I purchased the MPS-850 for home practice - I normally play an acoustic drum kit. My only previous e-kit experience was with a converted acoustic kit (mesh heads, triggers, VST, laptop etc). The performance of the MPS-850 is proving far superior. I'll go through the various components one by one.
The kit is ready to play the instant you switch it on. This is a huge advantage for me, compared to dealing with laptop, VST, external soundcard etc. Another plus: I can't detect any latency, which makes the playing experience feel very natural. Many of the in-built acoustic type kits sound OK. With the help of the supplied manual I created my own 'User Kit' which I'm very happy with. There are several settings you can tweak to deliver an excellent response from all the individual pieces. I've made good use of the module's USB input, playing along to MP3s. You can also record to USB to listen back to your new grooves. I sometimes run the module's output to a Porter & Davies BC2. That works fantastically well! There are additional features I haven't tried yet e.g. MIDI in/out, Aux In etc. It's a well featured unit, easy to navigate.
BASS DRUM & BASS DRUM PEDAL
The supplied pedal looks like a low budget item, but works surprisingly well. Not quite as fast as my Tama Speedking but I find it perfectly usable for practice. The kick pad is mounted to a sturdy frame, separate to the rest of the rack.
The MPS-850 is supplied with a 'proper' hi-hat stand. On my acoustic kit I have the hi-hats set quite high and was pleased to find the stand has sufficient height to duplicate my normal hi-hat position. I've seen a few reviews saying the MPS-850 hi-hat can't handle a disco-style open and close pattern. I've found the hi-hat responds quite well but I've had to adapt my foot action slightly to get closer to a realistic sounding feel. So the hi-hat open/close feel's not perfect but it's much better than I was expecting based on other feedback I've read. The chick and splash sounds are very good. A nice sounding 'chick' is easy and very intuitive but a splash requires an extremely rapid down and up foot movement - much faster than required with a regular hi-hat, otherwise you only get 'chick'. It's not a big deal but I'll agree with some others that there's scope for improvement to the hi-hat's open/close response and chick action.
As with all the pads, stick response and feel from the mesh head is excellent. Initially I wasn't entirely happy with the sound of ghost notes and faster double stroke snare rolls - they sounded a little too machine-gun. After changing the snare's velocity curve in the module's settings I've now got a more natural sounding drum that handles double-stroke and other rudiment style rolls in a more realistic way.
They worked just fine straight out of the box. At first I found the 8 inch pads were too small - I was often hitting the rim - but after adjusting the position and getting used to playing pads that are much smaller than my acoustic kit's toms, my accuracy has improved greatly! I didn't have the same problem with the 2 x 10 inch pads.
Both crashes have separate bow and edge sounds. No bell sound. But they're also chokable, which is a great bonus. Once you've worked out exactly how to grab the edge in the right way, choke works perfectly every time.
It's a 3 zone ride - bow edge and bell. I've seen a few comments about the bell sound being unreliable, so I was prepared for this to be an issue. What I've found is the bell function will work consistently, but only if it's struck within a very small area i.e. you have to look very carefully at the spot you're striking, which can be difficult at faster tempos. If you were recording with the kit and needed 100% perfect bell response, that could be tricky. Ideally the bell area would be larger, but for practice purposes I don't find it a major problem.
RACK & MOUNTS etc
I've never been a fan of racks, or e-kits for that matter - that's why my first venture into e-drumming was an acoustic to electric conversion - because a conventional drum kit will always look better IMO. So setting aside the fact all racks look like scaffolding, the most important thing is whether the MPS-850 rack is sturdy and reliable. I've had my kit for approx 6 weeks and it's been played for an average of an hour almost every day. So far the rack has been 100% reliable. Nothing has come loose or fallen off. It was easy to assemble, following the diagrams in the supplied manual.
No doubt about it, the MPS-850 is outstanding value for money. To package such a well featured module along with bass drum (and BD pedal), snare, 4 x toms, 2 x crashes, 3-zone ride, hi-hat and hi-hat stand at this price is hugely impressive. The two supplied manuals are nicely done. One is for rack assembly and the other is a very detailed instruction book for the pads, cymbals and all module settings. I received two copies of each - one in German and one in English. Clear, concise and well written - not a hint of Chinglish!
After a couple of weeks, one of my 10" drum pads (floor tom) developed a fault. The drum would only respond if the mesh head was struck in a very specific area, close to one of the mesh cones that sits between the head and sensor. When I contacted Thomann and described the fault, they asked me to send a video so they could get a better idea of what the problem was. I sent them a short video the following morning. Later the same day they contacted me to let me know a replacement pad was being sent free of charge. Yes, a slight inconvenience having to wait for a replacement but very reassuring to know Thomann were keen to resolve it as quickly as possible. 10/10