What’s the biggest challenge for drummers? Finding space for a kit? Reining yourself in? Paradiddles? We think it has to be the noise.
So, how do you practice without making your neighbors and family furious?
The answer just might be as easy as an electronic drum set. Yes, we know that recording quality kits can cost thousands of dollars, but that doesn’t mean electronic drums are completely out of your reach. In fact, a basic table-top drum pad can be well under $100!
In today’s review, we’re looking at kits with great sounds and features; basically, the Best Cheap Beginner Electronic Drum Sets Under $500 that you can buy.
Let’s go through them and find the perfect option for your needs…
Top 6 Best Cheap Beginner Electronic Drum Sets Under $500 On The Market In 2021 Reviews
1 Behringer XD80-USB – Best Premium Beginner Electronic Drum Sets Under $500
What it is: 8-piece full-sized electronic drum kit with the HDS240USB sound module.
In our reviews, we normally start at the lower price range and then work our way up. But here we’re going to start with a full-sized nearly $500 kit and then slowly work down to see what you might be able to trade-off for the price.
This is an 8-piece kit, but be careful – with electronic drums, we find pads. These pads can be programmed any which way you want. So while their positioning and look may mirror drums or cymbals, you can actually program them to be otherwise.
Easy setup and break down…
This kit is based on a sturdy aluminum frame that’s easy to set up or strike down quickly. There’s a snare, a crash, a ride, three toms, a hi-hat with pedal control, and a kick drum pad.
These rubber pads are dual-zone, so you can play rimshots by striking close to their edges. The whole set-up feels very much like playing on a real drum kit.
The brain of this kit, the HDS240USB sound module, is where the kit really exists. It comes with ten pre-programmed and five kits you can manually load, with 175 sounds to select from.
You can also edit the sound quality and volume of each sound. The module also comes with record and playback functions and is loaded with play-along songs for practice.
This kit feels like a real kit and has a lot of realistic sounds. It also features AUX input and MIDI in/out for connecting with outboard devices.
- Solid and plays like a real kit.
- Lots of sounds and connectivity.
- Cables limit the positions of the pads.
- Many of the pre-programmed cymbals sounds are tinny and shrill.
2 Alesis Drums Nitro Mesh Kit – Most Realistic Cheap Beginner Electronic Drum Sets Under $500
What it is: 8-piece full-sized electronic drum kit with Nitro drum module.
The Nitro Mesh Kit is another cheap electronic drum set that feels and plays like a full-sized kit. In fact, the mesh snare and tom heads provide a much more realistic feel than the Behringer’s rubber pads.
It’s easy to play hard and play long on these heads, preventing fatigue. The cymbals and bass are all still rubber, however.
We also found the mesh heads just as responsive as rubber. By this, we mean that they pick up every strike even in rapid succession, and the strength of each strike. Light taps need to come out quiet, big bangs roar.
For under $500, we think this is one really great electronic drum set to play!
Let’s talk about the brain…
This kit features the Nitro drum module. It comes loaded with 40 ready-to-play drum kits, which can be edited using the 350 drum sounds included in the module.
That’s a lot of sounds, and some sound great while others are cheesy and will make your kit sound hilarious.
It also comes with 60 play-along tracks, plus a metronome for practice. You can record and playback, and even create loops on this module.
Multiple connection options…
As for connectivity, the Nitro has all its bases covered. It has AUX and MIDI connections for connecting devices, and of course, an output to play your drumming through headphones or a stereo system.
As with the Behringer, we’d like to see longer cables to give more flexibility for positioning the pads. And the kick drum beater needs frequent adjustments, but otherwise, we were completely impressed with this kit!
- Lots of kit and sounds to choose from.
- Mesh heads give a great realistic feel.
- Cables should be longer.
3 Yamaha DD-75 – Best Tabletop Cheap Beginner Electronic Drum Sets Under $500
What it is: 8-pad table-top electronic drum kit with speaker and two outboard pedals.
Coming down a bit more in price, we encounter a totally different machine – the Yamaha DD-75. Now, Yamaha makes some excellent full-sized electronic drums, but you’re not going to get one for under $500.
Instead, the DD-75 is a table-top drum kit. This means it’s a single console with eight rubberized pads that you place on a table in front of you. It comes with two outboard pedals to control the hi-hat open/close function and bass drum.
How does it feel to bash away on this thing?
At first, it’s quite strange if you’re not used to this kind of set up. The pads are small and close together, but to be honest, it doesn’t take all that long to get the feel for it.
Plus, you can edit the kits all you want, so you’re free to move the pieces of your kit to different positions.
Loaded with presets…
The brain of this drum kit is packed. It comes with 75 preset kits and ten kits you can edit infinitely. There are an amazing 570 high-quality sounds to play around with. Some getting into vocalizations, record scratches, and other weird sounds.
One great feature of this setup is that you can program bongo, conga, and other hand percussion sounds and play the pads by hand with the whole console on your lap.
This console features reverb and sound, dynamic controls, metronome, and twenty practice tracks to practice along with. Plus, it has a built-in speaker in case you’re tired of playing through headphones.
- Great sounds and great responsiveness of the pads.
- Versatile – can be played by hand too!
- The layout is very different from a real kit.
- Pricey for a table-top set.
4 Carlsbro CSD130
What it is: 8-piece full-sized electronic drum kit with Commander 120/130 Drum Module.
As we inch down in price in our Best Cheap Beginner Electronic Drum Sets Under $500 review, we come back to the full-sized electronic drum set market. The Carlsbro CSD130 is another 8-piece, aluminum rack, rubber-headed drum kit that compares very easily to the Behringer XD80-USB.
How does it stand up?
Actually, compared to the Behringer and the Alesis kits, which are quite spread out, this kit is cleverly compact and fits in only two-thirds of the space the other kits do. The cables are also long enough to move pads around and find any position you want. Finally!
Its brain is the Commander 130 Drum Module, which offers 20 preset kits and ten kits you can edit yourself. It has 250 pre-programmed sounds to choose from, which is more than the Behringer but a lot less than the Alesis Nitro.
Most of the sounds are quite comparable and can be edited individually, though some are unusually quiet relative to others.
Connections and extras…
This kit also features a metronome click track and record and playback functions. It has twenty play-along tracks and offers the same MIDI and AUX inputs to connect to other devices.
But, there’s a catch…
However, we were quite worried about the durability of this electronic drum kit. For each test, we bashed around on these kits hard and fast like you can on a normal drum kit.
While the CSD 130 felt good and strong, we noticed damage right away. The rubber on the hi-hat pad came apart from the plastic cymbal slightly. But even worse, the snare responsiveness was slow and sometimes even missed isolated, hard strikes!
- Inexpensive and great space-saving design.
- Full flexibility in positioning pads to where you want them.
- Durability is questionable at best.
5 Pyle PTED01 – Most Versatile Sounding Cheap Beginner Electronic Drum Sets Under $500
What it is: 7-pad table-top electronic drum kit with speaker and two outboard pedals.
Chopping the price in half, we find ourselves back in the realm of table-top drum sets. This set from Pyle has only seven rubberized pads, but with two outboard pedals, it still compares well with the Yamaha DD-75.
A full orchestra…
The PTED01 holds 25 preset drum kits and another five that you can program by yourself. It has 215 percussion sounds to choose from, and, unusually, the 128 standard “General Midi” voices that go along with synthesizers.
So you get strings, horns, and brass too! Once again, we see record and playback functionality, a metronome, and play-along tracks for practice.
Let’s talk about playability…
In the preset drum kits, the hi-hat pad is right in the middle of the console. This is a bit awkward for cross-grip players used to having the hi-hat over to the left. But for open-grip players, this positioning is next to impossible.
Again, you can place this console on your lap and play with your hands instead of with sticks. However, the pads are much lower in profile than on the Yamaha DD-75, and this makes it much clumsier to play. It just doesn’t have the feel of a hand drum set.
There’s a learning curve…
The outboard pedals also left something to be desired. The bass pedal seems to work just fine, but the hi-hat open and close pedal is hard to get used to.
It’s sensitive and will suddenly open or close with the slightest pressure change. It’s like learning to drive clutch all over again!
- Affordable – this is a great beginner electronic drum set under $500.
- Lots of voices and functionality to play around and have fun with.
- Sensitivity isn’t great, especially the hi-hat pedal.
- Pad positioning can be frustrating.
6 RockJam MIDI Electronic Roll Up Drum Kit – Best Budget Cheap Beginner Electronic Drum Sets Under $500
What it is: 9-pad table-top electronic drum kit with speaker and two outboard pedals.
The final drum kit on our list is the cheapest, smallest, and really the most unusual. Introducing the MIDI Electronic Roll Up Drum Kit from RockJam.
Yep, you read that right – roll up!
Rather than a full-sized kit, or even a solid table-top console, this kit is a thick but flexible rubber mat that you can fold or roll and tuck away just about anywhere.
It has nine hard rubber pads on it and an attached speaker/control module, plus two outboard pedals for controlling the hi-hat and the kick drum as usual.
Now, this thing is cheap, well under $100. Can it really offer much of anything? The surprising answer is yes.
Good connections and decent presets…
There are seven preset kits to choose from, most leaning towards the techno side of things. The sounds are generally not very robust, but it all depends on the style you want to play.
This kit has AUX-in and MIDI via USB jacks to allow you to plug into recording software on a laptop. Of course, there’s also a headphone jack in case the speaker is bothering others.
Are there any drawbacks?
On the downside, the whole console is small, so the pads are only a couple of inches across. That makes it pretty hard to get around to all the sounds you want to use. Also, the sounds are preset, so you’re stuck with them.
And as for responsiveness, this machine does an okay job of catching all your strikes. The problem is that there’s basically no dynamic variation.
- Cheap and fun to play.
- Very easy and portable – great for kids or basic practice.
- Not very responsive.
- No extra sounds to create your own kit.
Best Cheap Beginner Electronic Drum Sets Under $500 Buying Guide
When it comes to electronic drum kits, the biggest concerns are durability and connections. Durability has to factor in any purchasing decision. The pads on an electronic drum kit are going to take a beating.
As far as connections are concerned, you need to know what you will be plugging the kit into. How are you going to hear it? Will you be using an amp, a computer, or some kind of USB interface?
These things matter if you want to ensure the best possible experience.
Looking for Something Else?
We have an extensive selection of drum kits of all types and related drum accessories currently on the market. So, check out our in-depth reviews of the Best Jazz Drum Sets, the Best Drumsticks, the Best Portable Drum Kits, and the Best Beginner Drum Set you can buy.
What are the Best Cheap Beginner Electronic Drum Sets Under $500?
So that’s our review. Although we saw some cool table-top consoles, especially the Yamaha DD-75, we had to choose a full-sized kit as our winner.
With its sound variety and great playability, our overall choice is the…
This kit is affordable, sturdy, and, most importantly, fun to play with. It was also the closest to the feel of a real drum kit out of the lot, which is always a bonus.
But just because it was our fav, that doesn’t mean one of these other great options won’t be the best for you. Whichever kit you choose, we wish you happy drumming.
Until next time, may your music and especially your drumming always be merry.