RE­VIEW roland

£769 Ready to pull the trig­ger? This do-it-all de­vice from Roland might well change your ex­pec­ta­tions of us­ing elec­tron­ics live

Rhythm - - NEW GEAR - Words: Stu­art Wil­liams

tm-6 pro

When it comes to go­ing hybrid, Roland has carved the path. In re­cent years, we’ve seen the SPD-SX, TM-2 and SDP-One pads all of­fer so­lu­tions to gig­ging drum­mers want­ing to in­cor­po­rate elec­tron­ics into an acous­tic setup. At the heart of this so­lu­tion re­mains the same re­quire­ments: sup­ple­men­tary sounds to aug­ment a stan­dard kit, play­back of back­ing tracks and tempo-sen­si­tive phrases, cus­tom sounds and con­ve­nient play­ing sur­faces. So, with an al­ready ex­ten­sive list of prod­ucts fill­ing its cat­a­logue, Roland has that sorted then, yes? Well, ap­par­ently not, as the TM-6 Pro was an­nounced ear­lier this year along­side the RT -MicS to add even more lines to Roland’s ever-ex­pand­ing line of hybrid gear.

Build

First off, let’s con­sider where the TM-6 fits. The SDP-SX – Roland’s flag­ship pad and in­stantly-recog­nis­able in­dus­try stan­dard – of­fers all of the re­quire­ments men­tioned above, but it uses fixed play­ing sur­faces, doesn’t of­fer hi-hat pedal con­trol, has in­ter­nal mem­ory and a lim­ited num­ber of in­puts for ad­di­tional trig­gers to place around your kit. The TM-2 is like a Swiss Army Knife of sim­ple hybrid ca­pa­bil­ity, com­plete with SD card slot. But again, it of­fers lim­ited trig­ger in­put for big­ger kits, and in­te­grat­ing back­ing tracks for live use is a fid­dly work due to the lack of out­put busses. The re­cently-launched SPD::One pads are each bril­liant at their in­tended pur­pose, how­ever, they aren’t re­ally a full-stocked so­lu­tion. All of these prod­ucts have their place, de­pend­ing on your re­quire­ments and how far down the hybrid rab­bit hole you’re in­tend­ing to delve.

So, Roland, what we’d like is a mod­ule that has a de­cent num­ber of trig­ger in­puts, can play back sam­ples, uses an ex­pand­able mem­ory for­mat (like the TM-2), al­lows us to hook up our hi-hat con­troller, and of­fers bril­liant back­ing/click track man­age­ment in the same style as the SPD::One Wav. Also, if it could fea­ture new con­tem­po­rary sounds, and act as an au­dio in­ter­face, we wouldn’t com­plain. Oh, hang on…

Hands On

As you can tell, the TM-6 Pro is ex­tremely well-stocked, and the ob­vi­ous com­par­i­son (thanks to the name) is to think of it as a big-boy ver­sion of the TM-2. It ba­si­cally of­fers the same level of sound sources as an elec­tronic kit’s mod­ule, in­clud­ing 500 brand new sounds cre­ated by the likes of Michael Shack, Kaz Ro­driguez and Chris Whit­ten, but with the in­te­gra­tion of fea­tures that will be in­valu­able when play­ing live. And it’s ob­vi­ous Roland has lis­tened and thought about ex­actly what those needs are. Upon tak­ing the mod­ule out of the box, you’re met by its sim­ple and stylish lay­out. There are six bold soft switches, three ro­tary con­trols for edit­ing your sounds, plus a slick-look­ing LED screen and smaller but­tons for nav­i­gat­ing through the mod­ule. The three pots at the top edge of the mod­ule give you con­trol over the master out­put and click/song vol­ume (more about that later). It’s all very in­tu­itive. There’s a lot go­ing on in­side, so un­like the TM-2, the TM-6 is pow­ered by mains only, and our first (and

ad­mit­tedly only) com­plaint comes be­fore we switch on: how do we mount it? The an­swer, frus­trat­ingly, is that in or­der to mount the TM-6 within your kit, you’ll need to pur­chase one of Roland’s so­lu­tions: the APC-33 or PDS-10 stand. These are heavy-duty so­lu­tions, and it’s a shame that there is no ‘ba­sic’ mount­ing op­tion in­cluded in the box as with the TM-2. If you’re feel­ing miserly, you could re­pur­pose a spare snare stand, how­ever, we mounted the TM-6 to our PDS-10 with min­i­mal fuss.

Once we got go­ing, the TM-6 was every­thing we’d hoped. It’s easy to use: ei­ther strik­ing a con­nected trig­ger, or tap­ping those soft switches se­lects the voice you wish to con­trol and thanks to the sim­ple lay­out and la­belling, you won’t need to con­sult the man­ual in or­der to start with the sounds. Each trig­ger in­put is ac­tu­ally a dual socket, so you can con­nect a stereo (rim and head) trig­ger, or two mono trig­gers by split­ting the in­put with a Y-ca­ble. The sounds are eas­ily as­signed as A or B for each in­put, and the screen makes it very clear as to which side of the in­put you’re cur­rently edit­ing.

One of the big­gest crit­i­cisms of Roland’s pre­vi­ous hybrid prod­ucts has been the lack of hi-hat pedal con­trol, so it’s great to see it in­cluded here. We con­nected our CY -5 pad and FD-8 con­troller, and had it con­fig­ured in sec­onds, fi­nally open­ing up the pos­si­bil­ity of us­ing au­then­tic elec­tronic hat sounds in a con­trol­lable way.

Another big fea­ture of the TM-6 is the click track man­age­ment. We first saw Roland’s con­cept last year on the SPD::One Wav pad, and it cer­tainly of­fers an easy so­lu­tion to the prob­lem of play­ing to a click live with­out the au­di­ence hear­ing your metronome. It works like this: two al­most iden­ti­cal files are ex­ported (by you) onto an SD card. One is your back­ing track that the au­di­ence will hear and is sent to the main out­puts.The other shares the same file­name with ‘_click’ and con­tains the click sound. This goes to your in-ears. When the song is started, both files are played back si­mul­ta­ne­ously and you get the click while ev­ery­one else gets a per­fect back­ing track. Sim­ple! The only ex­tra func­tion­al­ity we’d like is the in­clu­sion of an au­dio in­put, al­low­ing the TM-6 to be a com­plete hub for our mon­i­tor mix along­side our back­ing tracks. Greedy? Yes we are.

“The sounds, func­tion­al­ity and flex­i­bil­ity on of­fer will ar­guably see many cur­rent SPD-SX users switch­ing”

Click man­age­ment Ex­pand­able mem­ory The TM-6 Pro in­cor­po­rates the same click man­age­ment abil­i­ties as the SPD::One Wav, mak­ing play­ing with back­ings a breeze Un­like the SPD-SX, the TM-6 Pro fea­tures an SD card slot for quickly and eas­ily im­port­ing your...

Af­ter years of ex­clu­sion, Roland has put its foot down and added hi-hat con­troller com­pat­i­bil­ity. A first in its ‘hybrid’ line-up Hi-hat con­trol

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