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 the latest chips. Roland designed and released the first digital pads to connect to their TD-50 flagship module via USB cable, starting with the PD-140DS snare pad and the CY-18DR ride cymbal pad, with the release of the VH-14D digital hi hat coming a few years later. 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 turned 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 unparalleled and unrivaled in the industry for professional digital studio quality electronic drums instruments. This marked 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, even though I played VDrums exclusively for over a decade, I have now been graced to now venture back into the wonderful world of acoustic drums. I will continue to play VDrums 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 had 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.

VDrums also function as a great midi controller instrument to work in conjunction with wonderful virtual instrument libraries such as Toontrack's Superior Drummer 3. This enabled me to access a host of different drum sounds to compliment the Roland drum sound libraries and aesthetic. I have tended in the past to make use of the Roland sounds in a live environment and used VDrums in conjunction with Superior Drummer 3 in the studio for recording, but not exclusively, since there are some Roland kits that I have programmed that cannot be replicated in Superior Drummer 3.


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.

For many years my set up made 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 used in terms of how my actual kits pad set up interacted with the modules, though the digital pads always functioned as the main dedicated snare, ride and hi hats for the kit in conjunction with the TD-50X module, and my second snare was 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 leaved me the option to choose to run all the tom and cymbal pads either in the TD-30 or the TD-50X. It also would have enabled me to greatly expand the kit set up in the future with many more pads in conjunctions with both modules had I wished.

Though the TD-50X exploded my creative potential, there are still features from the TD-30 module that were not included in the TD-50X; features that I loved and became important to my musical process as a whole. I also spent a good four years programming, 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, I re-acquire a TD-30 module, and for a few years my kit set up utilised both modules and opened up creative horizons I could have only dreamed of previously.

However since I have now re-entered the world of acoustic drums, and did so on the basis of manifesting a studio kit for the sole purpose of recording, my whole orientation changed relative to my electronic drum set up. So I decided to sell my TD-50X, along with all the digital pads, my  Roland SPD SX sampling pad and Octa-Capture  audio interface, as well my Behringer 16 channel X-Touch control surfaces for my DAW. I replaced this gear with a Wing Behringer Digital mixer and S32 stage box and some good microphones to record the acoustic drums and purchased a Roland SPD-SX Pro Sampling pad and a Roland Octapad SPD20 Pro to add to my electronic drum set up.

The Wing mixer now functions as my audio interface and control surface for my DAW, and my Roland TD-30 which I love, is now once again the heart of my electronic drum set up. I run the headphones out of the Octapad Pro into the mix in section of the SPD-SX Pro sampling pad, and its headphones out into the mix in section of the TD-30, thereby being able to monitor both Roland pads from the TD-30's headphones. I predominantly bought the Octapad for all the Indian percussion sounds and these two pads will now add a whole dimension of creative potential and musicality to my electronic set up. I am considering creating a whole multimedia world electronic dance show using my electronic set up as the core, most likely this show will involve a collaboration with a keyboard player singer.    

As a personal journey Roland VDrums have enabled me to manifest and sustain my vision as a drummer percussionist, to play a unique instrument, with total creative control, coupled with precise sound reproduction in any environment. I feel that this next stage of musical journey is going to be so exiting and lead me into a whole new paradigm of creativity, expression and musical horizons to inspire me for years to come.


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