Electronic drums VS Acoustic drums

So, you’ve made the decision to embark on a drumming journey—fantastic! But before you dive headfirst into the world of drum kits, there are a few crucial considerations you should ponder:

  1. Will your enthusiastic drumming sessions cause neighborly discontent?
  2. Are drums a wise choice for beginners seeking a fulfilling musical experience?
  3. Most importantly, will playing drums bring sheer joy into your life?

To address these questions in order:

  1. The impact on your neighbors will vary depending on various factors.
  2. Drum kits are indeed an excellent instrument for beginners.
  3. Absolutely! Playing drums is an exhilarating and immensely enjoyable endeavor.

Now, before you impulsively rush off to purchase the first drum kit that catches your eye, it’s prudent to take a moment to contemplate whether an acoustic or electronic drum kit would best suit your needs.

While both acoustic and electronic kits used to have their own distinct advantages and disadvantages, it’s worth noting that contemporary electronic drum kits have started to take the lead in numerous aspects. Today, these sleek electronic marvels can be found gracing practice rooms, recording studios, and even thrilling live performances—from fledgling enthusiasts to seasoned professionals, they’ve won over drummers of all calibers.

To assist you in making an informed decision, we’ve curated a comprehensive guide that will steer you toward the ideal choice between an acoustic or electronic drum kit.

Moreover, we’ve gone the extra mile by including a FAQ section and a helpful glossary at the bottom of this page, ensuring you have all the essential knowledge to kick-start your drumming adventure.

Now, without further ado, let’s embark on this rhythmic voyage together!

What is the big difference between Acoustic and Electronic drums?

Acoustic drum kits rely on the physical impact of drumsticks striking the drumheads (also known as drum skins) to produce sound. When the drumsticks make contact with the drumheads, vibrations are generated in both the top and bottom drumheads, resulting in the distinctive drum sounds we perceive.

Electronic drum kits, on the other hand, utilize a drum module or brain to generate sound in response to each hit. These sounds, referred to as “samples,” are pre-recorded audio clips of various drum sounds. When you strike a drum pad on an electronic kit, you are essentially triggering the drum module to play a specific sample associated with that pad.

Unlike acoustic drums, where the physical impact of the drumstick creates the sound, electronic drum kits offer precise control over the produced sound. While the stick feel is similar to that of an acoustic drum kit, you have the flexibility to adjust the volume and choose the desired output, be it headphones, amplifiers, or direct connection to a DAW (Digital Audio Workstation).

One of the major advantages of electronic drum kits is the vast array of options available. They come preloaded with numerous pre-made kits and hundreds of different samples to explore. With electronic drums, you can effortlessly switch between soft, jazzy sounds to thunderous metal tones, all within the same kit. This versatility is particularly noteworthy, as it allows drummers to explore a wide range of musical styles without the need for multiple drum kits.

To shed more light on the possibilities offered by electronic drum kits, we turn to the expertise of professional session drummer, Oli Wiseman…

Thanks to advancements in technology, electronic drums have reached a point where they closely resemble acoustic kits in appearance. The Roland V-Drums Acoustic Design series is a prime example of electronic drums that are virtually indistinguishable from their acoustic counterparts.

Now, let’s delve into the topic of volume levels.

Are electronic drums really that quiet?

When it comes to loudness, electronic drums are significantly quieter, especially when compared to acoustic drum kits. Playing an acoustic kit at normal to high levels can produce sound ranging from around 90 decibels (similar to a motorcycle engine revving) to as loud as 120 decibels (comparable to standing near a jet engine).

In contrast, electronic drum kits feature mesh drumheads that generate sound levels between 60 decibels (similar to a normal conversation) and 75 decibels (similar to a car driving past on the street). It’s worth noting that most of the noise produced by electronic kits comes from the pedals used for the bass drum and hi-hat. However, even this can be further reduced with the use of Roland noise eaters.

This means that when playing an electronic drum kit behind a closed door in the next room, it is barely noticeable— a stark contrast to the teeth-rattling noise produced by acoustic kits. The quietness of electronic drums allows for more discreet and peaceful practice sessions, making them an ideal choice for drummers seeking to minimize disturbance to others.

Can I use mesh drum heads on my Acoustic drumkit?

While it is possible to use mesh drum heads on acoustic drum kits as a solution for practicing quietly, there are some drawbacks to consider. Acoustic mesh heads can be quite expensive and may not provide optimal results in terms of sound quality and playability.

Most acoustic mesh heads on the market are made from a springy nylon material and have a single-ply construction. This can introduce an unnatural “bounce” into the stick response, affecting the feel and overall performance. Additionally, these mesh heads often have issues with staying securely in place on the drum, requiring frequent adjustments and tune-ups.

In contrast, Roland V-Drum mesh heads, manufactured by renowned drum head maker Remo, offer a superior alternative. These mesh heads are constructed from a different material and are available in double or triple-ply thickness, providing a more authentic feel that closely replicates the experience of playing on an acoustic drum head. Furthermore, the durability of Roland V-Drum mesh heads is impressive, ensuring they can withstand rigorous use without losing their quality.

While acoustic drum kits can utilize mesh drum heads, it’s important to carefully consider the drawbacks and the quality of the mesh heads available. Roland V-Drum mesh heads stand out as a reliable and high-quality option, offering a satisfying playing experience and long-lasting performance.

Ultimately, choosing an instrument that feels and sounds good when you play is crucial to maintaining interest, especially for beginners. This brings us to the question of whether electronic drum kits are suitable for practice, and the answer is a resounding yes. They are purpose-built with practice in mind.

What makes Electronic drums good for practicing?

Regardless of whether you’re a beginner, hobbyist, or professional, practice is an essential aspect of improving your drumming skills. Learning to play the drums involves mastering correct stick technique, familiarizing yourself with the feel of the drums, developing precise timing, understanding drum rudiments, and being able to critically assess your playing to identify areas for improvement.

Electronic drum kits offer a wealth of features to facilitate your progress:

Virtual playing coaches: These tools help sharpen your timing and technique by providing interactive guidance and feedback.

Accurate metronomes: Electronic kits provide laser-accurate metronomes with multiple timing functions, allowing you to practice with precision and develop a solid sense of rhythm.

Mobile device connectivity: Many electronic drum kits offer connectivity options for mobile devices, allowing you to play along with songs or practice material via cable or Bluetooth. This feature enhances your practice sessions and keeps them engaging.

Recording capabilities: Electronic kits often come with built-in recording features, enabling you to listen back to your drumming performances. This allows for self-assessment, analysis, and the opportunity to revel in your face-meltingly awesome drum solos.

The virtual playing coach, in particular, stands out as a fantastic tool for rapidly improving your playing. Roland modules, for example, incorporate versions of the coach that gamify practice sessions, making them enjoyable while honing your accuracy, speed, and overall groove.

By offering these innovative practice-oriented features, electronic drum kits empower drummers to elevate their skills, track progress, and make practice sessions both effective and enjoyable.

What about the actual sound?

One of the advantages of acoustic drum kits is their inherent versatility when it comes to sound customization. When you purchase an acoustic drum kit, the drums are typically designed to sound great right out of the box. However, they also offer a wide range of adjustments that allow you to fine-tune the sound to your liking.

With acoustic drums, you have the ability to adjust various elements such as drum tuning, drum size, muffling, and other tonal aspects. This provides an opportunity to explore and learn how different adjustments affect the overall sound and response of the drums. It’s a valuable experience that helps you understand how acoustic drums respond to changes in their setup.

In the case of acoustic mesh heads, such as the Roland V-Drum mesh heads mentioned earlier, you can further enhance the authenticity of the playing experience. These mesh heads allow for tension adjustments without significantly affecting the tone. This means you can fine-tune the tension of the mesh head to replicate the feel of an acoustic drum head, making the playing experience more familiar and enjoyable.

The ability to customize the sound and responsiveness of acoustic drums, along with the option to adjust the tension of mesh heads, offers drummers a dynamic and immersive playing experience that closely resembles the feel and versatility of playing on traditional acoustic drums.

What about cost?

When it comes to cost, there are some important considerations to take into account regarding electronic and acoustic drum kits.

At first glance, starter acoustic kits may appear to be cheaper in terms of their initial price tag. There is a wide range of options available, and many beginner kits come at a lower cost. However, it’s crucial to look at the full picture.

With acoustic drum kits, there are ongoing expenses to consider. You will need to regularly replace drum heads, maintain hardware to prevent rusting, invest in cymbals, purchase dampening pads for practice, replace drumsticks, and acquire metronomes and practice accessories. These additional expenses can quickly add up over time.

Furthermore, beginner kits may require upgrading to a more sturdy and reliable option within a year or two. While you may be able to reuse some parts, it will involve constant upgrading as you progress.

On the other hand, electronic drum kits offer a different cost structure. Even entry-level electronic kits provide a wide range of built-in presets and editable sounds with controllable volumes. They often come with helpful features like coaching and practice assistants, the ability to input music tracks, and some models even offer Bluetooth connectivity. These features not only support beginners in getting started but also adapt and grow with you as you advance in your drumming journey.

While electronic drum kits may have a higher initial investment compared to some beginner acoustic kits, they offer a range of features and capabilities that can save you money in the long run by reducing the need for constant upgrades and additional accessories. Ultimately, it’s important to consider your budget, long-term goals, and the features that will best support your drumming experience before making a decision.

A side-by-side comparison.

The best electronic drum kit for you ultimately depends on your specific needs and preferences. Consider the following factors:

  1. Noise: If noise reduction is a priority, electronic kits are a better choice as they produce significantly less volume compared to acoustic kits.
  2. Versatility: Electronic kits offer a wide range of drum sounds and preset kits, allowing you to experiment with different styles and genres. They also provide options for adjusting the drum pad response and tuning to suit your preferences.
  3. Practice and Learning Features: Electronic kits often come with built-in coaching tools, metronomes, and practice aids that can assist beginners in developing their skills and timing. They also offer features like Bluetooth connectivity for playing along to songs or connecting to educational apps.
  4. Maintenance and Cost: Electronic kits generally require less maintenance and have fewer ongoing costs compared to acoustic kits. They don’t require regular drum head replacements, tuning, or additional accessories. However, they do have a higher initial investment.
  5. Space and Portability: Electronic kits typically have a smaller footprint and are more portable than acoustic kits. They are well-suited for compact living spaces or situations where easy setup and transport are important.
  6. Personal Preference: Ultimately, your personal preference for the feel, sound, and playing experience of either electronic or acoustic drums should guide your decision. It’s essential to try out different kits, if possible, and consider factors such as stick response, sensitivity, and overall playability.

In the end, carefully weigh these factors and consider your specific needs, budget, and musical goals to determine which type of kit is the best fit for you. Both electronic and acoustic drums have their own unique advantages, so it’s important to choose the one that aligns with your priorities and preferences as a drummer.