eDrum News

Roland buys DW Drums: 4 things we want to see for eDrummers

It’s official: Roland now owns DW Drums. But what does this mean for eDrummers? We look at 4 things we want to see following the acquisition

Roland Corporation and Drum Workshop announced on Monday 12th September 2022 that they’ve reached a definitive agreement for Roland to buy all outstanding shares of Drum Workshop. In other words, Roland now owns DW Drums.

But what does this mean for eDrummers? How might the acquisition impact Roland’s product lineup?

As you can see below, the press release covering the acquisition specifically calls out both acoustic and electronic drums as some of the goals for the merger:

The combination of expertise and reach of Roland and Drum Workshop will unleash the next generation of breakthrough acoustic and electronic drums and percussion products, accelerate product development, and push the boundaries of innovation for drummers.

Does this pave the way for some exciting new collaborations between the two companies?

With that in mind, here are four things we’d like to see from the acquisition that could benefit eDrummers, ranging from the more obvious to wishful thinking!

DW samples used in Roland modules

For many eDrummers, Roland doesn’t come close to where it needs to be when it comes to the sounds on its drum modules. One of the best upgrades you can do to your Roland drum kit is to trigger a VST drum library, which is software for your computer that takes the signals from your drum module and triggers real drum samples from recorded drums in real-time as you play.

But really, the reason why this upgrade is so popular is because the drums in Roland modules sound a bit naff. Many drummers are after a more realistic, natural drum sound, vs the robotic and ‘overproduced’ sounds in even the highest-end Roland modules.

From an industry standpoint, this is an area where Roland seems to be falling behind. The best example of this is the Pearl Mimic Pro drum module, which uses samples from Steven Slate Drums, a VST instrument company. While that module might not be a big seller due to the price, it does demonstrate a different direction for drum modules, swapping synthesised drum sounds (which are what Roland uses) with real recorded drum samples, which sound more realistic.

So, could the DW acquisition be one of the ways Roland can get there? While DW Drums isn’t a software company, they do have a range of high-quality drums that could be sampled and played on a Roland drum module. And while Roland hasn’t released a VST drum library before, it might not be too much of a stretch to use their existing expertise in building a drum module and triggering sound samples instead of synthesised drum sounds.

This could be great for drummers with both an acoustic and electronic kit, as they could have both setup or tuned for a similar sound. The electronic drum samples could give a reference point for how your acoustic drums can be tuned.

From a brand awareness point of view, many acoustic drummers tend to look down on acoustic drums, in part due to the way they sound. So this crossover could be a great way to introduce electronic drums to a new audience.

More Roland V.A.D. series shell options and colours

Of course, DW specialises in drum shells and hardware rather than drum samples. Somewhat obviously, therefore, the V.A.D. series from Roland seems like they could be an early focus of this acquisition.

There are a few limitations in the range currently, for example, the fact that the only colour available outside of the highest-end range is black. A relatively simple benefit of the acquisition is that the V.A.D. series drums may inherit some of the shell finishes and wraps that appear on DW drum kits.

But thinking bigger, maybe the range could be expanded? This brings us to…

An electronic drum kit based on DW shells

Roland may go the whole way and build the V.A.D. series technology right into the existing range of DW drum shells, complete with high-quality DW hardware like cymbal stands and pedals. The V.A.D. series has been all about producing an electronic kit that looks and feels like a real kit, so integrating this into a DW kit takes it one step further, and potentially results in a crossover range of DW electronic drums powered by Roland.

A DW & Roland collaboration might eventually replace the V.A.D. series completely, with the mid-to-low range offering potentially being taken over by DW’s cheaper sub-brand, Pacific Drums.

As well as being able to offer a range of different wraps and finishes, this might open the doors to different shell sizes too. Drum kits are immensely customisable, with various shell sizes and kit configurations available to drummers.

For example, my personal electronic A to E conversion is based around a bop-sized kit, and I value the small footprint. As DW already make a wide range of drum sizes, it might be easier for Roland to offer a wider range of kit configurations to suit different drummers’ preferences.

A drop-in eDrum conversion kit

Finally, and somewhat more speculatively, would be whether Roland might ever offer a drop-in acoustic to electronic drum conversion kit. This is based on the fact that if existing DW drum shell designs became the basis for the Roland V.A.D. series electronic drums, they’d need some way to mount the hardware within.

Roland might develop a system to quickly convert a hybrid Roland-DW kit from electronic to acoustic and back again. Some drummers may want one high-quality kit that they can use in both a low volume setting as an electronic kit, and to be able to benefit from the exotic wood drum shells as a great-sounding acoustic kit.

If such a system was developed, then Roland might offer a drop-in acoustic to electronic drum conversion kit, in the same way, that it offers externally mounted drum triggers already. 

Of course, this is very speculative, as doing so could cannibalise sales of those complete packages. It’s also not clear whether a convertible electronic to the acoustic kit would actually be of interest to drummers, given you’d need to retune it each time you converted it to acoustic, which is a real hassle.

But it could be a way for Roland to take some market share from the burgeoning acoustic to electronic conversion scene, and might make Roland customers out of drummers who may already have ruled out buying a complete electronic kit.

What do you want to see?

Do you have any wishlist items for Roland’s acquisition of DW Drums? Do you agree or disagree with any of those I’ve suggested above? Let us know in the comments below!

Featured image by Valery Sysoev

By Seb Atkinson

Seb has been a drummer since 2004 and an eDrummer since 2008. He founded eDrumHub to provide information on electronic drums for other drummers who can't justify an acoustic drum kit for practice at home.

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