As drummers, we are told many things.

Play in time. Drive the show. Keep it solid. Provide great feel. Have a great time…and DON’T HIT SO HARD!

Playing quietly with intensity is one of the most difficult things to achieve for any musician. It’s extra hard for acoustic drummers with no volume control knob!

Contributed by Simon Ayton for Roland Corporation Australia

Drum setup space is often a major concern for both the band and the drummer alike. To make it more challenging, the sound change from space to space directly affects the tonal and volume balance of acoustic instruments.

Getting the best live drum sound is a challenge

Your cymbals may sound perfectly balanced in the dead rehearsal room. But, they will become a wash of white noise in a reverberant space.

Likewise, your kick drum may sound huge in a modest-sized room at home. But it might be barely audible on stage. All of these compromises can play havoc with your performance.

Additionally, the height of your acoustic cymbals is almost perfectly in line with the vocal microphone and the singer’s ears. This means that constant battles between singer and drummer become a fact of life.

So, here are some typical playing scenarios and ways to dramatically improve the live playing experience for yourself, your fellow musicians and the audience and still keep the gig.

 DJ Booth or small space kit setup

A common problem here is that you have no space for a sit-down kit. What’s the solution?



SPD-SX with additional triggers

Available in several models, the SPD-SX PRO and SPD-SX sampling pads have become ubiqitous on stages worldwide and the staple of any professional stage hire company.

Allow you to record or import your own samples, loops and backing tracks, sounds can be triggered from the pad surface itself or from external foot-switches and MIDI controllers.

Triggers can be attached, allowing them to function as a stand-alone percussion setup.

On the PRO model there’s also a hi-hat controller input allowing it to be setup as a mini kit with a hi-hat on a stand, perfect for gigs where there’s little space and time to setup a full kit.

Comprehensive sound layering and playback modes are available for each velocity sensitive pad for new ways of performing.

There is also a built-in sample editor. Additionally, several multi-effects units help provide extensive sound manipulation.

Loops can be tempo synchronized to the internal click or external MIDI clock. This allows for perfect integration with Ableton Live or a similar DAW.

The SPD-SX features 16GB of internal memory. This gives you up to 25 hours of stereo audio playback!

The latest SPD-SX PRO model has 32GB of memory, balanced outputs for connection directly to professional gear and multiple outputs for total control of the front of house sound. 

When more triggers and audio outputs are required, another option for drummer’s is the TM-6PRO.

See the SPD-SX VS. TM-6PRO comparison here.

Roland SPD-30 Octapad

SPD-30 with additional triggers

The SPD-30 Octapad can be considered a mobile V-Drums kit of sorts.

It features 700+ internal sounds ready to go, nothing to load. 

Tune, edit and freely assign the sounds to any of the eight velocity-sensitive pads or external triggers. There’s also a real-time, live performance oriented sequencer built-in to add excitement to live performances with a single hit.

Four external trigger inputs and a hi-hat controller input make for an inspiring and player-friendly setup.

Band Rehearsal Room:

The advantages of using V-Drums for rehearsing are many. Here are a few important points:

  1. Broken sticks and worn out skins are a thing of the past. You are hitting rubber and mesh instead.
  2. Sound level is controllable and consistent. No tuning problems! Mechanical noise and vibrations are extremely low. There’s also a volume control.
  3. Recording is easy. No need for additional equipment! Record the kit directly to internal memory. Then, export it as a SMF or WAV file. Or, connect the kit via analog outs or USB for recording into any DAW or hardware recorder.
  4. It’s simple to achieve the same sound every time you rehearse. Kit modifications are automatically saved. You can also save them onto USB for simple recall of settings.

The TD-27KV2 is ideal for drummers who want the layout and feel of a conventional acoustic kit. It also removes the fuss of a complex electronic kit setup.

This kit is designed for quick and simple use. But, it adds the option of expansion and USB plug-and-play computer integration.

Roland TD-27KV2

Low Volume Accompaniment

Being asked to leave your drums at home can be disappointing. It also poses a tricky scenario for a kit player.

Here are several options that allow you to play your instrument in the way that you want to and still keep the gig.

ELCajon EC-10
ELCajon EC-10

The ELCajon EC-10 is a conventional looking Cajon. But, it features internal sounds, for a seriously enhanced Cajon!

There’s a built-in speaker for low volume practice in the green room. An audio out jack connects to the front-of-house sound system.


Cajon miking and sound layering device to use with any acoustic Cajon.

The EC-10M ElCajon Mic Processor features built-in foot trigger pads for kick and percussion sounds. For extra versatility, there’s also a looper. Two external triggers can also be attached for a kit-like performance feel.

HandSonic HPD-20

The HandSonic HPD-20 Digital Hand Percussion instrument features 13 individually assignable and editable trigger zones.

Built-in sounds range from conventional percussion to diverse tones.

This includes bongos and congas, through to tree chimes and gongs. A huge array of electronic and experimental sounds and loops cover any music style. You can even load your own sounds and loops.

A footswitch allows for the addition of a kick trigger.

Quick to Setup & Soundcheck

Roland VAD-103 Acoustic Design Kit

The VAD-103 and 307 Acoustic Design series kits look just like their acoustic counterparts but without the noise and microphone requirements. Simply connect the drums to the trigger inputs of the sound module and connect the left and right outputs to the sound system and you’re ready to go. 

Roland Acoustic Design VAD-307

No microphones are required and as the tuning of the drums does not affect the sound, you get the same feel for the whole show regardless of how hard you play night after night.

Flexible Stage Setup

The V-Drums Acoustic Design kits are appearing more and more on stage to replace conventional acoustic drums and even rack based electronic kits. 

It’s not uncommon, even for eagle-eyed drummers, to be tricked into thinking they are witnessing an acoustic drum performance. On stage, acoustic design kits have a very clean and uncluttered look; there’s not a microphone stand in sight!

Roland V-Drums are ideal for houses of worship, schools, TV studios and theatres where controlling the volume level is of utmost importance.

Sound creation wise, the extensive editing features allow for the reproduction of almost any type of drum sound to surprise the audience. Sounds can easily be switched mid-song, via footswitch or any trigger surface to transform the sound in an instant, seamlessly.

Full Stage Setup

Roland VAD-706 Acoustic Design Kit

The Look
When stage real estate is no issue and your aim is to blow the audience away with a full-sized kit, it has to be a VAD 5 or 7 series kit.

With their conventional combo cymbal/tom stands, the five piece VAD-507 and VAD-706 kits look just like acoustic kits.

 The 5′ series kits have a no fuss black sparkle wrap finish while the flagship 706 kit has real Maple wood shells with a range of gloss finishes.

Both are impressive kist with full-sized 14″ steel snare, 18″ ride, 14″ hi-hats and large kicks. 

Roland VAD-507 V-Drums Acoustic Design

The Feel
The hi-hats, snare and ride on the VAD-5 and 7 series kits use plug-and-play, digital electrostatic technology for the first time in any electronic kit. 

Digital triggers allow performance possibilities never before possible on electronic drums. These include automatic cross-stick recognition on the snare, skin touch sensitivity on the ride for playing staccato while the hi-hat can also differentiate between left and right hands for nuances that, up until now, have only been possible on acoustic instruments.  Additionally, digital triggers in combination with the sound engine, allow for a wider range of dynamics and playing techniques than conventional piezo style electronic trigger pads.

Cymbals are the latest dual zone, ‘Thinline’ CY models that flex and swing like an acoustic cymbal for that ‘buttery’ feel. You can choke them with a squeeze on the edge or by holding your stick against them for a mute affect.   

The Sound
Four outs on the TD-27 module that ships with the VAD-5 series kits offers great flexibility for gigging, whereas on the TD-50X module that comes with the VAD-706 kit, dual XLR connectors and multiple balanced outs provide long, noiseless cable runs. Connect these directly to the stage box or to the front-of-house mixer for a happy engineer.

TD-50 Rear
Roland TD-50X Rear Panel Connections

More than just stereo playback, both the TD-27 and TD-50X modules feature a four-track song player for perfectly synchronized click and backing audio tracks.

On the TD-50X there are even separate mix settings for the drummer and front-of-house so both can have the best mix.

Extensive sound editing, including multiple effects engines, give you unprecedented control over your drum tones on both sound engines.

There are also a host of new V-Editing features. On the ride alone for example, you can even modify the cymbal thickness and ping amount for crafting the perfect ride cymbal sound. Add one of the various sizzle types for an instant classic Jazz ride sound.

The onboard transient designer tool gives you complete control of the attack and sustain of each and every hit and there’s individual EQ and compressors for every pad as well as master compressor and EQ for the final polish.

Sample It!
Import your WAV sounds directly into the TD-27 and TD-50X and layer and trigger them with the internal sound engine.

Get the exact drum sound you’re searching for.

Use the built-in waveform editor to audition and edit sounds and load up to 60 sounds per kit.

There’s no loading time when switching kits so set up set lists of your favourite kits for quick, easy access and glide through them from song to song during the show using pads or foots-witches positioned around the kit or on the floor beside the hi-hat.

See the Drummer’s Complete Guide to the TD-50X here:

Performing live with V-Drums

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Created by Roland V-Drums specialist Simon Ayton, these patches were designed using the internal factory sounds and many of the techniques covered in the TD-50 guide. Enjoy exploring the possibilities!