8 Best Electronic Drum Sets | December 2016

8 Best Electronic Drum Sets
Best Mid-Range
★★★★
Best High-End
★★★★★
Best Inexpensive
★★★
We spent 40 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top choices for this wiki. Professional drummers and amateur musicians alike will find the perfect electronic drum set for their needs from our selection. We've included everything from compact sets suitable for apartments (please use the headphones) to studio-quality sets that are tough enough for regular gigging. Skip to the best electronic drum set on Amazon.
8
The Pyle Digital PED021M features a pair of kick pedals for metal and hardcore drumming, as well as a center-mounted console for easy control. Its natural motion cymbal pads and choke capabilities keep sessions feeling realistic.
  • built-in mp3 recorder
  • intuitive interface
  • cables often need replacing
Brand Pyle
Model PED021M
Weight 28.2 pounds
Rating 3.8 / 5.0
7
The Medeli DD501 comes with a pre-assembled drum rack, which means less fiddling with setup and more time playing. The set features a USB port for hooking up a variety of accessories, but the control panel is placed uncomfortably far from the user.
  • dual zone snare pad
  • 215 programmed voices
  • low-quality foot pedal
Brand Medeli
Model DD501
Weight 44.2 pounds
Rating 3.9 / 5.0
6
The Ddrum DD1 Digital is a professional-style, yet compact set, complete with a crash and ride pad, four single-zone drum heads, and pedals for both your bass and hi-hat control. The cymbals, however, have a limited target range.
  • 30 preset kit sounds
  • lightweight design
  • initial setup is confusing
Brand Ddrum
Model DD1
Weight 54.2 pounds
Rating 4.2 / 5.0
5
The KAT Percussion KT2 lets you express yourself rhythmically with 480 velocity-sensitive percussion sounds. Its memory banks contain 80 tracks with which you can play along to hone your skills, as well as 45 drum set combinations for a personal touch.
  • digital recording and playback
  • quick and easy set-up
  • plastic parts reduce mobility
Brand KAT Percussion
Model KT2-US
Weight 56.2 pounds
Rating 4.3 / 5.0
4
The Alesis DM10X Kit professional-grade six-piece set offers superior functionality with its comprehensive high-definition drum module and large diameter 10 and 12-inch pads. It comes preloaded with over 1,000 uncompressed, sample-based sounds.
  • dynamic articulation technology
  • sleek chrome-plated finish
  • kick pedal not included
Brand Alesis
Model DM10X Kit
Weight 94.2 pounds
Rating 3.9 / 5.0
3
The Yamaha DTX 450K produces 297 top-quality sounds with its responsive pads and belt drive kick pedals. It also comes with a few other things a drummer needs to rock out, including a pair of drumsticks and an adjustable stool.
  • nuanced hi-hat controller
  • user-friendly trigger module
  • large 10-inch cymbals
Brand Yamaha
Model pending
Weight 59.7 pounds
Rating 4.6 / 5.0
2
The Roland TD11KV V-Compact boasts a compact and practical hi-hat combination and the company's exceptional V-cymbals for true-to-life crash and ride playing. Mesh heads on the snare and toms provide a realistic bounce to your hits.
  • studio quality sound
  • natural-feeling kick pad
  • complimentary cable set
Brand Roland
Model TD-11K-S
Weight 66 pounds
Rating 4.9 / 5.0
1
The Yamaha DTX532K Drum Kit comes with a strong RS502 rack that will stand up to vigorous playing. The set features an XP80 snare pad that eliminates "cross talk" for a crisp, clear sound that is hard to distinguish from a real set.
  • 3-zone ride and crash
  • high-performance drum triggers
  • works with a double bass pedal
Brand Yamaha
Model DTP522
Weight 93 pounds
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

Buyer's Guide

Fingers On The Trigger

Electronic drums operate on the principal of what are commonly called triggers. There's no violence implied here. It's more like hitting a big red button than firing a gun.

When you hit a drum trigger, or pad, the intensity of the hit–and sometimes even its exact position on the pad–is relayed to a module of available sounds and translated through any number of presets you select.

The thing about most electronic drums is that you can assign that trigger to make any sound under the sun so long as it's programmed into your module.

Most people will give the pad in the snare position a snare sound, the tom positions tom sounds, the ride cymbal a ride cymbal sound, etc., until they essentially have a recreation of a standard drum kit in front of them.

That's fine and all, but you can really customize these sounds to anything and everything. If you want your snare to sound like a kick drum and your kick drum to sound like a space ship launching or a geisha fanning herself, there's nothing but your budget to stop you.

Zen And The Art Of Electronic Drumming

Most drummers will tell you, especially if they're rock or jazz drummers, that there is no substitute for a real acoustic kit. It's not just the sound they're talking about, either.

They're liable to go off on a long pseudo-spiritual rant about the life force in a "real" drum set.

There's a great Robert Pirsig quote about this mentality in his spiritual road epic Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, in which he's undoubtedly paraphrasing a Zen parable he heard along the way.

He says, "The only zen you find on tops of mountains is the zen you bring up there."

What it means for us is that there's nothing inherently more spiritual about an acoustic drum than a electronic drum, it's just that we find it easier to connect them to things we view as living, namely trees. But steel and plastics are just as spiritually and practically alive as any redwood. It's what you bring to the experience that matters.

With the spiritual stuff out of the way, we can admit that there are significant sonic differences between acoustic and electric drums.

In the case of acoustics, the sound of the drum is largely determined by its environment: the size of the room, the moisture in the air, etc. But you are in complete control of the sonic output of your electronic drums.

You can fine tune an electric kit to sound like an old GMS kit in a 1000 sq. ft. barn on the driest day of the summer if you want to spend enough on the tech side of it.

In that sense, electronic drum sets are all about customization. The more custom you want the sound and feel, the nicer a kit you're going to want.

If it's really just a matter of getting your hands on something that'll let you rock out without disturbing the peace, you'll be happy with something less expensive.

Rhythm From A Box

In the early 1960s musicians and artists began to experiment increasingly with devices called rhythm boxes. They were essentially early drum machines made by companies like Maestro and Ace Tone.

One such drummer, a man named Felix Visser, modified an Ace Tone drum machine to respond whenever he touched any one of a dozen circuits he wired into a board.

There was no pressure sensitivity, and the sound quality was immensely mechanical, but it was the dawn of electronic drumming as we know it.

It wasn't until 1971, however, that a drum trigger pad, designed to be hit with a drum stick, came into being. A Sussex University professor named Brian Groves combined his technical knowledge with the ambition and imagination of the drummer from The Moody Blues, Graeme Edge.

Since then, the pads have become more sensitive and more elaborate, the sounds have been more fine tuned to sound like human productions and not the effort of machines, and the feel of the drums themselves has gotten closer and closer to the feel of actual acoustic drum sets.



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Last updated on December 30, 2016 by Daniel Imperiale

Daniel is a writer, actor, and director living in Los Angeles, CA. He spent a large portion of his 20s roaming the country in search of new experiences, taking on odd jobs in the strangest places, studying at incredible schools, and making art with empathy and curiosity.


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