Hands-on with the Roland TD-9KX V-Drums

Crave's digital music expert Nate Lanxon -- no mean drummer -- gets sticks-on with Roland's full-size, £1,200 TD-9KX V-Drums electric kit

In 2008, Rock Band and Guitar Hero exploded, bringing the excitement of musical instruments to millions who might never have picked up sticks or guitar otherwise. So there's never been a better time to show off some of the real electric drum kits, produced by the pros, for the budding pros.

I've had Roland's £1,200 TD-9KX V-Drums kit here at CNET for about four months. It's a full-size kit, with a 10-inch snare, three 8-inch PD-85BK toms, a crash and ride cymbal, hi-hats with an accompanying foot pedal, and of course a kick-drum pad.

Each drum features soft mesh heads that can be tightened like an acoustic drum with standard drum keys, and are sensitive enough to pick up even the most subtle of ghost notes and rudiments.

The rims themselves have their own triggering system, offering natural rim-shot options, or you can assign one of the many real drum voices to it. In one of my favourite kits, I assigned an octoban to the rims of each of the first two toms, effectively adding two extra drums to the setup. But you could add other cymbals -- a splash cymbal or a dirty great china crash -- as you see fit. Incidentally, each of the two cymbals included feature multiple triggers as well.

Playing the TD9 is an absolute pleasure. Despite having played mainly acoustic kits for the 15 years I've played the drums, I found Roland's kit took barely any adjustment at all to get used to playing -- it's amazing. The range of kits is terrific, too. There's everything from studio rock kits to classic 1950s jazz setups, from modern electric kits to Latin percussion.

They're all sampled from real kits and delivered by the responsive and incredibly easy-to-use TD9 computer. Plus you can not only edit each of these kits (to change a tom to sound like a cymbal, for example), but also alter every aspect of each instrument's sound, such as volume, sensitivity and pitch. I was genuinely surprised at not only how easy this was to do (I never looked at the instruction manual), but also how deep the customisation of sound can go.

Over the next 20 pages of photos I've highlighted some of the other key features, along with plenty of close-ups. It's a beautiful drum set that I'm going to be enormously sad to give back, because it's just so much fun to play -- it'll impress new drummers and seasoned pros alike.

Be aware though, that although much, much quieter than an acoustic kit, there's still a fair whack of acoustic noise, mostly from the kick drum, so you might still want to brief the neighbours.

It's on sale now and you can check out more detail over on Roland's Web site. But first, on with the photo tour.

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