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Roland TD-50K Electronic Drum Kit

Is the Roland TD-50K Electronic Drum Kit capable of fully replacing your acoustic kit? 

Quite Possibly! Read on to find out why!

 

When it comes to drummers and the drums they play on, there are typically three lines of thought.  You’ve got the hard-core traditionalists who refuse to ever play anything that’s remotely considered to be electronic in nature, you’ve got the guys who (for various reasons) prefer to play on electric kits only, and then you’ve got the guys who are somewhere in the middle.  The ones in the middle are those who either play on both acoustic and electronic kits or they are utilizing a hybrid method where they incorporate electronic pads into their otherwise fully-acoustic kit, or they modify/purchase acoustic kits that have been outfitted with various trigger and module setups in order to achieve more of a ‘traditional drum look and feel’, but to gain some of the aspects that an electronic kit offers over a more traditional setup.  As with most things, there is no one-size-fits all option to encompass everyone, so the choice comes down to the particular individual’s needs and preferences.

 

Being an acoustic drummer of over 20 years now, for the longest time I swore I would never ever touch an electronic drum set. Obviously, somewhere along the line that method of thinking changed.  Many years ago, that viewpoint fell in line with my whole ‘electronic music isn’t real music’ thought process that I had – for some reason unbeknownst to me – before I opened my ears and began to realize what all was possible when you stretch beyond the limitations of utilizing only acoustic instruments for creating music and redefining what was possible with traditional instrumentation alone.  When I began tip-toeing into the world of electronic music, it didn’t take long at all to realize that creating realistic drum patterns was fairly difficult to do by hand in a DAW.

 

Painstakingly drawing MIDI notes by hand, adjusting their off-sets and velocities to try to replicate the intricate humanized patterns and feeling in an attempt to create something akin to what I would actually be playing on a real kit was exceptionally difficult, and extrememly frustrating as it took so long to get anything organic and real feeling that it was a creativity killer.  This is what lead me, as well as a lot of other electronic music, to fall into the ‘drum-loop’ hole.  Still to this day, a great deal of electronic music is still either your basic four-on-the-floor pattern, or it’s a repetitious loop – albeit sometimes tweaked a bit to add some flair and variation with a simple tom fill here or there, and perhaps a splash or china tossed into the mix at some point.  I realize that not all of us are seasoned drummers, and not all of us focus and hone into the rhythmic drum patterns and grooves of our favorite tracks, but there are people, such as myself, who do tend to naturally feel and hear the beat and groove as the driving force and main element of the track.  When you begin to realize that your basic loops and repetitious patterns are not what you would be actually playing, were you actually playing and recording it in real time, I know at least for me, it’s a bit disheartening.  I needed more.  I needed to be able to ‘play’ the drums, but electronic kits were expensive, and as far as I knew when I was starting out, they were far from being decent enough to really replace an acoustic kit.

 

I originally tried supplementing this need and desire to create more realistic drum patterns in my beginning stages by purchasing a M-Audio Axiom AIR 40 Keyboard and Pad Controller.  Being new and naive to the world of controllers and creating music digitally, I looked at this controller as the end-all solution to my problems!  After all, not only was it a keyboard, but it also had knobs and sliders that I could theoretically utilize to control aspects within the DAW (such as mixing), but more importantly, it had 16 finger drumming pads!  At first glance, this thing looked to be the ultimate powerhouse, and it was reasonably affordable at the time too!  What more could I ask for?

 

Long story short, it didn’t take long at all for me to basically regret my purchase.  The keyboard itself was a good starter keyboard, but the sliders were grainy and unusable, the knobs were utterly useless as they had issues turning on their own (which, if you use Ableton, you’ll know behavior like that will break your global automation and become frustratingly annoying very quickly).  The thing I was looking forward the most with the keyboard – the pads – turned out to be so stiff they weren’t really ‘playable’ unless you mashed them really hard.  Regardless, I attempted to stick with it, and even used the pads to try to lay down some more intricate beats.  It was fun for a while, but it just wasn’t what I was looking for.  I ultimately gave up building my drum patterns with these pads and went back to programming my drum patterns by hand for a couple of years.

 

Fast forward another couple years, and the bug for better drums bit me again.  This time, it was when the Ableton Push 2 was announced and released.  When I finally picked a Push 2 up, it was a game changer, but sadly, not as much for the drums as I initially had hoped.  It’s odd looking back to know that while I initially picked up the Ableton Push literally to try to create better and more life-like drum grooves, it actually ended up becoming my main go to- controller, ultimately fully replacing my old worn-out Axiom Air 49 keyboard.  To this day I love my Push and I use it on every single song, but while I have had some great success using the Push 2 to create more realistic drums, I’ve still shied away from utilizing it for full pattern and drum/groove creation, and instead used it to aid with creating tom fills and very intricate snare roll structures.  When it really comes down to it, as playable as the Push 2 is for drums, it’s still no replacement for actually holding a pair of sticks in your hands and physically being able to sit down and play a drum kit just how you want to, applying finesse and techniques which would otherwise be difficult and time consuming to program manually.

 

As time continued to pass, it become more and more apparent I needed to get an actual legitimate electronic kit of some sort to play.  Music creation aside, living in a townhome for a couple years meant I hadn’t been able to play my acoustic kit for quite some time either, and I could feel the itch to play growing and growing.  I’d been trying to narrow down the various options by manufacturer, kit type, and head style for quite a while now, which is no easy feat considering the plethora of available options and kits that are available on the market today.  Years ago, electronic drums were basically a joke – thick rubber pads that didn’t feel ‘right’, were rigidly molded in place, and had extrememly limited dynamics.  They weren’t really much fun to play on  at all.  Fast forward a few years, and the industry has made incredible leaps and bounds in bringing realistic dynamics, feel, playability to the electronic drum scene, but make no mistake about it – there still remains several instantly recognizable differences between today’s entry, mid-range, and profesional grade kits, and it’s important to realize those differences and limitations when shopping for a kit of your own.

 

I knew right off the bat that entry level kits weren’t going to be an option for me, as I knew I simply wouldn’t be satisfied with them coming from a heavy acoustic drumming background.  I began by scouring the web for mid-range kits that were slightly used.  I waited a few months after Christmas passed, figuring there would be several kits from parents who bought their kids decent mid-range kits, only to find they lost interest.  I figured I could find a decent kit at a decent price that was basically brand new from someone looking to recoup some of their losses.  I looked around at all your usual sources, and even found a few, but what I came to find was that the majority of the kits that people were buying were actually entry level Alesis and Simmons kits.  I found a very select few mid-range Yamaha and even the occasional used Roland kit, but these were almost all older, heavily abused gigged kits.  At one point, I found a used Roland TD-11K kit that was in pretty good condition, for a decent price.  I was initially pretty interested, until I realized that it didn’t have USB out.  I knew I didn’t want to screw around with MIDI adaptors.  Whatever kit I got needed to have USB.  It was quickly becoming clear that it was time to stop looking around for lightly used kits, and just focus on what options I knew I wanted from a kit from the get-go, and then focus on finding one at that point – new or used.

 

After doing tons of research and even taking a trip to the local Guitar Center to look at the kits, I was really intrigued by the new mesh-heads that some kits were offering these days.  After playing around on the different kits, it was immediately evident that there was a huge difference in feel and playability between the modern rubber pads and these new mesh-heads.  I was a bit worried that these mesh heads wouldn’t be able to handle the wear and tear of playing, and that they would need to be babied.  Doing my research, that didn’t appear to be the case.  Some simple rules seemed to apply – No metal brushes, no felt beaters, use brand new sticks, and nylon tips were okay as long as you kept an eye on the tips as having a tip come of would be disastrous to your kit.  The more and more I read on these mesh heads, the more I was impressed by them, and the more I wanted to get a kit that at least had a mesh head snare.  I spent some more time reading, and finally decided that a mesh head snare was nice, but it would make the toms feel less than ideal in direct comparison.  Full mesh headed kit it was, but there was a drawback to this – the price point of kits jumped significantly when going rubber pads to single mesh pad, and even more so so when going from single mesh pad to full mesh pad kit.

 

Another area of concern was the cymbals, and especially the hi-hat.  Anyone who’s familiar with playing an acoustic drum kit knows that a lot of the intricacies that you can perform on a hi-hat and very fine cymbal work is often just flat out lost when trying to transition over to an electronic kit.  The actual feeling of playing a hat aside – it’s exceptionally difficult to capture all the subtle nuances, especially in a hi-hat, on an electronic kit.  This problem is exceedingly accentuated by kits that don’t use real hi-hat stands, instead utilizing a pedal that’s supposed to somehow magically mimic the playability of a hi-hat, which is impossible to do because it’s offering zero tactile feedback of how the hats are actually moving up and down on the stand.  To make this problem even more wide-spread, some kits are using this exact same type of pedal for a kick drum trigger, although some have created a bent/upside-down beater mechanism to hit a trigger on their kick, neither design feels like a real kick pedal, and neither is as of high quality as a good name brand pedal, not to mention double bass goes out the window with one of these kits.  While I can certainly understand the appeal of these features on some kits, especially for those people who are playing their kits in apartments or other environments where they absolutely need the quietest kit they can get, for someone who’s main focus is on feel, feedback, and realistic playback – these types of pedal/trigger combinations feel akin to that of a toy.  These types of setups were out – I wanted something that used a real hi-hat stand and a real kick pedal – specifically supporting a double-bass pedal, as that’s what I’m accustomed to playing on (although, I realize that wouldn’t likely be utilized in most of my electronic based music productions).

 

Having finally narrowed down my final list of criteria for a kit (USB, full-mesh heads, real hi-hat, and real kick pedal – capable of supporting double-bass), I moved forward in my search.  Believe it or not, even with the plethora of manufacturers and kits available on the market today, having such a stringent list of requirements really narrowed down my search a great deal.  I even found a lot of hybrid manufacturers who used real shells and added triggers to them, but the problem is that you’re paying a lot of money for the actual wood/real drums, and they are usually paired with sub-par drum modules, which I came to find out, make or break your kit.  I had basically narrowed down my potential kit to full electronic options available from four manufacturers:  Alesis, KAT Percussion, Roland, and Yamaha.

 

Product Ratings
  • Acoustic Drum-like 'Playability'
  • Price
  • Quality
  • Value
4.3

The Contenders

The first kit I came across that really caught my eye was the KAT Percussion KT4 – a fairly new kit on the market that had most of the options I was looking for, while not being too hard on the wallet.  Overall, it had decent reviews, decent stock sounds, didn’t break the bank, and looked okay.  Unfortunately, it utilizes rubber pads all around.  Worse off was that review after review that I came across on the KT4, while generally positive in nature, came to the same conclusion – while the stock sounds were on par with some higher end kits and the feel of it was fairly good overall, it severely lacks in dynamics compared to more higher-end kits from other manufacturers.  Seeing as how I was planning on pairing this combination with  Toon Track’s Superior Drummer 3, dynamics was something I was going to depend heavily upon.  I decided to pass.

 

Continuing my search onward lead me to the Alesis Strike Pro Red kit.  Anyone who’s ventured into the electronic drum scene knows Alesis is a very common name.  They make kits across the board from very basic entry level, all the way up to their flagship Strike Pro kit.  At first glance, this is a pretty impressive kit, especially for the price.  No doubt about it, everything else aside – it looks fantastic!  A full mesh kit, four cymbals, four toms, real hi-hat stand, a hi-hat that uses a top and bottom cymbal, real snare stand, and capable of supporting a real double-bass pedal, it seemed like a decent option to look into.  Upon further reading, this kit, while passable, still comes with a drum module that’s nowhere near as good as even some of the mid-range Yamaha or Roland modules out there.  Dynamics seem to suffer a lot on this kit, and the cymbals are the same mass-produced easily broken cymbals that are used and rebranded on most other lower/mid range kits.  More so, the stock sounds, while adequate, are nothing to write home about, and overall, for the money spent, it was generally accepted to go with a mid-range Yamaha kit over this one at this price point.  Next!

 

With the next kit being the Yamaha DTX-760, we have essentially crossed over into the level of profesional grade electronic drums.  This was a big leap forward both in build quality/features, but also in price.  No longer were these entry or even mid range kits, nope – not even close at this price point.  No doubt about it – the Yamaha DTX-760 is a very well rounded and highly respected and reviewed kit.  I’ve always been a huge fan of Yamaha electronics and instruments in general.  I’ve played on their acoustic kits.  I love my Yamaha HS8 studio monitors.  I also rely on Yamaha for my home theater receiver.  As a whole, I’m a huge fan of them from a consumer’s standpoint.  The biggest downfall for me with this kit that I kept reading was their cymbals, while better than most, are still heavily lacking in comparison to Roland’s.  Time and time again, Roland seems to set the bar higher in regard to the longevity of their kits, and especially in their cymbals.  Evidently, there’s another company who makes the majority of electronic cymbals out there today, and they all suffer from the same basic issues.  I have read that Roland’s design is unique and they make their own, which are claimed to be the best in the industry.  This, of course, lead me into looking into Roland’s lineup of e-drums.

 

Moving forward in my search, I had initially fell in love with Roland’s TD-30KV kit.  An absolute beast of a drum set with rave reviews across the board in all categories.  It was exactly what I was looking for!  However, there was a problem – this kit was discontinued long ago and basically impossible to find anymore.  Such a shame too, as it was exactly as I was looking for.  Searching around, I had quickly discovered the Roland TD-25KV kit.  It certainly wasn’t nearly as nice as the TD-30KV, but it seemed to be the best contender for the price.  Excellent reviews across the board.  The module had great sounds, very wide dynamics, the kick drum felt natural and was very responsive for either single or double bass, the snare and hi-hat both utilized real stands, more-so the hi-had used Roland’s VH-11 which is renowned throughout the world of electronic drums as one of the best available.  It was all around a great kit – the only problem being that it has been around for quite a few years, and people were starting to turn an eye toward’s Roland’s new flagship product.

 

Enter their current flagship – the Roland TD-50K/V

 

Pros

Right off the bat, it’s easy to see that the Roland TD-50K is a very high-end profesional grade kit.  Every single aspect about it screams high-quality, and there is absolutely nothing about it that feels cheap or substandard in any way.  I was shocked to find that the kit came shipped to my house in four huge boxes, and they sure know how to pack this thing to ensure that it’s not damaged in shipping.  Tons of padding everywhere, and packed with care.  Instructions galore in seemingly every language, and it was awesome that they included little things like very large high-quality drum keys and even a stick holder to attach to the rack – which, was a very nice touch I might add!

 

Speaking of the drum rack, this was my first time I’d ever had the pleasure of seeing or using one in person.  While the track itself had initially felt somewhat limiting to where/how I could position the toms and cymbals around the kit, I had quickly discovered that the rack itself allowed for an almost limitless placement and positioning of the various components, while keeping the entire kit super condensed.  It was surprisingly heavy-duty, having a decent amount of weight to it and being extrememly stable.  Most of the cabling is run through the rack itself, so everything looks really nice and clean at the end, although Roland cautions you not to open the kit too wide for fear of stretching or pinching the cabling that runs throughout it.

 

The kit itself was very easy to assemble for the most part.  The most difficult part of the entire setup process, aside from the final adjustment of each element and the kit as a whole (which every drum kit, acoustic or electronic, will require on a per-drummer basis to feel ‘right’ to them), was just simply putting the kick drum together which wasn’t all that difficult.  It involved attaching the pad to their stand and then attaching the 2 rear legs to the unit.  Everything else except for the hi-hat was essentially unboxing the pieces, attaching them to the rack, and tightening them down.  All in all, I had the entire kit assembled and ready to play within a few hours.

 

The real important question here isn’t how the kit gets put together though, but rather how does it sound and obviously most important of all – how does it feel and respond to actual playing styles?  Is it comparable at all to an acoustic set?  How do the dynamics and nuances of an acoustic kit translate over?  Do you still feel like you’re playing a ‘fake’ kit?  The short answer to all of these questions is I am literally blown away at how real these drums play, sound, and feel.

 

It’s almost unbelievable to me how well these drums feel when you’re playing them.  I did not expect them to feel this good; not even close in fact.  I’ve plugged my phone into the mix-in on the Roland TD-50’s module, set a kit, and played along with some tracks and almost forgotten that I wasn’t playing a real kit after a while.  It’s truly incredible how these drums feel, especially compared to the older rubber pad models, and more so to some of the mid-range models of other manufacturers such as the Alesis kits that I had tried out at Guitar Center.  There simply is no comparison between a kit of this level and an entry or even higher mid-range kit.

 

The ability to adjust the mesh heads on a full mesh kit is very nice too.  Perhaps you like a bit more bounce on your heads?  Increase the tension.  Maybe you like your sticks to ‘dig-in’ a bit more?  Decrease the tension.  Of course, this only changes the stick rebound, but having that ability is light years above the older rubber pad designs.  Having now spend some time playing on the mesh-heads, I can say with confidence that my fears regarding mesh heads being susceptible to damage and wearing out prematurely were unfounded.  The new snare comes with a 3-ply mesh head which, while not exactly like a real acoustic snare head, more closely resembles the feel and rebound than say the 2-ply mesh that is on the toms of the Roland TD-50K.

 

The module on this kit is extrememly in-depth – almost too much so to be honest.  I haven’t even began to dive in past the surface levels, but the adjustability of the drums and sounds is absolutely crazy.  You can adjust shell depth and size, microphone positioning, and believe it or not, but you can even adjust the number of ‘snare’ strainers under the snare.  You can do your standard FX processing on a per pad basis – compression, reverb, delay, and even add some fun flanger type effects too should you desire.  Some of the stock kits sound good, and while others sound very crazy, I have just found out that Roland has a pack you can download that is ‘pro-tuned’ by some of the bigger names in the drum industry.  I’ve downloaded the kit, but I’ve yet to install and play around with it, but I’ve no doubt that they probably all sound pretty incredible and are all very playable.  For me personally, the stock sounds and pro-tuned kits are great, but remember – my intention was to do recording with this kit into Ableton – essentially using this as a midi-controller for Toon Track’s Superior Drummer 3 – so these stock and modified sounds aren’t real big game changers for someone like myself who’s interested in only using this kit in a very specific way.  Sure, I’ll be playing along with some of my favorite tracks and practicing, but for the most part, I purchased this kit to be a dedicated controller and nothing really beyond that.

 

Beyond everything else with this kit – perhaps what surprised me most of all was how playable the hi-hat is.  Even though the Roland TD-50K comes with the older VH-11 Roland hi-hat, it’s still regarded as one of the best hats on the market available today.  More so, and honestly what swayed me over to the Roland TD-50 kit from the older TD-25KV model was that the new Roland TD-50K and Roland TD-50KV come with Roland’s new completely digital snare and 18″ ride cymbal.  There’s nothing crappier than playing on a small ride, more so the older styles of cymbals literally feel obsolete compared to the newer fully digital ride.  The dynamics and sensitivity that are achieved across the entire cymbal are amazing, from the edge, to the middle of the cymbal, and even at the bell – this thing plays like a real cymbal.  More so, with the new fully digital design of the Ride and Snare, they are both fully capable of sensing the static field from your hands  while you’re playing them.  What exactly does this mean you may ask?  Simple – it knows how you’re playing them.  For a ride, this means you can literally lightly brush your pinky finger down the ride after hitting it and it reacts and slightly fades out just as a real cymbal would.  Choking it reacts just as you would expect.  I can clearly see why this ride cymbal is regarded as the best in the world right now.

 

The same can be said for the new fully digital snare which, of course, is also capable of sensing the static field form your hand.  It’s pretty standard for any electronic kit anymore to be able to differentiate between a standard snare hit and a rimshot, but where most electronic kits fail is they are unable to seamlessly identify the difference between a rimshot and a cross-stick.  Yamaha, for instance has solved this age old problem by dedicating a specific part of their snare’s rim to a cross stick, and using the rest of as a rim shot.  That works well enough, but again, it’s something you have to take conscious note of and it’s not natural.  Roland’s new snare handles the transition absolutely perfectly and naturally.  Being able to sense the static in your hand, they are able to know when you’re doing a cross stick and when you’re doing a standard rimshot.  It’s absolutely incredible to play on and see/feel the difference, and it works exactly as you would expect.  Hands down, the new digital 18″ ride and digital snare on the Roland TD-50K kits from Roland make this a worthwhile upgrade, and they are a game changer when it comes to electronic drums in general.  I expect it won’t be long until other manufacturers start incorporating this technology in their own kits as well, but for right now, Roland’s on their game with these new designs.  Just these options alone make this a worthwhile purchase over the older TD-25KV kit, and they were the sole reason I went for the upgraded and newer Roland TD-50K kit.  In my opinion, as well as so many others – it is worth the upgraded cost.

 

Considerations

Honestly, when you get to a point when you’re seriously considering purchasing a kit at these price points, there isn’t going to be a whole lot to really be disappointed with.  The profesional grade kits of today are nearly at a point where they are starting to become indistinguishable from standard acoustic kits when playing them – and there’s a lot to be said about achieving that.  It wasn’t too many years ago when electronic kits were laughed at and basically dismissed as little more than toys and cheap imitations.  Regardless of how you personally feel about the electronic vs acoustic drum battles that will inevitably continue to rage on for years to come, you simply can’t deny these are incredible in dynamics, playability, and realism.  The biggest thing to consider here is obviously the associated cost.  Drums of this quality obviously don’t come cheap, and the lesser kits simply don’t have the feel, dynamics, features, or response that kits of this level do.  It’s also important to note that not all people will require, or even want all something of this level.

 

As with most things, it’s a balancing act of trading off how much you want to spend on a kit with how realistic you want it to feel and play – and that’s most certainly not always an easy and straight forward question to answer.  When I first started my journey on the search for acquiring an electronic drum set, I had expected to spent about $300-$500 total on a used set.  It didn’t take long for that to work it’s way upward to the $700-800 range, and when you’re looking at that range, what’s another $200 or so bucks – because the kits really start to look enticing at around the $1,000-$1,200 price range.  The problem with those kits is they’re just teasing you with features that you really want, but you’re only getting a small subset of them at the expense of others.  For instance, you may get one mesh-head, but you won’t get a full-mesh head kit, or you may get a full-mesh head kit but you’ll find the dynamics are lacking on it compared to higher-end models.  Perhaps the dynamics are there, but the module itself isn’t up to snuff and the cymbals are known to be really crappy.  It’s a constant struggle to offset things that you don’t care about in order to attempt to get something that would be a ‘deal-breaker’ if you didn’t have it, and every single manufacturer out there has kits like this.  It’s exceptionally difficult to stay within your budget, and it’s a slippery slope from one level to the next, as there are so many kits and brands to choose from that it’s always just another couple hundred bucks to another kit that has something better than the previous you were looking at, and eventually you get to a point where you’ve invested so much money toward a kit and learned about the shortcomings of certain kits, that if you’re going to get a kit and be serious about it – it truly makes sense to really only look at profesional grade sets, which are going to set you back at least $2,500 – and of course, they only go upward from there and the sky is most certainly the limit.

 

The kit I chose was a perfect example of this exact thing.  For instance, the Roland TD-50KV (Their current flagship model) comes with 12″ toms and their VH-13 hi-hats (which are currently regarded as the best and most realistic hi-hats in the electronic drumming world).  As the Roland TD-50KV kit comes in at almost $8,000.  I instead opted for the Roland TD-50K kit which uses the smaller 10″ toms and VH-11 hi-hat.  This was a compromise of features vs cost.  Do I really miss having larger 12″ toms?  Absolutely!  Would I had loved to have a kit that included the far more realistic VH-13 hi-hat?  Certainly!  Was I willing to almost double the purchase price to have both of those?  Not a chance.  There comes a point when you have to say enough is enough, and for me, the Roland TD-50K was it, and that’s what you have to do as a consumer when looking to purchase a kit of your own.  Find that point where what you’re looking at justifies the purchase price without going beyond.

 

Looking back, yes, there are features I would have enjoyed by going even higher, but what’s great about electronic drums is, like acoustic sets, you can upgrade and add on at a later point in time.  I  can always upgrade to the larger 12″ toms and VH-13 hi-hat later down the road, and then sell my used ones to help offset the cost of the upgrades, and while I’m not entirely sure I’ll upgrade the hi-hat yet as the VH-11 is surprisingly really good, coming from acoustic drums, I can say I definitely do miss having larger toms.  If you’re only used to playing on electronic sets, you may not have a problem with the smaller 10″ toms, but for someone who’s accustomed to acoustic kits, 10″ toms are small – and having 10″ floor toms takes getting used to.  What’s worse for me personally is my acoustic Tama set comes with oversized toms, so I’m going from a 16″ floor tom down to a 10″ floor tom.  Ouch!  Time and practice will surely rectify this however.  This is obviously where hybrid acoustic kits that are fitted with mesh heads and trigger systems really shine, but, again those kits are not without their negative aspects either, and that’s a whole different can of worms to open up.

 

On a different side of things, the Roland TD-50 kit introduces a layout shift from a traditional kit.  As you can see in the pictures, the stock design moves one of the top toms to the floor, and moves the ride in where the tom was. Roland claims this is what ‘modern drummers everywhere are doing with their kits’.  Personally, after having two toms above and one floor tom for 20+ years now, I’m used to having that layout, and that’s the layout I want.  Their new layout was really annoying to me at first, but I quickly discovered that with this rack you can basically set your kit up however you want.  It took a lot of maneuvering and playing around o get things just right, but I eventually got back to the two toms up and one floor tom, with ride off to the side, and two crashes in front of me layout that I’m accustomed to playing on.  Yes, it took a little work to setup how I wanted it, but at the end of the day, it was really worth it.  I’ve enjoyed these drums a lot more since changing the layout over to what I was more familiar with playing on, and after getting everything positioned to where it feels more natural, these feel great – so I wouldn’t really consider this to be a con.  It’s not like an acoustic set is going to feel perfect to you without tweaking their position either.

 

Something else that may or may not be considered a con is that you need to supply your own snare and hi-hat stands with this kit.  The snare itself on this kit is heavy – in fact, it may actually be even heavier than my acoustic snare!  The hats also require the use of a real stand.  As I don’t play my acoustic kit much anymore, I simply used my stands from my kit as well as a seat and my double-bass pedal.  For someone new to the electronic drum scene, you may need to purchase these components in addition to the kit, which of course – depending upon the brand and quality of the components you select – can greatly increase the already hefty price tag of owning a set like this.  However, as noted in the Pro’s section – there’s no beating the feeling of having your own actual real hi-hat stand and the same can be said about having a snare mounted on a real snare stand.

 

For me personally, the biggest cons of this set are directly due to the inherent upgrades this kit has, which is kind of ironic when you think about it.  What do I mean by this exactly?  Simple – the new fully digital snare and ride make their older non-digital counterparts feel literally obsolete and crappy.  Having never owned an electronic set before this, I thought something was wrong when I went to choke the crash cymbals on this kit after literally brushing my finger against the new digital ride and having it react as a real ride cymbal would.  It wasn’t until I realized that I have to grab the crash cymbals with a great deal of force to get them to choke (and also in a very specific location for that choke to be registered) that I fully realized just how advanced the new digital ride was compared to the older technology found in the other two cymbals.  It’s really sad that, the toms aside, that the two crash cymbals weren’t also equipped with this new fully digital technology.  Worse yet is that the Roland TD-50K’s module only has one more empty digital USB input, meaning even if they do some out with new fully digital cymbals to replace the two older style crashes, you’ll only likely be able to use one of them in that way.  Being that the kit itself uses actual USB ports for these new digital components, I’m left wondering if someone hasn’t tried a USB hub to see if it would allow connecting additional digital components, or not.  Part of me wants to say yes, but another part of me worries that the module would get confused about what was plugged in where.  I suppose someone out there has tried it, and Roland probably knows the answer, but, I’ve not dug deep enough to find the actual truth behind it.  I’d definitely love to know though.

 

In either case, do I feel a huge amount would be gained by having all digital toms?  Honestly, no.  It works really well for the snare because of the whole cross-sticking vs rimshot thing, but how often do you actually rimshot or cross-stick a tom?  Probably not all that often, if ever at all.  The full digital cymbals would have certainly been a huge upgrade to this kit, but it would have drove the price through the roof.  Clearly, Roland has the technology to do so, and I’ve no doubt that their next generation flagship kit will incorporate this, albeit at a very hefty price tag, but part of me still feels a little sad knowing that this kit could have been a bit more, and that parts of it are already basically obsolete.  In either case, this gives Roland something new to display in a couple of years after they gain some momentum with this kit now.  Perhaps in a few years they will create an upgrade kit for us Roland TD-50K guys with a new module and two new fully digital cymbals.

 

Other wise, my gripes with this kit are pretty minimal.  I know it sounds stupid, but I’m honestly a little disappointed that Roland only included one kick drum beater with this kit.  I realize not everyone plays double-bass, but considering you aren’t supposed to use felt with mesh head kits, and there are a great deal of double-bass drummers in the world, it wold have been great for them to had included a second non-felt beater for us double-bass guys.  Is it essential?  No.  However, at the price point for this kit, I felt it should have been included.  I was initially wondering why Roland decided to give me eight drum keys instead of a second non-felt tipped beater, when I realize that their drum kits are actually just their individual components that they send together as a “kit”.  Then, it made more sense to see why each of the boxes had its own drum key included.  Still, I would have rather had one drum key and a second beater, than just one beater and eight drum keys.  I’m nit-picking at this point, I know, but I still feel it’s a valid point, although I do understand, and also commend them on including drum keys with each of their pieces of the kits for those who purchase individual components.

 

Final Thoughts

Purchasing an electronic drum kit is no easy feat, and certainly not a decision to be taken lightly.  However, if you want a high quality kit from a well known, established, and respected manufacturer that will serve you for many years to come and give you the tactile feel and playability of a real acoustic kit but in an electronic form, I have absolutely no problem recommending people to go look at (and play!) the Roland TD-50K kit.  This is certainly not a kit for everyone, and I understand that, but for those who are looking for the best of the best at a profesional grade level and desire a kit that’s not sacrificing much in order to bring so many other amazing features to the table, you really need not look any further, except possibly at the Roland TD50KV if you’ve got the spare cash.

 

This kit is on an entirely different level than any other electronic kit on the market right now. 

It will blow you away!

Haive Music Recommend?

Yes!

Product Cost:

$4,799.99