It will ask if you want to create an account, you dont have to, you can use the app as a guest if desired. The app will ask you to download a second app, Specdrums Mix, which then allows further use of the kit. Once installed and the ring charged, you can pair the ring to your smart device and begin using the kit.

Both apps are similar, in that they play various sounds but the music app is more music notes on pianos, guitars, more educational overall. While the mix app is more about making music, selecting a backing track, recording music etc.

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Instruments or sounds on the music app include piano, synths, strings, drums and other (sound effects, farm animals, pets).
Instruments or sounds on the mix app are in the way of library types and include house, hip hop, future, drum & bass, cinematic, acappella and many more.

Performance

The kit works really well and its great fun. Whichever app you use, the audio comes out of your smart device, your phone, tablet etc, so audio quality and loudness will depend on your smart device. The ring fits well on both my finger and my daughters, but the ring needs to be flat when hitting a colour on the pad, otherwise it wont trigger. It didn’t happen often for me, but it did my daughter. The ring lights up when a successful trigger has been completed.

The music app is great for learning different sounds, learning notes and playing along to a metronome. You are able to record your sessions and with notes, you can actually play simple music, nursery rhythms etc.

The mix app is where we spent most of our time, creating our own chart music. Remember the numbered and shaped areas on the mat? Well the number areas are for single sounds, while the shaped areas are assigned as sound loops which repeat, creating a backing track of sorts. This is the default setting but these areas can be modified to suit your needs. There are over 30 sound libraries, all free, which you can browse and use. You can also create your own sounds, using the built-in microphone on your smart device. Record your tracks, play them back and share them with friends.

My daughter wanted to record her own animal sounds and create a track. Here it is..

You can change the colours to different sounds and you don’t need to use the provided mat. You can find a number of items around your house, similar in colour to whats assigned in the app and start hitting those. If you had the right coloured materials, you could get the pots & pans out and build your own drum kit.

Verdict

My 5 year old daughter and I loved this kit, we played it every day in the evenings until the next thing came along and that is really my only concern, the replay-ability and longevity of the kit. As this is very much app based, Sphero will be able to push out new features to keep people coming back. Oh and the apps work without the ring, so you can tap on screen and create music, it’s worth giving it a go.

A single kit is available for around £65. For more info, check out the Sphero Specdrums webpage.

Rating
Features 80%
80% Complete
Ease of use 90%
90% Complete
Price 80%
80% Complete
Total Score

Would We Recommend? Yes, great fun for young & old.

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