Best Electronic Drum Sets 2021: Pro Reviewed Buyer's Guide - Careers in Music
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There are three brands who have consistently brought the feel and sound of real drums to the convenience and versatility of the electronic kit. Alesis, Roland and Yamaha have all been at it for a long time and know what people want and how to deliver it.

Alesis have brought us the natural feel of mesh heads, Roland’s V-Drum technology brings unparalleled realism to the sound and response, and Yamaha’s DTX technology gives us a perfectly tweakable sound engine. All three can offer you the best drumming experience from beginner to gigging musician, home to studio.

Here are the best electronic drum kits you can buy across different price points:

  • Alesis Nitro Mesh Kit
  • Alesis Crimson II Kit
  • Alesis Strike Pro SE
  • Roland TD-1DMK
  • Roland TD-07KV
  • Roland TD-27KV
  • Yamaha DTX402K
  • Yamaha DTX6K3-X

What's the Best Electronic Drum Kit for Beginners?

Alesis, Roland and Yamaha all do entry level drum kits for people getting started. They can be brilliant value for money and introduce you to the quality that these brans offer. There are a few cheap kits out there from other brands but if you were going to take it a bit more seriously then you’d always end up replacing the kit with something better from our top 3 brands. So start as you mean to go on, get something decent and grow with it.

Do Professional Drummers Use Electronic Drums?

Yes, all the time. Sometimes you’ll see electronic drums worked in amongst an acoustic kit to expand the possibilities of the pro drummer. But often professional drummers will have electronic kits to practice on at home and then often use them on tracks because they’ve worked the sounds into the production.

How Do I Choose an Electric Drum Kit?

You first have to consider what you’re going to be using it for and the sort of music you’re likely to be playing. If it’s just for practice then the sound quality is less of an issue, if this is for studio use then authentic sounds is going to be really important. You have to consider your budget and the space you’re going to be putting it in. Will you want to expand over time or do you just want a regular kit?

And then the most important thing that will help you is to go down to your nearest music shop and try a few out, even if you don’t really play yet it will give you an idea of the size, reach and feel of the kits.

Best Electronic Drum Sets 2021

Next up, our picks for the year’s best electronic drum sets!

Alesis Nitro Mesh Kit

This is a superb entry-level kit from Alesis. It features their latest Mesh technology which gives it an amazing feel and natural dynamics that you normally only find on premium kits.

The Nitro Mesh 5-piece kit comes with an 8″ dual-zone mesh snare, three 8″ mesh toms, a 10″ crash and 10″ ride cymbal. The hi-hat and kick drum pedals are custom designed and it’s all held together by a durable 4-post aluminum rack. Everything is included to get you up and running including all the cables, power supply and assembly tools. It all comes together really easy.

The Nitro drum module contains 40 classic and modern kits and lets you choose from 385 high quality drum, cymbal and percussion sounds. The front panel is even arranged like a kit making it easy to select and change sounds. The module has a USB connection for computers and MIDI In/Out if you wanted to expand the sound possibilities with other gear. Plug in your headphones and add your favourites tracks from your phone via an aux input to play along to.

It’s a great kit, simple, compact with great sounds and a snare that transitions naturally from hits to rimshots. It’s a great first choice.

Street Price: $379
alesis.com

Alesis Crimson II Kit

This is a good looking kit that ticks all the right boxes for someone wanting a kit that delivers that perfect feel and expression without having to sell a kidney.

The Crimson II is a 9-piece electronic drum kit with Mesh heads and a solid attitude. The dual-zone snare is 12″ and the dual-zone toms come in at 8″ and 10″ for the floor tom. There are two 12″ crash cymbals and a 14″ triple-zone ride. The hi-hats are 12″ with a pedal and the kick drum is a modest 8″ with plenty of thud. It’s all held together with a premium quick lock chrome 4-post rack with a separate double-braced snare stand so you can really bash out those beats.

The Crimson II Drum Module features 74 drums kits with over 671 sounds and it has a bunch of tracks built in that you can play along to – great for improving your rhythms. It also has a metronome, real time recorder and an aux input for playing along to your phone. With the USB and MIDI ports you could starting taking sounds from your computer or other external devices, or load your own samples via a USB stick.

This is a solid kit that will satisfy the more serious drummer or ambitious beginner.

Street Price: $999
alesis.com

Alesis Strike Pro SE

At the other end of the Alesis scale is the Strike Pro Special Edition, an eleven piece professional electronic drum kit that looks as gorgeous as it sounds. Each drum has a Mesh head with multiple sensors and contact points built into the drum shell. It has the feel and familiarity of an acoustic kit with all the awesome versatility of electronics.

Those multiple sensors give an even sensitivty across the drum avoiding the “hot spot” problem of single sensor drums. The response and sensitivity of the drums can be adjusted right on the drum itself so you can fine tune each one on the fly.

The Strike Performance module features a full color LCD screen for detailed editing of the library of over 1600 multi-sampled instruments and 110 kits. You can even sample, store and add more kits via an SD card slot. The dual -zone snare is an authentic 14″ with four dual-zone toms, four cymbals with a triple-zone ride and dual-zone crashes and a 14″ kick and 12″ movable hi-hats. You also get individual outputs for mixing later in your DAW.

The Strike Pro SE is a top flight kit that provides a wonderful playing experience.

Street Price: $2,599
alesis.com

Roland TD-1DMK

The TD-1DMK gives you a decent entry into the world of Roland’s well regarded Vdrums technology. It combines the feel of dual-ply mesh headed pads with that distinct Roland sound quality.

The straightforward kit comprises of an 8″ dual-zone mesh snare pad, three 6″ single zone toms, three choke-able 10″ dual-zone cymbals for crash, ride and hit-hat and a bass-drum pad. The stand is easy, compact and keeps everything together and adjustable to get the perfect placement for your reach.

The TD-1 module looks pretty simple and it’s very easy to use for beginners. In fact Roland push this kit as an ideal place to start your lifetime of drumming and include all sorts of educational features. It comes with 15 kits catering for all sorts of music genres, a built in metronome to keep you in time and a whole Coaching section which has some interesting tools to help you improve your playing. There are also 15 songs inside to play along to, or you can always plug your phone it via the auxilary input.

The TD-1DMK is a solid starter point with a premium feel that’s very easy to setup and use. There is a cheaper TD-1K which uses the same sound module but with rubber pads that are nowhere near the level of the mesh pads in the TD-1DMK. It’s worth every cent of the $200 extra.

Street Price: $719
roland.com

Roland TD-07KV

If the TD-1DMK was designed as the solid starter kit the TD-07KV follows the same idea but upgrades everything and opens you up to the versatility of V-Drums and future expansion. If you can afford the extra the TD-07KV is really the one you want and good value for what you get.

All the drums are double-ply, tension adjustable mesh drumhead pads with a dual-zone PDX-8 8″ inch snare and three PDX-6A 6″ toms. This time the kick drum is a bit more substantial with realistic rebound. The crash and ride cymbals are 12″ with choke support and the hi-hat is a 10″ with integrated pedal. There’s room for a second crash and you can upgrade the ride cymbal to a triple zone to support the bell.

The TD-07 module really brings this kit to life. You get 25 preset kits but you can edit them and create your own from the 143 V-Drum percussion instruments. You can edit all sorts of aspects of the drum sound with the V-Edit and EQ, the ambience and 30 multi-effects. It has similar coaching and metronome facilities for beginners and it has USB connection for MIDI and audio recording. One nice feature is that it’s Bluetooth enabled so you can wirelessly connect your phone for backing tracks and send MIDI data to wireless music apps.

At over $1000 it’s a serious investment for a beginners kit but if you’re interested in the power and versatility of the V-Drums system then this is the best place to start.

Street Price: $1,099
roland.com

Roland TD-27KV

While Roland offers various levels of V-Drums kits the TD-27KV hits that mid point perfectly between professional performance and attainable price. This is the real deal in terms of authentic feel, powerful sound modelling and versatile connectivity.

It is just a 5-piece kit but you’re getting the 14″ PD-140DS digital snare drum that looks and feels like the real thing with 3-ply mesh and 8 sensors to capture every nuance of your playing. You get three 10″ PDX mesh toms and a hugely responsive KD-10 kick drum designed for single or double pedals. The 18″ digital ride cymbal is awesome with multiple sensors and the sway of a real cymbal. The other cymbals aren’t bad either with 12″ and 13″ crash cymbals and the VH-10 hi-hat that sits on a real hi-hat stand and works exactly as you’d expect.

The TD-27 module comes with 100 kits, 728 instruments, reverb, compressor, EQ, mic simulation and 30 multi-effects that are all editable. You can create custom kits using the Prismatic Sound Modelling technology derived from the flagship TD-50 to give you control over every shell’s tone and tuning, and every cymbals size and liveliness and then place the mics exactly where it makes the most sense to you.

The module has room to connect three more pads, it has MIDI over USB and 28 channels of audio for mixing your performance. You can stream songs to it over Bluetooth and even add your own samples via an SD card. The TD-27KV really does have everything covered.

Street Price: $2,999
roland.com

Yamaha DTX402K

This is a rough and ready kit that brings great sounds and easy playability to the beginner that embraces modern technology to let you edit your kits and design your own way of learning.

The DTX402K has the best feeling 8″ rubber pads of any rubber kit. And while mesh is better these drums are fast and dynamic for a decent playing experience. The 10″ cymbals can be choked and it all sits on a nicely stable stand with plenty of adjustment.

The DTX Drum module is simplicity itself with 10 buttons for 10 genre based kits. The buttons double up as the training system to get you playing along and improving your rhythm. Via the DTX402 app you can connect to the module and edit your kits from the comfort of your phone choosing from over 400 sounds. It has Song Score Gate and Rhythm Gate features for practicing and fun drum challenges to compete with your drummer friends.

Although the kit is pretty basic you won’t find the sound quality or editing facilities in any other kit at this price.

Street Price: $499
yamaha.com

Yamaha DTX6K3-X

Yamaha likes to put the focus on their DTX-PRO module which is renowned for its punch, definition and realism while having a simple, knob-driven interface for easy editing.

With 40 studio-captured preset kits you’ll feel like you’re in the best live room in the world rather than your back bedroom. There are 400 sounds inside with which you can create your own custom and hybrid kits. With three knobs you can control the Ambience, Compression and depth of effect without having to delve into menus.

To go with the professional power of the DTX-Pro module you get an impressive kit that cuts no corners. The XP80 snare gives you 3-zones for head strikes, rimshots and cross-sticks. For the feel Yamaha goes with Textured Cellular Silicone which is designed to feel like a real coated drumhead while being soft and easy on your wrists. The toms have the same technology and the KP90 kick tower is no slouch either. For cymbals you get the PCY135 3-zone ride and crash cymbals and unlike many kits you get a proper hi-hat stand included.

The DTX6K3-X is a solid kit designed for the discerning drummer but also has plenty of training tools to keep the beginners on the right path in developing their skills.

Street Price: $1,799
yamaha.com

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