Our Top Pick for 2018: ddrum DD1 Complete Electronic Drum Kit with ChromaCast
Read our full review.
Nothing beats the thrill of slamming a set of drumsticks onto a smooth drum head. This percussive sensation jolts through your body and the feeling of providing your band with a bombastic beat is unlike any other musical experience. The usage of drums to provide a counterpoint to the melodies that people produce is a practice that reaches far back into prehistory. Until late in the 20th century, acoustic drums were the only game in town. Their smooth sound was often offset by the fact that they are difficult to transport, can only produce a limited range of sound unless you have many different types of drums, and can wake the entire neighborhood up when you practice with them. Drummers gleefully lived with these problems because they loved the instrument. In 1971, the famous drummer of the Moody Blues, Graeme Edge, collaborated with a professor from Sussex University and changed musical history by inventing the world’s first electronic drum set. These types of drums could be portable, have a myriad of tones, and could be practiced on in near-silence. Today, there are many types of electronic drum sets on the market, so we’ve done a bit of work to provide to you our picks on the best ones available as well as a budget model and some pre-purchase considerations for buying a new electronic drum kit.
#1. ddrum DD1 Complete Electronic Drum Kit with ChromaCast
Our Gold Pick entry, as is tradition, is beloved by both consumers and critics. This drum kit was created by Swedish instrument brand ddrum, who has specialized almost exclusively in drum set making for decades. Specializing in one type of instrument has helped ddrum achieve a unique drummer-friendly business model where its customers know that their percussion needs are the primary focus of the company. Their DD1 model of electronic drum continues this musician-centric focus by providing almost all the features that a musician needs to succeed.
This electronic drum kit is very beautiful-looking. The toms, the snare, the bass drum, and ride, crash, and hi-hat cymbals all feature a red-on-black color scheme that at once looks sleek and eye-catching. Each part of this drum set fits uniquely, and even the hi-hat controller and bass pedals have a unique visual aesthetic that contributes to this set’s elegant design. The drum heads are comprised of rubber and provide a goodly amount of rebound when attacked. Also, the three cymbals are well-positioned and thoroughly responsive when struck. Each of these is red with a stylized black triangle, which matches the black-on-red design aesthetic of the three toms and the snare.
This electronic drum kit employs a bass drum pad, a bass pedal, a hi-hat pedal, a crash, ride, and hi-hat cymbals as well as four single-zone drum pads (three toms and a snare). Since the toms and snare are all single-zone, the sensors are placed in only one place; this means that for the most part, varying the place of attack won’t change the tone generated by the drum set too drastically like it might with a set of acoustic drums.
This is also a very lightweight drum kit that employs a solid rack system that’s comprised of aluminum and won’t fail, even when placed under a lot of stress. Altogether this unit is about 54 pounds, which is very light and transportable considering all of the toms and cymbals options that are available on this unit. The base is very sturdy and utilizes metal feel that provide a squarish form factor that will ensure that the kit is sturdy and well balanced. This is the perfect drum kit for those who don’t have a lot of space, its dimensions are relatively compact; the entire set measures 22 inches in height, 12 inches in width, and 14 inches in depth.
Along the left side of this drum set is ddrum’s proprietary ddrum DD1M module. With this module you have a plethora of options and connections that will only enhance your drumming experience. To start, it features 215 unique drum sounds that will provide variety to your practice sessions. Also featured are 20 preset kits, 10 user kits, and 50 present songs to drum along to. For the purposes of keeping in time, this drum set features a built in metronome that has a range of 30 to 280 beats per minute.
Connectivity is an important aspect of any electronic drum set. To ensure that this is a very connectable set, ddrum included features such as a USB in and a Midi out for connecting to your computer. There is also an AUX connection for connecting your mobile device. Simply plug in through the AUX, play a song from your collection, and drum along.
When it comes to this kit, ddrum prides itself on this set’s ability to play right out of the box. A set of earbuds are included for a quieter practice experience, a set of quality 5A drumsticks, and a pair of two ten foot instrument cables for attaching the set to a drum amplifier or monitor.
A Gold Pick is always a favorite with consumers and critics, and in this regard, this electronic drum kit has done very well. On Amazon, out of 27 reviews, 81 percent of the reviewers felt that this product was worth a four star rating or above. Of this 81 percent, 63 percent granted it an excellent score of five stars. Here is one such five star review: “I’m very old fashioned and embracing digital recording has been a slow process for me but I had to get with the times. Being a drummer as well as a guitarist I decided to get myself a set of electronic drums to record my drum tracks directly into the software live. I was VERY impressed with the quality of the drum ‘heads’ or pads as it were. They are lively and have more of a bounce-back than I expected out of a ‘lower end’ electronic kit.”
This set is protected by a one year warranty from ddrum but you must provide proof of purchase first.
#2. Yamaha DTX400K Electronic Drum Set with Drum Throne
As one of the mainstays of electronic drum set engineering, the Japanese Yamaha Corporation is one of the most well-known musical instrument manufacturers, globally. Established in the post-World War II reconstruction era, Yamaha has a well-established history of producing reliable consumer-level electronics, vehicles, and musical instruments. The DTX400K drum kit, as our Silver Pick, is a great beginner to mid-tier kit that progresses the Yamaha brand name to new heights. It employs a rubber drum-head and is a great instrument.
This drum set looks great, it’s grey and black and has many stylish design elements that make it unique for a drum set in its price range. The first aspect of this drum set that jumps out at you visually is the ten inch ride, crash, and hi-hat cymbals. They each sport an empty space along the top of the drum area that looks really futuristic. While some might think this provides less attack area, you don’t really end up missing this drum surface as it only occupies a small area on the furthest surface section from the drummer. All of the drum surfaces are supported by a steel rack that ensures lasting durability and support.
Insofar as dimensionality, this drum kit is 35.1 inches in height, x 12.4 in depth, and 22.7 inches in width. This larger form factor makes it feel more like a traditional acoustic drum set, but at a very light 39 pounds.
The seven and a half inch drum pads themselves are fairly nondescript, but are excellently springy and support a healthy amount of rebound. Since all of these drum surfaces are comprised of a incredibly durable soft rubber, when you need to play quietly due to aggravated neighbors, you can simply plug in the included JVC full-size stereo headphones and jam away without disturbing anyone. To further support this near-silent play, the KU100 kick unit, combined with the hi-hat control pedal both employ technology that help you keep it down even when pumping the pedals to the beat. The hi-hat controller even has the added functionality of serving as a second bass drum pedal.
Positioned behind the hi-hat cymbal is the DTX400 drum trigger module. This module fits well with the overall look of the drum set and doesn’t draw too much attention when not in use. It can produce 297 high quality sounds that are organized into ten professional drum kits. What’s great about this wide range is that Yamaha has utilized some of the voices of their more high-end drum models. In addition to this, there are even voices styled after some of the most iconic 80s style drum machines, an era that is considered the heyday of the modern electronic drum. Finally, from the module you can access ten songs that you can play along with that have unique sounds designed specifically with drummers in mind.
The module also lets you import your own MIDI songs to the drum kit via the use of the Yamaha MusicSoft downloader program. After import, you can then customize your creation through the module or through an app, which is available on any iOS device. Insofar as connectivity, the module boasts several features. These include nine trigger inputs, a USB connector for your computer, a stereo output that you can use for the included JVC headphones, and an AUX input for your MP3 player, CD player, or Smartphone.
As mentioned, this kit comes complete with a pair of high-quality JVC headphones. It also includes a pair of Vic Firth 5A drumsticks and most interestingly, a drum throne. This drum throne has been very well-received; it is a high quality drummer’s throne and matches the aesthetic of the drum set perfectly.
Our Silver Pick with all of its great features is another well received item when it comes to consumers and critics. A full 88 percent of 53 reviewers on Amazon thought it was worth at least a four star rating. A great testimonial came from a reviewer on Amazon: “I bought it to practice during the night and rehearse with my mates. The product quality is good, especially because you can confidently beat it hard. As for the 10 kits that has within they are great, you can still configure your own drum kit by programming it at your will, which I think is awesome, for instance you can set a sound to each pad, set velocity, reverb among other stuff.”
#3. Roland TD-11KV-S V-Compact Series Electronic Drum Set
Our bronze pick drum kit is produced by another revolutionary instrument brand from Japan. The Roland Corporation has been making drums of this type since the 1970s. Founded one year after the invention of the electronic drum, their selection of drums of this type offers some truly unique aural wonders. This model of drum is one of the more premium models on our list and boasts features that are perfect for any drummer.
This electronic drum set’s aesthetics are the closest to a real set of acoustic drums of any of the sets in this guide. The ride, crash, and hi-hat cymbals each have a very natural-looking give to them when you attack. Also, like an acoustic drum set, the ride and crash cymbals are chokable, which is a rare feature on a electronic drum set. The ride cymbal is three way triggering, and the crash triggers in two ways; the result of this, is you’ll have multiple zones that you can strike on these surfaces that produce different sounds like on a acoustic drum set. All of the pads on this drum set are mesh-type and as a result the rebound is almost acoustic-perfect.
The drumheads themselves are colored white in the centers and are set in black. The remainder of the drum kit, with the exception of the module, is colored black. Measurement-wise, this unit measures in at 24 inches wide, 15 inches deep, and 36 inches in height. Designed to be compact, Roland was able to cut this kit down to 41.9 pounds in totality.
The pedals are responsive and whisper-quiet. Like in our Silver Pick, you can use the hi-hat pedal as a double bass pedal as well. The kick-trigger on this unit is amazing; since some electronic drum sets don’t actually utilize bass system that features a hammer system for attack. The head on this kick-trigger is comprised of cloth and it generates a smooth sound that sounds great.
This unit also has a great module that sits underneath the hi-hat. The TD-11 drum sound module utilizes a “SuperNATURAL” system to provide excellent tonality that utilizes behavior modeling to provide a unique aural experience. It features 190 sounds and 50 drum kits that span almost any genre that you can imagine. There is also an included sound editing platform that allows you to create your own kits. This level of customizability really helps, especially if you are an intermediate player looking to establish your own sound. The module features an LCD screen, a built-in metronome, and a rhythm coach mode for beginner drummers.
90 percent of the reviewers on Amazon have granted this drum set a positive rating. Only 10 percent of these reviewers thought that it was a four star rated item. Here is a testimonial from one user,”I bought these used and couldn’t be happier with a first drum kit. Stick bounce off the mesh heads is quite good and the sounds you can get out of the kit are not bad. I like to plug the drums into my laptop and record them in Logic Pro X – very simple (once you know where to find the V-Drum mapping) and great for recording/editing.”
#4. Pyle-Pro PTED01 Electronic Table Digital Drum Kit
Becoming a pro drummer doesn’t have to be a pursuit of the super-rich, you can get good on an electric drum set even if you are ballin on a budget. The Pyle-Pro PTED01 is a great unit for a beginner to cut their teeth on and rock out with portability and style. While not really designed for band performance, this drum kit is perfect for practicing with friends, playing at home, or even in the club.
Aesthetically, this drum kit employs a uni-body design that might remind some of the types of units that some DJs utilize. The drum kit is rectangular and is only 7.3 pounds. Insofar as measurements, the device is 23.5 inches wide, 6.8 inches tall, and 16 inches in depth. The kit has seven drum pads that emulate a crash and ride cymbal, toms, a snare, and a bass. Connected to the unit are two pedals that serve as a kick trigger and a hi-hat controller.
For a portable kit, this unit packs in a lot of great connectivity. The USB allows for connection to either PC or Mac computers, and additional connectors are present in the back to the pedals and headphones. As the console is built into the chassis of this electronic drum kit, you might think that it lacks features. Fortunately, this is not the case; this kit has a two voice metronome system, an amazing 215 percussion voices, 25 pre-set drum kits, and five user drum kits. Via the LCD screen and the controls on the module, you can edit and even record your own music; a feature that some might think wouldn’t be present in a budget unit.
Our ballin on a budget pick has received greater than a four star rating in 81 percent of the 172 reviews on Amazon. One reviewer had this to say: “I am about as amateur as you can get and did not want a full drum set. I had purchased other, budget drum sets in the past and they never lasted or the they sounded terrible. Then i found this one. i love this thing. The voices are realistic and easy to program but, most inportantly to me, the drum heads are sturdy and sensitive.”
To ‘attack’ a drum means that you are striking it’s drum head to provide a percussive tone. It is very important to have your drums be very responsive when it comes to rebound as a drum’s response to attack can provide an completely different tactile experience. As a rule, drummer’s want a certain level of rebound when striking the drum head as it will reduce wrist and hand fatigue, especially when you are playing for hours.
You burn several hundred calories per hour when drumming, but you don’t want to have so little natural spring back that you are causing yourself needless muscle fatigue, or worse, bone and muscle damage from the constant vibrations when practicing. A certain degree of rebound allows the springiness of the drums to absorb some of the attack, and is also excellent for helping you keep a feeling of the beat when you don’t have a time-keeping metronome nearby.
Since these types of instruments utilize digital technology, electronic drums can produce sounds that are incredibly unique. As a rule, these types of drum sets come with a plethora of pre-loaded tones that your drum set can produce when struck. Insofar as customizability, some of these sets have a myriad of unique, robust sounds that you can create from scratch, though these tend to be on the more expensive side.
In any situation, the various types of tones and tone creation options that come pre-packaged with each drum set tends to vary from manufacturer to manufacturer and model to model; some even feature downloadable tone options, which can boost your available options 100 fold. When looking for a new electronic drum set, be sure to consider the sounds that you’ll be able to produce by utilizing the onboard tone selection, download, and creation features and how these features will affect your drum playing.
Pack-ins and Extra Features
While you are considering buying a set of electronic drums for the experience of drumming, some extra bells and whistles couldn’t hurt either. Some drum sets come complete with additional pack-ins that will help sweeten the deal when purchasing. Some drum sets include great extras like a pair of great, percussion-friendly headphones, while some come pre-packaged with a stool that’s perfectly attuned to the height of your new drum set. Some even come with a metronome to help you keep your beats in time. Some models of electronic drums feature a dedicated input jack.
This will allow you to play musical tracks directly from your favorite devices, such as a MP3 player, a CD player, or even directly from a Smartphone. While these tracks are playing, you can accompany and drum along to the tune. When beginning your search for a new drum set, be sure that you know what extra features and add-ins are coming with your new instruments.
Simply put, there is an incredible range of prices out there for electronic drums. A budget conscious consumer can easily locate a cheap set of drums in the $200 range and these types will last you for years. As you begin to refine your percussive abilities, you might want to purchase a more feature-rich model of electronic drums set. The upper end of electronic drum sets can reach prices of $6,000 dollars or more, so if you feel that you want to pursue a career in a band and like the features of an electronic drum set over acoustic, then one of these more premium models might be for you. As a rule, these types of electronic drums have a wide variety of tones and tend to be constructed of some of the best materials.
For the most part, there are two different types of electronic drum heads:
• Rubber Drum Heads – Many of the beginner type of electronic drums employ this style of drum head. Typically, these are made of a black or grey rubberized material that provides decent rebound, create a sound that is consistent and reliable, are exceptionally durable, and are easy and cheap to switch out when one set begins to degrade. Since the rubber typically used for this type of drum head is bouncy and soft, extended use won’t cause this type of drum head wear out, even after thousands of sessions.
• Mesh Drum Heads – The most acoustic drum-like experience for electronic drummers, these types of drum heads have a lot of the natural rebound and tensile feeling of a traditional drum set. Mesh drum heads also emulate a lot of the standard functionality that you’d find on that type of drum set. Drummers typically enjoy the airy feedback that you receive on a standard acoustic set, and while you don’t quite have that on a electric drum set with a mesh head, you will find that there is a heightened amount of instrument sensitivity on an electronic drum set when it utilizes this head-type.
As a rule, the additional sensitivity that mesh heads provide enables you to attack various sections of the drum’s surface to get different results as long as more than one sensor is included underneath the drum head’s mesh material. Also, mesh heads can be tuned; simply adjust the tension of the drum head in order to alter the feel and rebound of your percussive strike.
There are several brands of electronic drum makers that produce quality instruments at various prices. Each has their own traditions and proprietary technologies for their instruments, so doing a little research into what a specific brand offers can be very helpful for your electronic drum buying experience. In addition to the brands that appear on our Gold through Bronze and budget picks, here are some of the top brands on the market today:
• Alesis – Founded in 1984 by Keith Bar, Alesis’ core business strategy is to provide quality audio processors and electronic instruments. Their product catalog features affordable options for drummers of various skill levels; from neophyte to drum pro.
• Pearl – A brand that many are familiar with, Pearl’s name has become synonymous with a great selection of quality drum sets that offer big sound. Founded in, the manufacturer has also become known for its logo being emblazoned across many famous rock band’s bass drums. When it comes to electronics, Pearl has been producing electronic drums sets since 1979, and after almost 40 years in the business, this experience comes out in their products.
• Ion Audio – Ion Audio’s credo says that they are “dedicated to delivering sound experiences”, and this dedication comes out in their extensive instrument line. Insofar as drums, they provide a more digital experience, complete with an eye set to portability and ease of play.
• Acorn – Another brand that specializes in digital instruments, Acorn was established in 2010 and has been working steadfastly to develop quality electronic instruments that are friendly to beginners and seasoned drummers, alike.
The one thing that is different in electronic drum sets from acoustic ones is sound production. Rubber or even mesh drum heads produce little sound on their own, especially in comparison to a traditional set. The majority of the beat will come from your computer’s speakers or an external amp. The result of this disconnect means that sometimes when you play an electronic drum set, the sound will reach you from the external source at a different rate than if the sound emanated from the drums themselves.
This is a result of audio dynamics and the transmission of sound waves and can be a bit disconcerting for drummers who are new to electronic drums. If you are used to drumming on an acoustic set, remember that this will be a slightly different experience from a audio perspective, though luckily this can be minimized by having your drums closer to the amplifier or speakers.
Conclusion (Wrapping it up)
Drumming is the perfect musical endeavor for any type of musician. There are many types of sets to choose from and this guide will give you an idea of some of the best units that are available on the market, some pre-purchase considerations when purchasing a kit, and even some information on the most famous brands that make these fantastic instruments. Drumming is a truly rewarding pastime that grants exercise and helps develop strong rhythm. No matter how you enjoy the experience, either as a profession or hobby, we hope that this list is helpful in your electronic drum search.