Within the last decade, electronic drums have edged ever closer to the experience of playing an acoustic drum set, thanks to massive strides made in both technology and hardware. The top electronic drum sets sound better than ever, too.
As a result e-kits are surging in popularity. They’re the ideal tool for every type of drummer, from beginners needing the facility to practice without disturbing the neighbours, right up to professional drummers who need high performance and specific, controllable sounds in the studio or rehearsal room.
As technology and aesthetics have evolved, electronic drums (sometimes mistakenly called ‘electric drums’) have become a more common fixture on the live scene, too.
As a beginner, when you first start exploring the right electronic drum set for you, we recommend looking for a rack that’s built to last, and at least five drum and three cymbal pads (hi-hat, crash and ride).
Pads will probably be made from rubber at the entry level – although mesh pads are becoming more common at this level – and the module (sometimes called the ‘brain’) will offer a limited selection of sounds, from acoustic kits to electronic sounds and percussion – by no means premium, but more than adequate for home practice.
The module should also offer an auxiliary input for connecting a smartphone or music player so you can jam along with your favourite music.
Up your budget a little and you’ll enter the world of tougher hardware, a greater variety and quality of sounds, more sound editing functionality, the ability to import your own samples plus pads featuring mesh heads or other real-feel, non-rubber materials.
Once in the professional electronic drum kit arena, you will have access to the very best electronic drum kit technology. This means limitless editing capabilities, more natural responses to your playing and a kit that’s at home on stage or in the studio. Want to add tape to your snare drum, or change characteristics of the room you’re playing in?
Parameters can be changed within seconds, right there on the module. You won’t believe how realistic these kits sound, however this level of technology does come at a hefty price.
1. Yamaha DTX402K
Enjoy great connected features and Yamaha’s acoustic drum sounds on a budget
Launch price (pictured model): $493/£376/€436 | Pads: 4x rubber toms/snare, 3x cymbals, 1x bass drum tower, 1 x integrated hi-hat controller pedal | Kits: 10 | Sounds: 287 | Connections: USB, aux-in, stereo headphone output
Wide selection of quality sounds
Cymbals feel great to play
Limited tom positioning options
Yamaha’s DTX402 series is aimed squarely at beginner drummers. There are three kits in the 402 line-up, but the 402K is the best for tight budgets and offers plenty to help first-timers get started. The kit features a sturdy rack plus quiet, natural-feeling drum and cymbal pads. The DTX402 module is packed with 287 expressive drum and percussion sounds, 128 keyboard sounds, 10 customisable kits and nine reverb types. In addition, aspiring players will find multi-genre playalongs, recording functionality and ten training tools to boost timing, speed and expression. Impressively, the DTX402 is also compatible with Yamaha’s free DTX402 Touch app (iOS/Android), which enables deeper kit customisation, additional playing challenges and rewards as players improves.