Roland has kicked off NAMM 2020 with the release of their new TD-27KV V-Drums kit, an electronic drum set that brings their most advanced tech to a lower price point for the first time. Musician’s Friend spoke with Roland’s Pat Kennedy (Product Strategy Manager, Drums & Percussion) and Jules Tabberer-Stewart (Global Strategic Product Marketing Manager, Drums) to learn more about the development of this latest series.

The HUB: What were your priorities when creating a successor to the TD-25 series? Do you see the TD-27 as a continuation of that series, an entirely new product, or a mix of both? What improvements did you most urgently want to bring to the TD-27?

Pat Kennedy: We are always looking to design the future and create game-changing products, which was (as always) the priority for the TD-27. As the newest model in the V-Drums family, the TD-27KV offers a variety of features never before available at this price point. Advanced digital sensing technology, along with newly designed sound samples, powered by the newest generation sound engine, were the key pillars in the creation of the TD-27.

Jules Tabberer-Stewart: The TD-25 module saw some great new features at the time, like the quick-edit function, streamlined and more intuitive controls, the ability to record drums and export as stereo wave files, for example. We had positive feedback from users about these kind of functions, so we carried them across to the TD-27. Creation of a brand-new module enabled us to build on those strong features, but enhance the playing experience by adding the digital triggering capability and the expression that comes with that, and add assignable direct outs for small gigs. The TD-27 also benefited from the development work, in terms of sound and expression, that we completed for the TD-50 series. Really, the TD-27 is a new module rather than a continuation and is perfectly balanced in features and functionality between the flagship TD-50 and the core TD-17 series – yet, retains the essence of what made the TD-25 strong.

Thomas lang demos the new TD-27KV V-Drums.

The HUB: Tell us a little about the digital sensor systems on the ride and snare drum. How do they differ from the typical dual-zone or triple-zone pads on a technical level? How does that change the experience for the player?

PK: The digital sensing technology provides multi-sensing capabilities that cannot be achieved through an analog connection. The USB connectivity of these pads allows for a large amount of information to be sent to the module, where it is translated by the lightning-fast sound engine into pristine, nuanced musical expression.  

JTS: The digital ride and snare pads use two types of sensing – piezo-electric sensing and additionally electro-static sensing (which is the same kind of technology a smartphone screen uses to track the position of the finger on the screen). By combining two types of sensing in one pad, we could more accurately capture the position of the player’s hand on the pad and transfer a richer amount of playing information to the module, which then enables an authentic sound, and realistic behavior to be played according to the position of the hand. For example, play a muted ride by holding one hand on the bow or bell while the stick strikes with the other, or play a cross-stick and move to a rimshot on the snare naturally, without need for any special module settings or adjustment of playing technique.

The HUB: Why did you develop the new sensors for the snare and ride in particular? Why was it important to bring those two advanced pads from the TD-50 to a more affordable series?

PK: The ride cymbal and snare drum are two of the instruments that most drummers consider to be the "center" of the drum kit. They are both vital in creating a personalized, unique voice on the drums, which made them the obvious components to benefit from digital technology. Since these pads were pioneered with the launch of the flagship TD-50 series, we sought to provide this high-level experience and musical expression to a wider audience of drummers.

JTS: The digital triggering technology we developed for the TD-50 series was a giant leap in drum triggering technology, and the biggest advancement in triggering from any electronic drum manufacture in decades. Quite honestly, every electronic drum kit player should benefit from it. We had a chance to use this technology within the TD-27, but without making it cost prohibitive or selective. So, we simply took the opportunity to do it. It’s a case of doing the best thing for the product and for the player.

Roland's new TD-27KV E-Kit from above

The HUB: The TD-27 pulls features from all over the V-Drums spectrum, including budget and flagship kits. How did you choose which mix of features would be right for this new series?

PK: The features offered with the TD-27 were carefully curated to provide the most complete drumming and musical experience available at this price. In addition to the digital sensing technology, other key features include sample import, sample layering, direct output connections, pad expandability, Bluetooth connectivity, and USB Audio/MIDI capabilities, which are all at the heart of this new drum kit.  

JTS: We have a pretty clear idea in our mind of who plays the TD-27KV. That image was created by talking to real drummers. We go out on the road and speak to people that really play our kits and we listen to what they have to say. We like to hear about how, when, where and why people use their V-Drums and in most cases, a conversation along those lines leads to a further conversation about what features are necessary, and even which are not. We use that to help inform what the core player needs and would like to see in their V-Drums.

The HUB: Roland has a variety of kits geared toward beginners, pros and everyone in between. How do you picture the ideal player for the TD-27?

PK: The TD-27KV has something to offer for a very wide range of drummers. Whether you are a player new to drumming who needs a great-feeling and great-sounding learning tool, a professional looking for an advanced instrument for gigs or studio work, or simply a drumming enthusiast seeking the most rewarding playing experience available, the TD-27KV is the drum kit for you!  

JTS: The TD-27KV is not made for one specific type of person – it’s for anyone that wants to play it, but we definitely see the core TD-27KV customer as someone who already plays drums and is passionate about playing. Whether it’s playing at home and jamming along with tracks, or gigging on the local circuit, we believe the TD-27KV player can benefit from the sound and expression it has to offer.

Roland's TD-27KV Module

The HUB: Tell us about the editing features on the module. For players coming from more rudimentary e-drums, what new capabilities can they expect to have? How might it impact their practice and performance?

PK: The direct-edit knobs on the module allow for fast, simple adjustments to be made to the sound samples. Being able to quickly dial-in the instrument, along with the volume, tuning, and muffling, creates nearly endless customization for your drum sounds to the exact musical genre or environment. 

JTS: Really, the TD-27KV is designed to behave like an acoustic kit. In addition to the editing of sounds as mentioned by Pat, which is done in an intuitive way that is natural to any drummer that plays an acoustic kit, the TD-27KV can also play with genuine drumming technique without having to adjust their playing in any way. The TD-27 sound is very rich in its variety of tones, so it’s possible to get an authentic reaction to every stick hit. That will help to improve performance, as there is nowhere to hide; any flaw in technique can be heard. But that means you can hear when you get it right as well, and gain satisfaction from knowing you’re improving and sounding better and better. There’s also a whole host of built-in coaching tools which are interactive, which will help to guide and build up playing and track improvement.

The HUB: The TD-27 can connect in more ways than the TD-25, whether it’s via Bluetooth or the large variety of ports. Why was connectivity such a priority?

PK: Connection is what music is all about. The TD-27 embodies this ideal and allows for the streaming of audio, recording of performance, and creation of shareable files with ease and professional quality. Connect with your passion for drums and love of music with the TD-27!