o you fancy yourself as the next Dave Grohl, yet don’t want to totally wreck your relationship with your neighbors? It’s possible that electronic drum kits might be a good compromise. Offering you the chance to thump out some killer beats but without the ear-crushing noise, it’s a win-win for everyone. However, electronic drum kits aren’t just the back-up for proper drums.
Increasingly, they’re being chosen over the real deal.
Why? If you think about it, going electronic is an obvious choice in delivering superior sound and audio enhancements. On top of this, you won’t crucify your back trying to drag them around. Some types of digital drums almost look like acoustic drums sets.
Many professional-grade electronic drum kits offer the same quality of sound as normal drums. In some cases, it can be even better.
With the ability to hook up to computers and cell phone apps, the possibilities for electronic drums are endless. There’s a wide variety of electronic drum kits, and not every brand and model offers the same authentic sound. At Men’s Gear, we’ve done all the prep for you.
We’ve put together a list of the hottest electronic drum kits on the market today that we’re sure you’ll love.
What are the main things to consider when buying an electronic drum kit?
If you already know how to play drums, you might have an idea of what you’d like to see from a list of electronic drum kits. However, there might be some aspects you haven’t considered. With an almost limitless list of drum and percussion sounds found in electronic drum kits, it can be hard to think of what else you might like.
Consider the playing experience first. Playing an electronic drum isn’t as simple as banging a couple of sticks on a table. Instead, its electronic surface is a highly complex piece of equipment with different sensors and systems that provide proper feedback.
The best electronic drum kits contain more than one sensor, also referred to as a zone, per pad. This ensures that the sound produced bears the closest resemblance to what the drummer did. No matter how you hit it, the top-quality kits reflect the sounds you’ve made.
Do you need something that’s small and compact or do you got the space for a larger playing surface? Size is an important factor in this market. The number of drums in a kit will influence the price, so you might prefer to start out with small.
Then you can add in custom drums as you go along. Meanwhile, others like to buy it all together at the start.
The final piece of the puzzle is the drum module. This is the bit that adds in all the fancy sounds. If you want your snare to sound like a funk guitar, this is where you’ll need to look. Top modules have a wide range of percussion sounds as well as both presets and custom tracks.
What are the main brands of electronic drum kits?
Electronic drum kits first came to the fore in the 1980s. However, unlike certain other cringe-worthy trends, they’ve proved their staying power. As an alternative to regular drums, electronic pads can be either a practice set or a viable alternative for your live sets.
Some drummers swear by the top of the range electronic drum kits and prefer them to a traditional set.
There are some names who have been big in the world of electronic drums since the start, such as Roland and Yamaha. They still make some of the best electronic drum kits around today. However, they’ve been joined by other great brands, such as Alesis.
What’s outstanding about these three brands is that they offer a full range of portable electronic drum kits without compromising on quality.
It does not matter if it’s a basic, entry-level kit or a mega-bucks top of the range model. The best brands seem to have made a commitment to delivering drums which are deeply satisfying to play. Most are even packed full of features.
Are electronic drum kits easy to set up?
Like everything else, there’s the good, the bad, and the downright ugly! In theory, with a properly thought out construction as well as clear instructions, there shouldn’t be many problems in setting up your electronic drum kit. That is regardless of the size it happens to be.
However, not all brands are created equal and some seem to consider it their mission to make life as tricky as possible!
Be sure to check out the reviews for certain electronic drum kits for the particular model you’re interested in. You’ll see if any previous customer has had any problems in setting it up. This is a great place to start if you’ve already got an idea about which model you want.
As a general rule, electronic drum kits are simple and easy to put together. You will find a basic tubular frame upon which the various pads are mounted.
In some electronic drum kits for beginners, you might even have some components which have been pre-fixed into position. This makes it even easier to slot the parts together. The instructions will vary between brands, but some include photographs.
Some kits are designed to be particularly portable and can simply fold and slide away. Meanwhile, others may need some pads removed or screws loosened first. If you’re keen to avoid having to repeat the assembly or expect to be moving your kit around regularly, look out for a model that’s been designed with portability in mind.
1) Alesis DM6 USB Eight-Piece Beginner’s Electronic Drum Kit
In case you’re wondering if electronic drum kits of the world are right for you, the Alesis DM6 lets you try it out without breaking the bank in the process. A decent set of drums which will give you the feel of how electronics work. Alesis’ DM6 kit has all the basics you need.
Included in the kit are 8 pieces to the set. That includes a dual-zone snare, three single-zone toms, three cymbals, and a kick pad.
The dual zone on the snare is a big bonus on a no-frills buy as it provides variety on the sounds that can be produced. However, you’ll have to buy your headphones separately from the kit. That’s no big deal, as quite often the ones included aren’t the best quality anyway.
An LED display makes using the model super-easy with push-button function and clear labels.
There are 108 different sounds which Alesis quirkily calls “voices.” Whatever vibe you want to create, you’ve got it covered in this kit. There are 10 presets programmed into the Alesis DM6 system. That includes the usual jazz, rock, Latin, etc.
However, there are an extra five slots for you to make your own too.
If that wasn’t enough, it’s simple to hook your drum kit up to a computer. That will allow you to extend the sounds. Whenever you hit a pad, the sound you’ve selected in your library will be heard. This is pretty cool, right?
2) Carlsbro Electronic Drum Kit
If you live close to those who do not appreciate the sound of a cymbal solo at 1:00 a.m. somehow, Carlsbro might be the answer. Particularly suited to newbies getting their hands on a pair of sticks for the first time, this electronic drum kit is whisper-quiet.
Imagine a ninja creeping along a carpet wearing silky socks…that’s how quiet this can be. Even the hi-hat and bass drum, known to be notoriously difficult to control, are almost silent.
This gives you the ability to play for as long as you want without any complaints. Like any decent electronic drums, the module is the money-maker. This is where the extra little features hide that make the most electronic drum kits call out your name.
You’ll find 250 percussion sounds with 20 presets available, plus a further 10 that can be created by you.
There’s a built-in reverb for realistic acoustics. Meanwhile, the metronome and record/playback options give you the chance to become a better drummer. Alongside the module, you’ll get a 7.5” dual-zone snare, 7.5” tom pads (single zone), three cymbals and a bass drum.
This is all held together on a triple-footed collapsible stand. Ultimately, it is the perfect kit to gift any guy looking to start playing. Or, of course, to gift yourself with.
3) Alesis Surge Mesh Eight-Piece Electronic Drum Kit
Alesis is not only for beginners, as they have more advanced electronic drum kits in their arsenal. These kits are suitable for more advanced drummers. Yet they can still be used for your standard starting drummer. With the kit, you’ll get a 10” snare, three 8″ tom pads, a bass drum pad, and three 10” cymbals.
All of this is mounted on a sturdy four-post aluminum rack. It’s strong enough to take a beating, so let your wild side out and get drumming!
The best part about this kit is the totally natural feel. If you prefer the more organic vibe of acoustic drums, you’ll get it from this set of bad boys. When you play them for the first time, try adjusting the mesh on the drums to a tighter setting. This should get the feedback you might be missing from some other digital drums.
Add this to the great sounds and you’ll feel like you’re drumming up a storm.
The Nitro drum module is the factor that really makes this kit stand out. It offers several options to ramp up your playing experience. It includes hundreds of different percussion sounds and 60 built-in tracks, as well as 40 ready-to-play set-ups. There’s also a sequencer, recorder, and metronome.
It also comes with MIDI and USB connectivity for an easy hook-up.
4) Carlsbro CSD130 Electronic Drum Set
An interesting fact about Carlsbro is that they originally made their name by producing great speakers and amplifiers. However, when they jump into making electronic drum kits, they gave the world something special. This kit is no exception.
This drum kit is perfect for all levels of drummers. It has a compact size that sits well in the corner of your apartment. Sshhh… it’s so small no one will notice you’ve managed to sneak a drum kit into the house.
The feel of the drums aren’t top-notch but for the price you pay, it’s a decent return. A great no-fuss option, these pads have a decent level of sensitivity. That said, if you feel the urge to let loose with a rapid double stroke roll, nothing’s going to get in your way.
You won’t have to adapt your drumming style and all the softer strokes and sounds will still come through audibly as you’d hope.
For your the money to pay out, you’ll be getting a 7.5” triple-zone snare, and three 7.5” tom pads. It also comes with single-zone cymbals and a module that includes 250 percussion sounds and 20 preset tracks.
5)Yamaha DTX402K Electronic Drum Kit
If your drumming style resembles Animal from The Muppets, this sturdy kit from Yamaha could be one for you. Strong and stable with great technology thrown in, it’s hard to find fault with this set. Included are an 8” snare, three 8” toms, and three cymbals.
This also includes a module that has 415 percussion and drum sounds, 10 play-along tracks, and 10 presets. Those presets can be overwritten if they’re not your thing, which is great for those looking for customizable options.
Also thrown in are 10 training functions designed to help you to check your timing, improve stroke speed, and build chops. All of which are useful to those wishing to start in drumming or improve in it. The rubber pads are responsive and sensitive in just the right measures.
However, the real star of the show is the technology offered by Yamaha. Drummers can hook up with the DTX402 Touch app, now available on both Android and iOS. This opens up endless options for drummers.
The offering of customizing your kit and balancing out the sound is very present in this electronic drum kit. You can make your drumming into a game to liven up your practice. Possibly if you’re feeling hyped, try out the Fast Blast mode to see how many strokes you can record within the timeframe.
Yamaha isn’t quite finished yet, as there’s also the Rec’n’Share application you can use. This gives you the chance to share your performance with your friends. Awesome huh?
6) Roland TD1KV V-Drums
With a small and compact size, you’d be forgiven for thinking that this kit wouldn’t stand up to a heavy session. However, for such a diminutive kit it’s surprisingly strong. When you’re busting out your best moves, the kit responds accordingly.
This is, of course, something you’d expect a traditional acoustic kit to do.
The mesh snare gives great feedback and you can adjust the tension to your own preference. Meanwhile, the other pads feel realistic too.
Importantly, the rubbers on this kit aren’t too hard. This means you won’t feel like your wrists are about to drop off after a session. Alongside the 10” snare, three mesh toms, two rack toms, floor tom, and cymbals is a superb module. This offers a choice of different genres from hip-hop and rock through to pop and punk.
The metronome and playback functions are useful for any drummer to critique their own performance. However, it’s the intelligent coach function that really stands out. Though designed to help newbies get their timing straight, it’s a top tool for pros who want to polish off their performance too.
7) Yamaha DTX532K Electronic Drums
Yamaha returns, this time with a budget-busting DTX532K that is simply brimming full of features. Once you’ve whipped out your drumsticks and had a quick blast, the first thing you’ll notice is the incredible surface of the pads. This is due to the special silicone gel material (TCS) that Yamaha has developed.
It is prized for its ability to provide a greater sensitivity than other electronic pads, while also offering almost silent play.
This is both its greatest strength and a weakness simultaneously. You’ll need to ensure you put proper weight to your strikes with the kit. As the wrong version could cause you to not get the planned sound you intended. Proper usage will get it every time.
That said, it might take some play-throughs to get used to.
Included in the box, you’ll find a triple-zone 8” snare, three single-zone toms, 13” cymbals, and kick pad. Once again, the module here is a stand-out part of the kit. It offers training features that include scoring algorithms enabling you to track your own progress.
This is handy for pros and newbies alike, with the terrific performance of the kit overall offering an excellent training package for everyone.
8) Yamaha DTX400K
Among the best of Yamaha’s electronic drum kits is the DTX400K. Interestingly, it isn’t as high in price as some might assume. Yamaha marketed as a starter kit, but it is more than that. Though it’s a simple option, it offers a strong performance.
Professionals can easily use it as a backup set, or when they need to practice without making too much noise.
An entry model for Yamaha, the whole DTX range is built with quality. The set-up is quick and easy with some elements pre-mounted, and it’s fully foldable for easy transportation. The DTX400K has five drum pads. This includes a hi-hat and two cymbals.
The only problem with the layout is the snare is rigidly fixed at a specific distance from the hi-hat. That can mean an awkward playing position at times.
However, there are no grumbles about the performance overall. The kit accurately reflects the full spectrum of sounds, including soft strikes. Budget restrictions meant no LED display for easy function. Unless you’re able to memorize an entire user manual, you’ll have to keep referring to it while you get to know your new kit.
If you only plan on using this drum kit periodically, this could be a real issue. Though without an LED display, the module is incredibly top-quality. It offers 297 sounds and 10 customizable kits; great for the price. There’s also built-in lessons and training exercises to challenge your drumming and maximize your potential.
9) Alesis Mesh 8-Piece Electronic Drum Kit
The ever-reliable Alesis seems to always offer great options with their electronic drum kits. This might be one of their best, for sure. For the drumming purists out there who long for the natural feel of acoustics, this pick is for you. What’s special about this kit is the all-mesh pads.
This gives a much more realistic feeling of playing. There’s more with both the snare and the tom pads.
They offer dual-zone sensitivity, heightening performance, and enabling separate sounds from the rim and the head. The frame is fairly standard and robust enough for what’s needed. You might be inwardly sighing at the thought of assembling it, as it can be a bit much.
However, the considerate folk over at Alesis have included a photographic guide to make your life easier. The instructions truly help out a lot, so we consider this a big “W” in the win column for Alesis.
Once it’s up and assembled, this electronic drum kit is a pretty nifty-looking model. It might even command a second glance on aesthetics alone. The functionality of the module matches the appearance, delivering a whopping 600+ different sounds, 60 backing tracks, and 70 presets.
With excellent connectivity, you can bash the skins to your own tracks on your MP3 player. If that wasn’t enough to sell you on the kit, there’s a sequencer to play back what you’ve recorded.
10) Roland TD-11K Electronic Drum Kit
The Roland TD-11K certainly elevates electronic drums to the next level. Offering mind-blowing technology and a real commitment to quality, even the most experienced drummers would struggle to tell this from an acoustic. Only real instruments are used for the instrument sounds.
To most, this enhances the overall effect of the drum kit. It’s not the cheapest model you’ll ever find but the quality is exceptional. It’s so good, you could comfortably use this set for recording or live sets.
This usability is enhanced by the fact that the module allows you to control every sound. The drum kit allows you to add a range of specific parameters for every available drum. For this price point you can’t have everything, so the trade-off is the noise.
Without mesh pads, these are a little louder than others which could be a problem for some.
If a silent operation is critical for you, rather than switch to another model, you could opt to slip rubber tips over your sticks. This helps with bounce-back and muffles the noise too. To tighten up your personal performance, the coaching mode on the module is a big help with exercises and functions that will help you hit the sweet spot.
11) Alesis Nitro Mesh Kit
If you’ve had the joy of playing on an all-mesh drum kit, the name of the Alesis Nitro Mesh Kit could well get your pulse racing. It’s certainly an entertaining drum kit that’s guaranteed to help you get your groove. However, it’s important to make a few things clear from the outset.
Although the snare and the toms are now made from mesh, the cymbals and kick pad are still rubber.
This may be a bit of a let-down, given the name. In reality, very few kits offer total mesh pads over every single drum. The mesh heads do indeed offer a big advantage to drummers, providing very little noise. This means they can be played whenever the mood strikes.
There’s a natural feel to drumming on mesh but be aware that these pads are smaller than some of the other high-end Alesis models.
Although they’re not insanely tiny, you might struggle to find your rhythm originally. It might take a few play-throughs to get used to them. There’s a total of eight elements to the drum kit in total but the snare is disappointingly only a single-zone.
You won’t get a separate hi-hat stand either, but that’s also not unusual for this price bracket.
12) Roland TD-25KV Electronic Drum Kit
If you’re ready to drop some serious cash, then the Roland TD-25KV is an electronic drum kit to look out for. You’ll have to be prepared to go way beyond the budget range. However, in return, you’ll be treated to a drum kit that is a pleasure to play.
It’s not the absolute top of the range but it includes the majority of features that you’d find in the very best models.
The interface on the module is easy to use and intuitive but its greatest strength is that it allows customization in a variety of ways. Only 18 kits are automatically included but you’ll be able to expand this greatly by downloading more or customizing samples.
The snare and the toms are all made from mesh, not rubber, offering unparalleled sensitivity and responsiveness.
This gives the feeling that you’re playing a real set of drums, rather than an electronic version. The cymbals only add to this, as they have a natural swinging motion on top of a cloth head on the kick pad. Coaching functions help to improve your timing and control and there’s simple connectivity too.
This makes it possible for you to jam along with your top tunes whenever you get the urge.
13) Yamaha DTX 760K Electronic Drums
In a final entry for Yamaha, we’ve arguably saved the best until last. The DTX 760K is a premium model that will have you cleaning out your bank account to pay for it. However, we’d say it’s worth every dime. Inside the box, you’ll find a nine-piece kit which includes one snare, three toms, four cymbals, and a kick pad.
The DTX pads are a class apart, providing a realistic and natural feel to every beat. This is only helped by the special TCS silicone surface. Intelligent sensors on both the head and the rim deliver dual-zone functionality for more precise results.
The module connects to other media effortlessly, opening up excellent software which provides a variety of options such as playback and audio adjustment.
The module itself is a thing of beauty with an eye-watering 1,268 drums sounds and a total of 1,396 voices. If this isn’t enough, you can load up your own samples instead using a USB stick. Clearly, drumming never felt more unique!
14) Alesis Strike Pro Drum Set
This is the motherload of all the Alesis drum kits we featured here. A magnificent 11 pieces are included in this drum set. It was created with the aim of rivaling or even bettering, the top acoustic kits. They even aimed to rival the best electronic drum kits on the market too.
Alesis have poured every ounce of effort they have into making this electronic kit absolutely flawless. The layout is one of the first things you’ll spot as this kit looks professional from top to bottom.
The drum pads are intended to mimic real drums in terms of size and appearance, while the kick pad and cymbals look impressive too. The module, known as “The Strike,” has a whopping library of sounds, all of which are authentic and realistic.
You can sample audio from elsewhere, allowing for an extra capability that opens up new options.
With space for an SD memory card and MIDI/USB connectivity, it’s possible to take your drumming in a whole new direction. “The Strike” stores over 1,600 instrument sounds but altogether, there is room for at least 100 kits. They also include a software editor is to help you upload your own “.wav” files and for creating custom sounds.
Drum roll please!
There we have it, the final list of the top electronic drum kits on the market today. From entry level to professional grade, the best electronic drum kits according to Men’s Gear are here. If you’re a drummer but haven’t taken a turn behind an electronic set yet, you might want to seriously consider the idea.
More and more pro drummers are going electronic, either for a back-up or practice drum set. In some cases, they use them for live performances too.
They’re a great starting point for newbies too, providing a taste for playing the drums without the commitment that an acoustic set requires. Scroll through our list above of the hottest electronic drum kits around and find one that matches your budget and needs.
We are positive that any of these kits could be useful to any drummer at any stage.
Learning or professional, we put this list together with both in mind. This is why we’re so high on all of the drums above. We’re sure these electronic drum kits won’t disappoint you, regardless of which you pick.