I want to say right off the bat that no electric kit will ever beat out the real thing — there is simply no substitute for acoustic drums.
I want to talk about why I first bought my electric kit, the Roland TD-25KV, and the pros and cons I have encountered playing electronic drums.
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Roland TD-25KV Review
Note: The TD-25KV is being phased out. New from NAMM this year is the TD-27KV, which I have now updated and listed below.
When I got to college, it didn’t take long to realize that I wouldn’t always have my full drum kit readily available.
My dorm room was small — I could roll out of bed, across my desk, and I was at the door. There was no space for my drums.
The noise restrictions in our residence halls also eliminated any dreams I had of hanging my bed from the ceiling so I could set up my drums underneath.
Even when I planned to move into an apartment after my freshman year and would have more space, the noise of acoustic drums would never fly in a college town.
I knew I would go crazy if I had to wait until Sunday every week to get behind a kit at church. I started researching electric drum kits.
I kind of always knew that Roland was one of the best names out there in electric percussion, so I didn’t look any further.
I settled on the Roland TD-25KV electronic drum kit for its functionality (which I’ll go into later) and its appearance.
I remember feeling a mix of disgust and excitement when I clicked “place order” on the most expensive thing I had ever purchased.
With a hefty price tag nearing $2500, a whole summer’s worth of working at the golf course left my account in one click.
I figured I could live in the box and busk on College Avenue with my shiny new kit so I’d have enough money to eat (let alone buy textbooks).
Okay, all joking aside, I fell in love with my Roland TD-25KV, and this is my review of the kit.
Out of the Box
The Roland TD-25KV comes with five drums pads, four cymbal pads, the TD-25 drum module, and a Roland MDS-9SC rack stand.
Of the five drum pads, there are 2 PDX-100 10” mesh-head pads for the snare drum and floor tom, 2 PD-85BK 8” mesh-head pads for rack toms, and a KD-9 kick pad.
The PDX-100 pads have an advanced dual-trigger sensor that supports dynamic rimshots.
For cymbals, the VH-11 V-Hi-hat mounts on a standard hi-hat stand and offers realistic motion and natural feel.
The 2 CY-12C 12” crash cymbals have edge/bow sensors and choke control sensors, and the CY-13R 13” ride cymbal has three triggers for the edge, bow, and bell triggering.
The TD-25 drum module (or drum brain) comes loaded with 18 preset kits that fall under six genres: standard, rock, metal, jazz, funk, and electro.
You can hear yourself playing by either connecting headphones straight into the module with a quarter-inch adapter, or by routing the brain to an external monitor using the quarter-inch outputs (left/mono, and right) on the module.
The TD-25KV also functions as a MIDI controller.
Connecting the kit via the MIDI out port on the back of the module allows for the use of drum sample libraries with music production software (DAW).
One of my favorite things about the Roland TD-25 is that you can create custom kits from samples already loaded into the brain, or from .wav files that you import yourself.
Likewise, the module allows you to change the tuning, muffling, and volume of individual triggers.
Using the pads with other hardware
Each drum pad can function outside of the kit itself.
For example, I recently picked up a Roland SPD-SX to use for live performances, and I can use different parts of my TD-25 as external triggers for the SPD-SX.
Now when I play smaller bar gigs, I take the included KD-9 kick pad with me and plug it into my SPD-SX to save the space that a kick drum would have usually occupied.
I have also been experimenting adding the PDX-85 pads as external triggers to the SPD-SX to create a hybrid kit for my live setup.
The kit also comes with hex key to adjust various parts of the frame.
I used the key to remove part of the frame and change the kit setup from having two rack toms (as it comes when purchased) to two floor toms (my usual setup).
The quarter-inch cables that connect each trigger to the brain also allow you to connect any of your favorite drum triggers to the module.
Say, for example, you have a Roland BT-1 Bar Trigger. It’s easy to quickly replace any one of the drum or cymbal triggers to achieve your desired setup.
The drum module comes with a built-in metronome. With a simple turn of the dial, you can adjust your tempo from 20 to 260 bpm.
Additionally, the drum module allows you to record yourself and play it back in real-time.
You can also save your recordings to a USB drive. A USB drive can also be used to import songs or .wav files into the module for storage and playback.
The drums themselves are very sensitive. You may find that you hear more ghost notes on the snare than you ever realized you were playing.
The dynamic response is incredible, both on the drum pads and the cymbals. You can tap the cymbals lightly to achieve that tip-of-the-stick ping, you can produce realistic swells, and you can crash like there’s no tomorrow.
It’s so quiet!
I used my Roland TD-25KV while living in a college apartment for three years. I never had a single noise complaint — even from the four other guys I lived with.
I could be practicing in my bedroom, and the guys watching football in the living room had no idea.
I found that a single wall was plenty to isolate the sound of my sticks from hitting the rubber pads — pretty amazing.
The drum module has a built-in “training-feature,” which allows you to practice your timing.
Essentially, you play along to a specified tempo, and the module tracks the accuracy of your hits to the timing grid.
It’s an excellent way to hone in your timing at different tempos and subdivisions.
The entire drum kit has a considerably smaller footprint than acoustic drums. Consequently, the whole set (and drummer) can fit in a space as small as 5×5 ft.
The small footprint of the kit comes at a cost.
Because of the compactness of the TD-25, you may also find that your drums and cymbals are a whole lot closer to you when switching from an acoustic drum setup.
There may be an uncomfortable transition between your acoustic and electronic setups.
However, you could always set up the cymbals on your regular stands to create a more spacious setup.
In my opinion, the worst thing about electric drums is that they don’t feel like the real thing.
That said, Roland’s V-drums are the closest thing out there to achieving the real feel of acoustic drums.
A lesson learned the hard way
Because electric drums are different materials, like mesh heads, developing your feel on an electronic kit can be detrimental to your acoustic kit performance.
I found this was most noticeable on the hi-hat. Since the Roland hi-hat is rubber, it has an entirely different response to a stick stroke.
It effectively absorbs a significantly more substantial amount of energy than real metal hi-hats, and you experience much less stick rebound.
If you aren’t aware of this, trying to play quick, one-handed 16ths on a rubber hi-hat can prove to be a very frustrating experience.
Alternatives to the Roland TD-25KV
The TD-25KV isn’t the most affordable electronic drum set by any means.
If the price has you bummed out, I suggest checking our electronic drum kit buying guide, which details plenty of more affordable kits with great value.
The Alesis Strike Pro comes to mind, but that set has a few quirks, unfortunately.
Why the Roland TD-25KV kit was a good investment for me
I found that the TD-25 was most beneficial for me to learn stickings and groupings for new songs.
Having my electric kit was a great way to practice learning new music for both my band and church while living in a small apartment.
My one word of caution — do not try to develop hand and foot speed exclusively on an electric drum kit.
It will leave you frustrated and demoralized when you sit behind an acoustic kit after practicing on only electric drums for months. Trust me. I learned the hard way.
If you are looking for a great way to practice and not annoy your neighbors, and you have some extra dough laying around, I would highly recommend the Roland TD-25KV electronic drum kit.
The TD-25KV from Roland is an excellent professional electronic drum set for those who have a little extra coin to spend.