Since the TD-11KV electronic drum set was launched at the beginning of 2012, this electronic kit has become a number-one best seller for Roland.
The Compact Series set (compact rack and module), came hot on the heels of the highly desirable but nevertheless wallet-wrenching TD-30KV. The TD-11K has rubberised drum pads only, whereas the TD-11KV has all the benefits of mesh heads - when we reviewed those sets we concluded it was worth the extra outlay for the mesh set-up.
Up for review is the brand new TD-11KVSE - 'SE' for Special Edition. This is an expanded, enhanced five-piece set-up which now includes an additional crash cymbal, a 10" pad for Tom3 (the previous Tom3 was 8"), a larger rack and the superb VH-11 virtual hi-hat.
Roland has set the retail price only around £80 more than the original TD-11KV - potentially offering greater value for money.
With the kit comes the KD-9 kick pad - a robust and solid-looking piece of kit with a vertically aligned pad suitable for any conventional pedal. It is kitted out with adjustable spikes and Velcro to ensure this won't creep around on stage and go walkabout.
The beater strikes against a surface with a wear-resistant woven cloth, behind which is some spongy padding designed to give a realistic acoustic-like feel to the pedal beater. As the pedal clamp and pad face is wide enough to allow two beaters, double peddlers certainly won't be disappointed.
An excellent and worthy inclusion is the VH-11 virtual hi-hat which sits atop any standard hi-hat stand. It comprises two basic components - cymbal pad and a vertical sensor. The multi-zoned cymbal pad has two jack sockets - one for the cable linking it to the module and the other connecting it to the vertical sensor.
This senses or detects vertical movement of the centre pull-rod on any standard hi-hat stand. It is positioned where a lower/bottom hi-hat cymbal would reside. If you don't own one already, it is worth noting that there would be the additional purchase of the hi-hat stand - however, most acoustic drummers will simply use one from their acoustic kit.
Of course, the TD-11 kit comes with the excellent Compact Series TD-11 module. One of the main features here being Roland's stunning SuperNATURAL sampling technology and Behavioural Modelling.
This advanced 'next-generation' sound engine accurately interprets each and every stick strike, giving a seamless acoustic-like feel, (especially with those mesh heads), to the whole set-up. As we quickly realised in the previous TD-11 review, there is a good selection of professionally studio-recorded real instrument samples - the overall sound quality is set to impress.
"It's possible to create cymbal washes too - even without felt mallets!"
Each control of the TD-11 is intuitively placed and conveniently sized; the larger the control, knob or button, the more likely you are going to be using it either during performance or when editing. Our old friend, the value wheel, will prove extremely useful for rapid scrolls through kits, quick access through the many voices and when speedy pad edits are required.
Though the bulk of the access to the many module functions is often a single button-press away. That's unless you feel like getting into some hefty edits where the aforementioned value wheel comes in handy. For ease of use, the buttons are aligned below options in the LCD screen for any icon displayed functions - intuitive and virtually foolproof!
A range of on-board coaching exercises is included on the module which will help hone those drumming skills. Instilling a sense of time is the quiet count, which is a useful and fun way of learning. 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.
Though the MCS rack is a touch larger than the previous TD11-KV incarnation, it is still contained in a single box and remains a relatively compact set-up. With the exception of the cymbal arms which need to be put into position, the rack comes fully assembled. The side arms are simply unfolded, becoming a sturdy platform to attach the range of pads onto and within minutes, the cymbal arms, module and pads are in place.
Next up it's the various components of the VH-11 which slide over the hi-hat stand (borrowed from my acoustic kit) - the vertical sensor simply slides over the centre pull-pole and the VH-11 pad is clamped into position by its integral cymbal clamp.
This assembly takes a little adjustment (like any standard hi-hat will) for the user to become comfortable and for the unit to operate accurately. Thanks to the clear labelling (and the single D-type connector), connecting up requires just a little cable feeding along the rack tubes and inputting the 10 or so Jack plugs into the individual pads.
We are huge fans of mesh pads where the response of the module matches perfectly each stroke on each head. Buzz rolls, ghost notes and rapid single-stroke rolls are all available and taken in the stride of each component. It's possible to create cymbal washes too - even without felt mallets!
Here the sound increases in intensity as the stick velocity builds, eventually peaking as you would expect from a 'real' cymbal. As well as cymbal chokes on both crashes and the ride the most impressive facet is the control over the hi-hat.
Pedal splashes, lifting a foot slightly off the hi-hat pedal to create that half-open hi-hat that's great for lifting a song - all the techniques are possible. If there was to be an element of criticism here it would be for its rubbery feel, but this does keep noise levels to a minimum.
There's a comparatively small selection of on-board songs, but users are able to play back their own in either MP3 or .WAV format. Using any standard memory stick you can save songs, user kit data and even a whole system back-up.
The songs may be organised into folders - naming folders perhaps into individual genres. Access is easy and storing up to 100 songs per folder has the potential for masses of jam-along tracks. Other features include Quick Record which begins recording your amazing drum performance with a single press of the button or the strike of a pad.
With a selection of MP3s copied from my laptop onto a USB stick, it's simply the matter of inserting it into the rear end of the module. Within a second or two a message pops up on the LCD display: "Now processing..." The songs are immediately accessible and we were able to quickly navigate from the root directory to any folders set up on the stick. Each song is selectable from the value wheel by rotating it to the song of choice and hitting the Stop/Start button.
As we quickly discover, there is a mixed bag of volume levels on the MP3s or .WAV song files, and balancing the kit/song volume is a bit of a pain. Not through any fault of the module however, as it is possible to alter the volume of the backing track independently from that of the drums. We found that it was best practice to 'normalize' each track (using some audio editing software), before saving them onto the memory stick.
With the drum sound flexibility Roland's V-Drums offer, you don't have to stick with the same voices or preset pad values. Altering any kit set-up and saving them as your own user kits is easy, and experimenting with various sound aspects such as the initial drum voice or sound, detuning, drum size, muffling, adjusting pan, snare buzz etc, is something that never fails to impress.
Even if you don't want to spend time fiddling about with the various V-Drum edits, there is still a whole jamboree bag offered with this compact, powerful module and those wrist-friendly mesh pads.