Roland TD-1K Review
The TD-1K is Roland’s entry level electronic drum set aimed at beginners and players on a tight budget. It comes with everything you will need to get started on the instrument and a few extras too. Along with the cymbals and pads, you also get a TD-1 drum module which contains many varying styles of drum set and a host of handy drum tutorial accessories. It’s small and compact and has proven to be a popular kit among budding bedroom drummers. Let’s examine the Roland TD-1K in more detail.
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Who Should Buy the Roland TD-1K?
If you’re a drummer with no experience and you’re looking for a good starter kit, then you should definitely consider Roland’s TD-1K. It’s great value and, with good care, should last you a long time. On the other hand. if you’re an experienced player and are looking for a decent electronic practice kit, then you might want to get a good play of the TD-1K before you purchase.
There are several factors that could make you wish you went for a next in line option. The pads are hard rubber and not exactly silent when played. This may or may not be an issue for you but, either way, they are not up to the standard of mesh heads. The sounds and pad response, while admirable, lacks the dynamic range of higher end kits on the market. These are all aspects that experienced drummers will often find important when sitting down to play.
Drums, Pads and Other Hardware
The TD-1K is Roland’s entry-level electronic drum set aimed at beginners and players on a tight budget. It’s a neat five-piece set-up with bass drum, hi-hat, three toms, a snare pad and three cymbal pads. All pads are attached to a compact drum rack that easily folds away for storage after use.
Along with the selection of drum pads, you also get the Roland TD-1 drum module which will be providing the sounds and some other cool features.
As is common with many flat pack goods, setting up of the kit is not a thoroughly enjoyable task but is easily doable in under half an hour. The rack Roland have supplied with the TD-1K is designed to hold all drums and cymbals, along with the drum brain. The build of the rack is as simple as it gets, with no unwanted frills adding to the weight here. The cymbal arms are extremely lightweight but are up to the job of securing each pad in its place.
Mobility is not of paramount importance here but you should be able to position each drum and cymbal in most conventional positions. Likewise, setting up the kit for left handed players will not cause much fuss as it functions just as well symmetrically. Included in the box is a power supply, a warranty and set-up instructions and also every cable you’ll need to allow you to connect each drum and cymbal pad up to the TD-1K module.
The three cymbal pads are typically assigned to hi-hat, ride cymbal and a crash cymbal. They are each the same size and consist of a circular piece of plastic with roughly ⅓ of it making up the rubber playable section.
Each cymbal pad is dual-zoned, meaning you can get different sounds from where you strike. Play closer to the center of the surface and you will get a natural ride ‘ping’. Play in the same position but with more force and you’ll get a typical ride bell sound. Moving the stick to the outer edges you can hear a noticeable change in response from the pad. It’s easier to get more of a washy, crashy sound from the ride in this way.
On top of this impressive action, you can also choke each cymbal to mute the sound. Simply grabbing the outer edge of the cymbal triggers the muting effect, which is great for songs with lots of staccato punctuation.
Moving on to the hi-hat, we notice that there is no orthodox hi-hat stand, rather a freestanding pedal which is connected to a hi-hat cymbal pad. The hi-hat cymbal is unlike any orthodox one in that it is made from just one pad, not two cymbals. It might take some getting used to if you are familiar with a moving 2 part hi-hat of an acoustic set, but for the most part it’s easy to get to grips with.
The pad itself is adjustable by a small knob on top that allows you to either tighten or loosen, depending on your preference.
As mentioned, the hi-hat pedal is separate from the main drum rack so it can be positioned in any place that is comfortable for you to play on. When placed on a mat or carpet, the pedal works well and is also dual-functioning in nature. Pressing on the pedal with the front of the foot activates the typical hi-hat close effect. Pressing with the heel will give a hi-hat splash effect which adds to the realism of the experience.
The tom and snare pads are all equal in size and build. The response is admirable with the pads responding to quite a wide range of stroke velocity. The makeup of each pad is robust with a rubber-type surface. Playing on this surface is similar to most drum practice pads. It’s perfectly enjoyable and the pads appear to be able to withstand some wear and tear. That said, the response from the pad is harder than a typical V-Drum mesh head so if you want quality in this department, maybe you should consider upgrading.
Just like the hi-hat, the bass drum pedal is free floating and not attached in any way to the main drum rack. This can be advantageous when switching between different sized players such as in a music school or live performance. The pedal is touch responsive and has a wide dynamic range which can also be tweaked using the TD-1 drum module.
The sound module is very easy to use and basic in nature. The layout of the interface is minimalistic and to the point. It’s very straightforward to scan through the different built-in drum sounds and extras.
Navigating to the main four modes on the module is done through the ‘select’ button. Mode 1 is for choosing a drum kit sound. There are 15 in total and you can find which one suits your situation best by using the handy ‘+’ and ‘-’ buttons. Kit sounds range from pop and rock to jazz and metal and even some electronic offerings such as drum and bass.
All in all the sample selection provided by Roland is very good and performs well in conjunction with the pad responses. Among the 15 selected drum sets on show there’s even a percussion kit, complete with tambourine, bongos, conga and more.
To take a listen to some of the TD-1K’s sound samples click here:
Mode 2 on the TD-1 module is all about the metronome. Again, the plus and minus buttons help you adjust the tempo here. You can hold down both buttons to skip through the tempos quickly. The features on the metronome are above the basic timekeeping functions. You can choose from different time signatures, such as 4/4, 6/8, 5/4, 12/8 etc. and even change the main note value to ¼ note, 8th note and 16th. Also adjustable are the level of the metronome and the actual guide sound. For example, just some of the other sound options are cowbell, clave and a regular click.
Mode 3 is the ‘coach’ function which is a series of features designed to help improve your timing and overall musicality. ‘Time Check’ is a great exercise aimed at improving your inner clock. You can choose a tempo and play along with any beat of your choosing.
The TD-1K drum module will listen and analyse your playing to determine how you are faring. Should you have a proneness to playing ahead of the beat you can instantly see the feedback on the LCD screen. This over-eagerness is displayed with a small line to the right of center. Conversely, laying back behind the beat will be indicated on screen with a line to the left of center.
Locking into the beat and playing perfectly right on the click is indicated by a large ‘0’ smack bang in the center of the display. This is an invaluable tool for creating and honing your skills as a drummer and musician. Playing ahead and behind the beat are tools often called upon by professional drummers to affect the overall feel of any given song.
‘Change Up’ is another feature of coach mode and it deals with rhythmic groupings. The objective of the exercise is to improve your accuracy when changing from different note values on the kit. Set the tempo to your choosing and move from ¼ notes to 1/8th notes to 16ths and even triplet note groupings. This mode will monitor your accuracy and give feedback so that you can improve.
There’s also recording capabilities built into the coach mode. This useful feature lets you jam along to the metronome and listen back later. At the touch of a button you can capture a solo performance, which is especially useful when used as an aid in teaching.
Finally, mode 4 is the ‘song’ mode that has 15 different songs, which are designed to be used as play-along aids. Each song differs in style and tempo providing a unique time signature and groove for you to practice and hone your skills.
On top of all the built-in drum module extras, you can also hook up the TD-1K to a PC or Mac to avail yourself of software such as Roland’s V-Drums Tutor. Full MIDI connectivity is also available through standard USB, and installation is extremely easy.
The main pro of the TD-1K is how it is ideally suited to beginner drummers. The handy play-along and timing exercises will prove to be worthwhile tutorials to improve skill on the instrument. They will also save some spending on actual drum lessons.
The pad response from the TD-1K is quite harsh due to the rubber pads on the toms, bass drum and snare. This is perfectly fine for beginners though and will only be frustrating to those with experience of a real acoustic drum set. There is no comparison really between a proper ply drumhead and these pads but that’s one of the things you compromise on with entry-level electronic kits.
Other Kits You Might Consider Instead
Both the Alesis DM Lite and Yamaha DTX-400K are worthy competitors to the TD-1K and offer some similar features. Each kit comes equipped with the same rubber-style pads in a five-piece setup. Out of the two, the DM Lite is great value and cheaper than both the Yamaha and Roland equivalents, so definitely worth checking out.
The Bottom Line
All in all, the TD-1K is an impressive bundle and will suit many young players or those who are new to the instrument. It has a lot of cool exercises that will keep many a budding drummer busy.
The sounds, while not being close to the best available, are adequate for a kit in this price bracket.
Playing on the TD-1K will take a bit of adjusting if you are coming from a real acoustic kit set-up. One thing you will notice is how everything responds differently from a real drum kit. There is no hard metallic ping from the cymbals. There are no rims on any drum for which to play rimshots or rim clicks. There is no bass drum beater to play with attack settings and rebound. The hi-hat is static and not as fluid as a real hi-hat stand and cymbals.
These are all reasons why an electronic kit might be inferior to an acoustic kit. That said, there is a wealth of advantages to a kit like this. The convenience of such a small set-up means that it can be placed practically anywhere around the house. The headphone input means you can play at all hours without bothering anyone. The built-in metronome function saves you shelling out even more money on such a device. The coach function will keep you busy working on your rhythm and timing.
There’s enough there to master that equates to several hours of drum tuition alone. The record feature lets you listen back and learn from your playing. You can easily spot points in your playing that appear sloppy but are hard to hear when in the act of playing.
Being able to playback your performance means that you can audibly tell where you need to improve. With all the criticisms on board, Roland have still come up with a product to be proud of, and one that will seriously rival its competitors.