Electronic Drum Set ReviewsReviews

Avatar by HXW SD201-C Electronic Drum Kit Review

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HXW Music is a company focused on creating electronic drum sets. They’ve been around for more than ten years—in 2019, they first brought their kits to the US market on Amazon.

HXW currently offers two drum e kits: the SD61 and the SD201-C.

A representative of the company reached out to me via email and asked if I’d like to have a look at their drums. I happily obliged.

For the sake of transparency, yes, I did receive this SD201-C for free from the HXW.

I’ve had about a month playing around with the new Avatar SD201-C electronic drum kit by HXW, and I have to say, I’m rather impressed.

I was initially hesitant since I hadn’t heard of the company before, but I think HXW may be able to make their mark and compete with the more prominent name brands in the US.

Avatar HXW SD201-C Review

In terms of comparison, the SD201-C seems like close competitor to the Alesis Surge Mesh, in terms of specs. It’s relatively affordable but more expensive than the Surge Mesh.

The naming scheme is a little strange and cumbersome, but this is true to most electronic kits (for example, Roland’s new release is the VAD506).

And while it’s not the most professional electronic drum set, it is more useful to me than my expensive Alesis Strike Pro — if you can believe it. I’ll go into detail later on in the review.

Avatar HXW SD201-C Review
Top-down view


The SD201-C is a five-piece mid-range electric drum kit with three cymbals. HXW touts high performance, vivid dynamics, and accurate response.

Just like all the other competitors today, the kit features mesh drum heads. All drums and cymbals are dual-zone. The cymbals also include a choke feature.

The Avatar drum module includes 346 drum and percussion sounds, 20 presets, 30 user kits, and 15 play-along songs.

The Pads

Compared to other mesh drum pads, Avatar’s remind me of actually playing a drum head. It’s by no means perfect, but there’s a particular give to them right out of the box — they’re not as bouncy and responsive as Roland and Alesis pads.

Of course, you can adjust the tension of the heads to make them more responsive, but I think they feel great right out of the box.

The kit is compact, and I do feel a little constrained while playing. Most kits this size are similar, so this isn’t exactly a negative.

The snare drum mounts to the frame of the set — not the biggest fan of this myself, but most e kits do the same thing. I may try using a real snare drum stand to see the difference.

The dynamic response on the pads is fantastic. I was shocked at how the module was able to pick up on the lightest of taps. 

The rims, on the other hand, are a different story. They seem to have a tough time accurately capturing quick bounce strokes depending where you play. 

As I circle around any given pad’s rims, varying accuracy of triggering occurs with fast double strokes. I thought maybe it was a setting problem with the module, but no matter what I changed, it remained a problem.

HXW SD201-C Side
The kit from the side

But this is a small issue — I can’t conceive of a time where I’d need to do fast double strokes on the rims. If you’re using the kit for practice, this is a non-issue.

The Cymbals

Surprisingly, the cymbals are decent. They feel rather cheap when playing, but the triggering functions excellent.

The cymbals included are larger in diameter (12″) than what you get with the Alesis Surge Mesh — a plus in my book.

The Hi-Hat

And the hi-hat. It works better than my nearly $2,000 Alesis Strike drum kit. I couldn’t believe it. I thought for sure the hi-hat would be an issue. 

Doubles and fast six-strokes are no problem between both the edge and bow sensor. Opening the hats mid-way poses no issue, either.

The Drum Module

One of the more disappointing aspects of the SD201-C is the drum module. The sounds aren’t the greatest, but they get the job done. 

Take my personal review of the samples with a grain of salt. I’m rather cynical about drum sounds on electronic drums, so for you, you may have a different experience.

Newer drummers will most likely be happy with the kit presets and sounds.

SD201-C Module
The Drum Module

That said, there is one thing HXW should change before running additional production of this kit—the mix levels of the drums.

Right out of the box, the cymbals are far too loud overall, and adjusting the volume levels isn’t the easiest.

And besides, no matter what I tried, I could not get my level changes to save in the module. There probably is a way to save to user kits, but I couldn’t figure it out. Not yet, anyway. I eventually got some kits to save, but I’m not entirely sure how I did it.

For playing along to music, I’d suggest skipping the included play-along songs. Instead, use an auxiliary cable and connect your devices to play to music.

One thing to note—there is only one line output for connecting to a PA or speakers. I’m not sure if it’s a stereo output, as it doesn’t state in the manual. I’ll be testing it when I find my stereo splitter.

Use with VSTs

After my initial impressions of the included sounds, I had to see if I could use drum VST plugins with the kit. And thankfully, you can. They work excellent!

There is a little bit of MIDI mapping you’ll need to do. GM drum mapping isn’t standard out of the box. 

But adjusting to the correct values only takes a few minutes. Playing along with my Addictive Drums 2 libraries is a blast.

Wrapping Up

Overall, I like the SD201-C e kit from HXW. I think the company can make some improvements, however. The module desperately needs an upgrade in terms of user experience.

The pads need work in terms of the rim triggering, but don’t change the mesh pads! They are stellar for the money. The cymbals are decent — could be a little thicker for added durability, in my opinion.

The kick tower should be a mesh pad, but the rubber does the job. However, Alesis does provide a mesh kick pad for less money, so they’ve got HXW there.

No matter which brand you choose, don’t just write a company off if you haven’t heard of them before. You might end up surprised.

Nick Cesarz

Nick is a drummer, percussionist, and blogger from Milwaukee, WI. He toured extensively with Vinyl Theatre, opening up for acts like twenty one pilots, Panic! at the Disco, and more. Now no longer touring, his passion lies in gear and playing the kit as much as time allows.

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  1. Hi, thanks for the great review.
    I am interested in your recommendation; I am looking for a good beginner set for my kids (age 9) and I am trying to decide between the HXW SD201-1 (all mesh inc. Kick, all drums 8″, all drums+cymbals dualzone, seems an upgrade from the unit you reviewed) and the well known Alesis Nitro mesh which are similar price here in Australia.
    Seems like the HXW is better equipped but maybe the drum module is only average; what learning functions/recording does it have compared to the Alesis? This may sway my decision if the Alesis is better for learning/teaching.

    1. Hi Josh! I haven’t had any experience with the kit you mentioned, but it does appear to have the exact same drum module. When I played around with it, I didn’t find any real “coaching” function on the HXW, aside from a metronome and performance recorder. It tracks how well you play to a metronome, but it’s just a visual cue—there isn’t any kind of scoring system or anything I could see that would improve your playing.

      Alesis on the other hand—the Nitro includes 60 play-along tracks, a metronome, and a performance recorder to help develop timing. Both kits have similar learning functions, but the additional play-along tracks is a nice feature. One other thing, the Nitro comes with 40 free drum lessons from Melodics.

      The app connects to the kit via USB and works with a phone, tablet, or laptop. You can use the HXW kit with Melodics, but you won’t get the 40 free lessons.

    2. Hi Josh,
      I am exactly on the same situation. I am having a lot of difficulties deciding between the same two drum sets. Is the HXW model you have mentioned the one sold on Catch.com? I could not find the drum set model on their website or did you manage to find a different seller other than Catch.com?

      1. I’m not sure if this is the one you’re talking about, but this is the SD201-1 on Catch: https://www.catch.com.au/product/8-piece-electric-electronic-drum-kit-mesh-drums-set-pad-stool-for-kids-adults-5710407/

        It looks like they don’t sell the one I reviewed in this article on Catch. Maybe it’s only available in the US—just as the SD201-1 isn’t available for me here. That said, it looks nearly identical with the only upgrade being the mesh kick tower.

  2. Hi I need some help I have an avatar drum set my drum it’s not working can I use any other electronic kick for it or we’re can I purchase an avatar drum kick


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