What’s so special about the digital pads in the new V-Drums TD-50 series?

It’s easy to see why pro drummers want a piece of the new V-Drums TD-50 series. We could give you a whole list of reasons why this flagship set is the must-play kit of modern times, but for now, let’s focus on the PD-140DS snare and CY-18DR ride that ship with it as standard. If you’ve seen the demo videos by Kai Hahto, you’ll know how good they sound. Now, discover why these pads represent the biggest leap for triggering technology in 30 years.

Do they have anything in common with Roland’s existing pads?

“If we’re talking cold, hard tech, the PD-140DS and CY-18DR are streets ahead, featuring five times as many piezo-electric sensors…”

At first glance, the PD-140DS snare and CY-18DR ride share the vibe of existing V-Pads and V-Cymbals. But the new PD-140DS snare features three-ply mesh head – all other V-Drums mesh heads are two ply – which gives a natural-rebound feel and natural resistance under the stick, plus familiar 14” dimensions that means it fits easily into your kit on a standard acoustic snare stand. The CY-18DR ride, meanwhile, comes in satisfyingly imposing 18” size with a more pronounced bell, giving plenty of acoustic-style swing on the stand. The big departure though, is what’s happening below the surface.

What’s so special about the onboard technology?

An electronic pad or cymbal is only as good as its sensors and triggers, as these are the elements that capture your playing; how hard you hit, where you hit and the time between each hit, before relaying the data to the sound module. If we’re talking cold, hard tech, the latest PD-140DS and CY-18DR are streets ahead, featuring five times as many piezo-electric sensors, picking up much more accurate sensing and removal of the ‘hot spots’ that can make lesser electronic drum kits inconsistent and frustrating. But these pads are multi-sensing – they not only have piezo electric sensors but also have electro-static sensor, much the same as the one used on the touch-screen of your smart phone. This allows the snare and ride pads to behave exactly like their acoustic counterparts; natural muting by touching the bow of the ride and automatic cross stick detection on the snare.

Can you use these new pads with other V-Drums modules?

“The pads’ astonishingly accurate positional and velocity sensing becomes obvious as soon as you throw some dynamic techniques at them…”

Unfortunately not – the digital trigger inputs and the proprietary technology that provides the expression and playability is unique to the TD-50 module. Given that they’re sensing the minutiae of your stick-work, these new pads are obviously sending some pretty complex data down the line to the sound module. The TD-50 is the most advanced module out there, driven by new Prismatic Sound Engine, and loaded with enough processing power to ensure every last detail of your technique comes through loud and clear. It’s easy to connect the pads, too, via the module’s USB-based digital trigger inputs.

But how does all that tech actually benefit me as a drummer?

The short answer to that is: grab your sticks. The new pads’ astonishingly accurate positional and velocity sensing becomes obvious as soon as you throw some dynamic techniques at them. On the PD-140DS snare, try a few rolls, rim shots, brush scrapes and cross-stick techniques (just place your hand on the head to play in this style). On the CY-18DR ride, throw in a bow shot, edge shot and bell shot, or even choke the cymbal with a single touch. These pads genuinely let you use the same techniques as you would on acoustic drums. What you play is what you hear.