The Most Important Things About Electronic Drum SetsWe selected the best using these factors:
Each drum kit produces different qualities of sound, depending on many factors. Some may sound too artificial and digital, while others produce a real drum feel. The top electronic drum sets readily mimic acoustic ones and reproduce supreme sonic quality. This is probably the most important factor.
The pads that come with an electronic drum also affect the performance. The ones made of mesh are usually quieter, but the rubber ones have a more consistent feel. Whether it is made of a soft mesh surface or a bouncy hard rubber, the best ones strike a good balance between material and ease of use.
Electronic drum sets offer more flexibility than their predecessor acoustic ones. The more advanced and top ones offer a wide range of rhythms and functions that can jive well to any music genre and adapt to any venue.
With any equipment, there will always be stand out manufacturers. The same remains true for electronic drum kits. The best ones come from a company’s line of products that have been developed with durability in mind. These companies are the ones with a known reputation for providing good quality drum kits, at a reasonable cost. You'll want to keep an eye out for companies that have been around for a long time, e.g. Roland, Yamaha, or Alesis.
Size of the Set
When choosing your kit, you’ll want to look at how many samples it comes with, how many pieces it has, and whether it can be expanded by adding more pads, bass drum pedals, or another drum module. The wider the range of sound it offers, the more complex the pieces that usually comes with. Electronic drum sets that can be expanded, in terms of sound and components, usually offer more value for money as they can accommodate all levels of users.
Best Cheap Electronic Drum Kit
PAXCESS Electronic Drum Set Review
Best Bang for Buck
Alesis Nitro Kit Review
Best Advanced Kit
Alesis Surge Mesh Kit Review
What Are Electronic Drums?
When it comes to percussions and drum sets, it is usually the traditional and acoustic ones that come into mind. With the advent of the more practical and toned-down electronic drum sets, beginners, as well as experienced and professional ones, have turned to these digitally-powered setups, without many trade-offs.
Electronic drum kits are basically the digital version of the traditional drum sets. They are generally less space-hogging and a lot lighter as compared to their bulky predecessors. A typical electronic drum kit consists of a drum module (sometimes called the brain) and drum pads that are either made of rubber or mesh. These pads, whether upper drums or the lower kick pads, have built-in sensors underneath them. Once you tap the pads with your drumsticks or hit the kick pedals, the sensors will automatically translate these into digital signals. The module then converts these signals into a sound equivalent to that made by the corresponding drum set part (snares, cymbals, hi-hat, toms, and so on).
Depending on how fast or slow you trigger the sensors and the drum module (through your taps and kicks), these kits are capable of replicating loud or soft sounds, as if you were hitting an actual drum set. With the best kits, the drum modules offer a very wide selection of functions, allowing drummers to produce various sounds for different musical genres.
Before drum sets were introduced, orchestra music was played by different percussionists. This meant that musical scores that needed the sounds of drums and cymbal pads would be played by two different musicians in charge of these instruments.
Electronic Drum Sets vs Traditional Sets
So why would you even buy an electronic drum set over traditional, acoustic drums?
Here are 9 reasons you’ll love electronic drum kits once you give them a chance:
- They’re quiet when you need them to be. Whether you are a beginner who wants to practice constantly or a pro who just wants a few hours of music jamming, having an electronic drum set will come in handy. This is because your electronic drums can be played no matter what time of day, without having to worry about the noise. They are considerably quieter than acoustic ones, so you can bang away to your satisfaction.
- You can easily record your best beats. Electronic drum sets also have built-in connectivity functions, making it easy for you to hook it up with your smartphone or computer. They also have recording functionality such that your tracks and beats can be recorded for personal use.
- Play along to your favorite songs. They also have ports readily available, so you can plug in your earphones or amp anytime and play the drums alongside your favorite beats.
- Extremely portable. Unlike their traditional and acoustic counterparts, electronic drum sets are easier to bring, wherever you go. As they are considerably lighter, you can carry them along for daily band practice, leisure music jam sessions, and even your next gig.
- Way better bang for the buck. A less pricey alternative, electronic drum kits tend to be cheaper than the traditional ones. With wider functionality and convenience offered, these kits give more value for your money.
- Ultimate versatility. Acoustic drum sets are limited to certain musical genres, which is why people used to have different sets for different musical styles. As most electronic drum kits are packed with hundreds of different sounds that you can change within seconds, they can adapt well to almost any musical genre being played.
- Get the perfect sound with every hit. Traditional drums are prone to human errors such as mishitting drum parts which may affect your entire play. Electronic drum kits’ sensor triggers offer a safety net for mishits, making sure your performance runs as smooth as possible.
- Better sound quality. Sounds produced by the kit’s module, once triggered, come from a pre-recorded set of drum set sounds. Since these sounds have been recorded beforehand, they have undergone modulation and necessary adjustments so that they come clean and perfect.
- More durability, less wear and tear. Materials used for electronic drum kits have higher durability. Perhaps due to their output’s digital nature, the build of these e-kits ensures longevity and protection from the natural wear and tear of constant use.
- Perfect for beginners. If you are a beginner and would like to learn about the basics, an electronic kit is the best place to start your lessons. The best kits come with practice and learning modes, making it easier to jumpstart your drumming career as soon as you unbox them.
The number one spot in Rolling Stone’s feature of 100 Greatest Drummers of All Time belonged to Led Zeppelin’s drummer, John Bonham. Other notable drummers in this list are Keith Moon of The Who and Ginger Baker of Cream.
Best Drum Kits for Beginners
For beginners who want to develop their skills at playing the drums, the choice boils down to whether they should go for the traditional acoustic ones or the best electronic drum sets. These days, the digital sets win due to sheer practicality, convenience, and versatility.
Choosing the right set is a crucial phase of one’s drumming career and will depend on several factors. Here are some things to consider when buying your very first electronic drum kit:
- Ease of Use. Unlike with acoustic drum sets where you can simply sit and start playing, an electronic set will require some fiddling around. Choose one that can be used intuitively and does not require a lot of fuss.
- Material. Most pros suggest going for electronic drum kits with mesh heads as the rebound from rubber ones may cause arm strain for beginners.
- Provision for Expansion. Although you are buying your kit as a beginner, you may want to consider expanding it in the future. You may choose to get one with just the basic components that will help you easily learn the skills. Sets that offer these basic components with provision for additional pieces and sounds will ensure its longevity.
- Price. While most high-end electronic drum kits are in the premium price range, they also offer a wider selection of sounds and features that can make your drumming experience more enjoyable. If budget is the foremost consideration, choose kits with standard features and functions (such as tutorials and earphone jacks) that come with affordable prices.
Additional Gear You'll Need
When it comes to playing your very own electronic drum set, there are a few more things that you can add to your setup for maximum musical satisfaction. These are:
- Headphones. Depending on your sets ports, you can plug in 1/8“ or ¼“ headphones to your drum set, so you can play the drums and not worry about loud noise emanating from it.
- Additional drumsticks. While your trusty old wooden drumsticks may be functioning well, it never hurts to have a spare set around. Others even buy them with nylon tips for extra care to their electronic drum heads.
- Sound amplifiers. For those who want a lively music jamming session at home or an amped up gig setup, high-quality sound amplifiers are your best bet for your electronic drum kits. Choose amps that are specifically designed for electronic drum kit inputs for ultimate performance.
- Expansion packs. Some sets have provisions for expansion and additional drum heads/components. As your level of competency increases, you will be needing these packs to help you upgrade your drumming skills.
- Software downloads. To maximize the connectivity features of your electronic drum set, you can opt to download software and applications that can help you modify and edit your recorded tracks. Some brands have their own compatible software versions, so make sure to check these recommendations as well.
Sir Richard Starkey MBE’s Ludwig drum kit was sold at auction for a whopping $2.1M. More popularly known as Ringo Starr, Sir Starkey is the renowned drummer for the world-famous band: The Beatles.
What Else To Consider While Choosing Your Electronic Drum Set
- Sound quality
Each kit varies widely when it comes to the sound quality that its module produces. The more high-end ones are known for their sophisticated, more natural feel and quite flexible (as some can be edited) sounds, while the others have a more standard sonic quality. Make sure to try out different sets before making a final decision, so you can compare the quality of music you can make in each kit.
Depending on your preference, the materials of the drum pads can also be a deal breaker when it comes to finding the best electronic drum set. Ones equipped with rubber pads are popular for beginners because they offer good quality music at an affordable price. Rubber pads are also sometimes preferred by drummers who want consistency and rebound in terms of pad response – allowing to sustain tones or generate loops. While pricier, professional drummers usually go for the mesh pads as they have more sensitive sensors and can be tuned or customized in terms of tension. These mesh pads are also dubbed to be closer in feel to an actual acoustic drum head.
The flexibility of electronic drum kits stems from the wide range of features they provide drummers, especially when it comes to function. For example, beginners love kits that have more tracks included for learning and practice. Pros and enthusiasts, on the other hand, are attracted to the myriad of percussion and sound effects that electronic modules have. These module sound features can range from the preset ones to those that can be customized to your preference.
Connectivity is also a must-have for most players as this allows for greater personalization and simultaneous/multiple music outputs. Depending on the brand and model, some kits can be connected to smartphones. Others may allow users access to their digital audio workstations (DAW) and MP3 players through the help of USB midi and audio input ports.
Manufacturers and brands also influence buyer decisions, when it comes to purchasing almost anything. While it is tempting to go for the lesser-known and cheaper brands, most drummers still go for the known and trusted brands. In the long run, the drum set will be subjected to hits and taps that will require utmost durability. The more credible and known electronic drum set brands will usually pass this longevity test.
- Size of the set
While electronic drum kits are generally smaller than the traditional ones, they still vary in size. The simpler ones intended for beginner and home use are usually more compact. The ones that can cater to the pros and for other musical purposes (such as gigs) have more components and often come with room for expansion. The size of the set also matters, especially in relation to the venue and the person who will be using it in the long run.
Best Cheap Electronic Drum KitPAXCESS Electronic Drum Set
A good enough starting point for beginners, the PAXCESS Electronic Drum Set is an acceptable e-drum kit that can provide your drum set needs, without making a big dent in the budget. Portable and easy to use, this e-drum set can be enjoyed for longer periods and has the basic connectivity of a standard electronic drum kit.
- Rechargeable (with up to 10 hours playtime)
- Built-in speakers and earphone jacks
We don't like
- No rack support
- Small pads
- Limited to beginners’ use
Best Bang for BuckAlesis Nitro Kit
Providing both dynamic feel and good quality music, the Alesis Nitro Kit offers a complete electronic drum kit experience at a good price point. With 8-piece drum pads made of rubber, this e-drum kit mimics an acoustic drum set feel, while providing a natural response to every drummer’s hits and taps.
- Wide-range of function
- Full-size kit
We don't like
- No drum throne
- Headphone jack compatibility
Best Electronic Drum SetAlesis Surge Mesh Kit
Poised for perfection, the Alesis Surge Mesh Kit is a perfect choice for both pros and beginners that want the premium electronic drum set. It comes with drum pads made of mesh heads with tensions that can be customized. Its module is also packed with as much as 40 kits, 60 play-along tracks, and 385 sounds, for the ultimate jamming experience.
- Customizable mesh drum pads
- Great sound quality
- Diverse connectivity
We don't like
- Not as compact
- Higher price range
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