There’s a certain viewpoint surrounding electronic drum kits that says that they should be expensive to sound good. This may have been true in the past, but a lot of inexpensive e-kits nowadays have solid builds and passable sounds.
The quality of the kit will increase with the price, but you can still get a pretty good kit on a budget.
According to me, these are some of the best electronic drum sets on the market.
Best Electronic Drum Kits Under $500
Table of Contents
- Best Electronic Drum Kits Under $500
- Best Electronic Drum Kits Under $1000
- Things to Consider When Buying Electronic Drums
The Alesis Nitro Mesh is an electronic drum kit with 5 mesh pads and 3 rubber cymbal pads. The module has 40 preset drum kits, 385 customizable sounds, and 60 play-along tracks.
This kit has sturdy construction with premium materials, making it feel very secure when playing. The snare and tom pads have mesh heads, bringing the kit closer to feeling like acoustic drums.
The input response on the drum and cymbal pads is fast, allowing you to play fast patterns with no lag between the pads and the module.
The drum module is highly customizable, which is unusual for the price of this kit. You can adjust sound settings when it comes to pitch, reverb, and panning left to right. This makes the kit a great recording option.
The pads aren’t too dynamically responsive, meaning this kit isn’t a great option for intermediate and advanced players. It’s great for beginners, though. The mesh head pads, kick drum pad and pair of drum sticks make this one of the best beginner drum sets out there.
Alesis even gives you some free drum lessons when you sign up on their website with a code from this kit.
The Nitro Mesh frame can’t be raised too high, meaning this kit might be too small for tall people.
Overall, it’s a great beginner drum kit that will save space, give you many sounds, and provide a solid foundation for someone new to drumming.
Yamaha’s DTX400 series of electronic kits are well-known for being affordable and great for beginners. The DTX402K is a small kit that has 10 customizable preset kits and 415 sampled sounds. It has small rubber pads for the drums and cymbals, while the pedals have foot triggers.
The drum module has a very simple layout with everything clearly labeled. Each preset kit has its own button with the style of music it suits is named on top of it. The preset kits range from pop to latin, allowing you to play several different styles of music with the DTX402K.
The pads are small yet durable, allowing you to bash them pretty hard without worrying about breaking them. They’re not very sensitive though, so dynamic playing doesn’t translate well.
Yamaha has an app that connects to this kit. It allows you to control and edit reverb, change up the kits, and share your presets with other people who have the app. It also has some great practice tools, making the kit great for beginners.
The downside of this kit is that the kick pedal comes in the form of a switch, stopping you from experiencing the feel of playing an acoustic kick drum.
3. Roland TD-1K
The Roland TD-1K is a small electronic kit that is designed to be compact and portable. It has 15 preset kits, an onboard coach function, a metronome, and a recording feature that lets you play back what you just recorded.
The thing that makes this kit great is the sound quality. Roland creates their sound from scratch instead of sampling them from recordings, allowing the sounds to be easily manipulated even on their most inexpensive kits. This makes the preset drum kits sound fantastic.
The highly responsive rubber pads allow you to play all kinds of dynamics and nuanced things. You can play rolls on the drums which is something not common in cheaper electronic kits.
The TD-1K is very small, making it best suited for kids. It will work fine for adults who aren’t very tall. However, it’s not ideal. The layout of the kit also doesn’t match the layout of an acoustic kit, with the hi-hat and kick pedal being placed a bit more to the right.
This could make you feel uncomfortable when swapping over to an acoustic kit.
The Turbo Mesh is one of the most affordable electronic kits from Alesis. It’s a moderately sized kit that has 10 preset drum kits and 120 sampled sounds.
The kit has 8” pads that have tuneable mesh heads which you can tighten to get a realistic drum response. This brings the kit closer to feeling like an acoustic kit.
The sounds of the drum samples are great for beginners, but won’t satisfy intermediate and advanced players.
The selling point of the Turbo Mesh is simplicity. It’s easy to set up and easy to use, meaning you’ll get going quickly once you’ve unboxed it. This makes it a great kit for new drummers who aren’t clued up on how drums work just yet.
The kick pedal doesn’t have a tower, which is what keeps the price low on this kit. The kick trigger that is has also isn’t dynamically responsive, meaning it only produces one volume.
Overall, this kit will work great for beginners or people who want an inexpensive e-kit to connect via USB to recording software.
Behringer isn’t a name that you would typically associate with electronic drum kits. However, the XD8USB is a decent affordable kit that does deserve some attention.
It has 15 preset drum kits and 123 sounds. The quality of the sounds is really good considering the price point of this kit.
The pads are impact sensitive, allowing you to express different dynamics on the kit. The snare pad has a dual-zone trigger which lets you play cross-sticks. The cymbal pads are all 12”, giving you the feeling of playing bigger cymbals, something not common in cheap electronic kits.
The module has quite a few play-along tracks that explore different styles of music. This is probably one of the best features of the kit since the tracks sound so professionally recorded. You’ll often get play-along tracks that sound cheap and corny.
The pads on this kit on the most durable out there. They tend to get dents when played hard for a long time, meaning this kit won’t be ideal for heavy hitters.
The best use of the Behringer XD8USB would be for recording via USB and DAW software.
Best Electronic Drum Kits Under $1000
The Alesis Command Mesh is a bit of a step up from the previously mentioned Alesis kits. It has 50 preset kits and 600 onboard sample sounds to work with.
It comes with a 10” snare and 8” toms. These are all dual-zone mesh head pads, allowing you to produce many different sounds from them with a realistic feel. The snare drum is particularly great, having a responsive ghost note action.
The cymbals are 10” and can be choked, giving you a response that is similar to real cymbals. However, they don’t sound as great as real cymbals. The cymbal samples on this kit are one of its downfalls.
The rugged chrome drum rack holds the pads firmly together and makes the kit look great. It also allows you to position the pads with some distance between them, giving you the spacial feel of an acoustic kit.
The dual-zone mesh pads and responsive cymbals make the Alesis Command Mesh one of the best electronic kits for beginners. The size of the kit will also help when a beginner transitions from electronic to acoustic drums.
The Roland TD-1DMK is an electronic kit that puts more emphasis on its build quality than it does on its drum module. It’s a high-quality product that is very affordable thanks to the simplified layout.
The module has 15 preset kits and 15 play-along tracks. It also has an onboard recording function and some practice features. You can’t make custom kits or edit sounds.
However, the USB MIDI capability allows you to connect the kit to a computer and have an endless amount of sounds and editing options from a DAW.
The selling points of this kit are the build quality and Roland’s famous mesh head drum pads. The pads are highly responsive, allowing the most advanced drummers to express themselves musically on them.
The TD-1DMK is a great option for anyone looking for a high-quality electronic kit that doesn’t have a bunch of drum module features that increase its price. Overall, it's a quality kit for players of all levels.
The one downside is that it doesn’t come with a kick pedal, which means you’ll have to buy one separately.
8. Alesis Surge
The Alesis Surge is a kit that continues to add to the Alesis reputation of producing affordable mesh head drum kits. It has 24 preset kits, 385 sounds, and 60 play-along tracks.
The mesh head pads have thick bases that give the kit the feel of an acoustic kit. These pads can be tuned, allowing you to decide how much rebound you want them to have.
The drum and cymbal pads are all pretty responsive, making this kit beneficial for your technique and easy to switch over to an acoustic kit.
The drum module allows you to create 16 of your own custom kits. It also has some good practice features that will help you improve your sense of timing. The downside to the module is that it has quite difficult to navigate and will take a long time to get used to.
This kit comes in at just above $500. It’s a great option for anyone looking for a quiet kit that has mesh head pads and a solid kick drum tower. The 60 play-along tracks will also keep you occupied for a while and help increase your musicality.
The Roland TD-17KL offers some of Roland’s top features in the form of an affordable electronic drum kit. The main focus of the kit is the module, followed by the drum and cymbal pads.
The sounds from the module are pulled straight from Roland’s TD-50 module, meaning it has some great life-like drum sounds as well as many high-quality synth percussion sounds.
You can import your own sounds into the module and then combine them with the onboard sounds to make new kits. This is a feature you don’t often see in a kit at this price point.
The kit has a mesh head snare drum and rubber toms. All the pads are quite responsive, with the snare obviously being the standout drum pad. The kick drum tower is the highlight of this kit. It’s a Roland KD-10 kick pad and it feels seriously close to playing an acoustic kick drum.
The cymbals have two trigger zones, allowing you to crash them and play on their bells. Unfortunately, the hi-hat isn’t mounted on a stand, but you won’t see that happening on a kit that is less than $1000.
The Roland TD-17KL is undoubtedly one of the best electronic drum sets under $1000. The complex drum module and KD-10 kick pad make it really high value for the money.
Things to Consider When Buying Electronic Drums
One of the main aspects of an electronic drum kit is the module. It has all the features, sounds, and settings. A great electronic kit will have a drum module that provides value to you as the drummer. This comes in the form of preset drum kit sounds, play-along tracks, and customization.
Most drum modules have USB outputs that allow you to connect the kit to a computer. You can then use the electronic kit to record into software and do stuff like online lessons or making videos. The USB feature is really important, so any e-kit that has it will be a better option than one that doesn’t.
Electronic kits come in all shapes and sizes, but most come in the form of a standard 5-piece drum setup. It’s important to have an electronic kit that is comfortable to play on. Some pads will be rubber and others will be a mesh material. This all factors into the cost of the kit.
Some kits will have kick pedals and other will have foot triggers. Foot triggers aren’t ideal, but they’re not the biggest problem in the world if you’re just looking for a quiet practice option.
I wouldn’t recommend a beginner getting a kit with a foot trigger. As a beginner, you should be building good habits right from the get-go, and a foot trigger is not the same as a kick pedal on an acoustic kit.
Acoustic vs Electronic
There are obvious differences between acoustic and electronic kits like the noise factor, but it’s important to remember that acoustic kits are still first prize. Electronic drums kits, especially cheap ones, are great practice options, but you’ll find yourself playing on an acoustic kit in many different situations.
So, it’s important that your electronic kit allows you to keep up good playing habits that will transfer over onto an acoustic kit. Cheap acoustic kits sound a lot better than cheap electronic kits, making a great sound very accessible.
The great thing about electronic drum kits is that you will get a complete drum kit setup most of the time, meaning you don’t have to worry about hardware and cymbals. You’ll also get several different sounds on the module to choose from, allowing you to explore your creativity and sound preferences.
E-kits have become very accessible over the years, meaning you don’t have to spend too much to get a good one. There are quite a lot of options to choose from as well. So you could easily get one for yourself or someone else as a gift.