The Roland TD30 KV is an amazing ekit that delivers in just about every category. I have had this kit for just over a month now and I can say that I am extremely pleased with the quality of the triggers and the “playability” of these drums.
Set Up – It takes some time to get everything the way you want it, but I’ve used a Roland TD12 KV in the past so most of the set up time was in getting the triggers positioned on the new rack just the way I like. The MDS-25 rack is solid (no different from that used with the TD20 kit) – and the newer tom (MDH-25) and cymbal mounts (MDY-25) are much heavier and more versatile than the older mounts. These, however, are not unique to this kit as Roland introduced these a few years back. Once the kit is together, connecting to the TD 30 is easy (all well labeled). I actually hooked up an older PD85 to one of the AUX ports to use as a 5th tom, and then I have two older CY14 (black) crash cymbals and a CY12R cymbal hooked up to the other 3 AUX ports. In total with my set up I have 5 tom pads, 5 crash cymbals, 1 ride cymbal, the hi-hat, the kick and the snare. Having 4 AUX ports really helps max out the capability of the kit, because basically with every ekit I create on the TD30 I can have 5 toms, a snare, kick, hi hat, ride and 3 crash cymbals. Then I use one of the older CY14C pads as a China type cymbal and the smaller CY12R as a splash type cymbal. This really gives you tremendous versatility and stage presence. (Again, the 4 AUX ports are not unique to this kit as the TD20 had 4 as well.) I did have to take some time to change the sensitivity on some of the triggers, primarily the hi-hat and the kick, but this is easy to accomplish. As with all of the mesh Roland heads, tuning is really easy as you just need to adjust the tension on the head to suit playing style.
TD30 – This module completely smokes what I had in the past. And while I haven’t had time to get into all the features yet, the sounds that this thing generates are amazing. The instrument list is over 1000 as this unit combines those from the old TD20 plus the expansion kit that was released a few years back. But there is plenty to choose from, and even if you don’t like the exact tone of the available choices, vedit allows you to change the depth of the shell or the pitch, the diameter of the cymbal, etc. You can even change the mic position for each trigger, which really alters the feel and sound. The choices are really endless and the only drawback is that you can spend large amounts of time tweaking the sounds – it can become a real time vacuum. With 80 pre-programmed ekits, the TD30 leaves 20 slots empty for user kits. So far I’ve created 3 different rock/metal kits and each one took me about an hour to configure, but with increased familiarity it shouldn’t take more than 10-15 minutes, especially once you know where to find the instruments you want from the pick lists. The ambience feature and overhead mic features are cool too, but honestly, even without those effects, the sounds that come out of this unit are incredible.
I amplify my kit with the Roland PM 30 for practice – which has been a very good amp for 5 years – but have not yet had this kit hooked up to a live PA system. It sounds a bit different with the headphones, which is how I end up practicing much of the time, but the nuances in the tones really are more evident than when amped. Amped, the kick and lower tom tones are huge – very authentic. You can even adjust the resonance of the kit for each trigger if you desire to give an even more authentic tone. It’s still an electronic tone, but certainly the most “acoustic” tones I’ve ever heard in an ekit. I still think the cymbal tones lack the vibrant nature of acoustic cymbals, but you can certainly use acoustic cymbals with the Roland cymbal mounts in a live performance if that were a major concern.
One of the newer features is the USB port, which allows you to plug in and literally “play along” with your favorite tunes. You can cycle certain sections and alter the tempo to learn hard parts. It’s a very useful tool. Via the USB you can also back up all the kits, trigger banks, etc. or transfer kits from another unit.
Playability/Triggers – Roland boasts improved sensitivity with the new toms and cymbals and I can say I totally agree. Certainly the dynamics are there, especially on the snare pad, rim shots and ghost notes really sound – and more importantly feel – realistic, and now when you play off center you get a different tone. The cymbal pads feel lighter and they seem to swing more freely as well. I play the old cymbals side by side with the new ones on my set so I can really compare and feel the difference. The bow is more expressive as well, whereas I don’t notice any difference in the edge shots. And while I’ve never played the VH12 hi-hat, the VH13 is amazing, incredibly realistic, yet I can’t help wish they had increased the pad diameter from 12 up to 13 or 14 inches (maybe a good suggestion for the future). But while the hi-hat still feels small compared to an acoustic hi-hat, it can still generate an incredibly authentic feel, especially with the hats open, it really swings nicely – much better than the old VH11.
Some have complained about the mesh pads Roland uses, but to me, they are much better than the Pearl pads, which to me just felt really plastic and lifeless. With this TD30 set up, even using these same mesh pads, the tom play just seems more natural when compared to my old TD12 kit. It really is a notable improvement. Having never played the TD20, I can’t comment on how much change there is from that kit when compared to this one. But perhaps the behavior modeling is part of what I am experiencing. Not sure how that is supposed to work, but suffice it to say, when you are immersed in playing this thing and the volume is up beyond where you hear the stick hit the mesh pad (which is almost all of the time), it feels very authentic.
Appearance – The kit is beautiful – the new black chrome finish to the shells and the new metallic gray cymbals with black on the back are really an improvement. I didn’t like the light silver cymbals previously on the TD20. In fact, I can’t wait until I can replace the old cymbal pads I use on the AUX ports with the newer pads, not only to match visibly but for the better sensitivity of the newer pads. No word yet as to when the individual components will be available for purchase.
The Price – Obviously an investment … but what can I say? You get what you pay for.
Summary – Overall, the versatility of sounds and functions on this kit, combined with the great “feel” and sound make this well worth the price tag in my opinion. This kit allows me to practice quietly on phones or with an amp. It’s easy to maintain and you just can’t get bored with the same drum sound for long as it can always be tweaked. It works extremely well with Rock Band 3 via a MIDI to USB programmable converter and I am able to assign all of the pads (including the AUX ports) to a lane in game. When playing on “expert pro” mode it virtually feels like playing along with the band. For me, drumming is a hobby and not a profession, so I can only speculate when I say that this would be an amazing kit for both studio and live settings. It’s easy to move/transport and doesn’t take up as much space as an acoustic kit. I’ve been using Roland Vdrums for almost 5 years now so I can say they are durable as well. My only criticism would be the relatively small hi-hat diameter. Thanks to Sweetwater – the service and support is excellent, as always.