Roland is the absolute best in electronic drums.
Anyone who has played electronic drums knows that, although they make less noise than a real drum set, the hard rubber pads on most of these types of drums is not only loud when struck (THUMP) they have a harsh effect on your wrists and behave differently than striking a real drum head. With mesh drum heads you get a much more real feel, no loud “THUMP”, and an easier impact on your wrists, there were times with my older electronic kit where i had to stop playing in order to stop the pain in my wrist and lower arm, there are drum sticks that can reduce the vibration impact of strike but with the mesh heads you don’t need them.
Other electronic drum set manufacturers are beginning to use mesh heads and they are becoming the standard, but Roland heads seem to have the highest quality and feel when playing them.
When you play an electronic kit, you’re triggering samples with the input of your drum strike, in the older days, you’d have a simple triggering of one sample or synth note from each drum hit you play, as time has gone on, the incorporation of multi sampling has produced higher quality of sound with electronic drums, the drum hits are mapped to the velocity (heaviness of the drum hit) so a light hit will make a light sound while a heavier hit will make a louder fuller sound of a harder drum hit.
This kind of sound module can also create a better playing experience and sound with regard to the cymbals. For instance, the cymbals can be mapped to have the regular part of a ride cymbal, while the bell can trigger the bell sounds. Multi sampling can really help with the hi hat portion of an electronic kit as the sounds can be mapped from the closed, slightly open-wide open, closed again with dozens of samples mapped to the various portions of the open and closed hi hat cymbals. The Roland TD 17 drum module goes beyond this, allowing you to select different sizes of cymbals. You can also load your own sounds via an SD card, this will not give you multi sampling capability but it can give you ability to put some custom samples on your drum set.
The hardware is quite well made, while some plastic is included, there is metal on the main bars of the hardware, the cymbal stands give an ability to adjust the angles on both the top and bottom of the cymbal stand and that helps you put the cymbals exactly where you want them. The drum holder components give you a wide range in ability to adjust the drums to where you prefer for increased fluidity of your drum rolls and having the snare drum in a comfortable location.
As discussed in the above section the cymbal sounds are quite extensive and well sampled and give you an experience of playing a real drum set. The Roland TD17 gives you a hi hat, crash cymbal, ride cymbal with a bell, and an additional crash, the TD17KVX also includes a hi hat cymbal with a sensor that is much closer to a real hi hat feel, you’ll need to get a real hi hat stand, but this is well worth it to have the fell and play ability of a real hi hat, the hi hat is usually the most disappointing part of an electronic drum set but the TD 17 goes a long way to get a good, realistic feel and sound of real hi hat cymbals.
In addition to the good multi sampling, selection of cymbal sizes ( a really cool feature) the cymbal pads on the TD 17 give you a very nice playing experience.
Training / Play Along
A Metronome can be a very good tool for establishing your timing (meter) and playing accurately, the Roland TD17 not only includes a full featured metronome, it also includes built in grooves for jamming along with and improving your drum playing ability. Like most other electronic drum modules, you can plug in an mp3 player or any other audio device to play with pre recorded songs, but the TD17 is unique in that includes Bluetooth connectivity to play along with your favorite practice songs with a wireless connection, making life easier for you as wires tend to clog things up and make a mess.
Below is a song on sound cloud with the TD17 as the main drum track.
With electronic drums, you can not only play a variety of the sounds in your drum module but you can also with most electronic drum sound modules today, connect to a midi interface and/or computer for even more sounds and recording capability. Most midi interfaces now utilize a standard USB connection which requires a computer to work in most cases. With the TD17 sound module, you not only get a USB connection but also a standard 8 pin din midi out for controlling more conventional hardware such as samplers, synthesizers and drum machines, either individually or through a complicated studio midi bus setup.
There are lots of options on the market for drum kits, the TD17 as with most other Roland V drum setups represent the upper end of quality, the cost reflects that unfortunately, like most things in life you get what you pay for and this is no exception, but you get the best in sound and durability of electronic drums at a cost that is more reasonable than electronic drum sets of just a few years ago, the sound quality is increasing, the features are increasing while the prices have fallen quite a bit.
There are other options that include many of the features of the Roland V drums, but they usually fall short, particularly on the cymbals and drum sounds, cheaper hardware etc… You can also spend a lot more money with Roland Vdrum kits so the TD17 represents a good mid level electronic drum set.
Who is this for?
If you’re just starting out and are on a tight budget there are better options that cost as much as half this drum set and deliver good features and playing ability, the TD 17 as with all Vdrum series are geared to more intermediate players ready to spend at least $1k for a new electronic drum kit, the TD17 specifically is considered more of a practice kit but it is certainly portable enough and the sounds are good enough for some gigging, the hardware does not appear to be designed for heavy touring, however you could take it to the odd gig now and again as it is very portable.
The TD17 also is fairly compact as far as electronic sets go while still giving you the ability to have all the features like a double pedal for double bass drum playing. You’ll need your own pedal and drum seat, as well as a hi hat pedal on the TD17 KVX.