Electronic drum kits are an apartment-dwelling drummer’s best friend. They’re a quiet alternative to booming acoustic drums and come with modules loaded with all sorts of tasty sounds to try out. That may be enough to get you hooked on an electronic kit. And if you do get hooked, why settle for something cheap and mediocre?
In this article, I’m highlighting what I think are the best electronic drum sets money can buy. If you’ve read my article on the best cheap beginner drum sets under $500, you’ll quickly realize that none of those kits are here on this list. They’re great for the price, but here we’re going all out and simply looking for great drum sets. So, here are my favorites, starting with the…
Top 8 Best Electronic Drum Sets on the Market in 2021 Reviews
1 Alesis Drums Command Mesh Kit – Best Budget Electronic Drum Set
What’s included: 5 drums, 3 cymbals, rack, kick pedal, hi-hat control pedal, drum module, cables
This is one of the top models from Alesis, the company nailing the affordable electronic drums market right now. At $800, the Command kit is a step up and a step in the right direction.
Let’s break it down…
You get three 8” dual-zone toms, an 8” dual-zone snare, and a kick tower with an 8” head. So that’s five drums, and then you’ve got a 10” single-zone hi-hat, a 10” choke-able ride, and a 10” choke-able crash. Everything except the kick is mounted on a solid, chromed tube rack with the cymbals all on sturdy boom stands.
Down below, you’ve got a pretty standard kick pedal and a less standard hi-hat pedal. The hi-hat pedal is probably the weakest link here. It works OK to control the open and close sounds of the hi-hat but feels a little more like a switch than a pedal.
For this kit, it is the Control Drum Module. It comes loaded with 671 unique drum and percussion sounds. These are sorted into 70 preset kits to choose from, but you can build your own kits as well. In case the onboard sounds aren’t exactly what you need, you can import .wav files to add your own sounds to the module.
For connections, we’re looking at USB MIDI, 5-pin MIDI In and Out, Aux-In, and a jack for headphones. This means you can play along to your own audio tracks (if the 60 on-board play-along tracks aren’t enough), export to your DAW, control through MIDI, etc.
This kit feels just like an acoustic kit, save for the hi-hat pedal, and has a really solid response. Some of the sounds are a bit cheesy but might be useful for some compositions. And the module is easy to use to find and assign sounds to kits.
- Great feeling kit for a relatively low price.
- Lots of connectivity.
- Some sounds are cheesy/not realistic.
- Hi-hat pedal leaves a lot to be desired.
3 Yamaha DTX6K-X Electronic Drum Set – Best Sensitivity and Response Electronic Drum Set
What’s included: 5 drums, 3 cymbals, rack, hi-hat control pedal, drum module, cables
Yamaha is our next brand in the electronic drum game. And why not? This company has been releasing electronic instruments for decades, and their drums are just as good as their pianos. Likewise, it’s one of the best high-quality electronic drum sets you can buy.
The DTX6 range is all about a compromise between great quality and an affordable price. In this kit, you get three 7” rubber toms, an 8” triple-zone snare pad, and a 5” kick pad on a tower. A kick pedal is not included.
You also get a 10” hi-hat cymbal and foot pedal controller, a 10” choke-able crash cymbal, and a triple-zone ride cymbal. All of this is mounted on a black powder-coated steel rack.
The heads are different here…
While Alesis is focused on mesh heads, Yamaha has opted for rubber. These pads are quite hard and bouncy. While they have an excellent response, they’re not a perfect imitation of acoustic heads. And I think you’ll experience a bit of fatigue playing them.
The snare head is different again. This is a TCS (texture coated silicone) head that’s, well, weird. It’s a lot less bouncy than the other rubber pads and feels more shock absorbing. When you play at a soft or medium level, it feels great but played heavily; it’s very different. The bounce-back becomes delayed, almost like playing in plasticine or something else kind of sticky.
The snare rim is rubber coated and has triggers built-in as well. These control open or closed rimshots, depending on whether you contact one or two sides of the rim at once. Pretty nifty. And while all the hardware is pretty solid, the snare head gets a special ball connection that makes acute adjustments easy.
The digital inside…
You get the DTX Pro module here, which has over 400 voices for you to play with. They’ve mixed them into 40 preset kits but have left 200 user kits for you to design, so you’ll never run out of slots. Most of the sounds here come from real samples, including quality Yamaha acoustic drums. You also get training functions and 37 play-along songs.
For connections, you get both MIDI Out and MIDI-over-USB, as well as Aux and headphones. You can also connect up to 14 pads to this module, meaning you can add more pads or even acoustic drums with triggers for a hybrid kit. As a result, this is one of the most versatile electronic drum sets on the market. Pretty darn spanky.
- Good sensitivity and response in pads.
- Tons of user kit slots to program easily.
- Quality hardware.
- TCS snare head won’t be to everyone’s taste.
- Rubber pads can be a bit too hard and bouncy.
- The heads are all fairly small.
4 Alesis Drums Strike Mesh Kit – Best Acoustic-Feeling Electronic Drum Set
What’s included: 5 drums, 3 cymbals, rack, drum module, cables
We’re back to Alesis, but this Strike kit is a major step up. Rather than just rims holding mesh heads, this kit is constructed of real wood shells and rubberized rims holding a 14” snare, 14” kick, and 8”, 10”, and 12” toms.
All the drums, except the kick, are dual-zone. So you can program in rim sounds as well as headshots. The cymbals are larger, too. You get 12” hats, a 14” crash, and a 16” triple-zone ride.
I found that the whole thing plays like an acoustic kit for those who have played that way for years. I wasn’t so impressed, though, with the 3-zone ride. It wasn’t exactly accurate, and also, I got the occasional crossover sound playing on it.
The hardware here is nice to look at…
All chromed and shiny, but the clamps could be stronger. I’d like to see steel rather than plastic parts on a nearly $2000 drum kit. And the kick pedal and hi-hat stand are not included. This will be a trend going on from here.
The Strike Module is where this kit shines. The unit looks sharp and has a full-color LCD screen that makes choosing sounds and kits easy. You also have EQ sliders for each pad right there, so you can tweak your mix quickly. The module has over 1600 sounds onboard and 110 pre-programmed kits.
It also comes with an 8GB SD card for storing your own user kits as well as imported samples. And finally, the kit has USB and MIDI connections for communicating with your computer, whether you’re recording or mixing. These features help make it one of the best electronic drum sets you can buy.
- Feels like playing an acoustic kit.
- Includes massive sound library and SD card for more storage.
- Hardware should be of better quality.
- No kick pedal or hi-hat stand.
- Triple-zone ride has sensitivity issues.
5 Roland V-Drums TD-17KVX Electronic Drum Kit – Best Mid-Range Electronic Drum Set
What’s included: 5 drums, 4 cymbals, rack, drum module, cables
Roland, like Yamaha, is a legend in the electronic instruments industry. Their V-drums are all about playability and great sound. At just under $2000, the TD-17KVX is one of their mid-range kits.
Here’s what it’s all about…
In this kit, you get a 12” snare and 3 8” toms, plus a kick tower (but no kick pedal included). For cymbals, you get two 12” crashes and a 13” ride. But they haven’t been good enough to throw in the hi-hat stand with this kit, unfortunately. You can add any normal hi-hat stand, however.
The snare head here is dual-ply mesh and feels similar to acoustic drum heads. You get just the right amount of stiffness and bounce, but you can always adjust your tightness with the “tuning lugs.” The mesh tom heads feel very comfortable as well. And all of the drums (except the kick) are dual-zone, allowing you to play the head or the rim as you can on a real kit.
With the TD-17 module…
You get 310 drum and percussion sounds programmed into 50 kits. You can also import your own sounds and create 50 more of your own kits. Like the other kits we’ve seen, you can control EQ and effects on these kits to produce your signature sound as well. The module also gives you two extra inputs to add two more pads for an expanded kit.
You get MIDI-over-USB with this module, as well as 5-pin MIDI Out for bringing your beats into a DAW for recording. There’s an SD card slot for storing up user sounds and samples. And finally, Bluetooth for importing songs right into the unit that you can bash along with.
Another cool feature is the Ambience selector. Different settings can simulate venues large and small, so you’ll know how you’ll sound on stage before you get to your gigs. As a result, it’s one of the best live performance electronic drum sets on the market.
- Great connectivity, including Bluetooth.
- Good-sized pads with a realistic feel.
- Kick pedal and hi-hat stand not included.
- Has lots of synth sounds but could use more realistic drum sounds.
6 Roland V-Drums TD-27KV Electronic Drum Kit – Best Bluetooth Electronic Drum Set
What’s included: 5 drums, 4 cymbals, rack, drum module, cables
Next up, we’re sticking with Roland, but with the TD-27KV, we’re looking at a roughly $3000 price tag. I’ll make it quick by just going through the differences that justify the much higher cost of this kit.
The pads are a bit bigger on this kit for more life-like playability. The crashes are 12” and 13,” and the multi-zone sensitive ride is 18” in diameter. The snare is 14” and the three toms are all 10”. The drum pads are all dual-zone. You can add four more pieces to this kit to expand it as necessary.
With the TD-27 module, you get more sounds and preset kits. It comes with a whopping 700+ sounds and 55 pre-programmed kits, and you can still add 45 of your own. While the TD-17 allows you to save 100 user samples, the TD-27 can save 500 samples. Making it one of the most programmable electronic drum sets around.
It also gives you a lot more control over effects…
You can manage effects independently on each pad, while the TD-17 only lets you add things like compressions and reverb to whole kits. You still have all the same connections here: USB MIDI, traditional 5-pin MIDI, Aux, and that ever-popular Bluetooth.
Once again, the hi-hat stand and kick pedal are not included. But this kit also uses an independent snare drum, for which you’ll need to pick up an extra snare stand as well. You’d think for this price, at least the snare stand could be included.
So there’s a lot that’s improved, and the kit is slightly more acoustic-like to play with the bigger pads. But is it worth an extra $1000? It comes down to how many sounds and samples you really need on board.
- Great connectivity, including Bluetooth.
- Bigger pads with great response.
- Lots of sounds and sample memory.
- Snare stand, kick pedal, and a hi-hat stand are not included.
- Quite a lot more expensive from the next model down.
7 Yamaha DTX760-K Electronic Drum Set – Best Sample Presets Library Electronic Drum Set
What’s included: 5 drums, 4 cymbals, rack, drum module, cables, snare stand, hi-hat stand
Here’s another swell electronic drum set from Yamaha. At around $3500, it’s more than three times as expensive as the DTX-6K-X I reviewed earlier.
What makes this big price tag worth it?
Well, for starters, it comes with a massive soundbank. You get 1268 drum and percussion sounds plus 128 melodic sounds for a total of 1396 sounds. This is way more than the 400 voices in the DTX-6 module.
You get 50 pre-programmed kits here, and you can edit them all, plus add up to ten more user kits. This is far fewer than the 100 kits of the Roland machines, though.
The DTX700 module has MIDI-over-USB, 5-pin MIDI In and Out, Aux-In, and Phones connections, but still no Bluetooth. It comes with an onboard metronome and 44 practice songs to play along with. Plus, you can load up to 30 of your own songs for practice. You can add another 500 samples to the module using the included 64MB flash-ROM.
The pads are a bit different as well…
The kit is decked out with DTX heads with triple-zone sensors for rimshots and cross-sticks. The drums heads are all made from the same TCS (textured cellular silicone) as the snare in the DTX-6K-X kit. Once again, these reduce fatigue by softening the impact of your blows.
However, their feel is odd and not very similar to acoustic heads. Some won’t like them; others will love them. The crash cymbals can be choked, and the ride is 3-zone as well to give more texture to your playing. And finally, the hi-hat and snare stands are included here. You’ll still need your own kick pedal, though.
In total, this is a much more expensive Yamaha kit that doesn’t offer much more than their cheaper models. Choose the kit features you need wisely.
- Tons of provided sounds and can handle 500 user samples.
- Snare and Hi-hat stands included.
- TCS heads (some will love them).
- TCS heads (some will hate them).
- A limited number of kits on board.
8 Pearl e/Merge e/Traditional Electronic Drum Set – Best Onboard Memory Electronic Drum Set
What’s included: 5 drums, 3 cymbals, rack, drum module, cables, snare stand
Here’s a super-interesting kit from Pearl. It represents a collaboration between that drum maker and KORG, the legendary electronic instrument maker. This alone makes it a contender for one of the best electronic drum sets you can buy.
The kit is comprised of a kick tower/pad, 10” 12” and 14” toms, and a 14” snare for realistic playing surfaces. The cymbals include 14” dual-zone hi-hats, a 15” dual-zone crash, and an 18” triple-zone ride.
All the toms are dual-zone, and the snare is triple, with rubberized rim areas for picking up your stick work. The heads here are 6-layer PUREtouch heads that provide incredible responsiveness yet feel just like real acoustic heads.
What I love about this kit…
The high quality of the rack system, plus the toms and cymbals, are on their own adjustable arms. This means it’s durable, and you can get all the elements into the exact positions you need them in. The result is one of the easiest electronic drum sets to play.
You can also get a slightly different version of this kit called the e/Hybrid. This version uses a real kick drum with an internal trigger rather than a kick pad. Because of the kick drum, it costs a few hundred dollars more.
Now let’s talk about the module…
The MDL1 eMerge module gives you 700 drum and percussion sounds. Ranging from realistic samples of Pearly drums to much more experimental Korg synth sounds.
You get 35 pre-programmed kits that are editable, and you can add your own .wav samples to the module easily. There are 36 different effects to play with, from reverb to modulation, plus a cool ambiance slider for simulating the sounds of different rooms.
Along with 5-pin MIDI, MIDI-over-USB, Aux, and Phones, you also get a great recording feature. The module has eight Outs for running straight to a mixing board for live play or recording. You can also record right into the module as it can hold up to 12 hours’ worth of recording. A lush kit that feels great to play and sounds like the best of Pearl drums mixed with Korg tech.
- Lots of voices and effects to choose from.
- Great realistic feel from drum heads.
- Huge on-board recording memory.
- No Bluetooth.
- Kick pedal and hi-hat stand not included.
9 Roland V-Drums TD-50KV Electronic Drum Kit – Best Overall Electronic Drum Set
What’s included: 5 drums, 4 cymbals, rack, drum module, cables
Last but certainly not least (expensive), is Roland’s flagship electronic drum set – the TD-50KV. This kit includes a triple-zone 14” snare with a 3-layer mesh head. There’s a 10” rack tom and two 12” floor toms (up on the rack, but positioned like floor toms).
Plus, a kick drum tower that’s very much like a real drum. These drums feel just like acoustic heads and respond incredibly well to every stroke and accent.
The cymbals include 13” hi-hats, a 14” crash, a 15” crash/ride, and an 18” multi-zone ride. You can choke off these cymbals and even mute the bell of the ride with the touch of a finger. You can add on another tom here and up to four other Aux pads to flesh out your kit.
The module here is the famous TD-50…
Home to over 900 drum and percussion samples in 50 pre-programmed kits. You can program another 50 kits of your own, then use any of the 36 effects on each pad or the whole kit to customize your sound.
You can import up to 500 .wav or .MP3 samples to the module or up to a total of 24 minutes in mono. These can be input through the SD port or over USB. You can record to the module, taking in up to 40,000 notes (the recording length depends on the complexity of your beats). You also have eight faders on the console to control the EQ of the different pads.
For connections, you have 5-pin MIDI In and Out, MIDI-over-USB, Aux, and Phones but no Bluetooth. You have a Master Out, plus eight individual Outs for recording and mixing purposes.
- Onboard EQ faders and multiple Outs for recording or live mixing.
- Great sound library.
- Excellent realistic feel when playing.
- Snare stand, hi-hat stand, and a kick pedal are not included.
- Very expensive.
Best Electronic Drum Sets Buying Guide
With so many different options and a huge range of prices, how do you choose the best electronic drum set to play on? Here are some important points to consider before you make your purchase.
How many pads do you want to play on? Does the kit have all the drums and cymbals you need, and can you add more pieces to it in the future? This is one of the most important things to consider to make sure you’re getting all the drums you want from a drum set.
Rubber, mesh, and even silicone heads are found on some of the best electronic drums out there. Rubber can be stiff, hard, and bouncy, causing player fatigue. Mesh can be very similar to acoustic heads, but may not have the very best sensitivity. New materials like TCS (textured cellular silicone) relieve player fatigue but might feel too gummy to some players.
Also, consider the number of zones the heads have. If you do a lot of rimshots and cross-sticking, you need to look for a triple-zone snare. Triple zone rides are also important to get the most out of your stick work. But if you’re playing less detailed styles, you can get away with dual-zone pads.
What are you going to do with your electronic drums? Are they just for quiet practice at home? Are you going to play live with them, or record?
For recording, MIDI to USB is what you’ll want to get a line into your DAW. For live drums or recording in a studio, multiple line-outs are essential. If you want to do a lot of play-along practice, Aux-In is great, but Bluetooth is even more convenient, especially if you want to play with songs from your phone.
Sounds and Effects
One of the biggest contributors to price is the number of sounds (or voices) on your module, plus the number of samples you can load to its memory. You can find excellent VST sounds all over the place, for free or otherwise. However, electronic drum companies still overcharge for large sample libraries.
Consider the types of drumming you do – if you keep to just a few styles, don’t waste your money on a huge sound library. Effects can make your overall sound memorable. If you’re making sequences and recording tracks, you want to look for modules that let you play with effects on each pad and not just at the kit level.
Looking for Great Drums?
We have you covered. Check out our in-depth reviews of the Best Electronic Drum Pads, the Best Drum Machines, the Best Drum VST Plugins, the Best Cheap Beginner Electronic Drum Sets Under $500, the Best Jazz Drum Sets, and the Best Portable Drum Kits you can buy in 2021.
You may also enjoy our detailed reviews of the Best Drum Triggers, the Best Bass Drum Pedals, the Best Hang Drums, the Best Electronic Drum Amps, the Best Snare Drums, the Best Cajon Drums, the Best Drum Thrones, and the Best Bongos currently on the market.
What are the Best Electronic Drum Sets?
For this article, I had a look at the best electronic drum kits currently out there. From the cheapest to the most expensive, every kit on this list is great and a real pleasure to play. But if you’re going to press me to pick the very best, I have to give it to the…
It feels fantastic to play, has a great sound library and effects, and is perfect for live play and recording. Sure, it’s also by far the most expensive kit here, and many of the cheaper models are also great. But if you’re going to go big or go home, this is the best electronic set that your money can buy.
Until next time, lay the beat go on.