Founded over 40 years ago, Simmons has been supplying the music industry with electronic drums for a number of years and was one of the first companies to do so. While there have been several iterations, Simmons has always strived to produce quality kits that rival traditional acoustic drums, and their notable user list (Pink Floyd, Queen, Genesis, Van Halen, Depeche Mode, Tool, NIN, just to name a few) is further proof of their stellar reputation.

The advantages of electronic kits have been well-documented, with noise suppression and a compact foot print being the top reasons why people prefer them over their acoustic counterparts. But electronic kits also allow you unprecedented tone flexibility and customization, being able to trigger a wide range of sounds that would be impossible to play on a standard-sized traditional kit. That being said, the difference between entry-level, mid-level, and professional-level electronic drum kits is noticeable in a myriad of ways, from the construction of the kit, the quality of sound they produce, the sensitivity and response time, the comfortability and ease of performance, and the practice features they include.

In this article we will take a comparative look at three of Simmons’ extremely wallet-friendly electronic kits – the entry-level SD100, it’s step-up model, the SD350, and the SD550. Breaking them down will give you a good idea of what you can get at each price point, and which one will serve you best.

Simmons SD100 vs. SD350 vs. SD550

Simmons SD100 Review


The SD100 is Simmons entry-level electronic kit and is best suited to beginners and hobbyists. The compact footprint makes it very attractive, as it can be fit into the corner of any room, taking up very little space. The 5-piece configured pads are integrated with the sound module on a fixed rack that can be adjusted for height (but not for angles), and it’s pretty sturdy so that you can play hard and it won’t wobble. The belt-driven kick drum pedal triggers downward but still gives you the realistic feel of an acoustic beater, and is fixed to the frame (along with the hi-hats pedal) to prevent sliding during performance. The pads are rubber, which can make for more room noise, but they respond well to basic playing styles and you can choose from 10 different kits. Included in the easy-to-navigate module is over 100 different drum and percussion sounds, as well as 10 demo songs that you can practice to. Playing along with your favorite songs is easy to do by connecting your MP3 player via the line-in port, and if you are the ambitious type, you can hook the drums up to a computer and record via the USB/MIDI connection.

Pros

  • Compact
  • Very affordable
  • Great for beginners
  • Variety of sounds and kits to choose from
  • Can record via USB/MIDI

Cons

  • Rubber pads can be loud
  • Pads lack angle adjustment
  • Needs adapters for output connections
  • No throne included

Simmons SD350 Review


With a new design and featuring more bells and whistles, the SD350 steps it up from Simmons’ entry-level offering. A sturdy steel rack keeps this 5-piece kit in place, so you can thrash about with minimal fuss. With an upgrade in quality, 8-inch fully adjustable mesh pads provide durability and low noise levels while maintaining a realistic feel while you explore the kit. The cymbal pads are bigger at 10-inches and respond well to nuanced playing. Floating trigger pedals for the kick drum and hi-hats allow you to place them wherever your feet feel most comfortable, and the chain-driven kick drum beater adds a touch of realism to your technique. Apple fans will be able to take advantage of the Simmons iOS app, which allows for kit modifications from the over 150 sounds that are preloaded into the SD350 brain. 10 different drum kits allow you to explore various musical genres, making it easy to play anything from rock, to latin, or jazz. Practicing will actually be fun when using the app, as the teaching feature uses a game-like interface and will even slow down the tempo of songs you are playing along with, which will aid in speeding up the learning process. Like most electronic kits, you can connect the SD350 to any computer for recording, to unleash its full potential.

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Good construction
  • Mesh pads for realistic feel and noise suppression
  • Multiple kits and sounds to choose from
  • App support for Apple users
  • Can record via USB/MIDI

Cons

  • No app support for Android users
  • No throne included

Simmons SD550 Review

At a surprisingly affordable price, the SD550 from Simmons gives you a well-round electronic drum kit that you can practice your chops on or use for home recording. Fans of quieter pads will be happy to know that this 5-piece kit comes with mesh drum heads, outfitting a 10-inch dual-zone snare, and 8-inch rack and floor toms, which can all be adjusted for height and angle. Pad sensitivity and response time can be customized using the brain, and you can tune each head to your liking. The hi-hats are and crash cymbals are both 10-inches wide, while the supplied ride cymbal is 12-inches, giving a pretty close feel to the sizes you would find on most acoustic kits. Unattached for physical comfort, you get a downward beating kick drum trigger pedal, as well as a hi-hats trigger pedal for picking up open/close nuances. The SD550 steps up the sounds and kit selections in a big way over its lower-tier models, with 25 full drum kits and a whopping 325 drum sound selections that can be customized to your liking using the iOS supported app. You can also build out your own kits, which is great if you want to mix and match your drums to create a Frankenstein kit. Practicing and playing along using the app will help hone your craft, and recording the SD550 is simple using the USB/MIDI port.

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Excellent construction
  • Lots of sounds to choose from
  • Can build you own kits with iOS app
  • Practice and play-along modes with iOS app
  • Can record via USB/MIDI

Cons

  • Pedals have tendency to slide
  • No app support for Android users
  • No throne included

Conclusion

As with all brands, there are different levels of quality when it comes to product selection, and these 3 electronic drum kits from Simmons are no different. While they all offer the same basic function, the jump between the SD100 and the SD550 is quite noticeable. Taking into account your level of playing, where you will be using the kit, and how you will be using it, are the biggest questions you need to answer in order to make an informed buying decision. A lot of beginners would be more than happy to lightly invest with the SD100, but some people want the set with more options and better quality sounds that you will find in the 350 or 550 models. Knowing what suits your situation best will put your mind at ease that you are making the correct choice for long term happiness behind the kit.