Why VDrums ?
In 2012 Roland released their Supernatural VDrums series, the flagship model being the TD-30 module. In 2016 Roland released the TD-50 module taking further step to increase the capabilities of the TD-30 module, reflecting the further increases in CPU power across the IT computer industry made in the four years between 2012 to 2016. This enabled further advancements Roland had envisioned but could not achieve until the development of these latest chips, by enabling the PD-140DS snare pad and the CY-18DR ride cymbal pad to connect to the module digitally via USB cable. The digital pad USB interface enabled many more sensors to be installed in these digital pads resulting in a more expressive, intuitive and functional playing and tracking experience; in 2020 Roland released their digital VH-14D hi hat cymbal pads enabling all three digital inputs on the TD-50 to be utilised.
In mid 2020 Roland also released the TD-50X module, also available as an update for TD-50 module owners. This update, greatly enhanced the sound library, the ambience section and the modules interface capabilities with PC music software DAW's over a single USB cable. This upgrade exponentially improved the already powerful features of the TD-50. The result turning the already advanced sonic sound generation and editing sophistication of first the TD-30 followed by the TD-50 module, to a level of digital sophistication in professional digital studio quality electronic drums instruments unparalleled and unrivaled in the industry. This marks a new development for drummers because the technology is such now, that it challenges without doubt any notion that electronic drums don’t measure up to acoustic drums, and in fact electronic drums have many great advantages and features that don’t exist in an acoustic drums set. Personally I love playing both.
However I have chosen to play Vdrums exclusively for the time being because of the sheer power of creativity and expression they offer for both live and studio performance. Their quality and versatility is unsurpassed, from playing a true to life be-bop kit and the next moment a fat studio deluxe kit, all with full dynamic control. The TD-30 and TD-50X both boasts a total of around 1000 drum voices, which can be configured into 100 kit patches, and can be customized from the ground up; choosing heads, shell material and depth, tuning, dampening, mics placement, snare buzz and kit resonance amounts.
The individual kits can be mixed with ambience which is split into three sections, overhead mics with precise placements, a huge number of room environments from a locker to stadium size, with full parameters over size and shape, mics placement, and wall materials, and lastly reverb. Extensive effects can also be added to every kit which also come with master EQ and compression as well as EQ and compression for each individual voice of that kit. The mixer section enables control over each individual voice’s volume, panning, compression, EQ, ambience and effects.
Effectively this translates to the equivalent of being able to build a hundred different drum kit configurations, which can then be processed for recording with all the flexibility of a million dollars studio !!!
The TD-30 also comes with a six part sequencer, 262 backing instruments which with all the other 1100 voices can be programmed into sequences all capable of been triggered from any pad, and all of this massive output can then be routed to 12 different outputs, 8 direct , one analogue and one digital stereo master output, for full mixing control of individual voices, live or in the recording studio at 24 bit 44.1KHz.
The TD-50X to which I have upgraded is the first electronic drum set using pads triggering sounds digitally via USB, it also enables the user to load his or her own samples directly to the internal memory of the unit, and the layering of two separate voice to create one sound. It also boast many new unprecedented sound editing and routing features including sending both midi and 30 channels of digital audio via one USB cable.
This entire package can then be accessed from a single untreated room in my house and I can play and record day or night without disturbing the neighbours!
A unique opportunity
Roland VDrums have also enabled me to create a very unique drum set configuration whereby I have developed a different approach to playing the drums. I play in circles always facing directly forward completely open handed, never having to twist my torso. The tom placement and tuning order is unconventional, the rim of each tom can have a voice assigned to it. I tend to assign percussive voices there (usually extra hihats), which creates a kit configuration with 6 hihats, impossible to reproduce in the real world. My custom set up and voice assignment has inspired many different ways of phrasing, embellishing and playing grooves.
Currently my set up makes use of both the TD-30 and TD-50X modules, including all three of Roland's new digital pads for snare, ride and hi hats. There are various possible formats I can use in terms of how my actual kits pad set up interacts with the modules, though the digital pads are always function as the main dedicated snare, ride and hi hats for the kit in conjunction with the TD-50X module, and my second snare runs dedicated in conjunction with the TD-30 module. I therefore could also run secondary dedicated ride and hi hat pads with the TD-30 module. Using two modules leaves me the option to choose to run all the tom and cymbal pads either in the TD-30 or the TD-50X. It also enables me to greatly expand the kit set up in the future with many more pads in conjunctions with both modules should I wish.
Though the TD-50X has exploded the my creative potential, there are still features from the TD-30 module that were not included in the TD-50X; features I loved and became important to my musical process as a whole. I also spent a good four years programing, refining and creating some amazing kits on my TD-30, and though I initially sold my TD-30 module when I upgraded to the TD-50, having now re-acquire a TD-30 module, my latest kit set up utilising both modules has opened up creative horizons I could have only dreamed of previously.
As a personal journey Roland VDrums have enabled me to manifest my vision, to play a unique instrument, with total creative control, coupled with precise sound reproduction in any environment.