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KT-9 and FD-9 Kick and Hi-Hat Controllers

Finally! Near-noiseless pedals for a quieter e-drum experience.

Acoustic drums are loud. But even electronic drums, which are often marketed as quieter alternatives to acoustic kits, can cause problems, especially for apartment-dwelling drummers with neighbors living below them. Mesh heads and soft-rubber pads do a lot to cut down on the stick sound, but it’s most often the floor vibrations caused by the impact of the kick pedal striking a pad that gets us in trouble. Roland sought to mitigate that issue with its new beater-less KT-9 kick pedal and noiseless FD-9 hi-hat controller. We received one of each to review. Let’s give them a try.

KT-9 Kick Pedal

The KT-9 kick pedal ($149) is super-compact, measuring about 14.5″ long, 5.5″ wide, and 6.25″ high near the toe stop. It weighs just over 4.5 lbs. The pedal can be used with any Roland sound module that accepts .25″ trigger inputs. The trigger sensor is placed beneath the footboard, and it sends a signal through the cable each time the footboard makes contact.

The ultra-smooth action of the KT-9 pedal is created with a patent-pending link mechanism and two springs affixed to the side of the bracket. The springs are removable, so you can quickly change the tension of the footboard by removing or adding one of them. You can also give the pedal a heavier feel by screwing an included small weight to the underside of the footboard.

We tested the KT-9 with an older SPD-S sample pad, as well as with new SPD-SX and TM-2 modules. Aside from the time it took to assign a sound to the trigger input that the pedal was attached to, the KT-9 worked perfectly right away. It took a bit of practice to get familiar with how the KT-9 reacted to my technique, but I was eventually able to execute just about everything I could on a regular bass drum pedal. The KT-9 also features an anchor bolt that can be engaged to keep the pedal stable under heavier playing.

When comparing the volume output of a regular pedal hitting an electronic pad to that of the KT-9, the KT-9 wins out by a large margin. Roland claims that the KT-9 reduces the sound in the room by 85 percent and the sound that transfers below by 63 percent. While we weren’t able to verify those figures scientifically, the difference is night and day. And because the KT-9 is so compact, live drummers using hybrid electronic/acoustic kits will have a lot more positioning flexibility for incorporating this pedal within their setups.

FD-9 Hi-Hat Controller

While not offering as drastic a reduction in sound, Roland’s FD-9 hi-hat controller is still significantly quieter than the company’s standard FD-8 hi-hat controller, providing 50 percent sound reduction and 15 percent less floor noise, according to Roland. The pedal is designed identically to the KT-9, but the sensor is placed near the heel hinge to allow it to track how far down the footboard is depressed for a realistic response to open, closed, partially open, and heel splash techniques.

As long as your sound module has a hi-hat controller input (an SPD-SX does not, but an older SPD-S and an OCTAPAD SPD-30 does), then the FD-9 will work perfectly with little or no additional adjustments being required. It also operated nearly silently, even when I was chomping heavy 8th notes using a heel-up technique. Again, for e-drummers living in close proximity to others, the amount of sound reduction the FD-9 provides makes it well worth the $149 price for the upgrade.

Roland also offers NE-10 Noise Eater isolation boards ($99.99) and NE-1 isolation feet ($29.99) to bring down the sound level even further.

Michael Dawson