by Billy Amendola
Roland has addressed the pricing issue somewhat by upgrading their mid-priced TD-8 V-Stage kit with a lot of the same features offered in the high-end TD-20, and thus creating the new TD-12. Okay, let’s keep it realistic: For half the size and cost, you can’t get everything you want. But with the TD-12, you do get your money’s worth—and then some.
One of the features not brought to the TD-12 from its big brother is separate outputs, which are essential if you want control over every drum individually for recording. Instead, the TD-12 offers two stereo mixes and two individual outputs. This means you’ll have to spend a little time inside the module working out the levels before recording. As an example, you could internally balance the three toms, then group them all on one output fader.
The TD-12 provides 560 drum instruments and 262 backing instruments for play-along sequences, all in a smaller, more affordable package than the TD-20. (To hear some of those sounds, go to www.moderndrummer.com.) I personally found some of the TD-12’s upgraded sounds cooler and more usable than those found in the TD-20.
The usual V-Drum sonic package is all here, from authentic acoustic sets to ultra-modern electronic kits. You can customize your snare drum, toms, bass drum, and cymbals with the modeling-based V-Editing function. On the kick and snare you can change shell depth, head type, tuning, muffling, shell material, and strainer adjustment. On the toms you can also edit shell depth, head type, head tuning, and muffling. And for that “ultra-realistic” quality, you can even add snare buzz. When it comes to cymbal sounds, you can alter size, sizzle type, and sustain.
The TD-12 is also brush-compatible, with sounds and sensitivity that make such a feature practical. Plus it includes what Roland calls the Expressive Interval Control feature for accurate snare and ride/crash cymbal playing. This function varies the sound in natural ways, based on the speed of stroke repetition. As with previous V models, there are ambience parameters including room size, type, and shape, as well as mic’ position.
The drum pads on the TD-12 come equipped with Remo’s now-legendary mesh heads. These pads have kept Roland at the top of the field since they first introduced V-Drums. They’re comfortable to play on, virtually silent, and as realistic as can be with every stroke.
The VH-11 hi-hat is a major improvement on the TD-12. And the best news is: It’s compatible with the TD-10, TD-20, TD-8, and TD-6. The new hat now comes with only one pad (a top-moveable playing surface). Underneath is a motion sensor unit that stays attached to your traditional hi-hat stand. When I checked it out, it was accurate on every beat. As far as I’m concerned it’s the closest Roland has come to accurately simulating an acoustic hi-hat.
If you’re accustomed to playing the TD-8, you’re sure to love the upgrade features that have been incorporated into the TD-12—especially the new, larger 10" PD-105 snare pad. On the other hand, if you’re used to playing on the TD-10 or TD-20, you may need to adapt to the TD-12’s smaller 8" tom pads. Speaking of pads, I’d recommend eventually adding two more pads to the TD-12, one for an additional crash and one to trigger your sequencer. As it’s designed now, the size of the TD-12 is ideal for small gigs or recording situations. It takes no time at all to pack it up, get it in the car, and re-set it up at a club or studio.
Electronic kits in general are great for songwriting, for home recording, and especially for practice situations. With this in mind, it seems like there’s a Roland kit for everybody. The new TD-12, in particular, delivers lots of high-end features without an unattainably high-end price tag.
(800) 386-7575, www.rolandus.com