Remember back in the 80’s…
When electronic drum kits made their first appearance in the world music?
Well, what many folks don’t know is…
In the decades since, they’ve gotten MUCH better.
Some of today’s kits sound so impressive, they’re tough to distinguish from the REAL thing.
Not only are they great for live settings, they are particularly useful in the studio…
As some even have multiple outputs to connect each drum to a separate channel on your audio interface!
And every few years or so, these kits get EVEN BETTER.
To show you just how far they’ve come, in this post I’ve compiled a list of:
The 8 Best Electronic Drum Kits of 2016 (videos included).
First, the cheaper options…
1. Yamaha DTX 400K
These days, it seems like the Yamaha Corporation makes just about EVERYTHING…huh?
And no doubt, drums are among their top specialities.
Besides their impressive line of acoustic kits…
Their most current DTX line of electronic drums are growing just as popular.
The baseline model of this series is the Yamaha DTX400K.
Basic features of this entry-level kit include:
- 7.5″ drum pads
- 10″ cymbals
- 10 kits to choose from
- training functions for beginners
- usb connection to download songs
- Silent Kick unit for ultra quiet playing
By looks alone, this kit may not seem all that impressive. But the REAL question is…how does it perform?
Watch this video and find out for yourself:
- a 3-zone snare for rimshots
- a bass drum pad that allows for a double kick pedal, with a REAL kick pedal included
- the more advanced HH65 Remote hi-hat controller
Up next, we have…
2. Alesis DM7X
For those of you unfamiliar with Alesis Studio Electronics…
They were one of the first electronic instrument manufacturers to make affordable products for the average home studio.
And they continue that tradition even today…
With the surprisingly inexpensive Alesis DM7X.
Around the same price as the DTX400K, the DM7X offers all the same basic features…
With the following extras:
- quiet StealthKick 2 trigger
- Alesis kick pedal with inverted beater
- crash cymbal choke
- 40 different kits to choose from
- stereo outs for connecting to a PA or recording equipment
One of its best features is the USB MIDI connection, which is a MUST-HAVE for home studios that rely heavily on virtual instruments.
To see this kit in action, watch the video:
Before we move on to the pricier options, I’ll also mention one more entry-level kit: the Roland TD-1K – (Amazon/GuitarC/MusiciansF/reviews), which was just recently released, but will likely become a top competitor for the first two kits we’ve just seen.
Up next is…
3. Roland TD-11K
Few folks can argue, that for over a DECADE now…
Roland has easily been the TOP DOG in electronic drums.
- Their mid-range models compete the flaghsip models of other companies…
- Their high-end models remain virtually unchallenged, and…
- Their budget models, like the Roland TD11K, are the perfect option for newbies.
Easily the most popular kit on this list, the TD-11 offers the perfect combination of quality and affordable price.
Notable features include:
- virtual tuning for each drum
- virtual muffling
- adjustable ambience settings
- quick record button for fast and easy recording
- 50 drum kits
- loads of percussion sounds
But that’s just the start. Here are the REALLY impressive features:
- The TD-11 sound engine features the same Behavior Modeling, and SuperNATURAL Sound Engine Technologies used in Roland’s high-end kits.
- The PDX-8 snare, which is the first mesh pad we’ve seen so far, offers a realistic feel far beyond any rubber pad.
- The KD-9 kick pad features a cloth head and upright pad for better feel, and a sturdier mount for reduced trembling.
This last feature is ESPECIALLY attractive…
The KD-9 is the first kick pad we’ve seen that allows you to use your own real bass pedal, as opposed a cheaper one included with the kit.
If used ever used a kick drum controller before, then you already know…it can’t compare to the real thing.
Watch this video to see the TD-11K in action:
Also check out the TD11KV version, featuring the following 2 upgrades:
- Mesh pads on the toms – as opposed to the rubber pads on the TD-11K.
- Multiple trigger cymbals – which offer a better feel and more realism than the cheaper single trigger pads.
Up next, is the closest competitor to the TD-11 in this price range…
4. Yamaha DTX522K
When Yamaha updated their widely successful DTX500 series with the new DTX502 series…
They added a few MAJOR improvements…
First, they did laser analysis on actual drum strokes to fine tune the trigger response.
Then, they doubled the memory, and added 250 more instruments to the sound module.
Then, they improved the realism of both the snare rolls and cymbal swells.
The end result was…an awesome collection of drum kits, featuring the Yamaha DTX522K.
Notable features of this kit include:
- 50 Kits
- 3-zone drum pads
- 3-zone snare pads
- cymbal mute BEFORE striking
Watch this video to see what it can do:
Also check out the 2 upgraded versions of this kit:
- Yamaha DTX532K – (Amazon/GuitarC/MusiciansF/reviews) featuring a real hi-hat stand
- Yamaha DTX562K – (Amazon/GuitarC/MusiciansF/reviews) featuring the hi-hat stand, plus the more advanced XP70 toms.
Up next is…
5. Alesis DM10X
The flagship model of the Alesis line…
The Alesis DM10X, is designed for those drummers who only want the best.
A huge step up from the previously seen DM7X, this model features 3 MAJOR upgrades:
- RealHead Pads – which provide an exceptionally realistic feel.
- Dynamic Articulation Technology – which uses samples from a wide range of striking intensities to accurately match the dynamics of your playing.
- Xrack Mounting System – which allows for super fast setup and breakdown.
- A Sound Module with Channel Faders – which is a feature typically seen only on high-end kits.
Other notable features include:
- 3-zone ride cymbal
- dual zone on both snare and toms
- splittable kick input for optional second kick pad
- iPad compatibility
Watch this video to see what it can do:
From here on, all that remains is the high-end models.
First up is…
6. Roland TD-25 KV
Of all the kits we’ve seen so far…
The Roland TD-25KV is the first one that TRULY takes your breath away.
It’s elegant design looks so clean and simple…despite an absolute WEALTH of useful features.
A major upgrade from the TD-11K, the TD-25KV sound engine offers:
- 2x as many drum kits,
- 2x as many instruments, and…
- 10 different effects
Compare that to that TD-11 which has no effects.
The drum kit itself offers upgrades to virtually every component…
- The snare and toms use the more advanced PDX-100 and PD-85BK
- The cymbals use the multi trigger CY-12C crash and CY13R ride
- The hi-hat features the ultra realistic VH-11
One of the most impressive features of the TD-25KV is that its the first kit we’ve seen so far with a REAL chain-driven hi-hat stand, rather than a controller.
If you’ve tried both, then you know…even the best hi-hat controller is no match for a real one.
Watch this video to see the TD-25KV in action:
7. Yamaha DTX950K
The flagship model of the Yamaha DTX Series…
The Yamaha DTX950K makes ZERO compromises when it comes to both quality…and price.
Compared to the mid-range models of this series, the DTX950K offers the following BIG upgrades:
- Advanced XP pads – with Textured Cellular Silicone (T.C.S) surfaces for an ultra-realistic feel
- KP125W kick pad – with reinforced head and a better playing surface.
- HS740A hi-hat stand – with better control than the cheaper hi-hat controllers.
- HEXRACK system – with shock absorbers attached to each drum pad for incredible stability.
Another cool feature, which you RARELY see is…
Snare and tom pads with noticeably different rebounds, much like a real acoustic kit.
Other features include:
- 3-zone cymbals with natural rebound
- 1100 awesome drum and percussion voices, both drum kits, and percussion sounds
- enhanced dynamic range
- MIDI and USB ports
- included copy of Steinberg’s Cubase AI recording software
Despite all these amazing features, the only true way to understand what this kit can do is to see it in action:
Also check out the cheaper 5 piece version of this kit, the Yamaha DTX900K, which uses one less floor tom, and simpler mounting system.
At last, we’ve reached the final kit on the list…
8. Roland TD-30KV
Few drummers would argue…
That the Roland TD-30KV is without a doubt, the Best Electronic Drum Kit on the Planet!
With this kit…
You get closer to the look, feel, and sound of REAL acoustic drums than you could possibly imagine.
With so many great features, it’s tough to name just a few. But in my opinion, these are the 3 you’ll find MOST impressive:
1. The Hi-Hats
Without a doubt, hi-hats are the single hardest thing to realistically replicate on an electronic drum kit.
And since hi-hats are the most frequently played instrument on the drums, it presents a HUGE problem.
Most kits use a controller, which feel nothing like the real thing. Better kits use an actual stand, but only one cymbal.
The TD-30KV however, is the ONLY kit that uses two actual cymbals that move and play just like real hi-hats! And you can mount them on whatever hi-hat stand you choose.
2. The Drum Pads
Of all the drum pad models made by Roland, the ones on the TD-30KV are reserved exclusively for this kit alone.
They’re the only ones that use an actual shell to match both the look and feel of acoustic drums.
They also offer the largest playing surfaces of any drum kit on the list.
From an OVERALL standpoint, these drum pads are unmatched by anything else currently in existence.
3. The Sound Module Outputs
Among the ENDLESS number of features in the TD-30 sound module, there’s one in particular that stands out…
It’s the ONLY sound module that has separate analog outputs for each of the drum and cymbal.
Drummers themselves might not care too much about this feature, but sound engineers will LOVE it.
Normally, electronic drums only offer a single stereo output, which is extremely restrictive for engineers who want to mix it into a recording.
With separate outputs, the TD-30KV gives engineers just as much control as if they were recording a real acoustic kit with real microphones. This one feature alone could be worth the price of the kit for a project studio that can’t record real drums.
Now that you know what it can do, I suggest you see it for yourself: