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Are you looking for the best electronic drum set within your budget? After spending countless hours researching and testing 15+ kits, I’ve crafted the ultimate guide.
Like you, the reader, I was also searching online for an electronic kit. I initially settled on the Alesis Strike Pro, but I also currently own the Roland TD-50K-S, EFNOTE 5X, Alesis Nitro Mesh, Alesis Nitro MAX, Donner DED-400, and others. (my YouTube channel features all these kits, so search around if you like. And yes, it’s me in the videos, not an AI voice slideshow with generic information).
I can confidently say I have a wide knowledge of many electronic drum sets available. Also, I just updated the article (December, 2023) so you know it’s up to date.
The Best Electronic Drum Sets of 2023 At A Glance
DREAM E KIT
DW DWe Electronic Drum Kit Bundle
Roland TD-50 KV2
Alesis Nitro MAX
This guide is fairly long, so be sure to use the links below if you already know your budget range.
So, What’s the Best Overall Electronic Drum Kit?
Why pick the Drum Workshop DWe?
Drummers who want the most authentic playing experience will love the new DWe. It's fully convertible from acoustic to electric and features 9-ply maple Collector's series shells along with quality DW chrome-plated hardware. The included DW Soundworks features some of the best sounding drum samples I've heard on an electronic drum set. You do need a laptop or desktop computer to use the kit.
- Real Collector's Series drum shells
- Wireless technology
- DW is new to electronic drums (despite being acquired by Roland)
- The most expensive electronic drum set in the world
- Laptop not included
I recently had the opportunity to try out the brand new Drum Workshop DWe electronic drum kit at PASIC 2023. I was blown away by the sound, feel, playability, quality, and the fact that it’s a wireless electronic drum set. It comes with a hefty price tag, but it’s by far the best electronic drum set I’ve ever played in my life. It does require using a laptop instead of a drum module, which may be a downside for some.
- Convertible acoustic/electronic drum kit
- 9-ply maple Collector’s Series shells
- Quality DW chrome-plated hardware
- Swappable electronic drumheads
- Massive selection of high-quality sound samples
DW, a renowned drum manufacturer, has over 50 years of experience and has produced a high-quality product in the DWe, despite being their first electronic drum kit. The kit features real DW Collector Series drums, 9-play maple shells, top-quality hardware, and comes in various finishes. It also includes a wireless trigger system and metal electronic cymbals.
What sets the DWe apart is its ability to convert from electronic to acoustic, offering versatility for different playing scenarios. The drum shells are designed for improved tone and sustain. The wireless trigger system supports up to 30 inputs, allowing for kit expansion.
While the cymbal design may appear unimpressive, they offer an authentic playing experience with three-zone triggering. The triggers inside the drums use innovative technology for a realistic dynamic range.
Despite minor concerns, the DWe impresses with its sound quality and customization options. However, the DWe’s high price may limit its accessibility to many drummers.
The verdict: The DWe is the best electronic drum set I've had the chance to play. If you have the means, you won't be disappointed. Even if you can't afford it, do yourself a favor and try to find a music store with a demo on display to try out!
See the price and other reviews of the Drum Workshop DWe at Sweetwater.
Before the arrival of the DWe, both the Roland VAD706 and the TD-50KV-2 made our list of the best e-kits around. They’re both on par, in terms of the drum module (it’s still the best around). One clearly looks nicer than the other—indicated by the cost. Yamaha’s DTX10K utilizes textured cellular silicon drum heads, offering a quieter and more natural playing experience when compared to regular mesh heads. The TD-27KV is a fantastic intermediate option for advanced drummers. And for those just starting out, look no further than the Nitro MAX.
Read on to hear my thoughts on the other top-rated electronic drum sets.
These are my best picks for 2023, ranging from cheap to very expensive. Each manufacturer has different strengths and weaknesses with their products. It’s up to you to decide which one of these e-drum kits suit your current demands.
The Best Electronic Drum Sets Under $500
Starting off the list, we are going to feature three options that are more budget-friendly. If your kid’s interested or you’re looking to start learning drums, it’s best to begin here before dropping big money on a fancy kit.
Why pick the Alesis Turbo Mesh?
The Turbo Mesh is the most affordable electronic kit from Alesis — perfect for beginners looking to start playing.
- Very affordable kit
- Mesh heads
- Great name brand
- Perfect for young, first-time drummers
- No kick tower
- Cheap sounds
- No custom samples
- No Bluetooth connectivity
- Single-zoned snare drum pad
- Hi-hat pedal is not velocity sensitive
- 7-piece electronic drum set – all the typical instruments you’ll find on a traditional drum kit are here.
- 8″ snare and tom pads – standard sizes for kits in this price range, but too small for me to practice with. Great for young drummers just learning and deciding if they love the drums.
- Mesh drum heads – allow for a super, quiet playing experience that won’t distract family members in the house
- compact and lightweight, yet still enough playing space to learn with
- 10 presets and 120 drum sounds – sounds on this drum kit are a little limited, but are perfect for starting out.
The Alesis Turbo Mesh is by far the most affordable kit with mesh heads, mainly being an electronic drum set for kids. The next-generation mesh heads are similar to that of other Alesis kits.
The Turbo Mesh includes four drum pads, three cymbal pads, the drum module, two pedals, and a solid aluminum rack.
The module includes 100+ sounds and 30 play-along songs. I need to stress — this e kit is super basic but extremely affordable. Included as well are 40 free drum lessons from Melodics for newer players.
I like that Alesis is making the push to have of their kits outfitted with mesh drum heads. It’s the new standard — rubber pads were so last century. The pads themselves are even tunable, just like the higher-end models from Alesis.
The Turbo Mesh isn’t just for kids and beginners only either. Producers working in apartments can benefit if wanting to play drums instead of writing MIDI notes in by hand. The USB port on the module connects to either a Mac or PC for use with music software.
The verdict: The Turbo Mesh is by far the best Alesis electronic drum set for kids. If you’re a parent shopping for your young child and are worried they may not stick with drums, pick the Turbo Mesh. It’s not too terribly expensive either.
See the price and other reviews of the Alesis Turbo Mesh at Guitar Center.
Why pick the Alesis Nitro Max?
The Alesis Nitro MAX is perfect for new drummers—it's affordable and fun to play. The new sounds included in the module from BFD are much better than the original Nitro samples and the integrated practice tools work wonders for new drummers.
- Great price
- Mesh heads
- Bluetooth audio streaming
- Professional drum samples from BFD
- Mounted hi-hat
- Small kick tower
- No custom samples
Alesis has produced an insane amount of excellent products for us as drummers. For starters, this is an e-drum set under $500. A quick glance at the Alesis Nitro MAX reveals some marvelous features and impressive specs.
It includes 440 sounds, 60 play-along songs, and a straightforward drum module. To me, this electronic drum set is much better than the previous generation Nitro Mesh—that electric drum kit was one of the best selling kits online and I assume MAX will follow in its footsteps. It provides extraordinary value at such an affordable price.
The Nitro MAX is an 8-piece e-drum kit featuring tom pads, a dual-zone snare pad, cymbals (both chokable and non-chokable), a mounting rack, and a powerful drum module. Alesis has moved away from the original Nitro kit (which featured rubber pads), and seems to be focusing on selling drum kits with mesh heads, thankfully.
Build Quality of the Alesis Nitro MAX
Compared to the original Nitro, the Nitro MAX features a red sparkle finish, similar to that of the Strike line—it looks beautiful. The new Nitro MAX features an upgraded 10″ dual-zone snare pad (used to be 8″), three single-zone tom pads, dual-zone 10″ crash cymbal pad, two additional single-zone cymbal pads, a hi-hat controller, and a drum rack with four posts.
Included, as well, is the Alesis DMPAD kick pad, which features a strong steel housing, grounding spikes, and a single zone pad. The e-drum kit comes bundled with its own kick pedal. It’s pretty poorly made, so I suggest upgrading this one piece of hardware to something like the DW3000 Kick Pedal for a better experience. You also get an assembly key as well as a set of drumsticks.
The Nitro MAX drum module does have expansion features with two inputs in the back and buttons for each expanded pad on the front of the module. The expansion kit is sold separately and comes with an extra tom and extra cymbal.
Using the Alesis Nitro MAX in Practice
The stick response is great. I even needed to tune the drum heads down because they were a bit too bouncy. That said, at the price point, you aren’t going to get the feeling of the Roland V-Drums, that’s for sure. Even though the feel isn’t on par with a $4,000 e-drum kit, the Alesis Nitro still plays great!
Unfortunately, the snare drum pad is the only one that features a dual-zone. This is something we usually only see at the higher end of the spectrum. A dual-zone pad allows for different sounds, whether on the rim, or the main pad. The other pads can only produce one sound at a time.
Alesis Nitro MAX Drum Module — No Custom Samples!
The drum module provided with the Alesis Nitro MAX is very basic. Don’t expect world class sampling and FX. Using the drum module, you can create your own drum kit setup with the available 440 sounds or just use a preset. The drum module is very intuitive and easy to learn your way around it.
If you own a laptop, you can use the USB MIDI connection to connect to your laptop or desktop computer. This is useful if you plan on recording your performance into a Digital Audio Workstation, such as Logic or Pro Tools.
From here, you can either use the included sounds from your Alesis Nitro MAX, or you can use virtual instruments, such as EZ Drummer or Addictive Drums, to playback what you recorded. This is a great way to record band demos.
There is no way to load custom samples into the Alesis Nitro MAX. For most beginner players, this should be a non-issue.
With the Alesis Nitro MAX being so affordable, it’s no wonder why it’s one of the top-selling electronic drum sets online. This kit is perfect for a beginning young child or for an experienced drummer looking for a cheap way to practice on the quiet.
Overall sound of the Alesis Nitro MAX
Being that this an electronic drum kit that’s pretty affordable, I didn’t expect the sound to blow me away. And the original Nitro Mesh didn’t. The Nitro’s biggest issue for me were the drum samples. This electronic drum kit sounds like early 90s MIDI drums.
However, the new module on the Alesis Nitro MAX features 32 new professionaly-recorded presets from BFD, a long-time player in sampled drums. These kits sound incredible for the money.
The original Nitro sounds are still on the module and sound very rigid with no dynamics to my ears.
This is pure speculation, but I believe that both the Nitro does not have different samples for each velocity level. For example, tapping the snare drum quietly should produce a different recorded sample than just a quieter version of a snare hit.
This allows for greater dynamic range and makes the electronic kit sound more realistic. Do you kind of get what I am hinting at? This could have been one way to keep the price tag down on these electronic drum kits. While this might not make a huge difference for “electronic-style” kits, acoustic drums with one velocity layer tend to sound pretty bad.
When I played the Nitro MAX, I felt like it was super compact and tight to play. It also sits a little low to the floor, so it’s definitely suited to our smaller, younger drummers. I always comment that most electronic drum sets feel more claustrophobic, and this is definitely the case for me. There’s no real solution outside of stacking the legs on books to get some additional height. For spacing the pads out, there’s not much of a workaround.
The verdict: The Nitro MAX is an excellent choice for beginners. If you’re buying this for your son or daughter, it will make a fantastic gift.
The verdict: The Nitro MAX is an excellent choice for beginners. If you’re buying this for your son or daughter, it will make a fantastic gift.
See the price and other reviews of the Alesis Nitro MAX at Guitar Center.
Alexis Nitro MAX vs Turbo Mesh
The Nitro MAX is vastly superior upgrade from the Turbo Mesh with 440 sounds (as opposed to 100 only), as well as custom presets from BFD, one of the leading drum sample companies around.
- Sounds: 100
- Play-along Songs: 30
- Aux/USB/MIDI Input: Yes
- Bluetooth: No
The biggest difference for me is Bluetooth. Having Bluetooth on an e-kit these days is a requirement, especially after Apple and other tech giants decided to remove the headphone jack from most devices.
The Turbo Mesh also doesn’t have a kick tower, which is a pad designed to recreate the feeling of using a real kick drum with a pedal. Kick towers significantly add to the volume of an electronic drum set, so keep that in mind. You will see them on many kits listed here.
Why pick the TD-1K?
The TD-1K is a superb option for first-time drummers. Roland has set the bar high bringing similar sound quality and expressiveness from the top-of-the-line V-drums.
- Roland name brand
- Compact rack
- Quiet kick pedal
- Steep price for what you get
- Rubber pads
- No kick tower
The TD-1K is no longer available. Roland has since introduced the TD-02K, but I’ve kept this section in the article for reference if you find a used kit.
I’m happy that Roland does cater to newer drummers, but the TD-1K isn’t precisely anything unusual.
While it is a great introductory kit for beginners, it clearly lacks the features of the high-end drums from Roland (like a kick pad, for instance); albeit the samples do sound rather excellent.
Overview of the TD-1K
If this is your barrier to entry, say, if your child is interested in playing the drums, this may be an acceptable option. The TD-1K comes included with four drum pads and three cymbal pads.
Here are some of the major features:
- 5-Piece Introductory Electronic Drum Set: There’s no kick pad, just a small pedal that functions as your bass drum. It’s not the best option for developing foot technique. It’s a little bit harder to play and lacks the feel of a real pedal—not ideal for many drummers, but acceptable to learn drums at first.
- 15 Built-In Drum Sound Patches: Not as many sounds as I’d like. You can use MIDI over USB with a laptop to use drum VSTs, like EZ Drummer 3 or Superior Drummer 3.
- Acclaimed V-Drums Sound: I can’t say that it actually sounds like its high-end electronic drum sets, but this is a good selling point. Roland’s V-Drums have always had great-sounding samples that wow drummers when they first put on a set of headphones behind one of their kits.
- Onboard Coaching Function, Metronome, and Recorder: This feature is great for learning and internalizing time, as well as hearing yourself back to see where you can improve.
- Aux Input for Playing Along with Your Own Tunes: There’s not much to say, but this is definitely a great feature. I highly recommend new drummers play along with songs they enjoy to keep them engaged when learning.
- Pre-Recorded Songs to Play Along To: These are great for challenging a new drummer to create their own parts to instrumental songs. If you are first learning the drums, take advantage of the drumless tracks included with your drum module!
- Beater-Less Kick Pedal: Although, not the greatest for learning and development, it keeps the kit quiet. This is a deal-breaker for me, but this is the budget section of e kits, unfortunately.
- USB-MIDI: The USB-MIDI functionality is great if you want to connect your electronic drum kit to a computer to record externally or use drum libraries for additional sounds. Apps like Melodics also offer a way to learn how to play drums by connecting your kit to your computer, so be sure to give that a shot if you’re a new player.
Now, for what you get with this kit, it’s a little bit too expensive, if you ask me. Compared to the Alesis options, you may be better off going in that direction. Electric drum kits like this Roland somewhat remind me of the Yahama DTX450K, which in my eyes, is a little too overpriced for what you get.
I think my main gripe is that we’re at the top of the price threshold, paying for a kit that doesn’t even have a kick pad. Still, Roland makes great products, so you can’t really go wrong.
The verdict: No matter which way you put it, Roland makes killer products, especially drums. The TD-1K makes a great entry-level kit for the beginning drummer.
The verdict: No matter which way you put it, Roland makes killer products, especially drums. The TD-1K makes a great entry-level kit for the beginning drummer.
The Best Electronic Drum Kits Under $1000
Moving onward to the next pricing threshold, we have some kits that are great for intermediate drummers.
If you’re looking for a kit to keep the noise down while practicing at night, but still use an acoustic kit normally, I’d suggest staying in this range.
Simmons Titan 70
- High-definition, full-length sounds with stereo room ambience
- Large 10" dual-zone, responsive mesh snare
- Bluetooth Audio for jamming to your favorite tracks
- Steel, full-sized, sturdy rectangular rack
- Easy to use sound editing, play-along and practice tools
Why pick the Simmons Titan 70?
Simmons has been in the electronic drum game for decades, producing some of the very first e-kits paving the way for years to come. The Titan 70 is the flagship model from Simmons and is far more affordable than top-of-line offerings from Roland and Alesis.
- Good snare feel
- Four dual-zone toms
- Triple-zone ride cymbal pad
- Audio and MIDI over USB
- More presets
- Crashes are single-zone
- Hi-hat is wonky
- Rack is a little cramped when setup
The new flagship electronic drum kit from Simmons, the Titan 70, features an impressive list of features and specs—perfect for live gigs and studio sessions. The Titan 70 has a new 12″ ride cymbal with three zones, an improved drum module with 314 sounds & 75 preset kits, dual-zone pads, and a large kick drum tower that’s compatible with double bass pedals.
The rimshot detection is fantastic on the snare drum. On a lot of electronic drum kits I’ve tested, you have to hit the rim separately of the snare drum, which is completely opposite of how playing a real drum set feels. You have to move your playing hand over to hit just the rim. To the contrary with the Titan 70, the rimshot detection is perfect.
Being the flagship kit from Simmons, I wish it used a traditional hi-hat stand for the hi-hat pad—for added realism. Hi-hat pedals are notoriously fake feeling and do not provide a drummer the same experience to an acoustic drum kit.
The drum module features a slot to hold any device imaginable—iPhone, iPad, Tablet ,etc—making it easy to follow along with YouTube videos or the best lessons on the internet from Drumeo.
The verdict: The Simmons Titan 70 is a fantastic electronic drum set, boasting many features reserved for higher-end drum kits at a more affordable price.
See the price and other reviews of the Simmons Titan 70 at Guitar Center.
Why pick the Roland V-Drums TD-02KV?
For drummers who trust the Roland brand, the TD-02KV is an affordable entry in the e-drum space.
- Compact and easy to store
- Small footprint
- Great-sounding presets
- Small pads
- Cymbals are low-quality
- No Bluetooth audio
New in 2023 from Roland are the TD-02KV and TD-02K electronic kits. The KV model features three drum pads, a PDX-8 snare pad, three cymbal pads, two pedal controllers, a stand, and the TD-02K drum module.
Designed for beginner drummers, the TD-02KV is the perfect choice for new players who want the Roland experience—an improvement on the TD-01 series.
The drum brain has 16 preset kits, giving you a well-rounded selection of styles and USB connectivity with a computer for drum VSTs or recording to a DAW. The kit presets include everything from dry, natural drums to massive arena rock kits.
Bluetooth connectivity is an option. You must purchase the BOSS Bluetooth® Audio MIDI Dual Adaptor for it to work. I wish they had built it into the module from the start.
Both the TD-02KV and TD-02K have a five-piece setup. The rubber playing surfaces could be better when compared to Alesis’s all-mesh kits, but the module is better than most from their lineup.
The verdict: The Roland V-Drums TD-02KV is ideal for beginners, but lacks a kick drum tower, which to some, may be essential to learn proper technique.
Why pick the Alesis Command Mesh SE?
The Alesis Command Mesh SE is a perfect option for intermediate drummers who may already have an acoustic drum set and need to practice quietly.
- Load you own drum samples
- 54 preset kits, 671 total sounds
- Great name brand
- Mounted hi-hat
- Sounds are weak
- Cymbals are cheap
Again, like the Alesis Nitro, the Alesis Command Mesh suffers from the same sonic issues that kit did. While this might not be an issue for beginners, it surely was for me.
Being a traditional player of acoustic drums, I’d like my e drums to sound as real as possible.
The Alesis Command Mesh module includes 600+ instruments including snares, world percussion, electronics, effects, and unlike the Alesis Nitro, you can import your own custom sounds to this drum module.
Build Quality of the Command Mesh
The cymbals could use a major overhaul. The Command Mesh offers a 10″ dual-zone snare drum pad, three dual-zone drum pads, three cymbals, two pedals, a bass drum pad, and a drum module.
Alesis has a unique electronic cymbal design, in that, the trigger area doesn’t include the entire circumference. A little bit more than half of the cymbal is playable. I’m not huge on this design.
Another unfortunate issue with the cymbal pads is the lack of a bell. There are two sensors on these pads, only offering the ability to play on the edge and the bow of the cymbal. You can, however, choke the cymbal if you grab the area marked with depressed dots.
The Hardware Frame
The metal frame on this electronic drum set is much better than I’ve seen in the past.
Other kits like the Yamaha DTX (at least the older models) featured an all
Even though the kit is made of metal, it is very lightweight. You should be able to pick this kit off the ground with no issues if you’re young and able-bodied.
The drum module of the Command Mesh
The drum module provided with the Command kit strikes me immediately as much better than the Nitro.
For starters, you get 54 preset drum kits with over 600 sounds. In addition to a large sample library, you get 60 play-along tracks to practice your drumming to.
A nice feature that the Nitro does not offer is the ability to load your own samples. I have been screaming for this feature since day one!
Finally, an electronic drum kit that doesn’t require the combined use of a laptop while playing!
It’s as simple as using a USB stick to load custom .WAV sounds from whatever drum libraries you may already own.
Overall Sound of the Command Mesh
Like I said previously, this kit is not very impressive to the ears. This might serve the needs of a beginner, but definitely won’t be used at a professional level for touring or recording in a studio.
The verdict: another great beginner electric kit! I don’t see much benefit in choosing this one over the Nitro as a beginner, however.
The verdict: The Command Mesh SE is another great beginner electric kit! I don’t see much benefit in choosing this one over the Nitro as a beginner, however.
See the price and other reviews of the Command Mesh at Sweetwater.
The Best Mid and High-End Electronic Drum Kits
The kits listed below are going to be only for super serious drummers, both beginner and professional. I’d advise only picking one of these if you know you’re in it for the long haul and truly love playing the drums.
Why pick the Alesis DM10 Studio Kit MKII?
The DM10 is a perfect option for veteran drummers looking to try electronic drums. The kit includes 54 preset kits and 671 instrument sounds.
- Load custom drum sounds
- Mesh heads
- Great name brand
- Poor sounds
- Pedal and throne not included
Alesis sells a lot of electronic kits, don’t they? This one, in particular, has been around for quite some time.
There have been seven different versions of this kit produced. For the purposes here, we will only be discussing the most recent iteration, the studio kit. With this kit, you’re getting a lot more options for drums.
If you decide to get the larger version of the DM10, expect a better drum module, an additional cymbal, and an additional floor tom. The snare drum is also no longer attached to the rack with the Pro version.
Here are some of the notable features:
- Mesh drum pads
- A chrome hardware rack
- Drum module that is similar to the Alesis Command
- 54 preset drum kits (20 customizable user kits)
- 671 instrument sounds
- Dual-zone pads and a triple-zone ride cymbal
- 3.5mm auxiliary input for playing to your favorite songs
- Five drum pads and four cymbal pads
Alesis does offer this kit in a version with mylar drum heads, but I really don’t like the feel of these and they’re pretty loud when played. You will need to grab a drum throne and a kick pedal with the DM10, as they are not included.
As with many electronic kits, the kick pad tends to slide forward. This one is no different. All kits, including electronic drum sets, usually require a drum rug, so I’d advise picking up a cheap rug from your local big box store to go underneath your drums.
If that still isn’t working, you may have to come up with a DIY solution. Most companies who create products to fix this issue only make them for acoustic bass drums.
It’s definitely not a bad kit, but if you’re willing to fork out this much, I’d move up a step.
The verdict: The Alesis DM10 MKII Pro is a great middle-of-the-road electronic kit—drummers may benefit from saving a bit more and going with the Strike Pro SE, however.
See the price and other reviews of the DM10 MKII at Sweetwater.
Why pick the Roland V-Drums TD-17KVX?
The Roland V-Drums TD-17KVX is easily the best electronic drum set under $2000. Professional sounds, Bluetooth capability, and high quality playing surfaces are just a few of the features offered on the kit.
- Stream songs with Bluetooth
- Sounds inherited from the TD-50 module
- Roland name brand
- Small tom and cymbal pads
- A bit compact for the price
With Alesis out of the way (for now), let’s take a look at a Roland kit. The TD-17KVX is the first “expert” electronic drum set we have seen thus far.
This kit is intended for intermediate and advanced players, as it has many more features that lower end e drum kits do not have.
You’re going to notice a significant improvement
With the Roland TD-17KVX, you get dual-zone mesh drum pads, V-cymbals, the TD-17 drum module, a kick pad, and a custom hardware stand explicitly made for compact V-drums.
Build Quality of the Roland TD-17KVX
The TD-17KV-S features dual-zone drum pads! At more than double the price of the Alesis Forge, the Roland e-drum kit immediately decimates the performance and build quality of the previous two kits.
Right of the bat, you get dual-zone mesh drum pads on both the snare and toms.
Like mentioned earlier, Dual-zone pads allow for rim clicks, rim shots, and customization of multiple sounds on any drum pad you desire. The V-cymbal ride has three trigger points, allowing for playing on the bell, edge, and bow of each cymbal.
While this is much nicer than the two previous kits, it’s still not that realistic. If you’re looking for more realism, Zildjian introduced a line of acoustic-electric cymbals that feel much more accurate than traditional electronic cymbal pads.
The kick pad you get with this set is big enough for using a double kick pedal.
The Hardware Frame — Not Good or Bad
The hardware frame on this e drum kit didn’t exactly impress us. It does look nice in all black but didn’t seem to be built much better than either of the Alesis e-drum kits.
TD-17 Drum Sound Module
While the shape is a little funny looking, the TD-17 does pack a lot of features into an affordable drum module. Included are 50 preset drum kits and 100 instruments with many built-in effects. You can easily switch through presets using the rotary knob located in the middle of the drum module.
I found that these drum samples sounded much better than either Alesis drum modules and had a much greater dynamic control when playing.
On the side of the drum module, you can plug in headphones, output sounds left and right to a PA system or speaker, plug in an aux to play along with music, add two additional pads, and send MIDI data out of the unit.
The back of the TD-17 offers a USB connection for integration with your laptop or desktop as well as a USB memory input for playing back audio files. I don’t really see much use for the USB memory, as I just like to plug in my phone or tablet and just jam with Spotify.
Another giant upgrade from its predecessor, the drum module also features Bluetooth connectivity for connecting your phone to play along to your favorite tunes.
Prismatic Sound Modeling
This marketing slang is just a simple way to say that this drum module sounds and feels better than other electronic drum sets available. I have to agree.
This drum module takes a lot from its big brother, the TD-50, providing a more precise and faster response when playing.
The Roland V-drum pads feel much nicer, though could be a little bit larger like we see on the more expensive Roland V-drum models.
The verdict: At this price point, this is one of the best electronic drum kits you can buy. It’s going to give you the most authentic-sounding drum kits with the best feel.
See the price and other reviews of the TD-17KVX at Sweetwater.
Why pick the Roland V-Drums TD-27KV2?
The TD-27KV2 is perfect for apartment drummers with a little more cash to spend. Music producers in the studio also will benefit from having a high quality electronic kit for recording MIDI performances when using programmed drums.
- High-quality sounds
- Digital snare and ride feel incredible
- Perfect for learning drums on if budget allows
- Rubber kick pad tower
- Drum module has a learning curve
The Roland TD-27KV is one of the most impressive entries from the e-kit giant — I just wish the pads were bigger.
The TD-27KV is a mid-to-high-level electronic kit, featuring a 14″ digital snare pad, three 10″ PDX tom pads, a 12″ crash, 13″ crash, an 18″ digital ride, 12″ hats, a KD-10 kick pad, and the TD-27 module.
The sound quality output from the TD-27 brain is similar to that of the top-of-the-line V-Drums. If you have the money saved and genuinely want to get something quality, go with Roland. The TD-17 and up will not disappoint.
Quick note — the TD-27KV does not come with either the hi-hat stand, snare stand, or the kick pedals.
The verdict: The digital snare and ride make this kit what it is. At around $3000, the TD-27KV2 may be a tough purchase to justify, but has a remarkable playing experience only topped by the TD-50KV2, DWe, and the VAD series.
See the price and other reviews of the TD-27KV2 at Sweetwater.
Why pick the Alesis Strike Pro SE?
While it does have its quirks, the Strike Pro SE is a fantastic option for professional drummers looking for an alternative to Roland's high-end kits.
- Great sounds and module
- Actual kick drum is a plus
- Mesh heads
- Large drum shells
- Hi-hat is a little wonky
- Module is confusing to use
- Cymbals sometimes misfire when hitting drums
Rounding out our list is Alesis once again. The Strike Pro SE is a high-end kit that deserves quite a bit of praise. I own the regular Strike kit and have somewhat mixed feelings about it. The SE is the newest version of the Strike.
The Strike SE may have improved on the hi-hat issues, but I have no firsthand experience with this drum set. I do love playing my Strike, but it has a few quirks, unfortunately.
The Strike kit has much larger shell sizes, which are great when transitioning from a standard kit to electronic. Of course, being a six-piece kit with actual wooden shells, there’s bound to be a downside: price.
Now, the Alesis kit isn’t going to hurt as much as a high-end Roland kit, but you’re still going to shell out a considerable amount.
If you’re more visual, I’ve linked my unboxing video and review of the original Strike Pro kit here.
Overview of the Strike Pro SE
For starters, you get six drums, made from real wooden shells. Five cymbals come with the Strike Pro!
Sizes are as follows:
- 14″ kick pad (1)
- 14″ dual-zone snare pad (1)
- 8″ dual-zone tom pad (1)
- 10″ dual-zone tom pad (1)
- 12″ dual-zone tom pad (1)
- 14″ dual-zone tom pad (1)
- 14″ crash cymbals (3)
- 16″ ride cymbal (1)
- 12″ hi-hat cymbal (1)
All of the pads on this kit are dual-zone, meaning you can trigger different samples based on whether or not you hit the rim or the mesh head. Speaking of the mesh heads, they feel great. They are adjustable to your liking.
The drums act just like acoustic drums, as you can tune them higher or lower for feel. I caught myself getting a little too used to it, as they are a bit bouncier when compared to actual drums. But that’s what a mesh head is!
As you can see from images and videos online, the cymbals are actually hammered, if you want to call it that. They’re basically little indents that make the pads look more like real cymbals.
I’m not really buying the whole “enhances stick response” idea from Alesis, but they still feel great. The 16″ ride feels especially great.
The ride features a three-zoned design, offering distinct edge, bell, and bow sounds. It would be nice if all the cymbals had this feature, but this is where the budget may have been cut.
The Drum Module
The Alesis Strike Sound Module is fantastic when considering their other kits. This module is in another league.
Here are some of its best features:
- 100 complete kits
- The drums that come pre-loaded are incredible sounding and not disappointing by any sense.
- The lower-end models have always disappointed me, due to the fact that they often sound robotic with no sample changes with differing velocities.
- 1,760 multi-sampled instruments
- There’s a lot of value packed into the kit and you can see how you may end up getting lost just finding something to add to your kit with so many options.
- 4.3″ color backlit LCD screen
- Easy for working in low-light environments, like being on stage. The display looks amazing and is easy to navigate.
- Full mixer for levels of each drum and cymbal
- This is definitely a nice feature, though it wouldn’t have been a deal-breaker for me without it. The plastic knobs and faders are just okay — I wish they were a little more robust feeling.
- Navigating the user interface is a little tricky, but with some practice, you’ll get used to it.
- Dedicated transport bar
- This controls the function of recording and playback. Most drum modules have a transport bar, so nothing new here really.
- Onboard sampler
- The onboard sampler gives you the ability to sample any sound in real-time on the way in and route to any trigger you like.
- Eight direct outs for recording or live use
- Want to capture all your drums separately for mixing? You can with eight outputs.
- Most low-end drum modules only offer the ability to get a stereo output of a recording directly from the module. A nice feature.
- MIDI and USB connections
- A must-have for me, as I use a ton of virtual instruments with my recording setup.
Alesis, along with many other kits, offers the Strike Software Editor for importing sounds to your module. Roland was behind the curve on this and Alesis wins here.
Unfortunately, if you own a drum module like the TD-20, you won’t be able to import your own sounds, despite the high price tag of these modules. Of course, Roland has new modules out, but the price tag on these is far from affordable.
The drum module itself is a little tricky to get used to if you haven’t used one before. All technology these days requires a little bit of getting used to.
One small thing to note: switching patches on the Strike Pro takes about two to three seconds of load time, so keep that in mind if you plan to use this kit live.
Some not as important last features include:
- An included drum rack and double-braced snare drum stand
- Cables, cable wrap, and a drum key are also included
Issues with the Strike Pro
I personally own the Strike and have only experienced the poorly triggering hi-hat.
Mesh Pads Failing
Unfortunately, it seems Alesis is not without problems. Many users of the Strike Pro have reported the mesh pads failing after just months of use.
The error could possibly lie in the user as many new drummers will often abuse drums when they are learning, but there was a manufacturing defect present with the Strike Pro.
The plate that the piezo sits under has a tendency to crack due to the vibration of playing. Experienced users of the Strike recommend taking shipping tape and applying four pieces forming a plus sign on the plastic to prevent the plate from breaking.
With the new generation of Strike and Strike SE kits shipping, these problems have been eliminated by the team at Alesis. If you have any problems, be sure to reach out to their support, and they will help.
Another common issue lies in the Strike Pro’s hi-hat. Many users reported that the edge sample will not respond in some cases when playing. The firmware update 1.4 is supposed to have fixed this issue,
but I haven’t tried updating yet.
Update: the new firmware has not completely fixed the issue, but it is better. The hi-hat edge still gives me quite a bit of problems.
The new Strike SE eliminates the bottom hat and features changes to the clutch mechanism. From my understanding, it plays much nicer than my kit does—though I have no direct experience playing the SE.
The Alesis Strike Pro is a great competitor to Roland’s high-end kits (at about 1/3 of the price). It feels and plays like an acoustic kit (to a certain extent), sounds great, and the hardware is of great quality.
Keep in mind that you will need to spend some time tweaking and adjusting settings to fit your playing style. It’s a huge bonus that the shells are made from wood. If I was a super serious drummer in your shoes, this would be the kit for me.
The verdict: For a little more than $2,000, the Strike Pro SE is the best of both worlds. On one hand, you're getting a flagship playing experience in line with the likes of Roland—without completely breaking the bank.
See the price and other reviews of the Strike Pro SE at Sweetwater.
Why pick the Yamaha DTX10 Series?
If you're a drummer looking for the quietest electronic drum set available, the DTX10 Series with TCS is the answer. The drum set is super responsive and has some incredible sounds built-in to the PROX drum module.
- Competitive price
- Great-feeling response on all drums and cymbals
- Unique space-saving rack design
- Throne and kick pedal not included
- Module feels outdated
Despite Yamaha’s complicated naming conventions, DTX10 Series electronic drum kits are the quietest electronic drum set line on the list. Even with mesh drum heads, e-drums can often be loud in houses, disturbing family members.
The dual-zone drum pads on the DTX10 Series are made from a material known as textured cellular silicon. The pads are very responsive, realistic, and ultra-quiet. I had the chance to test every Yamaha e-kit at NAMM 2023 (watch my video at the Yamaha booth here) and was shocked at how great these kits feel and how quiet they are.
Like many other kits on this list, the drum throne and kick pedal are not included.
- Realistic-looking large wooden drum shells built and finished at Yamaha acoustic drum factories
- The module features natural drum sounds and room verb taken in famous studios around the world
- Ambience, Compression, and Effect Modifier knobs allow for quick changes to each kit’s sound
- Hit point recognition built into the snare pad and ride cymbal
When I played with the drum module, I found some awesome-sounding preset kits that sounded far better than anything on my TD-50. However, the triggering left more to be desired. The Yamaha DTX10 line feels a little outdated to me. However, I’m glad they included Bluetooth connectivity, as we still need that feature on many top-of-the-line electronic drum sets.
The verdict: Yamaha's DTX10 line is a bit outdated, but offers a fantastic playing experience along with the highest quality tom pads that are both quiet and ultra-responsive.
See the price and other reviews of the Yamaha DTX10 Series at Sweetwater.
Why pick the Roland V-Drums TD-50KV2?
If you can pick this kit up used, do it. Hands down, the TD-50KV2 is the best electronic drum set on the market that doesn't require a computer. Roland's triggering is incredibly detailed and the kit is made very well.
- TD-50X sound module
- Mesh heads
- Roland's flagship electric set
- Big price tag
- No Bluetooth capability
- Samples are outdated
Not much needs to be said about the TD-50KV2, as it is, no doubt, the best and most expensive electronic drum set available. Of course, we have to list it!
That being said, this kit is for a select group of professional drummers who can both afford it and justify spending this much money on an electronic kit. I’d expect this kit to be used live on an arena tour!
It’s by far the most realistic of the bunch and resembles an acoustic kit the most. I don’t own the TD-50KV2, but have the previous generation TD-50K-S electronic drum kit, and the similarities are very close for comparison.
- 6-piece electronic drum set — included is the TD-50X drum module, 14″ digital snare drum, 18″ KD-180 kick drum, 10″ PD-108 toms (2), 12″ PD-128 floor toms (2), 18″ CY-18DR digital ride, 14″ VH-14D digital hi-hat, 16″ CY-16R-T crashes (2), and the MDS-Stage 2 chrome rack.
- 14″ digital snare drum — the PD-140DS feels and plays like a real snare drum boasting eight sensors allowing for delicate ghost notes, heavy backbeats, consistent rim shots, and natural cross-sticks.
- 18″ CY-18 digital ride — the level of realism built into this cymbal is unparalleled to any electronic ride cymbal (it would be incredible if all the cymbals were digital, which may be the future of e-drums).
- 14″ VH-14D digital hi-hat — as is with the ride, the digital hats provide the most authentic playing experience when compared to an acoustic drum kit.
- Full-sized drum shells — 10″ and 12″ toms make the kit an absolute joy to play. The kick drum is massive and rounds the design of the kit out.
- 70 preset kits and 900 sounds with the TD-50X — the samples need improvement, but there are a ton of options to pick from
The kit has unmatched build quality along with tons of great presets to choose from. The easy-to-use interface on the module, while slightly daunting at first, is fantastic and I have few problems tweaking sounds or settings. In my experience, the TD-50KV2 is one of the best “feeling” electronic drum kits available (second to the DWe). Unfortunately, there is no Bluetooth on the TD-50X module, which is a shame and some of the samples could be higher-quality. For a new module, it’s disappointing that the sounds aren’t as high quality as the DWe Soundworks.
I find that the TD-50KV2 has the makeup of an ideal kit:
- V-Drums name recognition
- Incredible feel and sound
- Bigger pads
- Incredible snare pad
The kit features Roland’s newest digital technology. Both the ride and snare utilize digital inputs and respond far better than anything on the market. The snare uses the static electricity in your hands to differentiate rim clicks and cross sticks. The ride does as well, allowing you to mute the cymbal just by placing your hand on the bow of the cymbal. It’s pretty amazing tech when you try it out.
That being said, the TD-50KV2 is an extremely expensive option and it may not be the best kit for you. You can hear me playing my TD-50K kit on my Instagram page here.
In 2023, I still the think the TD-50KV2 is a great option, but the VAD series is giving these drums a run for their money (but really, it’s just because of the look of the shells).
The TD-50X lineup of kits includes the TD-50K2 and TD-50KV2, the first having smaller shells/cymbals and the latter, well, bigger ones.
|Price||$6,399.99 (as of 10/16/2023)||$8,399.99 (as of 10/16/2023)|
|No. of pieces||5-pc||6-pc|
|Included||TD-50X drum module|
14-inch PD-140DS snare
14-inch KD-140 kick drum
10-inch PDX-100 toms (3)
18-inch CY-18DR ride
14-inch VH-14D hi-hat
14-inch CY-14C crash
16-inch CY-16R-T crash
MDS-Grand 2 stand
|TD-50X drum sound module|
14-inch digital snare
18-inch KD-180 kick drum
10-inch PD-108 toms (2)
12-inch PD-128 toms (2)
18-inch CY-18DR ride
14-inch VH-14D hi-hat
16-inch CY-16R-T crash (2)
If the no Bluetooth thing’s got you down, I feel you. I was super surprised that Roland didn’t include this feature on the TD-50X, especially when we see very entry-level kits, like the Nitro MAX, include Bluetooth on a e-kit that’s less than $500.
Prismatic Sound Modeling
The crazy marketing jargon aside, this basically means that the drum pads and their respective samples will sound insanely good, will have nuance and realism, and have what is known as virtual microphone placement. Despite this, the TD-50X still falls short of beating out drum VST software like EZ Drummer 3 and Superior Drummer 3 in terms of realism. Many of the snare, kick, and cymbal samples sound thin and fake.
Extremely Realistic 14″ Digital Snare Drum
This drum has eight sensors across the head and rim to accurately model a real snare drum. It is by far the most realistic feeling electronic snare drum around. Buzzes and rolls trigger perfectly no matter where you play on the head and the snare wires respond similarly to an acoustic snare drum (more response from the center vs edge).
18″ Digital Ride Cymbal
When first testing the CR-18DR digital ride, I was impressed. No electronic ride had ever felt more like a real cymbal I’d tested. It has enough weight to swing naturally and, since there is more mass, when I laid into it, my mind was almost tricked into believing it was an acoustic cymbal with my eyes closed. There are multiple sensors across the instrument that eliminate the feeling of “zones.”
And my favorite feature: the ability to not only choke, but mute the cymbal just by placing your hand or fingers on the bow of the cymbal. It’s only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the level of realism Roland engineered for this instrument.
Ability to Import Custom Libraries to the TD-50
Who doesn’t want to have more sample libraries inside their module? This is a huge feature, one I haven’t tested myself because it seems a little overly complicated, but still a plus. I typically prefer to connect my module to my MacBook and use EZDrummer 3 or Superior Drummer 3—two drum libraries that vastly outshine the samples provided in the TD-50X.
Extremely Flexible I/O
For live drummers, sound engineers will love the flexibility of eight balanced TRS direct outs—though I feel as if most keep this kit safe in our studios, wiping it down with a rag to keep it dust free. There’s USB multitracking, MIDI in/out, 1/4″ and 1/8″ headphones outputs, 1/8″ aux in, 14 analog trigger inputs, 3 USB digital inputs, and 8 balanced TRS outs.
If you have the TD-50K2 configuration, make sure you use a plastic bass drum beater, as the typical felt tends to eat away at the mesh head.
The verdict: The TD-50KV2 is undeniably a fantastic electronic drum set. It sits in a similar price point to both the VAD706 and DWe, which also are incredible kits. Which you choose will come down to personal taste. If you can score any of these kits used, don't hesitate.
See the price and other reviews of the TD-50KV2 at Sweetwater.
Why pick the Pearl e/Merge?
The e/Merge is a solid kit that feels great too play. The module seems a bit outdated and could use more sounds for the cost of the kit, but—it provides a fantastic playing experience for drummers who love Pearl and great-sounding drum samples.
- Incredible sounding drum samples
- Big shells and mesh heads
- Great name brand
- Cymbals feel incredible to play
- Big price tag
- Snare drum isn't as responsive as Roland or Alesis
For those looking for an alternative to Roland, Pearl is coming out swinging. The Pearl e/Merge e/Hybrid electronic drum set is a five-piece kit engineered and designed by Pearl and Korg.
Remember the Korg Wave Drum? Pearl partially borrowed the design for the pads on the e/Merge kit. You can even use your hands to play if you’d like.
First off, despite the module looking outdated, the samples included sound phenomenal. The ambiance slider is a massive feature for me.
While there are only a few pads on the module, think of them as genre buttons. Within each pad lies several preset kits to choose. The slider isn’t adding artificial reverb, rather the amount of room sound in the mix from the actual sessions.
Pearl’s e/Merge comes with a 14″ snare, 18″ full-size bass drum, 10″, 12″, and 14″ toms, 14″ hats, 15″ crash, and an 18″ ride.
The shells are Poplar, despite the non-necessity for wooden shells. Still, they look fantastic. The hardware features an awesome Icon e-Rack, as well as Uni-Lock tom and cymbal holders.
The verdict: Pearl's e/Merge electronic drum kit provides a realistic playing experience featuring similar-sized pads to that of an acoustic drum set, including an 18" bass drum, 10″, 12″, and 14″ toms, 14″ hats, 15″ crash, and an 18″ ride. For drummers wanting a solution for switching between acoustic and electric without sacrificing muscle memory issues other small kits face, the e/Merge is a great solution.
See the price and other reviews of the Pearl e/Merge at Sweetwater.
More Electronic Drums to Consider!
I wanted to keep this list to 15 electronic drum kits max. But I’ve played and tested far more than what you see on this list. Here’s some other kits and brands you may want to check out.
- Alesis Nitro Mesh
- If you can find a used Nitro Mesh, pick it up. With the new Nitro MAX out, I’m certain we will used prices fall on this beginner e-kit very soon. The Nitro Mesh is one of the most popular selling e-kits of the last few years.
- EFNOTE 5X
- A while back I was sent a beautiful EFNOTE 5X drum set to check out (you can see my video review here). While I enjoyed playing and testing the kit at the time, I couldn’t justify putting it on this list. The design is fantastic and looks great, but the sounds and triggering didn’t impress me looking back. EFNOTE has since released a new kit, the EFNOTE PRO, which I checked out at NAMM 2023, but didn’t get to play-test it myself (you can see the video of the kit here).
- ATV Electronic Drums
- Back at NAMM 2023, I also had a chance to stop by the ATV booth to play-test their electronic drums. They seemed decent, but I couldn’t wrap my brain around the drum modules. They seemed overly complicated and looked to only have a few presets available. I only had about ten minutes at the booth, as lots wanted to play, so I can’t make a complete judgement yet. They’re worth checking out if you can find a dealer near you to test one out.
- GEWA Electronic Drums
- I dropped by the GEWA electronic drums booth at PASIC 2023. I spent a little time on each kit and thought they seemed promising—a more positive experience than my time at ATV. From what I recall, the modules had decent sounds and the kits were fun to play. At this time, I don’t have enough personal experience to include them on the list.
What Makes for the Best Electronic Drum Set?
An electronic drum kit should be compared to an acoustic kit like a grand piano is to a MIDI controller.
They have similar functions and use, but feel is completely different. There are three primary reasons for buying an e drum kit: practicing, performing live, and recording.
Now we’ve covered a lot of ground talking about different kits offered. You may still be unsure as to which features you need and which you don’t.
We’re all in agreement that saving money is a good thing, right?
What Comes With Most E-Drum Kits?
It’s important to know exactly what you’re getting when you make your purchase, as I’m sure you’ll want to be setting this thing up and playing on day one, right?
I still have yet to see any e-drum kit that sells the mounting hardware, rack system, or the drum pads separately. That being said, there are a couple of additional purchases you will likely have to make. Most kits do not include the bass drum pedal, drum throne, sticks, or even headphones.
The table below displays all the kits we’ve listed along with what comes in the box/what you’ll need to buy separately.
|Product||Throne||Hi-Hat Stand||Snare Stand||Kick Pedal||Sticks||Bluetooth Audio|
|Alesis Turbo Mesh||No||Rack-mounted||Rack-mounted||Yes||Yes||No|
|Alesis Nitro Mesh||No||Rack-mounted||Rack-mounted||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Roland TD-02KV||Sold separately||Rack-mounted||Rack-mounted||Yes||Sold separately||No (requires adapter)|
|Simmons Titan 70||No||Rack-mounted||Rack-mounted||Yes||No||Yes|
|Alesis Command Mesh SE||No||Rack-mounted||Rack-mounted||Yes||Yes||No|
|Alesis DM10 MKII||No||Rack-mounted||Yes||Yes||Yes||No|
|Alesis Strike Pro SE||No||No||Yes||No||No||No|
|Drum Workshop DWe||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||Yes via computer|
Personally, I use in-ear monitors since I am trying to keep the noise down, but it’s really up to your preference. Using an electronic kit enables you to practice all out, even if you live in an apartment.
Often times when buying online, you can check down underneath the product listing to see if the manufacturer or supplier sells a bundle deal with commonly purchased products.
This is a great way to save a ton of money on a new e-drum kit instead of buying used.
Where to Order an Electronic Drum Set?
I was able to find this drum kit used at Music Go Round locally, but I normally always order from Sweetwater, the best instrument retailer I’ve had the pleasure of working with. For the past ten years I’ve ordered with them and have never once had an issue.
Sweetwater offers a free 2-year warranty on nearly every product they sell. I highly suggest working with them if you’re planning on picking up an electronic drum set in the near future. No matter which brand you pick, parts can malfunction or break.
Being that these instruments are expensive, it’s a nice feeling knowing they have our backs.
Determining Your E-Kit Needs
I would like to make it abundantly clear that I don’t believe you need the most expensive kit available.
In fact, you can purchase the cheapest option, the Alesis Nitro, and be just fine if your needs are practicing and recording.
If you plan to play performances out in public, this may not be the best option. Practicing quietly is no problem and recording with MIDI is very easy now that we have USB connections. For the vast majority of drummers just looking to practice, it is just fine.
I say this because in all my time touring and playing, I have yet to encounter a drummer who exclusively plays an electronic drum set on stage at a professional level. Sorry if I just called you out!
Practicing Drums Quietly
Acoustic drums are very loud. If you rent an apartment or own a condo, there’s a good chance that having an acoustic drum set is almost impossible.
These types of drums drastically reduce the volume produced by practicing drums. If practicing is your only concern, I again suggest a lower range budget electronic drum kit like the Alesis Nitro.
The most obvious and practical reason for purchasing an electronic drum set is to lower the noise your drums make when practicing. While the noise of the pads is still audible while playing, the sound will be dramatically lower in volume when compared to a real drum set.
This really isn’t an end all be all solution. In fact, when I lived in an apartment in college, I had a neighbor who could actually hear the sound of the pads being played on my electronic drum kit. She came over and told me to knock it off and only practice at a certain time during the day. This is something you may have to deal with, as certain walls in buildings can be thin.
You may need to adjust your playing, as well. The rims on most Roland drum pads are pretty loud when you play rim shots. The cymbals can also be fairly loud when played on the edge and bell zones.
The best electronic drum set for playing quietly is the Yamaha DTX10K-XRW. Yamaha’s textured cellular silicon drum heads that are FAR quieter than mesh drum heads.
Recording an Electronic Drum Set
E drums can unleash a ton of creativity when writing music, drum parts, and producing music. So how do you record one of these kits, anyway? It’s more simple than you may actually think. There’s a couple of ways to do it.
- Directly into the drum module
- Depending on which kit you own, your drum module may allow you to record to a USB stick or right to its memory.
- While this may seem like the easiest way, it will ultimately get you the worst quality when recording, as you won’t be able to go back and mix individual instruments later on.
- You’re stuck with what you get from the start.
- Stereo line out to an audio interface
- This is basically the same technique as described above and will likely yield the same results.
- This option is for you if your module doesn’t have a recording function built it. I advise staying away from this method as well.
- USB MIDI to your computer for use with virtual instruments
- This is the best way to record an electronic drum kit and by far the easiest. The only prerequisite is having a computer with a digital audio workstation, like Ableton, Pro Tools, Cubase, or Logic.
- Most modules have a USB output on the back, allowing you to connect to your computer easily. In addition, most DAWs come included with drum samples and instruments.
- While I won’t get into the nitty-gritty of MIDI recording, it’s very powerful and can generate great results with a low budget.
While you can use your own drum sounds from your module, I guarantee if you use a professional sample library with MIDI, you’ll achieve way better results than any drum module on the market (even the TD-50).
You aren’t just limited to traditional acoustic drum sounds. You have the ability to choose from acoustic drum sounds, electronic drum kits, and even synthesized samples.
Capturing MIDI Data from Electronic Drums
MIDI? Digital audio workstations? What does it all mean?
Now just above we were talking about the ways to record your kit. The third point I made was about using the USB MIDI output to send recorded data to your computer. While it may seem the most complicated, it’s fairly simple once you get the hang of it.
MIDI stands for Musical Instrument Digital Interface, and while the acronym and full name don’t necessarily matter, the technology behind it does. We’ve been using this technology since the 80s, and for a good reason.
Your drum module that comes with your kit will have one or both of the ports shown in the graphic below. We will be using these ports to get to your computer.
If your electronic drum set module has the 5-pin MIDI port and no USB, you will need to get a MIDI to USB adapter. They’re fairly cheap and get the job done at the expense of one extra cable. It’s well worth it to go this route rather than buying a whole new drum module that has USB.
If you see a USB type B port (the more square-looking one), all you need to get is a standard USB cable (If one didn’t ship with your kit, I’ve used ones that have come with printers before that I had laying around the house).
Upon loading up a digital audio workstation, like Logic, you’ll find that most computers that utilize this technology today are Plug and Play.
You shouldn’t have to install any additional drivers and you should be good to go with recording right away.
MIDI devices play well with each other. If you plan to utilize, for example, a Roland SPD-SX, a TD-30 drum module, and a MIDI keyboard, you can connect them all together and hit the computer with only one USB cable.
Your digital audio workstation will be able to see these instruments all on different MIDI channels depending on how they are configured at the hardware level.
Choosing an E-Drum Kit Specifically for Recording
When it comes to choosing a kit to record with this setup, any will do just fine. All the electronic drum kits listed here have a MIDI output available, so you’ll be able to connect to your digital audio workstation fairly easily.
Once the MIDI is into the computer, it’s likely to be edited further, so there’s really no point in spending a fortune if all your using is MIDI data.
If budget is a concern, go with the Alesis Surge Mesh.
More and more recording studios and producers are using “programmed drums” on modern records via MIDI, as we were speaking above. With an electronic drum kit, you can produce drums for recorded music very easily without ever having to record a real drum set.
While I am usually completely against this practice, using programmed drums is an excellent tool for writing music without a drummer. They are perfect for capturing MIDI, rather than writing it in with a mouse on a piano roll.
You can use the built-in drum samples your module provides or use a drum plugin software like Addictive Drums. If you have no idea what any of the above means, don’t worry, it won’t apply unless you are recording and producing music.
Drum Pads VS Electronic Drum Kits
Electronic drums are designed to simulate acoustic drum sets. They usually have either rubber or mesh pads that you play on with an electronic drum module mounted to the rack that gives the pads their sounds.
Also known as sample pads, they are more intended to provide an acoustic drum set with occasional electronic sounds and samples.
They are useful for drummers who use a click and backing tracks when playing live. For more information, I wrote a roundup post recently on the best electronic drum pads available.
The difference between mesh pads and rubber pads
If you buy a kit with mesh pads, you will enjoy your drum set far more.
Mesh pads do feel more realistic but will hurt your wallet much more. The difference in price between a rubber pad kit and a mesh pad kit can be upwards of a thousand dollars.
Kits like the Alesis Surge Mesh have mesh drum pads.
That being said, these types of heads can also give you a false sense of rebound. Upon returning to a regular acoustic set, you may not be used to the way real drum heads respond.
My Experiences Purchasing Electronic Drum Sets
When I first began looking for my first electronic drum kit, I was completely overwhelmed by the number of choices available. I finally settled on a Yamaha DT-Xpress IV kit, which is old by today’s standards. Honestly, the thing sucked and it was impossible to assemble and disassemble.
Despite its poor quality and features, I was able to have a lot of fun with it and get some great practicing in. The drum module had an auxiliary input on the back, so I was able to connect my iPod to it and play along with my favorite tunes. That’s why I think the quality of your kit isn’t necessarily that important.
The more important thing is that you play the thing. Electronic drum sets are more intended for practicing if you ask me.
The Roland TD-50K-S
My current electronic kit is the Roland TD-50K-S. I picked it up used from my local Music Go Round and I couldn’t be happier. The features and specs are fantastic. I am blown away by how awesome it looks, as well. The biggest downside to the TD-50? The drum module is seriously outdated—it doesn’t even support Bluetooth.
Another kit I owned recently was the Alesis Strike Pro, though I did sell it. Many forum users complain about the plastic plates cracking within the drum pads themselves, as well. Fortunately, I bought my Strike in 2019. It’s a newer generation model, and my pads don’t suffer from the piezo plate cracking issue the first gen kits did.
While there are quirks, I still believe the Alesis Strike Pro is the best value kit for the features, looks, pad sizes, and feel, despite the tricky hi-hat issue. I’m hoping for a 1.5 update that will better address the problem.
Local Stores Don’t have Many Options Anymore
Visiting my local music shop provided me with lots of trials and testing, but even a brick and mortar store doesn’t always have the best options anymore. You can try your best if you wanna try some options out before buying, but I’m afraid you won’t find much to play around on.
In fact, I visited my local big box music store the other week to ask about the brand new product from Pearl, the
Part of if makes sense—most people coming into the store are not walking out with a $5,000 electronic drum set.
With so many places to buy electronic drum sets online, local “chain” music stores seemed to be failing. In 2017, Moody’s downgraded Guitar Center’s credit rating from CCC+ to CCC- due to $940 million in debt. But their outcome is changing. In 2022, they assigned a B3 rating to the industry giant. While they might not have a lot of more expensive items in store, it’s clear they are focusing harder on the online side of their business. It’s just a shame that I cannot go and find all the things I used to in store.
Buying Online is the Way to Go
While it is nice to actually play on the kit you’re going to buy, sometimes you won’t be able to try it before you buy it. I find that you can actually find a better deal online most of the time. While I can’t recommend that you do this, many retailers offer wonderful financing options on expensive items, like musical instruments.
I’ve gotten 0% interest for 48 months before with Sweetwater, my favorite instrument retailer. This is one way to make that expensive piece of gear more affordable.
If you don’t like what you buy, retailers like Amazon offer a simple way to return items. Though, with electronic drum sets, this process is far more exhausting. Make sure you keep all the boxes in good shape before destroying them. You may want to return the kit for a different one.
Buying an electronic drum kit is an investment. Some of these instruments are not cheap and require considerable thought and planning prior to purchasing.
If you’re lost and don’t know which kit is right for you, ask yourself these questions:
Are You Concerned with Having the Best Sounding Drums?
If you answered no, I would suggest you stick with something a little more affordable, like the Alesis Nitro MAX. Sure, the kit won’t sound like the most amazing studio recording, but if you’re still having fun, it shouldn’t matter. If you aren’t putting out a recording for other people to listen to, then it really doesn’t matter.
Even if you are recording your drum kit, I doubt you would want to use stock sounds from even a high-end Roland electronic drum kit.
But if you want the best sounding and playing experience, I suggest using a Macbook Pro with one of the following sample libraries:
Most drum modules feature a USB connection, so you should have no problem getting up and connected.
Do You Plan on Playing Live Gigs?
They aren’t bad kits, but for a live show, I would strive for a higher quality drum sound, both to satisfy me as a player and the audience. And the Nitro is a very small electric drum kit—you’re not going to wow anyone with that stage presence.
I suggest at least going for the Roland TD-17KV-S to play live shows.
Transportation and Protection
The kit needs to be easily transportable. Some hardware designs are almost impossible to pack up and won’t last being shoved in the back of cars, trucks, and trailers.
To protect your pads, I suggest looking into a hard plastic solution, like Pelican case alternatives. They’re affordable and won’t leave a hole in your wallet. Ahead also makes a soft, padded case perfect for the drum pads of an electronic kit.
As a reminder, these are expensive instruments. If you plan on playing gigs or touring, be sure to take good care of your instrument. Find a way to keep the cables in order. Get yourself some drum cases (hard are best) and come up with a system for assembling the kit every night in record time.
Pro Tip: If your drum pad cables do not come as a sub-snake (one cable with a connector on the ends), you may want to consider making what’s known as a ‘loom.’
Looms are hand-made “snakes” that keep your cables that reach the same destination together. You can use electrical tape or gaff tape to make your looms.
Where to Buy a Used Electronic Drum Set?
Buying used is a great way to get into playing without having to fork out your entire paycheck. I love buying used gear, but you must be careful. As with anything used, you’ll need to be aware of the potential problems a used instrument will have.
For example, the MIDI output may be broken, pads may not trigger properly, the instrument may not power on, the USB jack is faulty, etc… Many sellers on platforms like eBay will not honor returns, so it’s wise to avoid these types of sellers. Here are some great places to find used gear.
- This is the most obvious marketplace for used products, but it needs to be mentioned. You’ll generally have the most success here as tons of items are listed daily.
- Be sure to watch out for sellers who do not offer a return policy. While they can be reported to eBay for malpractice, it’s not something you want to be dealing with and no one wants to be scammed.
- Not surprisingly, Amazon does have a used marketplace. It can be tricky to find, however. When you’re on a product listing page, if you look near the bottom, you should see “Used from $x.xx.”
- Since I haven’t purchased much on Amazon that is used, I cannot speak for the level of quality control here. However, if it’s like anything else Amazon, it’s fantastic.
- Music Go Round
- If you live in the United States, there may be a chance that you live near a Music Go Round. They are a chain of retailers that deal exclusively with used musical instruments.
- I have two locations within an hour and a half of my house. I tend to find tons of great deals on used equipment and the best caveat is being able to try before you buy.
- They also offer a nice return policy on used equipment, which is a plus in my book. If you don’t live close to one, be sure to check their online inventory, as they do offer to ship.
- Another competitor for the used market is Reverb. I think they offer more professional listings, dealing with more vintage gear and expensive items that are more suited to pros.
- There’s definitely a great selection here and is worth your time to check out.
- Sweetwater Gear Exchange
- One of the newest ways to find a used electronic kit is through Sweetwater’s Gear Exchange. They tout it is a the best place to buy or sell used musical instruments online.
- Because so many people know of and buy from Sweetwater, there’s always a vast selection of used electronic drum sets on the marketplace.
The Easiest Way to “Electrify” Your Acoustic Drum Set
I wouldn’t even consider buying an electronic drum kit if you’re looking to just add a few electronic sounds to your acoustic drum setup. What you need is a sampling pad. You can mount one of these units next to your kit and play electronic drums only when called for.
These instruments also contain MIDI outputs, so if recording was your plan, you can get away with it on these, as well (though, not as intuitively).
Do you have an electronic drum kit? Which one do you use? If you have any questions or concerns, be sure to leave a comment down below. Thanks for reading this far! If you want to return to the top of the gear guide, click here.