Roland has been in the driving seat of electronic drum set development since the '80s, and it's new SPD-SX Pro sample pad, along with the recent updates to the TD-17, TD-27 and VAD series are proof that it doesn't plan on slowing down any time soon.
It's Roland's 50th anniversary this year, though, and to celebrate it has unveiled the D-Flux: a decades-hopping electronic drum set that bares more resemblance to its early electronic kits than the V-Drums we know and love from today.
At least to begin with. Announced just in time for Back to The Future Day, the D-Flux takes inspiration from Roland's Alpha Drums of the 1980s, but with modern features. The polyhedral (that's triangular, to us) shaped pads hark back to the Alpha Drums design, but rather than rubber, they're fitted with a mesh playing surface.
“We call this 50th anniversary concept model project D-Flux." says D-Flux pad designer, Yusuke Tanakadate. "The D comes from Delta and represents the shape of the pad and its association with the original [Alpha] drum. It is also the D in the word drum. For the concept model, we combined it with the word flux, which means flow, because we wanted to create a new change.
"As a premise, we developed this concept model to be an electronic multi-purpose percussion instrument. It’s not only for use with drums but with multi-purpose instruments.
"Drummers and percussionists can use it alone or combine it with other instruments like hybrid drums and percussion. It’s also intended for DJs and producers to use in various ways, such as during performances.”
The D-Flux pads borrow positional sensing from Roland's V-Drums kits, and each triangular pad is capable of playing three sounds which can be played individually around the pad's edge, and stacked in the centre. But as well as this, three additional sounds can be placed around the rim too.
Things get even more unexpected with the 'bass drum'. The D-Flux actually uses what Roland is calling a Belt-Kick. Two belts are mounted to a Tomorrow's World-looking bass drum tower, and suspended behind a playing surface which can incorporate a double pedal.
The Belt Kick also uses a sensor to introduce an open/closed switch, which allows for aftertouch. Burying the beater when you strike will extend the sound, and can be further manipulated by pressing harder.
Confusing? Slightly - there's no mention of a module or sound generation, which would suggest that the sounds are housed within the pads, similarly to an SDP::One electronic drum pad, or the D-Flux pads are triggering sounds via MIDI.
What we do know, however, is that Roland has produced the D-Flux in two colour schemes: red/black and white/silver, and that while the D-Flux is still a 'concept' product with no plans announced for a consumer release, it will soon be making appearances worldwide thanks to a "global tour" where we'll be able to experience it for ourselves.
A blog post on Roland's website also confirms that elements of the D-Flux's design could very well make it into future products, stating "With D-Flux, Roland is pointing toward the next stage of its drum development. These are drums—but from an entirely new paradigm."
For more information on Roland D-Flux, click here.