Best Electronic Drum Set
Because of their technological capabilities and the simple fact they’re quiet, electronic drum sets are becoming very popular. A drummer can plug in a pair of headphones and practice without disturbing neighbors or parents with a lot of noise. And with the added technological components, you’re buying not only a musical instrument but a mini-computer as well. Choosing the best electronic drum set doesn’t have to be complicated, especially after you’ve gone through our buyer’s guide provided below.
Best Electronic Drum Set Overall:
Electronic drum sets are becoming very popular because of their ability to interface with computers and offer individuals a way to practice drums quietly. Modern electronic kits have pads which can feel like real drums, some feature tunable heads and the best models have high quality midi controllers complete with built in tone modules and sequencers. Computer sequencers have become a vital part of modern music production and the ability to link one to a drum kit sequencer (through a USB connection for example) is an essential feature of any electronic drum kit.
It’s important to acknowledge there is no substitute for playing on an acoustic set of drums. Drummers who play exclusively on electronic drums have a lighter touch which is often too delicate to produce a quality tone on acoustic drums, so it’s highly recommend balance practice time between electronic and acoustic kits. Overall, electronic drum sets are excellent options for drummers in living spaces which can’t accommodate high volume acoustic practicing.
The following best overall electronic drum sets have been chosen based on their pad feel, tone module capabilities and overall hardware durability.
All these electronic drum kits have pads which feel like real drums or are at least as responsive as a real drum. They all can respond to dynamic contrasts and often have pads with multiple playing zones. The cymbal pads have reactions similar to real cymbals and the high-hat has a realistic sound and feel.
These picks also feature exceptional tone modules, built-in sounds and some even provide sampling and sequencing capabilities. They can all interface with a computer sequencer or a digital audio workstation and a few are midi/USB compatible. Many of these companies' top lines have identical pads and are separated only by having a different tone module, so if you only care about the feel of the pads than you might want to go with the less expensive model. It’s important to note many companies have models with the same pads but different tone modules; determine how advanced of a tone module you need before purchasing, because it could save you thousands of dollars.
These electronic drum sets are constructed with durable hardware yet remain very playable setups which will last you a long time. They’re also easily adjusted and can be positioned to fit the individual player’s preference.
Most of these picks are top of the line sets which are quite expensive, so if you are looking for a more affordable option, I recommend viewing my list of best budget electronic drum sets.
Roland's TD-30KV is the best electronic drum set available because it looks and feels so similar to an acoustic kit. It has very responsive pads and the best sounding high-hat available by far. The tone module is perfect for both gigging and studio use. Read Full Review
Yamaha's DTX 950 is the best Yamaha kit for live playing situations or drummers looking for the best tone module available. The pads feel extremely realistic and the high-hat is very responsive. There isn’t much this kit can’t do! Read Full Review
The Alesis DM10X is pretty revolutionary because they’ve invented a new pad, rather than just trying to duplicate the V-drum. The pads feel similar to real pads and I love the triple flanged hoops. Overall it’s a great electronic kit at a decent price. Read Full Review
The Roland HD-3 is the most compact of the high quality electronic kits as well as being easy to use, relatively inexpensive, and very responsive. It’s perfect for drummers because they can just tuck this electronic kit away in a corner without it taking up a lot of space. Read Full Review
Best Budget Electronic Drum Set:
While the technology behind electronic sets isn’t exactly new, many high-end kits have retained their enormous price tags which aren’t getting lower anytime soon. The high-end kits are usually reserved for professional drummers living in apartments or spaces where they must stay limited on the volume while practicing. However, there are many individuals looking for less expensive electronic kits for a variety of reasons such as students with parents who don’t want to put up with the noise of acoustic drums or drummers looking to supplement their acoustic kit with electronic drums. Regardless of the reasons, a budget electronic drum set need to be compact, responsive, and inexpensive for those on a budget.
This list of best budget electronic drum sets were chosen based on their affordability, responsiveness, compact size, realistic sound comparable to an acoustic set, durability for long-lasting performance, and quality of tone module.
Price is obviously the most important factor in a budget drum set but fortunately these kits can be found for around $500 with some available for even less. Granted, there are a lot of electronic kits in this price range which are quite terrible but we’ve found several diamonds in the rough featuring responsive drum pads, pedals, and cymbal pads.
These picks are compact enough to store in the corner of an individuals bedroom or similar practice space, but can be easily adjusted to someone’s style of play. They also recreate a relatively realistic feel and sound unlike an acoustic kit when it comes to pad sensitivity and placement. These models are constructed to be extremely durable and can withstand any amount of abuse a drummer can throw at them, especially beginners.
Finally, these picks have capable tone modules with different drum sounds and pre-programmed kits. The tone module device is the brain of the kit, responsible for producing the actual sounds. They usually have a built in metronome and rhythmic coach and can also be connected to a computer via USB or MIDI. The tone module can greatly affect the price of an electronic kit so it’s important to know what capabilities you want it to have. In some situations the best approach is to buy a high-quality electronic kit with a slow brain and later upgrade the tone module. All of these kits have great tone modules and will keep you satisfied until you have the budget to upgrade.
It is important to note most budget electronic drum sets have rubber or cloth pads rather than mesh pads. If you’re looking for the "V-drum" style mesh pads, then you should refer to my list of best overall electronic drum set.
The DM7X Session kit is the best low-budget electronic kit out there because it has great cymbal response and an upgraded variable high-hat. This kit truly sets the standard for low-budget electronic drum sets. Read Full Review
Yamaha has quickly become one of the top names in electronic percussion, and their low-budget kit is one of the best! The DTX 400 has high quality, responsive pads and a well equipped tone module. This kit is great for any drummer looking to mix some electronic pads into their kit without splurging on mesh pads. Read Full Review
The Alesis DM Lite is a fun way to start playing drums, offering a small price tag and a quiet instrument for practicing. It’s a great value because of its responsiveness over other low budget kits and it’s made by a reputable company. Read Full Review
The DD1 by ddrum is a very durable electronic kit designed for intense playing with a lot of options for sound manipulation. It’s a great electronic kit for the beginner or a drummer working with a small budget. Read Full Review
Electronic Drum Set Buyer’s Guide
Drummers will often purchase an electronic drum set/kit because they live in a place where the noise created by an acoustic kit is prohibited. Other times, parents will purchase electronic kits for their student because they take up less space and aren’t as loud as acoustic kits.
Besides a kits musical capability, you also have to take its technical aspects into consideration. Higher end kits typically feature responsive pads which feel more like real drums as well as tone modules loaded with sounds and advanced sequencing capabilities. Fortunately, this buyer’s guide will help you understand a bit about the different elements behind these instruments and what separates the good kits from the bad.
Electronic Drum Parts
Basic kits feature rubber pads with a feel similar to practice pads. More advanced models will have mesh or Mylar heads with a sound closer to real drums.
Bass Drum Pad
The bass drum pad is either free-standing or integrated into the kit. Some kits require a separate bass drum pedal to play the pad while others have electronic pedals included.
Modern cymbal pads can feel and respond similar to actual metal cymbals. Cymbal pads are constantly being improved upon in terms of their quality and responsiveness
The tone module is the brain of the kit, providing you with a library of sound while some models are able to communicate with computers for advanced sequencing capabilities. A good tone module will have multiple options and a variety of pre-programmed sound kits. Some tone modules can also be customized to produce sounds which can then be edited and programmed.
Electronic drum sets have adjustable hardware similar to acoustic kits which keep the pads in place. Higher end kits come equipped with advanced hardware allowing for faster, more precise adjustments.
Velocity Sensitive Pads
Most electronic kits have pads responsive to different playing velocities.
Realistic Playing Surface
The best electronic kits feature pads with mesh or Mylar heads, rims, and realistic cymbal pads. These heads can often be tuned and are responsive to bounces and buzz rolls.
Multiple Playing Areas
Some pads have multiple playing areas which react differently and create sounds similar to an acoustic kit. Snare drum pads can also generate rim shots and rim clicks based upon where they’re struck. Some cymbals pads will also react to playing on the “bell” or edge portion of the cymbals.
Roland is known for their game-changing V-drums featuring tunable mesh heads which feel like acoustic drums. Yamaha and Alesis also have models which are similar to V-drums in terms of quality and performance. V-drum style kits are drastically more expensive because they feel a lot better to play on.
Bass Drum Pad
Some electronic kits have freestanding bass drum pads which are played with a real bass drum pedal. Most players agree this feature provides a more realistic, acoustic feel but it will also raise a kits price tag considerably.
Some electronic kits (generally the most expensive) have fully functioning, electronic hi-hat pads mounted on a real high-hat stand to accurately simulate the feel of an acoustic high-hat.
Electronic kits should include headphone and speaker jacks as well as midi/USB inputs and outputs for connecting to a computer.
Higher end electronic kits have mesh or Mylar heads which provide a nice bounce and are responsive to rolls and rudimentary techniques. While the capabilities of modern tone modules are creating some amazing possibilities for sequencing and sound production, there will always be a slight difference in feel between electronic and acoustic kits.
The physical portions of an electronic drum set are generally very reliable. The thick rubber pads usually don’t wear down enough to affect playability while mesh and Mylar heads don’t break as often as acoustic drum heads. Although certain electronic technologies can quickly become outdated, the best kits are advanced enough to use professionally for many years.
Electronic drum sets are available in a wide range of prices with kits priced anywhere between two hundred to eight thousand dollars. Fortunately, there are several affordable kits available which feature responsive pads and good tone modules. Many companies like Alesis, Roland, and Yamaha make the best overall electronic drum kits, while ddrum and Simmons have a reputation for their great low-budget options.
For the sake of convenience, we’ve divided our picks into two separate categories to accommodate different budgets. For high-end kits look at “Best Overall Electronic Drum Set” and for less expensive models you can refer to “Best Budget Electronic Drum Set.”