Roland Handsonic HPD-20 Review – Is it Worth it? (2024)

The Roland Handsonic HPD-20 is a digital hand percussion pad that is easily portable and applicable in many musical contexts. It features an ultra-sensitive response with an incredible range of expression.

It’s a unique little electronic instrument, which is applicable for recording as well as on-stage performances. It is a fully contained unit, without the need to connect it to a PC or external gear for sounds.

In this article, we’re going to discuss the features of the the Roland HandSonic-HPD20 in depth.

Roland Handsonic HPD-20
Portable Pad
Portable hand pad with a multi-applicable nature.
View Price at Thomann (Europe)View Price at Amazon

Onboard Sounds

The Roland HandSonic HPD-20 brings an abundance of sounds, which will satisfy all sorts of drummers. With simple hand movements, you can create beautiful sounds.

You can get 850 sounds of different percussion instruments, from traditional drum patterns to more specific options, like conga and bongo sounds. You can take it a step further with the user instruments and implement layering – layer instruments on top of each other.

A variety of electronic beats and combinations is also a great perk of this electronic device, especially for DJs and sound engineers.

Drummers will like the connectivity of this device, like the option to insert your USB flash drive into it and transfer your own audio files to your HandSonic. You can transfer about 500 of your own WAV sounds to this device. This option enables you to add a personal touch to your live performances.

This feature is also one of the reasons DJs praise the HandSonic HPD-20. They can get a wide range of sounds by adding their own samples from a USB flash memory or generating them using the D-BEAM control and the sensors on the HandSonic. The USB memory port is a great addition, also, you can hook it up to the USB computer port.

These features make their performances more versatile and interesting, giving DJs an amazing level of expressive power through a larger number of pre-recorded patterns and live improvisations, plus their own WAV audio.

Pad Responsiveness

This pad uses Roland’s trademark SuperNATURAL sound technology, where they say that every kick or hit you make on the Roland HandSonic HPD-20 is produced responsively. This technology manages to translate the input of your playing style into a great electronic output via convenient trigger inputs.

When you hit a beat, the software behind this technology responds automatically and keeps the sound natural. As a result, this helps to keep velocity oscillations or unnatural breaks between samples. It can also be further customized in a DAW software.

What you can also do when playing this device is to adjust the instrument settings, so that you adapt the sounds to your playing needs. Also, you have deep editing options with three separate engines for various sound effects.

The multi-effects engines offer different effects like ambience effects, intense effects, and many others. You also have distortion, standard chorus, loops, EQ, and many more effects that add to the capability of this versatile instrument.

This device comes with dynamic silicone rubber pads that are very adaptable to playing demands. You can tweak your sounds and own kits, as well as mute or simply dampen the pads, to get the most out of your playing performance.

Instrument Size

With a weight of just over five pounds, it’s an extremely practical drumming instrument for transportation. As for the dimensions, it’s 15.9 inches wide, 12.2 inches long, and 4 inches thick.

Unlike old-school drum sets or multi-part electro kits, the Roland HandSonic HPD-20 can be packed into rucksacks. This makes it a great choice for minimal setups, as well as performers on the move.

Drummers will find it practical that you can plug a pedal into it and can play it as a side drum kick. There’s also a hi-hat input. These two features make this device compatible with other elements of Roland electronic drum kits. So, you can turn the Roland HandSonic HPD-20 into a mini electronic drum set.

Instrument selection

Apart from the drum sounds and samples, you can adjust this music device to produce sounds of a variety of melodic instruments.

If you’re into Indian music, you can play the santoor on your HandSonic. Those who like the ancient music of the British Isles will appreciate the sound of crotales you can get on this device.

Additionally, you can play gongs and bells, as well, which will enrich your playing experience. To top it all off, all the HPD-20 sounds of melodic virtual instruments can be easily tuned to every key you might need. With the option to tune sounds you can make modern electronica beats and open up a new dimension of sounds.

You can also use the Roland HandSonic HPD-20 as a MIDI controller as well as a hi-hat controller, which will enhance every live gig you’re playing at. This is very useful for DJs and producers, who often use MIDI technology both in the studio and on stage. MIDI communication is crucial when working with a MIDI music production software or digital audio workstations (DAWs).

How to amplify it

You need to use external speakers or headphones inputs to hear the output of the Roland Handsonic.

For rehearsals or smaller gigs, the Roland PM-10 amplifier is a great option to amplify the sound of your Roland HandSonic HPD-20.

This amplifier is a powerful sound marvel that can reach the max power of 30 watts. It also comes with a 10-inch, 2-way coaxial speaker. You can plug an MP3 or CD player or in the Roland PM-10, as well.

The volume controls will enable you to adjust the sound of the external source and the HandSonic, while you can additionally tweak the tone using the 2-band equalizer, built into the amplifier. Overall, it has flexible control options.

Please note that if a PA is available for your show, then this is usually the best option to pick. In that case, you will not need to use your amplifier.

The Pros and Cons

The most obvious advantage of this device is its size. Its dimensions make room for some user-friendly playing experience and portability. So, if you’re playing a gig or have a studio session where it’s more important to get a wide range of natural drumming sounds, the Roland HandSonic-HPD20 is a reasonable choice.

The pads are soft and ergonomic so that both experienced percussionists and drumming beginners can play them with equal zest and passion.

Still, those players who have some previous percussion experience will be able to spot and use more features of this Roland machine than those with less experience.

Although DJs tend to use sample and percussion pads, this is a fresh option for a wide range of generic and own custom sounds for their performances. Having an all-in-one solution is a dream-come-true option for every DJ, which is why the Roland HandSonic-HPD20 comes in pretty handy for this purpose.

Having all this in mind, it’s important to stress that this isn’t a rhythm machine. While it can perform some of its features, it can’t replace a full-scale rhythm machine.

Also, when compared to some multi-pads, such as the Roland SPD-20, it lacks some sequencing and looping options. Of course, you can get an additional device and connect it to your HandSonic, but it would be more convenient if this device had more of these additions.


Getting a Roland HandSonic-HPD20 is a great choice to enrich your drumming sessions, either as an addition to a larger electronic drum kit or as a standalone device. It can really add a bit of flair to your live performances, as well as provide a new platform to practice and record your rhythm creativity.

This sophisticated hand percussion instrument is a highly compact percussion set that is pressure-sensitive with which you can record beats, and audio phrases, as well as have the luxury of rich sound-shaping options at your disposal, resulting in a great compact percussion kit.

Mike O'Connor
Mike O'Connor

I've been playing drums for over 18 years. I work as both a session drummer and a drum teacher, and I love to share my knowledge and tips on this site. You can also find me on the Electronic Drum Advisor YouTube channel.

  1. hello ! I am looking for a touch sensitive, realistic sounds, as an auxillary percusion device to add wth my acoustic drum set ! does this loop ? and can I add my oun sound samlpes !? thanks,,,

    • Hi Mario, yes you can add your own samples via a USB drive. It can start and stop individual loops, so you could assign a sample to a section of the pad, hitting that section of the pad would start the loop and hitting it again would stop (alternatively you could use gate mode where it only loops for as long as you keep your hand on that part of the pad). However, it doesn’t offer phrase looping like on the Octapad for example. You could use this in conjunction with a loop station though.

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