Roland TD-1KV Review
Roland have long been producing electronic instruments for the professional market. Their electronic drum sets range from beginner to professional. The Roland TD-1KV represents one their entry-level drum sets. We will cover the reasons why you should consider the TD-1KV when you go to purchase an electronic kit, along with the pros and cons.
Who Should Buy the Roland TD-1KV?
This kit is aimed at beginners and bedroom players. It’s not a professional level drum set nor does it claim to be. It will do fine for learning the ropes starting out as a drummer or as a convenient practice aid in noise restricted areas.
Drums, Pads and Other Hardware
The TD-1KV is a five-piece electronic drum set with value in mind. It comes fully furnished with everything you will need to play drums, except the sticks. The set-up of the kit is three toms, one snare, one bass drum, a hi-hat, a crash cymbal and a ride cymbal. Putting together the Roland drum rack was relatively easy and it came together over a coffee.
The rack is compact but supports the pads with ease. Positioning the cymbals could have been easier as they sit on quite short and thin stands. If you want to switch the drum set over for a left handed player you can easily do this by unplugging the relevant connections from each pad and reconnecting them where appropriate.
The TD-1 drum module is the same module that comes standard with the TD-1K kit. It sits centrally on the drum rack so it is easily accessible. Readjusting this drum set for small kids or big adults is no big deal. You can simply loosen the corresponding nuts to lower or heighten the bars that hold the pads. There is enough flexibility to suit most styles and setups.
The main selling point of the TD-1KV over the basic TD-1K is the inclusion of the PDX-8 mesh drumhead. This is the same drum that is used on Roland’s TD-11 series of V-Drums.
It allows for more sensitive playing and is far more responsive than the rubber pads that you’ll find on the rest of the kit.
If you prefer the realistic bounce of a mesh head, then this will come as an added bonus. The mesh head is tightened to the drumhead in the same way a normal acoustic drumhead sits on the rim of a drum. There are even drum lugs to tighten the mesh and Roland supply a drum key for this very task.
The trigger sensors sit below the mesh head and respond to the strength of each stick stroke. There is a far bigger range of response with the mesh head than a standard rubber pad head.
Click here to see the snare mesh head in action:
The hi-hat on the TD-1KV performs well for a lower price range V-Drum. You can get a nice open and closed sound from it as well as an in between half-open sound.
Controlling the hi-hat is done by using the foot pedal which is free floating. This pedal can easily be positioned where you want it, much like the bass drum pedal. Pressing on the front of the hi-hat pedal produces a standard hi-hat ‘chick’ sound while playing towards the back of the pedal produces a hi-hat splash sound.
The unusual thing about a set-up like this is that there is actually no physical hi-hat stand. Hi-hat stands have been a part of drum kits for over a century now and it can feel a little disjointed to not have one there supporting your hi-hat cymbals.
The pedal needs to be placed on an appropriate surface to ensure the minimum of slippage. Even with a regular hi-hat stand there can still be slippage so we shouldn’t be to critical here.
The action from the pedal is soft and kind of spongy. It doesn’t feel like this pedal would take much sustained abuse from a drummer who likes to use the full weight of his leg for each stroke.
The cymbals with the TD-1KV are dual-zoned. You can get a different sound from each pad depending on whereabouts you play it. The ride, crash and hi-hat can produce a vast array of different responses when played with various strengths and positions.
All cymbals are also chokable, meaning you can mute them simply by grabbing the outer edge. This is a nice feature especially if you are coming to electronic drums from a background of playing acoustic drums and cymbals.
The response from the ride and crash is a dull thud. This is ideal in that it creates the minimum of noise in the room but it doesn’t feel like a real cymbal, to be honest. It would be near impossible to recreate the genuine feel of a wooden stick on a metal cymbal using the materials provided. The cymbals are not perfect but for the money, it’s good enough.
The standard tom pads on the TD-1KV are the same as on the TD-1K. They’re made from a type of hard rubber and form a drum that is effectively rimless. There are no fancy rimshots or rim clicks to be had but the pads do their job adequately.
For beginners and players with little experience, these pads will be more than enough. If you are coming from playing a full acoustic kit setup and you value your rebound, then you might find the transition difficult. They give a far more harsh response than mesh heads and also produce a bit more in-room noise.
Most drummers have their tom heads tune lower than their snare. This means that the rebound from the toms will be much less than the snare. In this case the rubber pads on the toms actually give a harder response than the mesh snare head and this is another area where an electronic kit fails to live up to its acoustic counterpart.
The bass drum is ‘beaterless’ meaning exactly that. It has no beater or pad to play on. All the electronics required for processing your foot movements is contained in a small flat pedal which is around a foot in length.
The benefit of a pedal like this is that it’s easily placed in whatever position feels comfortable to you. In an ordinary acoustic drum kit setting, moving the bass drum pedal means moving the bass drum, which often involves moving the front toms and whatever cymbals are attached to it. In this case you need not worry about all that.
The pedal responds to light and heavy strokes and is very quiet. If you want to reduce the sound further you can purchase Roland’s NE-10 Noise Eater which is specifically designed to reduce the noise from V-Drum pedals. The NE-10 works on both bass drum pedals and hi-hat pedals and is particularly effective if you live in an apartment with people living below your practice room.
Examining the drum module in further detail shows us that it is easy to use and has no unnecessary faders or knobs. Roland have built the module with four main modes in mind. There is the initial drum kit mode where you can choose what sounds you’d like to play with. The TD-1 module comes with 15 different drum kits and they are quite impressive in sound quality.
The basic rock kit is a nice sounding kit with a fresh and lively snare along with warm but clear toms. The bass drum is fat with a nice attack and the cymbals blend well. There are 14 more kits to pick from including EDM style kits, Drum and Bass, Jazz and Percussion.
The coach function is another fine addition by Roland and it allows the user to improve playing in a number of ways. You can test yourself against the metronome and see how accurate you are. Maybe you want to work on playing ahead of the beat – there’s even a visual display to show how on or off time you are. Along with this tempo training there are rhythm exercises designed to improve syncopation and a play along section with a list of different tunes.
There are 15 songs in total on-board the TD-1 drum module and they are composed with the emphasis on drum accompaniment. You’ll find 15 different styles from rock to pop and more. It’s a great way to improve your sense of musicality by playing along with fully formed compositions and these tracks really work a treat. For an added help you can also choose to play with the metronome on or off.
The built-in recording mechanism is a nice touch to an already impressive drum module. Capturing a performance is as easy as the touch of a button. Playing back the recording is activated by pressing the plus button while in record mode. A feature like this comes in so handy when trying to get your sound right beforehand for a live performance. You can play a bit, record it, then play back the recording while you hop out front and hear how you sound to the audience. If only it were possible to do this with a normal acoustic drum kit!
This drum kit is also upgradable so if you want to add extra pads, you can. It also has room for a bass drum pad so if you’ve outgrown the beaterless pedal you can hook up your favourite pedal to a physical pad. This is a nice bit of foresight on Roland’s behalf.
The TD-1KV has MIDI which can be connected to any computer using USB. You can connect up to a whole host of different software such as Roland’s DT-1 Tutor, V-Drum Friends Jam, and also any of your personal favourite digital audio workstations (DAWs) on the market today.
Connecting to a DAW such as Cubase, Protools or Reaper is as easy as plugging in the USB cable. Any required drivers will be automatically installed and you can now use you TD-1KV as a MIDI controller. This is tremendously useful when you want to record drum tracks or overdub percussion.
The beauty of MIDI is that once the performance has been captured, you can then choose to swap and change drum sounds. So if you’ve played the track well but are not happy with the sample sounds, you can change them at a later date without any hassle.
With the TD-1K you get the added realism and comfort of a mesh head on the snare drum. This will save on your wrists and feels better to play too. The built-in tutorials are a bonus too.
The freestanding pedals that come with the hi-hat and bass drum will not suit experienced drummers. They don’t give the same feeling as you get with proper drum kit hardware. The bass drum pedal doesn’t feel like it can handle fully heel-up style bass drum technique and might be prone to breaking under force.
Other Kits You Might Consider Instead
For around half the price, you can purchase Alesis’ DM Lite electronic drum set, which has most of the features of the TD-1KV. There is no snare mesh head though so you can pay a little extra to upgrade here. Also the DTX-400K by Yamaha is a solid competitor to the TD-1KV. It’s a little more expensive but some customers prefer the sounds that Yamaha supply over Roland’s. It’s really a matter of taste so if you get the chance, try one out.
The Bottom Line
The TD-1KV is a great little kit for the money and is competitively priced. There are other kits out there with better sounds or better-built features but not many in the same price.
The pedals are a slight let down with this kit considering that is to be expected. Most beginners will be perfectly happy getting to grips on the TD-1 series pedals and at the end of the day, this kit does not claim to be a professional standard world-beater.
It’s a good kit for the money and will get you out of a hole if you’re itching to play with no space for a real drum kit. Such is the versatility of this drum set, anybody can play one, and it can easily be adjusted to suit youngsters and the elderly. If you’re in the market for a budget electronic drum kit, you could do much worse than choose the Roland TD-1KV.