A top-quality mid-level kit with next-level components.

This year Roland introduced two new configurations of electronic drumsets. One is the Acoustic Design, which features full-size wood shells, wrap finishes, and enhanced response for a more authentic playing experience. We’ll cover the Acoustic Design in a future issue, but this month we take a look at the second configuration, the mid-level TD-27KV, which incorporates some of the technological advancements implemented in the Acoustic Design kit and the high-end TD-50 in a more compact V-Drums setup.

What You Get

The centerpiece of the TD-27KV is the new TD-27 module, which is loaded with more than 700 high-quality and customizable drum, cymbal, and percussion sounds. This kit also comes with the new 14″ PD-140DS digital snare and 18″ CY-18DR digital ride, which utilize USB technology and multisensor triggering for higher-resolution data transfer and more nuanced dynamic response. This kit also comes with three 10″ PDX-100 tom pads with tunable dual-layer mesh heads and rubber-coated rims, a 13″ three-zone CY-13R cymbal pad, a 12″ two-zone CY-12C cymbal pad, a sturdy but compact KD-10 kick pad with a soft mesh-covered striking surface, and a VH-10 hi-hat, which comprises a motion sensor unit that sits on the cup of a standard hi-hat stand (not included) and a 10″ dual-zone pad that attaches to the pull rod of the stand with a specially designed clutch (included). The tom and cymbal pads mount to the compact but sturdy MDS-Standard 2 stand via metal L-arm tom brackets and collapsible cymbal boom arms. The snare fits any standard stand (not included), and the KD-10 kick tower has a metal mounting plate for connecting your favorite bass drum pedal.

The initial setup of the TD-27KV was expediated by the clearly outlined instructions Roland included in its literature. The components of the MDS-Standard 2 stand were also preconfigured with the brackets placed at the proper heights, so I could simply attach the parts without adjustments. The cymbals come with specially designed stoppers that keep the pads from rotating as you play. This ensures that you’re striking the pads at the optimal position in relation to the trigger sensors for the most accurate response possible.

The TD-27KV also comes with a dedicated and labeled cable snake that simplifies the process of wiring the pads to the module while also keeping the setup looking tidy. The digital snare, digital ride, and secondary crash have separate cables, but they can be weaved into the cable snake easily, and Roland includes four cable ties and clamps so you can affix all the wires to the rack once the kit is completely configured. After we unboxed all the components, it took less than thirty minutes to build out the TD-27KV, adjust the positioning of the pads to taste, and lock everything into place.

Digging In

The TD-27 sound module utilizes the sound modeling technology introduced in Roland’s flagship TD-50, which allows for tonal customization of the internal sounds by adjusting the transient (attack and release), the pad EQ, the pad compression, overhead mics, room reverb, and three additional effects. Additionally, you can apply different types of virtual muffling to each instrument to control its decay.

The top face of the TD-27 module has a simplified layout with volume knobs for the master output, headphones, and click/auxiliary input. The center section features a bright LCD screen, five function buttons, and modify knobs for instrument selection, level, tuning, and muffling. Those four knobs are used to apply changes to each individual sound being triggered by the pads. There’s also a Bluetooth indicator light that illuminates when you’re using the TD-27 to interface wirelessly with a smartphone, tablet, or computer.

The bottom section of the module has record and play/pause buttons for documenting your performances directly into the module. There’s also a scrolling dial for changing drumkits or other edits. To the right of the dial are buttons that access various system, kit, and sample functions, including importing custom samples.

The backside of the TD-27 houses MIDI in and out/thru connectors, an auxiliary input jack, two direct outputs, L/R master outputs, four quarter-inch trigger inputs, three digital (USB) trigger inputs, a footswitch input, and a headphone output. The side panel features an SD card slot (up to 32 GB cards are supported) and a USB port that allows you to connect the module to a computer for audio and MIDI recording and playback.

Even though the TD-27KV kit is designed to be fully responsive and playable from the factory, Roland offers some simple solutions to tweak troublesome components. The VH-10 hi-hat is a very advanced device that triggers multiple samples via edge shots, bow shots, foot chicks, and foot splashes, and it applies variations in tone based on changes in foot pressure. We didn’t experience any performance issues with the VH-10, but if you do, there’s a simple way to calibrate the pedal by adjusting the hi-hat settings in module and by tweaking the offset screw on the clutch.

Larger Pads Make the Difference

The larger pads incorporated into the TD-27KV are a major upgrade in realism when compared to other kits that have smaller, lightweight components. The 4.3×14 PD-140DS digital snare has a stainless-steel shell and extremely sensitive triggers, which translated into a level of dynamic response that’s as close to that of an acoustic snare as you can find today. Even buzz rolls articulated with realistic nuance. You can also play rim clicks on this pad the same way you would with an acoustic drum by striking the rim at the two o’clock position while the butt end digs into the head near the eight o’clock position.

The 14″ snare and the 10″ toms feature Roland’s proprietary multiply mesh heads, which have a natural, customizable rebound. They’re tunable, so the feel can be tweaked to your personal preference, from soft and gushy to tight and bouncy, providing unmatched response and natural rebound. In addition, the 12″ hi-hat moves and sways like acoustic cymbals, as do the 12″ and 13″ cymbal pads.

The 18″ CY-18DR digital ride cymbal was my favorite upgrade on the TD-27KV kit. It felt completely realistic, and the triggers were so fast and accurate that I could play with all my normal dynamics and nuance and the sounds responded appropriately. The snare was equally realistic. The kick pad was sturdy and had the soft response of a medium-loose bass drum. The hi-hat was pretty darned close to the real thing, although I did have to be careful not to try to slur foot splashes directly into closed sounds. That level of nuance is still a bit farfetched for any electronic hi-hat. The toms and crashes were more standard fare than the ride and snare, but they still felt sturdy, had nice response, and articulated my playing accurately.

The TD-27 module comes with fifty preset kits, and they range in style from all-purpose acoustic kits to classic electronic sounds to percussion. There are also fifty empty kits that you can use to customize your own templates. And now that Roland is allowing users to upload and layer custom samples into their modules, your options become nearly limitless. We’ve posted a demo video of the first dozen preset kits at moderndrummer.com. Street price for the TD-27KV is $2,999.99.

By Michael Dawson