Roland TD-30KV Review
The TD-30KV is the second in line only to Roland’s TD-50 series as their flagship model. Since their announcement in 2012, the TD-30K and TD-30KV were long seen as the pinnacle of what could be done with electronic drums. It’s only since the recent release of the TD-50K and TD-50KV that this drum set was knocked off the number one spot.
Just because it’s not the flagship model anymore does not mean that it is irrelevant though. The TD-30KV offers some of the most sought after and unique features ever to grace electronic drums. The shift in Roland’s chart position hasn’t affected its price tag much either. More expensive than the newer TD-50K, and its hefty price tag doesn’t include everything you will need to actually play this kit, i.e. certain essential hardware such as stands. In this review we will take a look at what makes the TD-30KV such a successful and sought-after kit.
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Who Should Buy the Roland TD-30KV?
An electronic drum set of this level is primarily aimed at professional drummers who need versatility in their kit sounds. The TD-30 can switch and shift so that you can play a rock song one minute and then automatically change to an EDM-type track. You’ll see kits like this being used on high-end gigs with artists such as Shakira where the beat is an essential part of the song.
Drums, Pads and Other Hardware
Out of the box, the Roland TD-30KV is an impressive specimen. With its metallic gray cymbal pads and the black-chrome finish on each drum, it’s a look that means business.
Visually, the whole drum set resembles a real acoustic kit more than anything previously produced by Roland. The cymbals are bigger and have a sheen that gives them the look of genuine metal cymbals. The pads are deeper and look like standard, shallow drums. They are also customizable with different shell wraps so you can even choose to stand out from the others. But the difference with the TD-30KV and previous kits is not purely cosmetic. There are some major sound and design improvements too.
The snare on the TD-30KV is a PD-128S-BC V-Pad. It’s a 12 inch dual-zone mesh drum head with added sensitivity and dynamic response. Roland have realized that many professional drummers, while being big fans of V-Drums, often opt to use a real acoustic snare drum instead of the snare pad. This has lead to a greater focus on pad response including all areas of the drum head and the rim too.
The PD-128S-BC is an astonishing piece of engineering. The levels of triggering are vastly superior to the PDX-100 that comes as standard with the TD-25KV. Roland have created a drum triggering system that will respond to unique playing styles and different playing techniques. It can even tell the difference between open and closed rolls. This is due to Roland’s unique behavior modeling.
Buzz rolls on snare drum are easily played and the TD-30 module uses interval control to avoid the common and much despised ‘machine gunning’ that has long been associated with many unnatural sounding electronic drums.
When playing a simple single stroke roll on the PD-128S-BC, it’s clear that this pad and module combination is tricking the ear into believing that you’re playing a real drum. Part of this impressive sleight of hand is due to the alternating use of sample sounds, meaning that you won’t hear the same sound twice. The net result is that it sounds like real two handed playing as opposed to predictable triggering.
On the outside edge of the snare there is also a new rim sensor. This new rim has some added features that also make it a cut above the PDX-100. It will respond to both deep and shallow rim shots. This is especially impressive when playing on the toms.
The TD-30KV is actually a six-piece drum kit with four cymbal pads. That means one snare, one bass drum, and four toms. The two smaller front toms are both 10 inch PD-108-BC’s which function in the same manner as the larger snare.
On top of this you also get two 12 inch PD-128-BC drum pads to play as floor toms. The toms have the same new rim technology and mesh response so you can get a wide range of realistic sounds from each drum depending on where you play. This ranges from actual rim hits all the way to deep and powerful rimshots. Each tom is also fully tunable tension-wise, meaning you can get a more realistic playing experience. The drums are very flexible in this way and the TD-30 module has no problems triggering with either loose or tight tension on each mesh head.
The hi-hat on the TD-30KV consists of the VH-13-MG controller and pad. This is another big step up by Roland from the previous VH-11 hi-hat controller. It has a fully rubber playing surface that feels quite natural to play on and gives a good stick bounce.
The VH-13-MG has a wide dynamic range when played in between open and closed. This hi-hat is regarded as one of the best in its field and easily competes with anything Yamaha, Pearl or Alesis have to offer.
The cymbal pad contains a high definition motion sensor for smooth transitioning when playing open to closed on the hi-hat. With the hi-hat in a fully open position and by tapping the top of the pad, you can clearly hear one cymbal sound. Gradually closing the hi-hat allows you to hear the gradual shift in the sound produced. The new sensor creates a very realistic response and is impressively nuanced. Extra sensitivity here gives drummers more control over what they play.
There are four cymbals with the TD-30KV including the aforementioned hi-hat. You also get two crash cymbals and a ride cymbal. The crash cymbals are both the CY-14C-MG model, which is a 14 inch metallic finish pad.
Cymbal swells with this pad are stunningly accurate. It plays much like a regular crash cymbal with the benefit of no noise production.
The ride cymbal is a CY-15R which is a 15 inch, three-zoned cymbal pad. It has the usual triggering in three places, namely the edge, the center and the bell.
Playing on this cymbal is extremely satisfying as it works with the TD-30 module to vary sample sounds in order to create that natural real sound feel. There is positional sensing on the ride pad surface so it has potential to respond in ultra-realistic and expressive ways to every playing style.
Moving onto the kick drum, we have the KD-140-BC. This is a fully mesh bass drum pad with an enlarged batter head. This 14 inch pad offers more space for large and awkward double bass pedals and beaters.
It’s a solid pad with a very natural response. It’s fully tunable so you can set it to a tension that better represents your own acoustic bass drum.
The mesh head will need some care and consideration though as it will only take so much use and abuse. Be careful with the beater head you choose to play on here as it is possible in some instances to tear the mesh head. It is for this reason that Roland have supplied their own unique plastic beater which is tailor made to suit the KD-140-BC perfectly.
Each drum pad and cymbal pad resides on the MDS-25 drum rack. This rack is rock solid and is weight-balanced in design. The mounts on the rack are improved for more mobility and a more flexible setup. A nice feature of the MDS-25 is that it will protect all your cable connections with the use of a protective rubber sleeve.
The build of the TD-30 drum module is solid. It’s strong and robust enough to take the odd knock which tends to be inevitable when used in live gig settings and on the road. Like the drum pads, Roland have a good reputation when it comes to building their products to last, especially when it comes to the higher end drum kits.
The TD-30 is an extremely sought-after module in the electronic drum world. It has the usual array of drum kit selections and all recorded in painstaking detail. There are jazz, rock, pop, Nashville, electronic, percussion and even orchestral among the kits you can choose from. The standard rock and pop kits are staggeringly convincing in their realism, especially when hooked up to the super-responsive pads.
Take a listen to some of the drum kits on the TD-30 module:
Each drum and kit can be modified individually or as a group. You can tune, muffle and edit each drum sound sample to your liking and store them as new instruments. Also included in the TD-30 module is a wide selection of post effects such as reverb, EQ, distortion, auto-wah and a number of others.
Every drum and cymbal sample can be enhanced and modified by overlaying additional samples on top. Some very useful applications of this technique are placing a tambourine on hi-hat foot strokes, or adding handclaps to the snare drum.
As if that isn’t enough, there are also a multitude of room sound options. The TD-30 module comes with a dedicated “Ambience” fader with new room-ambience and various mic simulations. At the slide of a fader, ambience can be added or removed for either a wet or dry drum sound respectively. Wall texture can be also altered so as to affect how the drum resonates and reverberates in its environment.
The TD-30 module has built-in sequencer that can play back MP3 or Wav. This handy feature also includes time-stretching so you can alter your audio tracks to suit any tempo you like.
On the front of the TD-30 you have clean and clear controls for effects, sound options and individual control faders for each connected pad. This is a huge plus and saves you messing around with fiddly displays and folders.
On the back of the module there are input and outputs for monitoring and play-thru. The four auxiliary trigger jack inputs allow for further expansion of the TD-30KV. These inputs allow you to add another cymbal or tom pad to increase your musical options.
There is a USB port for backing up your data or importing audio tracks and samples. You can use either Wav or MP3 here. There is also another USB for hooking the TD-30KV up to your desktop and digital audio workstation (DAW).
Along with the USB ports there is a MIDI in and out connection which means the TD-30KV can be used to control virtual studio technology (VST) instruments such as ‘EZ Drummer’.
This is an incredible kit with much emphasis on realistic playability and high quality drum sound reproduction. The TD-30 module works really well with the extremely sensitive drum pads and cymbals to create a pleasurable playing experience. Extra sensors on each pad means the trigger response is far superior to the TD-25K and TD-25KV.
There’s no doubt that this kit is a luxury buy for most people. It’s more expensive than most top-end acoustic drum kits – which takes into account hardware, stands and cymbals. The real benefit of the TD-30KV is that it provides multiple studio quality drum kits in one with real-life acoustic set playability. The price is very restricting to those with deep pockets only. Plus, on top of the hefty price tag, you will be shelling out for a hi-hat stand, a snare stand and a bass drum pedal.
Other Kits You Might Consider Instead
If you have the budget you could look towards Roland’s TD-50K and TD-50KV line of kits which offer more of the same with some additions. Some of these additions are bigger drum sizes and the new TD-50 drum module, which has even more bells and whistles than the TD-30, quite literally!
The Bottom Line
As far as electronic drum sets go, the Roland TD-30KV is up there with the best. It has more recently been surpassed by the introduction of the TD-50 series but still holds up as a world class kit with some unique features that will appeal to many. The only reason you won’t see more people playing on this drum kit is mainly down to the costly price.