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Here is how to stack sounds on TD modules with MIDI and Perc sets

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  • Here is how to stack sounds on TD modules with MIDI and Perc sets


    I'm new to all this but I thought I could share a smart trick on this very day with all of you who haven't received the TD-50DP kit on time.

    Have you got a Roland module with perc sets and a MIDFI IN/OUT (or via a computer USB), a computer with a DAW or an old MIDI capable sequencer (like the Yamaha RM1X)?

    Well, if you can route the MIDI OUT of the module to the MIDI IN via something that can derive channel on the return loop to the perc set channel, there you go, simply set up a percussion set to match your kit and you're ready to play richer and deeper snares, kicks, and so on.

    It is possible to operate this as a standalone setup with the help of a MIDI Solutions Router box to transform signal from channel (say) 10 out of the module into channel (say) 11 in the module to reach the perc set.

    Works very well on the TD-30, the percussion sets sounds are quite editable, they sound through the sequencer reverb and chorus if you want them to and they give what a bottom mono mic would give to a recording set up. You can then greatly enhance your kits to add rich overtone sounding snare to crisp ones, on toms, if you tune them well, it gives a very good replacement to the missing bottom head, and of course you can now stack cymbals and crashes, and for the kick it bring new possibilities as well. The polyphony is not an issue and the latency is not noticeable, depending on the midi processor you use.

    So after that it's time to reconsider the TD-50 because, well, and the TD-30 is a totally different beast now you can dial in the perfect snare, kick, cymbal stacks, and what not, enjoy!

    Last edited by lumpenprog; 12-24-16, 03:39 PM.

  • #2
    hehe, that's a smart trick but I'm dumb : you don't need external hardware to perform this (on the TD-30 at least, for TD module that cannot assign individual MIDI channel for each drum pad midi out, you need a router for the global channel) , just plug the MIDI out and in of the TD module with the same midi cable, and then set the individual notes on the drum part to send on the perc channel, voilą!

    Now the way I was doing it allows for an external sequencer to get in the mix, which isn't bad either..

    I don't think I've read about this trick to use the perc sets to add overtone wire to the snare, deeper ends to the toms, and cymbals stacks. I'm surprised no one seems too interested in this.. Right, the rage is all about the products that haven't arrived yet... but still, it's a nice open ending for the TD-30 in my set up to ring so differently this way, I'm glad I discovered this! Check it out if you have a midi cable laying around, it's free

    The proper setting in standalone with a simple MIDI cable in order to avoid duplicate sounds and phasing issues is to set the individual notes to send to the perc set to the same MIDI channel than the perc sets as set in the Global Channels of the module, and then the other notes to send to another MIDI channel than the one set for global. THis way, when recording in a MIDI sequencer or DAW, you will need the two channels to record into. To play back the whole together, you need to merge the two MIDI tracks recorded and set a copy of each on both channels, while you re-set the Global MIDI channel of the drum part to the one you assigned to the individual notes.

    But you can just play it or record it via audio instead.

    You have to set this up for each kit you want to use with this trick, but as you have a total of 8 percussion sets, you can conceive to do it for 8 of the kits, and when you want to play the other kits or without the trick, simply unplug the MIDI cable on one end, done.

    Anyway, you fellow edrummers are not quite as adventurous than I expected, or not very fast to find out... Never mind, but how strange is it to realize the developer of the Vex kits never thought of using this possibility to expand deeply into the sound design since way back the entire TD modules series! Baffling!

    Last edited by lumpenprog; 12-26-16, 11:30 AM.


    • #3
      I'm interested in this Idea however, I can't follow your instructions. Can you provide the exact steps please. I'm on a TD30.

      Roland TD-30, TD-12, Roland Pads/Cymbals
      SD2, EZD2, QSC K12s


      • #4
        On the TD-30 you can assign individual MIDI output channel to each zone. You can assign a global MIDI in channel for drums and percussion sets (and other sequencer backing tracks as well) So the idea is to send individual zones to the channel to which you set the percussion sets to receive, so that these zones (say the snare head) trigger the percussion set as well.

        First plug a midi cable between output and input at the back of the TD-30, then check in the settings the percussion channel, remember this channel.

        On the kit you want to use for this, go to control, midi, and list, there you have a list of the zones, assign the snare head to the percussion channel (you remember), and everything else to say channel 12 (if you leave them on Global you'll have a double as it plays once internally and once from the midi loop) (you have to set the rims zones channel to 12 as well, they are on the other page, hit a rim, there you have it)

        Then go to the sequencer, browse to functions, mixer, set the percussions to 127, set the reverb and chorus to your liking), then go back one step and go to part, choose perc, browse to an empty perc set, and edit. hit the snare head with your drum stick for instance, see the percussion set picked up the note for the snare, now you can choose a sound for that note on the percussion set, for instance a rich overtones sounding snare, adapt the sound of the snare with the settings on the right window, and repeat for the other elements (you have to set each zone's channel in the kit as well etc.)

        The most important is to understand the mindset leading to this, if you understand why you do that, you'll find out. If not, you need to read some about MIDI and read the manual of the TD-30 as well.

        But you'll find out
        Last edited by lumpenprog; 12-27-16, 01:48 AM.


        • #5
          Fwiw, a DM10 module allows layering up to 4 midi notes/instruments per trigger input (x2) using its Midi/Chord function, as explained here: The DM10 has 35 spare midi notes that can be assigned to the extra layers.

          I've cabled the module's Midi In & Out connectors together to mainly have some fun with duplicate layered instrument sounds on the kits.
          To enable the Midi cable to stay connected, I inserted a switch in it (as shown) and velcroed it onto the module.

          MIDI KillSwitch.png
          Last edited by RhysT; 12-27-16, 04:50 PM.


          • #6
            That's very cool and adds greatly to the TD30. I would like to re write this as a step by step guide for someone if that's ok? or maybe even a video which explains how to do this. There are a few steps missing from your description that needs to be added, (user pattern, volume slider etc...

            I use a TM-2 live to fatten up sounds and this Perc set Idea might be a simple replacement for the same outcome.
            Last edited by Othila; 12-27-16, 07:07 PM.
            Roland TD-30, TD-12, Roland Pads/Cymbals
            SD2, EZD2, QSC K12s


            • #7
              Hey I'm glad you enjoy it, sorry about the missing steps, I didn't have the TD-30 with me when I wrote it. Feel free to re-explain, make a video, I don't have a google account here and I don't have a camera anyway, so make it yours, it would be great to show this TD-30 surprise development on youtube to pass it around!

              I made a switch too out of a audio/video selector (3 RCA x 4 in and 3 RCA out, in and out reversible) : position 1, the TD-30 with the loop in standalone mode, position 2, TD-30 with the loop via a Yamaha RM1X sequencer to be able to record and arrange with other instruments, position 3, the TD-30 alone without the loop. Position 4 remaining unused for now. These simple plastic hideous audio/video selectors are in fact incredible tools to switch MIDI signal around, as you may know MIDI cabling only require 2 wires, the ground being redundant with the power cords of the devices and not required for safety, and RCA connectors have 2 wires as well, so first you need to solder RCA to DIN adapters, and then you have 3 positions to switch, 4 times, where one position is one MIDI signal. That makes a lot of room to combine several MIDI signals to be routed together in alternative setups. I won't develop here, but if you think you can make use of RCA jumpers to route the signal from one output to the input, you can maybe imagine how one of these switches can have 2 or more routing functions at the same time. And it's 50 times cheaper than a serious MIDI routing box!

              About the TD-30 and its new ability to sound like it never had before with this trick, I haven't yet experimented past the snare and the toms. On toms it's a way to bring back the attack and much more depth, but you need to tune them by ear to match the kits toms pitches. I noticed the good pitch setting for this second tom is not so much about the pitch of the kits tom, but with the harmonics resulting of the layering. You have to tune them by ear, but it's a great way to make use of the older TD-20 legacy sounds. The kick should greatly benefit this layering too, as it's a very common studio technique to double the bass drum with another sample to fatten or sharpen it when arranging or mixing tunes. Cymbal stacks should also be possible. To balance with this mono layer sound (but through chorus and reverb they are more spacious and stereo-like), the kit's ambiance can be set differently : you can raise the overheads much higher without the sound to go up abstractly in mid air, as the layer acts like a sonic anchor. It allows thus to benefit overtones and harmonic blending of the sound, but also to mix the kit to sound louder with a much better perspective in the ambiance section.

              This trick is the missing link between the TD-30 and serious software like Toontrack's Superior Drummer, as it adds not only much more interesting sounding kits, but also a mono mic to the overall mixing that blends everything together much better, because you can then think of it as a realistic multichannel recording drum set up in a studio, with direct, bottom mono, overhead, room, space (reverb), and trash mic (if you think of the various saturation of the MFX as doing this job to bring a biting tone or something distorted a tad (or wildly) to make it sound hot and crunchy.) If you know and understand the Toontrack mixer, which works about the same as a drum recording session in a studio (in fact it's much simpler than that in many studios), you can recognize the MIDI loop trick on the TD-30 brings something that reconciles the drum module with reality, not only does it sound better when you play it, but it sounds with more coherence in terms of what's really happening when you record a drum set in a studio.

              And we can see here Roland clearly didn't develop the TD-30 to its potential, as they totally omitted this very serious option to offer the users to layer sounds, although it's perfectly possible to do. If they had offer this convenience with internal MIDI routing from the start (you can go back to the first module with percussion sets), in the entire edrums market we would have much better sounding modules by now... What a waste of time and resource, what a shame they didn't push it! (but what a pleasure for us to hack into this today!)


              • #8
                This is a awesome find and may be a game changer for some folks.
                A full step by step with video would be very cool.
                When doing this I assume you lose all other midi in/out functions of the module?
                I have found that triggering vst's and mixing module sounds can sound pretty good except hihat functionality which is crap on vst's.
                Thanks lumpenprog for posting this.
                "It makes sense if you dont think about it"

                Mimic Pro, SPD-SX, 2-QSC K-10s, K-sub, Yamaha mixer, and a bunch of other expensive cool things!


                • #9
                  You don't loose the MIDI over USB, but I haven't exactly tried, you might need to map between the channels the module sends. But it works with external hardware sequencer on the classic DIN MIDI (with the restriction that you have to switch in Global set up between drum MIDI channel when recording to avoid loop back and sound doubling, and when playing back as you need to hear the other part of the drumset, and you need as well to merge the recorded midi data and to send this merge midi on both channels.) You would need to adapt around this method to find the best way to work with your software/hardware MIDI machines, but that's the idea and it's very usable and functional with MIDI recording.

                  The thing is you need an in/out loop, but this loop can go though another MIDI device as long as it has MIDI thru functionality, which is the case of maybe all MIDI sequencer/workstation/groove boxes (except on older Korg keyboards)

                  With the TD-30 you don't really have to bother about polyphony, even layering each pad, as you cannot paly head and rim at the same time, if you were to hit every pad at the same time, it would only be 30 events at the same time (instead of 15). Add cymbal washes, beads on ride, hi-hat secondary sound, etc, that would probably double or triple the polyphony if played all at the same time, but you never do that with your 4 limbs, and even 90 events polyphony would be far under 128, so stacking sound has no impact whatsoever on the TD-30 audio engine capability, and I noticed you could as well eliminate the additional minimal latency, even with long MIDI cables and via an external MIDI sequencer, latency discrepancy is about nihil really.

                  But you can perfectly maintain the use of DIN MIDI and use this loop at the same time if you don't have a MIDI thru on the external gear you want to use the MIDI with (to send only or to receive only for instance, or on older Korg workstations with no MIDI thru-to-out routing) with the addition of a MIDI thru box on the output and/or a MIDI merge box on the input. The cost would be modest, between 50 and 200$ depending on the products you chose, but then I would say it's maybe easier to work with audio when that's possible instead. These MIDI boxes don't add latency on their own usually, or latency by so small figures it's perfectly negligible to ad or subtract them to the total sound processing time. Some of these MIDI tool boxes are self powered with the MIDI +3V and don't require power adapters which make them very practical and easy to set up and carry around.

                  When I play sessions with musicians for instance I use MIDI recording for MIDI keyboards (and reducing the tempo to 60 we can record hour long sessions without breaking the 999 measures counter on the hardware MIDI sequencer), but the TD-30 is treated as an audio object as it eats up the MIDI sequencer memory crazy fast with the hihat pedal continuous control and the high number of events per bar (depending on what you pay of course.) For that I use an audio recorder, and I then simply synchronize both MIDI and audio recorders by launching playback on both at the same time via a Y cable and a simple foot switch. It's very low tech sync but it works perfectly actually, and there's no time drifting even after an hour of recording, or even the next morning when you play back after having shut everything down for the night.

                  So to sum it up : MIDI thru and merge boxes would solve the issue you raise to be able to maintain MIDI over DIN in case you had no MIDI thru loop capacity on your MIDI set up, and you never loose the MIDI over USB anyway.


                  • #10
                    Midi thru back from the other devices didn't even cross my mind (as little as it is).
                    I use a midi thru box, I will have to look to see if there is an open output on it (when I find it.) It is kind of buried and hidden in my setup.
                    Lets see, now where does this wire go?
                    Thanks for your answer.
                    I may get around to actually trying this trick next year (next week)!
                    "It makes sense if you dont think about it"

                    Mimic Pro, SPD-SX, 2-QSC K-10s, K-sub, Yamaha mixer, and a bunch of other expensive cool things!


                    • #11
                      I've put something together on Youtube, it's very basic, however this will get someone up and running, I'll do more when I have some extra time soon.

                      Part one

                      Part two

                      Last edited by Othila; 12-29-16, 02:11 AM.
                      Roland TD-30, TD-12, Roland Pads/Cymbals
                      SD2, EZD2, QSC K12s


                      • #12
                        Great videos Othila, and that was blitzkrieg fast online too, thanks to you and cheers mate!

                        I believe in the third video you also might want to talk about the individual zone assignment of all the pads to whatever other midi channel than global, otherwise you'll hear duplicate sounds on these too. It's essential this hack doesn't compromise on normal TD-30 operation on all other zones that are not layered. To edit all zones MIDI output channel at once you need to select the edit button on the page you were selecting the kick and snare channel from Global to 11 (not that you don't know that but it might be useful for later readers to see this reminder eventually)

                        Then you could add as well that patterns also have dedicated chorus and reverb sections, you can set for instance the chorus to a low rate and a strong depth to simulate the stereo on the layers, and reverb to ambiance to be able to place the layers into space, and then adjust the FX send on the individual perc instruments you layer to your pads.

                        You could as well experiment and discuss the fact that you get much better and much more credible results if you don't try to match the pitch of the layers at all with the pitch of the original drum sound, but instead think of it as a way to add the harmonic overtones missing. For instance on toms, adding the same pitch just makes it sound as duplicate, whereas adding a much much higher pitched layer adds the depth by stressing on the actual low of the original sound, while giving it to express its harmonic content, thus reinforcing the original low pitch while it is in fact a pitch up a third, a 5, a 7, an octave,or more, exactly as the bottom head would do on a real drum. Same on snare. I haven't had the time to do more experiment on cymbals so far though, all I want to do for now sitting at the drums, is to just play the amazing blast to the sounding this trick does!

                        The layers are subtle to set up, but like you said, once you cut it off, the original drum kits sound all of a sudden extremely dry in comparison! This TD-30 still has an enormous potential here, and we just found out! Hurrah! Happy new year!
                        Last edited by lumpenprog; 12-29-16, 03:57 AM.


                        • #13
                          Thanks Othila, so just use one MIDI cable for TD-30, plug both of connectors into MIDI IN and MIDI OUT .. ?


                          • #14
                            Tivi, yes that is one Midi cable plugged into the midi in and out.

                            Lumpenprog, I'll add more videos over the next few days which will explore various ways of using the Perc sets. As a start I'll keep it basic and then dig further. Plenty of life in the TD30 to go. Cheers
                            Last edited by Othila; 12-29-16, 01:46 PM.
                            Roland TD-30, TD-12, Roland Pads/Cymbals
                            SD2, EZD2, QSC K12s


                            • #15
                              thank you ... very useful tips ... i tried layered TM-2 with SPD-30 before but only with Global and MIDI NOTE matched between TM-2 and SPD-30 ... will try percussion layer in TD-30. thanks