Roland’s incredible lineup of Electronic Drums is a result of the company’s longstanding commitment to product innovation and delivering musicians the tools they need to pursue their goals and passion for making music. In this Spotlight feature we decided to look at the Roland Electronic Drum Set series, known as V-Drums, and discover how they became the industry standard by exploring the history of Roland, the technological breakthroughs that have continued to set V-Drums apart from other electronic kits, and provide some guidance on which V-Drum kit is best suited for your needs, goals and enjoyment.
Roland was founded by Ikataru Kakehashi who first got interested in music while working at his Kakehashi Radio electrical appliance store. In 1954, Kakehashi also began repairing electronic organs, which quickly inspired him to experiment with building prototype organs of his own. This led to the formation of Kakehashi’s first musical instrument company named Ace Electronics (later renamed Ace Tone) in 1960. During the next decade, a long line of RHYTHM ACE all transistor drum machines were produced including the iconic FR-1 RHYTHM ACE as well as several models of organs, pedal effects, amplifiers, and early synthesizers. In 1972, Kakehashi officially founded the Roland Corporation and released Roland’s first product, the TR-77 drum machine. Just a few years later the CR-78, which was Roland’s first microprocessor -driven programmable drum machine, was unveiled. The CR-78’s distinct sound was a signature part of Phil Collin’s 1981 hit, “In the Air Tonight” in addition to being featured on countless other major tracks of the era. Other early notable Roland instruments included the SH-1000 Synthesizer (the first commercial synthesizer in Japan), the RE-201 Space Echo, the JC-120 Jazz Chorus guitar amp, and the BOSS CE-1, the first ever Chorus pedal.
Roland has been dedicated to designing groundbreaking Electronic Rhythm Products from the beginning. Their long line of innovative drum machines from the CR-78, to the iconic TR-808, to the TR-909 (Roland’s first drum machine to combine digital samples along with analog drum sounds) have helped defined genres and has impacted the styles of countless music creators. The TR line continued through the 80’s including the TR-707 and TR-727, and the revolutionary R-8, which included feel patches meant to evoke a human-like groove. The R8 was also renowned for its great feeling pads and the ability to integrate external sound cards to expand your options. In 1985 Roland debuted the PAD8 OCTAPAD, a multipad MIDI controller designed to be played with sticks and trigger other MIDI instruments. The OCTAPAD became a fixture with both studio and live drummers in the 1980’s as they could trigger virtually any MIDI device available, from drum machines, to synthesizers and samplers. The first wave of Roland’s own samplers surfaced in 1986 with the S-50 and S-10 Sampling Keyboards and the MKS-100, a rack mount module version of the S-10 keyboard. The S-50’s operation was simplified by connecting an external CRT monitor to navigate the parameters as well as waveform display and editing. Throughout the 80’s and 90’s Roland produced many samplers, mainly rack modules including the S-220 and the popular S-550 and S-760 samplers.
The Conception and Birth of V-Drums
Although an electronic drum kit based around the DDR-30 Digital Drum Module was introduced in the mid 1980s it wasn’t until 1987 when Roland made a substantial impact with the ROLAND MIDI PERCUSSION SYSTEM. The MIDI percussion system was based on the PM-16 trigger to MIDI interface which featured triangular pads that incorporated multi-zone (the rubber “head” and sides of the pad) in order to trigger multiple sounds. In 1992 Roland made history again by releasing the TD-7KE Compact Drum System, the first complete electronic drum set that used all electronic components including cymbal pads and an electronic hi-hat. Five years later, the V-Drum line was officially born with the release of the TD-10 V-Drum kit with mesh snare/toms and Roland’s COSM technology.
Roland has continued to work on incorporating new technologies and features for V-Drums since its birth in 1997.One of the most important innovations is the dual-ply mesh heads which have become very popular for their acoustic feel, durability, quiet sound and the ability to tension the heads with a standard drum key just like an acoustic drum. The triggering system is also unique, utilizing a foam cone that touches the center of the head for even and consistent triggering across the surface of the pad. The user interface is both easy and intuitive with icons that help streamline your ability to edit sounds. This straightforward user interface is especially crucial on flagship models that offer you the ability to create your own kits and edit specific details of each component of the kit. The sounds are very dynamic and expressive and change naturally, responding to traditional drumming techniques. For example, when your playing a crash cymbal, as you strike harder, the sound changes in tone naturally rather than standard electronic drum kits that only offer variations of volume.
V Drum Sound Creation Process
All acoustic drums, cymbals and percussion instruments found in the drum brain begin with digital recordings (samples) of various instruments that are captured in professional recording studios. The samples are recorded at different dynamic levels (soft to hard) and on different places on the instrument (edge, center, etc.). The drum instruments range from vintage to modern, with different shell materials, diameters and depths. The same attention is given to the cymbal sounds to capture the nuances of each individual cymbal. With Roland’s proprietary sound editing technology, the sounds are broken down into partials or segments where the individual characteristics of each instrument is maintained even with editing (shell depth, head type, strainer tension, muffling, cymbal diameter, etc.). For example, if you tune the pitch of a snare drum up or down, even to extreme levels, the snare buzz is maintained without being effected by pitch. With many conventional sampled sounds, the pitch or other nuance of the entire instrument would change unnaturally. With Roland’s V-Edit system even a modest change in the sound results in a natural sounding and instrument.
What Roland V-Drum Kit is Best For You?
Roland’s impressive lineup of Electronic Drum Kits makes it easy to find a great kit regardless of your experience level and budget. Lets explore some of the latest options available to you.
Roland’s TD-1DMK Double Mesh Kit starts you off with 15 preset drum kits featuring realistic, expressive drum sounds, and 15 built-in rhythms. Thanks to its double mesh technology, the kit provides an authentic feel for any drummer playing in any style. The two layers of mesh are not only sound-absorbing to silence the hardest of hits, but they’re also tension-adjustable, and have a natural, riveting rebound that’s comparable to an acoustic kit. Plug in your headphones and play as long as you want without bothering anyone around you. When you want to share your sound, plug in a pair of monitor speakers. -Either way, you’ll be sonically immersed in your playing experience.
Play, record, listen back, and track your progress with ease, building up rhythm and other important skills as you go. Coordinate your movement with the metronome and adjust the tempo and time settings to accommodate your practice. Easily connect your smartphone and play along to your favorite tunes through the USB input. Keep in mind that you can feel free to expand the kit as you improve with an extra crash cymbal pad, or upgrade the sound module to your liking.
Who Needs It/Why We Love It
The TD-1DMK Double Mesh Kit is perfect for those living in apartment complexes, parents seeking a quiet drum solution for their kids, and any beginner who lives in an area where very limited noise is allowed. First time drummers will love the 10 engaging, game-like onboard coaching functions and quick connection to the free Melodics drum training software. This kit has a durable structure that’s easy to set up, simple to move, and built to support your drumming for years to come.
If you want to take things up a notch, you can also consider the TD1MK Package. On top of a great eKit, you get a pair of Samson SR950 headphones for quiet practice, a Carlsbro EDA50 drum amplifier for loud practice, and a Samson Q4 dynamic mic with an XLR cable, mic clip, and carrying case.
Upgrading to the Roland TD-07KV gives you 25 preset kits, 25 user kits, 143 instruments, V-Edit, EQ, ambience, 30 multi-effects, Bluetooth and USB connectivity. You still get that amazing compact design, but now with more flexibility to build your own kits and shape your sound exactly how you like it. You’ll continue to get the benefits of quiet drumming, but without sacrificing the feel thanks to these durable mesh heads. You can also play along to your favorite tracks via Bluetooth, as well as connect it to your DAW and use it to play your favorite drum VST’s and record! And whether you’re new to drumming, or want to learn some new beats, the kit also comes with 40 free lessons from Melodics.
Who Needs It/Why We Love It
New to drumming, or looking to break into eKits? The TD-07KV is the kit for you. Compact, quiet, wireless functionality, USB Midi recording, and all with authentic Roland authentic feel and sound.
Roland TD17 Series:
The Roland TD-17KL Electronic Drum Sets bring the term “great value” to a new standard. Incorporating high-end features inspired by the flagship TD-50 Series, while still keeping it appetizing to drummers at all levels. At the heart of it all, the TD-17 Module features a sound and FX engine that is based off the TD-50 Module. Browse through its internal 50 preset kits and 310 drum/percussion samples spread out within different styles and genres. Import your own samples via .WAV files through an SD/HC card and fully adapt the TD-17 to your personal taste. The advanced sound engine allows you to merge internal samples with your own, allowing you to imprint your personal touch to your TD-17 Electronic Set. The kit also features Bluetooth Streaming and MIDI over Bluetooth.
The TD-17 kits have all of the learning functions you know and love from a Roland electronic drum set, including the Time Check, Quiet Count, and more. Roland fully encourages you to take advantage of online learning sources and stream them wirelessly from a device of your choice, they even designed the TD-17 Module to hold your mobile device in the perfect angle to simultaneously watch and perform. The Roland TD-17 is just as pretty on the outside as it is on the inside. With the PDX-12 12” mesh snare pad, the transition from an acoustic kit is much smoother. Completely rebound-tunable, the PDX-12 is as realistic as it gets while keeping a low decibel level. Last but not least, the KD-10 kick pad seals the deal, providing a bass drum feel that is as dynamic as the real thing and fully supports most single/double pedals. Roland raises the bar with every release and here at Sam Ash, we take pride in presenting you with the best of the best. Check out our Roland TD17 Everything You Need to Know Post featuring Roland Product Specialist, James Petercsak, as he dives into everything the TD-17 has to offer.
Perhaps the most significant difference between the TD17 series and the other kits we have discussed so far is the incredible response of the mesh-style snare pad. In addition to its authentic feel, the kits PDX-12 mesh snare offers “Dual Triggering technology.” This creates a more dynamic response and lets you hear a difference depending on how far you hit from the rim. The expanded rim lets you achieve rim shots without giving off too much acoustic noise. The TD17’s Hi-Hat offers separate triggers for the bow and edge, giving you smooth transitions between the open and closed positions. The kick drum on the TD17 features a cloth exterior for a more authentic feel. The TD17 is available in the TD17-KV and the TD17KVX configurations.
Who Needs It/Why We Love It
The TD17 series is ideal if you want a quiet home practice solution that will translate to your acoustic kit. The ability to import your own samples via SD Card opens up a whole new array of sonic possibilities. All TD-17 kits are undeniably stylish yet compact so they look great in any room in the house, well at least if you’re a drummer.
The TD-27KV-S from Roland is an elite kit for professional sounding drumming. It combines state of the art digital mesh heads with 700 internal sounds and realistic sampling. That translates into an instruments that feels amazing, and sounds fantastic. One of the key elements to drums that resonate with the player and audience is reverb. This kit offers reverb sample technology that places you inside some of the best studios in the world.
This is a 9-piece kit. You get the mesh heads, PD-140DS Digital Snare, CY-18DR Digital Ride, two Crash Cymbal Pads, three PDX-100 Tom Pads, VH10 Hi-Hats, and the KD-10 Kick Pad. This is for the drummer who wants to sound the best, or the beginner who wants to be inspired to keep playing.
Roland TD50 Series:
The latest kit to be released, the Roland TD50K-S Electronic Drum Set is also the flagship of Roland’s V-Drums line and can currently be heard on some of the worlds largest stages and music’s most iconic studios. Powered by the TD50 Sound module, this premier kit is the first to integrate Roland’s Prismatic Sound Modeling. This new technology is designed to capture every nuance of your style, offering unparalleled analysis of every hit. To take full advantage of the incredible power of the TD50 module, the TD50K uses a redesigned 14” snare pad. This snare features a 3 layer mesh head integrated into a genuine 14” shell creating the authentic rebound you only experience on high end acoustic sets. You also get the benefit or Roland’s multi-element sensor system, which captures every detail of your style, timing, and dynamics. This incredible multi-element sensor system also makes an appearance on the kits 18” ride cymbal, delivering a legitimate emulation of a professional cast bronze cymbal from the edge to the bell and everywhere in between.
The TD50K offers Roland’s most extraordinary sounds, with tons of onboard kits spanning any style you can think of. Even more impressive is the incredible level of customization that is available within the TD50 module. In addition to all the customization we find on the TD30 series (ambiance, mic placement, head/shell tension) the TD50K offers adjustable three band EQ and compression settings for each component of the kit. Once your content with the sound of each drum, you still have over 30 different effects (saturate, phaser, echo’s, etc) that can be applied to each pad individually. But you don’t have to settle for just one effect because the module offers three independent sections for creating comprehensive effect chains. Still not satisfied with your sound? Don’t worry, the master output offers additional multi band compression and equalization. Roland even includes a feature called snapshot so you can instantly compare different settings before verifying your changes.
With all these incredible features, Roland expects that the TD50 will become your go to kit for live gigs, so the back panel of the module offers both an XLR stereo master output and eight ¼ direct outputs to connect each component to an individual mixer channel. On the recording side, the TD50 has an SD card slot so you can trigger imported WAV files on the drum of your choice. You can also layer and loop the sounds you import with the on board sounds of the module for limitless sonic options. If that wasn’t enough, the TD50 module is a multi-track audio interface, allowing you to record up 10 channels at a time via the USB output. Choose from the TD50K and the TD50-KV-S Electronic Drum Set which includes the larger KD-140 14” kick drum as well as larger 14” crash cymbals. To accommodate the larger components, the TD50-KV has a slightly heavier rack with a beautiful chrome finish and silver cabling. The KV versions more robust hardware also allows for integration of the optional KD-A22 converter package. With this incredible technology, you can use your favorite 22” acoustic bass drum in your TD50 setup. The KD-A22 converter package includes a front head, batter head, metal hoop, and shock absorber cushions, mixing the genuine tone of the acoustic shell with the premium feel of the V-Drum kick. Roland has also released the TD-50 Digital Pack if you want to upgrade your existing kit (TD10, TD20, TD20X, TD30) with some of the TD50’s most important features. The TD50 Digital Pack includes the TD50 sound module, PD-14 ODS digital snare and CY-18DR ride cymbal.
Why We Love It/Who Needs It
The TD50 series is the culmination of Roland’s dedication to pushing the boundaries of what an Electronic Drum Kit can do. The Prismatic Sound Modeling and multi sensor technology work together to create an experience so close to an acoustic kit, you will forget that you’re actually playing an “electronic kit”. And with so many levels of customization, the TD50 proves that digital kits can deliver endless possibilities. For larger clubs and house of worship venues, the TD50 series streamlined connection to larger PA Systems is an excellent benefit not found on the other V-Drum series.
Other Roland Electronic Percussion Products:
With the recent popularity of Cajons, Roland has released the EC-10 Electronic Cajon. EL stands for Electronic Layered, as this instrument is an acoustic cajon with built in triggering, internal sounds, and a built in speaker. Two internal triggers for the head and the edge of the cajon allows you to layer the sound of the acoustic cajon with any of the internal sounds such as tambourines, shakers, congas, djembes, and electronic drum sounds.
If you already have a favorite acoustic Cajon, Roland also offers the EC-10M EL Cajon Mic Processor. This product includes a sensitive mini condenser microphone that clips to the sound hole of any Cajon, which then connects to the Mic Processor allowing the player to adjust the gain and output of the acoustic mic’d cajon, and also trigger drums, percussion, and FX sounds.
Roland continues to make hybrid drumming products allowing drummers and percussionists to integrate electronic percussion with their acoustic set ups. Some of these products include:
- RT-30 Acoustic Drum Triggers – RT-30H Single, RT-30HR Dual and RT-30 K Kick
- TM-2 Trigger Module – an affordable and portable unit that supports acoustic triggers, as well as electronic pads and trigger pedals. Fast and reliable triggering that includes over 160 sounds plus the ability to read and trigger .WAV samples from an SD card
- KT-10 and KT-9 Kick Trigger pedals- self-contained pedals that connect to any Roland device with external trigger inputs
- BT-1 Bar Pad– a small but functional trigger pad that mounts directly to the rim of an acoustic drum or mounted on a tom or percussion arm and connects with any Roland device with external trigger inputs.
- SPD-SX Sampling Pad, OCTAPAD SPD-30 Percussion Pad, HPD-20 all of these unique multi pad percussion instruments have found there way into acoustic drum and percussion rigs and also include trigger inputs for even more versatility.
The Sam Ash Difference:
Sam Ash has been working closely with Roland well before the birth of V-Drums in 1997. Roland product specialists have trained our experts so they can answer any question you may have and give you the rundown on how to use all of the amazing V-Drums features. We also offer extended service plans so you can have the piece of mind that your kit will continue to play as good as the day you got it. As we like to say, “come in and play”, we have kits setup and ready to go with premium electronic drum amplifiers. Of course if you left your sticks at home, we are more than happy to get you a pair in whatever size feels best. Not near a store, don’t worry, just give us a call at 800-472-6274, we have drummers standing by and ready to help you find the best kit for your needs and answer any questions you may have. If you find the kit you really want is currently out of your budget, we offer financing and equipment leasing to music venues and Houses of Worship.