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Went to a Vdrum Clinic last night at MARS

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  • Went to a Vdrum Clinic last night at MARS

    It was done by Mike Snyder, who is a very cool guy. Roland chose well when they pulled him in, because he sets a good atmosphere, and puts a good face on the faceless Roland Corporation. He demoed using one Mackie SRM450 coming off of a mixer.

    After being on this list for a while, I have come to believe that the user community has matured in their knowledge of the equipment and its uses. Last night, I was reminded that the people on this list are seemingly the exceptions, not the rule.

    Most of the people were Vdrum owners who had their kits for a while, but were asking questions like "Sometimes when I hit a cymbal, I hear one of my drums. Why is that?" Then after the question is answered and explained (crosstalk), maybe 5 minutes later someone would raise their hand to say, "Well, when I hit my floor tom, my ride cymbal will trigger. What causes that?" or "how do you get to the functions menu?" Mike graciously answered all questions as if they were asked for the first time, but I was shocked at the how many grown men were willing to spend so much money on a piece of gear and never RTFM.

    I was also shocked at the collective oohs and aahs that were expressed by the crowd and the salespeople alike when the gimmicky sounds (cartoon hits, electronic noises) and the voice metronome were demonstrated.

    I wanted to wait until the clinic was over and pull Mike to the side and ask him about future developments like a possible TD-12, but I had a jazz piano lesson to go to, so I raised my hand and spoke up.

    I mentioned the list, and Mike acknowledged it and the Mods. I asked what was next for us from Roland with Summer NAMM coming. I acknowledged that I am sure that NDAs and such would prevent him form giving any details, but could he give some hope at least....I was told of the CY-12 and the great new RMP practice pad.

    I then expressed many of the concerns and desires that we have talked about at great length on this list, and I was told how great the TD-10 was, and how Roland showed its committment to the user by upgrading the module with the TDW-1, and the upgrading the TDW-1 with V-cymbal control.

    I apologized for asking so much and stated that I did not want to antagonize anyone, but I mentioned that I am also a producer and keyboardist, and asked why Roland has provided cutting edge technolgy, better I/O, more extensive expandability, powerful sequencing and FX (for those who want it), exponentially more internal ROM, and access to additional samples to the keyboard market while giving edrummers nothing but two more color options, a smaller V-cymbal, and a practice pad. I was told that if a module was made to satisfy the "power user" it would cost gobs of money and we, the "power users", still wouldn't be satisfied.

    I then made note of the obvious assumption by the corporate mind that drummers, because our traditional instrument is made of wood and struck, are not technologically competent. I asked why would the cost be prohibitve when all of the technologies are already in mass production. I also questioned the fact that drummers are charged such high prices for five-year old technology with incremental software upgrades, while the other markets get cutting edge technology with software upgrades and superior hardware for much less (MSRP for XV5080~$1900, MSRP for unexpanded TD-10~$1700). At this point the regional Roland sales rep, Rich Schatz, suggested that I email him with my concerns and promised to share my opinions with Roland.

    The cavemen at the clinic even came to Roland's defense saying that we should be grateful that we are given an awesome product for the value price of MSRP~$5000! Lemmings. I think that Mike is such a cool guy that it made the brainless wonders want to defend him when he couldn't answer my questions. One of them even said, "Geez, can we talk about drums, please!" I replied, "We are, but its people like you that allow the companies to give us less for more." He didn't reply. I guess being 6'4" and 300lbs has its advantages. :-)

    I didn't want to be the bad guy, but I think that enough is enough. I know that Mike, who seems to be a great guy, is not at fault and can't bite the hand that butters his bread, but I find it disheartening that nothing has really changed. The whole "power users" thing and "it would cost too much to make" crap didn't exactly raise my expectations for the TD-12. Who knows...maybe he hasn't been kept in the loop or maybe he just sidestepping to protect corporate secrets, but I wouldn't bet on it.

    Even though I know he only gave it to me as a bone to shut me up, the sales guy did give me his email and invited comments so here it is: [email protected]

    Email him with your intelligently stated concerns, and let him know that the "power users" are not a group of one.

  • #2
    Good post, and thanks for the heads up and the email address. It's people like you who actually speak up that get things done in this world. Though your approach during the meeting sounds a little harsh, and I'm sure there are definitely people who are happy with the products, it's clear Roland isn't catering to the so-called "power user" (also known as the person who actually wants a cutting-edge product) anymore.

    I myself am a V-Club owner so I'm definitely not in the power user category (I don't have the requisite "power finances") But I do think that Roland has to release a new flagship brain and supporting products to remain the clear leader. No, Pintech, Hart, et. al aren't breathing down Roland's neck yet, but the gap is shrinking, and I always get disgusted by companies who strike gold with one product and rest on their laurels milking that product rather than continuing to innovate.

    Though Roland's focus on the broader entry-level market has produced my beloved V-Club set, it is clear they're ignoring the high-end, and we all know that the entry-level folks need something to upgrade to...

    Good stuff.
    kit pr0n.


    • #3
      Sounds like you kept you really got down to the brass tacks on some of these issues that have been nagging us all. Thanks for sharing your experience and providing the email address. The more frequently this happens in person, the more Roland (and other manufacturers) will be forced to listen.
      E-drums: TD-20, RT-5S triggers on snare/toms, KD-7s, VH12, CY-14Cs, CY-15R, Pintech splash.
      A-drums: Zickos (amber) w/ all Zildjians.


      • #4
        bigswole31, job well done. I painted over all the Roland TM's on mine for starters.


        • #5
          So you are saying that the crowd at this event demonstrated that they were simple-minded and easily disctracted by the sonic equivalent of a bright shiny object? If you were a Roland executive would this lead you to believe that there is money to be made in adding more high-tech capability to your drum modules? Not me. I would look at this crowd and decide that I need to make hardware that does not transmit vibrations and a module that is so intuitive that you can throw away the manual and immediately trigger silly sound effects to your heart's content ("Listen ma, this one sounds like a rocket taking off!") I would leave the high tech niche market to my competition.

          I attended a Mike Snyder workshop in Seattle a few months ago. I don't think any of the vdrums.com regulars were there. The crowd was tiny--just 5 or 6 of us.

          Based on my experiences here, I too was expecting intelligent questions and a cool demo of how these things could be used to create art. Instead the clinic was mostly basic set-up questions and a demo of how you can trigger "Tim the Tool Man" (nyhuhhhhhhhh?) from a multi-pad unit.

          Mike is a GREAT drummer and seems like a nice guy. I enjoyed the workshop 'cos I was able to derail it long enough to get some of my questions answered but I think our experiences prove that the members of this forum are a rare and geeky bunch. Le Geek C'est Moi.

          Keep fighting the good fight but don't expect things to change soon...
          Check out my music: http://www.myspace.com/kellypaletta


          • #6
            Originally posted by feefer:
            like with price-fixing policies passing for MAP.
            Speaking of MAP, does anyone have any inside info on what the wholesale prices of Roland products might be? Like how much margin are the retailers pulling in here? I squeezed out a deal of $1065 for a V-Club set, and I knew the guy was still making a good buck... But it would be nice to know how far down you can deal. Kinda like knowing the invoice price/holdbacks/etc. of a car dealer.
            kit pr0n.


            • #7
              I am really disappointed by the whole thing.

              The fact that they sell a five-year-old, underpowered module at appreciably the same price that it had when it was introduced, while giving more powerful modules (3080, 5050, and others) for less money to the keyboard market is intolerable. You need to spend an extra $250, which brings it into 5080 pricing territory, just to get it full functionality out of it.

              It seems to me that they are keeping the pricing as is for two reasons: To justify the pricing of the TD-8 and TD-6, and to justify a high price tag for the TD-12. To add insult to injury, they then proceed to sell the kit for a $5000 MSRP. For that price you could get a Hart kit, a trigger interface, a sampler (hard or software) samples out the wazzoo, and a digital multitrack recorder with effects.

              KLH, you are obviously correct in your assessment of the Corporate mind. There has to be some way to stop this crap, and get the benefits of the tech that they have already released into other markets. They tried to use COSM, and positional sensing, etc. as pricing justification, but when I reminded them that this is old tech whose R&D has been covered many times over (especially since they use COSM, and their FX algorithms in EVERYTHING they make), they got flustered.

              If you can, please make it your business to get to a clinic near you, and voice your dissatisfaction with their cow milking practices. Also, use that email address that I provided and voice your concerns.


              • #8

                I meant to congratulate you on the wonderful job that you are doing bringing this whole MAP/price fixing thing to light. I couldn't believe some of the assinine comments that some of the posters made on the VS forum.

                Companies like Sweetwater tell us that they give us a better value by providing great service. Isn't good service SUPPOSED TO BE A GIVEN? So if they charged less, that would justify giving misinformation or discourteous treatment? And some buyers even defended Brad and Sweetwater!

                It was like that last night. Mindless people empowering companies to abuse them and defending these companies' practices because "such and such is a nice guy." I guess we all have to go the C.JUDE route and roll our own.

                P.S. I forgot to mention that I brought DDRUMS into the discussion, and Mike was quick to say "8-bit sampling", yet he said that specs shouldn't be the issue criticized the lack of development with the V-drums. Go figure.


                • #9
                  Originally posted by tonycpsu:
                  Speaking of MAP, does anyone have any inside info on what the wholesale prices of Roland products might be? Like how much margin are the retailers pulling in here? I squeezed out a deal of $1065 for a V-Club set, and I knew the guy was still making a good buck... But it would be nice to know how far down you can deal. Kinda like knowing the invoice price/holdbacks/etc. of a car dealer.
                  THEY PAY ABOUT 50%!!!!!
                  I'm a drummer. I don't play the timpani! Hire a percussionist!!!


                  • #10
                    Does Roland provide a schedule of when/where these sessions are held?
                    I'm a drummer. I don't play the timpani! Hire a percussionist!!!


                    • #11
                      Good posts guys. Reality bites. Roland is a master of supply & demand. Their mission statement is to make as much profit as possible in a way that allows them to continue the trend? I think they are doing a bang up job. Drum sales is just a vehicle to get them there.

                      People really do like and are willing to pay for Cartoon kits, cool and lots of lights on stereo's, toasters that talk to you and all sorts of crap. They pay extra to wear clothes which provide free advertising to the manufacturer. They want cool, not functional. Quality ? - we buy warranties (I still can't understand how that happened)!

                      I hear the constant bickering over A's vs E's. Do you really think the typical drummer has any clue about the A's having more versatility, expression and the like? As if they were actually capable of doing more than whacking the daylights out of an overly choked snare. Your kidding me. A's look cool. End of story. The whole argument is acedemic and one reserved for "power users". Not the masses.

                      And why would Roland want to roll in 5 improvements in one year when they can roll in 1 a year for 5 years? The former makes way less money.

                      Which do you think will get the most effective results: quit paying their high prices or have 3% of the customers send letters/e-mail?

                      Why the angry tone? I would really like the V-cymbals. I figured by now, the price would be way down, maybe even reasonable (in a Roland sort of way). But as long as you guys keep paying those prices, why would they drop? I'll have to wait for the next generation cymbal so they can unload inventory. And then, I won't want them. It's all your fault!! Waaaaaaahh!
                      Kit Pic 1 Kit Pic 2 Kit Pic 3... And FOR SALE I have: 3 PD-9's, MDS-10 purple rack w/cables/pad and cym mounts. See classified posts for details or PM me.


                      • #12
                        Again, I find my exact thoughts in all these posts. I waited forever to actually buy my set because I was wondering if I could possibly be wasting my money if a new TD-12 was in the offing.

                        I just couldn't wait any longer and shelled out a fortune for a rather big set. As you know from other posts, I'm quite happy with my set, but the price tag and the apparent disregard of us users who invest a lot of their time and energy into this product is something that bugs me constantly.

                        But, and this is my point, I simply couldn't dish out this kind of money again for a TD-12. And I don't think I would want to, although, again, I would be quite tempted. I'd probably sit it out again until the next evil circle starts.

                        Or I've got a house by then, a basement, and a Pearl Masterworks set in red mahogany.
                        My equipment:
                        :: (Expanded, TDW-1 with V-Cymbal Control)
                        :: 2x CY-15R, 1x CY12H, 2 CY12R/C
                        :: 1x Pad-120, 8x Pad-80R, 6x PD-7, 1x PD-9, 1x KD-120
                        :: 1x FD-7
                        :: 1x Roland MDS-10, 6x Sonor Delite double cymbal stands
                        :: 1x DW 5000 Pedal
                        :: 1x Mackie 1202 VLZ
                        :: 1x NAD C521 CD-Player

                        To be expanded soon ...


                        • #13
                          It's a shame that DWBs (Drummers With Brains) aren't more represented at the clinics. People like Mike Snyder, and Steve Fischer should be up in arms when they see such stagnation from their own company. Hopefully, all the hype that they exude is just to entice customers to buy and they are behind the scenes lobbying for REAL product improvement.

                          I hope somebody, Roland/Clavia/Yamaha/some unknown company, steps up to the plate and delivers the goods. No one is getting any more of my edrum cash until then.

                          That reminds me of one more lame-O they tried to pull on me: The ol' "if you wait for something like what you're describing, you'll NEVER get anything. Technology moves so fast, isn't it better to get the best NOW and not worry about what's coming?"

                          Funny words from people hawking five-year old wares for $5k. That argument sounds good for PC or Macs (highly functional, configurable, do-what-you-need machines), but not for an expensive instrument that CAN'T address the needs of pro usage.


                          • #14
                            Roland Corporation has a development facility with several rooms. Each room has a sign on the door identifying the R&D team within. Some say this is to help the engineers get into the correct room.

                            The Keyboard room is chock full of swarming, dandruff-ridden slide rule wielding beta males churning out razors edge technology.

                            The Vdrums room has 3 smug engineers who laugh at you as they light their cigars and kick caviar into their hot tubs. They rule the roost.

                            So, if you are sick of waiting for the TD-12, your beef is obviously with those 3 guys.

                            Seriously, though...if producing a module for drums is as easy as rearranging parts from keyboards, why doesn't Korg come out with the TD-35? Why doesn't Peter Hart hire an EE for a year and make his own module?

                            Why does ddrum sit on its butt for years watching Roland eat its lunch, when it would be so easy to upgrade its OWN module and out Rolandize Roland?

                            I'm guessing here, but I put my money on economics. There just ain't enough return on investment because there aren't enough E-drummers. The reason we "Power Users" are so frustrated is because of all the bone-headed acoustic drum purchasers.

                            Peter Hart - talk to Korg?
                            Immensely powerful yet with a liquid cat-quick elegance


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by bigswole31:
                              I asked why would the cost be prohibitve when all of the technologies are already in mass production. I also questioned the fact that drummers are charged such high prices for five-year old technology with incremental software upgrades, while the other markets get cutting edge technology with software upgrades and superior hardware for much less
                              All of these problems can be boiled down to one thing: lack of competition.

                              Other e-drum makers are really pretty small companies. They don't have the money or marketing networks in place to compete with Roland.

                              Yamaha is the only of e-drum maker that has the ability to compete with Roland head on.
                              For some reason they haven't come out with a kit that is as good as the roland at a lower price.

                              Eventually, other companies will figure out there is money to be made in e-drums and we'll have some good competition. Until that time roland will have no incentive to improve quality and lower prices.