The 10 Best Electronic Drum Sets

Updated April 24, 2018 by Christopher Thomas

10 Best Electronic Drum Sets
Best High-End
Best Mid-Range
Best Inexpensive
We spent 46 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top choices for this wiki. Percussion is an integral part of every genre of music, but it's often difficult, inappropriate, or simply impossible to practice on or record with a large, acoustic trap set. So musicians, amateur and professional alike, turn to electronic drum sets to jam out, whether at home wearing headphones or on stage behind the monitors. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best electronic drum set on Amazon.

10. Pyle PED021M

The Pyle PED021M lays out all the pads on one simple rack right in front of the player. While it's not the most functional, it does interface with devices via MIDI, USB, or stereo connections. It's good for kids or new players not ready to invest in a pro-level set.
  • onboard session recorder
  • intuitive interface and lcd
  • not very durable or sturdy
Brand Pyle
Model PED021M
Weight 28.2 pounds
Rating 3.8 / 5.0

9. Yamaha DTX 400K

The Yamaha DTX 400K isn't the flashiest option around, but it's affordably priced and has great sound quality. It doesn't have many bells or whistles but it does come with headphones, drumsticks, and a stool, making it an ideal at-home practice rig for any gigging artist.
  • great package for beginners
  • only 10 different percussion voices
  • somewhat wobbly during intense play
Brand Yamaha
Model pending
Weight 39.4 pounds
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

8. Kat Percussion KT2

The Kat Percussion KT2 lets you express yourself rhythmically with 480 different percussion samples driven by velocity-sensitive switches that react to exactly how hard you're rocking out. Its memory bank contains 80 tracks to play along with during solo practice time.
  • easy to customize each sound
  • plastic fasteners may crack or slip
  • more expensive than similar models
Brand KAT Percussion
Model KT2-US
Weight 56.2 pounds
Rating 4.3 / 5.0

7. Roland TD-4KP

The Roland TD-4KP is the portable offering of their entry- to mid-level line. It folds together in just a few steps, making it easy to slide in the back of any car on the way to a jam session. Just remember to take your own bass pedal.
  • high-end audio chipset sounds great
  • rubber pads lack realism
  • drum heads are only 7 inches wide
Brand Roland
Model TD4KP
Weight 37.3 pounds
Rating 4.1 / 5.0

6. Alesis DM10 MKII

The Alesis DM10 MKII is a reasonably priced mid-range option that's a perfect upgrade to an entry-level kit. Consisting of nine pieces, it's versatile enough for smooth jazz or rock and roll without taking up too much space on stage.
  • mesh heads provide a realistic feel
  • must provide your own kick pedal
  • fully rack-mounted aside from bass
Brand Alesis
Model DM10 MKII Studio Kit
Weight 59.2 pounds
Rating 4.9 / 5.0

5. Yamaha DTX450K

The Yamaha DTX450K offers the pristine sound quality and an expansive sample library that you'd expect from the iconic Japanese company. It does include its own kick pedal but if you want to upgrade, it's also compatible with real double kick pedals for all you metalheads.
  • includes everything needed to play
  • sounds as good as acoustic kits
  • extra-realistic three-zone snare
Brand Yamaha
Weight 70 pounds
Rating 4.4 / 5.0

4. Roland TD-30KV

It's no surprise that a pioneer of synthesizers would create the Roland TD-30KV, arguably the richest electronic kit on the market. Rather than simple pads, it uses actual, silent drums with dynamic sensors to provide the most realistic percussive sound and feel possible.
  • sturdy snare and hi-hat stands
  • popular touring musicians endorsed
  • priced exclusively for rock stars
Brand Roland
Model TD-30KV-S
Weight 200.3 pounds
Rating 4.1 / 5.0

3. Alesis Nitro

The Alesis Nitro is durable, easy to set up, and one of the most affordable options available. It's a straightforward setup that plays as a standalone set or while plugged into your computer, making it perfect for the beginning songwriter or beat maker.
  • four-post rack offers stability
  • includes one-piece bass kick pad
  • almost 400 integrated sounds
Brand Alesis
Model Nitro Kit
Weight 40.5 pounds
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

2. Roland TD1KV

Don't be fooled by the simplistic appearance of the Roland TD1KV. It sounds even better than some acoustic drum sets, and the snare has a woven mesh skin for a responsive feel. It fits easily into the smallest corners, so it's perfect for church stages or your living room.
  • artistic fun for kids or grown-ups
  • expandable with add-on accessories
  • surprising value at reasonable cost
Brand R O L A N D
Model TD1KV
Weight 36.2 pounds
Rating 4.8 / 5.0

1. Alesis Strike Pro

The Alesis Strike Pro is a studio-quality, full-size kit with real wooden-housed pads and a versatile software suite. It's as feature-rich as some extremely high-end models, but it won't require you to take out a second mortgage.
  • one ride and three crash cymbals
  • easy to control using its 4-inch lcd
  • store samples on its 8 gb sd card
Brand Alesis
Model Strike Pro Kit
Weight 146.8 pounds
Rating 4.5 / 5.0

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 April 24, 2018 by Christopher Thomas

A traveling chef, musician, and student of the English language, Chris can be found promoting facts and perfect copy around the globe, from dense urban centers to remote mountaintops. In his free time he revels in dispelling pseudoscience, while at night he dreams of modern technology, world peace, and the Oxford comma.

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