Roland TD-17KVX Review
A powerful module, all-mesh drums, and some attention-grabbing features make the Roland TD-17KVX the standout option in this price range.
In short: You’ll get a huge range of Roland’s best features, packaged into an excellent electronic drum kit. It’s not as flashy as more expensive options, but there’s really not a lot more you could ask for with the Roland TD-17KVX.
Don’t just take our word for it though: The Roland TD-17KVX was voted best electronic drum kit by readers of MusicRadar!
Roland’s TD-17KVX sits at the top of the TD-17 range of electronic drum kits. While other models in the series have a few compromises to make them more affordable (we also cover the TD-17K-L ‘lite’ version and TD-17KV below in this review), the Roland TD-17KVX is where everything really comes together.
This is a higher-than-average priced electronic drum kit (so hopefully you’ve got a few extra dollars in the bank), but when you sit down to play it, you’ll see that it’s money well spent.
So let’s take a look at what Roland bring to the table with the TD-17KVX.
Roland TD-17KVX Review: Drums & Hardware
Mesh Snare & Tom Drum Pads
First up, of course the drums are all mesh, and they’re all very generously sized. The snare is a big 12 inch, 3-zone mesh pad (Roland’s PDX-12), and the three 2-zone PDX-8 mesh toms are all 8 inches wide. The drum sizes (especially the large snare) mean you’re never cramped, and gives this kit more of a luxurious feel when you sit down at the throne (especially if you’re used to cheaper electronic drum kits).
All of the drum pads are built with two layers of mesh, which helps durability. This means that unless you’re constantly beating the absolute hell out of these drums pads, you really won’t ever need to replace them.
Roland’s mesh drumheads can be tension adjusted, so you can “tune” them to get more or less drumstick rebound depending on your preferences. The fact that Roland’s mesh drumheads are easily removed with a drum key means they’re also replaceable: If you do happen to break one of the mesh heads, you can easily replace the head without needing to buy a whole new drum pad.
Mesh drum pads are really the gold standard when it comes to realistic low-volume electronic drumming: You won’t disturb anyone when playing them, and they feel much more real compared to rubber pads.
We should point out that the snare drum pad is not compatible with brush playing… brush compatibility is one of the more advanced features you’ll find on some expensive electronic drum kits. If you want to use drumsticks though, you’re looking at the right kit here.
Overall the Roland TD-17KVX scores big points in the snare and tom department. Besides not being able to play with brushes, there’s everything you could ask for: Great two-zone and three-zone pads, low stick noise, and excellent build quality.
Quiet Single & Double Bass Kick Drum Pad
Following on from Roland’s quiet mesh snare and tom drum pads, the Roland TD-17KVX’s bass drum pad is also built with low-volume electronic drumming in mind.
The TD-17KVX features Roland’s KD-10 rubber kick pad, which is covered with a layer of cushion to absorb the beater’s impact. Covering your electronic kick drum pad with an old towel to lower the impact noise is actually a trick we recommend in our tips to reduce drum volume, so it’s nice that Roland have built this feature into the TD-17KVX’s bass drum.
The KD-10 kick drum pad can easily support a double bass pedal, and you feel a nice “thud” impact even though the beater is hitting a softer-than-usual surface.
Importantly, the kick tower is also quite stable due to its wide base (we gave it a good workout in our review)… Harder-hitting drummers will know that not all electronic kick drum towers are created equal. Some can bounce around from the impact of a bass drum beater, but the KD-10 can handle heavy feet without rocking or jumping anywhere.
The electronic cymbals are where the Roland TD-17KVX really sets itself apart from other electronic drum kits (and from the rest of the TD-17 series which we review further down this page).
Roland TD-17KVX Hi-Hats
First up, the TD-17KVX’s hi-hat is a 12 inch dual-zone (bow and edge) rubber pad, which actually mounts to a regular hi-hat stand. For comparison, the cheaper TD-17KV and TD-17K-L come with a much smaller 5 inch CY-5 cymbal pad (which looks like a ‘standard’ electronic drum cymbal pad). Like with the large snare pad, the extra hi-hat size makes for very enjoyable drumming.
The TD-17KVX’s hi-hat pad is also thinner than usual, which contributes to a nice light feel when playing (and also cuts the stick noise a little when you hit it). The electronic pad swings to recreate the natural movement of a real hi-hat.
The sensor (under the cymbal) detects the pressure put on your hi-hat pedal, which allows smooth transitions between fully open and fully closed sounds. It’s also foot-splash compatible, and during our review testing it detected a nice range of subtle playing that other electronic hi-hats can sometimes miss (such as hitting then quickly opening the hats).
You will need a real hi-hat stand to use this cymbal pad (you don’t get one in the box when buying the TD-17KVX), so keep that in mind if you’re considering this kit. The VH-10 hi-hat system will work on any regular hi-hat stand though, so you can use your acoustic drum kit’s stand or pick up a cheap used one to do the job.
Roland TD-17KVX Crash & Ride Cymbals
Along with a top-notch electronic hi-hat system, the Roland TD-17KVX also hits the mark when it comes to crash and ride cymbals.
The crash cymbals are a step up from “standard” electronic drum kit cymbals. Also, did notice the letter “s” on the end of the word “cymbals” there..? Roland actually give you two of these great crash cymbals, which puts the TD-17KVX above the other electronic drum kits in this price range (you usually just get one crash!).
The two crash cymbals are Roland’s CY-12C pads. The big 12-inch size helps these cymbal pads stand out (compared to the “standard” 8-inch cymbals on other TD-17 models). Beyond the larger size, the CY-12C crash cymbals are also specially weighted to swing when hit. These cymbals pads have two zones (bow and edge), and you can also grab them on the edge to choke the sound.
What about the ride cymbal? Well, it’s great too, and here’s why: It’s a big 13 inch electronic cymbal pad with three hitting zones (bow, edge, and -importantly for the ride- a bell sensor). Like the CY-12C crash cymbals, Roland’s CY-13R ride cymbal is weighted to swing naturally when hit, and it’s covered in a soft rubber to help reduce volume.
One thing we noticed when hitting the bell of the ride during our review: you’ll need to give it a slightly harder whack to activate it. The ride can be choked, and it has an extra large bow area to make playing enjoyable, rather than the cramped feel of smaller cymbal pads.
So the Roland TD-17KVX scores extremely well in the cymbal department. The cymbals are usually the most lacking feature of an electronic drum kit (they often seem like an after-thought), but Roland have really brought their A-game with the TD-17KVX. They’ve also included not one but two great crash cymbals – nice!
Okay, so we can’t really consider the Roland TD-17KVX’s frame groundbreaking. It holds everything together well though (it’s very functional), and it’s adjustable in all of the important places.
We should mention that if you’re in a very tight space, you’ll probably have issues squeezing everything in (due to the size of this kit). The TD-17KVX’s footprint is moderately large: Not as big as some other electronic drum kits, but you definitely cannot call this a compact space-saving kit (especially when factoring in the real hi-hat stand). This is the trade-off you get for having larger drum and cymbal pads. If you need an extremely small yet powerful electronic drum kit, take a look at what we’ve built here.
If space isn’t a real issue though, you’ll have no problems with the TD-17KVX’s frame. It’s solid, stable, and quite adjustable. The snare arm allows for easy swivel adjustment, and the cymbal arms allow for fast positioning of cymbals at almost any angle.
Overall Roland’s frame does a pretty good job, and you’ll be able to position it almost any way you like.
Roland TD-17KVX Module Review: The Brain Behind The Kit
Okay, so we’ve covered the hardware… all of the drums, cymbals, and frame.
Now let’s look at the critical component of any electronic drum kit: the module (or “brain”) which handles all of the sounds and connectivity.
Roland TD-17KVX Review: Module Overview
The module producing an electronic drum kit’s sounds is often the make-or-break component of the kit. If the module sucks, well… the fun gets sucked out of the playing experience very quickly.
So how does the TD-17KVX’s module stack up? First, here’s a quick look at some of its main features. The Roland TD-17KVX brain includes:
- 310 built-in sounds (drums, cymbals, percussion, etc.)
- 32mb of storage (for adding your own custom drum sounds)
- 100 customizable drum kits
- Ambiance, effects, tuning and muffling controls (both pad-level and kit-level ‘room’ options)
- Excellent connectivity (headphone and L/R out, aux input, USB, MIDI out, bluetooth, SD card)
- Coaching and learning functions (including compatibility with Roland’s Melodics software)
Overall that’s a great list of specs for a module – Roland have made sure not to skip any electronic drumming essentials. The samples and features on this module are actually inherited from Roland’s top-of-the-line TD-50KVX electronic drum kit.
Now let’s review those features in more detail…
Roland TD-17KVX Drum Sounds & Kits
The TD-17KVX’s 310 built-in samples include everything you’d expect from an electronic drum set. The drum kits include acoustic, pop, electronic, funk, R&B, jazz, blues, metal, rock, percussion, and some ultra-processed and more effect-based options.
There’s a great range of acoustic drum samples, including a selection of woods (maple, birch, beech), wood and metal snare drums, and different sized drum options.
Roland include some nice advanced features like left and right hand samples (to avoid machine-gun rolls), snare strainer adjustment on the snare, and a lot of different tuning and muffling options (which we’ll cover later). They’ve also added a snare buzz adjustment feature (for the kick drum and toms).
Roland’s snare buzz adjustment feature on the TD-17KVX is actually really cool, and it’s something that deserves more attention: While some drummers go to great lengths to remove the snare buzz that occurs when you hit your toms or kick drum, that buzz is actually an important component of your kit’s sound. Try using a tom or kick sample with no snare buzz… it sounds weird and unnatural. Having a lot of control over your level of buzz is a very thoughtful feature.
What about the cymbal sounds? Roland bring a strong cymbal game, with over 80 different ride, crash, hi-hat and effect cymbal samples. There’s cymbals to cover all styles of music, and you can actually change the size of the cymbals to alter their tone!
Put together, the acoustic drum and cymbal samples allow you to create ultra-realistic acoustic drum kits. Combining the great samples with the range of tuning, muffling, size control and other options means you can customize your kits down to the finest detail.
Along with the range of acoustic drum samples, Roland add some great electronic samples to the TD-17KVX as well. Roland have some of the most-sampled electronic drum sounds of all time, and of course they’re all included with the TD-17KVX. There’s everything you’d expect, including classics like 808, 909, and CR-78 samples, effects, and percussion.
Roland TD-17KVX: Add your own samples
Beyond the 310 built-in samples, another super useful feature is the ability to import your own: The TD-17KVX allows you to load in custom samples.
Overall this is great, however the 32mb of storage does limit you a little. It’s perfect for loading single-hit samples such as drums, cymbals, percussion and effects, but don’t expect to run backing tracks directly from the module (you’d need to use the TD-17KVX’s MIDI or USB connection for this).
32mb of storage means you can expect to fit 50-100 drum samples on the module (each a few seconds long) without any issues. A cool feature worth pointing out is the layering function, where you can blend your own samples with Roland’s built-in samples, to create some interesting hybrid drum sounds.
User samples can also be set to trigger multiple times or loop. For on-board editing options, you can even zoom in on the WAV file to adjust the start and end time of the sample.
Roland TD-17KVX Effects
Roland are masters of effects, and they’ve put this expertise to good use with the TD-17KVX. You’ll get a full range of multi-effects, including multiple different delays, reverbs, choruses, phasers, overdrives, pitch shifting, wah, and more.
Many samples can also be tuned and pitch-adjusted, and you can even change the size of some instruments (like the cymbals) for different tones. Drum muffling options like tape, donuts, blankets, and felt are also available, and can be individually configured on each pad, so you can dial in your perfect drum sound with all of the same tools you’d use on your acoustic drum kit.
Along with adjusting each individual pad, you can also set kit-wide ambience (reverb), including making adjustments for the room type, size, shape, walls, and microphone positions. Kit-wide and pad-level EQ options are also available.
Overall Roland have packed the TD-17KVX with some top-notch effects and drum sound options, which really adds to the versatility of this electronic drum kit.
Roland TD-17KVX Connectivity & Other Features
Beyond drum samples and effects, Roland have added lot of other nice tools into the TD-17KVX’s module.
First up, there’s Bluetooth connectivity, which is fairly rare on an electronic drum kit. This allows you to play along with music from a Bluetooth device, and also record with apps that support Bluetooth MIDI (such as the GarageBand app).
Other connectivity options include headphone output, L/R output, auxiliary input, USB, MIDI out, and an SD card slot.
If you want to capture your playing, you can record direct to the module or via the SD card. A nice feature of Roland’s recording mode is the ability to mix in any songs you’re playing along with, rather than just recording the raw drums.
You’ll also find a built-in coaching mode on the TD-17KVX module, which features a timing checker, tempo training, warm-up routines, and compatibility with Melodics drum lesson software. And of course there’s a built-in metronome with different voices and time signatures. Here’s a quick look at how beginner and intermediate drummers can use Melodics with the TD-17KVX to up their drumming game:
Overall, Roland include an excellent module with the TD-17KVX. The only real limitation is the 32mb of built-in memory for custom samples. If you need to run backing tracks for your band, this will cause some issues, although there are options like USB or MIDI triggering to take care of things if needed. Otherwise, the sounds, effects, tools, and other features are fantastic, and will leave you with endless possibilities when programming your own custom drum kits.
Roland TD-17KVX Review: Long-Term Use & Value
So the drum pads, cymbals, and module are all great. What about the long-term value you’ll get from a kit like this? We can comfortably say that this is a great value kit that will last you a long time.
What makes the Roland TD-17KVX the best electronic drum kit at this price range?
This first point is an important one:
No matter what kind of drummer you are (beginner, intermediate, or professional), you really won’t ever need to replace the Roland TD-17KVX.
Why is that an important point? Well, it’s actually very hard to say something like that in an electronic drum kit review… Electronic drums are often targeted at a specific type of drummer, or a specific use. A good example is the Roland TD-1DMK (which we reviewed a while ago), which is clearly a beginner/cheap practice kit. With the Roland TD-17KVX though, you get an amazing piece of gear that can be used in any situation. It’s got features perfect for beginners right through to hard-working professional drummers.
Practicing at home (or with a band) is a blast – especially with the huge range of sounds you have at your fingertips. This kit is also right at home in live gigging situations – plug it into the PA, load up your custom kits and sounds, and you’re set.
Beyond this, the TD-17KVX is fully capable of being your go-to studio kit, either with its top-quality built-in samples, or recording via MIDI. We challenge anyone to pick the difference between the TD-17KVX and a real acoustic kit once you’ve mixed and mastered the song (Roland’s samples are always first-class).
What’s the downside? Well, to have all of the above, you’ll need to pay for it. The TD-17KVX is priced on the higher end of the electronic drum kit spectrum due to the features that make it so versatile. So you’ll need to weigh up whether that cost is worth it. If you can afford it though, it’s an excellent long-term investment in your drumming life.
Roland TD-17KVX Review: Is This A Quiet Electronic Drum Kit?
This is another important point to cover in an electronic drum kit review: We often get asked “is it quiet enough?” when people are shopping for electronic kits.
The Roland TD-17KVX does have some nice features designed to reduce the noise, helping to ensure that the only one hearing the drums is you, with your headphones on, sitting at the kit.
Here’s a quick review of this electronic drum kit’s noise factor:
First up, the all-mesh drum pads really help to lower the stick noise… if you’re looking for an ultra-low volume electronic drum kit, you really can’t beat mesh pads.
In comparison, when hitting the TD-17KVX’s rubber cymbal pads, you will have slightly more stick noise. However, the thinner cymbals help to cut the deeper (and louder) thud often heard with cheaper rubber cymbal pads; instead, it’s more of a thinner “tap” sound.
As we mentioned towards the beginning of this review, Roland’s kick drum pad has a soft coating on the impact zone, which helps to cut down on bass drum noise.
Overall it scores a “pretty good” in the volume-level department… If you really lay into this electronic kit then you’ll produce some noise, but normal playing shouldn’t annoy the neighbours at all, even in poorly soundproofed apartments.
If you’re really worried about the noise from your electronic kit, take a look at our guide to reducing drum volume here.
Roland TD-17KVX Review: The Bottom Line
We’ve covered all of the important stuff in this review, so let’s recap and bring things to a conclusion:
Should You Buy The Roland TD-17KVX?
If you’ve got the cash, then it’s a definite yes. This is a great kit, and you really won’t need to change anything or upgrade once you’ve bought it… It’s a long-term investment that will serve you very well for many years.
The Roland TD-17KVX is an excellent upper mid-level electronic drum kit. It’s not as flashy as some of the higher-priced options (check out the beastly Roland TD-50KVX for comparison!), but it’s got absolutely everything that most drummers could ask for. It’s great for practice, recording, and playing live, and it’s built with the kind of great quality you’d expect from Roland, who are one of the electronic drumming industry’s leaders.
As we mentioned at the top of this review, it was also voted best electronic drum kit by the readers of MusicRadar… So we’re definitely not the only ones excited about this kit!
Roland TD-17KVX Pros:
- Large all-mesh pads
- Excellent cymbals (and an extra crash!)
- Great module features (samples, effects, connectivity)
- Quiet pads for low-volume drumming
- Ability to install custom drum samples
Roland TD-17KVX Cons:
- Snare drum cannot be played with brushes
- 32mb of storage makes it hard to run backing tracks
Want to learn more?
Check the latest price of the Roland TD-17KVX here, or see it on Roland’s website.
Quick Review: Roland TD-17KVX vs. Other TD-17 Options
If the price is an issue, Roland does have some other versions of the TD-17. Here’s a quick review of them, including the trade-offs:
Roland TD-17KV vs. TD-17KVX
Roland’s TD-17KV is a step down from the KVX we’ve been reviewing above.
This is still a pretty good kit though: It’s got the same module, snare, and toms as the TD-17KVX. The main difference is with the cymbals and hi-hat.
You’ll probably notice right away that Roland’s TD-17KV features one less crash cymbal than the TD-17KVX, and a much smaller and simpler hi-hat (Roland’s CY-5 electronic pad). The hi-hat is basically another small cymbal pad, combined with a separate foot pedal, rather than the TD-17KVX’s very realistic stand-mounted hi-hat setup.
The TD-17KV’s crash and ride cymbals are also more basic options: they’re smaller 8-inch CY-8 pads rather than the more advanced (and larger) CY-12 pads that are featured on the TD-17KVX.
Otherwise, the Roland TD-17KV is similar to the TD-17KVX. If you’re happy to compromise on the size and versatility of the cymbals, it’s a good option to save a few dollars.
Click here to see the latest price of the Roland TD-17KV.
Roland TD-17K-L vs. TD-17KVX
This is the “lite” version of Roland’s TD-17 drum range, and it’s another step down from the TD-17KV we’ve just reviewed above.
Similar to the TD-17KV, the TD-17K-L features the more basic cymbal and hi-hat setup.
Along with this, the TD-17K-L module does not have bluetooth connectivity, and all toms are dual-zone rubber pads rather than mesh. The snare drum is also a smaller 8-inch PDX-8 mesh pad, compared to the 12-inch mesh snare with the TD-17KV and KVX.
If you’re happy with those trade-offs (there’s quite a few of them!), you’ll still end up with a fairly good electronic drum kit for the price. It’s important to keep in mind that the rubber drum pads with the TD-17K-L will generate more stick noise when you’re playing.
Compared to the top-level TD-17KVX, you’re looking at some pretty substantial trade-offs with Roland’s TD-17K-L (a lot of the best features are missing). However, the price is substantially cheaper as well (The TD-17K-L is often almost half the price), so if you’re short on cash you can get a good kit for your money.
Check the latest price of the Roland TD-17K-L here.
If I buy the Roland TD-17KVX, what else do I need?
When you buy the TD-17KVX, you’ll get the drums, cymbals, frame, module, and cables. There are a couple of other things you’ll need though, to get drumming right away:
- A drum throne: Roc-N-Soc are great thrones (see our review here), otherwise any cheaper throne (like this one) will do.
- A hi-hat stand: If you’ve got an acoustic kit, you can use that stand! Otherwise you should be able to find a good used one. If you want a new stand, the Pearl H930 is a solid choice (great quality, swivel legs, and tension control).
- A bass drum pedal: See here for our ultimate bass drum pedal guide!
- Drumsticks: 5A size sticks (like these) are the best option if you have no idea which ones to get.
- Headphones: You’ve probably got some at home somewhere. If not though, we recommend these.