Best Electronic Drum Sets For The Money
My name is Alex and I’ve been a drummer since I was 6 years old. By now I’ve got over 26 years of drumming experience. I’ve been in dozens of bands, taught over 650 students and had a blast over the years. I’ve also got a BS degree (Bachelor of Science in Music).
This is my personal blog where I post electronic drum kit reviews and other advice related to them to help you find the best electronic drum kits out there, without wasting money.
I also happen to have one of the biggest electronic drum kit collections in the world (27 sets and counting as of 2017).
Why even get one? Electronic Drum Set vs Traditional Sets
So why would you even buy an electronic drum set over a traditional one?
Here are 9 reasons you’ll love electric drum sets once you give them a chance:
- They’re quiet when you need them to be. You can practice at 4 AM if you want and no one will bat an eye.
- You can easily record your best beats. Perhaps even sell them online for some side income.
- Play along to your favourite songs. Plug in a headset or an amp and jam!
- Extremely portable. Perfect for band practice, travel and even gigs.
- Way better bang for buck. Electric drum kits tend to be cheaper than traditional ones.
- Ultimate versatility. Most kits have 200+ different sounds that you can change between within seconds.
- Get the perfect sound with every hit. You can mishit a traditional kit and ruin your play, you cannot with e-kits.
- Better sound quality. Since the sounds have been recorded beforehand, they’ve been produced to perfection for your kit.
- More durability, less wear and tear. These don’t need to be replaced as often as acoustic kits.
- PERFECT FOR BEGINNERS. Most kits come with practice and learning modes. A kickstart for your drumming career.
What makes the best electronic drum set.. the best?
If you’re still not sold on the fact that electronic drum sets dominate the music world in 2016 – they’re probably not for you. If you know this – let’s proceed!
So what are the factors that determine whether an electronic kit is for you? What makes it the best electronic drum set for you? Here are a few things I personally look at when writing my electronic drum kit reviews.
1. Sound Quality
As a musician, whether a professional or a hobbyist, sound quality is definitely the number one thing. This however, is one thing you cannot check off a product listing, you need hands on experience with the specific instrument.
This is where I come in. Lucky for you, every single kit I’m going to talk about here is a kit I own or have owned in the past, before writing my reviews on them. Having a BS (Bachelor of Science in Music) – it’s safe to say I know what I’m doing.
2. Materials – Mesh VS Rubber?
There’s two kinds of materials e-kits tend to use – mesh or rubber. Here’s a mini-breakdown of what materials are better suited for who.
P.S. Some brands have their own “secret material” patented. These tend to be the best and are suitable for almost everyone.
Rubber Pads – Hobbyist
- Tend to be a lot cheaper than mesh heads
- More portable and take up less space
- Super consistent through-out the whole kit. They all have similar rebounds and that makes it easier to play
Mesh Heads – Professionals
- More “realistic” feel and stronger rebound.
- You’re able to customise the tension and tune it to your own needs.
- Location sensitive. Hit in different locations for sound variations – can even do brush sweeps.
An electronic drum kit is a long-term investment for most people and you want to make sure it’s going to survive all of your band practices, jams and performances.
Different brands use different materials. Some kits may last a decade, some only a few years. Give it some though and choose accordingly.
4. Price point
Price point is one of the main things you’ll want to look at. Obviously if you’re going to be playing gigs and getting paid for it, the higher quality kit you should invest in.
If you’re just a beginner, give it some thought regarding how long you think you’ll be drumming for and decide what that’s worth to you.
5. Features and size of kit
Back in the old days you’d need different drums for a jazz gig, a rock gig and so on and so forth. With e-kits this problem is obsolete.
When choosing your kit, you’ll want to look at how many sounds it comes with, how many pieces it has (toms, snares, cymbals, kick-pads) and whether it’s possible for you to expand upon it by adding more pads.
6. Bang for buck
Some of the best electronic drum kits on the market will only cost you a few hundred dollars, like the Alesis DM6. Some kits that cost $2,000+ are worse than it! So it’s not 100% price-dependent.
My goal with these reviews is to show you my honest opinion on a variety of kits to help you make the best investment.
Alesis DM6 USB
Ddrum DD1 Complete Kit
Roland TD-11K-S V-Compact
Infinite via tuning
Yamaha DD65 Premium Package
Everyone should play an instrument. No matter what your academic inclinations or life pursuits, music is, undeniably, an important part of day to day living. In the rare event you’re one of the few who doesn’t engage music on a personal level that frequently, it’s been important to at least one person close to you – guaranteed. Drums are one of those modern instruments that many people would love to learn to play, but don’t have the money to start learning. Electronic ones are some of the best ways to circumvent the problems of high-cost, high-volume practice, and the Alesis DM6 Electronic Drum Set is one of the best sets on the market. In fact, it is the #1 best-seller in it’s category on Amazon.com!
One of the first things that struck me about the Alesis DM6 Electronic Drum Set was its full feature set. The drum modules all feel stunningly realistic for imitations, and it packs a punch in terms of the wide number of built-in sounds and sound sets available to the user. There are over 108 sounds available, allowing for serious experimentation, and it features a MIDI output for quick scratch recording right on the spot.
A real drum set is nice to have, but it’s expensive, and locks you into one timbre. The advantage to electronic drum sets is that they feature a wide range of sounds, freeing you from the game of selecting the right drum for the right sound and the financial constraints that have traditionally vexed up-and-coming drummers. As mentioned above, the Alesis DM6 Electronic Drum Set offers 108 sounds, and offers, as well, 15 programmable drum sets, and the ability to express multiple sounds through a single pad. It’s really a wonderfully equipped device that can, truly, do anything you’d want it to at the novice-intermediate level.
Drums are the only common instruments you actually hit, and as such, it’s important that they be durable. The same is true of the electronic drum set. The Alesis DM6 Electronic Drum Set in particular is pretty well constructed, made to receive relatively sharp blows to any receptive field on the pad. It’s not quite as durable as some of the professional sets, but it’s not flimsy by any means. The snares in particular are wonderfully built, as are the toms. The cymbals feel a little less stable, but they’re fully functional, and it’s easy to get used to the somewhat less solid feel the of the cymbals.
This is where the Alesis DM6 Electronic Drum Set really wins. Most drumsets run around $600 – $700 at the beginners level (if you’re looking for reasonable sets, anyway), and the fact that the Alesis DM6 USB Kit Five-Piece Electronic Drum Set offers higher quality sound, a greater range of samples, and the kind of quality you can only find in an Alesis machine for several hundred dollars less makes it a no-brainer of a choice for anyone looking for a reasonable electronic drum set. Easy 8.2/10!
It’s also worth noting that Amazon often has a 50% or more discount on this product, check whether they have one now!
Ddrums is widely credited with starting the electronic drum revolution over two decades ago, making them a huge player in the production and marketing of electronic drum sets and related technologies. The Ddrums DD1 Electronic Drum Kit is one of their more recent products, and is well known for being hailed as the most recent addition to their line of fully featured, electronic drumsets that are near-perfect analogues to their analog counterparts. Here, we’l take a look at how the Ddrums DD1 Electronic Drum Kit fares as a replacement for a drum set and a silent practice piece.
The Ddrums DD1 Electronic Drum Kit sounds good, but not excellent. It delivers on its promise of faithfully reproducing analog drum sounds, but it does some somewhat inconsistently (the snares sound better than the toms, for instance) and without the same oomph that analog drum sets afford. That’s not to say the DD1 is a bad set, by any means: It’s just not the revolutionary piece you might expect it to be, given Ddrums history. If, however, you’re just in the market for a reasonably priced drum kit you can use to practice quietly or experiment on, this is your machine.
With drums, the question of durability always arises. It’s never obvious that a given kit or rack will hold up to the forces thrown at it by an ardent drummer, which is unfortunate, because you’ve kind of got to know before you buy one. This one is pretty sturdy; it can handle all the normal wear and tear you’d throw at it as a musician operating under normal constraints. Some people naturally have a heavier hand, though. Those people might fare better with a traditional drumset or more expensive electronic kit, as the Ddrums DD1 Electronic Drum Kit has a tendency to loosen in the racks a little bit when struck too hard.
Electronic drum kits afford the advantage of being able to sound like many different drums. This versatility is significant, because it drastically reduces the costs associated with entering the world of drumming, and is artistically liberating in its ability to afford up-and-coming musicians the ability to explore the sonic capabilities of their new instrument. The Ddrums DD1 Electronic Drum Kit offers quite a bit in the way of preset kits and sounds, but isn’t as fully featured as some of the “higher” drum machines out there.
The Ddrums DD1 Electronic Drum Kit isn’t the best of the best, but it certainly does its job, and does it well, for a drum kit in its range. Anyone looking for a quieter, less expensive alternative to a traditional drum set should definitely check it out, and anyone looking for a silent practice piece should consider it, as well. Those with a heavier hand might want to look elsewhere, as well, if the urge is irresistible. Overall, the DD1 is a is a wonderful choice for any beginners to drumming.
When you’re a long-time electronic drum player, you eventually hit this very special level with your skill. You’ve grown enough as far as what you’re doing to have outgrown your old, beginner’s drum kit. However, you may not be ready or able to invest in a top echelon kit like the professionals use.
Naturally, a good quality, relatively affordable electronic drum kit that hits the sweet spot between “beginner” and “top-tier professional” is worth its weight in gold to a lot of drummers. Roland has always been terrific at providing those of us who fall somewhere in the middle with some truly awesome options and the Roland TD-11K-S V-Compact is no exception.
The price tag on this kit is certainly going to represent an investment at around $1000-1200, but it’s not going to break the bank and put it outside the realms of possibility for most drummers. Plus, smart shoppers will no doubt be able to find retailers that are selling it for a fair price. (Amazon is an especially great place to look for a good deal.) This kit certainly represents an amazing value, especially since it’s something you’ll be able to grow with as a drummer into the future for a long time to come.
Some digital sets just don’t cut the mustard when it comes to realistically duplicating the sound of traditional drums, but this set does a truly fine job, especially for a compact model. The technical quality on the TD-11K-S is seriously top notch and the sound quality is very close to what you could expect from a professional kit for sure. In fact, it puts most drum kits in the same price range to shame as far as the sound you get out of it.
The TD-11K-S is compact and lightweight, so it’s a great fit for people that don’t have a lot of space to spare, but don’t want to sacrifice anything in regards to sound quality. It also comes along with everything you could possibly want included – a practical hi-hat combo, a natural-feel kick pad, a mesh-head V-pad for both snares and toms… you name it! Plus, the layout of the modules is super streamlined and comfortable to work with.
This set holds up surprisingly well for a compact, non-professional electronic drum kit. We’ve got Roland’s dedication to using only the highest quality materials across the board on the Roland TD-11K-S V-Compact Series Electronic Drum Set. According to the great majority of drummers who rely on this particular model, this is a set you can rely on for years and years of good quality use.
This set is positively packed with great features. The most noteworthy is the inclusion of SuperNATURAL technology to enhance the performance of the sound modules. The cymbals, the kick pad, and all of the modules are also designed to feel as realistic as possible for the best possible playing experience. Really, you wind up forgetting you’re even working with a compact drum kit. Check it out today – Amazon has a massive discount on it as I’m writing this! You won’t be sorry.
Drum pads are becoming a standard part of every electronic and modern music’s home instrumental repertoire. This is because they’re all at once versatile and portable, enabling the user to experiment, record, send, and refine in a single unit. Drum pads are a wonderful piece of experimental technology that allow people to produce on the fly and refine on the go. Of course, whenever a technology like this becomes internationally relevant, a flood of them hit the market, and the game becomes not one of getting the latest and greatest technology, but one of finding the best of the latest and greatest. The Yamaha DD65 Electronic Drum Pad is definitely a contender for the position of “best”. Let’s take a look at its features and build here so you can better see if it’s a match for your needs and wants.
Before anything else, all drum pads and electronic drum kits must be durable. You are hitting them repeatedly, after all, so it’s important to see how well the device takes to that. In order to figure out just how well the pad responds to force and the like, we put it to a stringent test where we had it tested by a handful of drummers at varying degrees of rhythmic vigour. The drum pad takes even vigorous drumming from a veritable heavy-hand, which is not something that can be universally boasted by drum pads and drum kits. The Yamaha DD65 really does a good job in this respect, earning it a 10/10 for durability.
One of the biggest advantages to drum pads is the fact that they provide users with a wide variety of sounds, drum kit presets, and the like, allowing users to develop their artistic capacity while exploring various mechanical options that the kit and pad afford. The DD65 offers a sufficiently wide variety of presets for thorough experimentation, and even offers a hand-percussion mode that allows it to be used as a Latin-style drum set that users can employ in the production of exotic beats or “genre music”, kind of like electric bongos I guess.. All in all, the Yamaha DD65 Electronic Drum Pad does well in the category of versatility, earning it 10/10 in features as well.
The Yamaha DD65 Electronic Drum Pad does everything a drum set would do, which is quite a feat for a drum pad. It obviously isn’t the same artistic or compositional experience, but it’s a close approximation for a pad. It offers the user the capacity to be programmed to produce a wide variety of drum sounds in arbitrary combinations (you can set each pad to produce sounds according to either toms, snares, or cymbals, for instance), which is a plus. As mentioned above, it doesn’t offer a whole lot in the way of variable percussive voices, but it still has more than enough to be the most versatile piece of electronic equipment in the house. 10/10 – the best electronic drum pad out there!
Drums are all the rage these days. It seems that the drum set is the instrument all the guitarists wanted to play, and the one that all the bassists didn’t have the guts to try… At least according to some of the best drummers in the world today. Regardless as to the validity of these opinions, it’s true that the drum set has become a highly popular instrument, at least in concept, and the growth of the electronic drum market has made clear that at least some are capitalising on the interest. The Pyle-Pro PTED01 Electronic Drum Pad is a table-ready drum pad, which is one alternative to a full-blown drum set. Let’s take a look at it.
Who It’s For
When looking at the Pyle-Pro PTED01, the question of, ‘Who is this for?’ immediately comes to mind. This is because it’s not obviously for drummers – they play drum sets, right? – and it’s not obviously for electronic enthusiasts – they don’t usually play instruments, right? Really, the Pyle-Pro PTED0 is intended for those with an inclination to electronic production and percussive originality. It’s true that drum sounds can be simulated on a computer, but nothing quite provides the control over volume and rhythmic nuance that a drum-set does. At the same time, nothing quite affords the convenience of a keyboard like does… Well, a keyboard. The Pyle-Pro PTED01 strikes a good balance for those experienced with the former and interested in operating in production primarily through the latter.
Now that we’ve narrowed down the audience, it’s time to take a look at the features. In a nutshell, the Pyle-Pro PTED01 Electronic Drum Pad does what you want it to. Seriously. We could give you a features list, but it would be pointless. We can tell you what it doesn’t do – that would be a more relevant list that’s easier to make. First on the list is the fact that it doesn’t include a tremendous number of preset sounds out of the box. Well, it offers 215 percussive voices, but nothing in the way of specific drum sets. This is actually a good thing, when you think about it, since it allows you to build your library of styles as you go, rather than waste your time trying to find the one thing you want out of a sea of thousands. Other than that, though, it does it all. It produces high volumes, allows you to edit and record on the spot, is responsive to drum sticks, features a metronome, and the ability to create your own drum sets. It does all of this with high efficiency and at high quality, on top of all that, making it a truly great selection for anyone interested in electronic drum sounds, editing, and processing, or in just having a “drum set” lying around to experiment on. The Pyle-Pro PTED01 Electronic Drum Pad is an easy 6/10.
How Do Electronic Drums Work?
The operating principle of an electronic drum is really quite simple. It consists of a rubber pad or a mesh head, underneath which is a sensor. When the pad is struck, the sensor relays a voltage value to a sound module (sometimes called a brain). The sound module translates that value to trigger a particular sound, whether it’s a drum, a cymbal, or just about anything else, depending on the module’s features. The module also translates the velocity of the strike into a dynamic value so that it can reproduce softer or louder articulations that are part of the drummer’s performance.
Some electronic drum and cymbal pads have two or three sensors underneath the surface. This gives a single pad the capacity to produce more than one sound. That allows, for instance, a snare pad to produce both a head sound and a rim shot, or a cymbal pad to deliver the sound of a bell, a bow, and an edge hit.
Acoustic Drummer’s Introduction to Electronic Percussion
Classically trained percussionists may encounter a number of issues that required adjustments in their playing style. Electronic drumming is different in many ways. But there are ways to minimize the differences to make your transition easier. Here are five top issues:
One thing that throws acoustic drummers off balance when they approach electronic percussion is the fact that the sounds they make emanate from a distant source, whether it’s a stage monitor or the house sound system. When you sit at an acoustic drum kit you’re right on top of the drums and cymbals, with the sounds “in your face.” With electronic percussion you’ve joined the world of amplified instruments, and while keyboard and guitar players are old hands at hearing their output come from a speaker that’s often several feet away, it will be new to you. One of your most important tools is a good monitor system that can return a sense of presence to your ears. It doesn’t need to be especially loud – in fact, a pair of small monitors work great because they fit into your setup and can be stand mounted.
MIDI is capable of handling several hundred notes per second. Still, you might experience a sensation of delayed response when you play an electronic pad. Part of this is psychoacoustic (the presence issue we discussed above) but there is a delay of a few milliseconds between attack and sound. This just takes a bit of experience for your ears to make an adjustment.
Rubber pads and mesh heads definitely have different attacks, rebounds, and general stick response than acoustic drum heads, cymbals, or percussion instruments. But rubber pads have a familiar “practice pad” feel. They do require you to make some adjustments in dynamics, and their identical rebound characteristics from pad to pad aren’t like the changes you experience, say, in toms, where head tensions can vary.
Mesh heads, on the other hand, can be tensioned to different degrees and offer more “give” when struck. They can also present some additional creative options.
Percussion instruments can be whisper-soft or deafeningly loud. Translating this dynamic range to electronic pads has always been difficult. This is actually an issue of the sound module’s ability to deal with the signal coming from the pads. Most modules restrict dynamic range to the MIDI standard 0 (silent) to 127 (maximum velocity). What many drummers never explore is the ability of most modules to be adjusted both for sensitivity and velocity curves. This gives you a much more playable kit.
This particularly affects percussionists. There’s no real commonality between playing a conga drum with your hands and striking a pad with a stick. Playing a guiro, for example, involves sliding a stick over the notches at varying speeds and tensions. It can be disorienting to strike a pad once and hear the entire envelope of the guiro sound play back. There are alternative controllers that offer a surface for easier hand playing.
So are electronic kits different from acoustic instruments? Of course; so are MIDI keyboards and wind controllers. But with a little adjustment time and the suggestions we’ve made above, you may just find that you prefer the advantages of your electronic percussion kit to the limitations of “real” drums.
The Difference Between Rubber Pads and Mesh Heads
Since the pre-MIDI days of Simmons electronic drums, the prevailing design of most pads followed the rubber “practice pad” paradigm. Then Roland introduced mesh heads that emulate acoustic drum heads. There are plenty of applications for both types. Here’s a rundown of the qualities of rubber pads and mesh heads.
If you’re adding electronic sounds to your acoustic kit you may feel a bit space challenged. But a pad can slip into the smallest spaces – and even fit discreetly over the rims of your acoustic drums. And a compact kit fits in an apartment or dorm room.
Many players prefer their controllers to have identical response and rebound as they move from pad to pad, as opposed to the varying tensions of acoustic drum heads as they move from snare to toms. When using percussion controllers for alternative sounds, including triggering sustained tones or loops, often a pad is more appropriate. The consistency of rubber pads is a plus in these situations.
Better than ever
Years ago many pads felt a little hard and didn’t offer the rebound that drummers expected. But improved pad designs with reformulated rubber offer more “give” when struck and have a much more natural bounce.
When used with a module that supports these features, mesh head controllers offer a wide range of sound responses based on the location you strike. Some models produce different sounds based on where you strike the head. Depending on the sound module, you can even play brush sweeps on some heads.
One of the immediate advantages of mesh heads is the ability to adjust their tension to achieve a feel and rebound that suits you. This allows you to have, for instance, a fairly tight, bouncy snare head even though the sound you’ve selected is a 1970s style slack-tuned, heavily muffled deep snare.
So there’s room for both in the electronic percussion world. As we often say in these situations, the “best” choice is the one that fits your needs, your expectations, and your budget.
Triggers mount on the rims of acoustic kits, resting against the heads, and transmit hits to a sound module. They offer you a virtually unlimited choice of drum, percussion, and other sounds while allowing you the familiar feel of your own drums. In the studio, using triggers allow your performance to be recorded as MIDI data so that later on in the mixing process, sounds can be changed as needed for both corrective and artistic reasons.
Drum Machines Examined
At this point in music technology, the days of hardware may seem to have given way to software. But there’s still a demand for drum machines. They’ve been a staple of Hip Hop and Rap for 30 years. They also provide the rhythm section for one-man-bands. Another scenario for using a drum machine is for the singer/songwriter who wants to record or perform music and has no interest or desire to learn how to program drums. A lesser-known use for drum machines is as a practice tool for bass players, guitarists, and keyboardists.
Five Benefits to Owning an Electronic Drum Kit
Keyboard players and guitarists long ago embraced the technology that’s allowed them to take their music in new directions. It’s time for drummers to recognize that they have the same potential. Here are some points that illuminate the advantages of owning an electronic kit.
Nothing beats the ability to dial in just the right drum kit sounds to suit the music! If you’re a working drummer, chances are you get calls for gigs that cover a number of different styles of music. Tonight’s pop singer might turn into tomorrow night’s jazz trio, with a 1970s cover band rehearsal in between. Instead of having to carry and maintain a collection of acoustic kits you can stick with the setup you like while delivering the appropriate sounds for the gig.
Live Gig Convenience
From small clubs to churches to concert stages, an electronic kit can solve many problems associated with live playing. In environments where you’re frequently pressured to play quietly, you can do so easily – thanks to the near-silent performance of the pads – while still getting the sounds you want from your module. And on the large stage, you’re able to play without requiring mics, which means no feedback, no bleed from other instruments, and no jumble of stands around your kit.
An electronic kit gives you the power keyboard players have had since the early days of MIDI sequencing – the ability to play your track and then edit individual notes or instruments to your liking. That allows you to capture the groove you want but still be able to nudge a late hit into place or balance the velocities of a tom fill.
Freedom to Practice
If your neighbors were reading this, they’d buy you a kit! All drummers have encountered complaints and resistance when they try to practice. An electronic kit gives you practice-pad-quiet volume while you can hear yourself through headphones. Plus, most modules feature built-in metronomes and practice songs so you can play along to actual music> Many include auxiliary inputs so you can plug in a CD or MP3 player to practice to your favorite artists.
No matter whether you’re on the road or practicing in your apartment, you can’t beat the compactness and portability of an electronic kit. Even a big kit fits into a soft case or two! These kits weigh less and require less space in the van than acoustic drums. And at home, when you’ve finished practicing, your kit folds down to take up minimum space in a closet.