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My TD-9S and MDR-7506 Review

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  • My TD-9S and MDR-7506 Review

    Hi Folks!

    I received my TD-9S last week and just had a chance to clear room for it and set it up today. For use with my TD-9S I purchased a set of Sony MDR-7506 headphones which, in addition to the TD-9S, I'll offer my thoughts on as well.

    Setting Up

    Setting up my TD-9S was relatively straight-forward; EVERY company should include a setup poster as good as Roland's. I rearranged the rack a bit prior to mounting everything, as I intend to upgrade at some point to a KD-120; I basically swapped the lower of the two center horizontal bars with the bar for the snare, giving me the necessary clearance. Once this was done, setup was pretty quick and painless.

    (I really, really am impressed with a lot of the little details Roland thinks of when developing a product offering (i.e. - the total package): The spin stoppers, the velcro strips for cable management, the ball-and-socket adjustment for the snare - the little things...all very nice.)

    My set up is as follows:

    - Roland TD-9S (stock)
    - DW 7002PT double kick pedal
    - Sony MDR-7506

    With these all in place, I'm ready to jump back on the bandwagon after being away from drums for almost 12 years!

    Hardware

    The hardware supplied with the TD-9S is good - not spectacular and not substandard, but good. The rack is farily nice, actually: compact but well-made, sturdy, and fairly easy to adjust (looks nice, too). I do wish they had included memory locks for the mounts and booms, which would make setting back up after breaking down and collapsing everything much easier. Nonetheless, I'm fairly pleased, overall.

    The FD-8 isn't bad, and works well-enough in conjunction with the CY-5. What else is there to say? Well, there's this: Though the pedal height can be adjusted, the tension cannot be. Being able to adjust the pedal's tension would have been a nice touch. Then again, I'm sure Roland's more than happy to sell you (and me) a VH-11 for use with a real high-hat stand, and they've got to hit a price-point....

    Pads

    Not the TD-9S's strength; however, for an entry-level kit, they're not BAD. In fact, I think the PDX-8 feels better than Yamaha's non-mesh snare pad, and I'm even partial to their PD-8 rubber pads over Yamaha's non-mesh tom pads. The PDX-8 will keep me happy for a few months until I cave into my desire for a PD-125 or PD-105. The KD-8 isn't as bad as I thought it would be. In fact, I got somewhat used to it in the first few hours of playing. Following Roland's note on the setup poster center BOTH beaters on pad, I had no trouble with uneven kick volumes, uneven response, etc. Again, I'll probably cave (again) in a few months for a KD-120 (played one and love, love, love it), but the KD-8 is perfectly fine for getting back into the groove (no pun intended).

    The cymbal pads are DEFINITELY not the TD-9S's strength. These are, in fact, the weakest part of the kit (I think - more on this in a bit). The CY-5, once dialed in on the module, does it's job and isn't too terribly bad. In fact, I think the 'okay' high-hat sounds of the TD-9 make it seem worse than it is. I'll likely upgrade (again) to the VH-11 at some point, as I already have a perfectly good HH stand sitting around collecting dust, but the CY-5 will work in the interim.

    I have mixed feelings about the CY-8s. Though they seem to do their job 90 percent of the time, about 10 percent of my hits went completely unregistered on crash 1. Suspecting a possible faulty trigger, I swapped the CY-8s to see if it was just the one cymbal pad, but that turned out to not be the case; both CY-8s failed to register random strikes (hard and soft, alike). This leads me to believe that either there's an issue with the module or cables with respect to this trigger input, or that both CY-8s are bad (or that they inherently have this problem). It should be noted that both CY-8s, when connected to the crash 2 input, played flawlessly - no unregistered strikes whatsoever. No matter what I tried in terms of tweaking the trigger parameters, nothing worked. I inspected both pads carefully and noted nothing that would indicate damage or faulty manufacturing. I changed sounds, I double-checked that the cable was properly seated in the socket, I reset the module to factory defaults. Nothing worked. 10 percent is a big number, so I'll be making a phone call to Roland's support line....

    Module

    The sounds...a mixed bag. Some are "okay," some are nicer, and a few are great. Sound is a subjective thing though, so I won't bother reviewing the TD-9's available sounds. The functionality is a different matter though. The practice features are nice, the ability to tweak individual sounds, and the USB port (for firmware updates, backing up and importing settings, etc) are welcomed. One thing I would liked to have seen is the inclusion of more "User" kits and the ability to name them. This way, one could have several "User" kits, named for gigs, and stored away for safe keeping. Not a must-have deal-breaker, but something that would be nice to have.

    Perhaps this should have been included under hardware, but since it's specific to the module, I've included it here: Roland could have come up with something a LITTLE better for mounting the unit to the rack (another ball-and-socket comes to mind); as it is, adjusting the angle of the module with respect to the player is depend entirely upon the angle of the rack's left extension, as the module can't be angled left or right; it would be nice to be able to adjust it in such a way that I can face the unit directly at me. It's a nit-pick...yes.

    Last Thoughts

    I purchased my TD-9S brand new in the boxes on Ebay for $1499 ($300 under the typical street price). For $1799, I would not had been as satisfied as I am. Being in product development, I'd say Roland's making some pretty healthy margin on their V-Drum products. In is player's opinion, $1799 is a touch high. That being said, given I spent $1500 on this kit, I'm stoked. Once sounds are dialed in and one becomes accustomed to playing on them, there's some real fun to be had - and as soon as I've had the chance to upgrade it a bit, really get used to playing it, and explore some of the VLabs stuff, I'm sure I'll come to appreciate the Roland TD-9S all the more and perhaps even become genuinely inspired.

    Sony MDR-7506

    After listening to a couple AudioTechnica sets, a few Sennheisers, and the MDR-7506, I settled on Sony. I wasn't able to demo any of the headsets with vdrums prior to my purchase (my evaluation was limited to loss-less MP3 tracks in Guitar Center), I took it on faith that the Sony phones would reproduce the TD-9's sounds just as well as they reproduced the MP3 tracks I'd listened to.

    I suppose the audio gods were with me that day, because while I know there are better sets out there (maybe even for the money), these cans sound fantastic plugged into the TD-9's phones jack. While perhaps not as "transparent" or "flat" and "true" as some others, I'm not using these phones to mix. Rather, I bought them because I wanted the best possible means of getting the sounds from the TD-9 to my ears, and with some of the coloration that I personally favor: My kick sounds big, punchy, and deep; toms are crips, full, and round; my snare sounds fantastic (given the limitations of the TD-9's sounds and the PDX-8 pad); and the cymbal sounds are amazingly crisp and clear with lots of detail.

    Playing with the MDR-7506s on actually reminds me of a couple of recording gigs I played with maple acoustics - all the drums and cymbals mic'd up and a pair of $600 Sennheisers on my ears...very nice, indeed.

    In terms of comfort, it doesn't get much better, in my opinion. These cans are light, the ear-cups feel great, and they're neither too tight nor too loose (your mileage may vary, depending on the size of your noggin).

    Construction-wise, they feel very well made, and they're put together mostly with screws - not glue. The headband is genuine, double-stitched leather, and though I've heard of the earpads wearing out over time, this is an item I'm willing to replace in order to keep an otherwise good set of phones in service.

    They also come with a nice pleather pouch, which probably isn't necessary to some, but to most will inspire a feeling of "awww...shucks, you shouldn't have;" given the price of these cans and the way they perform, Sony didn't really need to include any extras. It's just a nice touch.

    Wrapping It Up

    Thanks for reading. I hope the above reviews help folks who may be on the fence, trying to decide whether or not to open their wallets for one (or both) of these products.

    UPDATES

    Seems there's a new firmware update available which:

    "...improves the triggering capability of the TD-9. It will allow more accurate triggering for the cymbals and will reduce crosstalks."

    Not sure which firmware version my unit shipped with, but I'm hoping it's not this one, and that the update will correct the CY-8 issues I mentioned.

    The TD-9 firmware update is available here: http://www.roland.com/products/en/_s...00028012&dsp=1

    VDrums thread on the update: http://www.vdrums.com/forum/showthre...light=firmware
    Last edited by koneill; 01-12-09, 05:09 PM. Reason: New information available.

  • #2
    Very nice review, thanks for sharing.
    I have had some trouble with the CY-8s not triggering, but nowhere near the amount you are experiencing. If it is not happening when plugged into other inputs, I (like you) assume it is not the cymbal, but maybe the settings. Have you tried fiddling with crosstalk or sensitivity? Also, you mention that you purchased this kit from eBay, was it from a Roland authorized seller? If not, it could be an issue regarding warranty on the set.

    For kits, making another backup onto a USB drive and naming the kits however you want is easy...made even easier using vDrumLib.

    Comment


    • #3
      Dude, you rock. Thanks for the excellent review, really helps out this newbie here.

      Ironically I'm also just getting back to drumming after a 12-year absence myself; saw a Roland set (I believe the TD9) in my local BestBuy, sat down to play and haven't stopped thinking about them since. I mean I'm hooked bad. It may take me another 12 to save up for the things but that's another story...

      Eric

      Comment


      • #4
        Wow, they sell V-drums in Best Buy in the US? Our Best Buy's in Canada have like two guitars and a handful of keyboards and that's about it.

        Congrats on your new drums! If you're wanting to improve the sound of the kits, I'd suggest you check out the VEX kits for the TD9 http://www.vexpressionsltd.com/td09.html. I haven't tried them yet for my TD12 but plan to. Many many people here rave about how much better they make their drums sound. You can listen to some samples on their site, too.
        Roland: TD12, KD85, PD105, PD85 x3, CY15R, CY14C, CY12R/C x2, CY5, VH11
        DW: 5002-TD3 Kick Pedals, 9120AL throne + backrest
        Yamaha: HS1100 HH Stand
        Audio Technica: ATH-M40fs Cans
        Jeroen: Custom Electric Cowbell
        Kentley: Custom Piezo Trigger Splitter x2
        ByteArts: VEX TD-20 Kits: Top 50 1&2, Gigging Kits, Exotics 1, Professor's Pack
        Vdrumlib: Drum Librarian

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Colquhoun View Post
          Very nice review, thanks for sharing.
          I have had some trouble with the CY-8s not triggering, but nowhere near the amount you are experiencing. If it is not happening when plugged into other inputs, I (like you) assume it is not the cymbal, but maybe the settings. Have you tried fiddling with crosstalk or sensitivity? Also, you mention that you purchased this kit from eBay, was it from a Roland authorized seller? If not, it could be an issue regarding warranty on the set.

          For kits, making another backup onto a USB drive and naming the kits however you want is easy...made even easier using vDrumLib.
          Thanks for the kind words.

          I have played with the sensitivity and the crosstalk, but so far nothing seems to correct the issue.

          I purchased it from ebay, but I was able to register the unit with the serial number and "ebay" as the dealer on the Roland website, so if they give me any grief, I'll fight it. It was indeed a brand new, never-opened set (parts in newly sealed bags and all).

          I'll check out the vDrumLib stuff - haven't done that yet. I suspect that there are numerous things I'll be able to do with software and some creative thinking....

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by koneill View Post
            Thanks for the kind words.

            I have played with the sensitivity and the crosstalk, but so far nothing seems to correct the issue.

            I purchased it from ebay, but I was able to register the unit with the serial number and "ebay" as the dealer on the Roland website, so if they give me any grief, I'll fight it. It was indeed a brand new, never-opened set (parts in newly sealed bags and all).

            I'll check out the vDrumLib stuff - haven't done that yet. I suspect that there are numerous things I'll be able to do with software and some creative thinking....
            BTW - I confirmed that "My Gear Guy" (from whom I purchased via EBay) is listed on Roland's site as an authorized dealer (whew!). Should be no troubles in the event of disaster.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Mutnat View Post
              Wow, they sell V-drums in Best Buy in the US? Our Best Buy's in Canada have like two guitars and a handful of keyboards and that's about it.

              Congrats on your new drums! If you're wanting to improve the sound of the kits, I'd suggest you check out the VEX kits for the TD9 http://www.vexpressionsltd.com/td09.html. I haven't tried them yet for my TD12 but plan to. Many many people here rave about how much better they make their drums sound. You can listen to some samples on their site, too.
              Thanks. I intend to check them out - just very little time with work, school, life...oh yeah - the wife (can't forget that one).

              Comment

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