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The Best Electronic Drum Kits - 2021

Last updated on July 23, 2021
Best Electronic Drum Kits

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Our Picks For The Top Electronic Drum Kits

Show Contents
Our Take
  Our Top Pick

Alesis Nitro Mesh Electronic Drum Kit, 8-Piece

Don't Waste Your Money Seal of Approval

Alesis

Nitro Mesh Electronic Drum Kit, 8-Piece

Overall Take

Responsive Mesh HeadsDurable and responsive mesh heads give this a "real" drum feel.

  Great Practice Set

LyxJam Pre-Loaded Sounds Electronic Drum Kit, 7-Piece

LyxJam

Pre-Loaded Sounds Electronic Drum Kit, 7-Piece

Overall Take

Fun and FunctionalThe silent mesh heads and sound library are great for budding drummers or those in apartments.

  We Also Like

RockJam USB & Midi Connectivity Electronic Drum Kit, 8-Piece

RockJam

USB & Midi Connectivity Electronic Drum Kit, 8-Piece

Overall Take

Plug and PlaySetup and sound selection are effortless on this kit.

  Strong Contender

Alesis Mesh Electronic Drum Kit, 7-Piece

Alesis

Mesh Electronic Drum Kit, 7-Piece

Overall Take

Sturdy Beginner KitLearning extras make this a great kit to practice on.

Avatar
Guide written by Tod Caviness
Last updated on July 23, 2021

Musicians can be notoriously picky about their gear, and debates will rage on forever about the benefits of acoustic versus electronic instruments. When it comes to drums, you can bet that there’s still no substitute for the sound of a drumstick on a good old mylar head. On the flip side of that coin, there might be no more versatile instrument than a high-end set of electronic drums.

Electronic drum kits have come a long way since musicians first started pairing synthesizers to rubber drum pads in the early ’80s. Today, the best mesh heads can be calibrated to feel just like their acoustic counterparts, and they are equipped with multiple sensors that can react to the slightest changes in pressure. Those sensors feed data to modules that can be loaded with thousands of drum sounds or samples, giving musicians access to almost unlimited kit configurations. And best of all, those sounds can be fed through a pair of headphones, making electronic drum kits a great choice for beginning drummers (and those who share a house with them).

That’s really the first consideration when buying a kit: Who will be using it and what will they be using it for? The needs of a new student will be much different from those of a seasoned drummer in the studio or on a gig. Perfectly serviceable electronic drum kits are available for $200-$300, but paying a little extra will go a long way if you’re in terms of build quality, customization, sound and extra features.

For drummers in training, there are a few attributes you’ll want to check off the list. At the very minimum, make sure the set is equipped with a metronome that can be heard with the audio output. This is vital in helping lock your internal rhythm, which is a must for any drummer who plays with other musicians. Many training kits also come with apps that can teach basic drills, or pre-loaded songs that drummers can play along with.

Whether you’re a novice or a seasoned player, the drum heads are going to be a sign of general quality. The rubber heads that were once the norm on electronic kits aren’t as common now and are mostly used only on budget sets. That’s generally a good thing, since these pads tend to be less responsive and can cause fatigue due to their lack of “bounce.” Mesh heads are the standard in most electronic drum kits today, and you’ll typically be able to calibrate them to be as tight or as loose as any acoustic heads you might be used to. The more sensors in these heads, the better they’ll be able to pick up the nuances in your playing. Mesh is also much quieter, which is a plus for drummers practicing at home.

On the other hand, rubber is still a great material for electronic cymbals. Good ones will have sensors on the bottom as well as the top to make them just as dynamic as the heads. They’ll be able to tell whether you’re playing the bow, bell or rim and you’ll even be able to “choke” them with your hand, just as you would with acoustic cymbals.

Drum kits can come in a wide variety of sizes and configurations, and experienced drummers can get very picky about the setup. Buy with an eye toward what kind of venue in which you might be playing. If you don’t have much space in your home, electronic drum kits have a huge advantage in this regard. You can pack a lot of functionality into a compact setup, and they are generally much more portable than their acoustic counterparts. Some sets are more modular than others, so if you’re looking to expand, make sure your kit will support additional heads or cymbals later on.

The real heart of an electronic drum kit lies in its sound library. Your kit will come with a module that will contain a variety of sounds that you can switch between. Beginner kits might only have a few presets that apply to all the drums across the board, while more professional rigs might have thousands that you can assign to individual heads. Studio drummers who really want to get into the weeds will want as much variety as possible, and the option to expand. If you’re playing live gigs, the ability to switch between sound presets on the fly is a game-changer. Just make sure the interface is something that allows you to do so easily and quickly.

Output matters too, especially for studio kits. Every kit will have a simple line out that lets you transmit directly to a speaker or headphones, but MIDI compatibility and USB outputs can allow you to go far beyond the customization capabilities of your drum module. With these, you can connect your drums to a digital audio workstation or other another piece of software that will allow you to create and tweak your own drum sounds even further.

The Best Electronic Drum Kits

1
  Our Top Pick

Alesis Nitro Mesh Electronic Drum Kit, 8-Piece

New drummers and old hands will have a blast with this versatile kit. The mesh heads are a particular highlight, as they are responsive right out of the box and can be adjusted easily to get the right feel. The compact size enables it to be set up in most any space.

Features


Specifications

Brand
Alesis
Model
2
  Great Practice Set

LyxJam Pre-Loaded Sounds Electronic Drum Kit, 7-Piece

With a full library of sounds, this kit is sure to keep curious learners busy discovering new effects. The mesh heads are silent and perfect for discreet practice sessions. The tension can even be adjusted as new drummers get a feel for their range.

Features


Specifications

Brand
LyxJam
Model
3
  We Also Like

RockJam USB & Midi Connectivity Electronic Drum Kit, 8-Piece

Not only does this kit pack an impressive array of preset sounds, you can select from your favorite with a simple dial turn. The setup for the drums is just as easy, and you can take them nearly anywhere. The sound translates well through most any headphones or amplifier.

Features


Specifications

Brand
RockJam
Model
4
  Strong Contender

Alesis Mesh Electronic Drum Kit, 7-Piece

Setup is a breeze with this drum kit aimed at new learners. The range of sounds and playability make this ideal for training or casual sessions. The included play-along tracks make learning fun.

Features


Specifications

Brand
Alesis
Model
5
  Also Great

Donner DED-200 Electric Drum Set, 8-Piece

The included metal rack is just one sign that this kit can take some punishment. Students will find these drums can grow as their abilities do, thanks to adjustable heads and the ability to create your own kit out of the interchangeable sounds. Plug in is easy and the play is relatively silent.

Features


Specifications

Brand
Donner
Model

Our Electronic Drum Kit Buying Guide

Musicians can be notoriously picky about their gear, and debates will rage on forever about the benefits of acoustic versus electronic instruments. When it comes to drums, you can bet that there’s still no substitute for the sound of a drumstick on a good old mylar head. On the flip side of that coin, there might be no more versatile instrument than a high-end set of electronic drums.

Electronic drum kits have come a long way since musicians first started pairing synthesizers to rubber drum pads in the early ’80s. Today, the best mesh heads can be calibrated to feel just like their acoustic counterparts, and they are equipped with multiple sensors that can react to the slightest changes in pressure. Those sensors feed data to modules that can be loaded with thousands of drum sounds or samples, giving musicians access to almost unlimited kit configurations. And best of all, those sounds can be fed through a pair of headphones, making electronic drum kits a great choice for beginning drummers (and those who share a house with them).

That’s really the first consideration when buying a kit: Who will be using it and what will they be using it for? The needs of a new student will be much different from those of a seasoned drummer in the studio or on a gig. Perfectly serviceable electronic drum kits are available for $200-$300, but paying a little extra will go a long way if you’re in terms of build quality, customization, sound and extra features.

For drummers in training, there are a few attributes you’ll want to check off the list. At the very minimum, make sure the set is equipped with a metronome that can be heard with the audio output. This is vital in helping lock your internal rhythm, which is a must for any drummer who plays with other musicians. Many training kits also come with apps that can teach basic drills, or pre-loaded songs that drummers can play along with.

Whether you’re a novice or a seasoned player, the drum heads are going to be a sign of general quality. The rubber heads that were once the norm on electronic kits aren’t as common now and are mostly used only on budget sets. That’s generally a good thing, since these pads tend to be less responsive and can cause fatigue due to their lack of “bounce.” Mesh heads are the standard in most electronic drum kits today, and you’ll typically be able to calibrate them to be as tight or as loose as any acoustic heads you might be used to. The more sensors in these heads, the better they’ll be able to pick up the nuances in your playing. Mesh is also much quieter, which is a plus for drummers practicing at home.

On the other hand, rubber is still a great material for electronic cymbals. Good ones will have sensors on the bottom as well as the top to make them just as dynamic as the heads. They’ll be able to tell whether you’re playing the bow, bell or rim and you’ll even be able to “choke” them with your hand, just as you would with acoustic cymbals.

Drum kits can come in a wide variety of sizes and configurations, and experienced drummers can get very picky about the setup. Buy with an eye toward what kind of venue in which you might be playing. If you don’t have much space in your home, electronic drum kits have a huge advantage in this regard. You can pack a lot of functionality into a compact setup, and they are generally much more portable than their acoustic counterparts. Some sets are more modular than others, so if you’re looking to expand, make sure your kit will support additional heads or cymbals later on.

The real heart of an electronic drum kit lies in its sound library. Your kit will come with a module that will contain a variety of sounds that you can switch between. Beginner kits might only have a few presets that apply to all the drums across the board, while more professional rigs might have thousands that you can assign to individual heads. Studio drummers who really want to get into the weeds will want as much variety as possible, and the option to expand. If you’re playing live gigs, the ability to switch between sound presets on the fly is a game-changer. Just make sure the interface is something that allows you to do so easily and quickly.

Output matters too, especially for studio kits. Every kit will have a simple line out that lets you transmit directly to a speaker or headphones, but MIDI compatibility and USB outputs can allow you to go far beyond the customization capabilities of your drum module. With these, you can connect your drums to a digital audio workstation or other another piece of software that will allow you to create and tweak your own drum sounds even further.

DWYM Fun Fact

You’ve probably heard it said that music is the universal language. In the case of some African tribes, that old saw can be taken literally. Even today, tribes like the Congolese Kele people speak in a language that relies on tonal shifts, as easily communicated through speech as by their two-toned “talking drums.” Using these log drums, the Kele could send messages to any tribe members that could hear them — sometimes as far as five miles away.

The Electronic Drum Kit Tips and Advice

Once you’ve picked a drum kit, don’t forget the accessories. Electronic kits can do a lot of the work for you, but you’re still going to need sticks, for one thing. Wood sticks work just as well for e-kits as they do for acoustic one, though metal sticks may have a better feel for harder-hitting drummers. Just make sure the grip is secure either way so you don’t throw them across the room in the middle of an epic fill.

Other essentials include a drum seat, or “throne.” This should be height-adjustable, especially if you’re buying for a young learner who needs room to grow into their new instrument. Headphones are another must for training purposes with an electronic drum kit, and ideally you’ll want these to be the full-size type with ear coverings. (You want to hear the synthesized sound of your drumming, not the actual hits on the mesh heads.) Once players graduate to gigs or jam sessions, an amp will be another must. Just make sure it’s compatible with your output type.

Your electronic drum kit will also come with a pedal for playing the bass drum, but you may eventually want to upgrade that to a double-bass pedal, especially if you’re playing hard rock or heavy metal. Most electronic kits that have actual pads for the bass drum are compatible with any standard kick pedals but be sure your new pedal will fit your electronic kit before shelling out for a nice new one.