Hands-On Review:Roland HD-1 V-Drums Lite

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Heavy sounds in a lightweight, portable V-Drums set

By Mike Fitch
Musician’s Friend Staff Writer


It’s hard to overstate the impact that Roland’s V-Drums have made on  the world of electronic drums and percussion. The combination of a vast  library of excellent drum sounds with a constantly improving pad setup  has made V-Drums irresistible for many top drummers.


The recent introduction of the HD-1,  or V-Drums Lite, is good news for those who have been lusting after a  set of V-Drums but are short on cash and the space it takes to  accommodate a large V-Drum set. The HD-1 takes a core group of essential V-Drum sounds and integrates them with  an elegant, simplified pad setup and rack that are extremely easy to  operate. It’s a design that should attract a lot of beginning drummers  as well as professional players who want a versatile, playable  electronic kit that sets up and breaks down in minutes.


Simple setup


The HD-1’s drum pads come attached to the set’s rack, which consists of a couple  of center posts with arms. To set it up I just stood the whole thing up,  unfolded the arms, attached the legs and module, and plugged everything  in.


No need to add any external pedals to the HD-1—both  the hi-hat and kick pedal are built right into the unit’s support legs.  Both pedals have smooth, noise-free action that feels quite natural. To  take the kit to a gig, all you have to do is fold down the legs and  arms and pack the kit in the back seat of your car.


Slammin’ sounds


The HD-1’s sound module includes five drum kits with two variations for a total of  10 kits accessed by pressing large buttons. Pressing any number plus  the “variation” button offers an alternative set. Kit number 1 is a  basic rock set suitable for playing everything from blues to metal. This  acoustic set’s variation is a crisp-sounding jazz kit. A big-sounding  acoustic “power” set is perfect for everything in the hard rock zone.  Always wanted to play double bass drums? The second patch gives you a  thundering double setup with bass drum sounds on both pedals.


The mesh snare pad has an extremely natural response and feel, and is  tunable with a key just like a traditional snare. The  velocity-switching feature provides a second sound when the pad is hit  hard, giving you a ringing rim shot with several kits, adding to the  realism.


A drums and percussion set allows you to trigger a djembe, congas,  and timbales in addition to drum and cymbal sounds. The World Percussion  set is all percussion with a fat cajon (the Afro-Cuban wooden box  instrument), kick drum, cajon snare, and quejada/caxixi shaker sounds,  plus berimbau, pot drum, and pandeiro crasher samples.  Velocity-switching really makes these kits come alive, with heavily  accented hits giving a timbale rimshot, an alternative berimbau sound,  and cutting slaps on the djembe and conga.


The HD-1 includes several sets ideal for techno/dance/hip-hop. The Droid kit is  especially appealing with an industrial/science fiction sound set ideal  for jungle and drum ’n’ bass beats. The voices kit is a lot of fun to  play, triggering vocal phrases and “human beat-box” sounds that resemble  a choir gone berserk when you lay down a busy pattern.


Right on time


For improving your timing, the HD-1’s  metronome is a great practice aid. Using the tempo knob, you can adjust  the tempo from 40-220BPM. You can use a click, cowbell, or maraca  sound. Three levels are provided so you can customize the metronome’s  volume to your playing.


Compelling options


The HD-1’s drum module, while simplified and easy to navigate, still offers some  very nice capabilities for both students and professional drummers. Ten  drum patterns are provided to play along with. Even better, a Mix In  jack is provided so that you can plug your MP3 or CD player into the  module, allowing you to play along with your favorite tunes—a great way  to develop chops and learn songs. And a headphone jack lets you rock out  without disturbing others.


A MIDI out option adds substantially to the HD-1’s versatility and power, particularly for the professional player. Via  MIDI, the pads can be used to trigger sounds from any MIDI-compatible  module or synthesizer, and also allows the unit to be used to play  rhythm patterns into an external sequencer. I ran the MIDI cable into a  couple of external MIDI percussion modules and enjoyed being able to  play hundreds of drum and percussion sounds with the great feel and  response of the HD-1’s pad set.


PM-01 – V-Buddy


The PM-01 is a compact personal monitor designed expressly for V-Drums. With 15W power and a 4" full-range speaker, the PM-01 sits comfortably at the base of the HD-1 set, allowing you to hear yourself clearly.


Of course, if you’re playing along with a loud band, for sound  reinforcement you’ll want to plug into a PA system or amplifier with  more volume than the PM-01, which is intended primarily as a personal monitor for practice.


Lite it up


The HD-1 V-Drums Lite drum set is a great way to gain entry into the world of electronic  drums for a modest admission price. And for players with limited space,  the set tucks quite comfortably into the corner of a bedroom or garage.  It’s a great set for students and there are many pros who will doubtless  find its hassle-free operation and versatile connectivity to be right  up their alley.


Features & Specs

HD-1 V-Drums Lite


Kit configuration: Kick pedal, mesh snare pad, hi-hat pad, hi-hat pedal, 3 tom pads, crash and ride pads


  • Drum kits: 10
  • Patterns: 10


  • 5 drum kit buttons
  • Variation button
  • Metronome button
  • Volume knob
  • Tempo knob


  • Tempo: 40-220BPM
  • Sounds: 3
  • Volume: 3 levels


  • Output: Stereo 1/8"
  • Headphone: Stereo 1/8"
  • Mix In: Stereo 1/8"
  • MIDI out
  • Trigger cable connector

PM-01 Personal Drum Monitor

  • Power: 15W
  • Speaker: 4" full-range
  • Controls: Volume knob, standby switch
  • Connector: Stereo 1/8"