Everyone needs a good drummer, but in order to be a good drummer you have to practice. The thing is, no one wants to listen to someone learning to play the drums. It’s loud and at times even a bit obnoxious.
So if you live with your parents, or in a crowded apartment complex, and don’t want to disturb those you live with you’re going to have to figure out an alternative. Luckily for drummers everywhere, electronic drums are widely available. So if you’re wondering how to select the best electronic drum set for your needs you’ve come to the right place. This article will give you all the information that you need in order to make an informed purchase, as well as give you some great recommendations!
- Electronic Drum Sets 101
- Electronic Drum Set Benefits
- The Top 5 Electronic Drum Sets
Electronic Drum Sets 101: How Electronic Drum Kits Work
Electric drum kits are built from two different components, transducers and trigger pads. Transducers send an impulse to your kit that functions in a similar way to a guitar pickup, converting the energy that the pad is struck with into a signal that is played through the speaker. Trigger pads are imitations of different pieces of a kit, like a bass drum. There are a few different factors that decide how your electronic kit is going to sound and how it’s going to feel when you play it. The more sophisticated the set the more capable it is of producing varieties of sounds, and the more sensitive it is to your technique and approach to playing. More expensive kits also have a wider dynamic range, allowing you to fully explore the capabilities of your kit. Some of the more sophisticated modules will even be able to tell the difference between sticks and brushes, which for an electronic instrument is an extremely nuanced difference.
Electronic Drum Sets Benefits
Apart from being quieter, there are actually a few different benefits to playing an electronic drum set. The first is that most electronic drums are going to have a wide variety of different sounds available at the press of a button. If you shell out for a good quality electric kit these sounds are also going to be pretty lifelike and believable, all with the benefit of being able to be enjoyed at a very reasonable volume.
Another benefit that you may not have considered is that an electronic drum set is also much more portable than a normal kit. This is a huge plus if you find yourself transporting your kit to and from gigs or practice sessions. Electronic kits are also easier to set up, cutting down on set up and tear down times during a show and/or practice.
Lastly, many drums will also have built in patterns to help you learn to play. This is great if you’re a beginner, or even an advanced musician looking to expand your knowledge.
The Top 5 Electronic Drum Sets
Our recommendations are selected with widespread applicability in mind. Ideally, everyone reading one of our articles should be able to find a reasonable option for their needs and budget. Keep in mind that the best option for you may not be the best option for your fellow musicians, and vice versa.
Alesis Nitro Electronic Drum Kit
Founded in 1980, Alesis has always been a company that puts musicians first. Focusing on inexpensive musical electronics and electronic instruments, the company has been providing musicians with an unprecedented value for decades. Like many companies, Alesis had a humble start. The company was founded by Keith Barr (who was also the cofounder of MXR) in Hollywood, California. By leveraging his ability to create custom circuits Barr created tools for musicians that, up until that time, had been out of reach for the vast majority of hobbyists. A notable example o this is the XT Reverb, launched in 1985 the XT Reverb was an all-digital reverb that carried a previously unheard of price tag of $799. Barr also launched a number of products with Marcus Ryle, who would later go on to found Line 6.
Like dozens of products the company has produced, the Alesis Nitro Electronic Drum Kit also presents an unparalleled value to musicians on the hunt for an electric drum kit that won’t break the bank.
The first thing that musicians are going to notice about this kit when compared to its competitors is that the Alesis Nitro is significantly less expensive than many comparable products. Without considering the company’s history would be a bit of a red flag, but Alesis’ mission is to provide the best gear as possible as cheaply as they can. That’s what they made their name on.
However, this is still a budget kit. It’s not that it’s poor quality for what it is, but it’s still not going to compare to electronic drum sets that cost several times more than it’s paltry suggested retail price. So long as you recognize this however you’re more than likely going to pleased with what features this kit does have.
The Alesis Nitro features rubber drum pads, which while durable have been reported as feeling a bit more stiff than heads on a traditional drum set. The kit comes with three toms, a snare, an included kick pad with a pedal, a 10” ride and high hat, and a crash with a choke.
The Nitro model comes with 40 preset drum samples, which will ensure that the majority of musicians are going to find something that they’re comfortable with. The Nitro also allows musicians to tweak their own samples using 385 custom sounds, all of which are included in the drum module. As an added bonus, the Nitro also comes with 60 play-along tracks, which is a huge plus for beginning drummers. The Nitro also comes with drum sticks and an included power supply.
The Alesis Nitro sounds acceptable on its own merits, but when considering its price tag it really is a great buy. It’s comparable to the Squire Classic Vibe series in terms of how it sounds compared to how much it costs. Musicians who require a professional sounding kit may need to look elsewhere, but any beginner to intermediate drummer is going to be more than satisfied with the onboard drum samples. Musicians are also able to customize their kit, giving it a greater utility for hobbyist musicians looking to get into live performance.
A widespread complaint about the Alesis Nitro is that the onboard sounds don’t do enough to differentiate themselves from one another. The samples themselves are good, they’re just similar. This can be compensated for by creating your own presets.
Our only concern with the Alesis is that the frame isn’t as stable as it could be. The pads, electronics, and pedal are all reportedly very stable and well built. The frame on the other hand is a bit floaty, which if you’re a heavy handed drummer is going to be very inconvenient. So long as you keep your technique in check you should be fine, just remember that the frame is arguably the most delicate piece of this kit.
The Alesis Nitro Electronic Drum Kit is a great buy for beginning drummers. It’d also be a great fit for drummers who are looking to expand their acoustic kit, or make a cheap transition to an electronic kit to avoid disturbing those around them by practicing. It may not be a professional level electronic drum set, but in the right circumstances a drummer could definitely be very happy with this purchase.
Roland TD1KV V-Drum Compact Electronic Drum Set
Unfortunately, there are a lot of factors that limit musicians. Some musicians can’t play their instrument without disturbing their family or neighbors. Sometimes musicians have to compromise on quality to afford an instrument period, playing instruments they’ve outgrown for years before they can afford to upgrade to an instrument that’s truly representative of their current skill level. And sometimes, space is the main concern. Not every musician has a whole room available for their music gear. If you’re living in a studio apartment, or sharing a room, you’re going to have a hard time finding an appropriate space for even an electronic drum kit.
Thankfully, Roland’s stepped in to fill this niche. The TD1KV V-Drum Compact Electronic Drum Kit is a drum set that doesn’t sacrifice on sound or quality, but still provides an excellent value to musicians who can’t dedicate large amounts of space to either a larger electronic drum kit or a more traditional acoustic drum set. The standout feature of this kit is how small it is. This can really not be overstated, as it’s the main selling point of this drum set. Not everyone has a lot of space, so a kit that’s still a formidable instrument in its own right while maintaining a sleek profile is a huge deal.
The TD1KV doesn’t sacrifice on quality by any stretch of the imagination, but it is laid out a bit different than other kits on the market. The included units (two cymbals, a high hat, two toms, a snare drum, a kick pedal, and the TD-1 Percussion sound module) all attach directly to the kit of the frame. While this does cut down on the necessary space required to set up the kit it does make it feel a bit different than a traditional acoustic drum set. This is going to make the transition harder if you’re coming from an acoustic drum set, and it may also make it harder to adjust to an acoustic set down the road if you feel like taking that route.
The TD-1 Percussion Module include 15 built in kits, which while that’s not a huge amount it does still offer musicians plenty of options in regards to their sound. This kit isn’t as customizable as others on the market, but bearing that in mind the available options are enough to cover the majority of genres.
As an added bonus, the TD1KV also comes with a few extras that will be a huge asset to beginning musicians. As with the majority of electric drum kits there are a few different tracks on the kit that drummers can jam along with. But there’s also an included “Coach” function, a metronome, and a recorder. The Coach function helps drummers build skill and a repertoire of different techniques, which is sure to be an asset to a drummer who’s just starting out.
As previously stated, the onboard presets of the Roland TD1KV are a bit limited compared to what you can get with a more expensive kit. However, these samples are all representative of Roland’s reputation of producing some of the best digital effects on the market. They all sound lifelike, and they’re all capable of sounding great at a show or a recording session.
As far as quality is concerned, the Roland TD1KV is similar to other drum sets in this price range. The kit definitely does seem to benefit from the smaller frame though, as it feels more solid than similarly priced but larger kits. The tighter dimensions reduce “flex”, which is sure to be a huge plus to heavy handed drummers.
There’s been some reports of people being underwhelmed with the quality of the pedals of the TD1KV. The pedals may not feel quite as stable as what you’d typically find on an acoustic drum set, but they’re still durable enough to hold up to regular practice or performance. So long as you take adequate care of them (i.e. keep them in a gig bag instead of leaving them out where they can be tripped over) they should last until you’re able to upgrade to a more flexible electric kit.
While the Roland TD1KV may be a bit less flexible than some other kits on the market, it’s compact dimensions are sure to be an asset for musicians who find themselves short on space.
Yamaha DTX450K Electronic Drum Kit
Founded in 1887, Yamaha is one of the most prolific manufacturers of instruments around. Though they started manufacturing pianos and reed organs, they’ve grown to become one of the largest producers of instruments in the world. They’ve created industry defining classical guitars, electric pianos, brass instruments, woodwinds, and electronic drum kits.
The Yamaha DTX450K is a great mid-tier electronic drum kit. It has a host of useful features, and while it may not be quite as cheap as some electronic drum kits it’s still not going to break the bank.
The standout feature of the Yamaha DT450K is the included iOS app. The app includes some useful resources that will be invaluable for any beginning musician. The DTX drum lessons are a great way to get started out learning the drums, and while they’re no replacement for a teacher they definitely will give your playing abilities a formidable boost.
The DTX400 app allows you to customize your drum samples. While this can also be done with the drum module the app definitely does make editing and tweaking samples a bit more streamlined. The app shows a visual representation of all the pieces of your kit, and you select those to change or edit drum samples.
Lastly, the we should talk about the Song Beats iOS app. The Song Beats app is a bit like the drummer equivalent to GuitarPro software. It highlights a visual representation of the part of the kit that is being played in time with the song, give you a hand in learning a wide variety of MIDI tracks.
The Yamaha DTX-450K includes two toms, a 3-zone snare drum (allowing you to play head sounds, rim-shots, and cross stick techniques), a hi-hat, a kick pad with an included pedal, and 10 inch cymbals. The DTX450K also supports a double bass drum pedal.
One great thing about the DTX450K is that it’s easily expandable and upgradeable. This allows drummers who may not be able to spring for a more advanced kit to buy something that they can afford while maintaining the option to cheaply upgrade as they become more proficient. The DTX-450K also features an expanded rack, which will doubtless be more comfortable for drummers with a larger build.
The Yamaha DTX450K features 297 high-quality samples spread around every piece of the kit. It also features 10 customizable kits, with the ability to tweak the various settings to your heart’s content.
The DTX450K is generally considered to have some of the best sounding samples in its price range, though of course this is subjective. Though considering Yamaha’s track record it really isn’t all that surprising. The company has developed some very highly regarded acoustic kits, so it makes sense that they would be able to accurately produce an accurate drum sound.
As far as quality is concerned, the DTX450K has a much better frame than most electric drum kits on the market. The frame is generally considered to be just as stable as an acoustic kit, making it a great fit for hard hitting drummers. Though it does feature an expanded frame it has a significantly smaller footprint than other electric drum kits, which is a plus if you’re finding yourself short on space.
There complaints about the quality of the pedals on the Yamaha DTX450K are overstated. The pedals may feel a bit lightly built compared to the pedals used on a traditional drum set, but that doesn’t mean that they’re any less capable of standing up to the rigors of heavy playing or practicing.
The Yamaha DTX450K is a high-quality piece of equipment, and it really would be a great addition to any drummer’s rig. The kit is more stable than most of its competitors, so it’s sure to hold up to regular playing and practicing.
Even better, the DTX450K really does sound good for an electronic drum kit. The included samples are very lifelike, and they’d be sure to be a great fit for everything from a jam session to a band demo. While the kit may not hold up in a professional setting night after night, it is undeniably a great fit for any hobbyist musician.
Roland TD-11K-S V-Compact Series Electronic Drum Set
Founded on April 18th, 1972 by Ikutaro Kakehashi in Osaka, Japan, the Roland Corporation has been one of the most prolific creators of the technology that drives innovation in music. From their electric accordions to their BOSS pedals (this division of the Roland Corporation has produced some of the most widespread pedals ever, essentially every guitarist has used a Boss pedal at least once) Roland is arguably one of the most important companies in music history.
In addition to everything else the company has done for musicians, Roland has also produced some of the finest electronic drum kits to ever hit the market. A notable example, the Roland TD-11K-S presents a great value to any drummer on the hunt for a perfect electronic drum kit.
An electronic drum set presents a great value to musicians, and the TD-11k-S is no exception. The set attempts to replicate the feel of a traditional drum set without the things that make your average kit a bit hard to manage. With this drum set you won’t have to worry about maintaining tension on your drum heads, or disturbing your loved ones or neighbors.
The standout feature on this kit the fact that it’s incredibly light weight. While this may not be the first thing that most musicians consider when looking for an electronic drum set, it comes in handy if you consistently find yourself lugging around your kit.
The pads are also feel very natural, which is great if you have a background in playing a traditional drum kit. It’s incredibly hard for a musician to adjust to a change in pace in their instrument, so the closer an electronic drum kit can come to emulating the feel of a traditional kit the better. It’s also a plus if you plan to own an acoustic drum set one day, as the transition from an electric kit to an acoustic one can be a bit difficult if your electric kit feels less like a standard drum set.
The Roland TD-11K-S is powered by the TD-11, which can be thought of as the brain behind the kit. This is what stores all of the preset samples, and it’s also what allows you two fine tune the different presets. The TD-11 is also very intuitive, making it a snap to get into playing as soon the kit is delivered.
It’s hard to describe the sound of the Roland TD-11K-S because it comes pre-loaded with a wide variety of different drum samples, some of which are only going to be applicable in a few very specific situations. Some people aren’t going to like certain samples, while others are going to love them. Thankfully, every sample on the kit can be fine tuned to your heart’s content.
As a whole, the samples featured in the Roland TD-11K-S are very lifelike and lively. This is a higher-end kit, so all of the onboard sounds are going to be relatively realistic. Roland is also the king of producing great digital effects as the company has dabbled in pretty much every area of the technology.
The only thing that lets this kit down is that it feels a bit flimsy. It’s not that it feels cheap in any way, shape or form, it’s just that it doesn’t feel quite as solid as some other kits. It’s not going to fall apart when you play it or anything disastrous like that, it just doesn’t present the most stable platform for playing. However, this is only going to cause problems for incredibly heavy handed drummers. Most drummers aren’t going to run into any issues, especially if they’re playing on a softer surface.
The Roland TD-11K-S also doesn’t come with any sort of case for any of its available components, which you should keep in mind when you go to make your final purchase.
At the end of the day, the Roland TD-11K-S is a good electronic drum kit. It’s petite weight is a double edged sword. While it does result in a kit that is incredibly portable, it also makes the drum set feel a bit flimsier than it should. However, it does also sound very good. It’s also relatively affordable, which is a plus for any musician on a budget.
2Box DrumIt Five Series Electronic Drum Kit
Though it’s not an established brand, 2Box (a Swedish based company founded by former employees of ddrums, a drum based devision of the Clavia company) presents a great value to the musician on the hunt for an electronic drum set that can hold up in professional/gigging situations.
The DrumIt Five series is based off the tunable mesh kit designed pioneered by the Roland V-Drum line. The was done an in attempt to reproduce the feel of an acoustic drum in the sleek package of an electronic drum set.
As previously mentioned, the 2Box DrumIt Five is first and foremost a faux acoustic drum set. It’s meant to feel as much like an acoustic kit as possible, offering the same amount of dynamic range and a relatively similar feel when playing. The trigger pads offer separate rim triggers, and the cymbal pads have three distinct triggers to reproduce the sound of different techniques.
While the pads may look a bit toy-like with first viewing, the pads themselves are actually very well constructed. The pads themselves are mesh-head, though you can replace these if you’re used to the rubber pads that generally come on electric drum kits. However, the mesh-head feels more like a traditional drum head. It also allows you to modify the tension, just as you’d be able to on an acoustic drum kit.
The DrumIt Five module includes all of the necessary plugins for the kit obviously, but it also includes one extra tom and cymbal. This allows drummers to expand their kit at a later date. This added flexibility is a huge plus, because it cuts the initial cost of the kit while allowing musicians to potentially upgrade their kit to something more in line with a higher-end model. The DrumIt Five module also comes with a headphone out jack, allowing drummers to practice silently. As an added bonus, the line in jack allows you to jam along to your favorite songs (so long as you have the appropriate cord of course). The DrumIt Five ships with one high-hat, two cymbals, three toms, a snare drum, and a bass drum with an included pedal.
The DrumIt Five may not have the awareness of brands like Roland or Yamaha, but it really is an extremely good sounding kit. There are one hundred preset kits stored in the module’s memory, along with a ton of WAV files (lossless music files, as opposed to MP3s which are heavily compressed) that drummers can jam along to.
In addition to customizing the preset kits, you can also tweak the sound of each unit of the kit individually. You can modify the tuning (not pitch, but rather a representation of the tightness of the drum) as well as volume. You can also change variable such as attack, hold, and decay. The samples themselves also take velocity into account, allowing drummers to properly execute different dynamics. Another important thing to note for potential buyers is that you can layer different samples, which further enhances the variety of sounds that you can get from this kit.
Users should be aware that the DrumIt Five is geared more towards real drum sounds, rather than some of the weirder effects you’d find on different electronic drum sets. Similar to Line 6, a lot of the preset on the DrumIt Five are based off of famous drum sounds. Some notable songs include Give It Away, The Pretender, and Kashmir.
As far as quality is concerned, the 2Box DrumIt Five is a professional level kit. It’s very stable, and it’s light without feeling flimsy. It has all of the durability of an acoustic drum set without taking up even a fraction of the space.
The 2Box DrumIt Five is a premium electronic drum set. This is not a kit that’s a realistic option for beginner musicians, and really is designed for professional recording musicians. Not to say that a beginner musician wouldn’t like this kit, or that it wouldn’t be a great option for an intermediate or hobbyist musician. No doubt, this is a great drum set. Any drummer who’s on the lookout for an electronic kit would be more than satisfied with it. It sounds great, and it’s definitely capable of holding up to the stress of regular practice or performance.