Best Electronic Drum Sets: Buyer’s Guide 2024

The world of electronic drum sets is vast and can be quite overwhelming if you’re just jumping into it.

Mesh heads, trigger zones, and MIDI ports are all hot keywords that you need to know about, while those are things you never have to worry about with acoustic drums.

I’ll be honest, acoustic drums are a much better option most of the time, but the beauty of electronic drums is that they allow us to practice without bothering our neighbors. We all want to practice in peace, and they do the job.

Besides, electronic kits have come really far regarding their technology over the past few years, with even the cheapest ones having really decent performance quality.

So, if you’re itching to buy an electronic set, I’ve got a few good suggestions for you.

I’ve broken these down into budget ranges, and I’ve selected the most popular options within each range to demonstrate.

Best Beginner Electronic Drum Sets

Alesis Nitro Max

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The Alesis Nitro Max is the prime option for beginners. I’ve seen the Alesis Nitro set go through a few iterations over the years, but I feel like the brand has really perfected the design with this one.

You get everything you need to start packaged in a really affordable layout. The pads feel excellent when playing, and I’d say that this is probably the cheapest kit I know of with responsive mesh pads of this quality.

The module has 32 onboard drum kit sounds. They’re fairly decent. I wouldn’t say they’re amazing compared to what you get on Yamaha and Roland options, but most beginner drummers will really enjoy them.

Apart from the low price, the true value of this kit comes from its size. It’s one of the smallest e-kits you can get, making it an awesome low-profile option for drummers with space constraints.

You could easily fit it somewhere in a bedroom, and you can fold it up for times where you need more space. It just sits a bit low, and I’ve seen how really tall people can feel uncomfortable playing it.

Overall, I highly recommend this kit for budget-conscious drummers who are just starting out. It even comes with a kick drum pedal, which is something I can’t say for many other e-kit options.


Roland TD-02K

 

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The Roland TD-02K is Roland’s most inexpensive e-kit option. With Roland being the big dog of the industry, I was very excited to play this kit when it first came out and see what the brand could package in a beginner option.

It’s a great set, but I’ll start with the downside first. The rubber pads are the main thing holding this set back from topping the Alesis Nitro Max. They’re just not as responsive or realistic as mesh pads.

Other than that, this is an epic option. The module has 16 factory drum sets that all sound much higher-quality than I’d assume them to be at this price.

The kit also has a cool folding design that lets you pack it down in seconds. So, this is another sweet option for those bedroom drummers out there.

I know a lot of guys who like to use this as a MIDI set due to its small size. This means that they connect it to a workstation environment and create beats for songs that they’re producing.

With that information, you can see that it’s not purely just a kit for beginners.


Yamaha DTX402K

 

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The Yamaha DTX402K is another decent beginner kit. Unfortunately, it also has a full set of rubber pads, but it more than makes up for that with the module and features.

The thing that impresses me the most about this kit is the sound quality. The 10 preset drum kits are sampled from high-end Yamaha acoustic sets.

They’ve done a great job of transferring those over to this set.

I also like the simplicity of the drum module. Everything is present in front of you with a few buttons, making it easy to understand how to use it.

You can connect the module to Yamaha’s app if you want more options. It allows you to change a few things, like sounds and sound effects.

You can also use Yamaha’s Rec ‘n Share app, which lets you record yourself playing to music and sync it to your phone straight away. I can’t tell you how many times I get asked how to record and make videos with other e-kits. This one is definitely one of the easiest to record with.

The DTX402K may not be the premium option in the beginner category, but I’d confidently say it’s one of the top choices for drummers who like using apps and getting more out of things while using them.

Best Intermediate Electronic Drum Sets

Alesis Command Mesh

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The Alesis Command Mesh is actually one of the brand’s less popular drum kits, but it’s a decent upgrade from the Nitro Max if you’re happy to spend a bit more.

The biggest thing I noticed when sitting on this kit is that it’s much larger than the Nitro Max. While the pad sizes are the same, the frame is more expansive, making me feel quite a bit more comfortable when playing.

The Command drum module offers 74 preset kits, many of which are really fun electronic ones to mess around with. You also get a few play-along tracks to jam to, which are surprisingly good!

Another thing I should mention is that this kit includes a kick pedal. That makes it one of the only intermediate sets I know of that has this, which is a big selling point.

If I had to mention one downside, it would be the wonky quality of the cymbal pads. They feel great to play, but I’ve heard of a few people having issues with them over the years. That won’t happen to everyone who owns the kit, though.


Roland TD-07KV

 

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The Roland TD-07KV is one of my favorite Roland kit options. It sits within a great price range where beginners, intermediate players, and professionals could all benefit from getting their hands on it.

It also has good playability that makes it a worthy option for every kind of drummer.

The module has 25 preset sounds. With it being common knowledge that Roland offers the best sample quality, it’s no surprise that all of these kits sound excellent.

The Roland mesh pads also feel amazing when you play them. They’re seriously accurate, and I’ve always been able to dial in perfect tension settings for my preferences.

The last feature to mention that I love about this kit is the KD-10 kick drum tower. It’s a solid bass drum pad that can handle heavy pedal patterns. You can even put a double kick pedal on it with no issues.

The only thing that this kit is missing is the ability to play the bell of the ride cymbal. That’s just a big playable feature that you’d assume to be here.

I highly recommend this drum kit, though. It’s a great option for drummers who need an e-kit to practice but aren’t looking for anything fancy. It’s reliable and it sounds good!


Yamaha DTX6K-X

 

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The Yamaha DTX6K-X is another good intermediate option, with this particular kit putting more emphasis on drum module quality than any other aspect of its design.

It comes with the same DTX-PRO module that gets used on superior Yamaha drum sets, so you get top-quality sounds and features.

The 40 preset drum kits have been sampled from high-end Yamaha acoustic kits, and the module also offers amazing sound editing tools. You just get a lot of control here on top of having great sounds, which I think is a winning formula.

The cymbal pads are also much better than what you get on the previous Roland kit, in my opinion. They’re multi-zoned, letting you play different sounds by hitting separate sections.

The downside is that the tom pads are rubber and not mesh or silicone. So, they just don’t feel as good to play, but they sound incredible when linked to the module.

I’d recommend this kit to drummers who value module quality over anything. I just don’t think you can beat the quality of the DTX-PRO in this price range. Besides, you can always swap the rubber tom pads out with better ones at a later stage.

Best Professional Electronic Drum Sets

Alesis Strike Pro Special Edition

 

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The Alesis Strike Pro Special Edition is one of the most popular kits available. This is because it’s a high-end drum set with plenty of features and parts for an affordable price compared to the competition.

With four toms, five cymbals, and a large bass drum, this is honestly one of the most fun electronic kits that I’ve played. It feels just like playing a big acoustic kit, but you get the benefit of keeping things quiet.

The module is great as well. Each part of the kit has its own slider, allowing you to adjust volume and tuning when tweaking your settings.

It comes with a whopping 136 preset kits, along with almost 2000 sounds to create your own kits. There’s so much potential here to create amazing drum kit setups that you’ll really love.

A big feature is the wooden shells that attach to all the drum pads. These are what make the kit look big and feel like a typical acoustic kit. They give more depth to the drums, which improves their playability a bit.

So, you should definitely get this kit if you’re happy to pay a few thousand dollars. It doesn’t sound as good as Roland or Yamaha kits in the same price range, but you get a lot more bang for your buck.


Roland TD-27KV2

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The Roland TD-27KV2 is another fantastic kit from Roland. I’d consider this a great professional kit, as it offers all the playability features that cause it to perform similarly to an acoustic drum set.

The main feature that I have to mention are the digital pads. With this kit, the hi-hat, snare drum, and ride cymbal pads are much higher-quality than any other options on the market.

They have a digital design, incorporating dozens of sensors that make them perform far more authentically than typical pads with set trigger zones. I’d say that this is as close as electronic brands have come to having true playability compared to acoustic drums.

You then get the TD-27 drum module to run everything. The 75 drum kits on there are top-tier, with some of my favorites being ones with odd and fun samples.

To answer why this kit sounds so much better than most others, you have to look at Roland’s Acoustic Ambience Technology and Prismatic Sound Modeling Engine. These two designs bring out the best qualities of each pad, linking them really well with the module sounds.

This is one of my top recommendations on this entire list, as it’s a kit that everyone who owns it loves.


Yamaha DTX10K

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UK & Europe:
Gear4music Thomann

The DTX10K is Yamaha’s top electronic drum set. This is the best of what the brand has to offer, and it’s a big step up from the DTX6 that we looked at earlier.

One of the coolest things about this kit is that you can choose to get silicone or mesh pads. Yamaha’s silicone pads are awesome, but I know a lot of drummers prefer the mesh option. This is one of the only kits I know of that gives you this choice.

The kit is powered by the DTX-PROX drum module. It has everything good from the DTX-PRO module, but you get a few updated sounds and features, making it an overall superior brain for the kit.

Another thing I love are all the cymbals for the kit. While Roland is arguably a better brand, I definitely think Yamaha trumps their rubber cymbal options. All of these cymbals offer multiple trigger zones, and they just feel great to play.

Finally, the kit comes with a snare and hi-hat stand so that you don’t need to buy those separately. This arguably makes it a better value-for-money option than a Roland kit within the same price range.

Best Luxury Electronic Drum Sets

Pearl e/Merge e/Hybrid

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Sweetwater Guitar Center Amazon
UK & Europe:
Gear4music

The e/Merge e/Hybrid is the one electronic set that Pearl currently sells. It’s quite a unique option, offering features and qualities that you won’t find on other available kits.

The MDL-1 sound module was designed with the Korg brand, using many of their samples and sounds to create some great drum kit presets. You also get professional Pearl acoustic drum kits in the mix, which is a similar thing to what you get with Yamaha modules.

I personally love how this kit feels to play. All the pads are large and responsive, giving you a great amount of dynamic variety depending on where you strike them.

You also get up to 12 hours of recording time, which I found is great for putting down ideas and saving them for later.

This kit has the best drum rack I’ve seen out of any electronic set. I know Pearl generally does offer the best drum racks on the market, so you just get more of the same with their electronic kit option.

My only gripe with this kit is the price. It just seems to be a bit too expensive compared to similar kits with lower price tags. If it were a bit more affordable, I think a lot of drummers would much prefer using this over those other picks.


Roland VAD706

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Sweetwater Guitar Center Amazon

The VAD706 is Roland’s ultimate drum kit product. I’ve heard many saying that this is the best overall electronic drum kit on the market, and I tend to agree with them.

The main draw is the acoustic shell design. You wouldn’t really know that this is an electronic kit by just looking at it, as the whole idea is that you get acoustic drumming aesthetics with electronic drumming benefits.

The kit has the same premium digital pads that we looked at with the Roland TD-27KV, but the other drum pads are also much better on this one.

The TD-50X module runs everything, with this module being arguably the best and most advanced drum module currently available. The sounds and sound editing tools are just so good that it’s often hard to distinguish between this and an actual acoustic set.

Again, pricing is a big talking point here. With the kit costing close to $10 000, it’s just not a readily available option for most drummers. It’s definitely a dream kit that most of us would love to own!


DW DWe


The DW DWe costs around the same as the Roland VAD706. However, this is such a unique kit that has a completely different design from anything we’ve seen before.

The two big features are that the drums are completely wireless and that you can convert the kit into a normal acoustic option.

DW and Roland designed this kit together, creating completely new technology to allow wireless drumming without any delay between the drums and drum module.

I think it’s absolutely crazy how they’ve made it work, and it’s truly impressive how electronic kits have gotten to this point.

While this kit is also seriously expensive, the fact that you’re also buying a standard DW Collector’s Series acoustic drum set completely justifies the price for me. You just need to remove the electronic drumheads and place normal ones and you’ll be good to go.

The last thing to mention is that the cymbals are much louder than rubber ones, so this is one electronic kit that I wouldn’t recommend for volume constraints. Other than that, it’s honestly one of the best e-kits I’ve ever seen or heard.

Electronic Drum Set Buying Tips

It’s all good and well knowing what the top options are, but you need to know exactly what you’re looking at so that you can pick the best option for your personal situation.

This is the overwhelming part that I mentioned earlier. There are dozens of aspects around each kit that affect how it performs, sounds, and feels.

To give you a brief overview and give you a solid understanding to make the best buying choice, here’s absolutely everything you need to know.


Drum Module

The drum module is the most important piece of any electronic drum kit. It controls the show, operates all the features, and receives signals from the pads so that you get sounds when you play them.

Think of the module as the main bridge of a ship in Star Wars. It’s how the ship gets steered and operated. Without it, you have no sounds, controls, or functions.

That’s why it’s really important to look at a drum module when considering which electronic kit to buy. The first thing I’ll always do is check how many onboard sounds it has. I’ll then listen to those sounds to assess their quality.

Sound quality is everything here. It’s better to have 20 good kit sounds than 100 poor ones, as that will make your playing experience far more enjoyable.

You also need to look at some of the onboard features. Certain drum modules allow you to create your own custom drum kits, giving you complete freedom of what you can create. They’ll offer samples to play around with, but you can also load in your own with a USB stick.

Finally, I recommend checking out the practice tools. All electronic drum modules offer a metronome so that you can practice your timing, but many of them also offer coaching functions.

These are like onboard mini games that assess you when you play. They’ll tell you if your timing is off so that you can adjust and work on it to get better.


Drum Pads

The next important aspect of any electronic drum kit is the pad design. You have to look at three things.

Firstly, how many drum pads are there and how big are they?

Secondly, what material are they made from?

Lastly, how many trigger zones does each pad have?

The first question is an easy one to pass through, as most electronic drum kits come in a standard 5-piece configuration. This means they have a snare, three toms, and a bass drum. However, you get a few higher-end options with more or less in the setup.

The material of the pads is the biggest aspect to worry about. Your three main materials are rubber, mesh, and silicone. Out of all of those, rubber is the least ideal. These pads are inexpensive, but they also have too much rebound and don’t feel anything like playing acoustic drums.

Mesh and silicone are your better options. These have slight differences in feel, but both of them feel natural and responsive.

Regarding trigger zones, a kit will have better playability with more of them. Trigger zones are where you hit to trigger sounds from the module. A good snare drum pad will have three trigger zones, allowing you to play rimshots, standard notes, and cross-sticks.

Tom pads typically have two trigger zones, with cheaper tom pads only having one.


Cymbal Pads

Cymbal pads are all made of rubber, so you don’t need to worry about materials here. The key things to look at are how thin or thick the pads are, and how much of the surface is covered by the rubber material.

The thickness of the pads affects the playability. Thinner cymbal pads feel a bit more natural to strike, as they wobble and respond like typical metal cymbals. Thicker pads offer more resistance, giving you a stiffer feeling.

On more affordable e-kits, you’ll see that only half of the surface of a cymbal pad can be played. The other half will just have plastic. Higher-end kits have the pads covered in rubber all around.

With all that said, I’ve never found the design of cymbal pads to affect me as much as the drum pads. Whether they’re thick or thin, you’re still going to have a great time playing them.


Bass Drum Pads and Hi-Hats

Bass drum and hi-hat designs differ from kit to kit. On the most inexpensive electronic sets, the bass drum will come in the form of a trigger pedal.

This is a pedal with a sensor and a footboard. When you press the footboard down, it touches the sensor and triggers the bass drum sound. I’m not the biggest fan of these, as they don’t give you the proper feeling of playing a bass drum pedal with a beater.

The better option is to have a kick tower. This is a metal tower with a playable pad at the top. You can then connect a typical bass drum pedal to it. Just note that most electronic kits don’t come with pedals included, so you need to buy them separately.

Hi-hats also have trigger pedals, but comparatively, these aren’t as bad as bass drum trigger pedals.

You usually get great response from them. However, the higher-quality e-kits allow you to use a proper hi-hat stand, giving you the best amount of response possible.


Rack and Hardware

Moving onto the last part of the physical structure of an e-kit, you need to look at the rack that holds everything together, along with potential hardware pieces to hold other parts.

So, you have two main designs with electronic kits – compact and acoustic design. With compact kits, you have a rack that everything attaches to. This is the most common type of setup, and it makes it easy to set your kit up.

With acoustic design kits, you don’t have the rack anymore. Rather, your pads and cymbals all mount to their own stands, acting more like an acoustic setup. This looks much better, in my opinion, but it’s not as convenient.

One thing to note here is that you may not get every piece of hardware that you need when you buy the kit. I mentioned earlier how most sets don’t come with bass drum pedals. They may not come with a hi-hat or snare stand, either.

Oh yeah, and a drum throne! You need one of those to play, but most e-kits don’t include it.


Portability

Portability may be important or it may not matter at all if you plan on leaving your kit in the same place for a long time.

If you are concerned about it, you need to look at the overall size of an electronic drum kit. Smaller kits are a lot easier to move around, and you can often just fold them up.

I know a lot of people do this with their kids who own e-kits. They have to keep them in their bedrooms, so they fold them up when not using them to offer a bit more space.

Just note that electronic kits are much lighter to carry around than acoustic kits. However, I’ve always found them trickier to set up due to all the cables and connections. That’s something to keep in mind if you’re still playing with the idea of getting an electronic over an acoustic kit.


Additional Connectivity

Most electronic kits are expandable. This means that you can buy extra drum or cymbal pads to make the setup bigger.

You can see what the potential is by looking at the drum module. Drum modules have a number of external trigger ports on the back. Typically, they have one or two, but some higher-end modules offer a lot more.

If you want to be the next Joey Jordison and play on a monster drum kit, this is definitely a feature that you should pay attention to. If you don’t mind the typical 5-piece setup, you don’t need to worry about it.


Electronic Drum Kit Brands

While narrowing things down into different budget ranges makes it a lot easier to find a good kit, you can also look at specific brands. From all my years of playing electronic kits, I’ve noticed how various brands excel in certain areas.

The main brands to look at are Roland, Alesis, and Yamaha. You have a few outliers like Pearl, but these brands don’t offer as much variety.

Roland is the undisputed best electronic drum set brand. If you want the best set possible in each price range, you have to look at Roland’s options. Roland kits just always have the best playability and features. They also tend to last the longest.

Yamaha is up next on the quality list. What I really enjoy about Yamaha kits is their modules. You get such great sounds, and I love how you can get a high-end module with an intermediate Yamaha set.

Alesis is known as the budget brand. They offer all the affordable kits, catering to drummers who don’t want to spend too much.


Headphones and Amplifiers

My final bit of advice in the buying process is to consider headphones and amplifiers.

These are your two methods for hearing what you’re playing on the electronic kit. Again, they don’t come with most drum kit options, leading you to buy them separately.

I highly recommend getting a high-quality pair of headphones with a flat frequency response that brings out all the best sounds from your kit. This will allow you to practice quietly and have an amazing experience while doing so.

If you want people around you to hear the electronic drums, you’re going to need an amp. There are a bunch of small drum amps available, and they’re designed to bring out all the best frequencies from a drum kit. A good example is the Roland PM-100. It’s a small option that brings plenty of life to any e-kit.

If you want ultimate control over how your drums sound, you can also get a mixer. That will give you greater manipulation over sounds. You can also connect multiple amps to the mixer, giving you a cool surround sound setup.

It’s expensive, but that’s definitely the best kind of setup you can do with an electronic drum set.

Final Thoughts

As you can see from my recommendations, some electronic kits are surprisingly affordable while others are comically expensive.

As a rule of thumb, just don’t get an e-kit for lower than $300. I’ve tried most of the options, and those ones just never last long due to their poor production quality. They also sound quite bad.

If you’re on a tight budget, look at all of the Alesis drum kits. If you’re happy to spend more, you’ll have a better time with a Yamaha or Roland kit.

Once you have your kit, it will be time to practice. You’ll no longer have any volume restraint excuses, so get stuck in!

About the Author – Ben Knight

Hailing from the depths of the world — aka Australia — Ben Knight is a passionate pianist, cellist, songwriter and engineer.

With a Master’s in Writing and Editing, he combines his love for music with his knowledge of the written word to make sure he has the funds to keep buying unnecessary pieces of musical equipment for his home studio.

You can check out his band Mellow Daze on all the major streaming services.


 

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