How does SuperNATURAL V-Drums technology work?

In 2012, Roland launched an entirely new line-up of V-Drums kits, featuring SuperNATURAL technology. It promises drummers a more dynamic and natural playing experience but what does SuperNATURAL actually do, and how does it work? We tell you everything you need to know…

The new line-up

First of all, what models were introduced in 2012 and which models do they replace?

  • TD-11K/TD-11KV series replaces TD-4K2/TD-4KX2 series
  • TD-15K/TD-15KV series replaces TD-9K2/TD-9KX2 series
  • TD-30K replaces TD-12KX model
  • TD-30KV replaces TD-20KX model

The TD-11, TD-15 and TD-30 modules all feature a SuperNATURAL sound engine. However, the SuperNATURAL experience becomes more obvious as you travel up the range. Paradoxically, it takes a lot of technology keep things sounding simple and real.

What is SuperNATURAL technology?

In brief, SuperNATURAL technology improves the way the instrument responds to your playing, making it feel far more natural and authentic. Digital instruments seek to faithfully model the sound of an acoustic instrument, and have been doing that pretty well for some years now. If you’ve played V-Drums before, you’ll know how good they sound. But digital instruments usually feel different to their acoustic counterparts, due to the way they respond to your playing.

SuperNATURAL incorporates ‘Behaviour Modelling’ which takes the playing experience a step further than just offering a ‘detailed’ sound. By accurately modelling the behaviour and responses of an acoustic instrument, it transforms the way a digital drum kit responds, and therefore gives a dynamic and natural ‘feel’ that until now has not been possible.

SuperNATURAL technology was first introduced in Roland’s prestigious digital pianos and synthesizers. When developing the next generation of V-Drums, Roland’s engineers felt that SuperNATURAL technology could be developed further and adapted for V-Drums, transforming the way V-Drums play.

Behaviour modelling explained

To understand how SuperNATURAL works, we first need to understand how an acoustic instrument behaves. Let’s consider a snare drum roll. If you play a single or double stroke roll on the snare drum, it has a soft tone, a quiet volume and the drum responds in a certain way with less ‘attack’. As you play harder, not only does the volume get louder, but the tone changes too and the drum now responds differently, with the attack now a lot more pronounced. The transition in tone, volume and response does not happen in stages, but happens in a completely smooth way. Every hit is different and the drum reacts differently to each and every hit.

Playing in different places on a drum head or cymbal also changes the tone in a smooth and natural way. Rather than one or two tones, an acoustic instrument has many with a completely smooth transition in tone between different parts of the head or cymbal.

SuperNATURAL focuses on these transitions, allowing V-Drums to behave authentically by processing your playing input as it happens and allowing the transition in tones and volume to be natural and super-smooth, just like an acoustic drum.

How Does SuperNATURAL work?

SuperNATURAL processes many elements to model convincingly the behaviour of acoustic instruments:

  • Processes your playing input faster than ever before
  • Captures detailed sensing information, such as shot strength and the position on the pad
  • The sound engine produces sounds that respond and change smoothly and dynamically

Together, these elements create an authentic ‘behavioural reaction’, or put it another way, the drums play and feel just how you’d expect them to. There are three distinct stages to modelling this behavioural reaction:

  1. How the pad or cymbal physically feels when you hit it. For example, the Roland mesh head has a more natural feel when the drum stick hits it, responding with an authentic bounce and recoil that feeds back into your arm (in a good way).
  2. The sensing within the pad is of high quality and accurately detects hit strength, position and interval (i.e. the time between each hit). This information is then sent to the module.
  3. The sound engine within the module processes all of the information sent by the pad and then recreates the sound accurately and smoothly – made to order, almost. This is the key to ensuring the transition in volume or tone is dynamic and natural.

How does SuperNatural work with V-drums | RolandBecause the sound engine processes the player’s input very quickly, it means that every shot can be processed individually. Therefore dynamics, such as ghost notes, flams, buzz rolls and rim shots feel far more realistic and every shot sounds individual. This removes the ‘machine gun’ effect associated with previous digital drum kits, where every hit can sound the same as the last.

So now, if you can think it, you can now play it – but only on a SuperNATURAL V-Drums kit.


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