by Rob Puricelli | 4,0 / 5,0 | Approximate reading time: 9 Minutes
Roland VAD706

Roland VAD706  ·  Source: Roland

Roland VAD706

Roland VAD706  ·  Source: Roland

Roland VAD706

Roland VAD706  ·  Source: Roland

Roland TD-50KV2

Roland TD-50KV2  ·  Source: Roland

Roland TD-50KV2

Roland TD-50KV2  ·  Source: Roland

Alesis Strike Pro Special Edition

Alesis Strike Pro Special Edition  ·  Source: Alesis

Alesis Strike Pro Special Edition

Alesis Strike Pro Special Edition  ·  Source: Alesis

Alesis Strike Pro Special Edition

Alesis Strike Pro Special Edition  ·  Source: Alesis

Alesis Strike Pro Special Edition

Alesis Strike Pro Special Edition  ·  Source: Alesis

Yamaha DTX10K

Yamaha DTX10K  ·  Source: Yamaha

Yamaha DTX10K

Yamaha DTX10K  ·  Source: Yamaha

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Looking to buy the best of the best when it comes to e-Drum kits? Well, look no further. Here’s our guide to the top rated electronic drum kits available today.

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Roland VAD706 e-Drum Set

Roland VAD706

Roland VAD706

It will come as no surprise to many that this short list contains two kits from Roland. They have become synonymous with the best in quality when it comes to e-Drums. Their V-Drum kits launched in the late 1990’s and have gone on to dominate the market. There are two main reasons for this dominance. Firstly, their mesh heads were one of the first on the market and finally delivered the feel of real drum heads.

The second reason is the drum module, sometimes called the “brain”. V-Drums have always used powerful modelling technology. First, it was COSM, or Composite Object Sound Modelling. Now they use Prismatic Sound Modelling. Put simply, they blend deeply multi-sampled sounds and then shape them with modelling techniques to deliver truly realistic sounds.

The first Roland kit on my list is the VAD706. There has been a burgeoning trend in e-Drums lately of moving away from small, thin pads and using full-size acoustic shells. Whilst this doesn’t affect the sound quality, it definitely increases the stage presence of e-Drum kits to the same level as their acoustic forebears. I was skeptical at first, but playing a kit with full size shells certainly provides a more natural experience for those of us who cut their teeth on the real thing.

The VAD706 is available in four glorious finishes and exudes quality throughout its build. For the price tag, you would think that Roland could at least throw in a snare and hi-hat stand along with a kick pedal though. Their omission seems petty and slightly tarnishes my opinion of what is, otherwise, a kit worthy of flagship status.

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Roland VAD706-GE E-Drum Set
Roland VAD706-GE E-Drum Set
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Roland VAD706-GC E-Drum Set
Roland VAD706-GC E-Drum Set
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Roland VAD706-GN E-Drum Set
Roland VAD706-GN E-Drum Set
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Roland VAD706-PW E-Drum Set
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Alesis Strike Pro Special Edition e-Drum Set

Alesis Strike Pro Special Edition

Alesis Strike Pro Special Edition

Having been in the e-Drum game almost as long as Roland, Alesis have forged a reputation for exceptional value for money. They’ve managed to combine good quality pads with modules that have included many great samples from their own libraries. I recall working on some DM10 module samples with the late, great Steve Howell of Hollow Sun fame back in the day. That DM10 was the centre of their top of the range kit at the time.

The Strike Pro SE is top of the Alesis range and continues to deliver on their value for money ethic. Using mesh heads and shallow real drum shells, the Strike Pro SE delivers punch in both performance and visuals. It doesn’t quite have the same stage presence as the Roland VADbut you do get an impressive amount of kit. A full size kick drum, snare and four toms all sit on a sturdy rack with four cymbal pads. A “proper” hi-hat is also included but, like the Roland, a hi-hat stand isn’t. However, bundles are available from retailers.

The Strike Pro drum module hits a happy medium between top end stuff from Roland and the less well specified units seem on Alesis’ cheaper kits. It has a ton of trigger connections, an SD card slot and USB port as well as regular MIDI. The colour screen is quite lovely, displaying full colour pictures of the kit and even comes with a computer editor application. Whilst it lacks the superior modelling technology of the Roland, it more than competes with an excellent collection of onboard samples.

For those of us on a more realistic budget, the Alesis Strike Pro Special Edition is incredible value for money.

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Yamaha DTX10K M/X e-Drum Set

Yamaha DTX10K

Yamaha DTX10K

Equally as long in the tooth as previous manufacturers mentioned here, Yamaha been producing high quality acoustic and electronic drum kits for decades. But it always seems like they never really feature high on many people’s lists. And that’s a mistake because the name Yamaha is synonymous with quality and craftsmanship. Both these attributes are well represented in the DTX10K.

Similar to the Alesis Strike Pro, the DTX10K features shallow drum shells. However, it eschews a full size kick in favour of a smaller affair. This will make it more appealing when taking space, storage and transportation factors. It also comes with a hi-hat stand which is a very welcome addition and the likes of Roland and Alesis ought to take note. In fact, all of the hardware supplied is of exceptional quality. Big, chunky clamps and large feet give you supreme confidence in its stability.

The module is equally sturdy with a nice, ABS protective shell. Trigger connectors are reasonable but there are far fewer extra connections available when compared to others on this list. That said, the sample quality is as you’d expect from Yamaha. One presumes it is AWM2 based and it delivers some very intricate configuration options through a classic Yamaha “matrix” system. Settings for tuning, muffles, FX and more are easily configured on a per-pad basis. There are also dedicated controls for ambience, compression and effects in the Kit Modifier section.

One of the coolest things about this kit is the option for either mesh or textured heads. Yamaha’s patented textured cellular silicon heads are an interesting alternative to the more common mesh affairs. They can offer a similar feel to real/mesh heads but are a lot quieter when played. Surprisingly, specifying these heads adds a little to the price, in the region of €200-300.

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Yamaha DTX10K-X Black Forest
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Yamaha DTX10K-X Real Wood
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Yamaha DTX10K-M Real Wood
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Yamaha DTX10K-M Black Forest
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Roland TD-50KV2

Roland TD-50K2V

Roland TD-50K2V

Before the advent of the VAD range, the TD-50K was peak V-Drums. And in many ways, it still is. It still has an amazing module. The TD-50X is one of THE best drum brains out there. A plethora of trigger connections, both analogue and digital. Balanced XLR’s and a built in PSU make this a true pro-level unit. And those Roland sounds are second to none. It also has a detailed but unfussy user interface that strikes a great balance between tweakability and simplicity.

The shallow shells are topped with the classic V-Drum mesh heads. Along with the three cymbal pads, these are attached to a solid, sturdy rack system with room for you to expand the kit should you so desire. The TD-50k2V represents the latest version of this classic kit and comes with a full size, 18″ kick drum. Much like the Alesis Strike Pro SE, this adds stage presence and feels nice to play.

Once again, disappointingly, Roland don’t include either a snare or hi-hat stand which really is unforgivable in this price bracket. That aside, the TD-50Kv2 exudes class, quality and superior sound and if your budget stretches this far, you’d be hard pressed to find much better.

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Roland TD-50KV2 V-Drums Kit
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Millenium MPS-1000 e-Drum Set

Millenium MPS1000 Electronic Drum Set

Millenium MPS1000

Last, but by no means least, we have the Millenium MPS-1000. I’ve raved about this kit before in my look at top 5 budget e-Drum sets, so you might be wondering why I’ve included it here also. Well, it is because when you compare this to the other four kits in this particular list, it stands up very well indeed. But, in some cases, it’s nearly a sixth of the price!

For around the €1000 mark you get a full, 5-piece drum kit with full size wood shells, all your stands (including hi-hat and snare – take note, Roland!) and a pretty neat drum module. So for a minimal outlay, by comparison, you get not only a great sounding e-Drum kit but also one that looks the part. So where are the corners that have been cut?

First up, the drum shells are basic construction, but if we are completely honest, this is going to affect the sound by precisely 0%! The rim edges of the kick drum are bare, so you can see the ply. It’s not particularly noticeable at first, and your audience aren’t going to tell. but would it have killed Millenium to simply put a rubber ring around them? It’s one of those things that when you know it’s there, you can’t help but be niggled by it. The mesh heads are more than adequate. Some might complain about the logo being writ large but I bet they would mind less if it said ‘Roland’.

The metal work is double-braced and sturdy. Did I already say it comes with the snare and hi-hat stand? I did? Oh well, worth saying it again! And to have a proper hi-hat on a kit of this price is very nice to see.

Sonically, the MPS-1000 drum module is simple and useful. Back lit screen, faders and rotaries are very good to see in dark, live settings. Connectivity is basic, but adequate and it does benefit from a bunch of direct outputs which make it great for mixing. And the built in sounds are far from terrible, which you might expect in this price range. It doesn’t take much to hook this up to a decent plugin like Superior Drummer or BFD.

The MPS-1000 is also available in one of two configurations. Tom positionings are available as one up, two down or two up, one down. Kits like this definitely make you wonder why others are so much more expensive. The MPS-1000 is an absolute steal.

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Millenium MPS-1000 E-Drum Set
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Millenium MPS-1000 D2 E-Drum Set PW
Millenium MPS-1000 D2 E-Drum Set PW
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Conclusion on the Top Rated Electronic Drum Kits

This is the sort of list where we can all agree that we’d be happy with at least one of these in our studios or on stage. There is something here for everyone and every budget. I’m not even going to attempt to recommend one over the other. One thing we can also agree on is that e-Drums have come a long way since the days of the Simmons hex pads. The blurring of the line between acoustic and electronic is such that the line is barely visible anymore. What a time to be alive!

*Note: This article contains advertising links that help us finance our site. Don’t worry: the price for you always stays the same! If you purchase something through these links, we receive a small commission. Thank you for your support!

Image Sources:
  • Roland VAD706: Roland
  • Alesis Strike Pro Special Edition: Alesis
  • Yamaha DTX10K: Yamaha
  • Roland TD-50KV2: Roland
  • Millenium MPS1000: Millenium

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2 responses to “Top rated electronic drum kits: What e-drums should you buy?”

    Kevin Dean says:
    0

    I own an Alesis strike kit now for 5 years and have used it in studio and on the road I am now looking to upgrade possibly to an Roland kit life size

    Gerald Bell says:
    0

    It is only brands you sell. So this review is bunk. I own a Simmons Titan 70 that would blow alot of these sets away. So only that ng for me to do is block your site!!

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