Roland Electronic Drums
For decades now, the Roland company has been one of the world leaders when it comes to producing electronic drum kits. Roland electronic drums are suited to all level of player, from beginner to pro. In this article we will examine the kits offered by Roland and discuss their selling points.
Entry-Level Drum Sets
Most people who are new to drumming will be looking for a drum kit that is not too expensive and ticks the right boxes. If noise is an issue, many consumers will opt for an electronic drum set over an acoustic one as they can be played in practically every situation and at low volumes.
The TD-1K is one of Roland’s entry level drum sets. It’s a five-piece kit with one snare, a bass drum, three toms, a hi-hat, crash and ride cymbal. This kit suits those who are not looking to invest a huge amount of money. The TD-1K has rubber pads for the snare and toms, which are connected to the TD-1 drum module. If you prefer mesh for quieter and more realistic drumstick response, then you can purchase the TD-1KV which comes with a mesh snare head as standard.
The TD-1 module houses the sounds and songs that come with this drum kit. It contains 15 drum kits of differing styles, along with 15 songs and 10 drum coach functions. The sounds are adequate and should suit those who are not too discerning in their tastes.
The pads trigger each sample sound depending on how hard you strike them. The rims on this drum kit are not playable – you’ll need to spend a little more to get that feature.
The bass drum is not a pad, but a freestanding pedal that connects to the TD-1 module. The pedal works well, however might not suit some experienced drummers who prefer the feeling of a real bass drum beater.
The hi-hat is also a freestanding pedal, so there’s no hi-hat stand here. It works in conjunction with the hi-hat pad to produce different sounds. You can play open, closed and half-open hi-hat sounds with this setup.
The TD-1 module has some coach functions that will be of use to many drummers. You can test your timing by playing along with the metronome. The TD-1 display will give you feedback by use of the LCD screen, showing your playing as ahead, behind or right on the beat.
There are also 15 playalong songs which are great for broadening your skills on the instrument. You can choose from a list of song types, such as rock and funk anthems, which are all composed with different grooves in mind.
Each component sits upon a lightweight drum rack. This rack is minimal in design and quite easy to carry around. There is a small amount of wobble if you play heavily on the kit but nothing too drastic. Positioning of toms and cymbals is pretty limited in comparison to higher ended drum sets but you will be able to set this kit up for all aged players. Setting up the rack is quite easy too as it essentially consists of a handful of parts. The TD-1K is quite a portable kit but not as portable as the TD-4KP.
The TD-4KP has been specifically designed by Roland to be extremely portable. It’s around 50% more expensive than the TD-1K but has some unique features. The TD-4KP sits upon a super-lightweight rack that is ergonomically designed to be Roland’s smallest yet. It doesn’t look too small when set up, but this kit is deceptively flexible.
You can purchase a Roland carry bag which will actually hold the rack and pads when folded up correctly. A kit like this is tailor-made for the drummer on the move. Another space-saving feature is the bass drum on the TD-4KP. It is an actual drum pad, unlike the one bass on the TD-1K, but is situated on one of the rack legs, and therefore preserves the overall compact setup size.
The hi-hat on the TD-4KP has a similar design to the TD-1K hi-hat. It’s a free-floating controller pedal which connects to the TD-4 drum module. This module has more sounds than the TD-1 and a handy quick record function. This can be used to monitor your sound levels at live gigs or even save new drum beat ideas.
The TD-4 module has 25 drum kits with a total of 125 sounds. It also includes some of the coach functions that come with the lesser TD-1 module.
You can add muffling to each drum if you want to change the sound, and also there’s a tuning function which lets you adjust the pitch of each sample. Finally, you can plug your MP3 player in through the TD-4 module which makes playing along to your favorite tracks so simple and easy to do.
Mid-Range Drum Sets
The TD-11K is a mid-range kit from Roland and aimed at the step just above beginner level. With this kit you get a better standard of drum and cymbal pad along with higher quality drum samples. Roland also offer the TD-11KV, which is an upgrade to the TD-11K and has better features.
Sticking with the TD-11K for now though, it features a mesh snare head which provides better playability. This is a PDX-8, two-zoned drum which has a tunable mesh head. This head can be tightened or loosened, depending on your preference, to create a comfortable playing surface. The snare is connected to the drum rack and can be positioned and angled in any way you choose.
On the toms we have rubber pads which closer resemble the TD-1K and TD-4KP in look and feel. One of the features of the TD-11KV upgrade is that it comes with mesh heads on both snare and toms. Having mesh all around the drum kit makes for a much quieter playing experience and just feels more like you’re playing on real drum heads. There is more spring from these heads and this can be used to create multiple bounces with the stick.
On the bass drum you’ll notice that the free-floating pedal of old is gone and in its place is a proper pad. The KD-9 is an upright kick pad which can be used with any standard bass drum pedal. It has a smallish playing surface so is ideally suited to single pedals, but can accommodate some double pedals. It’s not extremely heavy duty but stays in place adequately during robust playing.
The TD-11K comes with a 5 inch hi-hat pad and two 8 inch cymbals, which can be assigned to a crash and ride, or any configuration of your choosing. Each pad is two-zoned, meaning it has a choke function. You can mute the sound instantly by gripping the outer edge of the cymbal. On the TD-11KV, you get bigger cymbals. The hi-hat remains the same size but the crash and ride are 12 and 13 inches respectively. This improved 13 inch ride is actually three-zoned so not only does it respond to chokes but also lets you play the bell for added sample triggering.
The TD-11 module has 190 sounds, 50 drum kits and 14 songs. There is also a 4-band equalizer and a number of Roland coaching tools to help you improve your playing. You get full connectivity with USB and MIDI for hooking up to your computer and there are a number of audio inputs and outputs. A stereo jack input lets you play music through the TD-11 module for practicing. There’s also a headphone output and an extra output for monitoring or to connect to a P.A. system.
The Roland TD-25K is a superior kit to both the TD-11K and the TD-11KV but it does have some similar traits. It’s about twice the price of a TD-11K but can usually be purchased for well under $2500. With the TD-25K you get better sounds and more of them with an improved drum module. You also get a vastly improved snare drum in the PDX-100.
The PDX-100 is a 10-inch two-zoned mesh head drum with better triggering than that of the TD-11K. The snare on the TD-11 series is a PDX-8, which is an 8-inch drum. The playing surface is actually less than that as the design of the drum means that there is an inner plastic ring that reduces the mesh surface slightly. With the PDX-100, the plastic ring is gone and the performance is improved. You can easily produce rim shots by playing the rim and drum head at the same time.
The TD-25 series comes with a VH-11 hi-hat which is a realistic looking cymbal pad. The VH-11 is a 12-inch pad that fits on any standard hi-hat stand. The pad uses sensors to detect what position the hi-hat is in, open, closed or in between, and triggers the sounds accordingly. The look and feel of a real hi-hat is one of the major pluses of the TD-25 series.
The TD-25K can be upgraded further to the TD-25KV. This is a fully mesh kit with better drum pads than on the TD-25K. In place of the PDX-8, PDX-6 toms you get PD-85BK and PDX-100 drums pads. These are bigger and better drums with a much better dynamic response. Expect this upgrade to cost around $800 – $900 on top of the standard TD-25K.
High-End Drum Sets
Roland have two series of drum sets at the top end of their catalog. There is the TD-30 series, which includes the TD-30K and TD-30KV kits, and the TD-50 series, which includes the TD-50K and TD-50KV. The TD-30 is a professional level drum set with a few added bonuses compared to the TD-25 series.
The TD-30 series has a mesh bass drum head which is large enough to work with any modern double bass pedal. It also has a new drum module in the TD-30, and more cymbals.
The TD-30 is one of the most sought after modules on the market today. It supports ‘advanced sensing technology’ and has a SuperNatural sound engine. This basically means that the TD-30 can better detect the levels of triggering coming from the connected pads, leading to a more nuanced and expressive playing experience.
One downside to the TD-30 Module is that it doesn’t allow you to import your own samples. A feature like this adds to the longevity of a kit as you can constantly be updating your sound banks. The TD-50 series has no such shortcomings. This module allows you to import you samples or songs in either Wav or MP3 simply using a USB stick.
When you have finished importing, you can then modify the sounds further by editing them on the module. Play with the tuning and add effects to create endless custom kits. The samples on board the TD-50 module are a unique to this unit. There are 100 drum kits with the ability to create and save your own. Roland have sampled many drum sets from top studios around the world in order to create this vast catalog of high quality sounds.
The TD-50KV is Roland’s flagship model and from certain angles looks like an actual acoustic drum set. The snare is mounted on a stand. The mesh bass drum is 14 inches in diameter. Even the wrap on each drum shell can be customized so as to get the finish of your choosing.
There are individual faders on the TD-50 module that allow you to instantly adjust the level of any drum. Also on the interface are controls for altering the tone and easily switching kits. The layout of the TD-50 module is extremely intuitive and not as fiddly as that of other modules. It’s certainly worthy to be crowned Roland’s flagship module.
The TD-1 series is ideal for beginners and drummers who need to play on a tight budget. If portability is key to you then you should take a look at the TD-4KP. It’s a bit more expensive but can easily be carried around. When it comes to mid-range kits it’s hard to look past the TD-25 series. You are looking at spending much more than on an entry-level kit, but you will gain critical, post-beginner features such as mountable hi-hats, bass drum pads, along with mesh heads. These are the type of features that make a kit more enjoyable to play in the long run. For big spenders and serious professionals, both the TD-30 and the TD-50 series are impressive and will hold their value.
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