This article takes an in-depth look at comparing 3 of the most popular entry-level kits that are currently on the market: the Roland TD-1K, the DTX402K model from Yamaha, and the Nitro Mesh kit made by Alesis.
All of these are 8 piece entry-level electronic drum kits that are crafted well and provide a myriad of sounds and functionality in a well-priced package.
Roland has been an industry giant in the drum machine market since the ’60s. It is a good bet that if you are looking to buy Roland, it will be of the highest quality even in its lowest-end products.
Yamaha, on the other hand, has been around for ages as well, with a reputation of crafting some of the finest musical instruments at all levels across the pricing spectrum.
Finally, Alesis is a well-respected audio company that positions itself at the top of the heap in the home audio and recording market.
Obviously, each set has its own thing going on, and they all bring something great to the table with their spin on how an entry-level drum kit should be.
We wanted to see which of these kits will provide you the most value. So read on as we pit these 3 against each other, in a battle to the death for musical instrument supremacy.
Head To Head
So how do they stack up against each other? The table below breaks down the three kits pretty well.
2 (trigger pedals)
2 (trigger pedals)
2 (hi-hats trigger / kick drum beater + pad)
Fold Up Portability
Upgradable Pads / Kick Pedal
Number of Kits
Yes (Touch, Rec N Share)
Realistic sounds, versatile, compact
Durable, portable, App control
Realistic feel, good quality sounds, lots of kits
Small size can be a factor
Subpar sounds, can’t build custom kits
Headphone volume is quiet
Built To Last
With electronic kits, one of the main goals is to turn the volume down on performance, as acoustic kits make a lot of noise and can easily disturb people. Electronic kits keep noise levels low by coating the drum pads in either silicone rubber or dense mesh. These materials help to suppress the noise that is made when you strike the pads with a drum stick.
From a noise suppression standpoint, Alesis is the winner with its mesh pads. Mesh pads are better than rubber for sound dampening. Having said that, Roland does allow you to upgrade their rubber pads to mesh ones.
The foot pedals also make a difference in the amount of noise you make playing the kit, with trigger style pedals making less noise that pedals that have a beater and pad. The problem with kick drum pedals that are the beater + pad style, is they can feel unnatural for those that have been drumming for years, as they are used to the feel of a proper kick drum pedal. It is for this reason that Roland allows you to upgrade their trigger kick drum pedal to a more traditional beater style, however, this will increase the amount of noise made while playing.
The Modern Drummer
Today’s world is all about technology and modernity, and all three kits are loaded with different ways you can tap into the modern world and get the most out of them.
Every kit on this list has USB and MIDI connections, making it easy for you to hook them up to your computer to record drums. Using USB will allow you to record the drum sounds that your kit comes with, while MIDI allows for triggering the software kits on your computer’s recording program. You can download various versions of software kits that emulate all types of different drummers. This makes the inclusion of MIDI a real treat, as you can play the kit and not be limited to the sounds that you are recording.
Where these kits will differ is in their use of Apps, and Yamaha takes the cake in this category. While all the kits will allow you to plug in your device for either playing along with MP3s, or using practice drum apps, Yamaha takes it a step further with specially designed apps for their kit.
The Touch app allows you to tinker around with the DTX402K, adjusting and fine-tuning things like the volume, velocity, and pitch. The second app they have is Rec N Share, which allows you to record a video on your device of you playing to a song of your choice. You can then share it on social media or send it to your drum teacher if you are doing lessons online.
Go Go Gadget E-Drums
Being able to easily transport your kit to different places is a huge benefit for e-drummers. The nature of acoustic kits is that they are big, loud, and have to be totally disassembled every time you want to use it in a different room or venue. E-drums are trying to make it easier for you to travel with your set with minimal fuss.
Due to the single-pole design of the Roland TD-1K, it really has no collapsible parts, but it is lightweight and compact enough to pick up and move easily.
The Yamaha and Alesis models try to excel in this area. Even though they are larger, you can fold their frames inward, and collapse the kit on itself. This makes it easy to move it to different rooms, or transport it in your vehicle if you want to use it at a friend’s house. Additionally, folding it to a smaller size provides you easier storage, as it now can fit into small corners, closets, or even under a bed.
They all provide good portability, but from a size standpoint, we would have to give Roland the award here.
Our Final Thoughts
So there you go. Alesis is the cheapest option and has mesh pads but a lack of portability. Roland is the most expensive with realistic sounding kits but is louder due to its rubber pads. And Yamaha has some really cool apps but a lack of overall customization.
So what have we learned? You can’t have it all. Or, to put it another way, you can’t have it all in an entry-level kit. But you can still get pretty close.
For our money, we like the Roland TD-1K. While its compact size can take some getting used to, the realism of the sounds and overall feel and response are what sell it for us. Add in that you can upgrade from rubber pads to mesh ones, and you’ve got us sold.
Having said that, each of these options has its pros and cons. Ultimately, what it all comes down to is what will suit you and your budget best.
If these electronic drum sets are not what you were looking for, check out our Best Best Electronic Drum Set post.