If you’re a hold-out against electronic drum equipment, I’m hoping this article will change your mind. Writing it changed mine.
I love acoustic drums despite the issues with noise and angry neighbors that are almost invariably involved. I can’t see myself switching to an electronic kit permanently, though the number of sounds they can produce is really attractive.
Enter the drum pad. Here’s a great compromise – a multi-pad that can be played on its own like a full drum kit, or added to an acoustic kit to supplement it with some great sounds. So, let’s take a look at the best electronic drum pads currently on the market whose awesomeness is undeniable.
Top 8 Best Electronic Drum Pads for the Money in 2021 Reviews
1 Alesis Compactkit 4 – Best Cheap Electronic Drum Pad
Built-in Voices: 80
Let’s start with the Compactkit 4 from well-known electronics brand Alesis. This is a great low price entry-level drum multipad and is the cheapest on my list at under $100.
It features just four velocity-sensitive drum pads, so it’s a bit limited in that regard. These pads feel pretty good with a lot of rebound. Although they’re more rubbery than the feel of hitting real drum heads.
Sensitivity-wise, the pads are OK. They don’t catch every single stroke that you bash onto them, but they’re close enough. There is a problem of double-triggering sometimes, though, with the pads sometimes playing two hits when only struck once. This can happen when they’re played very hard.
How about the sounds?
Well, you have 80 voices here, 70 of them are drum sounds, and 10 are effects sounds. The drum sounds are OK. Not really impressive, but passable. Through the built-in speaker, they come up LOUD, so if you want to make a whole lot of noise, this multipad certainly can.
It’s easy to re-assign the sounds to any of the four pads to create your own kits, though you can’t edit the sounds in any way. As for other features, you get 50 play-along songs to practice your drumming with. There are also both coaching and game settings where you can play along and try to hit the pads on the right beats.
This makes it one of the best beginner electronic drum pads you can buy. Intermediate and pro players will find the lack of sound editing, a small number of pads, and limited connectivity (only headphone or amp out) of this multipad disappointing.
- Cheap and easy-to-use pad for a starter price.
- Includes lots of training and practice exercises.
- Can run on DC power or batteries for portability.
- Sounds can’t be edited.
- Only has four pads.
- Limited connectivity (no midi or USB out).
2 Pyle: PTED06 Electronic Tabletop Drum Kit – Best Budget Electronic Drum Pad
Pre-Programmed Kits: 55
Built-in Voices: 300+
Up next, we have the PTED06 Electronic Tabletop Drum Kit from Pyle. Is this a worthwhile multipad, or just a Pyle of…? I’ll let you decide. For just over $150, we’ve moved up from outright beginner toy to actually what amounts to a pretty serious drum pad.
Compared to the Compactkit 4, this multipad has seven individual velocity-sensitive pads to trigger your drum sounds, plus it comes with two outboard pedals. This changes things completely because it allows you to control the bass and hi-hat functions with your feet like on a real acoustic drum kit.
You get to practice coordination and the feel of a real kit. The pedals aren’t great, but they’re still a step up.
Get it – a STEP up? Oh yeah…
The unit comes with 55 pre-programmed drum kits, plus memory slots for another ten user-programmed kits. With over 300 drum and percussion voices to choose from, as well as weirdo electronic voices, you can get some pretty weird sounds out of this thing. The sounds are pretty good here.
Like the Compactkit 4, you’ve got a training mode for beginners on this unit as well. This will help aspiring drummers work on their timing and perfect their beats. You can also record and edit your own drum tracks to spur on your creativity.
While the PTED06 has a powerful onboard speaker, you can easily plug in headphones to keep things private. But unlike the Compactkit 4, this multipad has a MIDI-over-USB connection. This means you can play out to your computer and input your drum tracks into a digital audio workstation (DAW) for further editing and composing.
The pedals aren’t great quality, and the pad arrangement can be awkward for some players. However, this is essentially a great sounding drum multipad for a steal of a price.
- Low priced with great sounds.
- Has MIDI-over-USB port.
- Can use DC power or batteries.
- Outboard pedals are of cheap quality.
- Pad arrangement can be awkward for some drummers, especially open-handed players.
3 KAT Percussion KTMP1 Electronic Drum & Percussion Pad Sound Module – Best Sample Trigger Electronic Drum Pad
Pre-Programmed Kits: 1
Built-in Voices: 50
Let’s look at something a bit different. KAT Percussion’s KTMP1 Electronic Drum & Percussion Pad Sound Module (what a mouthful!). A round, 4-part multipad that mimics a regular drum head. You can even play it by hand easily, with the head similar in shape and size to a small conga.
The unit has a default drum kit that is the only one that can be stored in its memory. This is a massive downside since it comes with 50 drum sounds. You can build your own kits to customize your sound, but there’s no way to store them short of writing down your voice assignments on paper.
On the plus side…
The sounds you get are editable. You can set levels for reverb, pan, tuning, and more to get the sounds the way you want them. On top of this, the unit offers both a traditional MIDI Out 5-pin connection and a MIDI-over-USB port. You can use these to connect straight to a DAW or to set up the pad as a trigger for a sampler or more extensive drum machine.
There is an issue of crosstalk here. Other loud sounds, like striking your acoustic snare near the KTMP1, can trigger the pads. That’s something you don’t want.
It’s relatively inexpensive and can work as both a sample trigger and a drum pad in its own right. But, the KTMP1 is very limited in sounds and memory as a multipad.
- Inexpensive as a sample trigger pad.
- Sounds are editable.
- Has MIDI/USB connections.
- Can be played easily by hand or with sticks.
- Comes with a quality kick and hi-hat pedals.
- Crosstalk – pads can be triggered by loud noises.
- No memory for saving your user-programmed kits.
4 Yamaha DD75 Compact Digital Drums – Most Versatile Electronic Drum Pad
Pre-Programmed Kits: 75
Built-in Voices: 600
At a bit over $200, you can move up in the world with a Yamaha DD75 Compact Digital Drums multipad. It ups the ante by providing you with eight velocity-sensitive pads as well as two outboard foot pedals.
Once again, the layout of the pads can be a bit weird for some players. But you can find the right mounting angle and position to make it work for you. The pedals are just switches, so they’re not a great substitute for playing on a real kit.
Let’s talk voices…
The DD75 provides you with a whopping 600 voices. Yes, 600! You’ve got 75 pre-programmed kits that range from rock to jazz to funk kits with realistic sounds. More unusual, electronic sounds let you play hip-hop and electronic styles easily.
You also have percussion sets like congas, bongos, and Indian hands drum sounds. All of these can be played quite comfortably by hand because of the high clearance of each pad from the floor of the unit.
Like the KAT, your sounds are editable over a range of parameters like pa, tone, reverb, etc. You also get ten spaces for user-programmed kits so that you can customize things to make your unique drum sound.
On top of all those voices…
You get over 100 play-along tracks you can practice with. You can mute out the drum tracks to lay down your own beats once you’ve got them mastered. So this is one of the best electronic drum multipad for practice and creativity. It also has an AUX-In so that you can play MP3s of your favorite songs into your headphones and play along for extra practice.
Finally, you have MIDI In/Out through 5-pin connections. Therefore, you can import MIDI tracks to play with, or use this pad as a trigger/controller for samples. However, the lack of USB here is glaring.
- A huge array of (editable) voices.
- Versatile with eight pads and two pedals.
- Easy to play by hand.
- Foot pedals are poor-quality switches.
- No USB.
5 Alesis Sample Pad Pro – Best Value for the Money Electronic Drum Pad
Pre-Programmed Kits: 10
Built-in Voices: 200+
What happens when you add $100 to your electronic drum pad budget? Well, you can afford the Alesis Sample Pad Pro, for example. At a pinch over $300, this is a very affordable professional electronic drum pad that has a whole lot of functionality.
The Sample Pad Pro comes with over 200 drums and percussion (plus some weirdo electronic) voices and ten pre-programmed kits. This may not sound like a lot if you compare it to the DD75’s 600 sounds.
The Alesis has a trick up its sleeve…
This unit comes with an SD card port that helps you to considerably expand its potential. You can save up to 512 sounds and 89 kits per 32GB SD card. So, add that to the 200 onboard sounds, and you’re looking at the reigning champ of the best electronic drum pads on the market.
You do, however, have to make, find, or otherwise download those sounds yourself. But for some users, this is exactly what they want – the ability to store lots of their samples and unique sounds. As a result, it’s one of the best programmable electronic drum pads you can buy.
You can use USB to communicate with your DAW and to load and unload samples. There’s also MIDI In/Out here for connecting to other digital instruments.
Why is “Sample” in the name?
Because samples are what this pad does well, you can load up individual one-off samples or even program looped samples to a pad so that it plays throughout a whole track.
You can also plug in two extra drums with triggers, plus a kick and a hi-hat controller to make this into an extensive kit. None of these extra pieces comes with the pad, but the option is there for you.
How does it play?
The pads light up with a cool blue LED glow when you strike them, and they feel great when played with sticks. The two top bars are small and a bit more difficult to strike, but you can get used to them. One issue is that there can be crosstalk in these pads when their sensitivity is turned up, which is something to be wary of.
- Great price for a quality multipad and sample trigger.
- Ability to store lots of samples and voices.
- You can add more drums and foot pedals.
- Crosstalk can be an issue.
- Small two corner pads are more difficult to strike.
6 Yamaha DTX Multipad – Best Expandable Electronic Drum Pad
Pre-Programmed Kits: 50
Built-in Voices: 1277
About $600 can get you the Yamaha DTX Multipad which takes all of Yamaha’s electronic instrument experience and wraps it into a single electronic drum pad. The result is a professional unit with tons of functionality.
Have a look…
First off, this multipad is organized into 12 distinct pads in four rows. You have two rows of three large square pads on two levels, then three top and three bottom bar pads to round it out to 12. That’s already a lot of possible sounds you can trigger, but we haven’t included the sold-separately hi-hat or kick inputs.
What’s massive about this multipad is that it has connections to add in up to five extra drum pads. That’s enough to add an entire 5-piece kit of drums. Each can connect with a trigger and run through the DTX as a drum module.
You can essentially trigger up your acoustic kit and play hybrid through this pad. Plus, still have 12 trigger pads for cymbals, samples, and whatever other sounds you want.
You get an incredible 1277 drum, percussion, tone, and electronic voices. These are arranged into 50 pre-programmed kits, but you can add up to 200 user-defined kits as well. The sounds here are excellent, but you can also edit them extensively.
Likewise, you can also import your own samples (up to 64GB worth) and trigger these easily. You can load up to four sounds to each pad to trigger in sequence or all at the same time in a stack.
How about playability?
The sensitivity here is great. There’s no crosstalk even at the highest sensitivity levels. This makes it one of the most sensitive electronic drum pads on the market. However, some people will find the unusually soft rubber of the pads disappointing. And it hasn’t got the great rebound you’d expect in a high-quality multipad.
You can change between a stick, hand, and finger setting to get a lot of versatility out of the machine. Although it’s not as easy to play with hands as some of the other pads out there.
- A huge array of (editable) voices.
- Can be expanded from a 12 to an 18-piece kit.
- Great features for stacking and sequencing sounds.
- Pads are unusually soft and lacking in rebound.
- Not great for hand playing.
7 Nord Drum 3P Percussion Synthesizer – Best Electronic Drum Synthesizer Pad
Pre-Programmed Kits: 200
Built-in Voices: 9 banks of sounds
Nord Drum’s 3P is a different beast from all the units we’ve seen so far. But I still had to include it in my list of the best electronic drum pads. Rather than being sample-based, this is a drum synthesizer.
Now, what does that mean?
Rather than using prerecorded samples, a drum synth uses sounds that are produced by the machine itself. In this case, the 3P’s sounds are made using FM and subtractive synthesis, manipulating frequency curves.
This makes the 3P totally different. And while its synth is an analog-based design, this is, of course, a digital instrument. This means it still has pre-programmed sounds and kits, but you can create new ones that no one has ever even heard before.
Make your own sounds…
The multipad has six trigger pads plus an input for a kick but no pedal included for the roughly $700 price tag. It’s not a sample trigger, so you can’t load in samples like on the Yamaha DTX and trigger them by striking the pads. On the other hand, the power to manipulate and create new sounds is incredible.
The bottom line, this is not a machine for everyone. You need to have an interest in creating your own sounds. But you are rewarded handsomely with intense, deep, and layered voices that no one else is using.
- Huge versatility in sound creation.
- Excellent pad sensitivity.
- Not great for reproducing standard acoustic drum voices.
- Steep learning curve to create and use your sounds.
8 Roland SPD-SX Sampling Pad – Best Premium Electronic Drum Pad
Pre-Programmed Kits: 100
Last on my list is the SPD-SX Sampling Pad from Roland. Roland is known as the global leader in electronic instruments – let’s see if the SPD-SX lives up to this reputation.
First of all, it’s one of the best drum multipad for live electronic drumming. And a fully-loaded sample trigger, much like the Alesis Sample Pad Pro. It has an extensive amount of onboard sounds separated into 100 different drum kits playable on its 9-pad array.
In addition to this…
The onboard memory of 4GB provides you with enough memory to keep 720 minutes of .wav format samples. You can load samples by popping in a USB memory stick and saving them to the local memory.
You can also communicate with your computer using the high-speed USB port, which can also handle MIDI-over-USB. But there’s traditional 5-pin MIDI In/Out available, too, if you want to use this unit as a controller.
The SPD-SX offers the ability to control and manipulate sounds in a live context by tweaking dedicated effects knobs. You can play with decay, filters, looping, and much more. The best part of this pad is that it’s polyphonic.
This means that you can strike multiple pads at once, and they’ll all trigger (up to 20 voices) and play together, rather than being cut off or interrupted. You can also stack voices on a single pad to trigger multiple sounds together.
How does it play?
The sensitivity is great, and the rebound feels like hitting nice taut drum heads. My only concern is the three top triggers, which seem like they won’t stand up to a good beating.
- Massive memory for storing 10,000 samples.
- Able to manipulate sound effects live.
- Expensive at over $700.
- Foot pedals not included.
Born to Make Beats?
Then check out our detailed Alesis Surge Mesh Kit Review, our Alesis DM10 MKII Review, our Alesis Drums Nitro Mesh Kit Review, our Roland SPD-SX Review, our Roland TD-25KV Electronic Drum Set, our Roland Octapad SPD-30 Review, and our Yamaha DTX562K Electronic Drum Set Review for awesome audio currently on the market.
You may also like our in-depth reviews of the Best Drum Machines, the Best Drum Triggers, the Best Cheap Beginner Electronic Drum Sets Under $500, and the Best Electronic Drum Amps you can buy in 2021.
What are the Best Electronic Drum Pads?
We’ve looked at some great electronic instruments. At this point, you probably think that you want them all. I know I do, or at least a handful of them. But if I have to choose the best pad to recommend, it would have to be the…
This little machine comes with tons of onboard sounds, but with external SD card memory, you can load unlimited voices and samples to it. It’s comfortable to play, although you might have to fiddle with the pad sensitivity. And the price is affordable for all that it can do.
Add one to your kit now, or completely replace it with a great multipad.
Until next time, let the beat go on.