Roland TD-9 Review: Still worth it in 2023?

Thinking about buying a used Roland TD-9? We check out the venerable mid-range V-drum module and discover if it’s still a good buy in 2023.

The Roland TD-9 is an electronic drum module that is now three generations old, yet offers a very specific feature that its three successors do not have: MIDI-in. The MIDI-in port allows you to expand your kit with an additional module to trigger more drum and cymbal sounds, which in turn can send MIDI data to your computer for triggering a drum VST.

The TD-9 is still a good drum module for users who want this feature, but it does have other downsides. Read on for our Roland TD-9 review, and discover if this module is still worth considering as a used drum module in 2023.

Roland TD-9 Review

The TD-9 is worth considering if you need VH-11 hi-hat support and can make use of the MIDI-in feature which is dropped from newer modules. However, the lack of a USB audio/MIDI interface is a setback vs newer V-drum modules.

– eDrumHub

Drum Sounds
Pads & Hardware


The TD-0 was one of the best Roland drums when it came out in 2008. Look for the TD-9 KX2 model that comes with the V2.0 firmware and the excellent VH-11 Hi-Hat


Roland TD-9: Pros and Cons

MIDI-in port for expanding your kitNo USB interface
Support for VH-11 floating hi-hatNewer Roland kits can be purchased for less on the second-hand market
Accurate triggering responseDated drum and cymbal sounds
Good for VST users where the internal sounds aren’t requiredSmall drum pads

When did the TD-9 come out?

The Roland TD-9 was announced at NAMM in January 2008 as the company’s new mid-range V-Drum offering. The kit initially came in two variants, the TD-9 S and TD-9 SX, followed by a version 2.0 software update in 2011. This also coincided with new kit variants in the form of the TD-9 K2 and TD-9 KX2

The TD-9 was later discontinued in 2012 with the launch of the TD-11 and TD-15 drum modules.

What TD-9 models were there?

All versions of the TD-9 came with a hi-hat, crash and ride, a spacious MDS-9 rack, kick tower, snare and three toms. The best TD-9 kit is the KX2, thanks to the included VH-11 floating hi-hat and excellent triggering sensitivity on this pad in particular.

TD-9 S

The base model is best avoided due to the basic rubber tom pads and lack of a bell zone on the ride cymbal. In 2023, this kit of set-up is more akin to the budget TD-07 in the Roland range.


The SX improves on the S with improved mesh heads and a three-zone ride. However, it still does not come with the VH-11 hi-hat, missing out on one of the TD-9’s best features.

TD-9 K2

The K2 is the replacement for the S and was launched alongside the V2.0 software update in 2011. It provides an upgraded 2-zone crash and 3-zone ride, plus mesh heads all around and an upgraded kick tower. As before, the VH-11 hi-hat is not included. Instead, it comes with the basic CY-5 and a separate foot pedal.

TD-9 KX2

The KX2 is the best version of the TD-9, thanks to the bundled VH-11 hi-hat. The KX2 improves upon the K2 with improved toms and a PD-105BK snare, taken from the higher-end TD-20 range.

Roland TD-9 module overview

The TD-9 module has a vertical design like the TD-11 and TD-15, helping to reduce the space required compared to larger modules like the TD-20 and TD-12. Unlike those higher-end modules, it also means the TD-9 uses the Roland cable snake, a multicore cable that connects all pads to an old-school multi-pin printer connector.

The downside of this is your set-up is dictated by the length of each cable, which assumes you are using a typical right-handed set-up using the included MDS-9 stand. If you play a left-handed set-up or need more cable length because you play an Acoustic-to-Electronic converted kit, you may need to use a stereo TRS coupler or male-to-female extension cable so that your cables are long enough to connect all your pads.

The module features a USB slot for a flash drive on the top surrounded by a harness to protect it from accidental knocks, plus a ¼-inch headphone jack at the bottom.

I/O panel on the right hand side of the TD-9, featuring power in, stereo master out, mix-in, MIDI in/out ports, and two trigger in ports.

All other I/O is located on the right-hand side of the module, meaning the module is best located to the left of your kit for the best reach or to strap additional trigger cables to your stand.

The TD-9 uses a clear monochrome display which feels dated but yet is still the same as the latest TD-27 module.

All in all, the build quality is as you’d expect from Roland, feeling pretty chunky and hard-wearing despite the plastic shell.

What is the difference between the TD-9 and the TD-9 V2?

The TD-9 Version 2.0 software update was released in 2011 and originally came on a flash drive that cost around $80. In 2023, the upgrade costs $50 but is a complex process that requires shipping the module to Roland. Scroll down for further details.

Here’s a breakdown of the key differences:

Version 1.0Version 2.0
Drum & cymbal sounds522552 (30 new kick & snare sounds)
Number of kit preset slots5099
Audio playback formatWAVWAV & MP3
Trigger settingsStockUpdated settings for KD-9, PDX-6, CY-12C, CY-13R

In 2023, the TD-9’s drum sounds are going to sound very dated, and therefore the upgrade is not really worthwhile, especially if you want to use the TD-9 with a VST and bypass the internal drum sounds completely.

Similarly, the MP3 support is a bit unnecessary since you can connect an audio device via the mix-in port. As for the trigger presets, remember that these can be manually adjusted regardless of whether you have V1 or 2 to suit your specific drum pads.

How to update the TD-9 to version 2.0

While it is possible to update a TD-9 module from version 1.0 to 2.0, it is fairly complex and costs $50. For most people, this isn’t really worthwhile. If you are looking to buy a TD-9 and want the update, it is therefore best to look for one that already has V2.0 installed. Alternatively, factor in the $50 upgrade cost into the price of buying a TD-9 with the V1.0 software.

The steps for upgrading a TD-9 to V2.0 are:

  1. Register your TD-9 with Roland here
  2. Request a Return Authorization (RA) using Roland’s Service Request
  3. Your TD-9 needs to be sent to Roland and will be returned with the new firmware installed

Further information can be found at Roland’s site. Unfortunately, the process above is only applicable to users in the US. Outside of the US, TD-9 owners need to contact their local Roland Distributor for details on how to upgrade to V2.0. 

How to connect a Roland TD-9 to a computer

A key downside of the TD-9 module compared to newer ones is the lack of a built-in USB interface. This makes connecting your drums to a computer for recording or making them sound more real with a VST drum library more difficult as you’ll need additional hardware.

The simplest way to connect a TD-9 drum module to a computer is via a USB/MIDI interface. I recommend the Roland UM-ONE, which is designed to work with Roland drums and has the required low-latency hardware, which is essential for drumming.

I recommend avoiding cheap, non-branded MIDI interfaces. Having tried one of these myself, I found the latency to be so bad it was impossible to play along live when triggering drums via my VST drum library (EZdrummer at the time). I later learned that these cheap interfaces are not designed for live triggering and lack the necessary low-latency electronics.

When using a MIDI interface, you need to use your computer’s audio output to monitor your drumming. If you have a Mac, then you’re all set out of the box, since Macs have a low-latency audio driver built-in. If you have a PC, then low-latency audio is not a given. A solution is to download ASIO4ALL, a universal audio driver that can improve the low-latency performance of many sound chips.

If ASIO4ALL doesn’t provide latency as low as you need for reliably monitoring your drums as you play, or if you want to connect other instruments and microphones to your computer as well, then a USB Audio/MIDI interface is the way to go.

These interfaces effectively “replace” the sound chip in your computer, so you can have all audio and MIDI coming in and out of your computer via the interface. This helps to provide low latency audio and also means you can locate the box itself near your drums, running a USB cable to your computer further away.

What’s the difference between the TD-9 and the TD-11 drum modules?

The TD-11 and TD-15 drum modules replaced the TD-9 and introduced a brand new sound engine called SuperNATURAL, which produced more realistic-sounding drum and cymbal sounds for the time.

The main benefit of the TD-11 and TD-15 is the addition of a USB audio interface for a simpler connection to a computer, with the ability to send audio and MIDI data from the module. This is in addition to the USB socket present on all three modules, used for playing songs from a USB flash drive.

On the flip side, the two newer modules lose the MIDI-in port, offering only one MIDI-out. While the TD-11 and TD-15 can still send their MIDI data to other devices, it means that you cannot connect another MIDI device and send MIDI to those modules.

This is a useful feature on the TD-9 and other older drum modules if you want to expand your kit with additional pads. Read how to expand your TD-9 with the MIDI-in port below for more information on how this works.

Finally, when it comes to trigger inputs, the TD-9 matches the TD-15 with two trigger inputs in addition to the cable snake (crash 2 and aux). Meanwhile, the TD-11 only has a single additional trigger input, labelled as crash 2. These inputs can be assigned to any instrument, regardless of the labels next to each.

TD-9 vs TD-15 and TD-11

Below, we compare the key features of the TD-9 vs the TD-15 and TD-11.

TD-9 (V2.0*)TD-11TD-15
Drum Kits50 (99)50100
Instruments522 (552)190500
Trigger inputs12**11** (cable snake + 1 aux)12** (cable snake + 2 aux)
MIDIin & outoutout
USB playbackWAV (WAV & MP3) WAV & MP3WAV & MP3
USB interfacenoyesyes
Separate headphone volume controlnonoyes
VH-11 supportyesyesyes
Positional sensing?nonono
Use a pad as a switchnonoyes
Metronome output controlnono (output to both headphone and master)yes (option to output to master & headphones, or just headphones
Trigger metronome with MIDInonoYes (trigger built-in metronome from your DAW/or other MIDI signal)

*V2.0 specs shown in brackets

**The total number of trigger inputs includes 2x ports required for both ride (bow & bell) & hi-hat (hi-hat & pedal control) counted separately

Learn more about the TD-11 and TD-15:

How to expand your TD-9 with the MIDI-in port

The MIDI-in port is a unique feature of the TD-9 module, which was dropped from later mid-range V-Drum modules such as the TD-15, TD-25 and TD-27.

The MIDI-in port can be used to connect another drum module to the TD-9 and trigger the TD-9’s internal percussion set. The percussion set is like a second drum kit within the TD-9 housing various percussion sounds.

To use this feature, simply connect another drum module or drum trigger interface with MIDI-out to the MIDI-in of the TD-9. On your TD-9, set the secondary module to MIDI channel 11 within your TD-9’s MIDI settings screen.

Below, we can see a diagram from the TD-9 manual showing how a secondary module (in this case, an SPD-20, but it can be any drum module) can send MIDI data via the TD-9 out to another MIDI device (a Sound Module in the diagram, but this can be a computer running a VST drum library).

Diagram showing how MIDI signals input to the TD-9 via the MIDI-in port can be sent out to a different device via the MIDI-out port

If you want to trigger VST drums to make your eKit sound more real, then you can still use a MIDI to USB interface to connect a PC, and the trigger inputs from your secondary module connected via the TD-9 will send MIDI data through to the computer.

All in all, the MIDI-in port is a brilliant feature for anyone who wants a large kit. It’s a great reason to keep a TD-9, or consider one on the used market.

This feature is also possible on the following Roland V-drum modules:

  • TD-8
  • TD-9
  • TD-10
  • TD-12
  • TD-20 & TD-20X
  • TD-30

Be sure to compare prices between the TD-9 and these kits, particularly the newer flagship modules like the TD-20 and TD-30, to ensure you’re getting a good deal.

Expanding a TD-9 with a trigger splitter cable

You can also add more inputs to the TD-9 using a trigger input splitter cable, since all inputs bar the kick are dual zone. A splitter cable takes the rim and head inputs from one trigger input and splits them into two separate single-zone inputs.

Splitter cables with both drum and cymbal pads, but it’s best to use the same type of pad on each pair of split inputs for the best triggering results. One other potential downside is that you can’t play both of the split pads at the same time, so split inputs work best for less frequently used pads. For example, I have a split input on my kit which I use for a splash and china cymbal.

Learn more about drum splitter cables here.


Is the Roland TD-9 still good in 2023?

The TD-9 is worth considering if you need a budget drum module with a MIDI-in port but don’t need a USB audio interface. However, this is quite an unusual requirement, and therefore most drummers are better off considering a newer kit, such as the TD-11 or even a TD-17 if your budget stretches far enough.

The main issue with the TD-9 in 2023 is the dated sound engine and small pads by modern standards. As a result, the kit may be best for users who want to trigger a VST such as EZdrummer 3 or Superior Drummer 3, particularly those who want to build a monster kit and make use of the MIDI-in port and pass-through feature of the TD-9, which isn’t available on newer models outside of Roland’s flagships.

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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.