Roland's flagship TD-30KV kit, was the first of the V-Drums to feature the highly acclaimed SuperNATURAL and Behaviour Modelling sound engine. Now Roland has produced two new modules which boast the same amazing sound technology and lightning-quick triggering response.
Each of the new modules have two brand new mid-range kits to partner them - the TD-11K (MSRP £1,000) and TD-11KV (MSRP £1,350) V-Compact kits (replacing the TD-4), and the new Tour Series with its TD-15K and TD-15KV kits.
This review features the TD-11KV, which, like slightly more affordable TD-11K, is based around the new stealth-like black TD-11 drum module and MDS-4V rack system. As well as the latest sound technology, the module comes with a raft of facilities such as Rhythm Coach, USB ports, full V-Edit, user adjustable Ambience, Pre-set songs, Quick Record etc, readily matching the facilities of the TD-9.
The sole benefit of the more expensive TD-11KV is that it comes complete with newly designed all-mesh PDX pads and sophisticated multi-zoned ride and crash pads.
Both rack arms of the MDS-4V are a standard length but the centre 'H'-frame crossbar is much shorter (around 25cm across), creating a sort of triangular-shaped rack and reducing the footprint. The drum stand is the same as used on the TD-4 V-Compact Series kits but, with that set-up the TD-4 drum module was perched in the middle of the actual 'H'-section crossbar. This seemed particularly odd as much of the module was obscured by the two small toms and mid-performance access was less than ideal.
In keeping with most of the other V-Drum kits, Roland has the module attached on the far left of the rack and just below the hi-hat pad.
The plucky little KD-9 kick, while not quite as grandiose as on the TD-30KV, is extremely sturdy and able to slot perfectly in between the two centre rack posts. The head itself is made from a beater-resistant woven cloth with just the right amount of impact-absorbing padding to allow a decent pedal response. Fans of double-pedals will be pleased to know that the kick pad is designed with twin beaters in mind and the pedal clamp bracket itself is wide enough to allow the perfect alignment for both beaters.
Purposefully designed for quick and easy access, the TD-11 controls are located within easy user reach and come in all shapes and sizes, depending on importance and ease of use. Selecting a kit, for example, would be either via the familiar value wheel, which gives rapid selection through any of the menus and screens or, step-by-step with the large incremental Drum Kit buttons.
Most functions are as difficult as pressing a button to either start or stop the metronome or song player, for example. A single button press is all that is required to enter the Quick Rec mode but this requires a single hit on the pad or a key press of the 'Play/Stop' button to initiate the recording. The three push-buttons, below the LCD display, align with the icons displayed on the various editing menus, which makes any editing quick and virtually fool-proof.
There are two types of USB sockets on the TD-11 (both located at the rear of the module) - one is a Type B socket, specially designed to allow connection to a computer (Mac or PC) where the TD-11 is recognised as an audio input/output device as well as a means of communication.
The other USB socket is designed for a memory stick or flash drive with which the user can back-up the TD-11 or load up with MP3s or WAV song files to play on the TD-11. Previously, the TD modules with this facility could only access songs if stored within the root directory of the drive. Now all song data can be organised into folders (creating albums perhaps), where each folder can contain up to 100 individual songs.
As a learning tool, the TD-11 is extremely well-equipped, having a coaching facility which, after the user-defined warm-up, helps get your wrists loosened-up for the various practice routines and challenges such as 'time check' which pits your sticks against the often-feared metronome, producing a score at the end of each exercise.
Then there's the 'quiet count' which drops-out the metronome for various time periods and awards a percentage score at the end of the sequence - a great way of instilling a sense of time into your playing. Other exercises and further coaching facilities are available via the excellent and highly recommended DT-1 V-Drums Tutor software which is available as a separate purchase for around £49.
Up onto the rack go the mesh-headed pads and the module is switched on and immediately ready to play with the last selected kit displayed. The overall sound is immediately impressive and the response from the mesh pads simply superb.
One kit which takes full advantage of their dual-zone triggering is the 'Reggae+Timbale' which has timbales on the 'centre' of the toms and a cowbell and other percussion on the rims - great for constructing some intricate and fun rhythms. The Latin percussion set kit is also brilliant for creating some amazing rhythms and is great for honing independence too.
When selecting a slightly more 'conventional' acoustic kit, playing just the drum rims on each of the toms produces the actual sound of the metal drum rim but then there is a moment where an acoustic shell would momentarily ring where the effect is exactly as an acoustic drum.
Real-time changes to whole kits or individual kit voices proves an easy task, thanks to the clear icon-driven menus. The combination of the intuitive display and well-placed controls means any last minute changes can be made on the hoof. Take swapping a snare over, for example: press Menu; strike the pad to change and select the new drum with the value wheel; press the Exit button - new snare, simples!
The response and extra facilities offered with the wrist-friendly mesh heads of the TD-11KV comes at an extra cost, but having tried both kits, we feel it's money well spent.