Last updated: 04/28/2020

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Your living conditions should never influence the choice of instrument you play. How many talented are instinctively drawn to the piano simply because they have one at home? What about those that start playing the guitar because it’s trendy? There’s little doubt that many a potential percussionist has given up on their passion because a drum set would disturb neighbors in the building.

You can play the drums if you want to. The wide range of electronic models on the market is the solution to make your instrument compatible with your conditions. They make very little noise and are reduced in size, minimizing the collateral damage of a traditional drum set. Besides, these instruments are ideal for learning to play.

Key Facts

  • Electronic drum sets aren’t disposable products, so they are a real investment. Think hard about what your goals are and how you want to use your instrument; this is the key to picking the right model and investing your money correctly. Opting for the cheapest drum set could backfire if you end up wanting to switch to a higher-quality instrument.
  • Some sales formats can be misleading, which is why you should check the accessories included with the product you want to buy. Make sure that it comes with the right equipment – sticks, module, and pedals – so you don’t have to spend more right off the bat. We will delve further into this criterion in our article.
  • The sound module we have just mentioned can make or break an electronic drum set. The possibilities it offers will play a significant role in your ability to improve your technique quickly and efficiently, for instance. Above all, it will define the sensitivity of the percussion and the accuracy of the sounds.

Our Selection: The Best Electric Drum Sets on the U.S. Market

As you might already know, picking the perfect electronic drum set for your home can be a real challenge. We don’t want your search to lead to frustration and despair, which is why we have selected some of the best models currently available out there. You can learn more about each instrument below, and we hope this list will help you identify the type of product that best suits you.

Best-Selling Electronic Drum Set

The Alesis Nitro Mesh electronic drum set combines comfort of use, quality, and value for money, making it one of the best-selling models on the market. It includes eight mesh pieces, a sturdy steel frame, and a module with over 350 sounds and 60 play-along songs. Besides, you have access to 40 free lessons from Melodics to get you started. This product has everything you need: drumsticks, connection cables, drum key, and power supply.

Best Portable Electronic Drum Set

This is certainly a very different model, but the praise it has received from past users made it a must in our selection. This compact electronic drum set is ideal if you want to practice on the go. Including four pads and a built-in module with 70 sounds, it weighs less than 4 pounds and can operate on batteries for you play literally anywhere. Great for the traveling drummer.

Best Electronic Drum Set for Experienced Musicians

Roland’s V Entry electronic drum set may be the most expensive on this list, but its performance is unmatched and perfect for any demanding player who wants to get the most out of their instrument. The TD-1 model is one of its most outstanding features, guaranteeing the most natural sounds and adaptability to all musical genres. With seven mesh pieces and a training software, this is a fantastic drum set. Note that the kick pedal is not included.

Best Budget-Friendly Electronic Drum Set

If you’re looking for a model with a full mesh kit to start practicing while keeping it on a smaller budget, RockJam’s eight-piece electronic drum set is an excellent option. Delivered with bass and hi-hat control pedals, it also includes a sound module with 30 drum kit voices and various demo songs for you to experiment with. In fact, this model is Amazon’s Choice in the category!

Shopping Guide: Everything You Should Know About Electric Drum Sets

As you can see, there is a wide range of electronic drum sets on the American market. Each model has its own characteristics to tailor to the needs of different users – be it in terms of purchasing power or level as a musician. In the following section, we have answered the most frequently asked questions regarding this instrument. If you still have any doubts regarding electronic drum sets, it’s time to solve them all!

The distribution of the components of an electronic drum set is similar to that of acoustic models.
(Source: Jiroe: XAG-tDlV4-8/ Unsplash.com)

What is an electronic drum set exactly?

The answer is trickier than you might think. In musical terms, it performs the same functions as a traditional drum set, in the sense that it is a percussion instrument. However, the way the sounds are generated is more complex. It doesn’t rely exclusively on a physical process, but also on a particular software capable of creating different nuances.

Its range of possibilities is, therefore, higher. Depending on the specificities of the module, electronic drum sets can integrate hundreds of sounds for each of its pads. In fact, they also have dozens of sound kits to play on. Add this to the fact that you can channel the sound through your headphones without disturbing your neighbors, and you have a great instrument.

What are its advantages over acoustic drum sets?

The reason why they are so popular is precisely because they allow musicians to practice in their own homes without breaking noise regulation laws. The drumsticks produce a muffled and barely perceptible sound on the pads, which is electronically generated and can be heard through headphones.

In addition, these drum sets are much easier to carry, with their programming designed to improve the musician’s mastery of the instrument. Likewise, the editing of the generated sound is much more efficient because the recording and channeling to electronic devices are straightforward, through USB or cable. You can compare their pros and cons in the table below:

Advantages
  • More sound recordings
  • Built-in rhythms
  • Integrated training programs
  • They channel the sound through headphones, so you can practice without disturbing your neighbors
  • They facilitate music editing by connecting to devices such as computers or tablets
  • You can easily transport them
Disadvantages
  • Older models may experience some sound latency
  • Loss of sensitivity relative to percussion intensity
  • Unnatural sounds in models with outdated modules

What are the different elements of an electronic drum set?

Three primary components make up these instruments. First of all, the pads are where we will find the so-called piezoelectric sensors. They pick up a stimulus that a converter then transforms into a MIDI signal. The module is the element responsible for producing a specific sound through this signal it receives. Modern electronic drum sets also include a converter function in the module.

The pads are set up similarly to a traditional drum kit. A standard model would, therefore, consist of the same main elements: snare drum, hi-hat with pedal, ride and crash cymbals, tom-toms, bass drum, and pedal. While you may think otherwise, the quality of the drumsticks – usually sold separately – can make a big difference.

The drumsticks produce a muffled and barely perceptible sound on the pads, which is electronically generated and can be heard through headphones.
(Source: Monpaneevong: 43455878/ 123rf.com)

What are the innovations in the latest electronic drum sets?

We clearly notice a professionalization of the instruments that are coming to the market, as they now focus on experienced musicians as much as beginners. In that regard, we currently find high-quality digital audio (with 24-bit pads and hundreds of sounds to choose from), with dynamic and position sensors to regulate the sound according to intensity.

In addition, electronic drum sets often incorporate various triggers to identify which part of the different elements you are playing on. The hi-hats are also more realistic, which can be open or closed using the pedal. Finally, they integrate multiple outputs via USB or to the soundboard, as well as the possibility of updating the components that contain software.

Which sound module should I choose?

This element will allow you to play with the specific kits of each different music genre. Not only will you be able to adapt your style, but also the tones of the sound to the preset genres – such as jazz, rock, pop, or rap, for instance.
The best thing is that a quality module lets you personalize these sounds and record them within each genre.

This means that you can create your own library with your favorite sounds and with the rhythms and songs you have previously recorded. In addition, a suitable module will be updated periodically with free software, downloadable sounds, or new rhythms. Let’s see what your module should include:

Sounds

A greater variety of sounds implies more than just large storage capacity, and this naturally increases the price due to the technical requirements needed. The more basic, low-end modules integrate the sounds of analog drums and other effects of various musical instruments.

However, a more advanced model will allow you to truly play around with these sounds. You can edit them, create your own sounds, and download others to add to your already vast library. Besides, the quality of these sounds will be higher if you opt for a top-rated module, thanks to the sensitivity of the pads.

Preset Rhythms

They are ideal for rehearsing and guiding you through the wide range of musical genres in which you can showcase your drumming skills. Preset rhythms help you improve specific techniques and work on exercises to develop your abilities.

But that’s not it! They are also a great source of inspiration to make your musical knowledge more eclectic, allowing you to blend different genres into an explosive blend of musicality. Keep in mind that you can easily edit them, either by playing on your drums or with your connected computer.

Natural Feel & Sounds

This is probably the aspect that most makes the difference between a mediocre and a top-quality module. High-end models can replicate the natural sounds of a drum set. In fact, they generally include an excellent equalization system that you can play with to improve the sounds. Ambient effects are another great tool to enhance the style of your songs.

You should check the sound outputs available, as this will tell you how many combinations you can do simultaneously to play over songs that are already recorded. Last but not least, make sure that the module has its own software or that it is compatible with other user-friendly software. Some apps also allow you to adjust your songs.

Latency is the time between you hitting the drum and you hearing the sound.
(Source: Sjjerez: 3862668/ Pixabay.com)

Can I easily move my electronic drum set?

As we mentioned earlier, the distribution of the components of an electronic drum kit is similar to those of acoustic instruments. That way, they take up the same physical space in your room. However, since electronic drum sets don’t need the same sounding boards, each component is much smaller and, therefore, they are lighter overall.

Besides, many manufacturers now design folding drum sets to make it easier for you to take it from your rehearsal room to the concert hall. While the smaller size of cymbals means that you have to be more precise, they are also closer together so you can play faster.

Buyer’s Guide

We hope that the previous section has answered any potential doubt you had regarding electronic drum sets. Before we let you go, we wanted to introduce you to the most important shopping criteria. Now that you are more familiar with these innovative instruments, all you need to do is pay attention to the following factors and you will be on your way to finding the perfect electronic drum kit for you.

Price

As we explained in the beginning, an electronic drum set isn’t a disposable product. You have to think long and hard about the features you expect from it. In the same vein, bear in mind that opting for the cheapest model on the market may not be the smartest investment if you quickly realize that you need a more advanced drum kit. You will end up having to spend more money than you had initially planned. If you really want to stick with this instrument, we recommend you choose a quality model from the get-go.

The model you buy should also be based on your level of experience.
(Source: StockSnap: 2597045/ Pixabay.com)

Sales Format

Paying attention to details can go a long way. Some electronic drum sets are sold without some of the most basic and necessary accessories, such as the module, the sticks, or the pedals. Others will include all of these elements, but their quality may be mediocre at best and won’t allow you to make the most of your instrument. Always bet on quality.

Sound Module

As you may have noticed, this component has been a constant throughout our article. And there is a good reason behind this since it is often what makes the difference between good and great. Your module will determine the number of sounds you have at your disposal, as well as the different rhythm kits included. In addition, it plays a role in your ability to edit the music and connect the drum set to other electronic devices.

Latency

This is the period of time between the moment you hit your drum kit and the moment you actually hear the sound. It is naturally immediate with an acoustic instrument, but the digital generation of the sound in electronic drum sets means that there may be a slight delay. The good news is that the most recent models have managed to solve this problem.

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Level of Expertise

Your level of experience as a musician will influence the electronic drum set you purchase. In fact, most of them are designed for beginners, with modules that integrate a training mode and basic rhythms that you can imitate to internalize the different genres. The more advanced drum kits will allow you to delve more deeply into the ins and outs of each style of music.

Summary

Drum sets are undeniably one of the most charismatic instruments we know today, whether they simply set the rhythm or rise above all others in explosive solo pieces. Besides, contemporary music genres are starting to make the most of their characteristics, with percussion playing a fundamental role.

Electronic drum sets are ideal for you to dive right into the joys of playing this incredible instrument. Not only will they guide you by setting the tone for each genre, but they will also allow you to adapt and play around with the sounds of each style.

We hope that our guide on electronic drum sets has helped you find the perfect instrument for you. If that’s the case, feel free to share this article on your social media. You can also tell us all about your experiences in the comments section below!

(Source of featured image: Sjjerez: 3862668/ Pixabay.com)

Why you can trust me?

Thibault Perinet Freelance Writer & World Traveler
As a literature and translation licensee and avid traveler, language has always been at the heart of my daily life. A freelance writer since 2014, I love to delve into a variety of topics that contribute to my professional and personal development. My favorite things in life? Maté in the morning, soccer with friends, and old school hip hop.