While recording, production, and many instruments have gone electronic long ago, the drum industry followed. In 2021, though, there are lots of great electronic drums worth more than one shot (pun intended). If you are eager to discover this sort of instrument with the best electronic snare drum available, it’s one of the simplest – Roland PDX-6. The smallest and the simplest of electronic snares by Roland, it’s as advanced as bigger ones, and, at the same time, compatible with original Roland kits and others as well.
Otherwise, there are other electronic snares also worth your attention. Brands like Roland and Yamaha have been in it for a long time (almost since electronic drums were invented in the early 1970s), and others joined in. Playing an electronic snare is possible both within a traditional and a fully electronic drum set. It’s obviously better for recording due to MIDI support.
The question has always been whether it is decent for live playing. And today’s drum manufacturers I`m going to review say yes. The industry flourishes so much that there are even exotic options like inflatable electronic drums! Here, I`ll discuss the 5 best electronic snare drums in detail, so read on to know their specs and tips for choosing the model for you.
- 5 Electronic Snares to Try in 2021
- What to Look for in a Snare Pad
- The Coda
5 Electronic Snares to Try in 2021
While most musicians trying to practice electronic drumming want the entire setup because it’s way easier and playable, single snares also make sense. They can be used as simple practicing tools, as replacements or extra snares for setups, or as instruments for applying drum techniques to other classes of instruments (which requires serious experience).
1. Roland PDX-6 Electronic V-Drum Pad: Top Pick
As for this particular drum pad, it can be a part of Roland or any compatible drum kit or a custom one due to the standard interface and size. It’s a 6-inch version of the PDX series, available in 8-inch as well. For a compact kit, this is the right fully-fledged option.
The dual trigger system lets you play its 6.5″ mesh head and 8″ rim separately, producing different sounds (those you assign in the sound module). The standard connector used on Roland drums (as well as on others) lets you install this pad easily on both original Roland and third-party hardware, though not all of it.
That’s what a good cheap snare drum should look like. Available at under $150 (if you’re lucky, you can find it under $130), it will complete your existing drum set or introduce you to the world of electronic drumming for a small price.
- Ideal for simple kits, the PDX-6 is the smallest of the Roland V-Pads.
- Originally designed as a tom pad for the TD-4KX
- Compact and lightweight;
- Dual triggers;
- Compatible with Roland and third-party kits;
- Realistic snare drum feel and bounce;
- Affordable price.
- May require a separate mount;
- May be too small for you.
2. Andoer Digital Practice Drum Pad: Runner-Up
Of course, it can be used with regular drums for practicing, but you will have to position it a bit aside, as real integration is not assumed. Its quality is just what you could expect for its price well under $50. A great choice for kids in school bands – especially given that drumming helps autistic kids – or for marching, as well as a decent extra metronome that comes with earphones, despite the item being cheap.
- Test your tap tempo or a song tap tempo accurately. (Tap)
- Test your tap tempo or a song tap tempo accurately. (Tap)
- Autonomous construction;
- Built-in metronome and sound module;
- Battery- and DC-powered;
- Compatible with standard stands;
- Great for marching bands.
- Hard to integrate into a full kit;
- No real output;
- No changeable banks.
3. Kat Percussion KTMP1: Best Budget Option
Playable with sticks or hands, it has a built-in sound module with preinstalled drum sounds. This device alone is enough to record a regular snare, a bass drum, a hi-hat, along with toms, cymbals, and anything. If you don’t like the built-in sounds, you can record MIDI tracks and then substitute the originals with the best metal snare drum or bass drum sounds you find.
This electronic snare drum pad is great for recording drum tracks directly to DAW, with built-in MIDI, USB, and audio outputs. There are various accessories for it, like thrones, pedals, triggers for connecting acoustic drums, and stuff. With the built-in display and buttons, you can switch modes and select sounds on the go.
On the other hand, this is a poor choice for live gigs due to its size and standalone design. Its memory only loads one bank at a time; not fatal for recordings (especially MIDI), it narrows your opportunities while playing live.
- Compact and affordable electronic drum and percussion instrument
- Four velocity-sensitive pads
- Playable with sticks or hands;
- MIDI, USB, and audio interfaces;
- Lots of built-in samples and effects;
- Various accessories available;
- Well playable in the dark.
- Not optimized for live performance;
- Supports only one bank at a time.
4. Roland PD-128S: The Most Premium Pick
And here comes the champion – the biggest, the most advanced, and best compatible with most hardware on the market. Roland PD-128S is a big snare drum that looks like a snare drum – unlike PDX-6 that can be the best snare drum pad in its category, but still looking like just a pad, and PD-128S looks and sounds like a snare drum.
This 12-inch drum is also equipped with dual triggers – for the rim and for the mesh. Given its weight of about 8lbs., it makes a great tool for an expressive manner. All you need for it is a durable stand and a decent sound module – that is, Roland TD-30 or something compatible. This snare drum setup should be rich and advanced, given that the model is professional enough for a professional drummer to unleash fully. With a real feel, partly due to a special rim sensor created for this drum, a drummer can use all the skills gained on acoustic drums.
Given the price of this item (over $500, and a little less if you are lucky), this drum isn’t meant to be used outside of a set, though it’s fully functional. At least, it deserves a sound module in its class. The price also protects this instrument from those unable to appreciate it. And those who can, consider it the best electronic drum around – at least, one of the best.
- 12-inch mesh head pad
- Rim sensor accurately detects dynamics and rim-shot depth
- Real drum size and design;
- Compatible with professional sets;
- Two trigger zones;
- Real feel for real gigs;
- Built to last.
- Quite expensive.
5. Yamaha XP120SD: A Big Yamaha
That’s another Japanese brand, a longtime rival to Roland, and a much-loved name among musicians as well as among bikers. This 10-inch device is the largest of the electric snare drums I review here. It also provides more freedom to a musician, as it has three trigger zones that sound differently.
This drum is definitely built to last, well prepared for live gigs. Not only is it made of aluminum and durable cellular silicone, it’s well-mountable and compatible with most drum hardware you can find. It is also equipped with a real-time control knob.
The rivalry between Roland and Yamaha has its downsides as well. Alas, the Yamaha drum is not the choice to expand your Roland setup. Instruments and devices by these vendors are mutually incompatible. Otherwise, it’s a great choice for you if you are good with its price between $350 and $400, still not making it the most expensive snare drum on our list.
- Textured Cellular Silicone Head
- Blasted Aluminum Shell
- Three trigger zones;
- Realistic response;
- Easy installation;
- Compatible with most generic sound modules.
- Not compatible with Roland devices;
- Quite pricey.
What to Look for in a Snare Pad
The main reason to use electronic drums instead of writing patterns with a mouse is using the drum technique for realistic playing. Check the following steps to pick the best option for your astonishing performance.
How to Choose the Best Electronic Snare Drums?
The simplest answer is: first choose the class, then let your hands choose. They may disagree with the list of top-rated snare drums you read; then your hands are right. It makes sense to select a drum probably inferior in some aspects if your hands feel better on it; thus, you can unleash your technique. Even if you have not been drumming for years, your muscle memory, as recent studies show, still remains.
Step 1. Pay attention to the overall comfort
The drum should feel comfortable for your hands with your favorite sticks. Feel the bounce. See how it interprets the force of your hits. Check how durable the drum is, in case your manner is too expressive. As for living playing, there are pros like a built-in metronome, changeable banks, and real-time effects.
Step 2. Check the compatibility
Hardly will you play this electric snare drum pad solo. You will rather use it as a part of your set – purely electronic or partly acoustic. If the reason you get an electronic drum is the possibility to adjust its sound by switching sound banks, check whether the drum sound module has the banks you like, whether it allows for creating custom ones, and whether it’s easy for you to switch banks on the go.
Step 3. Consider the sensibility rate
The greatest result achieved in electronic drum design recently is a higher sensibility, so a drummer can use even more advanced playing techniques on electronic drums, and it will be heard. A good trigger that utilizes piezo technology transforms vibration into electrical signals. The result is your drum play digitized and recorded right from the tips.
What Are the Components of an Electronic Snare Drum?
In fact, the main difference between an acoustic and an electronic snare drum (as well as any other drum) is a trigger that converts a mechanical hit into an electric impulse. These impulses are then decoded and interpreted by an electronic interface module.
The rest may differ. It may be a regular snare drum equipped with this snare drum trigger (or two) or a purely electronic drum pad almost useless when unplugged. The former is appreciated for its versatility. It can be adjusted like an acoustic drum it is, played with all the tricks the drummers practice, and easily recorded or MIDIfied. Triggers like the Roland RT series are easy to install and compatible with various drums and modules. As for the latter, they are perfect for practicing, as they aren’t even half as loud as their acoustic analogs. They are also easier to install and transport because of being smaller.
What is the best electronic drum set for beginners?
For those who need an entire drum set, Roland RDX-6 is great for learning and for entry-level playing. In its price category, it’s the best digital drum pad by a famous vendor. As for marching bands, it’s certainly Andoer Digital Practice Drum Pad: even cheaper and completely standalone. It’s certainly the best snare drum for a beginner in marching or a school band.
Is it OK to learn drums on an electronic kit?
Some say that only the acoustic drums are the true drums. If you intend to play only the acoustic drums, then even the best digital drum pad is just a half-measure when you are experienced and no measure at all while you are learning. On the other hand, if you plan to combine or specialize in playing the electronic drum pad, you better start learning this sort of instrument. It’s like DJing: true vinyl experience will not harm you but playing Traktor or Rekordbox has lots of nuances and possibilities the good old vinyl records lack.
What are the best snares for a snare drum?
When it comes to acoustic drums, it obviously means the wires, but in the case of electronic ones, it rather means drum samples to define the drum sound. You can find tons of free samples online, but if you intend to play seriously, you better purchase some quality banks. Ones by Drumwerks are well recognized. Professional snares are recorded in 24bit format and available as. WAV files, of the highest quality. If you are using Garageband, I’d recommend drum samples by Jamstik.
What are electronic drums best used for?
There are two things easy to do with electronic drums but harder with acoustic ones. These are studying and recording. The latter is simplified due to MIDI interfaces that audio modules use to send the signal to the connected workstation. So, inexpensive electronic drums will be a great replacement for spending large sums on the studio recording.
We are far from having explored the entire big world of electronic drums, which takes books by authors like Noam Lederman to cover. If you are at the beginning of your e-drummer career, the perfect electronic drum pad for you is Roland RDX-6 – lots of possibilities for a moderate price. Last but not least, it has all it takes to grok the concept of electronic drumming.
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