Buying an electronic drum kit can become a difficult task. It can be overwhelming to choose one specific set with so many options. If you’ve come to this page looking for advice on the Yamaha DTXPLORER, you’ve come to the right place.
I remember playing on this kit at a friend’s house back in 2010. That was over a decade ago, showing the age of the set. In the world of advancing technology, buying an old e-kit isn’t a good move. So, I’m going to give my review of the set. Still, I’ll follow that up with an electronic kit buying guide and some better options that were released more recently by different drum brands.
Bottom Line Up Front: The Yamaha DTXPLORER is an electronic drum set that is only suitable for beginners. However, it’s been out of production for several years. You’ll only be able to get one of these kits from music stores that still have stock or from a secondhand marketplace. Because of this, it’s better to buy a beginner kit that is still in production, such as the Yamaha DTX402K or the Alesis Nitro Mesh.
Yamaha DTXPLORER Review
The DTXPLORER is a standard electronic drum set with 5 drum pads representing the drums on an acoustic kit. On top of that, it has one drum pad that represents a hi-hat and two other cymbal pads for the crash and ride. All these pads are controlled by the DTXPLORER module.
Depending on where you buy it from, you get everything you need with a single purchase except for a kick pedal. Some of these kits were sold without pedals when they got released. While it’s unfortunate that a pedal may not come with the kit, I absolutely love how the kick pad supports a regular bass drum pedal. Most beginner electronic kits that were released around the same time as the DTXPLORER have kick trigger pedals instead.
Here’s a brief breakdown of everything included in bullet point form:
- Snare drum pad
- 3x tom pads
- Hi-hat pad
- Hi-hat trigger pedal
- 2x cymbal pads
- DTXPLORER drum module
- Rack system that holds everything together
The module packs a decent number of features. The first thing I always look for with a drum module is the quality of the preset drum kits and how many are offered. This particular module has 32 preset kits with an extra 9 open spaces to create your own kits. There are 214 onboard sounds to create your own kits with. While that isn’t many compared to the available kits nowadays, it’s more than enough to keep you busy for a while.
Even though this kit is quite old, the preset kits were sampled from Yamaha’s acoustic drums, making them sound great. I found that the kit sounds excellent when you play hard and with energy. The lower quality starts to show when you attempt to play dynamically. While the pads and module have dynamic sensitivity features, the feel and sound are nowhere near as good as what you’ll get on modern e-kits.
Something that surprised me about this kit is the metronome. While it provides the familiar clicking sound that we’re all accustomed to, it also offers multiple custom settings that can be heavily utilized to help you improve your sense of timing.
There’s a feature called Groove Check that measures how accurately you play on the beat. If you’re just in front or behind the beat, it will let you know, allowing you to adjust your strokes and correct your timing. You also get an extension of Groove Check called Rhythm Gate. If you’re too far out of time, it stops a sound from playing after you hit a pad.
All the pads on the kit are made of plastic. While mesh and silicone heads are commonly found on beginner kits nowadays, they were reserved for only the top-quality kits back in the day. So, it’s no surprise that the kit has rubber pads, considering it’s an entry-level set.
With that being said, these rubber pads feel great to play on. They aren’t too hard, stopping them from having an unnecessary amount of rebound. However, they’re hard enough to produce a much louder sound than the modern-day electronic drum pads.
So, you may want to close the door if you’re playing this kit in a bedroom. If you don’t, all your housemates or family members will hear the distinct tapping of pads.
The one thing that I always found quite weird about this kit was Yamaha’s choice to put a standard circular drum pad for the hi-hat. It doesn’t resemble what a hi-hat would feel like, and the flat surface with the ridged edge would be better suited for another drum to be triggered. It’s the biggest con of the set for me, unfortunately. It would be more appropriate if they just put a third cymbal pad for the hi-hat.
The hardware of the kit holds up surprisingly well compared to modern electronic drum sets. Yamaha still uses a similar rack in their recently released entry-level kits.
When looking at the DTXPLORER, you may wonder about the thinness of the cymbal arms. This is one of my pet peeves when it comes to cheaper Yamaha sets. They all have thin cymbal arms, and they can easily be bent if you’re not careful. You don’t get thin cymbal arms on Roland or Alesis kits, so I’ve always wondered why Yamaha has them.
Other than that, the hardware is solid. Even though this kit is over a decade old, you’ll find many of them still standing strong in music stores and music rooms.
When it comes to adjusting the kit, you can quickly spread the rack out so that the drums are spaced in the same way an acoustic kit would have them. Some older beginner kits don’t allow this, so it’s a massive benefit of this one.
Pros and Cons
- Very affordable
- Excellent kit for beginner drummers
- Uses a standard bass pedal instead of a bass trigger
- Sounds sampled from Yamaha’s acoustic drums
- Extensive metronome features
- This kit has been discontinued, so it’s difficult to find
- The trigger pad for the hi-hat is a standard drum pad
- Cymbal arms are very thin
Where to Find the Kit
The DTXPLORER was released in 2005. That’s a seriously long time ago. I couldn’t find the exact date of when it was discontinued, but the production of this kit has been stopped for quite some time. This means that it’s going to be quite challenging to find one.
The first place to look would be music stores. While all music stores typically stock the latest and greatest drum sets, they also hold on to sets that haven’t been sold yet. There’s a small chance that you’ll find a music store that still has a DTXPLORER in stock.
The best place to look, though, is on online secondhand marketplaces. eBay, Craigslist, and Facebook Marketplace are the ideal options. You could find a DTXPLORER on one of those platforms for as low as $200.
Who’s the Kit For?
I’d only recommend this kit for beginners. If you have a bit of drumming experience, you’ll find many of the features lacking. The biggest downfall will be the lack of dynamic variety the drums have. Beginners don’t need to worry too much about this, so it won’t be an issue for them.
If you do happen to get this kit as an experienced player, you could upgrade it by replacing the module or swapping out the drum pads. However, the price of doing that would amount to the same as what a new beginner kit would cost, and the new kits are far superior.
So, you should get this kit if you can find it for a deal price that is so good that you can’t pass it up. If you have $300 or more to spend, you should get something that was released more recently with better features.
To wrap things up with the review of the Yamaha DTXPLORER, here’s an old YouTube video explaining all the features and demoing the kit. I love how vintage it is.
The Honest Truth About Older Electronic Kits
The unfortunate reality about the world we live in is that old technology rarely holds up. Things get upgraded constantly, so older products become obsolete. An acoustic drum kit from the early 2000s will sound absolutely incredible if you tune it well and equip it with new heads. An electronic drum kit from the same time period won’t sound much better than a drum kit from a phone app.
This is why I don’t recommend buying electronic kits that are older than 5 years. There’s always something new and exciting coming out, and the older e-kits don’t have the same sound quality or depth as the recently released ones.
The cheapest price that you may find an electronic drum kit for will be between $100 and $300. You can find some fantastic kits for that price that are brand new.
To be completely honest, I’m not the biggest fan of buying secondhand electronic drum kits at all, even if they’re newer models. The secondhand market for acoustic drums and cymbals is massive. Cymbals start to sound better with age, and acoustic drum kits can easily be improved and upgraded.
On the other hand, electronic drum kits are always declining thanks to the speed of technological advancement. Their quality also degrades much faster than on acoustic kits. You never know when you’re going to buy an e-kit with false triggers or wonky cables. It’s always better to buy new if you’re a serious drummer. If you’re just looking for something for your child to try the drums out on, that’s another story!
Electronic Kit Buying Guide
Here are the main things to look out for when looking to buy a new electronic drum set:
- Price of the kit
- Types of drum and cymbal pads
- Sound quality
You have to make sure that your boxes are ticked on these to know that you’ll be happy with the kit. Everyone has different wants and needs, so I’ll briefly break down each section so that you know what to look out for.
Electronic drum kits range from $100 to $10 000. So, price is the first thing you need to know about. If you’re considering getting the Yamaha DTXPLORER, then you’re probably looking in the entry-level price range. Entry-level kits range from $200 to $600.
Anything above that would be considered an intermediate kit. Intermediate kits typically have more features and higher-quality triggering. They range from $600 all the way to $1500.
Pro kits will cost you an arm and a leg. Anything from Roland or Yamaha will cost $2000 or more. Alesis pro kits are slightly more affordable, costing between $1000 and $3000.
If you’re new to drumming, you should aim to get the cheapest electronic kit possible. You may not continue with the hobby after a while, so it’s better to get an affordable kit at the start. If you’re an experienced drummer that is used to playing acoustic kits, you’ll need to get an intermediate or pro kit as the entry-level kits typically feel far from what an acoustic kit feels like.
Electronic kits are either going to have rubber, mesh, or silicone drum pads. Silicone and mesh are higher quality than rubber, so it would be ideal to get a kit with those. Most modern e-kits have those as rubber pads are starting to become a thing of the past.
The other thing you need to check out when it comes to pads is the number of trigger zones. Cheaper kits will have pads with a single trigger zone, meaning only one sound can be played from the pad at a time. As the number of trigger zones increases, more sounds can be played. For example, a dual-trigger pad may allow you to play on the center and the rim to get varying sounds.
The leading brands in the electronic drum kit world are Roland, Yamaha, and Alesis. Since Yamaha is more successful in their acoustic drum set lineup, I’d argue that the real competition is between Roland and Alesis. However, Yamaha has some solid drum sets, especially their newly released DTX10 Series.
As I mentioned earlier, Alesis is the top brand to consider when looking for affordable e-kits. The entry-level kits available from Roland and Yamaha at the moment cost $500 or more, whereas a few of the Alesis kits cost around $300.
Apart from those brands, there are also notable names such as Behringer and KAT Percussion. They’re not as well-known, and their kits aren’t as good, but they offer excellent affordable options.
While sound is essential, I deliberately put it last on the list as you can easily improve the sounds of any electronic drum kit. If you want your e-kit to stand alone in a room and have all the sounds on the module utilized to their full extent, you should make sure that the kit you’re getting has some high-quality preset kits.
If you have access to a computer and a VST (Virtual Sound Technology program), you can simply plug your drum module into the computer via USB and play sounds from the computer instead of the module. VSTs typically sound much better than the preset kits that come with electronic sets. You can make a $300 set sound like a $3000 set. You’d just need to make sure that it has enough triggers on all the drums.
Better Alternatives Options
Now that you know what to look for when buying an electronic kit let’s look at some more recent options that are far superior to the Yamaha DTXPLORER.
The Behringer XD8USB has everything a beginner needs. What I appreciate most about this kit is the size of the drum and cymbal pads. The snare drum and toms are 8-inches which is fairly standard, but 12-inch cymbal pads aren’t commonly seen in kits at this price.
The module has 10 preset drum sets along with 123 sounds that you can assign to the 5 open kit slots.
While you get a decent number of sounds, the kit was designed with the intention of connecting it to a computer to run through software. Many musicians use electronic kits to make drum recordings, yet buying a full electronic kit with all its features is a pricey affair.
So, Behringer introduced this kit for that purpose to buy at a lower price. Luckily, you can play it as a standalone kit as well. Just know that the onboard sounds aren’t fantastic, especially compared with the ones from Roland, Yamaha, and Alesis sets.
- Intended to be used as a USB MIDI controller, yet it has standalone sounds as well
- Very affordable
- Large cymbal pads
- Onboard sounds aren’t amazing
The Yamaha DTX402 is the current entry-level electronic kit offered by the brand. Compared to the DTXPLORER, it has much better sound quality, and the pads are a lot more responsive.
I love how simple this kit is. It’s the perfect option for a young child as the drum module has a clear layout with buttons to press. Many other drum modules have complicated layouts that can be overwhelming to manage.
I’d highly recommend this kit over all the others if it weren’t for the trigger pedal. With this kit, you don’t get to use a standard bass drum pedal, and that’s where the DTXPLORER has the upper hand. If you can look past that, then it’s a fantastic kit worth buying.
- Yamaha’s current entry-level electronic drum set
- Excellent sound quality
- Very simple drum module layout
- No standard bass drum pedal
Alesis Nitro Mesh
The Alesis Nitro Mesh is the king of entry-level drum sets. It’s one of the most affordable drum sets on the market that has tunable mesh-head pads. Apart from the mesh heads, my other favorite part of the kit is the solid kick drum tower.
The Nitro drum module has 40 preset drum kits with 385 sounds to mess around with. The cymbals are chokeable, and the snare drum has two trigger zones.
This is the kind of kit I’d buy if I needed a cheap practice option. So, it’s excellent for beginners and pros alike.
- One of the most popular entry-level kits
- Mesh pads
- Snare pad has two trigger zones
- Solid kick drum tower
- Sounds aren’t as good as the ones on Yamaha or Roland kits
While Roland offers the TD-1K for just under $600, I don’t think it’s worth buying compared to the competitor options from Alesis or Yamaha. The strong contender from Roland that’s next in line would be the TD-1DMK. It has the same drum module but far superior hardware and pads for about $200 more.
It has a full set of dual-zone mesh pads, allowing you to play on all the drums’ center and rims. They feel excellent to play on. Roland has perfected the art of making mesh pads, so I’ve always felt that their mesh heads feel better to play on than the ones from other brands.
This kit is also the only one I’ve mentioned so far that can accommodate a double kick drum pedal. So, it’s an ideal option if you’re a metalhead.
The module itself is fairly simple. It has 15 kits to play with, all of them sounding immaculate. It also has 15 music tracks to jam along with.
The simplicity of the kit is what draws me to it. You get the same pads that would come with a Roland kit that costs north of $1000, but the price of the kit has been dropped thanks to the module not having extensive features.
- Full set of dual-zone mesh pads
- Incredible Roland drum sounds
- Accommodates a double bass drum pedal
- More expensive than the kits I’ve previously listed
If you love the sound of the Roland TD-1DMK but want a more extensive drum module, the TD-07DMK is the perfect answer. It has the same drum and cymbal pads along with the same hardware. The only difference is the module it comes with.
The TD-07 module has 25 preset drum sets and 143 onboard sounds. It also has 5 coaching functions that allow you to test your skills. Whether you’re a beginner or pro, these functions have different levels that cater to everyone.
The module also has Bluetooth capabilities, allowing you to stream songs from your phone to play along with. None of the kits I’ve mentioned above have this feature, so it’s an incredible addition.
While this kit is far more expensive than the Yamaha DTXPLORER, it’s a modern kit that will last you a long time. The Yamaha kit was introduced in 2005 and has lasted until 2022. This kit was introduced in 2021 and will most probably last until 2030.
- Better version of the Roland TD-1DMK
- Extensive module features
- Will last you a very long time
Answer: Yamaha isn’t producing the DTXPLORER kits anymore, so you either have to buy them from a music store that still has them in stock, or you need to buy one secondhand. The best places to find secondhand electronic drum sets are Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, and eBay.
However, I wouldn’t advise buying a DTXPLORER as there are modern kits available that are far better in quality. You may even be able to find a newer kit for the same price.
Answer: The unique thing about Yamaha compared to the other electronic drum brands is that they have a successful line of acoustic drum sets. In fact, their acoustic kits are arguably a lot more popular than their electronic kits.
To get the acoustic drum kit sounds on their drum modules, they record samples from their acoustic kits. This means that when you’re playing an acoustic preset kit on a Yamaha e-kit, you’re most likely hearing recordings from a Stage Custom, Oak Custom, Recording Custom, or Tour Custom.
Answer: There are many good entry-level sets to choose from. There’s no single best option as it essentially comes down to personal opinion. However, the Alesis Nitro Mesh is one of the most popular options amongst beginner drummers.
It’s the kit I personally recommend to all my drum students as it’s affordable, has a full range of mesh-head pads, and accommodates a standard bass drum pedal.
Answer: Electronic kits are great for beginners. They allow drummers to learn and play in environments where noise can be an issue. Most of them also have extensive practice features and play-along tracks to train beginner drummers. If you’re a beginner drummer and have an electronic kit, you’ll be fine to learn.
However, electronic kits will never be as ideal as acoustic kits. Acoustic kits are what drumming is all about. They’re used for playing gigs and recording albums. While electronic kits are good practice tools, acoustic kits are what are used for performing most of the time. So, it’s good for beginners to play on acoustic kits as well. If you had to choose one or the other, an acoustic kit would be the better option.
Wrapping things up on the Yamaha DTXPLORER, it was an excellent kit in its time, but it just can’t compete with all the available modern electronic kits. If you’re able to find one of these rare sets, I highly suggest seeing what else you can buy for the same price. Paying a bit extra for something will also be a better option. It’s a kit that was made in 2005, so its longevity is already being questioned.
Follow the electronic kit buying guide that I wrote above, and you should be able to find a decent kit for yourself that ticks all the boxes. Yamaha’s latest entry-level kit, the DTX402K, has far better sounds. However, it doesn’t support a standard kick pedal. So, kits such as the Alesis Nitro Mesh or the Behringer XD8USB would be better options.
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