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Traditional drum sets are so cemented in popular music and culture that they won’t be going anywhere for some time. It just looks too cool to see your favorite band’s logo pulsing on the kick drum. Anyone who has lugged a full kit around, however, knows they are inherently noisy, bulky instruments that can be difficult to maintain and impossible to keep quiet. Over the last 50 years, the best electronic drum sets have emerged as a one-stop solution to these problems, offering up a robust, customizable user experience that allows drummers to practice, record, and perform with hardly any of the collateral noise associated with traditional drum sets.
Composed of touch-sensitive pads mounted on a frame and connected to a digital control center that holds the drum set’s sounds, electronic drum sets are arrays designed to emulate the sonic signatures of studio-quality acoustic drum kits through a tactile experience that’s as close to that of a real drum set as possible. And since electronic drum sets typically come with an output for headphones (or plug into a computer, which lets you route audio to the personal monitoring device of your choice), you can practice and/or record at all hours without having to worry about waking loved ones, roommates, neighbors, etc. Players of every skill level and genre can potentially benefit from an electronic drum set, so we’ve put together this comprehensive list of key considerations and kits when looking past acoustic drums.
- Best overall: Yamaha DTX6K-X Electronic Drum Set
- Best for small spaces: Roland TD-1K Electronic Drum Set
- Best for beginners: Roland TD-07DMK Electronic V-Drums
- Best for professionals: Roland TD-27KV Electronic Drum Set
- Best on a budget: Alesis Drums Nitro Mesh Kit
How we picked the electrics drum sets
To make our list of the best electronic drum sets on the market we eliminated all options that didn’t have a great reputation among users and critics. We then took into consideration the following key criteria to make sure our selections offer something for everyone:
Value. Electronic drum sets aren’t exactly inexpensive, but their high prices are directly related to their high cost of research, development, and manufacturing. We aimed to represent every reasonable price tier of the market with this list and each selection offers a set of features and a user experience that’s proportional to its price.
Brand. Because electronic drum sets are an investment, we chose long-standing industry-leading brands based upon their reputation for quality and continued innovation. Roland alone accounts for 53 percent of the market share in electronic drum sets, with Yamaha and Alesis following closely behind.
Flexibility. Users considering an electronic drum set over an acoustic drum set may do so thanks to the extra flexibility that an electronic kit provides, so we aimed to select the most customizable and user-friendly options available. That flexibility comes in a variety of forms depending on the product, including sound customization, component swapping, and space-saving design.
The best electronic drum sets: Reviews & Recommendations
Best overall: Yamaha DTX6K-X Electronic Drum Set
Why it made the cut: This best electronic drum set overall packs a perfectly balanced mix of versatility, durability, and customizability to cover a wide range of bases from practice and recording to stage performance.
- Kit Configuration: 1 x kick pad; 1 x snare pad; 3 x tom pads; 3 x cymbal pads; 1 x hat pedal
- Number of Sounds: 40 kits, 712 voices
- I/O: 1 x 1/8-inch TRS input; 2 x 1/4-inch TRS stereo output; 1 x 1/4-inch headphones; 1 x MIDI; 1 x USB Type-B; 1 x USB Type-A
The DTX6K-X electronic drum kit from Yamaha is an easy-to-use, feature-packed design that offers a high level of flexibility to beginning and professional drummers alike. Its accompanying DTX-PRO sound module gives players access to 40 built-in kits and a variety of customizable effects like reverb and compression for fine-tuning drum sounds to match any style and genre, and its unique three-zone snare pad and three-zone ride cymbal offer players the ability to perform realistic-sounding rolls, rim shots, cymbal chokes, and other advanced drum techniques. A built-in recording function, a metronome, and a memory bank for up to 200 custom kit configurations offer users robust control over how they practice and review their progress while allowing ample room for experimentation.
This electronic drum set includes a standalone hi-hat pedal trigger, but users will need to provide their own kick drum pedal to make use of the kick pad. This is a relatively common quirk with pro-level electronic drum kits that allows users to cherry-pick their preferred hardware, but it’s something to keep in mind if you don’t already have a kick pedal on hand. Additionally, its pads apart from the ride and snare consist of only one detection zone. While this doesn’t affect this drum kit’s ability to respond to varying levels of playing force, these single-zone pads lack the distinction between playing in the center versus on the edge of the drum head that one might experience with a traditional drum set.
Best for small spaces: Roland TD-1K Electronic Drum Set
Why it made the cut: The TD-1K offers the professional sounds of a full-sized drum set in a minimalist design that fits perfectly in any corner.
- Kit Configuration: 4 x drum pads; 3 x cymbal pads; 1 x hat pedal; 1 x kick pedal
- Number of Sounds: 15 kits
- I/O: 1 x 1/8-inch TRS input; 1 x 1/8-inch TRS output; 1 x USB Type-B
A leading manufacturer of painstakingly designed hardware and sound-packed modules that can stretch into the multiples of thousands in price, Roland has practically written the book on professional electronic drums. The TD-1K is the company’s answer to the demands of entry-level players and drummers who want to play in tight quarters, with a compact single-frame configuration that features uniformly sized drum pads, three cymbal pads, and two foot pedals. As the best electronic drum set for small spaces, this electronic drum kit features 15 kits and requires no extra hardware for full operation.
Because this kit is part of Roland’s product ecosystem, users can upgrade the pads with aftermarket mesh-head drums for an even more responsive feeling of play down the line. This upgradability may make this kit more appealing to pro users who dislike its lack of resemblance to traditional drum kits due to its small and streamlined pads. The TD-1K is considered Roland’s entry-level electronic drum set, so bear in mind that it’s limited to 15 kits and lacks a few pro-level features found on more expensive models, including 1/4-inch stereo outputs and effects.
Best for beginners: Roland TD-07DMK Electronic V-Drums
Why it made the cut: The TD-07MK’s design preserves much of the feel of a traditional drum set while remaining relatively compact, featuring customizable drum positioning and tunable mesh heads.
- Kit Configuration: 1 x kick pad; 4 x drum pads; 3 x cymbal pads; 1 x hat pedal
- Number of Sounds: 25 kits, 143 instruments
- I/O: 1 x 1/8-inch TRS input; 1 x 1/8-inch TRS output; 1 x USB Type-B; Bluetooth 4.1
As the best electronic drum set for beginners, this set is a well-rounded recording and practice tool that’s excellent for emulating the sound and the physical response of a traditional drum set. It’s easy to set up and built to customize, pairing a capable 143-sound module with 30 effects alongside quiet, responsive mesh heads. Via the module, users can tweak and equalize individual drums and add a simulated overhead microphone to their mix to dial in a realistic sound, and the snare and tom heads are tunable just like real drums, which allows players to set the drums’ physical response and head tension to their exact specifications.
The TD-07MK features five coaching modes within its module including timekeeping and counting modes aimed at enhancing players’ precision and reliability in real-world playing scenarios. An onboard Bluetooth receiver also allows the drum set to receive phone audio signals, allowing users to drum along with music of their choice and learn parts from their favorite recordings.
Like many mid- and pro-level electronic drum kits, the TD-07MK doesn’t include its own kick pedal, so users should bring their own. Also, the drum set’s module lacks the variety of outputs one might expect from a studio or stage-ready piece of equipment and is limited to a single 1/8-inch audio output, so it’s not the best choice for critical professional applications.
Best for professionals: Roland TD-27KV Electronic Drum Set
Why it made the cut: Priced to compete with pro acoustic drum sets, TD-27KV the best electronic drum set for professionals offer sophisticated hardware and a true-to-acoustic feeling of play along with a nearly infinite array of sound options.
- Kit Configuration: 1 x kick pad; 1 x mesh snare drum; 3 x mesh toms; 2 x hat pads; 2 x crash pads; 1 x ride pad
- Number of Sounds: 100 kits, 728 instruments
- I/O: 1 x 1/4-inch TRS input; 2 x 1/4-inch TRS stereo output; 2 x 1/4-inch TRS direct output; 1 x 1/4-inch headphones; 1 x USB Type-B; 3 x USB Type-A; Bluetooth 4.2
Players who want to experience the full range of sound control offered by acoustic drums and feel no noticeable difference in physical playing sensation will appreciate how the TD-27KV is designed to offer all that while remaining whisper-quiet. Roland’s streamlined TD-27 module offers users granular control over almost every aspect of their sound imaginable, from individual drum tuning and damping, wood shell type, microphone placement, snare wire, kick subs, and more. Because of this true-to-life customizability, this kit is perfect for acquiring a player’s preferred sound with the type of pinpoint accuracy needed for critical applications on stage and in the studio.
The TD-27KV is built to physically respond to users’ playing just like an acoustic drum set, featuring a 14-inch digital snare chock full with sensors that extend to its rim and an 18-inch multizone ride cymbal built to rock against its stand just like a real cymbal. Of particular note is the VH-10 hi-hat included with the kit, which mounts to a traditional hi-hat stand and responds to pedal depth to provide realistic open, closed, and partially closed sounds with plenty of true-to-life rebound.
As it’s a professional tool that’s meant to be customized to players’ tastes, the TD-27KV doesn’t include a hi-hat stand, snare stand, or a kick stand. This may bother some players due to the price of the kit, but this bring-your-own-hardware philosophy is standard practice in the world of acoustic drum kits as well. Users may also have some difficulty in the beginning navigating the TD-27 module, which offers so many customization options that it requires some studying despite its design being unassumingly sleek.
Best on a budget: Alesis Drums Nitro Mesh Kit
Why it made the cut: This five-drum electronic set is loaded with 40 kit sounds and offers pro features like tunable heads and USB connectivity on a budget.
- Kit Configuration: 1 x kick pad; 4 x drum pads; 3 x cymbal pads; 1 x hat pedal; 1 x kick pedal
- Number of Sounds: 40 kits, 385 sounds
- I/O: 1 x 1/8-inch TRS input; 2 x 1/4-inch TRS stereo output; 1 x 1/8-inch headphones; 1 x USB Type-B; 1 x MIDIv
Electronic drum sets are advanced pieces of equipment and can be prohibitively expensive for many players, especially when compared to traditional drum sets. The Nitro Kit from Alesis boasts five drum pads, three cymbal pads, 40 kit sounds and includes all required hardware below five bills, making it one of the best electronic drum sets on a budget currently on the market. Apart from its obvious first-glance similarities to more expensive competitors, the Nitro Kit sports other thoughtful features like tunable mesh heads to deliver customizable stick rebound and response, as well as USB and MIDI connectivity for seamless interfacing with recording software.
While the Nitro Kit provides a satisfying electronic drum playing experience at a great price, users should not expect the durability or sound quality found in more expensive and carefully manufactured units. This may not be an issue for intermittent playing, MIDI triggering, or everyday practice use, but the kit’s palette of sounds and overall feeling won’t be suited for critical applications where strict similarity to an acoustic drum kit is desired.
Things to consider when looking for an electronic drum set
How much control do you want over the sound?
A hallmark of acoustic drums is their nearly infinite responsiveness to user adjustment. Most electronic drum sets—apart from the most expensive models—are comparatively prohibitive, restricting users to a finite number of preset sounds. If you’re looking for an electronic drum set that offers a truly realistic set of option adjustments—including damping, tuning, wood types, and even reverb effects—the Roland TD-27KV electronic drum set is worth a look.
Do you have space?
While electronic drum sets take up less space than traditional drum sets, they still require a significant amount of room for setup and play. If you’re looking for a compact electronic drum kit that looks, feels, and responds to adjustment similarly to an acoustic drum kit, the Roland TD-07DMK electronic V-drums is a fantastic option. If you need even more space, the Roland TD-1K electronic drum set fits in the corner of a room and can be easily folded up when not in use.
What type of equipment will you be using with the drum set?
Electronic drum sets are available with a wide variety of input and output configurations. Users primarily looking to practice using their kit should consider the Roland TD-07DMK electronic V-drums thanks to its built-in Bluetooth compatibility that allows for playing along to backing tracks and other practice tools. If you want to interface with recording equipment and trigger samples in one of the best digital audio workstations (DAWs), electronic drum sets with USB compatibility like the Roland TD-1K electronic drum set or the Yamaha DTX6K-X electronic drum set are also good options. For recording sound directly from the electronic drum set’s module, you’ll need a kit like the Roland TD-27KV electronic drum set, which features dedicated stereo outputs and separate kick and snare outputs for easy mixing.
Q: Do electric drums sound real?
Not only are electronic drums painstakingly loaded with sounds that are specifically designed to sound like a professionally recorded acoustic drum set, but they may sound more consistently “right” than traditional acoustic drum sets depending on the space where they’re played. Because drums are loud, resonant instruments, their sound is easily affected by the space they’re in; for example, a drum set in a garage will unavoidably see its tone changed by reflections off the wood or metal door and the concrete floor. While some users may miss the endlessly customizable noise-making possibilities of an acoustic drum set, the best electronic drum sets pack hundreds of sounds and can still take you nearly all the way there with much less setup or the need to correct things.
Q: Are electronic drums better than regular drums?
Electronic drums aren’t objectively better than regular drums, but they’re much better at providing all the realism, sound, and feel of regular drums while being quiet. If you’re looking to practice at odd hours, record with others in a space with minimal acoustic separation, or you just don’t want to make all the collateral noise associated with traditional drums, there’s no better solution than an electronic drum set. In addition, electronic drums can be set up to send MIDI information to a computer or outboard gear (such as keyboards), opening up a world of hybrid music production possibilities that aren’t innate to regular drums.
Q: Why are electronic drums so expensive?
Electronic drum sets are notoriously pricey due primarily to their high manufacturing cost. They’re composed of numerous small components that must all work in symphony to achieve a realistic sound and a responsive feel, which requires lots of research and development to get just right. On top of these chipsets, electronic drum sets’ sensitive components must be built durably enough to endure prolonged exposure to repetitious, high-pressure strikes, which adds to the cost of materials.
Final thoughts on the best electronic drum sets
Finding the best electronic drum set for your needs depends on how accurate you prefer a kit’s feeling and sound, as well as the space where you’ll be playing. The Yamaha DTX6K-X electronic drum set is suited for most studio, stage, and home applications thanks to its well-rounded feature set, while the Roland TD-1K electronic drum set is a more niche design that’s unparalleled in its compact nature. Beginning drummers will benefit from the built-in learning tools, realistic responsiveness, and true-to-acoustic features of the Roland TD-07DMK electronic V-drums, but players on a budget may prefer the similarly sized Alesis Drums Nitro Mesh Kit. Finally, the Roland TD-27KV electronic drum set is built to fulfill all the needs of professional drummers looking to introduce an electronic drum set to their studio or stage rig.