Roland TD-1DMK

Entry-level V-Drum set packs a punch

Roland sprang a bit of a surprise recently at the opening of its new Artist Relations centre in London. Not only did it have a brand spanking new facility to show off, but it also dropped its new, flagship entry-level V-Drum kit.

The Roland TD-1DMK is billed as Roland’s premier electronic drum kits for learners (old and young). They’re also focusing heavily on players who perhaps enjoyed playing years ago but have lapsed because, y’know, life gets in the way sometimes.

There’s a wealth of features designed to entice people in, with portability and learning aids among the most appealing. And, being from the famous V-Drum line-up, the quality is assured to be high.

Let’s take a closer look in our Roland TD-1DMK review.

Roland TD-1DMK

Plug and play

A lot of the appeal of electronic drum kits is their simplicity and their versatility. With the Roland TD-1DMK, you’ll notice immediately how everything centres around its sound module, the venerable TD-1. We’ll go into more detail on the module shortly, but what’s interesting is how quickly you can be up and playing with it.

It holds 15 different drum kits inside, meaning you could be playing a stadium-sized rock set one minute, before switching to something much more breezy and laid-back the next. Whatever your style, you’ll find something for you here.

Once you’ve situated the kit where you want it, it’s as simple as plugging in headphones or connecting to studio monitors and playing. No faffing around with calibration or tonnes of obscure menus to navigate around. This is welcome, particularly for learners who might find electronic drums intimidating at the start of their playing careers. Not so here.

The fact its only 7kg further cements its suitability as a home-learning tool. The fact it’s so light and can be folded away when not in use makes it ideal for anyone with limited space at home.

Roland TD-1DMK

Dual mesh technology

One of Roland’s big wins over the years, along with their countless firsts in the worlds of synths and performance instruments, has been their unique mesh material used on their V-Drums. They’ve spent countless years perfecting the engineering behind it, and the results speak for themselves.

For anyone unsure what this actually means; consider the way an acoustic drum head reacts when you hit it. It vibrates, contracts, expands and moves in order to produce the sound waves you hear. This isn’t so easy to replicate on an instrument designed primarily for silence.

Roland’s V-Drums excel in their application as both a realistic drum skin that has control for velocity (i.e. how hard you hit it) and also for how it reacts at different parts of the head. Hit the centre for a low thud, and around the edges for a tighter, snappier sound. The TD-1DMK replicates this perfectly, so you know moving over to an acoustic set (or vice-versa) won’t feel alien. The expression you feel on one can be simply transferred to another.

Roland TD-1DMK

The brains of the operation

As we mentioned, the Roland TD-1 sound module is the beating heart of this kit. As well as being the place you choose your kits, its also where you alter things like tempo and volume, so it’s important it reacts quickly to your commands.

Roland’s commitment to superb sound quality is evident in the TD-1. Each sound you hear starts out with real audio samples of real acoustic drums and cymbals. Seems a good place to start, right? No artificial, computer-generated sounds here. What the TD-1 does is cleverly layer up sounds on top of each other to mimic things like hit velocity, angle, location and aftertouch to ensure what you hear is as life-like as it could possibly be.

The benefit to the learner is that their technical playing can improve as quickly as if they were playing an acoustic set. The techniques you attempt on the TD-1DMK sound the same as if they were on a regular set, so there are no nasty surprises.

Roland TD-1DMK

Geared towards practice

While there is a growing trend among performers to incorporate electronic tools into acoustic setups – for firing off samples, for example – it’s fair to say electronic drum kits are not as common as acoustic on the live circuit.

The Roland TD-1DMK acknowledges and makes a virtue of this by including features designed to enhance practice rather than performance. Housed with the TD-1 module is a series of songs you can use to learn your chops, while the ability to connect via USB to Roland’s Melodics app takes things even further.

Using Melodics, you can access a neat learning tool which coach and train you on the kit. They say you’ll be surprised how quickly you progress when you’ve got a tool to help you do it. We’d be inclined to agree. Self-teaching is one thing, but sometimes having something to point you in the right direction is of huge benefit to a learner.

The other key benefit of using the Roland TD-1DMK for learning is that it’s near-silent in use. That means you can practice at full-volume through your headphones, and sound as if you’re playing Wembley Stadium, yet to anyone else the noise would be minimal. Parents around the world; this is the kit for your budding Joey Jordisons. And yes, you can use a double-kick pedal. Blastbeats are worth persevering with.

Conclusion

Once again Roland has delivered the goods. The Roland TD-1DMK is at the same time light, portable and feature-packed, and has enough in-built functionality to take it beyond a mere practice tool. The 15 included kits give you enough variety so you can change things up to keep them fresh, while the included coaching and learning tools will get you up to a standard far quicker than you thought possible.

Check out our full range of electronic drum kits.