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Review of PD-120 vs PD-125 on TD-30 and is the PD-128 worth the upgrade

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  • Review of PD-120 vs PD-125 on TD-30 and is the PD-128 worth the upgrade

    I may ramble a bit, but bear with me, I do have a point...

    I have both a TD-20 (expanded) kit with PD-125/PD-105s and a TD-30 kit with PD-120/105s and I've been trying to decide whether or not to upgrade my snare from the PD-120 to a 125 or 128. Since I have both a 120 and 125 to experiment with I started there. I tried to do a relatively object comparison using the meters on the TD-30 in advanced trigger mode so I could see if the values recorded were much different between the two pads.

    I couldn't tell any significant differences on the "Thre"(threshold) or "Rim" tabs. On the "Posi" (Position) tab, it seemed that "maybe" the 125 was slightly more accurate in sensing when I was hitting in the outer 50% of the head (with 0 being dead center and 100 being all rim). It was really hard to judge this because both the 120 and the 125 had PLENTY of "misfires" where it thought I was hitting dead center when in fact I was in the mid-field, especially when playing softer hits. However, any improvement in positional accuracy did not translate into any noticeable sound difference to my ears.

    In case you're wondering, there is no built in setting for a PD-120 trigger on the TD-30, so I use the 125 setting. For reference, the only differences in the preset trigger settings between the 125,125x and 128 are the Rim/Head Adjust value.
    Rim/Head Adjust values:
    PD-125 = 15
    PD-125X = 14
    PD-128 = 11

    It would seem that there must be physical differences in the pad sensors that warrant the changes to the rim/head value for each pad. Given that I can't tell the difference between the PD-120 and 125 using the PD-125 setting, I'm not convinced that I should swap my 120 for a 125 on the TD-30.

    So my question to y'all: has anyone out there has experimented with PD-125 and PD-128 on a TD-30 and been able to tell the any measurable difference or is this simply a case of "it 95% brain and 5% pad"?

    In other news, I did upgrade from a VH-12 to a VH-13 on the TD-30 (I was using a VH-12 on both kits) and I CAN tell the difference in the transitions from open to closed. So, if anyone wants to buy a VH-12, let me know. I now have an extra.

  • #2
    Well we're under the attack of a strong marketing pressure, for sure...

    Anyway you should try setting the PD-120/125 to PD-128, lower the sensitivity a tad, see with scan time what's going on between 1.6 and 2.5 that fits your liking best. You'd get a more subtle response from the pad and the rim. Then you could as well upgrade the sensor mount of the PD-125 to a PD-128 sensor mount type. With or without the official Roland parts, it's an easy and reversible DIY project, see link below. Also tightening up the mesh head makes for a better trigger response, many inconsistencies and hot spots (on the PD-125 at least) are due to a too loose mesh.

    As for the VH-13 compared to the VH-12, could you please make a quick video showing the real difference and why the VH-13 is better (if the case)? It should benefit everyone inquiring this subject. Or could you at least say more about the difference it makes? What's your opinion, is it really an improvement, or simply something that acts the same but in a different way as the VH-12?

    While installing felt padding and washers on the VH-12 to dampen its acoustic signature I found the sensitivity offset was too low, leading me to hit the value 127 on the pedal too easily. Raising the offset to fit my foot pressure to be more accurate and widening the opening of the cymbals to more than 1cm really helped getting a smoother transition between closed and opened. I wonder how far the VH-13 goes beyond that, and if it really goes that far ahead to justify a 700$ bill..
    Do-It-Yourself discussion for building your own e-drums, triggers and more.

    Comment


    • #3
      SonicMission and happy_dude,

      While I've not gone to the degree of writing down all the settings and monitoring specific trigger output parameters, none-the-less, I've spent a reasonable amount of time testing the PD-125 versus the PD-128, and the VH-12 versus the VH-13, all with the TD-30. My conclusion (from tweaking, playing, and listening on multiple occasions) is there is very little difference between these pads. Any difference is easily compensated for by adjusting the trigger settings, which is exactly what I did. So, is it worth the cost to upgrade? No, absolutely not. This is especially the case given none of the newer pads offers additional playing area. (i.e. PD-125 and PD-128 are both 12 inches in diameter. VH-12 and VH-13 are both 12 inches diameter. No performance increase. Same size pads. Therefore, no reason to upgrade.)

      Comment


      • #4
        Here's a demo of the TD-128 vs TD-125: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Rlj0Wi49_c
        . digitalDrummer
        Review index

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        • #5
          I hear you TangTheHump and I think your point makes sense. There are differences in the new and old elements, but not maybe worth the investment.

          Instead of buying a PD-128 and a VH-13 I added a 4th PDX-100 tom and a second CY-13R to my TD-30K, for less than half the money of an update that would have left me with too huge a 4th tom (PD-125 on a MDS-12 rack as a 4th tom is too big to be comfortable, you have to bear with the completely off axis look of the pad and the toms are then really cramped side by side with not enough space to feel comfortable.) and also a spare VH-12 and the virtuality of not being able to sell it good or at all (it only works I think on the TD-11, TD-15, TD-12, TD-20 and TD-30.)

          I also read the DIY thread about the PD-125 vs the PD-128 and realised the PDX-100 already benefit the new rim sensor mount. I believe the sensors and the assembly on the PDX-100 are exactly the same as in the new 128-108, making it perfectly eligible to the new trigger settings. And it works great indeed set as PD-108, bringing a more subtle response with more expressiveness on the rim. And it's not a surprise if you consider the entire PDX-100 is basically a bigger PD-108 basket with no shell. The shell might add some more stability due to its weight and shape, and the better look, but the PDX-100 perform just perfectly too.

          Today I took all my courage and modded the PD-125 to the new sensors mounting, sawing a triangle metal plate from the back enclosure of an old disaffected device, and drilling the current PD-125 black cone plate to assemble as required : it just works perfectly as intended (after a few perplex moments, I'll report on the DIY section more in detail) and the same sensitivity is available now with the PD-125 too, which technically now is a 128 (I can saw straight) : more subtle rims available, much bigger edge head availability, less hot spotting in the center, easier rimshots, a response that I would say less *all in your face* and more in subtlety, much serving my playing actually which is a good thing. To complete the DIY project I also contacted Roland to order the real spare parts and I wonder if won't switch the assembly with one of the PDX-100, that way I wouldn't even have a doubt about my snare DIY project, leaving the hypothetical issues to a less crucial tom.

          Remains the equation of the VH-13. Today I also tried the kit and the VH-12 on a big sample software, it worked perfectly, and I'm happy with it. If ever I get the opportunity to sell mine for good money, I'll upgrade. For now it's all good with the current fixes and DIY, felts under the cymbals axis for better swing, felt lining under the hihat and felt washers too for the swing, 4th tom, 4th cymbal, ride bell sensitivity mod, snare mod, rubber plateform for the entire kit, I feel it's not the same drum kit anymore that I bought 2 weeks ago!

          Have a nice monday
          Last edited by happy_dude; 03-09-15, 05:12 AM.

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          • #6
            Thanks, happy_dude, for tips on the scan time, I'll give that a try. My only complaint about the 120 or 125 is trying to get that extra snap when doing accents. Not sure if scan time will help with that or not. Also, I like your idea of felts under the cymbal axis and under the hi-hat to reduce "clomping". What thickness felt did you use?

            Also, thanks for the link to the 125 to 128 conversion. Other links I've found on this forum were broken.

            As for the VH12 to VH13, that link to the PD125/128 comparison video also has VH12/13 in the second half of the video. I'm not sure I would be able to add much to that comparison. Especially since I can't plug both in at the same time. Unless, of course, someone wants to loan me a 2nd TD-30 then I'd be happy to make a true side-by-side video.

            Shopping tip: I bought my VH13 new for $484 from Amazon. Do a google search for "roland VH-13 amazon". Took about a month to get here. So, I'm going to put my old VH-12 up for sale for around $275 and see if I can get away with a $200-ish upgrade. There is no good reason that the VH-13 should cost $700+. Its not that complicated of a device.

            I wholeheartedly agree about the marketing. Every time I read the product descriptions on the Roland site I roll my eyes because they are nearly identical between versions. I remember seeing one where it was such a copy/paste job that they forgot to change the model number in one spot. But, I digress.

            TangTheHump, I agree about the slight, if any, noticeable differences. My perception of differences between the VH12 and VH13 may be just that. I have no idea what the internal differences are between those pads and, side-by-side comparisons are difficult.


            On a side note, since I do have both a TD-20X and TD-30, which I'm guessing is uncommon, if there are any specific comparisons anyone would like to see, let me know.

            Cheers all, and thanks for the posts.

            Comment


            • #7
              SonicMission I did the mod to adapt the sensors PD-128 style in my PD-125 snare, without the Roland spare parts, it works ok, it requires less force to blow heavy rimshots, but as for the VH-13 I guess, it's a rather subtle change. You'd get this result by raising the rim gain all simply, and setting the snare rim minimal volume in the mixer to a value higher than 0, these 2 settings should give you the extra snap as you wish.

              Ordering the upgrade parts would be an easy way to get the real deal too.

              For the felt under the cymbals I use regular thick cymbal felt washers cut in half. For the felt lining under the hi-hat I used ordinary felt cloth, maybe 1 or 2 mm thick. You could as well use wool cloth, it's a little bit thicker with a similar texture and feel. You have to compensate with felt washers under the upper cymbal, and it helps with the swing as well. The idea was given by TangTheHump on the link below, there are photos also on the thread. For the CY-15 bell sensitivity I followed the method shown on youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RBNh_sqJyCU

              For the VH-13, I give up on the upgrade, I put it on sale and I just refused to sell it for a very good price today, for the second time in a week, I think I'm just not happy with the idea to pay such a huge price for a slight improvement, I just have to stop playing with this idea, and your opinion is helping in that way, so thanks for that.
              Here's a mod I did to my VH-13 hats so they them feel better and play substantially quieter. I'm not sure whether this belongs in the DIY section. This is more an
              Last edited by happy_dude; 03-12-15, 05:42 PM.

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              • #8
                to me the vh 13 is the most significant upgrade for the td 30. the open close is much smoother than the vh 12 / td30 combo. better heal splashes and quicker open close articulation as well. much more natural high hat playability for sure. i have both and there is a difference.
                i will add it all depends on you playing style, if you are prone to slamming 1/4 or 1/8 notes you probably wont benefit with the vh 13 but if you are into prog and jazz, fusion or such and like to do fancy high hat work then it is a real benefit for sure.
                Last edited by jammin777; 03-12-15, 07:11 PM.
                Pearl Mimic pro, A to E 7 piece Pearl Decade maple, ddrum Deccabons, Ddrum DDTi, UFO X-bar triggers, Real feel heads, Gibraltar rack, VH13, PD105 side snare, Roc-N-Soc,Tama Iron Cobra, Iron cobra high hat stand, Cobra clutch, Pearl throne thumper, Roland and Kit Toys cymbals, Roland KC 500, Promark

                Comment


                • #9
                  To me it seems more like a difference in the curve of the midi control change #4 which is responsible for the transition in the module than anything else. This curve can be adjusted in any modern computer based sequencer, and it should be to the user to set it as well in the module if Roland wasn't so much into selling a 700$ upgrade to save its financial disaster of the past years.

                  And I'd say there is some clear evidence it mainly has to do with the cc#4 midi curve : when you set the VH-12 as a VH-13, if you set the offset to be able reach the full close pitch up, then when you leave the hat completely opened it reamains at about 20 closed on the meter. At the opposite point if you set the offset lighter to reach the 0 (opened), you cannot reach further than 94 closed when pressing the pedal. That means the curve is not the same. Maybe there's a way to add felt somewhere to compensate this. And set as a VH-13, the VH-12 offers some more play between opened and closed indeed. That said, the VH-13 sensors might be different as well to be able to capture faster movements. But a different curve would have the same effect actually...

                  But there sure is a difference as is, only it requires more finesse in the foot work on the VH-12 to get all the inbetween subtlety ( to me coming from a problematic FD-8 I sure have a fine right foot technique anyway)

                  And the VH-13 doesn't solve one big problem of the VH in conjonction with the Roland module : the fact that when you close the hat smoothly you don't get the cymbal dying in resonance, but only in one abrupt silent cut. This doesn't happen with some samples librairies out there.

                  Also it is possible that all the felt layers inside to dampen the acoustic signature of the VH-12 slightly favored a part of the cc#4 curve that is more suitable for smooth transition. In other words, the felt lining project helps getting better results as the bare VH-12 whedn it comes to open to close transition (which ends inevitably abruptly as Roland didn't provide the sampes for the cymbals to choke against each others.)
                  Last edited by happy_dude; 03-13-15, 05:16 AM.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    the real difference vh12 vs vh13 is the motion sensor and color
                    Pearl Mimic pro, A to E 7 piece Pearl Decade maple, ddrum Deccabons, Ddrum DDTi, UFO X-bar triggers, Real feel heads, Gibraltar rack, VH13, PD105 side snare, Roc-N-Soc,Tama Iron Cobra, Iron cobra high hat stand, Cobra clutch, Pearl throne thumper, Roland and Kit Toys cymbals, Roland KC 500, Promark

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Yes I know that, but what is the electronics in the motion sensor? We know it's passive electronics, there's no electrical power sent from the module to the sensor, it's the countrary, it's the sensor that creates an electrical stream, the intensity of which being interpreted by the module in midi values. So what is that electronic passive device? A piezo resistor of some sort, which cannot be faster or slower than another (to our human scale, electrons travel about the same speed in conductive all metals anyway!), but only of a different value and offering a different response curve.

                      So the marketing point by Roland about a new faster motion sensor makes no sense, it's just marketing bs. The difference is in a response curve that could have been adapated on the module side. Proof of simple : more opened to closed can be easily achieved on the VH-12 triggering the TD-30 via a computer midi loop in you favorite DAW.

                      And that means also the value difference between the 2 hats is 0 (one piezo is ceretainly about the same price (in cents!) that any other), and it also means, since we're talking about midi data, that Roland could have included midi curves to the cc#4 to perfectly match the response of the VH-12 to the behaviour of the VH-13, and they didn't, they preferred to sell the major tag price upgrade. For people buying a TD-30KV kit, that's fine, but for those tempted with the pricey upgrade, maybe that's not so great news. (see link below I think I found a way to remedy this, if only Roland don't wipe this possibility in the next TD-30 update - if there ever is more updates to come)

                      Besides, the only video source showing the actual difference, this one onyoutube https://youtu.be/-Rlj0Wi49_c?t=3m7s , has a major flow : appart from that the cymbals are set too far away from each others to be rerpresentative of a real life situation (the manual says 1cm, maybe 2 is ok, 7 maybe not so much ok), the VH-12 is evidently not calibrated and set properly as it doesn't show pitch pressure as it works on a VH-12. In other words, the comparison is tendencious, it shows the functionning of a VH-13 against the functionning of a poorly set VH-12...

                      I installed cymbal felt washers between the cymbals on my VH-12 for better swing and a more silent response, and felt lining as well. I'm getting more smoothness from the VH-12 openings than the video shows about the VH-13, even before I apply the trick I indicate in the link below. With felts washers allowing for more swing of the upper cymbal, the VH-12 I have needs +50 offset. Playing with the offset greatly helps, and then when you apply the trick, bam, it's as if you were given back transitions that were eaten by the module before. The author of this video should redo it properly, as is, it's just a big confusion mix up! (And when testing the PD-125 vs PD-128 in the first part of the viodeo, he doesn't show the rim behaviour as much as the head, which is the same in both models, so go figure a difference on 2 identical parts of 2 different products though...)

                      I'm sorry about all this questionning the VH-13, but I think the proper opinion to conclude from this set of elements and evidences we discussed, is that Roland is not your friendly good pal on the hihat upgrade kit, but more of the paypal kind of "friend" here.

                      On the positive side, Roland black cymbals take the dust and become grey, now with the new metallic grey it won't be a problem.
                      This trick works with the VH-12, maybe with the VH-11 as well? As it appears, appart from a sensor difference advertsied by Roland between the VH-12 and the VH-13 (but how is that a variable resistor could be faster than another?), the difference between the VH-12 and the VH-13 is resulting from a different
                      Last edited by happy_dude; 03-15-15, 07:17 AM.

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                      • #12
                        i dont understand electronics lingo, and understand a piezo is a piezo , not sure how to explain what the motion sensor is made up of, , i do agree however that the vh 12 does better with the td 30 than the td 20. all i know is that i did the upgrade to the vh13 setup and it is better to my ears than the vh 12 with the td30 particularity with the open close feel. i surely would not have the vh 13 if it wernt for the killer deal i got on a demo set. i paid $260 for mine like new.

                        i do agree with the paypal friendly statement, that mostion sensor probably cost a few bucks and we are paying 5000% above. but we did crack the code on the drum pads. marketing BS, agreed
                        Last edited by jammin777; 03-18-15, 11:37 AM.
                        Pearl Mimic pro, A to E 7 piece Pearl Decade maple, ddrum Deccabons, Ddrum DDTi, UFO X-bar triggers, Real feel heads, Gibraltar rack, VH13, PD105 side snare, Roc-N-Soc,Tama Iron Cobra, Iron cobra high hat stand, Cobra clutch, Pearl throne thumper, Roland and Kit Toys cymbals, Roland KC 500, Promark

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by happy_dude View Post
                          ...

                          I also read the DIY thread about the PD-125 vs the PD-128 and realised the PDX-100 already benefit the new rim sensor mount. I believe the sensors and the assembly on the PDX-100 are exactly the same as in the new 128-108, making it perfectly eligible to the new trigger settings. And it works great indeed set as PD-108, bringing a more subtle response with more expressiveness on the rim. And it's not a surprise if you consider the entire PDX-100 is basically a bigger PD-108 basket with no shell. The shell might add some more stability due to its weight and shape, and the better look, but the PDX-100 perform just perfectly too.

                          ...
                          I have a new TD-30K-S. Am I reading correctly that you are recommending identifying the PD-125 as a PD128S and the PDX-100's as PD-108?

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I have a new TD-30K-S. Am I reading correctly that you are recommending identifying the PD-125 as a PD128S and the PDX-100's as PD-108?
                            Try it, you'll get more dynamics on the toms and a stronger rimshot on toms and snare. If you get false rim triggering on the very edge of the heads, raise the Head/Rim Adjust back to normal from 11 to 26 of the PDX-100 and from 11 to 15 on the PD-125. Or even higher values, till you get it to respond properly.

                            While we're at it, maybe it's not a problem for you, but the kit was set way too high for me with the toms on the rack arms. It's nice for the advertising photographs but playing with the drums set flat is impossible this way. So I lowered the rack bars, set the toms on the 2 cymbal clamps, and the cymbals on the rack arms instead : much better. So don't be shy and move the elements around the way you want them exactly to look and feel, it's essential to feel comfortable with the set you practice on!
                            Last edited by happy_dude; 03-20-15, 08:19 AM.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by happy_dude View Post

                              Try it, you'll get more dynamics on the toms and a stronger rimshot on toms and snare. If you get false rim triggering on the very edge of the heads, raise the Head/Rim Adjust back to normal from 11 to 26 of the PDX-100 and from 11 to 15 on the PD-125. Or even higher values, till you get it to respond properly.

                              While we're at it, maybe it's not a problem for you, but the kit was set way too high for me with the toms on the rack arms. It's nice for the advertising photographs but playing with the drums set flat is impossible this way. So I lowered the rack bars, set the toms on the 2 cymbal clamps, and the cymbals on the rack arms instead : much better. So don't be shy and move the elements around the way you want them exactly to look and feel, it's essential to feel comfortable with the set you practice on!
                              Thanks. Yes, I am doing something similar to get the toms at a more proper height WRT clamps. I'll post a picture once I get everything dialed in.

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