Roland Announces New E-Drum Series Focused On Inspiring Home Practice

By Nicolas Grizzle

Roland announced a bevy of new products today at its #totallydrums event at its Southern California studio, including the TD-17 series of electronic drum sets and high-end versions of its existing TD-25 and TD-50 sets. The focus of the TD-17 line is inspiring drummers to enjoy practicing more at home, thus helping them improve their playing.

“That’s why we’re calling the TD-17 the electronic drums to help you become a better drummer faster,” said emcee Jules Tabberer-Stewart, Roland’s global product drum marketing strategy manager.

The new line is designed to replace the TD-11 series, Tabberer-Stewart confirmed in a post-event interview with Drum. “The TD-11 is still a great sounding and playing kit, but we knew it could be improved based on the technology we had developed,” he said. Roland has already ceased production of the TD-11, which was launched in 2012.

Roland TD-17 sound module

TD-17 Sound Module

The TD-17 uses the sound library as well as Prismatic Sound Modeling technology from the company’s flagship TD-50 series, along with new hardware and Bluetooth connectivity to wirelessly steam audio from your cell phone through the module. The module also includes several warm-up exercises and “Coach Mode,” which checks your timing while you play along with backing tracks and tracks your progress over time.

New hardware includes a larger, 12” snare pad (PDX-12) with Roland’s signature mesh dual heads, a new hi-hat cymbal with bottom sensor (VH-10) for mounting on any hi-hat stand, and a larger, more expressive bass drum pad (KD-10) with noise reduction.

“These are the three main parts of a drum set,” said project manager Takahiro Murai in a phone interview after the event.

Special attention was paid to these elements of the instrument with the goal of engaging the student or hobbyist drummer. “When I’m going to play an electronic kit, I am looking for a playing experience that’s as close to an acoustic kit as I can get,” Tabberer-Stewart told Drum.

The new snare isn’t just larger; it has a rubberized raised rim positioned at the same height as an acoustic snare. After giving a live demo on the new kit at the event, Roland artist Jordan West said she appreciated that aspect in particular, as well as the improved playability of the new hi-hat pad also makes it easier to play barks, she added. “It’s a bunch of small evolutions that make a huge difference,” she said.

The new hi-hat pad is lightweight, allowing for more natural movement like an acoustic hi-hat, said Murai. The top pad and bottom cylinder mount on any hi-hat stand and have a quick open and close motion and improved sensitivity.

Software additions

The module connects via USB to a laptop to use with Melodics, a software with focused lessons and tracking capabilities that provides immediate feedback on your playing with notation that has an aesthetic similar to the Rockband video games.

YouTube drumming sensation Luke Holland gave a flashy demo at the launch event, showing off the sensitivity and dynamics of the new kit with fast double hits and splashy hi-hat playing. He then demonstrated the Melodics teaching software, scoring 85/100 on a cold playthrough of a fairly quick funk track. “Everything’s really centered around music, which I love, and you get that immediate feedback as well,” he said.

Capitalizing on its partnership with Melodics, which was announced in January with the release of the Melodics for V-Drums software, includes dozens of free lessons available for download.

Hardware And Prices

There are three models in the TD-17 series: TD-17KL (the “light” version, $999 street price); TD-17KV ($1,199 street); and the fully loaded TD-17KVX ($1,599 street). It’s worth noting that these prices do not include the drum rack (Roland suggests its MDS-4V, which retails for $199).

Here’s a breakdown of the new hardware:

  • The KD-10 kick drum pedal combines solid feel with a noise-reducing design and can be used with any standard kick pedal, including double pedals. It’s mesh cushion and solid rubber cover is designed to dampen acoustic noise while still allow for the satisfying feel of burying the beater in the head.
  • The PDX-12 snare pad features a dual mesh head and a 12-inch playing surface. The head tension can be adjusted for satisfying natural rebound, while the height of the snare hoop enables the player to hit open rim shots with a natural stick angle.
  • The VH-10 hi-hat, which mounts on any acoustic hi-hat stand, replicates the natural feel and swinging motion of a real hi-hat cymbal with advanced triggering and continuous open/close detection and bow/edge sounds
  • The TD-17KL includes an 8” PDX-8 mesh snare pad, three 8” rubber tom pads, the new TD-10 kick pedal pad, two 8” cymbal pads, and a hi-hat pad with remote foot pedal. It is the only model in the series that does not include Bluetooth connectivity.
  • The TD-17KV comes with the new PDX-12 snare pad, KD-10 kick drum pad, three 8” mesh tom pads, two cymbal pads, and a hi-hat pad with remote foot pedal
  • The TD-17KVX includes the PDX-12, KD-10, and the new VH-10 hi-hat pad and bottom, as well as three 8” mesh tom heads, two 12” crash cymbal pads, and a 13” ride cymbal pad
  • All kits include the TD-17 module
Acoustic Bass Drums
Roland bass drum

Roland KD-220

The new TD-50KVX and TD-25KVX each adds a traditional-sized bass drum to the mix. The TD-50KVX includes a 22” maple bass drum (KD-220) while the TD-25KVS includes an 18” birch bass drum (KD-180). Both bass drums are equipped with a special trigger batter head. They are designed to give the presence and look of an acoustic kit on stage, as well as the feel of one from the throne. “It has that mass pushing against you that we come to expect from an acoustic drum set,” says the company. The metal wrap blends with look of the rest of the kit, including the black chrome snare.

These can also be played acoustically by swapping out the heads, Tabberer-Stewart said. He assured that both the maple and birch drums sound great, though he couldn’t provide details on the manufacturing other than saying they were produced in “partnership with a major acoustic drum brand.”

Roland noise eater bass drum pedal

Roland Noise Eater Bass Drum Pedal

Noise Eaters

Lastly, Roland’s sound absorbing Noise Eater technology is now available on a variety of bass drum and hi-hat pedals. The company claims the anti-vibration system reduces acoustic noise and vibration by up to 50 percent.

You can watch video from the May 8 livestreamed announcement on Roland’s Facebook page.