Roland TD-11K Review
The TD-11K electronic drum set from Roland is a mid-range kit that caters to experienced drummers and those on a moderate budget. It’s a sleek and sturdy kit that features some new additional items that are unavailable with lesser kits such as the TD-4KP and the TD-1K.
What you should expect with the Roland TD-11K is higher quality drum sounds, a better quality build, some unique module extras and an overall better playability all round.
In this review we will take the TD-11K through its paces and see how it holds up to the scrutiny.
Who Should Buy the Roland TD-11K?
This kit is aimed at drummers who want an above-beginner standard of electronic drum set to allow them to practice any time and any place.
Drums, Pads and Other Hardware
Setting up the TD-11K is not exactly the easiest task you’ll ever complete but Roland do their best to make it as painless as possible. It’s immediately apparent that the build of the MDS-48 drum rack is of a far higher quality than the cheaper Roland options to date. The rack poles are strong and sturdy and that makes for a comforting playing experience.
When pieced together there are noticeable differences in this kit from the Roland TD-4KP drums. Most notably, gone is the leg-mounted bass drum trigger and in comes a separate standalone upright bass drum pad.
The new addition of this KD-9 bass drum will be music to the ears of many drummers. Not only will the KD-9 fit any single pedal perfectly, it can also be used on double pedals without any hassle.
The build and design of the KD-9 is typical of bass drum pads in this price range. There is a type of cloth head on the striking surface of the pad that makes for solid and comfortable playing.
Like many bass drum pads of this type, you will need to make sure you have appropriate flooring underneath. There are two spikes on the KD-9 that that provide extra traction and are ideally used with carpet or matted flooring. You don’t want to ruin your nice new oak flooring here so be warned!
The kit is a standard five-piece set-up with three cymbal pads. This is a typical setup used by Roland and in the case of this TD-11K, it doesn’t stop there. You can also plug in an extra drum pad or cymbal should you wish to increase your kit size.
The hi-hat on the TD-11K is yet again another freestanding pedal which connects directly to the TD-11 drum module. The hi-hat pedal is a FD-8 controller and functions with both front and back foot triggering, allowing you to open, close and even splash the hi-hat with your foot.
The hi-hat cymbal is comprised of a CY-8 cymbal pad mounted on a stand which fits easily on the MDS-48 drum rack. This hi-hat cymbal can be adjusted to suit your preferred feel. You can loosen the cymbal for a more absorbing response or instead tighten it to get a harder and tighter playing area.
The foot controller for the hi-hat has a range of sensitivity that allows for a varied stick response. Roland have made the pedal react to pressure and trigger different samples accordingly. You can play all the way from extremely tight to fully open and loose for more realism on the hats.
Samples can be reassigned, so if you like you can replace the hi-hat sample with another of your choosing. This means that if you do not have an actual double bass drum pedal, you can still use the FD-8 hi-hat controller to play in such a way. This is a neat feature which will surely be of use to many players. It also means you can easily switch between a single bass drum setup and a double bass drum setup without even moving a foot.
As well as assigning the FD-8 hi-hat to function as another bass drum, you can also use any other samples on the TD-11 drum module. There are a whole host of different percussion sounds to choose from should you wish to work on your independence. Cowbell, clave and woodblock are just some of the common uses of this type of reassignment allows for.
The snare that ships standard with the TD-11K is a fully adjustable mesh drum head, namely the PDX-8. This is a dual-trigger drum that functions just like a real drum in that you can alter the tension of the head by using a standard drum key.
The PDX-8 is a 10 inch drum made from a combination of plastic, rubber, metal and mesh. The playing area is closer to 8 inches in diameter due to a large-ish white plastic rim area on the inner side of the drum. The white mesh head is strong enough to withstand considerable playing force and also works well when tightened to various tensions.
Compared with the rubber pads on the toms, the feel of the PDX-8 is totally different. There’s a nice cushioning yet springy feel from the head which allows for multiple bounces and faster playing. Another nice feature of the PDX-8 mesh head is that it is compatible with rim clicks. This means you can assign the rim to play another sample that you might otherwise need for any particular song.
The tom pads that come with the TD-11K are Roland’s PD-8A model. They consist of a rubber pad with a plastic covering and connect to the drum module in a similar fashion. The PD-8A is a one-zone pad so is not as flexible as the mesh snare drum. They function well and the stick rebound is not as harsh as on many other electronic drum pads. That said, if you prefer to have a setup that incorporates mesh heads all over the kit, then you might be interested in Roland’s TD-11KV drum set.
Moving on to the cymbal setup and again, Roland have opted to supply three cymbal pads with the TD-11K. The default configuration is for one hi-hat, one ride cymbal and one crash cymbal. Naturally, should you wish to, you may at the flick of a button, switch the crash for another hi-hat, or any other pad for that matter.
The great thing about adding additional hi-hats to your setup is that they will automatically respond to the hi-hat controller pedal. You can even have one hi-hat in the usual position on the kit and another auxiliary hi-hat on a tom pad. This works especially well in alternative genres such as Drum and Bass, Techno and many other EDM styles.
The cymbal pad supplied is a CY-8. This is a dual-trigger or dual-zone cymbal. You can get a varying array of sounds just by playing in different areas of the cymbal surface.
The entire TD-11K setup, barring the KD-9 bass drum pad, sits comfortably on the MDS-4B drum rack. The design of the rack makes it primarily suited to a standard two toms upfront kind of configuration. There’s not a great deal of positioning options when it comes to tom placement but the whole drum kit is easily reversible should you need to set up for a lefthander. All in all the drum and cymbal mounts are strong enough to stay in place over many hours of hard playing, and that is of paramount importance.
On first use of the TD-11 drum module, it’s clear that Roland have made a huge leap up from the lower TD brain units. It features what Roland call a ‘supernatural sound engine’. The end result is that the module responds better to trigger input and produces kit sample sounds with more dynamics and more expression.
The unit itself is big but not too bulky and has a large enough display that is easily read from an upright sitting position at the drum set. It is easily positioned beside the hi-hat cymbal for ease of sight and use. The big dial in the middle is the main control of the unit which allows you to scroll through a myriad of drum kits, sounds, effects, songs and exercises included on-board the TD-11 module.
The selection of drum kits supplied is clearly a step up from either the TD-1 module or the TD-4. The kits sound fatter, clearer and of a higher quality. There are 50 drum sets to choose from spread over 190 sounds in total. There is something in there for everyone, including the usual jazz, pop and arena drum sets.
The jazz brush preset works particularly well with the PDX-8 mesh snare drum head. If you need more than the 50 supplied drum sets, you can always create and store your own new kits on the TD-11 module too.
To make your own drum kits on the TD-11 just select each drum sample and assign it to your chosen pad. Next you can make adjustments to the sounds such as tuning, muffling or adding an effect such as a reverb.
When you are happy with your new sound, you can store it in one of the empty preset spaces.
Tuning is a neat option that allows you to change the pitch of each drum or cymbal, much like the way a drum key will alter the sound of any drum head. If the bass drum you like is not low enough sounding, simply detune it slightly until you find the desired result.
Muffling is another sound editing tool introduced by Roland that allows you to either shorten or lengthen the sound of any sample. You can do pretty impressive things like add and remove snare buzz from each tom, one by one. This technique has amazingly realistic results when used properly. It can be hard to believe just how effective this kind of muffling can be when trying to realistically blend sounds on an electronic drum kit.
Loading your own sounds onto the TD-11 is just as easy too. You can take a basic USB stick and load your samples onto it and then upload them onto the module.
Here is a video link which demonstrates how easy it is to load in your own sounds to the TD-11 drum module:
Included in the drum module is an impressive catalogue of drummer resources such as a metronome, a coach mode, play-along songs and the option to hook up your own personal iPod or MP3 player.
The metronome works as standard and is adjustable using the large dial on the module face. You can also choose to have a voice metronome too, which is extremely helpful when playing in odd time signatures.
Coach mode has features such as ‘time check’ which is designed to improve your timing on the instrument. The display switches to a mode that visually represents where your rhythm and timing is in relation to the metronome click. You can set the time check to monitor your playing on any two pads but typically the default setting is configured to be used with bass drum and snare.
The TD-11 can also play MP3 and Wav audio file formats so you have options when ripping your favourite albums for play-along.
As far as outputs are concerned you have a standard output at the rear of the drum module which can be used for front of house mixes in live situations, or even as a monitor when practicing. On top of that you also get a separate headphone output which is convenient when trying to minimizing noise output on the kit.
The sounds on the TD-11 module are a big step up in quality from earlier models by Roland, such as the TD-1 and TD-4. The overall build of this drum kit is sturdier and looks like it will put up with more of the strains of gigging than the TD-4KP.
If you like mesh heads on all your drums, then the TD-11K will disappoint here. You might be better off looking at the TD-11KV instead, which offers mesh on snare and toms for less noisy and more comfortable playing experience.
Other Kits You Might Consider Instead
If mesh heads are not a concern to you, take a look at the Alesis Nitro. It’s the same setup as the TD-11K but not as pricey. On the other hand, if it’s fully mesh you want, Alesis also offer the Crimson II which does just that for a little above the price of a TD-11K.
For a couple of hundred more dollars, Roland offer the TD-11KV, which is a similar kit with not one but four mesh heads. It would certainly be worth trying out both before making a purchase.
It’s also highly recommended that you take a look at Yamaha’s DTX502 series, which, for a similar outlay of cash, can also be purchased with a mesh snare head.
The Bottom Line
All things considered, the TD-11K is an impressive drum set.