The history of electronic drums is fraught with good ideas but poor execution.
Along the way there were offerings from most of the ‘big’ manufacturers, and in some cases, certain companies came to be synonymous with an era (those of us with long memories will recall many a happy hour trying to sort out Simmons SDS7 triggers in a ‘live environment’), but it is to the Roland company that we turn when we want to consider the biggest success in this field.
Indeed the V-Drums series has become forever associated with “Man that sounds awesome, I’ll never be able to afford one……”
Of late, the V-Drum series has expanded to encompass the less expensive end of the market, and it’s one of these we’re going to have a look at here….
The ROLAND HD3:
First things first, this thing sounds amazing.
There would be no point talking about it if it didn’t fulfil this ultimate need.
It has 20 on board kits which cater for pretty much all musical tastes, and while the pernickety will argue that a certain ‘Norwegian Nose-bleed Death Metal’ preset is conspicuous by its absence, most of us would agree the selection is pretty broad and covers all the bases.
Also, although the Big V-Drums set ups have the beautiful Roland mesh heads, (which make the whole difference to the playing experience), on every drum, the one place where it’s really necessary is the snare, and the HD3 has exactly that, the snare head is mesh and it plays great.
So, is it a Toy?
Obviously, the first thing that strikes you about the HD3 is its size.
Which is brilliant.
For those of us with small studios, or single rooms only, this thing is a godsend.
The advertising bumpf targets beginners, and it definitely scores in that direction. It has all the connections you could want to plug in your music and play along, and of course the fact that you can use headphones is a parental triumph.
But to me, some of the real benefits of this kit are to the professional studio owner.
Many people make their living in home based project studios, from where they supply music for TV, radio, cinema ads, stage productions, live backings, karaoke etc. and space has always been the bugbear. With this little fold-away beauty, I can now lay down my own personalised grooves , (even though I’m not the best drummer, I can always tidy the MIDI data up afterwards, the point is that it’s MY groove!), I can add fills to existing parts, I can provide my own percussion loops, in fact, It’s a very liberating tool for all aspects of rhythm, and IT FITS IN MY STUDIO!!!
Seriously, if you have spent years, piecing together loops and fills and then copying MIDI parts, or even if you’re down with EZ Drummer or its ilk, the difference when you sit down and play it in yourself is incredible.
So the message is, yes, if you’re a beginner or you just want the ability to play quietly, maybe in an apartment or whatever, these are the drums for you, BUT, please, all you Studio owners who didn’t think you had room, look at these again. I promise it will make all the difference to your drum programming, and in my case, it speeds the workflow up as well.
20 preset kits with dedicated select buttons and informative backlit LCD
Beater-less kick with improved playing feel and low acoustic noise
New cloth-head toms with improved playing feel and design
Dual-trigger pads for snare and crash/ride to improve playability
Metronome with selectable sounds and adjustable tempo
ROLAND HD3 LN48398