Review: Roland TD17KVX

Roland's TD17KVX V-Drum kit shares many features with its more expensive siblings, but at a much more accessible price. Matt Vanacoro asks if it makes any compromises.  

When Roland announced their newest line of V Drums would come in around a $1,500 price point, my jaw hit the floor. As a TD30 user, I was used to seeing a price tag of around $6,000 to get a professional electronic drum kit with satisfying kick and hi-hat modules. Combine the significantly slashed price point with a host of new features to make you a better drummer and make you *want* to practice, I had to check it out.

The Module

The TD-17 module borrows a sound engine from the significantly more (I mean kidney-selling) expensive TD-50. The acoustic sounds are detailed, have a lot of dynamic range, and they feel very playable. The module itself allows for connection with a single cable (the drums still all have independent connections) to avoid the spaghetti mess that can ensue when setting up your V drum kit. The TD-17 brain is significantly smaller than most any other professional module, but it’s packed with some new tricks that really stand out.

Bluetooth connection to your phone is a feature that I can’t get enough of. As someone who uses an electric kit to practice and work out parts, the immediacy of how fast you can call up a song on your phone, have it play out loud and be perfectly balanced with your electric kit is just a joy to behold. I found myself looking forward to practice sessions as you could dial in yourself into a mix so quickly it really feels like you’re playing along with the band.

Bluetooth audio isn’t the only trick up the TD-17’s sleeve - it utilizes Bluetooth MIDI as well. Yes, there can be a lag if you’re far away from the computer, but cleverly this is mitigated by utilizing the onboard sounds of the brain. So you can record yourself into a sequence and get the awesome sounds of, say, Superior Drummer, but listen to the zero-latency sounds directly out of the TD-17 while tracking to stay in perfect sync with your music. The system worked flawlessly for me, and I can honestly say I’ll never go back to sequencing a drum beat using my fingers on a keyboard controller again.

The module comes with some educational features to ‘test’ your timing and help you become a better drummer. They are great tools for beginners to utilize and for the pro to occasionally drop in to for a ‘check up’, but they weren’t particularly extensive, at least not yet. The metronome on the TD-71 is clear, loud, and incredibly useful.

The Pads

The drum pads themselves feel fantastic - somewhere in the middle of a TD-12 and a TD-50 kit, which feels about right for the price point. The hi-hat is wonderfully responsive, and I was able to dial it in to feel very realistic in my DAW quite quickly. The snare is unapologetically big, so you won’t be missing that target, and the kick has the heft of a big rubber pad but a mesh center to give you the bounce and feel of a drum head. Really, all over the nooks and crannies of the TD-17 you can find clever, musician friendly design elements. There’s a lot to explore in this kit, and you’ll have fun every step of the way. Be sure to check out the video review for a breakdown of my favorite parts!


I bought the TD-17kvx with zero hesitation, and I’m really glad I did. It’s small enough to keep right next to my mixing desk for quick tracks, and yet sturdy enough to take out for the occasional gig. The sacrifices they made to bring this kit in at the $1,500 price point as opposed to the $6,000 one seem to all be the right ones, and if this is where V-drumming is headed, we’re all in for a treat. 

Price: $1,599 for the KVX model tested

Pros: Immediacy of playing and practicing cannot be overstated - this kit BEGS to be played. Excellent sounds, great hi hat and kick, wonderful dynamic range, compact frame, quality pads and heads.

Cons: Educational tools are neat but a little limited. I miss the individual drum mixing faders on the module itself coming from the TD-30, but the mixer button and window is simple enough to navigate.


Learn more about drumming and beat making:

Matt Vanacoro is one of New York's premier musicans. Matt has collaborated as a keyboardist in studio and on stage with artists such as Jordan Rudess (Dream Theater), Mark Wood (Trans-Siberian Orchestra), Mark Rivera (Billy Joel Band), Aaron Carter, Amy Regan, Jay Azzolina, Marcus Ratzenboeck (Tantric), KeKe Palmer, C-Note, Jordan Knig... Read More


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