Roland TD-20, TDW-20 & TD-20X differences

There are actually 3 versions of the Roland TD-20 Sound Module and it is not easy to spot the differences. In this post, I will explain the differences in detail. 

Type 1: Roland TD-20 Soundmodule

The first generation TD-20 module is the silver/grey module with the dark grey side panels.

It was produced from 2004-2008 and was the first TD-20 module which usually came with the flagship TD-20S drum set. A 5 piece set with either white or black shells and black rubber cymbals.

This module is really powerful, it supports both VH-11 & 12 hi-hats, a 3-way ride, Positional Sensing and has a huge number of inputs as well as 8 audio outputs. It has a “Percussion Set” that can be triggered by an additional sound module (slave), to connect even more pads. (Find more info about chaining 2 drum modules here and here).

However, the sounds are not great and they really sound like 2004. There are plenty of editing features for the instruments and some EQ editing features too.

This module has a second-hand market value of 600-800€. It is great for drummers that want to connect a lot of pads and use it as a MIDI trigger for Sample Software.

The weakness is the not as accurate VH-12 hi-hat triggering and the ancient sounds.

Type 2: Roland TDW-20 Expansion Board

In 2008, Roland released a newer version of the TD-20 with a lot of improvements and new features, namely “TD-20X”. But also an expansion card (TDW-20) for all first generation module owner’s, to give them the option to expand their module to the level of that new TD-20X.

So the TDW-20 is only and the piece of electronic gear that gets inserted into the old TD-20 module to raise it to the same level as the new TD-20X. But what are the improved features? This will be answered in the next chapter(TD-20X).

The TDW-20 Expansion consist:

  • Expansion Card
  • 2 stickers

The upgraded TD-20 module does usually receive 2 red stickers that verify the TDW upgrade from the outside. An expanded Roland TD-20 Sound Module (with TDW-20 inserted) costs usually from 850-1000€ on the second-hand market. The expansion board itself is really rare and can be found on eBay or reverbsometimes. The price of an expansion board is 300€/350$. This piece is expensive!

I would advise you to buy an expanded TD-20 module than an expansion board included. It will just become too expensive to add it afterwards.

Type 3: Roland TD-20X Soundmodule

In 2008 Roland has released the TD-20KX drum set with chrome pads and silver cymbals. The matching module was the TD-20X, an improved version of the normal TD-20. The housing is 100% identical to the old version, except the colours. The module has a dark grey body and silver side panels.

Just to be clear. The TD-20X is basically the same thing as an old TD-20 with a TDW expansion. So it has all features of the first TD-20 plus additional TDW-20 functionality.

TD-20 + TDW-20 = TD-20X

But what is better about the newer TD-20X/TDW-20?

The trigger dynamic has been improved a lot, which is mostly notable when playing the hi-hat. The VH-12 becomes so much more accurate. This is a big improvement and for me the reason why I would always prefer A TD-20X/TDW-20 over a first generation TD-20. Also, the number of drum kits and instruments have been increased from 50 to 100.

One of the best features are the improved sound editing features. There are drum microphones that can be positioned and the kit sound settings became much more realistic. In short, the instrument editing functions are similar to the TD-30 editing functions. Programming good sounding custom kits became easier.

A TD-20X costs from 950-1100€ on the second-hand market. I would mostly recommend this module since it is definitely newer than the other TD-20/TDW-20. The trigger, sound and case improvements in combination with the max. age of (only) 9 years make the TD-20X version the best choice in my opinion. It is so similar to the TD-30 and is a great option for drummers who use drum sample software but want high dynamic triggering.

Roland TD-12 – The little brother

I think that I should mention the little brother of the TD-20. The TD-12 is a smaller version of the original “First Generation TD-20”, with fewer inputs/sounds and no possibility to be expanded. It was produced from 2005-2012. It cannot reach the level of a TDW-20/TD-20X in terms of sounds and triggering. The VH-12 hi-hat does not respond so well. But the TD-12 is the only “not flagship- module” that can be limitless expanded in terms of trigger inputs since it features the “Percussion Set” as well. You can connect a slave module via MIDI to the TD-12’s MIDI input. That makes it a good cheap alternative to the TD-20, especially for drummers who need endless trigger inputs.

The TD-12 cost from 400-550€ and is a great module to trigger sample software. However, I would not recommend it in combination with a VH-12 hi-hat (It works well with a VH-11) and definitely not if you want to use the module sounds.

I hope you like this article. Thanks for reading.

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