The 10 Best Electronic Drum Modules
This wiki has been updated 5 times since it was first published in May of 2020. Often described as the brain of digital drums, these units are central processing devices and sound modules combined into an intuitive console that is integral to the body of the drum kit. This can either attach to triggers that respond to hits on regular drum heads, or pads that replicate the feel of drums but have no acoustic properties, both of which relay digital information to the module. When users buy our independently chosen editorial choices, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki. If you'd like to contribute your own research to the Wiki, please get started by reviewing this introductory video.
June 10, 2020:
Digital drums have revolutionized the instrument in a number of ways. One major benefit is that they address one of the most pressing problems that faced anyone who ever sat behind a drumkit, and that is the issue of excess noise. By being able to monitor yourself through headphones or a speaker with adjustable volume, practice sessions are more socially acceptable, backline instruments are not required to meet the level of acoustic drums during quieter performances, and eardrums suffer less damage over time.
When a drumstick strikes a drum pad or trigger, the hit is turned into digital information via MIDI, which is then processed by the module to recreate its velocity and timbre. The user can then add effects and ambient embellishments, right down to modeling microphone positioning and room shape. They may additionally emulate several different styles of drum kits and individual percussive instruments, synthesizers, and formant sounds.
Some models in this ranking, such as the Yamaha DTX502 and the Roland TM-2 are ideal for use with acoustic kits via a drum trigger that attaches to the rim of the snare, tom, or kick drum. Other models are designed for use with digital drum pads, that replace traditional drumkits and do not resonate (although some kits in Roland’s TD range look just like regular drums). These include the Yamaha DTX900M, Pearl Mimic Pro, and the Roland TD-17, Roland TD-25, and Roland TD-50 family of modules. They can also be used with drum triggers with a conventional kit, or combined to create a hybrid kit with a mixture of pads and drums.
In addition to these features, all previously mentioned modules, plus the Ddrum DD5XM and Yamaha DTX502, have onboard samplers, whereby the user can import their own sounds via Bluetooth, SD card, or USB, to create their own customized kits. These can be programmed to suit individual tracks within the live set, further expanding the considerable capabilities of these remarkable instruments.