If you’re thinking of learning the drums, you may be considering an electronic drum set. While it would be ideal to get an acoustic one, electronic options are often more practical. Thankfully, there are some top-quality e-kits available that fit into every possible budget.
I’m going to suggest seven options for you. Each of them has something special to offer, and my suggestions will increase in price as we move forward to the next choice.
Bottom Line Up Front
The top electronic drum sets available come from three main brands. These are Roland, Alesis, and Yamaha. While you get other brands that make electronic sets, none of them can comfortably compare to the leading three.
The most affordable electronic kit is the Alesis Nitro Mesh, my top pick for a mid-range kit is the Roland TD-17KVX, and the highest-quality kit available is the Roland VAD706.
There are dozens more excellent options to choose from, but here are seven of my top picks, including those three kits.
My Top Picks at a Glance
- Alesis Nitro Mesh – Best budget electronic kit. Excellent for new drummers.
- Roland TD-07DMK – Best electronic kit under $1000.
- Yamaha DTX6K3-X – Best reasonably-priced Yamaha electronic set with top-quality drum and cymbal pads. Also, the top kit is under $2000.
- Roland TD-17KVX – Most affordable Roland kit with professional features.
- Alesis Strike Pro Special Edition – Largest electronic drum set available.
- Roland VAD506 – Top choice for an e-kit that looks like an acoustic kit.
- Roland VAD706 – Most advanced electronic drum kit available.
Tips for Buying Electronic Drum Sets
Before we get to the products, I want to give you a few insights into buying an electronic drum kit. These are things to think about that may potentially sway whatever decision you make. Keeping them in mind will ensure that you make the best buying decision.
Electronic vs Acoustic Kits
Acoustic and electronic are your two options when it comes to drums, so you need to choose which type to get. I’m a heavy supporter of acoustic drums. Playing a large drum set made of wood and metal is what drumming is all about, and it’s been that way for over 100 years.
However, it’s not a feasible option for everyone. You’ll have to get an electronic drum set if you have noise constraints. You’ll also need to get an electronic kit if you don’t have much space to work with. Low noise and small sizes are the two most beneficial aspects of electronic drums.
If you do choose to get an electronic kit, I highly suggest you get one that has mesh or silicone pads. You want to get something that feels as close to acoustic drums as possible, and those pads do the trick. Also, note that the more money you spend on an e-kit, the closer to an acoustic kit it will sound and feel.
Electronic drum kits have two extremes. Some of them are surprisingly affordable, making them perfect for first-time buyers and people wanting to learn. Others are ridiculously expensive. You could put a deposit down on a house with the money that you’d pay for them.
When looking to buy a kit, you need to establish a budget that is comfortable for you. My best suggestion is to categorize kits into groups of $1000. What are the options under $1000? What are the options under $2000? When you go down that path of thinking, you’ll be able to choose a decent kit that offers the best features in that price range.
You can expect certain electronic brands to have kits that cost more, while others are known for being affordable. This transitions us into varying brand options.
The best electronic drum brands are Alesis, Yamaha, and Roland. You may stumble across other electronic drum kit brands, but none of them have consistently provided high-quality products to get to the same level of popularity as the top three brands.
Roland is the top dog in the electronic drumming industry. They were the inventors of the mesh head, their kits have incredibly long lifespans, and the overall design quality of their products is amazing. However, their drum sets are known to be very expensive.
Alesis is an affordable brand. They’re the company that sells entry-level electronic kits that have mesh heads. If you have a lower budget, you’ll get the best value-for-money with an Alesis set. Their kits tend to have quality control issues, though. You may find yourself needing to replace pads more often than with Roland kits.
Yamaha is a strong competitor with Roland. While their electronic kits aren’t as popular as their acoustic ones, they have some strong options. They choose to use silicone pads instead of mesh, and they feel amazing to play on.
When buying an electronic kit, you should see what its expandability of it is. Some kits will allow you to add extra pads, while others will allow you to upgrade the pads with ones from different brands.
If you can upgrade the kit in the future, it could work to buy a more affordable kit at this point. Having the ability to upgrade allows you to save up some money to continue improving the quality of the set.
You can also swap out drum modules and keep the pads. This will improve the sounds you get and provide you with more features.
Not all electronic drum sets can be upgraded, so pay careful attention to this when deciding on which drum set to buy.
Drum Module Capabilities
The drum module acts as the brain of an electronic drum set. It’s the driving force. This makes it the most important tool in running everything. You should always look at everything the module offers to decide if it’s something you would like to have.
When drum modules are more extensive, it raises the overall price of the drum set. So, you may want a kit with a simple module to make the cost lower. That’s something I always look for as I’m not the biggest user of drum module features.
If you want to practice, learn, improve, and be able to alter sounds as much as possible, then you’d need a kit with an extensive drum module.
For each electronic kit that I’m about to recommend, all of them rank fairly highly within specific requirements. While they mostly follow all the guidelines that I’ve given above, I’ve also ranked them according to these things:
- Practical use
- Price-to-value ratio
- Useful drum module features
- Fits into a certain budget
Out of all the available electronic kits, these are the ones that I love the most, and I’d easily suggest them to anyone.
My Top Electronic Drum Set Suggestions
Alesis Nitro Mesh
The Alesis Nitro Mesh is an ideal beginner’s kit. When it comes to affordability, nothing beats it. You may find a few cheaper drum kits available, but you’ll quickly realize that they have very poor sound quality.
So, I always say that the Nitro Mesh is the starting point of electronic drum kits, and this is what you should get if you want the cheapest kit possible. The module has 40 preset drum sets and 385 electronic sounds.
The drum pads are all 8” mesh pads. I love that they’re 8” as the most affordable mesh pads from Roland are only 6”, making these feel bigger to play on. The bass drum also connects to a kick tower, whereas many cheaper electronic drum kits only have a bass drum trigger pedal.
The reason this kit is only good for beginners, though, is because of the lower quality when it comes to sound. Experienced drummers will notice the sound quality and find themselves wanting better. You could always run the kit as a MIDI controller and use drum kit VSTs to get better sounds, though.
- Most affordable decent electronic drum kit
- Full set of 8” mesh heads
- Dozens of sounds to use in the module
- The quality of the onboard sounds isn’t amazing
The Roland TD-07DMK is the best kit that I know of that costs under $1000. The idea behind it is that it offers much of what Roland is known for, but it all comes packaged in a reasonably priced set. Roland also sells the TD-1DMK, which has a similar selling point, but I prefer the TD-07 thanks to its superior module.
The TD-07 drum module has 25 preset kits and just 143 sounds to make your kits with. It also has the most extensive sound editing tools that I’ve seen on a sub-$1000 drum set. These include general audio effects, mic simulators, and pad equalizers.
The kit has an 8” mesh pad for the snare and 6” mesh pads for the toms. While I liked the larger Alesis pads, these Roland pads tend to feel better to play on for many drummers. You’ll just need to get used to playing on smaller pads.
The bass drum pad is the weak point here as it doesn’t sit on a dedicated tower. Instead, it’s attached to the hardware holding the kit up, making it a bit less sturdy.
- Best Roland kit under $1000
- Feels amazing to play on
- Excellent drum module
- Bass drum pad isn’t as sturdy as the ones that are on their towers
If you’re looking for a professional drum kit that has everything you need with a reasonable price tag, look no further than the Yamaha DTX6K3-X. This kit costs just under $2000, and I’d recommend it to professional drummers who want an e-kit to practice and play a few gigs with.
The module has 40 preset kits that have been captured and recorded using Yamaha’s line of professional acoustic drum sets. There are also amazing sound modifiers that give you an amazing amount of control over the sounds. You can control ambiance and compression, and you get multiple effects tools.
The silicone pads feel quite natural to play with, and the rubber cymbals are responsive. The impressive pads on this kit are the 3-zone snare pad and all the 3-zone cymbals.
Another amazing benefit that this kit has is that the hi-hat pad sits on a hi-hat stand. This gives you more control as opposed to when hi-hat pads are separated and controlled from trigger pedals.
Overall, it’s an amazing electronic drum set. The only people I can’t see using this are drummers who prefer mesh pads over silicone.
- Excellent professional set that costs under $2000
- 3-zone cymbal pads
- Powerful drum module with Yamaha acoustic drum sounds
- Some drummers won’t like the silicone pads
The TD-17KVX is Roland’s direct competitor product to the previous Yamaha set. It has many of the same features. However, there are a few added benefits that make me think it’s slightly superior.
My favorite feature of this kit is the 12” snare drum pad. This is the largest snare pad we’ve seen on a kit so far in this list, and it feels far better to play on than smaller pads. It has a raised rim that makes playing rim shots feel incredible.
When it comes to the module, the TD-17 is heavily inspired by Roland’s top-tier TD-50 module. A few of the same sounds are used, and many of the sound editing tools are utilized as well. The module has Bluetooth capabilities, letting you stream music to it without connecting any cables. Jamming to music has never been easier because of this.
If you love the sound of this kit but want something a bit more affordable, you can check out the related version, which is the TD-17KV. It doesn’t use a hi-hat stand, and the cymbal pads are older versions from Roland with fewer trigger zones.
- Professional electronic drum set from Roland
- Amazing 12” snare drum pad
- Powerful TD-17 drum module that is inspired by the TD-50
- Option of getting the more affordable TD-17KV
- Costs more than the Yamaha DTX6K-3
Alesis Strike Pro Special Edition
The Strike Pro SE is the top kit from Alesis. I find this drum set to be incredible. It’s one of the largest electronic sets available, yet it’s surprisingly affordable compared to the other kits on the market that have acoustic shells.
While the more affordable kits from Alesis have questionable sound quality, the sounds on the Strike module are amazing. There are so many pro-quality options that using this kit at a gig would be highly feasible.
With five cymbal pads and six drum pads, you have a massive kit to toy around with. The full-sized bass drum makes it feel incredibly similar to playing an acoustic kit, and I’ve found all the cymbals to be very responsive.
If you want a huge electronic drum set that resembles an acoustic kit, this is your most affordable option. It only costs around $3000, giving it a seriously high price-to-value ratio. The downside of the set would be Alesis’ reputation for questionable quality control. Their pads don’t seem to last as long as Roland pads, so that’s why some drummers may second guess buying a kit like this.
- Incredible price-to-value ratio
- Huge drum setup, making it look great in gig environments
- The best kit you can get from Alesis
- Large cymbal pads
- Alesis is known to have a few quality control issues with their kits
The Roland VAD506 is another electronic drum set with the appearance of a full acoustic set. The shells are a bit deeper than the ones on the Alesis Strike, and the pads on top of the shells are far superior.
This was Roland’s top kit at one stage, so expect to be impressed with all its features. It used the Roland TD-27 drum module, which is most well-known for its Prismatic Sound Modeling Engine and PureAcoustic Ambience technology. Both those things give you an extraordinary amount of control over the drum sounds. Changing how the mics of the kits you’re playing are positioned is what I found most impressive about them.
The other impressive parts of the set are the digital snare drum and ride cymbal. You get unreal levels of sensitivity with them, making them the closest thing I’ve ever felt to resembling authentic acoustic drums and cymbals.
This set costs over $5000. That’s a huge amount of money to pay for an electronic drum set, but it’s highly worth it.
- Closely resembles a full acoustic kit
- TD-27 module uses Prismatic Sound Modeling Engine and PureAcoustic Ambience technology
- Digital snare and ride cymbal
- Drum mount onto standard acoustic drum hardware
- Very expensive
- No hardware is included with the purchase
The Roland VAD706 takes everything from the previous kit and improves on it to make it the best electronic drum set in the world. It uses the superior TD-50 drum module, gives you the option of choosing shell colors, and adds a digital hi-hat pad into the mix.
You won’t find a kit more expensive, but you also won’t find a kit with better looks, feel, or sounds. I’ve listed it here as it’s the ultimate option!
- Best electronic kit available
- Only e-kit with varying color options
- The TD-50 drum module is amazing
- Extraordinarily expensive
Question: Are Electronic Drum Kits Good for Beginner Drummers?
Answer: Electronic drum kits are highly viable options for beginner drummers. Their biggest strength is that they don’t make as much noise as acoustic drums do, allowing beginner drummers who live in apartments and other tighter areas to learn to play.
However, beginner drummers must get experience with playing acoustic drums as well. The more affordable electronic kits don’t feel very resemblant to acoustic kits, so bad habits can be developed if a drummer purely learns on one.
The best way to get exposure to acoustic kits is to have lessons with a dedicated drum teacher.
Question: What are Some Extra Tools to Use with Electronic Drum Sets?
Answer: While the more affordable electronic kits may come with all the tools you need, the higher-priced kits never come with pedals, drum thrones, or headphones.
If you get a more expensive set, you’ll need to buy a kick pedal to be able to play the bass drum. You’ll need to buy a drum throne to sit on. You’ll also need to get a set of headphones to listen to what you’re playing.
You could also buy an amplifier to hear the drums. That will allow people around you to hear them as well, which is needed for playing in band contexts.
Question: Why Are Mesh Heads Better Than Rubber Pads?
Answer: Mesh pads are designed to feel resemblant to acoustic drumheads. They feel more natural to play on, thanks to their decreased rebound. You can also adjust the tension of mesh heads by tightening and loosening the screws around them.
Rubber pads are hard and have more rebound than a standard acoustic drum would have. You’ll be able to play faster on a rubber pad than you would on an acoustic drum, creating an unrealistic expectation for when you switch from electronic to acoustic kit.
Mesh pads also have the added benefit of being softer than rubber pads, so they’re great for keeping noise levels low.
To wrap things up, I’d suggest getting the Roland VAD706 if you have an unlimited budget. It’s the best electronic kit that has ever been made, and I can’t see any product competing with it any time soon.
The Yamaha DTX6K3-X and the Roland TD-17KVX are my suggestions for experienced drummers who want excellent practice kits, and the Alesis Nitro Mesh is what I’ve always recommended to my drum students who just started playing.
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