Roland V-Drums have slowly but surely taken the world by storm since their initial release back in 1997. So much so that, amazingly, Roland are now the largest drum manufacturer in the world, selling more kits than Pearl, Premier, Mapex, Gretsch, or any of the other acoustic drum manufacturers. Not bad for a product line that’s only been around for 15 years…
However, Roland V-Drums may be popular, but that doesn’t mean they’re easy to understand; with a current range of 8 different electronic drum kits, it can be confusing trying to work out the differences between all the different kits. Never fear: that’s where we come in!
On the most basic level, V-Drum kits differ in two areas:
1. Sounds: the quality of the drum sounds, the range of pre-set kits, and the extent to which you can edit kits and individual sounds.
2. Pads: the feel of the pads that are included with the kit, and the sensitivity to subtle playing techniques.
Below is a very quick overview of the range which should hopefully help you home in on which kit is the one for you, based on the features that you consider most important:
Roland HD3 (£579)
The HD3 “V-Drums Lite” (as Roland like to call it) is the most basic V-Drum kit available. However, do not underestimate it! Roland are fully aware that what makes all of their kits special is their patented “mesh heads”. These make playing their drum kits feel like the real deal: pleasantly springy and responsive in just the right way. Only the snare drum on the HD3 features a mesh head, but that’s enough for many purposes. The rest of the pads are not of the same quality, but are still far superior to the pads found on many of the other electronic drum kits out there. Furthermore, the hi hat and kick drum are just pedal triggers, meaning you don’t get the feeling you would from a real kit.
In terms of sounds, you are limited to 20 kits and there is no scope for editing. Having said that, a Pearl Masters kit comes with 19 less sound sets than that, so it’s not all bad…
Roland TD4KP (£549)
A relatively recent addition at the time of writing, the TD4KP comes under a new category Roland have devised: “V-Drums Portable”. Sadly mesh heads are not included with these kits (presumably to help with portability) but the snare and tom pads are made of cushioned rubber which is a pretty good compromise.
The included TD4 module features 25 kits and basic edit-ability so you can tune the drums, and also features a “coach mode” that offers some surprisingly useful exercises to help improve your chops.
The key feature of this kit, though, and it’s raison d’etre, is the fact that it can be folded down into a tiny space, packed up in a carry case, and lugged along to a gig, all in record time. It’s the only kit we know of that can do that. Check out Roland’s video on Youtube if you don’t believe us.
Roland TD11K (£849)
With 50 on-board drum kits included in the stonking TD11 module, the TD11K is the cheapest of Roland’s electronic drum kits to include what they call SuperNATURAL technology. The idea of this is to offer a much more natural and responsive sound, and it does: the difference in realism between the TD11 and the HD3 or TD4K is massive. However, only one mesh head is included (for the snare); for all the other drums, you have to get by with rubber pads.
Nevertheless, this is an amazing kit for only £849 and will give any quality acoustic drum kit a serious run for it’s money.
Roland TD11KV (£1185)
So, what’s the difference between the Roland TD11K and the TD11KV, other than the letter “V”?
Basically, sound-wise, there is no difference as they both use the TD11 Module. However, you get 4 mesh heads, one for the snare and 3 for the toms (which makes playing the drum solo in “Wipe Out” so much easier), and you get better cymbals: the CY12C for Crash and the CY13R for Ride.
Is it worth paying almost £350 more for better pads and cymbals? It depends how much you care about the realism of feel. Put it this way: if you learnt drums on an acoustic kit, you’ll appreciate it.
Roland TD15K (£1465)
Featuring the TD15 drum module, the TD15K is a quantum leap above the TD11KV in terms of sound quality. The module offers “Behaviour Modelling” which basically means the drums really react like acoustic drums, with all subtleties such as ghost notes coming through loud (or quiet, as the case may be) and clear. The module also has a big LCD screen making it easy to see the edits you’re making.
In terms of the included pads, the TD15K has pretty much the same configuration as the TD11KV, but with a bigger stand (the MDS9V). All-in-all, a great sounding and great feeling electronic drum kit.
Roland TD15KV (£2145)
TD15K not great-sounding or great-feeling enough for you? Then you will be requiring the TD15KV, sir / madam. With the same TD15 module but vastly improved pads (if that’s possible) and a more life-like hi hat set-up, the TD15KV is more of a rugged beast.
Featuring the larger and (even) more expressive PDX100 drum pads for snare and tom 3, as well as the hi hat stand-mounted VH11 “V-Hi Hat”, this kit is more of a pro solution. However, as you’ll have to invest in a hi hat stand (if you haven’t got one already), it’ll cost you a bit more in accessories than the TD15K, where the hi hat attaches to the main drum stand. If you’ve learnt to play on acoustic drums, though, you’ll feel more at home.
Roland TD30K (£3575)
Friend got a TD15KV kit? Jealous? You need the Roland TD30K. With a greatly advanced module that can accurately replicate rolls, flams, rim shots, ghost notes or whatever you throw at it (literally), the TD30 module is far and away the most sophisticated drum-sound-producing box of joy in the entire known universe. 1000 sounds are included, but basically an infinite amount of sounds are possible as you can edit any sound to the nth degree. There are also professional quality effects and ambience settings for getting the sound just right.
The pads are superior too: a PD125 pad used for the snare offers even more accurate triggering than the PDX100, and is 2 inches wider than the PDX100, if size is your thing. The toms are all PDX100s and VH11 V-Hi Hats are included too.
Roland TD30KV (£6205)
You know what? We’ve already written a post about the differences between the TD30K and TD30KV so we won’t bore you.
To summarise, the TD30KV is the daddy of all electronic drum kits. Everything is spec’ed out to the max: the awesome TD30 module, the biggest and best pads (and more of them), a bigger (insanely sturdy) stand, and hi hats that sizzle together like the best hi hats you could ever possibly imagine. Furthermore, the satisfaction that you are superior (or at least richer) than all of your friends is included free of charge.
Seriously, we have every kit set up in the shop and if we’re having a hard day and need to pummel something, the TD30KV gets it every time (and doesn’t flinch). It costs a lot more than even the TD30K, but it’s worth every penny: a monster of a kit that will keep any amateur or pro drummer happy for a long time.
Hopefully the above round-up should give you a good overview of the Roland V-Drums range, and an understanding of the differences between the kits and the reasons why they vary in price so much. As with everything, you get what you pay for. If you want to talk through the range or if you live close to Edinburgh and want to organise a one-on-one demo, give us a call on 0131 229 8211 and speak to Dave Gardner, our Roland guru, who knows the kits inside out.
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