Over the past few days, I’ve been testing the EFNOTE 5X electronic drum set. Artesia Pro, who runs the US and Canada distribution for EFNOTE, was kind enough to send one out for me to check out. For transparency, this is a sponsored review but will be objective and unbiased.
EFNOTE is moderately new to the e-drum scene, but they certainly have the means to make quality instruments. Before starting the company in 2018, the lead designers spent the last twenty years working for a leading Japanese musical instrument maker.
As of publishing, EFNOTE offers five electronic drum sets: 3, 3X, 5, 5X, and 7. The 3 series is more compact, the 5 series utilizes full-size drum shells, and the 7 series offers the largest shells and cymbals. Unfortunately, I don’t believe the 7 series is available in North America quite yet.
The 7 is boasting the much anticipated 20″ ride cymbal. Not only is it the only 20″ in existence but features 360° playing/choke zones and is 3 zones. EFNOTE bookends the e-drum industry’s largest and smallest cymbals, From 20″ down to 8″. The kit also features a 20″ kick, 14″ snare, 11″ rack and 15″ floor.
The EFNOTE 5X is an incredible electronic drum set featuring larger drum sizes and real wooden shells.
Appearance and Overview
The EFNOTE 5X is the biggest and baddest kit available in terms of pieces. The slogan on the product page reads, “DREAMS MADE REAL,” and they don’t disappoint in that regard. They look incredible straight out of the box.
The kit has real drum shells with both top and bottom mesh heads. I believe they’re dual-ply mesh heads. They feel great to hit right out of the box.
The bass drum wowed me immediately when I pulled it out of the box. I couldn’t believe I was holding a 16″ electronic bass drum complete with wooden hoops, claw hooks, two heads, and such a beautiful finish.
The kick drum has an actual plastic front head. We usually only see this with hybrid electronic drum kits—a nice touch. You can hear the resonance a little bit when you hit the kick drum. I was delighted when I heard the noise of the front head in the room. It’s purely aesthetic, but I love it. The kick drum feels like a real drum when you play.
As far as the resonant head on the kick, the user can treat muffling it exactly like an acoustic drum and can muffle the front head with the same fabric they would an acoustic drum (pillow, towels, etc..)
The wooden hoops feature a natural finish on the inner side, giving a nice contrast to the matte black finish of the rest of the kit.
The drums themselves naturally are a little bit louder with both batter and resonant heads, so drummers in apartments may need to watch out.
The 3, 5, and 7 come in White Sparkle, and their “X” (Expanded) versions come in Black Oak. The Black Oak is a wood vinyl wrap with a matte finish. It looks astonishing. The wrap overlaps the seam slightly on some of the drums, but it’s a minimal point to nitpick. The shells also feature a silver EFNOTE badge on the side.
The rims are metal and have a matte grey appearance, which contrasts the black oak finish nicely (arguably better than the white sparkle).
The cymbals are similar in color to the rims with a plastic underside and a coated rubber surface. The larger cymbal sizes add to the kit’s realistic appearance. They also feature hammer dents, which is an excellent touch, though again, purely aesthetic.
The shells and cymbal sizes are perfect for an electronic drum set. A lot of kits have an issue where they are too compact. Transferring back to an acoustic drum set can be difficult in terms of muscle memory. There is no issue here.
- 16″ kick
- 12″ snare with mounted rim-click sensor
- 10″ rack
- 12″ floor
- 13″ floor
- 14″ hi-hats
- 16″ triple-zone crash (2)
- 18″ triple-zone ride
- 8″ splash (when have we ever seen an electronic splash cymbal?!)
When I sat down and started playing, I felt like I was playing a bop kit, which is perfect. The 5X isn’t a massive drum set with a 22″ kick and power toms (nor should it be), but it doesn’t feel much different than my DW Design in terms of ergonomics and playing.
I almost forgot to mention the best part about the 5X—there’s no drum rack! Instead, the bass drum features a rack tom mount which also holds the splash cymbal. In addition, the floor toms both have legs, as you’d see on a traditional drum set. Racks on electronic drum kits are obnoxious, so this is a huge win.
EFNOTE includes some hardware with the 5X:
- Cymbal boom stands (3)
- Floor tom legs (6)
- Rack tom mount
- Splash cymbal mount
- Module mount
The cymbal stands won’t blow anyone away, but they work fine with the kit (you can always switch them out with your favorite hardware if need be). All stands have a boom arm equipped with traditional ratcheting tilters. The bass drum spurs also feature ratchet tilters.
Unfortunately, there isn’t a hi-hat stand included with the 5X, so you will need to pick one up if you don’t have one already. I have a DW9000 hi-hat stand, and the module clamp does fit around the fatter bottom tube, but you’ll need to work at it to fasten the bolts into the threads of the clamp.
The rack tom mount does not feature an adjustable ball mount, but it’s not a dealbreaker. The traditional-style ratchet clamps with an angled rod work just fine. The module and the splash cymbal rod utilize plastic clamps, which isn’t ideal, but they still work.
The last piece of hardware, the snare stand, works as expected! It reminds me of a Yamaha snare stand, and I love Yamaha’s hardware.
Putting the drums together is a straightforward process if you’ve set up a drum set before. The floor toms each utilize three metal legs with clamps.
Quick note: when I watched Justin’s video (65 Drums) on the 5X, he noted the floor toms sit a little low. For me, it’s not an issue since I’m shorter, but he wished the tom legs were longer. For taller drummers, you may run into the problem of the floor toms being too low.
The rack tom hardware seats into the top of the bass drum (you may need to adjust the memory lock for your desired height). Attached already is the splash cymbal clamp. Depending on how you want the splash setup, you can pick between two different rods.
As stated before, mounting the module clamp was quite the challenge with my hi-hat stand. However, for most, this should be a non-issue. The plastic clip fastens to the lower bar of your hi-hat stand. You’ll need a drum key to attach it. You’ll then use the angled rod intended for the module with the clamp.
The cymbal stands and snare stand work like any other piece of standard drum hardware. They ship in two parts. Mounting the cymbals was no issue, though it did feel like I was tightening them a little much. That was, until I realized I needed to push down on the cymbals to seat them on the stands properly. They swing freely now and I can tighten down more on the wing nuts.
The hi-tom does shake around a bit since it’s mounted to the kick drum. It’s not an issue, though, as any tom drum mounted to a bass drum will do the same. Of course, if that bugs you, there’s always the option of using a separate snare stand to mount your rack tom.
The Drum Module and Connectivity
The drum module is a little rough. For starters, it utilizes a clunky touch-screen interface with only one button on the front for power and selection.
It’s very simplistic, which can be good. However, the interface, design, and feel remind me of an early 2000s Palm Pilot. Although to be fair, a lot of drum modules look old-school in this regard.
Sometimes the touch screen didn’t work in certain spots of the panel. I found out after the fact that there is screen calibration in the settings, which fixes these issues. But this shouldn’t be a problem from the start, given the cost of the kit.
It’s not that the touch screen is terrible by any means. It’s just hard to operate and make adjustments quickly. For example, I have to navigate through multiple pages to find a way to add ambiance to a given kit preset. Reverb is configured in “Kit Edit” > “Kit” then select Ambience type and adjust to taste. It doesn’t seem like it was designed as an on the fly feature, which works fine once you dig in and make adjustments.
Preset kits need to load completely before you can switch to the next one. So you can’t just scroll fast to get to your favorite one with the right and left arrows. However, if you press the center of the touch screen, you can scroll through every preset with the kit list. Much faster. In addition, there is a set list function that allows you to scroll through your own order of favorite kits.
On the instrument page, you can adjust volume, tune to your liking, and even add muffling. Adjusting levels and settings can be a challenge. Dedicated mixing faders would be a nice touch, but I see the positivities of having such a small module.
However, the 5X module does have Bluetooth! I didn’t realize how much I needed it before. So connecting your phone or computer to play along to your favorite songs on Spotify is a breeze. This alone is a significant selling point for me.
When browsing through the preset kits, they take a few seconds to load—typical for any drum module on the market.
The Preset Kits and Sounds
The EFNOTE 5X module includes:
- 17 preset kits and 83 user kits
- 128 instruments
- Stereo acoustic sounds
- Tuning and muffling functionality
- Eight types of ambiance
- A 2-band EQ
Twenty preset kits is a little low considering the price of these drums, but I am glad that EFNOTE focuses more on the sounds of acoustic drums rather than including 100 different EDM samples and loops no one will ever use.
The sounds of the instruments themselves are moderately good. I love the sound of many of the kicks and toms. However, the snare drum samples are a little limited—a lot are very high-pitched. I love a lot of the ride cymbals, as well. The crashes can be a little abrasive, but they sound good to my ears for the most part.
I wish there were more overall. With a kit at this price point, we need more samples in the module.
The drum module of the 5X features two multi-pin connectors and two cable snakes which provide pad inputs, MIDI I/O, USB, and outputs. Running these cables is no issue since the snake has labels for each appropriate pad.
The module also can send 8 channels of separated audio via USB to a computer. In addition, you can record both the eight channels of audio and raw MIDI from the kit in case you want to use virtual instruments later on or blend the two. I am looking forward to trying the 5X with my copy of Superior Drummer 3.
Connecting the cables to the cymbal pads is tricky to do correctly, but if you follow this picture, you should see how to do it. Mounting the cables in this fashion allows the cymbal to move with less resistance and protects the cables for long-term use.
You actually butterfly the cables out and turn them up into the recessed space underneath each cymbal, then clip them into the rubber stabilizers, they stop the cymbal from turning and the swing of the cymbal becomes very realistic and natural. It’s actually a genius idea to clip cables in this fashion.
There are additional inputs if you decide to add an extra tom pad in the future.
Triggering on the EFNOTE 5X is excellent, with a few exceptions. Playing full-stroke loud 16ths on any drum does result in a little bit of the machine gun effect. Also, buzz rolls are a bit fake-sounding.
The kick drum is fantastic. Inside the drum are two piezo cones mounted horizontal. I assume the two cones are to make the use of a double kick pedal possible and more accurate. It’s not bouncy like your typical mesh bass drum head. Instead, it feels like a real kick drum.
All toms on the 5X are dual-zone, so you get both rim and head zones. The triggering on the toms is also excellent.
All the cymbals, sans the splash, are three-zoned, so you can get bell sounds on all. You need to run an additional cable to each if you desire. The bell zones are big and easy to hit. The cymbals also feature a 360 trigger zone across the entire cymbals, so you don’t have to worry about playing them just near the logo.
The hi-hat triggering is superb, on point with Roland. It also only requires one cable, which is a significant improvement over other companies. The only downside is it’s permanently attached to the top cymbal. If that cable goes bad, I think I’ll have to replace the entire pad (same goes for the splash cymbal).
I initially couldn’t get foot splashes to work for the life of me, but after running the hi-hat calibration in the settings, it worked great.
The raised side rim on the snare pad is a nice feature, but I feel like it’s a little low to the edge. Sometimes rim clicks don’t fire, and it’s because of the height of the side rim (I was able to test it by physically pushing it up and trying rim clicks). Hopefully, there’s a way I can adjust the height.
Since getting the kit a few days ago, I’ve made two videos you can see on my Instagram page. I’ll also be posting a full video review of the 5X on my YouTube channel, so stay tuned for that.
So far, I’m thoroughly impressed with the 5X. This kit is far better for your money than any of the drum sets of the TD-50X lineup. At less than half the cost, you’re getting full-sized drum shells, decent drum samples, excellent triggering, and a beautiful kit to boot.
My issues with the drum module are minor—nothing that is a deal-breaker for the kit.
If you’re looking to upgrade your electronic drum kit from a smaller one or are new to buying e-drums, I’d suggest looking at EFNOTE. The 5X is available in the states at the following retailers:
- International House Of Music – https://ihomi.com/
- Jim’s House Of Music – https://jimsmusic.com/
- Edrumcenter – https://edrumcenter.com/
- Drum Center Of Portsmouth – https://www.drumcenternh.com
- Long Island Drum Center – http://www.lidrum.com/
- Corner Music – https://www.cornermusic.com/
- AudioProCT – https://audioproct.com/
- Music Mart – https://www.musicmartonline.com/
- Bentley’s Drum Shop – https://bentleysdrumshop.com/
- Ted Brown Music – https://www.tedbrownmusic.com/
- Golden Music – https://goldenmusic.co/
- Portman’s Music – www.portmansmusic.com
- Leesburg Music – https://www.leesburgmusicfl.com/
- Mike’s Drum Shop – https://mikesdrumshop.net/
- Pro Sound Gear – http://www.prosoundgear.com/
- Chuck Levins – www.chucklevins.com
- Lanier Music – www.laniermusic.com
- Wholesale Music Instruments – wholesalemusicinstruments.business.site
- Yandas Music & Pro Audio – www.yandasmusic.com
- West Coast Drum Shop – www.wcdrumshop.com
- Chicago Music Store – www.chicagomusicstore.com
- Sonic Solutions – https://soundwordlight.com
- Portman’s Music Superstore – portmansmusic.com
- Main Street Music – www.mainstreetmusicboston.com
Did you try it out with Superior Drummer 3? If so, was the mapping hard?
I did! It’s not perfect, but definitely works. The problem is, all the kits are varying sizes. When you go to load up a different kit, sometimes the cymbals will be off. But it’s quick to fix.
Hello. I have a 5 rather than 5x but I totally agree with the comment you made about the snare and crash sounds. I have found 3 crash sounds I can live with (ZD Dark C17, ZD Dark C18 and ML BzMed C18) and I find I am always using only 3 of the 14 snare sounds (YM Beech S14x6.5, CC Zwood S14x6.5 and CC Maple S14x5.5) with a Virtual Pad SO Maple S14x7. I wish we could lose two of those high pitched piccolo snares and replace them with something more “meaty”. I am still having issues with the hi-hat, especially on the edge. Any chance you could share your hi-hat settings? Mine are currently these and they work most of the time but I still have issues now and then: Sens:+2, Sens B:+3, Threshold:-25, Curve:0, FootClose:+1, Tightness:-2
Have to agree on the snare sounds. For the most part, all the sounds that can be used to create a great custom kit, except for the snare. We need better snare options.
I’ve gone off the grid, recently purchasing a Muzzio kit that’s full sized and triggering SD3. It’s freaking beautiful. Once I can actually an edrumin 10, I’m selling my TD-17 KVX kit and not looking back. I’m done with modules.