The Best Budget Electronic Drum Kits for Beginners

Last Updated on October 23, 2020 by Ryan Harrell

Become a better drummer with our pick of the best budget electronic drum kits

Our Top Picks

Best entry level: Alesis Drums Nitro Mesh Kit
“Incredibly affordable yet surprisingly well-rounded – ideal as your first electronic drum kit”

Best practice kit: Roland TD-1K
“Acoustic-like performance and budget-friendly price make it perfect as a practice kit”

Most acoustic-like performance: Roland TD-17KL-S
“Incredibly detailed sounds and responsive drum pads make this the closest acousic-like kit in the budget category.”

Best for serious drummers: Alesis DM10 MKII Pro Kit
“It’s expensive for beginners but also well worth the price”

I get it – nothing beats the feel of real drums.

I’ve tried them all – drum machines, electronic kits, pads, even obsessively optimizing MIDI notes in Ableton to make my drums sound more natural.

But nothing quite feels the same way as real drums.

There are, however, some practical considerations. Practicing drums is how you ruin relationships and get kicked out of apartments. The last real drum kit I had was when I was still in school and could have my parents’ basement all to myself – with the nearest neighbor half a mile away.

Which is why I’ve turned exclusively to electronic drum kits.

Sure, you have to compromise a little. But in exchange, you get way more kit-per-kit (i.e. each kit can have multiple drum sounds) and, more importantly, you get complete privacy. You can practice all of Danny Carey’s drum solos and no one would even know about it.

That’s besides the fact that modern electronic drum kits are becoming fantastically good. Gone are clumsy, spongy pads. Modern kits now have pretty responsive mesh pads that offer accurate feedback and bounce. If you go higher up the price chart, you get some kits that can replace the real thing in 95% of cases.

In fact, as I’ll cover in this guide to the best budget electronic drum kits, you can get a lot of value from the cheapest segment of the market as well. If you’re new to electronic drums, or even drumming in general, I highly recommend this segment – you get great value for money and equipment that punches above its weight.

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The 6 Best Budget Electronic Drum Kits

Let’s take a closer look at our six favorite electronic drum kits for different needs:

Alesis Drums Nitro Mesh Kit

To call the Alesis Nitro Mesh the “best” drum kit would be wrong – it doesn’t meed the performance criteria of most drummers (including yours truly). But it is clearly the best value drum kit in this category, delivering fantastically well-rounded performance and features at a nearly throwaway price. For beginners, I can’t recommend this drum kit enough.

With the ALESIS Nitro Mesh Kit, Alesis offers a total of nine different e-drum kits to drummers. Available on the market since July 2018, Alesis says the Nitro Mesh Kit is the ideal drum set for beginners and drummers who wish to “play like a pro.” For me, these are two worlds. I am therefore curious to see whether an e-drum kit has emerged for both levels of experience.

The box of the Nitro Mesh Kit is around one meter long, half a meter wide, and about an A4 page high. It is therefore very compact. Even from the outside, the kit shows what it can do: An 8-piece drum kit with “Next Generation” mesh drum pads, an 8″ dual-zone snare pad, three 8″ tom pads, three 10″ cymbal pads (one of them with a choke function). There are a hi-hat foot controller and a kick pad with kick pedal as well as tuning and Allen keys. A pair of sticks is also in the packaging. The Nitro Drum Module is the heart of the kit. It has 385 sounds, 40 kits, 60 songs, and much more on board.

Unpacking is easy – each part of the kit is packed in an open plastic bag and protected from the other components in a separate box. I call that simple and functional. Only a few spaces are filled with pieces of styrofoam.

The Alesis Nitro Mesh Kit is a “next-generation” drums kit only from the perspective of a set with fully rubberized pads. However, as initially assumed, it does not go beyond the scope.

With the Nitro Mesh Kit, Alesis offers an entry-level set with modern features at an affordable price. Here, beginners can actually “play like a pro.” But professionals can only play like beginners!

What I don’t like

The Alesis Drum Mesh Kit is designed for a beginner to play like a pro and not vice versa. I also feel the rack columns should be longer. Also, a dome sound is heard when the ride pool crashes.

Recommended for: The Nitro Mesh Kit is the ideal drum set for beginners and drummers who want to start learning and need a modern, competent drum kit. It’s one of the best budget electronic drum kits around, if not for the performance, then for the value for money.

Alternative to Alexis Nitro Mesh: BEHRINGER XD80-USB

For decades, Behringer’s name has stood for devices in the field of audio, recording, and live sound reinforcement. The Behringer XD80 USB is a set of e-drums for beginners.

The package of the Behringer XD80 USB comes “strictly incognito” wrapped in black foil. With a total weight of just under 20 kg, this fits into the ranks of entry-level sets.

The set includes the Behringer HDS240USB sound module with 175 sounds and 15 kits (divided into 10 preset and 5 user kits). It has 60 songs (48 of them as band arrangements for the entire drum set and 12 as pure pattern lines for the snare drum). There’s an 8-piece e-drum set with four 8-inch rubberized dual pads. You also have a kick pad with a pedal, a 12″ hi-hat cymbal with foot controller, and two 12″ dual-zone cymbals that act as a crash and ride.

Everything is fixed on a classic H-rack with brackets on both sides – the lengths and sizes are also sufficient for adults.

When you switch on the module and set the volume to 9 o’clock (this corresponds to an output level of 30%), the sounds blow dry into your ear quite violently. Holla holla!! Then what happens when you turn it up to 100%? However, it is possible to set the volume for each sound/voice.

I noticed that the volume of the headphone output cannot be controlled separately, because the volume control is decisive for both the headphone output and the stereo output. If you only practice individually through headphones, this will hardly bother you. When recording the audio samples, however, this may be an issue and requires a compromise.

The customer gets a solid quality and reliability with the Behringer XD80 USB, but with cuts in the sound quality and other features. The setting options per kit and voice are manageable – this is still okay with an entry-level set. At an under 500 price, this is of course an absolute killer price for an e-drum starter set.

What I don’t like

The rack parts are sometimes sharp-edged. There’s no separate volume control of the headphones.

Recommended for: The Behringer XD80 USB is suitable for beginners and kids who need a starter electronic drum set. It offers better performance than the Alesis Nitro above, but also comes at a higher price tag. Choose this one if you want a more “adult” drum kit but don’t want to pay $1k+ for it.

Most Acoustic-Like Performance: Roland TD-17KL-S

The Roland TD-17K-L is a relatively simple e-drum set compared to the other sets in the TD-17 series. It offers pads for a snare drum with mesh head (8″). There are rubber pads for the toms; a pad for the bass drum and another for the hi-hat with the associated foot controller.

The sound module works without the wireless Bluetooth connection of its larger sibling models. The package includes a rack (Roland MDS-4V) to mount all components in a way that is suitable for drums.

The Roland TD-17K-L impressed me with its high quality and diverse sounds, coupled with generous setting options. Thanks to the many effects onboard, the sounds can be extensively edited and changed. The navigation through the menu is self-explanatory and intuitive.

The fun is great thanks to the low latency and the high-quality pads. The closed hi-hat alone is difficult to achieve with the foot controller.

The Prismatic Sound Technology sound very convincing. The result is a very authentic picture of the individual drums. The modification options are almost endless. The navigation through the sound module is really very simple and self-explanatory. The buttons can be reached directly and thus preserve the flow of the set as much as possible.

I found “Quick Record” to be very useful. The simple way of recording and listening to yourself can help you spot mistakes faster and make greater progress. If the 310 sounds are not enough for you, you can add your own samples to them. This results in even greater customizability. There are minor weaknesses in terms of the dynamics of the crash cymbals, the song selection, and the hi-hat pedal. But the very good sound quality, the ease of use, and the variety of editing options clearly predominate.

What I don’t like

This set is a compromise of slightly stripped-down features, but which are balanced with high-quality sounds. The rubber pads of the toms and the size of only 8″ aren’t really great. The hi-hat pedal is strenuous to play in the closed position and stood in the way of a realistic feel.

Recommended for: Can you do without toms with mesh heads and feel that 8″ pads are a sufficient size and want to relieve your wallet? Then you should take the Roland TD-17K-L into your shortlist. It plays fantastically well and is the closest acoustic-like performer that’s still affordable. For the acoustic performance alone, I rank it as one of the best budget electronic drum kits around.

Best for Practicing: Roland TD-1K

Roland’s TD-1KV can be assembled from the contents of a single, small box. It is easy to set up and should also be quick for beginners. The rack consists of five individual parts that are connected to one another. You just have to make sure that everything is attached in such a way that all screws are facing upwards so that it is easier to access the key later without bending your hands. Otherwise, you can’t make big mistakes.

Once all the parts are in place, you just plug the multicore into the sound module. The cable ends are clearly-labeled and can be quickly assigned to the corresponding pad or pedal. Three large rubber feet give the three-legged structure good stability.
There are 15 play-along tracks stored in the module. The songs motivate you to practice and sound good. The metronome can also be deactivated in “Song mode”. To do this, keep the metronome button pressed, the selection appears in the display. This is useful to practice with the songs without a supporting ‘click’.

The flexible height adjustment of the pads is great, especially for young drummers. The snare can be fixed very far down so that even small drummers can easily reach everything.

The USB interface can be used to directly import any recording software, and the software-internal sounds can also be used. I consider the TD1-KV to be a real price breaker that is equipped with good features. It is quick to set up and takes up little space. The noises from the set are extremely quiet. Everything makes a high-quality impression. The fun is very high on the TD-1KV. The motivation to practice is supported by good sounds, play-alongs, and the coach.

What I don’t like

First, I think the pedals are a bit sluggish. Then there’s only a headphone connection. There’s no further output.

Recommended for: The Roland TD-1KV is especially recommended for beginners. This is thanks to the on-board recording and training functions, with which you can build your skills while checking how you’re progressing. It’s one of the best budget electronic drum kits around for new drummers as well as old hands looking for a second practice kit.

Best Drum Sounds: Yamaha DTX402K

The Yamaha DTX-402K is an upgrade to the previous DTX400 range. It’s an improved version that falls directly into the TOP of the best electronic drums for beginners if we talk about value for money.

Yamaha is playing it safe and the DTX402K is the best example. Compared to its previous version, the toms and pads are quieter and have a better feel when playing. The rack or structure is more stable and compact, perfect if you have limited space.

The Yamaha DTX-402K consists of four 7.5″ mono pads for snare and toms, one KU100 Silent Kick pedal, and 3x 10″ mono cymbal pads. There is a Hi-Hat Controller
Drum rack, cables, and a tuning key. There’s the USB and MIDI connection to synchronize it with the computer. These make the product a complete kit. You have infinite possibilities for editing and improvement thanks to the free software that you can install on your PC.

This connection with the PC is an important criterion which you must look for when buying an electronic drum kit. This synchronization ensures you’ll be able to get the most out of it even when you have more experience.

It also has an App that you can download for free (DTX402 Touch). This lets you modify the kits and settings directly from your mobile. It also allows you to record your tracks. At the same time, you can control the training functions of the module and access video tutorials and skills test challenges.

Another of its great advantages is its value for money. Yamaha is a trusted brand that guarantees an excellent product and the best warranties and technical service. The Yamaha DTX-402K Digital Drum Set is competitively priced for the quality it offers.

What I don’t like

It doesn’t come with a sound system or headset for playing and hearing the sound.

Recommended for: If you want a near-acoustic experience not just in the way the drums play, but in also the way they sound. This is one of the best budget electronic drum kits for performance-inclined drummers. Also works great if you want to record directly from the kit to your DAW.

Best for Serious Drummers: Alesis DM10 MKII Pro Kit

The Alesis DM10 MK2 Studio Mesh Kit is delivered in just one large box. Optimal use of the space in the box leaves hardly any gaps. The assembly is simple; the assembly instructions supplied are helpful if you are not yet particularly experienced. The chrome-plated rack can be set up in just a few simple steps.

The rack, which stands on rubber feet, has a comfortable weight and is very stable. All screws go very smoothly. The supplied Alesis clip-on label can be mounted, but you don’t have to. At least one is given the choice of whether to serve as an advertising medium for the company.

The delivery of the Alesis DM10 MK2 Studio Mesh Kit includes four pads with fabric heads (mesh heads). These are made of plastic, fitted with a regular metal clamping ring, which is covered with a rubber edge to minimize impact noises. With a diameter of 10 inches, the snare and the third tom are larger than Tom 1 and Tom 2. But with a diameter of 8 inches, they are also big enough. All pads can be assigned two sounds. Tom and snare pads also have a built-in sensitivity control, which is installed on the shell edge to the right of the jack connection. The influence of this regulator is not particularly great. The drums can be adjusted a bit to your own needs.

The hi-hat pedal does its job reasonably well. However, if you play the hi-hat in a stepped manner, for example to a ride-cymbal groove, double triggers can easily arise.

The sound module doesn’t sound professional at all. The sound generation comes from the beginners’ league at best. The sounds sound flat, synthetic and the dynamics leave a lot to be desired. Sometimes there are differences; some snare sounds are quite usable, but even these do not come close to the quality of other manufacturers. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find anything satisfactory with the tom sounds.

The Alesis DM10 MK2 Studio Meshkit is operated via sensibly arranged buttons and potentiometers. The surface looks high-quality and chic. I think the recording function is very useful; the practitioner can find this useful. Of course, a metronome is also on board and can be started and stopped with a separate button on the module. The click sound can be selected, as can the time signature.

Unfortunately, the robust hardware of the Alesis DM10 MK2 set cannot make up for the weak sound generation. However, instruments such as electronic multipads are mostly used to expand the sound of acoustic drums and the synthetic sounds are particularly appealing. So, weak acoustic samples can surely take a back seat. These inexpensive pads cost just under 400.

What I don’t like

I feel the quality of the generated sound could be better. A significantly higher sample quality (e.g. with multilayer technology) and dynamics would have been better.

Recommended for: The Alesis DM10 MK2, for me, is a robust “grown-up” entry drum kit. It can withstand the brutal blows from a teenager playing punk. It’s also refined enough for soft jazz percussion. While the price might be high compared to some of the others on this list, for serious drummers, this remains of the most affordable, and one of the best budget electronic drum kits around.

Over to You

If you want to be a drummer today, an electronic drum kits is far more practical than a real acoustic kit. Hopefully, this guide will help you zero-in on the best budget electronic drum kits on the market.

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References:

Changelog
  • October 22, 2020: Article first published

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