The entry level V-Drum kit is updated – we take a look in our Roland HD-3 review
Technology always tends to become more affordable and accessible as time passes. When Roland unveiled the HD-1 kit, suddenly its V-Drum technology became far more attainable.
Now, the digital drum giants have updated their entry-level model. But does it build on the strengths of the original? Read on to find out.
Compact, stylish design
Design-wise, the HD-3 is based around the same concept as its predecessor. Featuring the same frame, with central supporting column, it is aimed squarely at those for whom space is at a premium. As such, it can be easily squeezed into the corner of most bedrooms, or other space.
Aesthetically, the HD-3 seems far more geared towards being in view. Cables are neatly tidied through the frame, which is finished with a brushed steel look.
Some of the most obvious updates over the HD-1 are the trigger pads. Whereas the older kit had a set of rubber trigger pads with a mesh headed snare, here the tom trigger pads have been upgraded to feature a new cloth head design, providing a more authentic feel.
The kick drum has also been upgraded, and delivers a slightly more authentic action. It is still based around the beater-less design, however. Though this compromises authentic feel, it does have the advantage of being much quieter.
The HD-3 is also equipped with an all-new module. This doubles the number of onboard kits to 20, adds in a nice, backlit display to show all of the important details (kit, metronome tempo etc) whilst adding a few more physical buttons to make it even easier to use.
The improvements extend to the sound and performance, too. Kits have a far more solid and defined tone, but crucially, their dynamic performance is vastly improved. The kits respond with much greater sensitivity and dynamics than the HD-1.
Though the feature set of the module is limited, its functionality can be greatly expanded via Roland’s free iPad app, Friend Jam. This combines drum exercises with a ‘video game’ element and social media, allowing drummers to compete with drummers across the world.
The Roland HD-3 may seem to be a subtle upgrade to its predecessor. In practice, it is a far more dramatic upgrade than it appears. The module maintains the simple, easy to use design of the HD-1, but the improvements to the technology beneath make an enormous difference.
The sensitivity gives the drummer a far greater sense of connectedness with the instrument, and the improved dynamics give a greater range of expression. The additional sounds are very well chosen, and for most drummers, will be ample selection.
The new cloth pads, I suspect, may divide opinion. The have a far softer feel than the rubber pads, but less of the lively rebound that characterises them. This is something that some drummers like, and some bemoan as unnatural anyway. Whatever your taste, it’s fair to say that the rebound is not as pronounced as on a rubber pad, but still perfectly adequate.
The added advantages of the new pad (quieter and easier to play for long periods) will no doubt appeal to many players, too.
In addition to this upgrade, the crash/ ride has been swapped for a dual trigger cymbal, as has the snare. This means that cymbals can emulate the different bell and edge sounds or a real cymbal, and the snare can feature an authentic rim sound.
Like all V-Drums, the HD-1 has the kind of build quality for which Roland is rightly lauded: super-tough, and finished beautifully.
The Roland HD-3 is a far greater upgrade to its entry-level kit than it might seem. Put simply, it sounds better, plays better, has more options, and is quieter, whilst maintaining the key features that made the HD-1 such a resounding success.
Who should buy it? Those who wish to learn to play but don’t have much room, but still want Roland quality, drummers unable to practice at home, in fact, anyone who would like a convenient, affordable and great sounding kit to practice on at home will find much to love in the HD-3. Highly recommended.
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