There’s really no getting around it, drums are loud. But the best electronic drums can be whisper quiet and will allow you to practice whenever you want. That’s really one of the main reasons drummers turn to electronic drums over acoustic drums. Yet, once you play on the best electronic drum set, you’ll learn more about the advantages they have to offer in terms of customization and versatility. Electronic drums come packed with a wide range of different sounds and features. In fact, most modern models now offer MIDI capabilities, which means they can be hooked up to your laptop or PC. Doing this allows for even more creative possibilities when it comes to sound.
There are also models available that come with built-in tools designed to help you to become an even better drummer. The recording options and built-in metronome are just a couple of ways you can enhance your skills. A lot of these kits will also let you plug in your smartphone or another type of mobile device and play your favorite songs so you can drum along.
Beginners can also take advantage of sets that are equipped with training modules that will teach them about rhythm and timing.
However, not every electronic drum set is created equal. It can be difficult, if not impossible, to find a set that offers realistic sound. This can be even more difficult if you’ve been playing on acoustic drums for years.
So, how can you weed through the hundreds of models online and narrow down your search to find the best electronic drum set to meet your playing needs, drumming style, and budget?
Fortunately for you, we’ve got you covered.
We’ve reviewed some of the top-selling models on the market and found four of the best quality electronic drum sets that can fit any budget. Whether the set received a high consumer rating for sound quality, ease of use, versatility, pad rebound, or its built-in learning modules and sound library, we’ve found the perfect electronic drum set for users of all skill levels.
We’ve also included a review of one electronic drum set you should steer clear of, despite its high consumer rating and lower price.
How Electronic Drums are a Total Game Changer
This site will make it easy for you to find the right electronic drum set you need that can take your drumming to the next level.
In general, electronic drum kits have come a long way over the past five years. Their dual zone capabilities will allow drummers to play on the rim and head, while the cymbals feature up to three different zones which means you’ll get a more realistic sound. If you’ve played electronic drums in the past and found that their flat sound and limitations were a poor imitation of the real thing, these new top-selling models will make you want to give electronic drums another chance, especially once you find out how newer models now offer a realistic sound, recording capabilities, and built-in headphone outputs that allow you to drum away to your heart’s content any time of the night or day.
Alesis Forge Electronic Drum Set:
This is a beginner-friendly set that’s feature-packed, intuitive, and fun to learn on. While the Forge module is reason enough for any drummer to buy, the set’s limitations don’t make it a good buy for seasoned drummers.
Roland TD-11K-S V-Compact Series Electronic Drum Set:
Hands down, this is the best electronic drum set we came across. Versatile, compact, and offering studio recording sound quality, this drum set is perfect for a wide range of applications including live performances, practice sessions, studio recording, and much more.
Ddrum DD1 Digital Drum Set 100 Series:
Perfect for home use or to learn on, this highly customizable set comes with a ton of features that will make it fun to play along to your favorite songs. Because the sound isn’t quite recording studio quality, this set is a better option for a beginner or a drummer in search of a set they can use at home for practice.
Yamaha DTX532K Electronic Drum Set:
If you’re new to drumming then you’ll love the variety of training modules this set is loaded with. The DTX532K is a great buy for drummers of all skill levels and comes loaded with a ton of features that will make practicing, playing live gigs, or recording in the studio a true pleasure.
Carlsbro CSD130XXX Electronic Drum Set:
We take pride in only recommending the best of the best. Unfortunately, this Carlsbro electronic drum set fails in a number of areas, including performance, durability, and sound quality. This is definitely one model you’ll want to steer clear of at all costs.
This drum set comes with a mesh head V-pad for the snare, three toms, three cymbal pads, drum rack, a compact hi-hat combo, and drum rack.
The set also comes with twenty-five customizable drum kits and one hundred and ninety sounds. You can also hook up the drums to your PC via a standard MIDI cable, and you can trigger any sound using recording software.
The manufacturer boasts super natural sound technology. Each time you hit the drums the sound will always be different, depending on where and how you hit the drums. Each time you strike the drums it should sound brighter, louder, and the reverb will be longer. Basically, these electronic drums offer recording quality sound.
Using the up and down arrows on the drum’s module will change the entire sound of the drum set. This way, users can adapt their sound to the feel of specific songs. There’s a total of fifty slots designed for this, which is more than enough if you plan on using this set for live performances. The ambiance effects are also a big selling point and another reason why these drums work for both live and studio performances. With just a push of a button, the drummer can change their digital environment from full-size stadium to small recording space and achieve differences in echo, reverb, and more.
The TD11K brings a realistic and natural playing experience to drummers of all skill levels, and they’re perfect for a variety of applications including live performances, recording sessions, practice, and teaching.
The super natural sound technology provides a natural, more expressive drumming experience. The included sound library is equipped with a variety of music genres for practice and performance.
The large LCD screen and user interface are easy to navigate. The module also comes with playback for MP3 and .WAV audio tracks so you can play along to your favorite tracks.
The drum rack is solid and compact, enabling the drummer to set up or break down the set quickly. The flexible position options will allow drummers to enjoy the perfect setup based on user preference.
The most common complaint we ran into involved the hi-hat. Most drummers felt that it wasn’t sensitive enough to signal noise unless you strike it really hard.
Other buyers felt that for the price, the set should have included a kick pedal.
If you’re looking for the best electronic drum set, your search is over. This model by Roland has it all and can do it all. It’s perfect for practice, live gigs, and even studio recording sessions. While it’s a great set to learn on, for the price, it may be a better buy for experienced drummers. Overall, it offers plenty of great features that will have you motivated to practice or record. The easy setup and breakdown, combined with the compact design also make this one of the most portable sets we reviewed. The drum set’s sheer versatility ensures this is an electronic drum set you’ll be able to use and rely on for years to come.
This electronic drum set by Yamaha comes with six hundred and ninety-one drum sounds, a three-zone snare pad for side-stick, rim shot, and head, an innovative hi-hat system, a large ten-inch ride and crash cymbal, two toms, and a ten-inch hi-hat cymbal. Drummers will also love the seven-inch drum pads that are designed for enhanced durability and playability, and the training functions feature complete with voice guidance.
The set’s included hi-hat trigger and stand allows the drummer to position the set based on user preference, while the included DTX pad snare offers the proper response that will help the beginner to develop their own technique. The ride and crash cymbal features edge, bow, and cup voices that are both choke-able and mute-able.
The training functions are a must-have for the emerging drummer, making this a great set for teachers and beginners alike.
The USB port will allow you to import custom .WAV files and provides more control over VSTi software.
With the help of laser technology, the trigger settings offer a more natural feel and feature laser accuracy. You’ll also get popular features such as cymbal muting, smoother snare rolls, and natural cymbal swells. Basically, this kit will respond to every nuance you play.
The hi-hat system offers a dual-zone trigger pad for bow and edge sounds. It mounts to the included hi-hat stand, so you can enjoy realistic pedal actual and more positioning options. The hi-hat is also able to express a variety of styles such as closed pedal, open and closed, and foot splash. To add some subtle nuances to the beat the drummer can even play edge and tip voices.
The three-zone cymbal pads are able to express different sounds in each of the edge, bow, and cup zones. Overall, the cymbals offer low acoustic noise and a good stick feel. The cymbals can be muted before a strike and they also offer the choke function all the way around the edge.
The drum training features can challenge even seasoned drummers. Using these training modules will help users to improve essential drumming skills ranging from endurance and accuracy to timing. The module even generates a score if you want to keep a close eye on your progress.
One of the main issues consumers had with this set was the time-consuming and slightly confusing assembly process. The directions aren’t very detailed, and if you don’t have much experience setting up electronic drums or drums in general, then you can expect to spend two to three hours putting this massive set together. Additionally, some consumers were disappointed that this kit didn’t come with a bass pedal or throne.
A little on the pricey side, this Yamaha electronic drum set is equipped with a ton of features that will inspire even pro drummers. The learning modules are fun, challenging and will keep your drumming skills at their best, while the overall sound quality of the set makes them a great option for recording, live gigs, or practice. This popular drum set received plenty of consumer praise, not only for its excellent sound quality, but also for its versatility, durability, and intuitive module.
This electronic drum kit comes with a total of four rubber pads, cable snake, power adapter, four-post chrome rack, hi-hat pedal, kick drum pedal, kick pad tower, and the Forge drum module. Basically, it comes with everything you need to get started, making it a great option for beginners.
When it comes to the price and the package size this kit is definitely marketed toward the beginner, but in terms of quality, even the seasoned drummer will appreciate the Forge module.
This module is rich and deep, offering excellent song samples and an extensive sound library. It comes equipped with a total of seventy kits, fifty of which are factory presets. The drummer also has the option to custom build twenty kits. The sound library comes with six hundred carefully constructed sounds. Beginners will love the sixty play-along tracks and the metronome.
The included rubber pads are responsive, offering a more realistic drumming sound than you’d expect.
This is a large eight-piece set that comes with an eleven-inch dual-zone snare, three cymbals, and three eight-inch tom pads. The four-post rack is pretty solid and easy to set up.
This package comes with all the components, and presets you’ll need to create your own music or learn how to play like the pros.
The sample library setup is probably the kit’s best feature. In addition to the hundreds of sound samples, you can also expand the library, adding custom .WAV format samples. To do, just use a thumb drive in the appropriate port.
The rack is well-built and easy to put together. Assembly time will take approximately half an hour. Consumers reported that the included user’s manual came with very detailed instructions that were easy to follow.
This electronic drum set is highly customizable, which is a huge selling point for both beginners and pros.
Some pros felt that the sound quality was lacking. For the price and considering the fact that the set features rubber instead of mesh drum heads, you really can’t expect more. Overall, the set is a great buy for the beginner or the seasoned drummer in search of a great kit to use for practice.
Some consumers felt that the price was a little steep for a set that’s obviously designed for the beginner, however, the quality of the components, especially the Forge module, tons of extras, and intuitive setup are reason enough to buy.
The Alesis Forge electronic drum set is feature-packed and very versatile. The drummer can record tracks, upload new sounds, or take advantage of the hundreds of free sounds in the extensive sound library. However, while for the price we found the rubber pads offered decent sound, in some areas it simply fell flat. It’s a great set for beginners, but it doesn’t offer the type of realistic sound a drummer would need for studio recording purposes.
The Ddrum DD1 set is a great sounding electronic drum set that features a five-piece configuration complete with four single-zone pads, in addition to the hi-hat, and ride and crash cymbal pads. This type of setup is very durable and creates a more realistic feel that both pros and amateurs can appreciate.
This set also comes with two hundred and eighteen preset sounds and a ton of customizable options. The twenty preset kits are ready to go and drummers can take advantage of the ten user-programmed kits as well. The fifty preset songs are perfect for beginners, or consumers can use the auxiliary jack and drum along to their favorite songs on their iPod or another type of MP3 player.
This is one of Ddrum’s more affordably priced models and one of their most popular budget-friendly electronic drum sets to date.
This drum kit offers great sound quality, delivering on its promise to faithfully reproduce analog drum sounds. It’s also a pretty sturdy set that can effortlessly handle normal wear and tear.
There are a number of customizable options that make experimenting and playing along to MP3 tracks fun and easy.
The response is decent, although if you’re used to playing acoustic drums you’ll immediately notice the difference.
The drum set is easy to set up and break down. The sleek, compact design makes it a good choice for any drummer who is short on space in the home.
Bottom line, this set is very versatile, customizable, and has a lot to offer any drummer who wants to enjoy practicing at home or creating their own drum tracks. It’s a fun set but it won’t meet the needs of a seasoned drummer who is looking for an electronic set with a more realistic feel.
There were some drummers who reported that this set shouldn’t be used for studio recording. Users claimed that the set missed a lot of triggers, resulting in the drums sounding off time. Others felt that the cymbals were too sensitive, stating if you’re used to playing acoustic drums, learning how to strike the cymbals for the right sound can take some getting used to.
We felt that the Ddrum DD1 came with plenty of features and extras that make it a good buy for the beginner or even the pro drummer who’s looking for a set to practice on. This set is also perfect if you’re looking for electronic drums that are highly portable. Their performance is surprisingly good, but this set does have its limitations. Unfortunately, it doesn’t offer studio recording quality sound, which also makes it a poor choice for live performances. Overall, this set remains one of Ddrums top-selling models simply because it does offer excellent sound quality in the right environment and for the right application. Overall, we found that most buyers were satisfied with this model for practice, learning, and home use only.
This electronic drum set by Carlsbro comes with a Digitron display, two hundred and fifty percussion sounds, twenty presets, USB interface, headphone output, a two-inch bass pad, seven and a half-inch snare pad, a few seven and a half inch toms, a ten-inch hi-hat, ten-inch cash cymbal, ten-inch ride cymbal, hi-hat controller pedal, drumsticks, and a three-legged drum rack. It’s also priced affordably and features a compact design that makes it a good choice if you don’t have the room to accommodate a traditional sized drum set.
Sounds great, right?
It also received a decent consumer rating, but for all the wrong reasons. The only area this drum set excels in is the price.
Unfortunately, this is one of those too good to be true situations. You can expect to run into issues with functionality when you buy a lower priced electronic drum set, but even a lower priced set should work as advertised. This model runs into a number of issues ranging from lack of power, interrupted play, and poor performance and sound quality.
While the manufacturer claims the set offers a realistic sound, excellent response, and an innovative setup that makes this set very beginner-friendly, we found that this drum set was anything but a good buy.
To start, there have been a number of reports that the module shorts out, mid-play. You may start your practice session off well, getting into the right rhythm, with perfect timing and the drum pads will begin to cut out.
Additionally, the toms and crash cymbal will begin to randomly play on their own. When you’re playing you can also expect the sounds to get crossed on occasion.
In terms of quality and durability, the rack is very flimsy and the screws refuse to stay tightened, so you’ll find yourself constantly repositioning the pads.
If you’re a beginner, this will be the worst set to learn on. Not only is using this set frustrating and a hassle, but the poor sound quality can turn anyone off to using electronic drums in the future.
Other users reported that the set isn’t able to transmit MIDI as advertised, which is a huge drawback for consumers.
An electronic drum set that’s best described as unplayable, if you’re used to acoustic drums then this model will have you running back to them in no time. The set’s lack of versatility, poor sound quality, flimsy construction, and power issues make this model a poor choice for drummers of all skill levels. It’s a shame that it’s marketed as a great buy for beginners when in truth, its limited functionality will be very discouraging to all players.
Bottom line, avoid this electronic drum set at all costs. Save your hard-earned money and find a set with a reputation for versatility and quality.
Electronic Drum Set Buying Guide
The best electronic drum set features an almost limitless choice of cymbals, kicks, toms, and snares, not to mention a wide range of percussion sounds. Basically, electronic drums give the drummer an endless source of sounds. Drummers can also plug in a pair of headphones and practice any time of the day or night.
Adding sound effects is also a cinch, giving the drummer more creative freedom and versatility than they’d have using a standard drum set.
Most electronic drum sets consist of a mesh head or rubber pad, with a sensor located underneath. When you hit the pad, the sensor relays the voltage to the drum’s brain or sound module, which translates the value, triggering a specific sound. The module translates the strike velocity into a dynamic value, reproducing louder or softer sound.
Some sets come with three or more sensors under the surface. This will give the pad the ability to produce more sounds.
Because you don’t have to mic up an electronic drum set like you’d have to with traditional drums, setting up is also much faster. The lack of mics also eliminates feedback and sound bleed caused by other instruments. These drums are typically much easier to control in terms of volume.
Electronic drum sets also allow you to easily edit your music, adjusting the sound and volume to suit your recording. You can edit just a few notes or your entire performance using a wide range of sounds. A recorded performance can be captured as MIDI data, so editing a track is just as easy as cutting and slicing a regular audio track.
In the studio, electronic drums can be plugged directly into a mixing board, making it easy to get good sound without an extensive mic setup.
If you normally use standard drums, then you know how big of a hassle it can be to pack up each drum, snare, and stand, and transport them for a gig or recording session. You definitely need a large vehicle to transport them and someone to help you load and unload them. Electronic drums are highly portable. Just pack them up into a couple of cases and put them in your trunk. That’s it. These drums will take up less space in your car, at the studio, or on a crowded stage.
A Learning Tool
Most models feature built-in presets that can help you learn how to play drums or how to create music using your new electronic drum kit. You can play along with these patterns and brush up on coordination or build muscle memory. Some models feature specific metronome functions and learning tools that can help beginners to develop their ability and timing. A USB connector or aux input built into the sound module is designed to connect to iOS devices, external music players, PCs, or laptops, so you can play along with your favorite pieces and edit the sound using an app or external software.
A Look at the Components
Electronic drums have really come a long way since their debut in the late 70s. These days, electronic drums offer excellent response, using mesh heads or rubber pads.
The mesh heads or trigger pads come equipped with up to three sensors. A single sensor head will trigger one sound, while two or three trigger heads can trigger multiple sounds based on which part of the cymbal or drum is struck.
The rubberized pads have a feel that’s very similar to traditional practice pads. Unlike mesh heads, these rubber pads have a similar feel from one pad to the next. The pads can be a great choice for sustained tones and triggering loops due to this feel consistency. Pads are often used in lower priced electronic drum sets.
Mesh heads are quite different. First off, they feature a tightly woven surface that responds more like an acoustic drum head and they offer an enhanced rebound that makes them easier to play. Many types of mesh heads are highly adjustable and can be tuned to the player’s preference in terms of tension. Mesh heads are also more expensive than rubberized pads.
The cymbal pads are either shaped like traditional cymbals or like a portion of a real cymbal. Some models allow you to choke the cymbals and offer swinging motion. Three-zone or dual zone cymbals come with separate triggers so you’ll have multiple playing surfaces, so it offers a more realistic playing experience.
Hi-hats have also come a long way in terms of a more realistic sound. Hi-hats that are multi-zoned produce a wider range of sounds that offer a more realistic, expressive playing experience because they’re more responsive to closed and open techniques.
The Brains Behind Electronic Drums
The drum module is the brains of the electronic drums. Modules tend to vary in quality, number, and type. Most modules feature a variety of special effects and instruments as well as percussion and drum sounds. Others feature independent volume levels for each of the triggers, so you can create custom studio or live mixes. A module typically offers a choice of preset drum kits that are designed for specific music genres such as hip-hop, rock, or jazz. With just a push of a button, you can call up a new kit. Some modules allow users to create their own custom kits by choosing from a variety of kick drums, snares, cymbals, and toms contained in the module. Premium models will even let you download new sounds from online libraries so the options really are limitless.
When comparing modules, there are some capabilities and features you should consider, such as:
Sound options: Often, there’s a link between the quality and amount of sounds and the price. Higher priced models come equipped with all the basic drum set sounds that you’d expect, but they also feature a wide range of special effects, percussion instructions, wood blocks, bells, and more. They also allow the drummer to create and edit their own sounds.
Presets: Every module will come with a decent selection of two-bar preset patterns or drum parts that are focused on a specific music style. Like we briefly touched on earlier, these presets can allow the beginner to learn how to play the drums or perfect their technique. Many modules come with play-along tracks that make practicing inspirational, motivating, and fun.
Realistic sound and feel: Good quality modules offer accurate and faster trigger response, giving the user the same feedback they would normally get from acoustic drums. Basically, the module will respond more accurately to nuances in the drummer’s playing technique, providing audio feedback that parallels the drummer’s playing style. For a more realistic playing experience, the drummer can tweak the velocity and sensitivity of the module’s response. Many even allow you to adjust the EQ of individual cymbals and drums, providing a more balanced mix. To improve overall sound, they also often come with ambiance effects.
When you’re shopping for the best electronic drums, search for a module that has a reputation for positional sensing. This is the ability to respond accurately when the drummer is playing on cymbals or snares that have two or three triggers. The best model will be able to reproduce the drummer’s playing style using subtle sound variations.
When it comes to cymbal quality, the module’s performance is especially critical. The sound should have the same amount of power you’d get when using an acoustic crash cymbal. Brush sounds and delicate swells should also be accurately reproduced.
The sounds of flams, buzz rolls, and open rolls on the drums should sound smooth and remain continuous between each hit. When you’re researching different models, pay attention to electronic drum set reviews to learn more about their sound. Do the tom resonance and drums sound real? What about the sound of the kick drum and acoustic bass drum?
Connectivity and Upgrade Options
In the future, if you plan on expanding your kit with more triggers and pads, make sure that the module you choose offers enough connectors for this. USB ports allow you to transfer MIDI data to workstations and digital audio interfaces, providing access to a wide variety of software. Modules that are equipped with audio inputs that allow you to connect to MP3 players and CD players allow you to play along with your favorite tracks. When it comes to studio settings and live performances, multiple outputs can also be useful. Before you buy, make sure these outputs can support the type of amp system you normally use.
If you’re used to traditional drums, then playing on an electronic drum set may not sound quite as powerful. You can remedy this issue by using in-ear monitors or by mounting a couple of monitor speakers to the drum rack.
Mesh Heads Versus Rubber Pads
We know that mesh heads are pricier but are they really a better option than rubber pads?
To start, rubber pads are of course the more economical choice. Additionally, if you’re adding pads to an acoustic kit then you’re probably tight on space. These pads can slip into even the smallest spaces and can even fit over the rims of an acoustic drum. Most drummers will prefer their controllers to have a similar or identical rebound and response as they go from pad to pad. Rubber pads offer more consistency compared to mesh heads. While years ago, playing on pads had a sound that was similar to drumming on the kitchen table, these days, pads are made from a reformulated rubber that features more give when it’s struck, offering a more natural bounce.
When it comes to mesh heads, most drummers agree that they offer a more realistic feel in terms of rebound and give. When they’re used in conjunction with a module that supports these features, mesh heads offer a wider range of sound responses that are based on the area of the drum or snare you strike.
The ability to adjust their tension in order to achieve a rebound and feel that suits you is another immediate advantage.
Whether you should go with rubber pads or mesh heads will ultimately depend on your sound expectations, playing style, and of course, your budget.
Hybrid Electronic Drum Kits
It’s not uncommon for a drummer to feel uncomfortable playing on an electronic drum kit. But the versatility and convenience that an electronic kit can offer are often what causes the drummer to make the switch. However, if you’re still struggling to get used to playing on electronic drums, there’s another option. You can also equip your traditional drums with acoustic triggers. This will allow you to enjoy the best of both worlds. This type of hybrid setup means you’ll get the benefit of the digital drum module while enjoying that classic feel of a full acoustic set.
Higher quality triggers are designed to easily integrate with acoustic sets and they’re designed to prevent false triggering. These triggers can be mounted on the inside of drums or on the rims to accurately capture sound range.
Final Thoughts on Electronic Drum Sets
Long ago, guitar players and keyboardists embraced the technology that allowed them to take large leaps into new musical territory. Now, it’s the drummer’s turn to take their music in a new direction.
As you’ve learned by now, electronic drum sets offer plenty of benefits such as the ability to download hundreds of sounds from online sound libraries, easier editing, and portability. And nothing can really beat the ability to dial in the perfect drum kit sounds that will suit your music perfectly.
Recording flexibility, better quality sound during live music performances and the freedom to practice late at night should be more than enough to encourage you to make the switch from acoustic to electronic.
We hope by reading the electric drum set reviews and our buying guide, you have a better idea of what you’re looking for and the type of electronic drum kit that’s right for you, your budget, and your playing style.