Categories
Reviews

Roland TD-17 Electronic Drum Kit Review

Considering a TD-17 as your next electronic drum kit? Learn more about this kit’s best features and which version of the TD-17 is the best option

The TD-17 is a mid-range drum module by Roland, available in a number of different configurations including the acoustic-style V.A.D. series and traditional TD-17 configurations. In this post, we’ll look at what sets apart the TD-17, which version to buy, and which alternatives you should consider.

TD-17: Summary

A quality mid-range eDrum kit that’s great for drummers who don’t need the digital pad support of the TD-27 or positional sensing support.

– eDrumHub

A Roland TD-17KVX2 equipped with Noise Eater hi-hat and bass drum pedals
Value
Drum Sounds
Pads & hardware

Summary

The TD-17 is great for intermediate drummers who need a quiet practice tool. However, experienced drummers may prefer the more generously-sized pads that come with TD-27 kits.

3.7

Is the TD-17 a good drum module?

The TD-17 is one of the most popular in the V-Drum range. It’s a good electronic drum module for anyone who doesn’t need the extra inputs or isn’t interested in the digital pad support offered by the higher-end TD-27. All versions of the TD-17 except the L version support Bluetooth, making these versions ideal for drummers looking to play along to music on their phones.

Roland TD-17 module pros and cons

ProsCons
Support for Roland’s high-end digital snare, ride and hi-hat padsMost of the trigger inputs are connected via a multi-core cable snake instead of individual jacks 
Support for one-shot samples via SD CardModule sounds are still not VST quality and can have a synthesised sound to them
Built-in Bluetooth on most models and USB audio/MIDI interface on allNo positional sensing support on pad inputs

Where does the TD-17 module fit in the Roland Range?

The TD-17 is the lower-mid-range drum module from Roland, sitting above the basic TD-07, but below the TD-27 and flagship TD-50X.

The TD-17 launched in April 2018 as a replacement for the TD-11 compact V-Drum series, bringing improved sounds derived from the TD-50 module, Bluetooth on most modules, and a new 12-inch snare drum pad. In late 2022, a Version 2 software update became available for all TD-17 owners.

Does the Roland TD-17 sound good?

The TD-17 features drum sounds derived from the flagship TD-50, though it will not quite match the realism of this kit. That said, the sounds on the TD-17 are a step up from older Roland modules, though sometimes exhibit a ‘machine-gunning’ effect, where repeatedly playing the same pad can sound a bit robotic.

Whether or not the module sounds good is somewhat subjective, so it’s best to hear for yourself in the demo below from Drumtec:

Is Roland hardware good quality?

Roland drum racks and the pads themselves are well-regarded as being amongst the most durable in the eDrum market.

The rack system that comes with the kit is the same as the one that came with the older TD-11. Reusing older components is a common practice at Roland, and as a consumer, it means you can rely on a tried and tested design.

The rack is made from thick, circular metal beams, connected with beefy plastic components. This might not sound quite as durable as the all-metal construction of acoustic stands and racks, however, it’s worth remembering that electronic kits are typically less likely to be used for regular gigging. All Roland pads can be mounted on traditional drum hardware if you’d prefer this.

That said, the drum rack with the TD-17 is stable and dependable, with my own lasting many years with no issues, even after being reconfigured several times and multiple adjustments made to find the best set-up.

Drum and cymbal pads meanwhile are generally chunky and dependable, made from a mix of rubber and hard plastic. Again, many components date back a couple of generations in the Roland range, such as the tom pads – only the snare debuted with the TD-17 range.

All in all, the familiar Roland quality is here, and you should expect these pads to last for 10 years or more with no issues.

What versions of the TD-17 are available?

The TD-17 comes in a number of SKUs at different price points, each with a different selection of pads. In addition, the TD-17 module is supplied with the V.A.D. 306 and new V.A.D. 307 acoustic-style electronic drum kits.

TD-17K-L

The most basic version which has now been withdrawn from sale. The K-L used rubber pads on the toms, with only a single 8-inch mesh pad used as the snare, plus a basic CY-5 hi-hat pad as on the KV. The module provided with the K-L is the only TD-17 version that does not support Bluetooth. As a result, this kit is best avoided on the used market due if you can find a TD-07 for the same price or less.

Related: Read our TD-07 review

TD-17KV

The KV added mesh pads all-round and was the cheapest to include the 12-inch snare pad. However, it lacks the stand-mounted hi-hat of the KVX, so, unfortunately, the included CY-5 and foot pedal aren’t particularly realistic feeling.

TD-17KV2

The KV2 replaces the KV, and upgrades the old CY-8 cymbal pads with a new CY-12C-T crash and CY-14R-T cymbal pads, which are vastly improved, plus the new V2 software update. If you don’t mind the basic CY-5 hi-hat, this is worth buying.

TD-17KVX

The KVX added two improved crashes (CY-12-C) and an improved CY-13R ride cymbal with bell zone plus the stand-mounted VH-10 hi-hat. This hi-hat is dramatically better than the rack-mounted CY-5 on lesser TD-17 modules, and therefore the cheapest model to consider if you want a realistic-feeling hi-hat.

TD-17KVX2

The KVX2 is one of the best Roland kits out there, and replaces the KVX. It adds the latest CY-12C-T and CY-14R-T cymbals which are thinner and more realistic feeling. Because of the included stand-mounted VH-10 hi-hat, this is the best version of TD-17 to buy unless you want to step up to the larger pads of the V.A.D. series.

V.A.D. 306

The V.A.D. 306 was the second cheapest in the V.A.D. range and is a 5-piece kit using shallow acoustic-style pads that look like real acoustic drums cut in half, plus a shallow 18” bass drum. In late 2022 it was replaced with the 307.

V.A.D. 307

The successor to the 306 adds Roland’s new thin cymbals in the form of two 12-inch CY-12C-T crash cymbals and a 14-inch CY-14R-T ride. As with the older model, the kit comes complete with a 12-inch snare, two 10-inch rack toms and a 12-inch floor tom pad.

What’s the difference between the TD-17KV and TD-17KVX?

The KVX version of the TD-17 offers two crashes instead of one, which are also upgraded to the more realistic looking CY-12C, as well as an upgraded ride that offers edge, bow and bell playing zones, whereas the ride on the KV only has bow and edge zones. Additionally, the hi-hat is upgraded to a stand-mounted VH-10.

The KVX has since been replaced by the KVX2 in 2022, which includes the TD-17 v2 software update and the new CY-12C-T and larger CY14R-T ride cymbals. These cymbals are thinner than older Roland cymbal pads, helping to make them look and feel more like real acoustic cymbals.

Which version of the Roland TD-17 is best?

If you’re after a traditional-looking electronic drum kit, the TD-17KVX2 is the best version of the TD-17 to buy. The KVX versions are the only versions in the TD-17 range that include a stand-mounted hi-hat.

This is a significant improvement over the rack-mounted hi-hat and separate pedal included in lesser TD-17 models, adding much more realism. That’s because the stand-mounted VH-10 hi-hat physically moves as you press the hi-hat pedal mimicking a real acoustic hi-hat.

In fact, if you’re on a budget and can’t justify stepping up to the KVX/KVX2, you might want to consider the cheaper TD-07KVX which also includes a stand-mounted hi-hat. However, be aware that this kit does not have any additional trigger inputs, and therefore only supports a single crash.

The TD-17KVX2 is also a better buy than the base TD-27 model, the TD-27K, which provides a smaller snare than the TD-17 set and includes none of the digital pads that the TD-27 supports. The TD-27K does however provide a larger rack system offering more expandability and drum placement options.

If you’re more interested in a real-looking electronic drum kit that looks like it’s acoustic, you might want to consider the V.A.D. 307, with its wood-shelled drum pads. However, the shallow half-sized pads aren’t quite as authentic as the higher-end V.A.D. 504 and 507 kits, which genuinely look like real acoustic drums, only given away by the rubber cymbal pads.

What is the TD-17 Version 2 Update?

The TD-17 Version 2 software was released in 2022 and is a free update available for all TD-17 modules. If you’ve purchased a new TD-17KV2, KVX2, or V.A.D. 307 kit, you’ll already have the V2 software installed.

The update brings 20 new kit presets to the module, bringing the total to 70. Most notable are the new “Acoustic”, “Shallow Mini”, “Arena Stage”, and “Big Wood Shell” presets. On top of that, you’ll find 26 new samples that can be layered with your custom kits, new reverb and compression options, plus 11 new multi-effects options. Support is also added for the latest additions to Roland’s new thin cymbal range, the CY-12C-T and CY-14r-T. Finally, the update brings Roland Cloud support to the TD-17, which is a platform that allows you to download new custom kits and transfer them to your module.

The update takes around 15 minutes to install an SD card up to 32GB in size. The update will factory reset your module, so be sure to back up any custom kits or pad settings you’ve made prior to starting. Visit the Roland TD-17v2 page for more information.

How many trigger inputs has the TD-17 got?

The TD-17 features Roland’s standard cable snake connector for the snare, bass, three toms, hi-hat, crash and ride, plus separate TRS trigger inputs for Crash 2 and AUX.

The TD-17 top panel

If you have a TD-17K-L or TD-17KV, you can expand your kit with two additional pads. The Crash 2 port does not need to be used for a crash, it can be programmed to accept any type of pad and trigger any sound you like via the module.

If you have a TD-17KVX, KVX2, or V.A.D 306/307, be aware that as these kits come with a second crash, the Crash 2 port is already in use. That means you have one additional trigger input – the AUX port.

All in all, the TD-17 has one additional trigger input than its predecessor, the TD-11, and two more than the TD-07, which has no additional trigger inputs beyond the cable snake connector. However, it has two fewer inputs than the higher-end TD-27 module.

How to load one-shot samples on the TD-17

One of the best features of the TD-17 is the ability to add one-shot drum samples to your module which can be triggered by your drums and even layered on top of the built-in drum sounds

To load a user sample, you’ll need an SDHC memory card with a maximum size of 32GB, which needs to be formatted to work with the TD-17. After inserting your blank SDHC card into the TD-17, press the setup button, navigate to “SD Card” in the menu, select “SD Card Format”, press enter, and then execute. Once the process is complete, the card is ready to use.

You can then take your SD card out and plug it into your computer and save your samples into the “import” folder that’s been created on the card. Samples must be in .wav format and no larger than 2GB. Stereo samples cannot be longer than 148 seconds, while mono samples cannot be longer than 295 seconds, however, this is not an issue if all you’re doing is loading a one-shot drum sample.

Next, you can set up your sample in a drum preset on the module. If you want to use an existing preset on the kit as a starting point, it’s a good idea to copy this to a user kit preset, so you can always go back to your original kit without needing to reset the module.

  1. Choose the kit you want to copy, press the “other” button, and select “copy” on screen
  2. Scroll to the kit preset you want to save it to (the first user preset slot is no. 51), then press “execute” and “enter” via the screen.

When you’re ready to assign your sample, with the SD card inserted and the correct kit preset shown on the screen follow the steps below:

  1. Press the “user sample” button, then “menu”, then “import”, and press “enter”
  2. Choose an empty user sample slot for that kit and press “menu”, then “import”, and “enter”
  3. You’ll then see all the samples loaded to your SD card. Select the one you want, then press “import” and “execute”. You’ll now see the sample in the slot you selected on the kit.
  4. Next, press “assign” and hit the pad you want the sample assigned to, and toggle the “H&R” button to determine if you want the sample to play on both the head and rim zones or not. Press execute when you’re ready.

Is the TD-17 a good module for triggering a VST?

Despite the TD-17 having sounds that are based on the TD-50’s sound engine, they are no match for the real drum recordings used in VST drum libraries such as Superior Drummer, Get Good Drums or Steven Slate Drums. If you want electronic drums that sound real, then using a TD-17 and a computer running one of these programs may be a good idea.

The TD-17 is a good module for triggering a VST because of its dependable triggering response and affordable price. If you’re already set on using VST drum software, there’s limited value in spending more for a higher-end drum module to get built-in module sounds that you’ll never use.

Does the TD-17 support positional sensing?

The TD-17 doesn’t support positional sensing, meaning you won’t hear different sounds depending on how close you play to the edge on pads with centre-mounted triggers. However, this means all versions of the TD-17 ship with edge-triggering pads, meaning you’ll avoid the hot-spotting issues inherent to pads with centre triggers. If you’re interested in building your own drum pads or converting an acoustic kit to electronic, this can save you a bit of money as edge triggers tend to be cheaper, not to mention the cost savings on the module.

FAQs

Verdict: A good eDrum kit for most buyers

The TD-17 is a good electronic kit coming in at a price that’s comparable to what you might spend on a decent intermediate-quality acoustic drum kit, once you’ve factored in all the hardware and cymbals. Our best buy is the TD-17KVX2, which offers all you need for a realistic drumming experience thanks to the three-zone ride cymbal, 12-inch snare pad, and stand-mounted hi-hat pad.

The TD-17KVX2 should therefore be the ‘default’ choice when considering a Roland electronic drum kit. If you can’t justify spending this much on your kit, then consider the TD-07KVX which offers all the same pads but with a cheaper module.

Alternatively, if you are willing to spend more and want more realism, consider stretching to the TD-27KV2 to benefit from Roland’s excellent digital snare, hi-hat and ride pads.

Image credit: Roland


This article contains affiliate links. If you purchase a product through certain links on our site, we may earn a small affiliate commission. Learn more about our adverts and why you can trust eDrumHub here.


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.