I receive lot of questions regarding e-drum cymbals. People seem to be unsure on which e-cymbals to choose. My answer is simple: Go for Roland cymbals! Especially if you are the owner of a Roland module.
I don’t say this because my channel is called V-drumtips. I rather have some very good reasons why you should consider Roland electronic drums cymbals as #1 choice.
1. Dynamic Triggering
Roland revolutionised the e-drum technology and originally invented the e-cymbal as we know it today. That means Roland owns patents for e-cymbal technology that can’t be copied by any competitor. They cover the technology of the well known 3 way Ride in combination with Positional Sensing.
Most middle-class Roland modules support the 3 zone ride with Bell-, Bow- and Edge pickup. These cymbals are called Roland CY-12 R/C, 13R/C and 15. They are supported by TD-9, 11, 12, 15, 20, 25, 30, 50 and ATV-aD5.
These ride cymbals consist 1 piezo trigger for bow and 2 film switches for bell and edge. Roland modules are made to generate a really accurate trigger signal out of the interplay of those 3 components. And the combination “Switch, Piezo, Switch” seems to be the protected feature. That means competitors usually build 3 way rides with 3 piezos. This does not work well with Roland brains. Duplicate cymbals do sometimes even require a 3rd cable and massive changes in the trigger settings. They do still not deliver a nearly as good of a result as the Roland rides. A lot of technical knowledge and an additional high end sample software like SD 2.0 is required to achieve a very good trigger result. Forget about Plug and Play!
2. Rotation Stopping
E-drum cymbals have to be prevented from spinning to not rip off the cable and to make sure the trigger zone points towards the drummer. Roland invented a system that can be applied on almost every normal cymbal mount, which looks great and works very well. Some competitors use the same rotation stopper method. Others like Yamaha have a system that does not look good at all. It is basically a metal needle punching through the cymbal and is visible from above. Some manufacturers do not even provide a spin stopper system at all and use the weight of their unbalanced cymbals to make it turn back to its default position after rotating, which is only possible if the cymbal is not applied onto a straight mount.
3. Roland Cymbals Swing, others Wobble
The Roland CY-12 – 15 and the VH hi-hats move like real cymbals. This is achieved through a balanced cymbal body. The cymbals weight is distributed equally, so that the cymbal can swing like a real acoustic one. Many competitors cannot achieve this result, due to the way their product is made. Many components attached to one spot only, refer to an unbalanced e-cymbal, which cannot move naturally.
But the weight distribution is not the only problem. It is the joint! Roland cymbals do not only swing back and forth but sideways too.
4. The Hi Hat
The VH-11 is simple, robust, easy to install and operates on a real hi-hat stand. It is again prevented against spinning and moves nearly like a real hi-hat. The even better VH-12 and -13 consist of an additional pressure sensor that changes the pitch when pressing the hi-hat pedal hard. There are hi-hat controllers that work similarly. The Goedrums hi-hat controller for example. This piece of gear is a great copy, but again, not as well manufactured as the Roland controllers. The hi-hat is one of the most important parts of the e-drum kit. I would not make any compromises here. Get yourself a Roland VH-11.
5. Quality and Look
Roland is known for its good quality products. Roland Cymbals last long and simply look good. Even though they are mostly black. The rubber surface is covering the whole cymbal top and the shape memes exactly the form of a real cymbal. They are not too flat and not too bulky. The bottom side looks very clean and valuable. The design shows that these cymbals are just well thought trough.
6. Acoustic Noise
Remember, the purpose of playing e-drums rather than acoustic drums is low noise. Roland cymbals are already quiet noisy. But you might find out that some other brands e-cymbal are incredible loud. This is not only disturbing for your environment, but also blends into the triggered sound you hear, if your headphones aren’t totally isolated.
Roland gear does for the most part keep its value. Meaning a cymbal like the CY-15 or CY-14 can almost always be resold for more than half the original purchasing price. A 10 year old CY-14 costs still 130€ on Ebay. This effect will most likely not appear with other e-drum cymbals. There is no reason to spend much money for a “cheap” and new low quality cymbal if you can get a second hand Roland cymbal.
Reasons to buy other brand’s Cymbals
There are however some reasons to still buy other brands cymbals, even as a Roland module owner.
These 3 kinds of cymbals are usually not hard to set up and are more compatible with many manufactures modules. A Yamaha 2 zone crash works just fine with Roland modules and basically, every single zone cymbal is great as a splash. I use a CY-12 as a splash, but the 2 zones are not necessary. If you want to save money, do it with a cheap crash splash or china cymbal.
I would always choose Field or Jobeky cymbals for a stage e-drumset. Mostly because of the look. A band that uses e-drums on stage, has at least to sell the image of the real deal. And this would not be possible with rubber cymbals. So I would rather loose the super sensitive triggering ability of the ride than the looks. In this case, I would go for a normal 2 zone cymbal as ride. Bell and edge should be enough for a gig. No one spots the missing zone.
Field – or Jobeky Cymbals in combination with some transparent cables help to hide the e-drum look very well.
Professional drummers should be able to setup their gear, even though it requires a lot of adjustments. So the “non-plug and play” argument does not count for gigging e-drummers☺
If you know what “X-talk”, “Retrigger Channel” and “Crosstalk” means, you are ready to buy every e-cymbal. Knowing how module parameters work and being patient with setting them up, enable the use of “non-plug and play-e-cymbals” for everyone.