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You could be rocking a $10,000 electronic drum kit on stage, yet it won’t amount to much unless you are using a quality amplifier to help boost your sound. Fortunately, electronic drum amps are specially voiced for electronic drum kits, all of which can act as both a stage amp and a personal monitor.
Drum amps are a fantastic way to engage with your audience on-stage and give them a taste of what’s really going on inside your headphones. Interestingly enough, it’s actually worthwhile to note that a good drum amplifier can cost as much as your trusty drum kit these days.
This is why it’s important to segregate and prioritize your needs patiently before you invest in a drum amp. However, if you’re considering buying an amplifier for your electronic drum kit and are not sure which one suits you the best, then you’ve come to the right place.
This guide tackles all the facts around drum amplifiers – from basic to advanced – along with some expert tips that we will get to in the later sections. I scoured the markets to bring you the best drum amps that you can buy right now, whether it’s just for practicing or you want to use it for stage performances, too.
When narrowing them down, you’ll find that my reviews are based on:
- The versatility of the amps.
- The sound quality of the amps.
- And of course, the physical robustness of these amps.
So without further ado, let’s go ahead explore some of the best amps meant for electronic drums, shall we?
What is the Purpose of Drum Amplifiers?
Audio amplifiers are a type of electronic booster that amplifies low-power audio signals, such as the signals from drum modules or guitar pickups. This brings them to a high enough level that can drive external speakers.
With that in mind, we’re essentially dealing with the same type of animal when it comes to drum amplifiers, too. This time, however, the technology is voiced especially for drums.
Although many players prefer using headphones or in-ear monitors and running straight into the mixer, this method just doesn’t cut it for some of them. This is particularly true if you’re used to playing acoustic drums, like when you really crave that freedom to hear yourself play and just feel the intensity of your drums in a super loud setting.
I mean, don’t get me wrong. You can certainly ramp up the volume on a pair of headphones and enjoy playing drums at full blast. That said, it’s not quite the same.
It still feels a bit isolated, if you know what I mean. Moreover, if you’re a live-performing drummer ready to show off your epic solo, then you want to have a decent stage presence. And commanding that presence before an audience can only be brought up by a drum amplifier.
The Advantages of Using Drum Amplifiers
Both beginners and seasoned drummers can benefit from drum amplifiers in many ways, such as:
- You’ll get an incredible response and feel. Drum amplifiers give you a response and feel that cannot be matched by headphones or in-ear monitors.
- It’s pretty darn accurate, too. Drum amplifiers recreate an accurate representation of electronic drums that is good for both monitoring and recording.
- Practicing with drum amplifiers feels very organic and almost similar to acoustic drums. If you’re planning on switching to acoustic drums in the future, you’ll have a far better learning curve with a drum amp than headphones.
- There’s nothing better for mixing and stage sounds, either. Drum amplifiers are optimal for stage sound and mixing, thanks to their directional sound capability.
- They can be used as an alternative to PAs in small venues. If you’re playing a set of 50-100 people, your drum amp can double up as a PA speaker for the audience.
Disadvantages of Using Drum Amplifiers
As much as we love drum amps, they do suffer from a few drawbacks which can force you to hunt for alternatives.
- First and foremost, the price of drum amplifiers is what turns off a lot of players. The good ones tend to be quite expensive, almost as much as the entire drum kit in some scenarios.
- Due to limitations with sound coverage, drum amps may not always prove to be as practical as in-ears. You need to be sitting directly in front of the speaker to accurately perceive the sound.
- During live shows or crowded rehearsal sessions, the sound of drum amps may interfere with other instruments. This can make it harder to actually focus on your playing.
- For larger venues, you’ll have little to no use for drum amps. This is because you’ll be depending on PA speakers for the crowd sound. In this case, you’re better off with a pair of headphones or in-ear monitors that produce much higher quality sound.
- Portability is a great point of concern for live musicians, too. This is where drum amps take a dip in popularity. These amps tend to be heavy and large in size. When you add that to the weight of your drum kit, it starts to feel like a dead weight you’d rather shed than carry around on tours.
- Drum amps can create a distance between the player and the drums. Yes, they sound really great, but at the end of the day, you’re monitoring your sound through a distant device. As long as you don’t mind the delay, though, feel free to keep using them.
The Major Differences Between Drum Amplifiers and In-Ear Monitors
If you’ve been going back and forth between drum amps and other sources of monitoring like in-ears or headphones, then the following discussion points can help you come to a conclusion.
- In-ear monitors let you monitor the sound closely, whereas drum amps are essentially portable speakers that let you engage with the sound from a distance.
- The sound quality of in-ear monitors is substantially higher due to multiple drivers dedicated to separate frequency bands, whereas drum amps use only a woofer and tweeter to recreate drum sounds.
- In-ear monitors are portable and lightweight, whereas drum amps tend to be heavy and quite large in size.
- In-ear monitors allow you to isolate external noise, whereas with a drum amp you’re in an open setting with no isolation from the noise.
- Beginners and intermediate players find it easier to mix drums with in-ear monitors, whereas only trained professionals can yield good results from drum amps.
What Exactly Makes For a “Good” Drum Amp?
There are several aspects that you need to look after individually when picking out drum amplifiers, such as:
- Their Power
- The Channels
- Its EQ
- Their Weight and Portability
Let’s go ahead and break these considerations down.
If you’re intending to use an amp as a personal monitor, then typically any drum amp that fits your budget will be the right choice. Power only comes into the picture when you want to address a larger audience at venues.
On-stage, you want the band members – as well as yourself – to be able to hear the drums optimally. In that case, a 50-100 Watt amplifier (depending on the size of the venue) will suit you better.
In the event that you’re playing venues without PAs, though, then you may want to consider ramping up the power to 200W. This will help make it loud enough for a small-size audience.
Be sure to look out for the number of input and out channels you’re getting with an amplifier, as that’ll vastly impact your setup on-stage. Make sure to pick out an amp that has a couple of extra channels more than you usually need.
That way, you’ll never run into a fix. If you like to practice with backing tracks or would like to send the sound to a mixer, you’ll be better off with an amp that has some extra XLR in its input and output jacks.
Its EQ (Equalization)
A lot of people will argue that you can EQ the drum sound from the module itself, so you don’t really need any EQ settings on the amp itself. This may be true in some cases, sure. But if you want to blend your drums properly with the room or the hall you’re playing in?
Well, then you have to depend on the amp’s EQ section. Some brands use a contour style EQ, while others give you a global EQ. Some amps even have multi-band EQs, which are the best choice for seamlessly blending various mixes.
Their Weight and Portability
If you’re going to frequently travel with your amp to various gigs and rehearsals, then you should definitely consider the weight and portability factors. You want to buy an amp that houses all the features you need without adding a ton of weight to your kit.
The Best Amps for Electronic Drums in 2022
Before I dive into the best amps for electronic drums, I want to take a moment to highlight the things I considered before adding a particular one to my list. That way, you’ll know exactly what drove my decision.
My Evaluation Criteria
Picking out the right size and wattage for drum amps can throw you into a frenzy if you’re not already familiar with these terms. To give you a better idea as to how I went about my selection process, here are a few key points that I focused on.
- Their Sound Quality. This is going to be the top priority for every customer who’s hunting for a drum amp, so I made it my top priority to highlight the sound quality of the products I reviewed.
- The Speaker Size. The size and type of speakers matter a lot when it comes to drum amps. From loudness to tonal characteristics, a lot is dependent on the speakers. I made sure to specify the size of the woofer and the tweeter for every product in this list, so you can get a rough idea of its sonic potential.
- The Connectivity Options. This is another vital factor to consider when buying drum amps. While practicing, you may want to play a backing track using a music player or send them out to the front of the house during live gigs. So you’ll want to make sure the amp has enough input/output jacks before buying it.
- Their Weight. Amp manufacturers have to factor in a lot of variables when coming up with their designs, but most tend to sway toward making their amps bulky and sturdy to better handle the harsh conditions of the road. You need to consider its weight so you don’t end up with a piece of rock that you can’t move anywhere.
- The Overall Cost. Whether it’s the technology or the components themselves, the price of drum amps is staggeringly high these days. However, that doesn’t apply to some solid brands, which do sell quality equipment for reasonable prices. To even out the odds, I’ve included both affordable and high-end amps in this list.
Alesis Strike 8
Our top pick on this list is the Alesis Strike 8. This amp packs a thunderous 2000W bi-amplified power active speaker that is bound to make your bedroom walls shake every time you strike on your electronic drum kit.
It’s essentially a portable speaker that weighs around 20.2 pounds, but it’s powered by a high-performance transducer. In other words, you get a speaker that can get really loud without losing any of that high-end detail in your chops.
The best part about this amp is that it can scale down the volume in both directions without losing any definition. That means that drummers who like to practice with a consistent sound are really going to dig this amp.
You can take this bad boy out for gigs to use as a drum monitor or to practice at home, too. It comes with:
- 2 x XLR/TRS ¼-inch combo inputs
- 1 x XLR line out
- 1 x 8-inch woofer
- 1 x 1.4-inch tweeter
- 1 x contour EQ switch
You can place this amp in the vertical position, as well, if you want to monitor your sound during live gigs. Or, if you prefer, you can place it in the horizontal position if you want to use it as a speaker.
- Very powerful speaker
- Doubles as a stage monitor
- Specially designed for e-drums
- Limited low end due to 8-inch woofer
Roland amps have been the go-to option for both guitarist and drummers alike, for decades now. Even though the PM-100 was specially designed for V-drums, it works just as well with any other e-kit out there.
The large 10-inch woofer paired with a 2-inch tweeter produces a thick low end with plenty of high-end detail. I’m still surprised that Roland managed to preserve their authentic sound and package it into a full-range speaker system.
The PM-100 features a versatile cabinet in an angled position for genuine full-range reproduction of electronic drums. The 80W speaker is perfect for any mid to large-sized practice room.
The amp has two channels that come with a global 2-band equalizer. In terms of connectivity options, you get a 1/4-inch stereo phone type v-drums input, one 1/4-inch line-in stereo phone type, and one 1/8-inch stereo miniature phone type. However, it has no output jacks.
- Great sound and build quality
- Great for home practice
- Flexible EQ
- Quite bulky (29-pound weight)
KAT Percussion 200 Watt
The Kat Percussion KA2 is a heavy-duty amplifier that emits immense sonic power, making it an optimal choice for gigs, rehearsals, and outdoor sets. This amp is sturdily built to handle the hardships of the road and is loaded with a plethora of connectivity options.
The large 12-inch woofer is paired with an old-fashioned 1-inch tweeter that manages to capture the whole spectrum of your drum sounds. For added customization, you get a 3-band equalizer that lets you shape the sound the way you want it.
The plus point of this amp is that it comes with additional ¼-inch inputs that let you connect other gear like headphones or an mp3 player. It also boasts an excellent build quality, which is a must for drummers who play live shows regularly.
One of the cool things about this amp is the XLR line out with independent volume control. This awesome feature really makes mixing or recording a breeze for drummers.
- Multiple inputs and outputs
- Wide 3-band EQ
- Powerful sound
- At over 44 pounds, this is one of the heaviest drum amplifiers
If you’re already a fan of the PM-100, but you wished it had more power, then there’s good news for you. The Roland PM-200 embodies the soul of the PM-100 amp… but in a much louder package.
It’s equipped with 180W of power that drives a 12-inch custom speaker for a clean and accurate reproduction of electronic drums. The Roland PM-200 is also compatible with any of the V-drums, as well as practically any other brand that makes electronic drums.
The front of the speaker is angled for ideal sound coverage, making positioning the speaker during practice sessions and live shows very easy for accurate monitoring. It also comes with three inputs and two outputs in total making this one of the most multifaceted drum amps out there.
The ⅛-inch and ¼-inch inputs allow you to connect to external pads, music players, or your trusty phone during jam sessions. You also get two XLR output jacks that you can use to send your sound to the front of the house or a sound mixer.
- Huge sound and frequency range
- Versatile connectivity options
- Very sturdy build
- Is quite expensive
- Pretty heavy to lug around
Last but not the least, the final pick on this list is brought to you by another famous amp manufacturer, Ddrum. The DDA50 electronic percussion amplifier is for those who favor sound quality above all.
This is a perfect amp for practicing at home and in a small venue environment. The best part about this amp is the 2.5-inch high-frequency tweeter, which generates a lush spectrum of frequencies in the higher range.
Supported by a 10-inch woofer, this duo can seamlessly pair with any electronic drum kit or playstyle. While the sound quality is already incredible, you do get additional customization capabilities from the 3-band equalizer, too.
The amp is made to last which tends to make it a bit bulky. At 33 pounds, this is not the heaviest amp out there, but it’s still quite a handful if you ask me. On top of everything you also get a headphone jack for your private jam sessions and an AUX input for connecting a music player.
- Incredible sound quality (the high-end is pretty polished)
- Headphone jack and AUX input for added capabilities
- Decent volume for a 50W speaker
- A bit expensive
- Fairly bulky
My Top Picks
Alesis Strike 8: The Most Value for Your Money
This is one of the most popular picks amongst bedroom musicians. The size, weight, sound quality, and orientation of its speakers make this a solid choice for intermediate and advanced drummers alike.
Roland PM-200: The Loudest of Them All
If you’re looking for an amp that will make itself heard in a huge crowd of people, then the Roland PM-200 is the amp you want to get your hands on. The huge woofer and the overall build quality of this amp make it a winning choice for gigging musicians.
Ddrum DDA50: The Most Versatile Drum Amp
When you feel like getting creative during your practice or songwriting sessions, you’ll need the company of gear that flows together really well. The barrage of connectivity options on this amplifier makes it a solid pick for bedroom noodling.
Roland PM-100: The Best Drum Amp for Beginners
Best Use Tips for Using Drum Amplifiers
Here is a small compilation of tips and tricks to help you make the most out of your drum amp. Ultimately, though, you’ll want to focus on:
- The Power Supply
- The Earthing
- The Knob Settings
- The Gain
- The Mid-Range
- The Recommended Settings
- Its Maintenance
Don’t Forget the Power Supply
Remember to always turn down the master volume on your amp before you turn on/off the main power supply. Any immediate change in the power supply can damage the internal circuitry, but in most cases, it can just end up giving loud feedback in the speakers.
If you’re running multiple high-power pieces of equipment at the same time, then you consider using a voltage stabilizer to safeguard your gear. Harsh weather conditions and other factors can create voltage irregularities which could end up damaging electronic devices like amplifiers.
Pay Attention to Earthing
If you want to ensure the safety of the equipment (as well as the user!), then make sure that all the plug points are earthed properly before connecting to the power supply. Any accident related to the earthing line could be majorly hazardous to your amp’s well-being.
Most amps will come with a 3-pin connector. However, just in case yours came with a 2-pin connector, use extra caution while handling your gear at outdoor venues.
Remember the Knob Settings
Keep all the knobs (especially master volume) at a minimum, and turn them up gradually after switching on the power supply. This will drastically elongate your speaker’s life, as well as save you from loud unwanted feedback when you turn on the amp.
Don’t Ignore Gain
Gain settings work in a very fascinating way when it comes to amplifiers. If you’re looking to add more sustain to your hits, then turning up the gain will slightly boost the frequencies of your signal. On the other hand, if you want more clarity, then try turning down the gain.
It’s far too easy to underestimate the impact of gain on your sound, and most beginners make the mistake of turning up the gain in order to sound louder. This is a mistake that can muddy up your mix. Instead, they should try turning up the master volume to raise the decibels.
Experiment With the Mid-Range
The mid-range frequency band is what gives your tone its most distinct characteristics. Too much mid-boost can make things sound clunky, whereas a lacking mid-range will make your tone dull, so you want to get them at the right levels.
Don’t hesitate to experiment with this figure. Why? Because, as it turns out, it’s totally subjective. The need for a mid-range boost can vary from room to room, as well as even the personal preference of players.
Ignore Recommended Settings
The quickest way to get familiar with your amp settings and master your sound is by trial and error. Use the recommended settings as a jumping pad to get to the tone you are trying to achieve.
Schedule Routine Maintenance
From periodic cleaning to getting the amp serviced regularly by a professional, you don’t want to miss out on any of the crucial steps while taking care of your amp. This will not only preserve the aesthetics, but it’ll also help your amp last longer.
Frequently Asked Questions
Answer: To secure the safety of your equipment along with better sound quality, consider using an amplifier that is specifically designed for electronic drums. Drum amps employ a specific frequency curve and boost in their speakers that will not work well with other instruments and vice versa.
In some cases, you can get away with a keyboard amp or a powered PA speaker, but that will still lack a substantial amount of response, girth, and detail. The only way to make your electronic drums sound lively in outdoor settings is by running them through a percussion amplifier.
Answer: The easiest way to amp an electronic drum kit is by connecting the audio output of the drum module to the amplifier by using a ¼ inch instrument cable.
Answer: A DI box (or a direct box) can be a lifesaver for drummers when you’re dealing with multiple inputs and outputs, as it allows you to maintain the integrity of the signal in a mix with a wide array of instruments. It also acts as a booster when you’re running the signal more than 25 feet and the mixer is struggling to keep up the gain.
Answer: Venues usually allocate powered PA speakers for the crowd sound. In such cases, all you need is an amplifier with enough wattage so you and your bandmates can monitor the sound on stage.
The roles are combined when you’re playing at venues without a PA. This is where you need to get an amplifier that is loud enough for everyone to hear at the venue.
Answer: The answer to this question will squarely depend on the area where you plan to use the amp. A 50-80W amplifier can easily power small to midsize rehearsal halls or practice rooms.
If you’re playing live shows, then it’s advised to go above 100W of power at the very least. Larger venues will almost always demand a 200W amplifier, though, due to the amount of surrounding noise at these events.
My Final Thoughts
I really hope you enjoyed reading these reviews and were able to implement some of this knowledge in your own journey. All the products mentioned in this list have great potential to dial in amazing tones, whether it’s at home, a stage, or the studio. One thing is clear, though.
An electronic drum set is as good as nothing without a proper way to monitor the sound. If it’s not headphones or in-ears, drum amps are the only way to go, especially if you hop between acoustic and electronic drums frequently. And with my top pick (the Ddrum DDA50!) in tow, you’ll be deafening sold-out venues before you know it.