Best Electronic Drum Sets

Updated February 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

25 Models Considered
6 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
124 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.

Shopping guide for best electronic drum sets

Last Updated February 2019

Whether you want an electronic drum set for practice, performance, or recording, it can be a game changer. Just imagine being able to practice without worrying that you’re disturbing the neighbors — or others in your home, for that matter. If you’re a live performer, imagine being able to set up for a gig as fast as the keyboard player. Wouldn’t that be nice? Electronic drum sets are also a great option for beginners because many come with teaching software.

Knowing what you want is the key to finding the perfect electronic drum set. There are some aspects that could be deal-breakers for your particular situation, and there are a number of features that could make your musical life exponentially easier.

Read on to learn more!

One of the best uses for electronic drums is to trigger sounds, samples, and loops that would otherwise be impossible to create on an acoustic set.

Key considerations

There are a few big-picture elements that you need to consider first. These include size, number of pads, practice volume, portability, and durability.

Size

Electronic drum sets come in a remarkable array of sizes. You could have a set of four pads small enough to fit on your computer desk so you can record. Alternatively, you could purchase a kit so large that you’d need to build an addition on to your home. The idea is to purchase a kit that fits your space.

Number of pads

Each pad that your electronic drum set has allows you to trigger a new sound. If you're a keyboard player who wants to add a snare, bass, and hi-hat to your setup, four pads would be plenty. If you're a drummer, chances are you will want a snare, bass, three toms, hi-hat, ride, and crash cymbal. Make sure the set you’re considering has enough pads to meet your needs.

Practice volume

Electronic drums are not silent. When the stick hits the pad or the pedal hits the bass pad, there will be a sound. If you live in an area (or a house) where noise is an issue, you will need to carefully consider the material with which your drum pads are made. Mesh and closed-cell foam are the quietest options. Volume-wise, rubber-coated pads are in the middle, while acoustic heads that are dampened will be loud enough to make some neighbors complain.

Portability

Some electronic drum kits can be unplugged and carried away under one arm. Others require a breakdown and setup that is almost as complicated as moving an acoustic drum set. If you will be transporting your drums often, a kit that is easier to set up but still meets your performance needs would likely cause less aggravation.

Durability

You undoubtedly want an electronic drum kit that lasts. Look at warranties, and research how well the model you’re considering holds up over the years. You don't want your snare to suddenly stop working the night of your big show.

EXPERT TIP

It can take a little adjustment period to get used to triggering a sample that has multiple or extended impacts like a güiro, which makes a wooden ratchet sound.


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Performance features

Besides the potential deal-breaker considerations mentioned in the previous section, there are a few features that are more subjective, but still very important, to your overall enjoyment of your electronic drum kit.

Feel

If you like a lot of bounce but it feels like you're striking a wet bag of sand when you hit your pads, playing your electronic drum set won't be very satisfying. It might even negatively impact your performance. The kinetic element of your pads is important to consider.

Flexible setup

Some electronic drum sets offer zero flexibility when it comes to pad placement. If you are particular about where your snare sits in relation to your hi-hat, for instance, you will need to look for something with greater setup flexibility to be happy.

Dynamic response

If a light tap on the rim and an aggressive swing at the crash produce approximately the same volume, there will be no excitement in your performance because every sound will be the same volume. It's most desirable to get an electronic drum kit that has adjustable hit-velocity sensitivity so you can fine-tune your drums to your playing style.

Low latency

Latency is the amount of time it takes from when you strike a pad until you hear the sound. In the best electronic drum sets, this time will be imperceptible.

Expandable sound module

Whether it's through USB or MIDI, having a sound module that is able to play more sounds than come preloaded is highly recommended. Additionally, if you have on-board effects such as echo, delay, reverb, distortion, and more, you will greatly appreciate it.

Training software

Many electronic drum kits feature training software designed to make you a better player. It can be in the form of drumming games, drumming lessons, or drumming exercises. If this sounds like something you would use, be sure that the model you are considering has this capability.

Style

The design of your electronic drum set may not affect the actual sound of the instrument, but it might have an impact on your audience. If it looks like you are playing a toy, you could run into a respect issue with other musicians and your fans.

If you played on an acoustic drum set before purchasing your electronic set, it's desirable to have an electronic setup that can physically mimic your acoustic setup.

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BestReviews

Electronic drum set prices

Electronic drum sets range from $50 to several thousand dollars depending on your needs. If you just want to have fun or you already play another instrument and want to add a little drumming bullet point to your music résumé, you could get by with a $50 to $150 unit. These models line all the pads up in one spot — usually four in the front row and three in the back. You probably won't get to use your feet with these drums, and if you do, it will just be a little foot switch.

The $300 to $700 range is where you will be the most satisfied if you're still learning. These drum sets will have a rack, usually with limited flexibility, and pedals that work more like acoustic drum pedals. The main drawback is in the pad material which, at this price range, will likely be rubber-coated steel.

For $800 to $1,500, the drum sets you find would satisfy even an advanced drummer. This price range has a better feel, lower latency, more outputs, and basically everything you need whether you want to practice, perform, or record.

If you're a professional drummer, a hired musician for tours and gigs and studio sessions, considering an electronic drum set that costs over $1,500 is probably your best option. Until you get to that level, however, you should be happy with the drum kits found in the lower price ranges.

DID YOU KNOW?

The situation that requires the most outputs for an electronic drum set is recording. If each pad has its own output jack, you can individually pan each instrument in your kit to the exact location you want it in your mix.

Tips for better drumming

Becoming a great drummer doesn't just happen. It involves a great deal of precision, coordination, practice, refinement, and patience. Here are some tips to help you stay focused and positive so you become a better player.

  • Take it slow. Rushing precision will eventually cement a sloppy style.

  • Repetition only works if you're actively engaged. Mindlessly playing a part over and over does not help you get better. You need to be present while practicing.

  • Walk away when you need a break. Working to get a part right can produce a great deal of stress. Sometimes, the best option is to just walk away for a while because repeatedly playing a part improperly will reinforce mistakes.

  • It's okay to break it down. If you need to learn a complex pattern one note at a time, there's no shame in that. All your audience hears is the final product; how you get there is up to you.

  • Variety is underrated. Switch your practicing up by playing at different speeds, by swinging a steady beat, or even by changing the sounds of your drum set. The variety will keep your brain engaged and help you learn.

  • Try something new. It is easy to fall back on comfort. Actively pursuing a new (and uncomfortable) technique is the best way to push yourself to greatness.

  • Monitor your progress. Make note of the fastest tempo at which you can play a troublesome passage. After a week of practicing, set the metronome a few clicks higher to measure your progress.

  • Learn another instrument. One of the best ways to gain a better understanding of your instrument is to learn a different one. Try piano, bass, guitar, or even singing.

  • Teach. If you don't know what you are doing, you can't show someone else how to do it. When you can teach someone else how to play, you'll know that you are beyond proficient. Sometimes, the act of teaching is a learning experience itself.

  • Different is good. "Proper technique" is just a learning tool that worked for someone else. If you can accomplish the same level of virtuosity with your own approach, congratulations! You've just moved from student to groundbreaking artist.

Other products we considered

Here are three additional electronic drum sets we like that might meet your needs. At the budget end of the spectrum is Alesis' tabletop model. This set is a fun, inexpensive, and highly portable option for beginners. It comes with four pads, sticks, and coaching modes. Roland makes an entry-level electronic drum kit that contains features like a mesh-head snare pad that are usually only found on pricier models. It is compact and portable, but it sets up a little closer to how an acoustic drum kit is positioned. For just a little more, Alesis offers an eight-piece electronic drum kit with mesh heads, a chrome rack, over 600 sounds, and USB/MIDI connectivity for endless sonic possibilities.

One of the best ways to get better at the drums is to practice with others. Practicing with individuals who are more skilled than you can up your game as you learn by example.

FAQ

Q. I purchased an electronic drum kit. Why are people still complaining about hearing me practice?

A. When sticks hit rubber (or any other material), there will always be some type of sound. Yes, it will be drastically quieter than an acoustic drum set, but the persistent thwapping can still be annoying to other people in your household. Placing your electronic drum set in the basement, adding white noise to the environment, or employing some sound-dampening techniques may help remedy the situation.

Q. When I hit the drum pads on my electronic kit, it feels like the sound is a little behind. Is this possible, or am I imagining it?

A. It's called latency and it is very real. It always takes time for the impact of your stick on the pad to be processed into a sound that you can hear in your headphones. In most instances, the delay is unnoticeable. However, if you can hear (feel) the delay, it's time to troubleshoot. Latency is impossible to get rid of completely, but there are techniques you can employ to make it less perceivable. If nothing seems to make it better, it might just be a low-quality electronic drum set, unfortunately.

Q. I just purchased an electronic drum set that was missing essential items such as sticks and a kick pedal. Should I return it?

A. No — at least not for that reason. Most seasoned drummers are very particular about certain tools of the trade and would not want a generic pedal or low-quality sticks thrown into a package just to advertise that those items are included. It's a wiser choice for manufacturers of electronic drum sets that are targeted for intermediate or advanced players to only include the essentials (sound module, rack, pads, etc.) because an experienced drummer will already own or prefer something else. Other items you may need include headphones, a drum throne, and possibly a hi-hat stand.

The team that worked on this review
  • Allen
    Allen
    Writer
  • Devangana
    Devangana
    Web Producer
  • Eliza
    Eliza
    Production Manager
  • Lauren
    Lauren
    Writer
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer
  • Melissa
    Melissa
    Senior Editor

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