We review the Roland TD-50KV V-Drums Kit, get an expert's view to find out exactly what the difference is between the TD-50KV and TD-30KV kit and demonstrate some of the new features...
When news hit that the Roland TD-50KV V-Drums Kit was to be released, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Roland had lost their minds. Surely they couldn’t improve on the absolutely stellar TD-30KV V-Drums Electronic Drum Kit?
Well, it turns out they could, and the improvements were far more important than a selection of updates! We caught up with our in-house drum specialists Mel and Andy as well as John Pullan over at Roland HQ to find out exactly why the Flagship Roland TD-50KV is now the new industry standard electronic drum kit.
Tell me about the Roland TD-50KV V-Drums Kit!
The Roland TD-50 KV electronic drum kit is the latest instalment from the team at Roland Drums. The challenge was to completely rebuild an electronic drum kit from the ground-up and create something that had all the feel and response of an acoustic kit, whilst remaining loyal to what drummers had come to love about the V-Drums.
Utilising cutting edge modelling technology – Roland’s Prismatic Sound Modelling, the TD-50KV offers drummers the most responsive, reliable and inspirational electronic drum kit the brand has ever created.
A big claim, but one they can easily back up.
Improved feel, USB connections for high resolution information transfer, the ability to import your own samples and the most beautiful sounds you could ever hope to hear from a drum kit all wrapped into one unit. But enough from us...
So what's all the fuss about? We talk to the experts at Roland
To find out all the juicy details and really get to the bottom of what this kit is all about, we went straight to the experts and asked John Pullan, UK Drum Product Specialist at Roland all the hard hitting questions. John gave us some great insight into why this kit needs to be on your must-play list and why professional drummers are looking to electronic drum kits for greater sonic options and playability.
Well first things first. Why would I buy the TD 50KV instead of a TD 30KV?
The TD-30KV has had incredible success and we’re proud that it’s been cited as the best electronic kit available for the past 4 years.
The TD-50 is not just an evolution of the TD-30 – it’s a ground-up rebuild of a flagship V-Drums kit. Whilst the TD-30KV and TD-50KV may look similar, that’s where the similarities end.
Firstly the internal sounds, the actual drum samples are brand new; samples of real acoustic drums, recorded in some of the best studios in the world in the highest quality. None of the sounds have been recycled from previous kits and all sounds are now a much higher resolution. You’ll really hear the difference in the sustain!
"Whilst the TD-30KV and TD-50KV may look similar, that’s where the similarities end."
Then there are the digital pads. For the first time in over 30 years, we have developed triggering technology and taken it to the next level. The digital snare and ride pads connect via USB instead of a standard TRS stereo jack. The pads can detect and send so much more information on position and velocity to the module than a non-digital pad.
This means more sensors (up to three times as many) are inside the digital pads compared with analogue pads. The digital pads are also multi-sensor, meaning there is more than one type of sensor inside. The ‘electro static technology’ means that pads feel the static from your hands to detect position and in-turn allows the instrument to respond like its acoustic counterpart. You can now muffle the ride with the touch of you hand and play the cross stick on the snare without pressing a button.
The digital snare pad is also 14” featuring a 3-ply mesh head which gives greater resistance and more ‘real feel’ than the 2-ply mesh head on a small pad. The digital ride cymbal is also 18” in so it’s more significant to play.
One key feature of the TD-50 is that is has sample load (via SD card). This means that your own samples can be imported and assigned to any pad on the kit. Sounds can also be layered inside the module to meaning you can mix multi- layered samples inside the module with user samples for incredible results.
I’m just scratching the surface here. Every area of the kit has been improved.
What if I just wanted to upgrade my older kits? Can I use elements of the TD 50?
Yes, sure. For the first time we have introduced an expansion pack. The Roland TD-50DP TD50 Digital Upgrade Pack includes the module, snare and ride. If you already have a kit, you now have the option to upgrade your older kit with the new technology.
It’s important to realise that the digital snare and digital ride, although sold separately, can only work with the TD-50 module. Additionally, the KD-A22 kick converter pad can be used with any V-Drums, so long as you can fit it under the stand/rack! The new MDS-50K and MDS-50KV stands are higher to accommodate a 22” kick drum shell.
What are some of your personal favourite major improvements drummers will enjoy with this model?
There are so many, but for me personally I love the new snare drum. 14x6 with a stainless-steel shell. The shell is just for look and feel and it feels great to pay. The snare features a 3 x ply mesh now to avoid a trampolining effect. I feel like I’m playing my Black Beauty!
The Dynamic prismatic sound modeling sounds amazing. Can you tell me how drummers are really going to benefit from this?
Yes, the TD-50 Sound Engine features a PRISMATIC sound engine. We are asked a lot about what that means and what it can do.
Let’s consider a light prism; one beam of white light enters the prism, yet multiple colours come out the other side (think Dark Side of the Moon album cover by Pink Floyd).
Now, let’s apply that metaphorically to the hit of an acoustic drum or cymbal; the drummer makes one input/hit (similar to the white light) but actually a complex mix of tones and overtones is produced from just that one single hit (similar to the multiple colours that exit the prism).
"The TD-50 ‘behaves’ more like an acoustic instrument, thanks to the PRISMATIC sound engine."
Our Prismatic Sound Engine works in the same way – the drummer will make a strike/hit of pad and the TD-50 will perform with multi-layered samples, like other electronic drums do.
However, the TD-50 can also faithfully output a complex mix of tones and overtones according to that individual hit.
In this way, the TD-50 ‘behaves’ more like an acoustic instrument, thanks to the PRISMATIC sounds engine. It’s about sound reality or true-to-life expression from an electronic instrument.
I think that’s exciting for any acoustic drummer and it’s a technology not featured anywhere else by any other electronic drum module. It’s all about sound realism and keeping the reaction of the TD-50 true-to-real-life.
This kit looks to be firmly aimed at the professionals out there, how sturdy is this thing? Is it going to last years of touring?
One of our proudest achievements is that V-Drums have lasting durability. Not only in the flagship range – if you type Roland TD-6 into eBay, you’ll find kits originally made and sold in 2003 that are still going strong.
We pride ourselves on build quality and durability. Drums are something that you physically hit, repeatedly, with bits of wood. The drums need to be able to withstand a beating and also stay-put when you hit them. Our V-Drums do that – not only the TD-50, but all our kits.
Why did you decide to make the cymbals bigger? Was it just for the realistic feel?
Absolutely, the feel and also the aesthetics. It’s so much more inspiring to play! The ride is also weighted similarly to an 18 inch acoustic ride so the action is amazing.
Which artists are using the TD 50 KV at the moment?
It’s early days and we’re just starting to see artists using it on the live stage. It’s already used by Luke Patterson of Clean Bandit and Michael Schack with Netsky, but we’ve have some real A-listers who are now trying the kit out in pre-production work. It’s too early and we have to respect the confidentiality of the artists who are trying it, but the artists will be known by drummers globally!
How will this kit make a touring/recording musicians life easier?
I'd say ‘options’. There are many answers to that questions but the highlights would be importing of samples… You can now add samples to the kit via SD meaning that you can re-create your studio album in a live setting. You can add loops and assign them to any pad you desire. Also, the obvious things like saving money on skins and sticks. You will also have a consistent sound where ever you go!
"You can now add samples to the kit via SD meaning that you can re-create your studio album in a live setting."
Additionally, for recording the TD-50 has direct outputs for multi-channel recording and also has multi-channel recording via USB. So just by using a USB cable from the module to the DAW, a musician can record in 44.1, 48, or 96KHZ and can have 10 channels in, 4 return meaning each drum can be on its own channel (or grouped, like crashes for example) and can also receive clicks and a feed of the track via the desk when recording… all from the module!
The Roland electronic kits are providing drummers with a more realistic feel and sound with every new model. But what in your opinion is the “holy grail”? When do you stop and say “That’s it. We’ve done it!”
We live in a great time and technology is constantly improving. It's exciting and Roland are always at the forefront of that. We are continually pushing the boundaries of what’s possible with an electronic drum kit. I think we are a step closer again with the TD-50 to sound and playing/behavioural realism to acoustic drums. You can close your eyes now when listening to the TD-50 on stage (through a good PA) and you wouldn’t know if it’s electronic or acoustic. Now we have the bigger sizes and also the digital pads, a drummers experience of playing an electric kit in a live setting is much more positive.
"You can close your eyes now when listening to the TD-50 on stage (through a good PA) and you wouldn’t know if it’s electronic or acoustic."
The holy-grail for sure is to have a kit that, when you play it, there is no noticeable difference to playing it in sound or feel or reaction to an acoustic kit. Not to say that we are looking to wipe-out acoustic drums or make them obsolete – far from it (ALL the drum guys at Roland are drummers too!). But, no question that if an electronic drum kit can perform the same as an acoustic drum, the player has options – like the electronic stage piano and acoustic grand or the acoustic guitar and the electric guitar… it’s about choosing the gear that it is best for the gig!
Our PMT Drum Specialist Guide to the Roland TD-50KV
To demonstrate a variety of the new features within the Roland TD-50KV, Mel and Andy from PMT Manchester review the TD-50KV via a selection of short videos - especially handy if you're curious what the difference between the TD30 KV and TD-50KV is.
Roland TD-50KV High-Resolution Sounds
Mel takes us through some of the high-resolution sounds within the TD-50KV Module whilst Andy discusses how Roland have increased the quality of sounds within the module. Less is more with this kit as you now have 400 instrument sounds expertly sampled from some of the best kits in the world, recorded in the best studios in the world. You also have access to a range of great electronic sounds such as the coveted TR-808/909 sounds. Check it out.
Roland TD-50KV 14" Digital Snare Demo
Watch as Mell puts the Roland TD-50KV 14" Digital Snare through its paces. Discover how you can now play rim shots and cross stick patterns at the same time. A great feature.
Roland TD-50KV Module Demo
In this video Andy and Mell pit TD50KV vs TD30KV. Probably one of the most talked about features within the new TD-50 module, is the ability to load your own samples – a first for the V Drums kit. This is ideal for drummers out there who might want to capture the sound of a specific recorded sample. If you’ve recorded your album with a specific snare or kick drum, you can sample those sounds and take that sample out on the road with you. You can even layer that sample on top of an existing sound within the TD-50 module, so you get a mix of both samples together.
Roland TD-50KV Kick Drum Sounds
Andy and Mell try out some kick drum sounds on the TD-50 module and show us just how easy it is to edit the pitch of your sounds on the fly. Mix in samples with your existing kick drum sound to add unique dynamics to your performance.
Roland KD-140 & KD-A22 Acoustic Kick Drum Convertor Demo
Mell shows us just how dynamic and responsive the Roland TD-50KV 18" Digital Ride can be. This new 18” ride connects via USB for hi-res information transfer and you can actually stop the cymbal sound by placing your hand on the top. Whereas previous cymbals could be choked by grabbing hold of it, this is an entirely new dynamic that provides the same level of realism as an acoustic kit. Just another reason why professionals will love the TD-50KV
Roland TD-50 Series Artist-Tuned Kits - Free Download
From April 2017 , the latest TD-50 V-Drums module now includes incredibly powerful, brand new high-end sounds, an advanced V-Edit system, and an array of processing tools including EQ, a transient designer and dedicated effects section – all so the drummer can create their perfect drum sound.
Designed to showcase the power and potential of the TD-50 module, Roland V-Drums artists Michael Schack, Craig Blundell and Dirk Brand have created a series of signature kits which TD-50 owners can download for FREE.
Check out the Roland TD-50KV Flagship V-Drums Kit and the Roland TD-50K Pro V-Drums Kit over at PMT Online today and take advantage of our best ever interest-free finance deal over 24 months. Call 0151 448 2089 or pop into your nearest store for more details. Terms & Conditions apply.