While Pearl is a brand that makes amazing acoustic drum sets, you may be surprised to know that they’ve made a few good electronic kits over the years. Their current offering in the electronic drum world is the Pearl e/Merge. It’s a top-quality electronic kit that competes with some of the best kits from other brands.
If you’re thinking of buying a professional kit, the e/Merge is a strong contender on the list. It’s not an ideal option for everyone, though. So, follow this review and see if it’s a good kit for you to choose.
What is the Pearl e/Merge?
The Pearl e/Merge is a hybrid electronic drum kit. This means it has electronic features mixed with a few acoustic drum set aspects. When looking at the kit, you’ll see that it has a full-size drum rack with large cymbal pads and drum pads with a bit of depth to them. It looks a lot more like an acoustic kit than most standard electronic sets do.
There are two versions of the kit available. The first one is called the e/Merge Traditional. It has a small bass drum pad connected to a sturdy tower. The other version of the kit is called the Hybrid. It’s the most popular version of the kit as it has a full acoustic bass drum.
I’m going to be reviewing the Hybrid kit in this article as that’s the one I suggest getting if you end up buying the set. The Traditional kit is a few hundred dollars less, and I’d say it’s well worth the extra cash to have a large bass drum.
Here is a summary of all the features offered with the kit:
- Construction from Pearl with a sound library from Korg
- Shallow acoustic drum shells connected to the electronic pads
- MDL-1 drum module3
- Pearl PUREtouch drum and cymbal pads
- 14” snare, 10” and 12” rack toms, 14” floor tom, 18” bass drum
- 14” hi-hat, 15” crash, 18” ride
- Pearl Icon e-Rack
These features are very impressive, and they justify the price point of this set. There are some good and bad aspects, though. So, let’s take a deeper look into each aspect of the set.
I’m a huge fan of the MDL-1 drum module. It’s a collaboration between Pearl and Korg. Korg is a brand that specializes in making electronic instruments. They’re most popular for their keyboards, but they sell a bit of everything. The MDL-1 module has a large number of electronic sounds from Korg. You get things like synths and drum machines.
On the acoustic side, you get several kits that have been sampled from Pearl’s high-end drum sets. This means that you get the beautiful sounds of Pearl Masterworks and Reference kits to play with. Sampling sounds from existing product lines is something Yamaha does with their electronic kits, and I love that aspect of them. So, I’m a fan of the drum sounds on the MDL-1 module.
The layout of the module is very straightforward. There are clear and distinct buttons for every function. Every feature is just a button away, and you don’t have to navigate through the module to find what you want.
One of the more interesting aspects of the module is the ambiance slider. It’s a simple slider that allows you to adjust reverb and mic placement on the kit. It gives you a sense of realism with whatever kit you choose to play on the module.
Overall, I think the module is one of the better aspects of the e/Merge. It isn’t too complicated to work with as many modules in this price range are, and it gives you everything you need with a few added bonus features.
The pads on the kit are Pearl’s PUREtouch pads. They’re not quite the same as mesh pads on other electronic kits, but they feel incredibly responsive to play on. Pearl even claims that the type of sticks you use will change how they respond. I didn’t find that to be true when I played on one of these kits, though. The pads felt fairly standard no matter the stick type.
The tom pads are excellent. They each have elevated rims at the top that act as triggers to get different sounds. They feel great to play on, and I have no complaints about them.
The bass drum pad is also quite good. Pearl has somehow made it feel similar to an acoustic bass drum. It also fits a double pedal very comfortably.
The snare drum pad is my least favorite pad on the kit. The good thing about it is that it’s 14-inches and gets mounted on a proper snare stand. That makes it feel rigid as an acoustic snare would. However, I found that the pad feels like it takes away a lot of energy from the stick. It’s not as responsive as I’d hope a snare drum to be.
The cymbal pads are top-quality. From the 14-inch hi-pat pad that gets mounted onto a real hi-hat stand to the 18-inch ride pad that is highly responsive, everything about the cymbals is excellent.
I’ve never been the biggest fan of drum racks, but I can’t see how anything would be more perfect for this kit than the Pearl Icon e-Rack that it has. It’s incredibly robust, holding all the pads together very firmly. You’ll find that when you play the kit, no pad moves a single inch.
Pearl has a good reputation for producing heavy-duty hardware, so it’s good to see that being integrated into their electronic kits as well.
The pads are mounted to Pearl’s Uni-Lock tom and cymbal holders. I’m not the biggest fan of these on Pearl’s acoustic sets as they don’t allow as much maneuverability as other tom mounts do. However, they seem to work fairly well in conjunction with the rack here.
One thing to note is that the kit doesn’t come with a hi-hat stand, drum throne, or bass drum pedal. It does, however, come with a snare drum stand. It’s important to be aware of this as all the advertising pictures of the kit show a hi-hat stand with the pads. Unfortunately, you need to buy that separately.
One of the best things about hybrid drum sets is that they look quite cool on a stage. If you were to use this kit for a live performance, it would fit perfectly in a band aesthetically. In terms of sound performance, it depends on the listener on how much you enjoy it.
Electronic drum sets are a lot easier to mix and control on a stage than acoustic drum sets are. So, this kind of kit would fit perfectly in a small club where there is no dedicated sound engineer to mix the band.
The sounds on the module are quite impressive compared to some other sample sounds from other modules. The drum pads are also responsive enough for the set to sound quite natural.
At the end of the day, this kit would work fairly well for performances. However, I think it works best as a practice kit to have in a studio or practice room.
The price is Pearl e/Merge’s biggest downfall, in my opinion. Depending on when and where you buy it, you’re going to be paying just under $5000 for the Pearl e/Merge Hybrid set. That’s a hectic amount of money to spend on a drum kit.
With all the pro-quality features that the kit offers, the price is perfectly justified. However, it makes it inaccessible to most drummers.
If you have a large budget for a kit, the cost won’t be an issue here. However, I wouldn’t suggest getting this kit if you can’t comfortably afford it. There are many better-priced options out there.
Pros and Cons
- Full-sized acoustic bass drum
- Sturdy Pearl Icon rack
- MDL-1 module is very simple, yet powerful
- Large cymbal pads
- Snare and hi-hat pads mount to proper stands
- High-quality samples from Pearl and Korg
- Very expensive
Who is the Pearl e/Merge for?
I’d confidently suggest this kit to anyone looking for a high-quality electronic drum set to practice on. The large pads make it an excellent tool to work on ideas and concepts, and then seamlessly move them over to an acoustic drum set.
I’d also say that this kit is a great tool to use as a house kit for a venue where bands come and play regularly. It’s obviously not as ideal as an acoustic kit would be, but it’s often easier to use an e-kit as you can simply plug it in and play without worrying about mic placement and EQ.
Alternative Electronic Kits to Consider
Alesis Strike Pro SE
The Alesis Strike Pro SE follows the same concepts as the e/Merge. It’s a large hybrid electronic drum set that accurately represents an acoustic kit. The benefit of the Alesis Strike Pro SE is that it’s a lot more affordable.
You’ll be paying just over $1000 less for this kit. You’ll also arguably be getting more bang for your buck. It has a larger library of sounds, samples, practice tools, and other mixing features.
However, the sound quality of the samples isn’t as good as the ones from the e/Merge kit. Alesis is a company known for its affordable electronic kits. They’re not known for their excellent sound quality.
The Strike Pro SE is a much larger kit. It has 5 cymbal pads and 6 drum pads, making it one of the largest electronic kits available on the market with a single purchase.
I love this kit, but I know a few people who own it who aren’t fans of the sample sounds.
- More affordable than the Pearl kit
- Larger drum setup
- A lot more support from the company for their electronic kits
- Sample sounds aren’t as good as the ones on the e/Merge module
The Roland VAD506 is around the same price as the Pearl e/Merge. It was Roland’s flagship drum set until recently when the VAD706 was introduced to the world. It’s not on top anymore, but it’s still one of the highest-quality e-kits on the market.
The biggest difference with this kit is that the drum shells are full-sized. They have the same depths as the shells on an acoustic kit, making this set look like a standard drum set.
The TD-27 module that comes with the kit is far superior to the MDL-1 from the e/Merge. The samples are incredible, and the module has so many extensive features for users to use.
I highly suggest checking this kit out along with e/Merge. You may find that it’s a better option for you. The downside is that it doesn’t come with any hardware, making it more expensive than the e/Merge after the hardware is purchased.
- Was once Roland’s flagship drum set
- Full-sized acoustic shells
- TD-27 drum module is amazing
- Doesn’t come with any hardware
The DTX10K-MBF is one of Yamaha’s recently announced top-of-the-line electronic drum kits. It has a similar price to the Pearl e/Merge. So, it’s an excellent competing product. Similar to Pearl, Yamaha uses samples from their extensive range of acoustic drums to get preset kits for the Yamaha drum modules.
The DTX PROX is the most impressive drum module that Yamaha has put out to date. It has incredible sound mixing features that allow you to truly customize every sound that the drums make.
The kit comes with everything you need to start playing, meaning it’s arguably a better deal to get an electronic drum kit with a hybrid appearance.
The only thing I’ll fault it with is that it doesn’t look as good as the Alesis, Roland, or Pearl electronic kits.
- Incredible drum module
- Samples from Yamaha acoustic drums
- Includes all the stands you need to set it up
- Not as visually enticing as the previous kits.
Answer: The e/Merge is the only electronic kit on Pearl’s current product range. The company specializes in making acoustic drum sets primarily. Their acoustic kits are some of the best drum sets in the world.
Pearl had another electronic kit called the e-Pro several years ago. It was one of the first hybrid electronic drum sets on the market. However, the e/Merge has taken everything from that older kit and improved on it to have a much better product.
Answer: This is a fairly large range of electronic drum sets available on the market. While some of them such as the Pearl e/Merge are expensive, there are also plenty of affordable ones to get.
The more expensive kits have higher prices because they cost more to make. They typically have several high-quality functions that combine with pro-quality construction to give you a top-quality product.
Brands such as Pearl and Roland primarily sell higher-priced electronic kits. If you want something more affordable, you should check out the kits on offer from Alesis. We’ve done a few reviews of their kits here on the site. You can read our reviews of the Alesis Nitro Mesh and Alesis Crimson.
Answer: It depends on what you want to use your electronic kit for. If you want to use the kit to play live gigs, it will always be better to get a hybrid set. The combination of electronics with acoustic drum shells looks better on a stage than the standard electronic kits with shallow drum pads.
All hybrid kits are more expensive than standard kits. So, you should get a standard one if you’re on a limited budget.
Answer: It’s more ideal to play on an acoustic kit. Acoustic drums are what drumming is all about. Nothing beats the feeling of a stick on a snare drum or cymbal. However, it’s not always possible to have an acoustic kit that you can play all the time.
I’ve always told my drum students to get whatever they can to allow them to practice. If that’s an electronic set, it will still help you improve on your drumming craft. Electronic kits are the perfect solution to noise complaints and small spaces.
Since Pearl doesn’t specialize in making electronic drum kits, you’ll find that there isn’t as much support for the e/Merge as there is for other electronic kits from major brands. That would be a huge selling point lost for me personally. However, I know a few people who have been playing the e/Merge for a few years and have had no issues.
If you’re interested in getting this kit, I suggest that you look closely at the Roland VAD506 and the Alesis Strike Pro SE to see if they’re better options for you. If you prefer what the e/Merge has to offer, you’ll be quite happy with it!
For more reading on drum gear, check out the following articles: