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SPD::ONE LAUNCH: INTERVIEW WITH V-DRUMS’ HIROYUKI NISHI

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The feedback from the inaugural Sydney Drum & Percussion Show last month indicated that the public enjoyed the quality of talent on stage and in sessions, as well as the wide array of gear on display. The 2017 drum show was also auspicious for being the global launching pad for Roland’s brand new percussion products, the SPD::ONE series. It was for that reason that head of Roland V-Drums Mr Hiroyuki Nishi and SPD::ONE series developer and product manager Mr Ryo Takasaki were in Australia for the first time to oversee the launch. Australian Musician’s Greg Phillips sat down with both gentlemen to discuss the launch.

On the eve of the Sydney Drum & Percussion Show, Belgian drum wizard and V-Drums endorsee Michael Schack launched four new Roland products to the world via an online demonstration. Schack revealed the new SPD::ONE Kick, Percussion, Wav, and Electro units. Those attending the Sydney Drum & Percussion Show the next day were the first in the world to see and try the new SPD::ONE products. As the Roland website outlines, each pad “contains 22 realistic percussion sounds, including snare and kick drums, hi-hats, cymbals, shakers, tambourines, and more. You can also import your own original audio data into one of the 12 internal sound banks. Once you’re ready to go, the SPD::ONE PERCUSSION’s robust-yet-sensitive pad can be played with sticks, hands, or feet, and the trigger threshold settings are easily adjusted with intuitive controls. Powered by batteries or AC, the portable SPD::ONE PERCUSSION can be used on the floor or a tabletop, or mounted to any rig or drum setup with the included adapter. Operation is simple, even for those musicians who are not technical; just by using four knobs on the control panel, you can change the sound, volume, balance, and more.

“Last night, we successfully introduced the SPD::ONE series, which included four different products featuring the same shape, but different colours” Nishi tells me about the SPD::ONE series launch. “They’re very easy to operate and very compact in size. It’s suitable for any drummer or percussionist and guitarists can play around with them as well. It’s a very powerful weapon for any kind of musician. Roland Corporation Australia put in a lot of effort to coordinate the launch and engage people. They have more than 30,000 followers on their V-Drum Facebook and it is very community focused. They post great tips and blogs. It’s not only for information about our products but also about application and videos. So please check it out if you have a chance.”

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Mr Ryo Takasaki (left) and Mr Hiroyuki Nishi (right)

 

The SPD::ONE series was created by Ryo Takasaki and his team through extensive research and development, including visits to Europe to meet with and attain feedback from many different kinds of musicians – from professional recording and performing artists, to studio engineers, amateur players and buskers.

Ryo has been an integral part of the development of many fabulous new Roland products since he joined the company in 2009 as a software engineer. “At that time I developed the SPD-SX and thanks to a whole bunch of musical people and it became a global standard model,” Ryo says of the game changing unit he created. “Recently I developed new sensing technology and now I am the product manager for SPD::ONE series, a product which is not only suitable for drummers or percussionists but also for any accompanist.”

Mr Hiroyuki Nishi is proud to discuss the success of the V-Drums segment of Roland products. Much has been achieved in a twenty year period, including the introduction of many game changing products such as the SPD trigger pads, which so many artists are now using to escalate their level of performance on stage. I asked Nishi about the pioneering days of V-Drums compared to where the company sits now and into the future.

“Everybody thinks of Roland as a synthesiser or piano company,” he says. “but, in fact, when Mr Kakehashi founded the company in 1972, the first Roland product was a percussion unit, the TR77 Rhythm Box. You mentioned V-Drums and whilst people may think the revolutionary Roland V-Drums kits were designed quickly and easily, there was a lot of trial and error behind the scenes and a  lot of years went into research and development. At the time we had very good modeling technology called COSM (Composite Object Sound Modeling), which is a kind of virtual reality. The first kit, the TD-10, allowed drummers to model the drum type, shell material, drum depth, drum head type, drum tuning, mic type and even mic placement on the “virtual” drum etc. At the time it was very good but these days, 20 years later, we wanted to make a more natural sound and a large part of this is allowing the performer to have previously unprecedented nuances and expression.   Also, looks are important, so I wanted options for the aesthetics of the kit to be the same sound quality and playability as an acoustic kit. As you can imagine, we are always trying to achieve that balance of sound, looks and playability; using cutting edge technology. For 20 years we have always been developing those three things and I think TD-50 is still in the middle of this development. The TD-50 is the latest version of our V-Drums and I think it has a very good balance of all of the drum elements.”

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Michael Schack and Ryo

Nishi was also the driving force behind Roland’s innovative new percussion instrument, ELCajon, which was released at Winter NAMM in 2016. “This is the first product from Roland that you can switch off the power and can still use the instrument acoustically. So ELCajon is Roland’s first acoustic instrument in our history,” he says proudly. “But it is not only acoustic. The acoustic sound is very good, everybody knows that, but we have used both acoustic and electronics with this product. That was my aim with ELCajon. The micro processor allows for the user to add on electric percussion sounds to their acoustic performance.”

Asked to hint at specifically what products are currently being developed for the future, Nishi is tight-lipped. However he did offer his philosophy and general direction for the coming years. “Well I like percussion and currently 90 percent of Roland V-Drums sales is V-Drums kits and the other 10 percent is digital percussion items like Octopad, SPD 30 or SPDX but I’d like to make percussion a bigger portion of sales in the coming years. With percussion, you can create very new ideas and concepts to attract a wider range of customers.  We will always try to satisfy the drummer as much as possible but we’d also like to attract different customers that like playing percussion and want portable systems. On the drum side of things, I’m looking at new drum head technology with sensors. I’d like to come up with more game-changing items.”

https://www.rolandcorp.com.au/

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