Need to know the score about electronic drums? Looking for answers, but don’t have the time to scour the forums… or worse, face the trolls when you post a question? Well, fret no more. Here are some of the most common questions we get asked about V-Drums – all in one place, and not a keyboard warrior in sight.
Contributed by Roland UK
Which famous drummers use V-Drums?
Some of the many V-Drums players:
Neil Peart (RUSH)
Jon Farriss (INXS)
Gregg Bissonette (Ringo Starr band)
Mick Fleetwood (Fleetwood Mac)
Larry Mullen Jr. (U2)
Andy Summers (The Police) – Stewart Copeland
Omar Abidi (Fightstar)
Zach Hill (Death Grips)
Travis Barker (Blink-182)
Stephen Morris (New Order)
Adrian Young (No Doubt)
Roger Taylor (Duran Duran)
How much do electronic drum kits cost?
Not as much as you’d think! The entry-level Roland TD-1K V-Drums kit is AUS$799, and the V-Drums range stops off at various price-points before topping out with the flagship Roland TD-50KV V-Drums kit.
You don’t need Grohl-sized royalties to get involved!
How are electronic drums powered?
Good old-fashioned plug and play. At the rear of the sound module, you’ll find a familiar DC IN jack. Simply use the included AC adaptor to connect to the nearest wall socket and your V-Drums kit is alive.
How loud are electronic drums?
Far quieter than their neighbour-baiting acoustic counterparts, thanks to the headphones option. While some brands of electronic kits still make a fair old din (even if they’re unamplified!) V-Drums are renowned for being the quietest on the market.
In fact, there are a whole range of products to help in the noise regard.
See the drummer’s guide to quiet practice here.
What’s the best way to amplify my electronic drums?
Whether you want to hold discrete rehearsals or raise ear-bleeding hell, Roland has a monitor to suit. From the compact and über-chic Roland PM-03 drum monitor to the PM-10 wedge monitor, simply connect your drum kit via the sound module’s OUTPUT jacks.
There are also a range of headphones designed to handle the bottom end punch of V-Drums.
Can I use my regular sticks?
Beat away, my friend. Both wood and nylon tips will work just fine on V-Pads and V-Cymbals. Although, feel free to investigate the sticks developed by firms like Zildjian and Vic Firth that have been specifically designed for use with electronic kits.
It’s a good idea to keep a pair of fresh sticks just for your V-Drums, to extend the life of the mesh heads. Burred or chipped sticks are best avoided.
Can I use brushes?
Yes, swing to your heart’s content – as long as you’re playing a V-Drums kit in the TD-25/TD-30/TD-50 range. A ‘brushes’ setting in the flagship TD-50 module allows the pads to pick up your every swish and slap. Just make sure they’re nylon, not wire brushes.
Can I transport electronic drums?
Yep, and that’s a major advantage. With no old-school drum shells to fill the van, e-kits travel much lighter and take up less floor space than their acoustic siblings.
If you’re a roving free-spirit, try the Roland TD4-KP <https://www.rolandcorp.com.au/products/v-drums_portable_td-4kp/>, or all-mesh TD1-KPX <https://www.rolandcorp.com.au/products/td-1kpx/> which weigh under 15kg and have fold-up stands for speedy assembly and breakdown.
What are other advantages of electronic drums?
Whereas acoustic drums handcuff you to one tone, V-Drums let you switch up your sound to suit any band, gig or song. From clipped techno beats to fat hip-hop booms, a library of tones are selectable via the sound module of the kit you’re using. You don’t need to worry about inconsistent sounds live either, and with no microphone required, it’s arguably far easier to record with electronic drums.
What is a sound module?
Some folks refer to the module as the ‘brain’. Its primary role is to convert the thwack of your stick into sound. But depending on the specific unit, V-Drum modules have further tricks up their sleeves, letting you shape your sound with effects and virtual instruments, play along with backing tracks or simulate a range of classic drum kits using built-in modelling technology.
How can electronic drums improve my learning?
Many V-Drums modules feature the COACH function, giving you tutorials in accuracy, timing and endurance that get tougher as you get tighter. There’s also the QUICK RECORD/QUICK PLAY feature that lets you record passages of your own drumming, then play them back to assess your progress.
Connect your V-Drums to software like Roland’s DT-1 Drum Tutor to go from slow to pro in no time.
What is a trigger?
It’s the electronic transducer inside a V-Pad or a V-Cymbal that registers the impact of your stick, then relays the signal via a jack cable to the sound module, which then converts it into an audible sound.
What is a hybrid kit?
It’s the best of both worlds – an acoustic drum kit augmented with a sound module and electronic pads and triggers. For many players – including Neil Peart of Rush – playing a hybrid kit is like having your cake and eating it, giving you both the classic old-school vibe of acoustic drums and the space-age electro features of electronics.
What are mesh heads?
A special type of V-Pad, Roland’s mesh heads feature a two-layer mesh surface and unique 45-degree weave pattern that makes them super-quiet, alongside dual-triggering that makes them highly responsive. Made by REMO, they feature as standard on kits across the V-Drums range.
Roland mesh heads give you the feel of a head stretched on a drum with improved durability and much lower noise.
PowerPly mesh heads now come in all standard drum sizes up to 22″ to retro-fit your acoustic kit.
The new PD-140DS digital snare, which comes with the TD-50 series V-Drums, features a 3-ply head for the next step in acoustic feel and trigger consistency.
What is dual and three-way triggering?
Acoustic drums and cymbals sound very different depending on where you hit them. Likewise, V-Pads and V-Cymbals that feature dual and three-way triggering are able to detect and relay exactly where you’ve made contact, making for faithful response and more expressive play.
You can also apply different sounds to parts of a dual or three-way pad independently, e.g. a hand clap on a pad rim or a snare shot on the drum head.
Can I change the tension of the drum heads on a V-Drums kit?
Well, everybody likes to tinker. Just as you would with a ‘real’ drum head, Roland’s mesh V-Pads can be tension-adjusted to nail the feel that you want.
The pitch of the drum sound you hear is adjustable separately inside the module and is independent of the actual pad tension you choose, unlike an acoustic drum.
Can I import my own music into electronic drum kits?
That’s part of the fun. All V-Drums let you connect CD/MP3 players for instant jam sessions, while the higher-spec models include USB/MIDI ports, , letting you play audio files between your computer and your kit.
Can I add extra pads, toms and cymbals?
While it’s worth investing in an electronic kit that reflects your ambitions from the outset, the higher-spec V-Drums kits are flexible and open-ended. If you decide to make like Neil Peart and max out on the cymbals, it’s just a case of connecting them up via the TRIGGER IN jacks of the module.
See the guide to expanding your setup here.
What is Roland SuperNATURAL?
Featured on kits from the TD-11 up to TD-30, SuperNATURAL is technology that lets V-Drums faithfully convey playing dynamics and the strength of your hits, from gentle brush-strokes to assault-and-battery pummelling. It works alongside Behaviour Modelling, which means that when the module simulates an instrument, it also nails the quirks and nuances you’d expect to hear if it were played in real life.
Can I add samples to my V-Drums kit?
Yes. With most models you can easily add samples using a TM-2 or SPD-SX which also expands your trigger inputs.
With the TD-50, samples can be imported directly into the module for layering with other sounds or internal factory sounds as you like.
What is COSM Technology?
An acronym for ‘Composite Object Sound Modelling’, COSM replicates the tone of classic instruments and drum kits in hair-splitting detail. The bottom line is that you can transform the tone of your V-Drums and create your own virtual kit, swapping in a maple snare, a Bonham-sized kick, a vintage crash cymbal – or anything in-between. Take it a step further and you can swap drum heads, change beaters, add muffling, edit the ambient microphone environment and a whole load more.
Where do Roland drum sounds come from?
It depends on the sound you’re playing – some of the more electronic drum sounds (such as the TR-808 and TR-909) and sound effects are purely digital. But the acoustic drum sounds start out by sampling real acoustic drums in a professional studio environment. They are sampled many times, across the lightest to heaviest hits, and different parts and playing positions are sampled.
Those samples are then layered to create a representative sound of the original drum. COSM technology [see above] is then applied to allow you to virtually edit each instrument as you would with its acoustic counterpart, while SuperNATURAL technology [see above] allows each instrument to behave as an acoustic instrument would.
Visit the V-Drums 20th Anniversary page for more insight.
What is ‘latency’ and why is it important?
Measured in milliseconds, latency is the length of time it takes for your stick-hit to be registered and leave the speakers as audio. In the bad old days, high latency spelt frustration for electronic drummers, as the kit would struggle to keep up with the drummer’s groove. But with the latest V-Drums offering the industry’s lowest latency figures, it’s not something that will even register to the human ear.
Can I plug brands other than Roland into my V-Drums?
Yes. At the rear of the V-Drums sound module, you’ll find the MIDI socket, which lets you connect and interact with other electronic musical equipment, as well as computers and samplers. When it comes to connecting non-Roland pads and triggers, we can’t be sure of the result – chances are you will have to play around with the sensitivity and threshold settings of each pad or trigger in the module to get it to play smoothly without crosstalk or mis-triggering.
Will I need to do firmware updates?
Yes, if you want to take advantage of the latest features and settings with your own kit. Roland periodically updates the ‘firmware’ (the internal software) of the module to offer new features or settings. To check the latest firmware for your product, head over to the product page <https://www.rolandcorp.com.au/categories/v-drums/v-drums_kits/> and check the DOWNLOADS tab.
If you own a TD-11, TD-15, TD-30 or TD-50 V-Drums module, updating is simple – just download the update, follow the instruction leaflet, copy to a USB flash drive and upload to your module.
I’m a left-hander – how do I set up my kit?
Every V-Drums kit can be set up left handed. Depending on the stand you have, there are specific ways to do this – take a look at our post about setting up your drums left handed.
If you own a TD-4KP V-Drums Portable kit, you’ll need a left-hand pedal mounting plate, available as a spares item from our customer service team.
Our Electronic Drums FAQ will be added to over time, to address new features to our kits. But if you would like to have anything added to our Electronic Drums FAQ, then please comment below and we will add them just for you.
How do I record my V-Drums?
V-Drums are simple to record. Most kits in the V-Drums range have USB for direct recording into your computer or even iPad.
See the following articles on specific kits and how to record them.
HOW TO USE HYBRID DRUMS TO GIVE YOURSELF A COMPETITIVE EDGE
A DRUMMER’S GUIDE TO QUIET PRACTICE
SUPERCHARGE YOUR DRUMMING WITH A HYBRID KIT
HOW YOUR ROLAND V-DRUMS USB PORT CAN HELP IMPROVE YOUR DRUMMING
EXPANDING AND CUSTOMIZING YOUR V-DRUMS
HOW TO ADD SAMPLES TO YOUR V-DRUMS
V-DRUMS MASTERCLASS: RECORDING YOUR TD-1
V-DRUMS MASTERCLASS: RECORDING YOUR TD-4KP
V-DRUMS MASTERCLASS: RECORDING YOUR TD-11, TD-15 AND TD-25
V-DRUMS MASTERCLASS: RECORDING YOUR TD-30
V-DRUMS MASTERCLASS: RECORDING YOUR TD-50