Roland TD-30K Review
Contrasting Roland’s TD-30K drum set with previous models such as the TD-25K, you’ll notice that there are a number of big changes. The drum sizes are bigger. The cymbal pads are bigger. The drum rack has been upgraded. There’s a totally new module with over 1000 sounds. So does the TD-30K live up to its hefty price tag? Let’s take a look.
Who Should Buy the Roland TD-30K?
This is a professional standard electronic drum set. It’s ideally suited to live playing, studio recording or as the house kit in a music school. It’s extremely adaptable and can suit all size players from kids to adults. The internal cabling feature with the new MDS-50K drum rack means the TD-30K is a very portable kit. That’s great news for those planning on gigging with this kit.
Drums, Pads and Other Hardware
The TD-30K ships with a fully mesh set-up which comprises of a 12 inch snare, a 12 inch bass drum pad and three 10 inch tom pads. There are four cymbal pads which can be assigned to any combination of hi-hat, crash or ride cymbal.
The bass drum is a KD-120BK and a notable improvement on the earlier KD-9. It’s a far bigger drum and the unit is weighty and solid. The addition of the mesh head means it’s now possible to get a fully immersive real-feel from a Roland electronic drum set. Like all Roland mesh heads, it is fully tunable with a drum key, so you will have no issues finding the right tension for your preference.
The 12 inch diameter of the drum also means that it can comfortably fit any double bass drum pedals out there, regardless of beater size. The mesh head also means you have to be a bit more careful with your beater selection. Unlike the earlier, harder rubber-type pads, this head could possibly tear with abuse. For best results, use a large, flat beater head and stay away from anything that is too pointed or has hard edges.
The snare on the TD-30K is a 12 inch PD-125BK which is fully mounted onto the accompanying drum rack. The increase in drum size is not the only difference here between this drum and the PDX-100 that came with the TD-25KV. There is increased sensitivity and improved triggering throughout the drum. Combined with the TD-30 module, this drum really shines.
The bigger playing area means more dynamic possibilities depending on where you play and how hard you strike. The rim on the PD-125BK feels nice to play on and gives a nice rebound without being too noisy. It’s also far easier to pull off techniques such as rim clicks with this larger sized drum.
The pads that make up the other three toms on the TD-30K are all the same 10 inch PDX-100’s which function as a snare on the TD-25KV model. Roland have redeveloped the mesh heads here for better response and playability.
The hi-hat that comes with the TD-30K is the VH-11. This is the same hi-hat that came with both the TD-25K and TD-25KV Roland kits. It’s a 12 inch, dual-zoned cymbal which is designed to fit onto a regular hi-hat stand. By securing the clutch, this one cymbal V-Drum hi-hat will function just like a normal one. The VH-11 responds to different pedal positions. It can tell if the pedal is fully open or closed and will trigger a sound accordingly.
There are four cymbal pads supplied with the TD-30K, including the hi-hat. The other three are made up of a ride and two crash cymbals. The ride is the new and improved 15 inch CY-15R. Also included is a CY-13R and a CY-12C, both of which can be assigned as crashes or auxiliary cymbals. All cymbals are highly sensitive and chokable. The CY-15R is far more responsive than the CY-13R which is necessary in a ride pad. It’s also considerably larger in size which makes for a better feel.
The MDS-50K drum rack is the same rack that Roland supply for their flagship TD-50K model. It’s a very solid rack and this becomes apparent when playing on the kit with much force. There’s very little wobble or any kind of movement in general when playing the TD-30K. It’s also surprisingly easy to fold away. Roland have obviously kept this in mind when designing the rack. It makes setting up and taking down at gigs a much more pleasant affair.
There are ball joints all over the MDS-50K which means the pads are easily positioned for playing on. You can angle toms very quickly and without too much fuss. This is a huge bonus if you plan on using the TD-30K to give drum lessons on. Also when it comes to the cymbals, the stands provided are of a high quality and make for a very solid playing experience. The main feature of the MDS-50K is that it allows all connecting cables to be stored internally in the rack itself. This makes for a much tidier setup and means the kits is extremely portable.
As standard, the TD-30K does not ship with either a hi-hat stand, a bass drum pedal or a drum throne. You might find some online stores will go some way to sweeten the deal by adding in such extras.
The TD-30 drum module is a big selling point of this electronic drum set. It comes with 1100 sounds spread over a range of drum kit styles. There’s the usual selection of drum sets including rock, pop, metal, fusion and even a few unusual ones like rockabilly and jungle.
The range of sounds on the TD-30 module has increased over five times from the TD-25. In fact, along with all the new drum kits samples you actually get the full array of TD-25 sounds included as standard.
As well as a huge selection of drum and cymbal sounds, you can also create and store your own custom drum kits. One huge benefit of the TD-30 is its ability to offer unique sound control features. Every aspect of the drum sound is adjustable, and easy to do so.
You can change the drum head type from a list of Remo standard heads. Choose from clear batter heads to pinstripe or any other popular drum heads. Next you can tune each drum so that it fits sonically with the rest of your kit. Tuning is a quick and easy way to create new and unique drum sets on the TD-30 module.
There are even options to alter the drum dimensions themselves. You can scroll through the different shell types and shell depths in order to find the one that best suits. This range of customization is not limited to the toms and snare. You can also change aspects of each bass drum sample. From beater type to drum head to the width and depth of the drum, it’s all instantly customizable.
Each cymbal sample on the TD-30 can also be customized to your liking. You can easily tune up or down a ride or crash to create unique hybrid sounds. Further customizing can be done by adding rivets to cymbals – right down to the number of individual rivets!
The amount of editing features at your disposal with the TD-30 means that it will keep you entertained for years. There are also ‘VEX-packs’ available to download on Roland’s website. These packs are new and unique tweaked drum kit collections that can be imported to the TD-30 module for a freshen-up. To learn and master all the editing features can take some time, so have patience with the module and it will show its worth.
When you have played around with the TD-30 for some time you’ll more than likely end up with several kits worth of new drum and cymbal sounds, each totally unique to your module. The TD-30 module’s flexibility when it comes to customization is a necessary benefit as the module has one major downside. It’s not possible to load on your own samples to the unit.
Why Roland chose to forego the inclusion of such a vital and useful feature is a mystery. Being able to load and store your own drum samples effectively means that you can keep your sound sources up to date. The only alternative here is perhaps hooking the TD-30K up to your computer for use with a digital audio workstation (DAW) and virtual studio technology (VST) drum package, but this in turn means more unnecessary spending.
It’s equally baffling that Roland have included the option to load your own samples onto the cheaper TD-25 module. The TD-25 comes with 200 sounds in comparison to the 1100 on the TD-30K, but still most users would like the option to play with a handy and fun feature like this. Given that this feature appears again on the advanced TD-50 module it begins to look like Roland had planned this all along. If this is an important aspect of electronic drums to you, then be forewarned.
The TD-30 has the usual array of inputs and outputs, allowing for easy hooking up to front of house and monitoring. There’s the standard stereo headphone jack input which will be the main source of sound for most users. You also have MIDI in and out, two mono jack outputs and a digital out.
On the face of the TD-30 module are sliders to allow you to adjust the volume of each instrument. This is incredibly handy and saves you scrolling through the menu settings on the display.
On the back of the module there are eight direct outs for each instrument. This gives you the option of sending individual sound sources to a mixing console for further mixing. You can also plug a foot controller in so as to be able to quickly change settings on the TD-30. After plugging the foot controller pedal in, you then assign it to a function. This can be used for adding or removing effects on your drum kit or even changing selected kits between songs.
A handy feature of the module is that it allows you to hook up to your iOS device for wireless recording. Simply plug the Bluetooth USB port into the back of the TD-30 and download the Roland app onto your iOS device. This will now allow you to record your performances instantly to your phone, tablet or iPod. Unfortunately this option is only available on iOS and there are no plans to make it Android friendly.
For a more information on all the TD-30K features, take a look at this video:
There’s no doubt that the inclusion of a fully mesh bass drum head means that this kit has better playability than the TD-25K. There are also many more inputs on the TD-30 module so if you’re thinking of expanding your setup, that’s no problem.
One major flaw with the TD-30K is the fact that the module won’t let you add your own sounds. There was hardly any need for Roland to omit such a useful feature and only means that some customers will feel the need to fork out for the superior TD-50 module.
Other Kits You Might Consider Instead
Other kits in this price bracket are the Alesis Strike Pro and Yamaha’s DTX760K. Both kits are fully mesh with the Alesis having the bigger drum sizes. It has drum sizes from 8 inches all the way up to 14 inches for optimum realism. Both kits offer over 1000 built-in sounds and go one better than the TD-30 by offering the ability to load your own samples. Definitely worth comparing and contrasting all three and in most stores you will find that the TD-30 is the more expensive.
The Bottom Line
As a professional level electronic drum kit, there aren’t many better than the TD-30K by Roland. It has pretty much everything that most drummers will require from a V-Drum setup and is a joy to play on. The TD-30 module is very user friendly but hides a wealth of customizable features. The quality and portability of this kit will make it extremely popular but it is a touch on the expensive side.