Best Electronic Drum Pads - Digital Percussion & Control

The Highest Rated Electronic Drum Pads

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We live in a new age of music. Not only has electronic music taken the charts by storm, but lines have been blurred between acoustic and electronic with the incorporation of hybrid instrument set ups. It's now not uncommon to find electronic instruments augment acoustic ones or even replace them altogether.

Electronic drum pads are at the forefront of this revolution. Now with improvements in sound quality and response times, electronic drum pads are now able to "hang" with acoustic percussion, replacing some of the most cumbersome pieces of musical instruments.

Here is a guide to some of the most highly rated drum pads on the market today, along with advice to consider when making your purchase. This guide is focused on drum pads that are designed to be played with drum sticks (although some can be hand/finger triggered), pads designed primarily for being finger triggered can be found in our guide to The Best MIDI Pad Controllers.

The Best Electronic Drum Pads

Author & Contributors

Alden Acosta Alden Acosta

A drummer and former lead guitarist of the band Callalily, a platinum selling multi-awarded band from the Philippines. When not researching gear he is learning to play bass.

Best Electronic Drum Pads

Yamaha DTX-MULTI 12

89
GEARANK

89 out of 100. Incorporating 275+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$660
Yamaha DTX-MULTI 12 Electronic Percussion Pad

The Yamaha DTX-MULTI 12 is a great multipad to expand your sonic pallete with over 1200 drum, percussion and keyboard sounds packed neatly into a portable package.

What's unique about this drum pad is it's multimode which optimizes it's sensitivity for either sticks, hands, or even fingers with mutable pads depending on your situation or playstyle.

Specifications

  • Built-in pads: 12
  • External inputs: 5 (three-zone x 1; monaural x 4)
  • Internal Sounds: Drum kits: Preset: 50 User-defined: 200 ; Maximum Polyphony: 64 notes; Voices: Drum and percussion: 1,061 Keyboard: 216; Wave memory: 64 MB
  • Effects: Variation x 42 types; Chorus x 6 types; Reverb x 6 types; 5-band master equalizer
  • Additional Functions: Sequencer, MULTI-Mode! -Play Modes (stick, hand or finger playing)
  • Dimensions (WHD): 13.58" x 3.78" x 12.56"
  • Weight: 7.28 lbs

Pros

Users have reported that the pads are precise, sensitive and that the included sounds are high quality and very usable. Players have also commended the layout of the pads as being comfortable and fun to play.

Cons

Some have complained that the user interface was not very user friendly but a learning curve is to be expected with a device of this complexity.

Overall

This is perfect for versatile drummer/percussionists who want lots of sounds at their fingertips…literally.

Nord Drum 3P Modeling Percussion Synthesizer Multipad

92
GEARANK

92 out of 100. Incorporating 90+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$999
Nord Drum 3P

At publication time this was the Equal Highest Rated Electronic Drum Pad along with the Roland SPD-SX.

This thin and light multipad not only comes with 200 sounds, but it integrates fully functional resonant synthesis, subtractive synthesis and FM-synthesis to allow you mold and create unique sounds of your own.

Generate your sounds from either tone, noise or click and sculpt your own drumkits to be placed in one of eight user banks that hold 50 sounds each.

Specifications

  • Built-in pads: 6
  • External inputs:1 generic trigger input - ¼”
  • Internal Sounds:4 Banks x 50 Programs for Drum Kits
    9 Drum banks for single drum sounds - Bass Drums, Snare Drums, Toms, Hi-Hats, Cymbals, Percussion, Bells, Tuned Percussion, Effects
    8 User Banks x 50 sounds for single drum sounds
  • Effects:
    Global Stereo Reverb with 5 reverb modes and Color high pass/low pass.
    Global Delay with Rate (Milliseconds), Feedback and Tap Tempo mode (BPM)
    Drive, Sample Rate Reduction and Ring Modulation Effects per channel
    EQ with Gain and Frequency controls per channel
  • Additional Functions: Advanced sound engine with Resonant Synthesis, Subtractive synthesis and FM-synthesis, sequencing in the Nord Beat app
  • Dimensions (WHD): 11.78" x 1.9" x 11.2"
  • Weight: 4.1 lbs

Pros

Many have praised the electronic sounds that are not only included but creatable. Users describe it as being a very "musical" device.

Cons

Players who need a sample based multipad will need to look elsewhere as this is a synth based drum pad, not for loading samples. Also, some players felt limited by the single external input for additional pads.

Overall

This for the music producers and beatmakers who want a percussion-style synthesizer to not only craft unique sounds, but play them too.

Alesis Strike MultiPad

91
GEARANK

91 out of 100. Incorporating 200+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$799
Alesis Strike MultiPad

Alesis attempts to shake the sample pad world up with its Strike multipad.

With 32GB of storage and a multitude of features such as an onboard stereo sampler, looper and audio/MIDI interface, this multipad is a versatile sampling tool and drum pad rolled into one.

Specifications

  • Built-in pads: 9 (with customizable RGB lights)
  • External inputs:(1) 1/4" TS trigger input
    (2) 1/4" TRS trigger inputs
    (1) 1/4" TRS HH pedal input
    (2) 1/4" TRS footswitch input
  • Internal Sounds: 30 kits ,6GB included sounds, remaining 28GB for custom sounds
  • Effects 5 built-in effects processors (3 kit effects, 1 master effect, compressor and equalizer) , Freely map two Alesis "A-LINK" infinite rotary knobs to dozens of effects and mixing controls
  • Additional Functions: On-board stereo Sampler, Built-in audio looper, 2-input / 2-output USB audio and MIDI interface
  • Dimensions (WHD): 13.75" x 3" x 14"
  • Weight: 8.5 lbs

Pros

When it comes to feature set, this multipad has one larger than most. Users have highly praised its functionality and large storage capacity.

Cons

Some users experienced long loading times and frustration with the user interface.

Overall

This multipad is one to get for power users who need more sample and loop based features to support their creative endeavors.

Roland SPD-SX Sampling Drum Pad

92
GEARANK

92 out of 100. Incorporating 475+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$750
Roland SPD-SX Sampling Percussion Pad

At publication time this was the Equal Highest Rated Electronic Drum Pad along with the Nord Drum 3P.

This multipad is lauded as the industry standard sample pad for a reason.

Build quality and reliability are second to none with little chance of cross-talk between pads.

There is none more reliable for live situations.

Specifications

  • Built-in pads: 9 (with LED Indicators)
  • External inputs: 2 (dual-trigger), allowing you to connect up to four Pads
  • Internal Sounds: Maximum Polyphony: 20 voices, Kits: 100, 4 GB internal memory
  • Effects: Master Effects (21 Types), Equalizer, Kit Effect 1 (20 Types), Kit Effect 2 (20 Types)
  • Additional Functions: Multi-Pad Sampling, USB Mass Storage, USB MIDI/AUDIO, USB Memory, 3 multi-effects units onboard
  • Dimensions (WHD): 14 3/8" x 3 3/4" x 13 1/16"
  • Weight: 5 lbs. 9 oz.

Pros

Users have praised its dependability and how intuitive it is to create, load, and trigger loops and samples.

Cons

Some found the Roland SPD-SX to be a pricey choice. But this price premium is expected from the industry standard for over 10 years.

Overall

If you’re a professional percussionist that needs a no-frills, dependable addition to acoustic or electronic drums and don't need the extra storage of the Roland SPD-SX Special Edition, this one is for you.

Roland Octapad SPD-30 Version 2

90
GEARANK

90 out of 100. Incorporating 250+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$800
Roland Octapad SPD-30 Electronic Percussion Pad

The Octopad SPD-30 features some of the best drum and percussion sounds on the market today.

With 670 instruments and 4 external inputs, this might be the closest thing to a drumset in a box.

This also features a phrase loop function so you can loop yourself in real-time.

Specifications

  • Built-in pads: 8
  • External inputs: 4
  • Internal Sounds: Instruments: 670, Kits: 50
  • Effects Ambience (7 Types), Equalizer, Limiter, Multi Effect (30 Types)
  • Additional Functions: Phrase Loop, USB connectivity for MIDI and memory storage
  • Dimensions (WHD): 21 5/16" x 3 1/2" x 10 3/4"
  • Weight: 8 lbs. 7 oz.

Pros

Users have reported a very high build quality. Also, the built-in sounds and effects are well-loved by most of its users. And with 4 external inputs for additional pads and pedals, many praised the multipad's flexibility.

Cons

There were some who felt limited by the lack of onboard custom sampling.

Overall

If you need a multipad with great built-in sounds for live performance this is the one for you.

Roland SPD-SX-SE Special Edition Sampling Percussion Pad

90
GEARANK

90 out of 100. Incorporating 100+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$855
Roland SPD-SX Special Edition Sampling Percussion Pad

The SPX-SX Special edition features the same reliability and features of the SPX-SX with added storage (16GB compared to 4GB) and a new red finish.

It's Multi-Pad Sampling function makes it easy to capture and assign audio data.

Specifications

  • Built-in pads: 9 (with LED Indicators)
  • External inputs: 2 (dual-trigger), allowing you to connect up to four Pads
  • Internal Sounds: Maximum Polyphony: 20 voices, Kits: 100, 16 GB internal memory
  • Effects: Master Effects (21 Types) Equalizer, Kit Effect 1 (20 Types), Kit Effect 2 (20 Types)
  • Additional Functions: Real-Time Effects, Multi-Pad Sampling
  • Dimensions (WHD): 14 3/8" x 3 3/4" x 13 1/16"
  • Weight: 5 lbs. 9 oz.
  • Pros

    Users of the SPD-SX-SE commended its flexibility and ease of use for sampling. Also, many praised the fast response when it comes to triggering sounds. It's large internal storage ensures that you will be able to load enough studio-quality WAV samples (approximately 25 hours of stereo audio) for most use cases.

    Cons

    Although many found the SPD-SX-SE to be easy to use, some still found it to be unintuitive and the included instruction manual to be lacking.

    Overall

    Professionals working with large sample libraries should check out the SPD-SX-SE.

    Best Cheap Electronic Drum Pads - Under $200

    KAT Percussion KTMP 1 Multipad

    86
    GEARANK

    86 out of 100. Incorporating 250+ ratings and reviews.

    Street Price: 

    $120
    KAT Percussion KTMP1 Multipad Drum and Percussion Pad

    The KTMP 1 comes with 50 high quality sounds assignable to each of its 4 pads and is one of the most affordable, highly-rated multipads on the market today.

    Use it to augment your acoustic kit or attach a kick and hi-hat trigger to it via its 2 external inputs and use it as a mini electronic drumkit.

    You can even trigger external sounds via the MIDI out or USB out to use sample libraries on your computer.

    Specifications

  • Built-in pads: 4
  • External inputs: 2
  • Internal Sounds: 50 Drum and percussion sounds
  • Effects: Reverb
  • Additional Functions: USB/MIDI connectivity
  • Dimensions (WHD): 12.75" x 4.25" x 15"
  • Weight: 4.35 lbs
  • Pros

    Owners praise the KTMP 1 as a good MIDI controller replacement to keyboard drumming and it was good enough for light-duty gigs. Also, it represented excellent value for money for many owners.

    Cons

    Users felt limited by the lack of savable user banks and that the build quality left much to be desired - careful handling is recommended.

    Overall

    If you're a student, beginner or on a budget, you might want to take a look at the KTMP1.

    Roland SPD::ONE Percussion

    89
    GEARANK

    89 out of 100. Incorporating 30+ ratings and reviews.

    Street Price: 

    $185
    Roland SPD::ONE Percussion Pad

    The Roland SPD::ONE Percussion was designed primarily for percussionists who need a single electronic percussion hit in a compact and minimalist package.

    Let's say for example, a gong. Instead of lugging a gong around you could instead bring this in your gig bag.

    You can play this pad with drumsticks, hands, or even your feet thanks its adjustable sensitivity and has 22 high quality percussion sounds.

    You can also import and assign one user sample of your own.

    Specifications

  • Built-in pads: 1
  • External inputs: 0
  • Internal Sounds: 22 instruments, 1 user sample
  • Effects: Reverb, Delay
  • Additional Functions: Powered by batteries or AC, Import your own WAV data via USB to one of the 12 sound banks, USB-MIDI support enables use as a pad controller for music software
  • Dimensions (WHD): 5.56" x 2.25" x 6.31"
  • Weight: 2 lbs
  • Pros

    Users' reports are quite positive about the simplicity and straightforwardness of the device, finding it a great addition to many set ups. Whether played with sticks, hands or even stomped on for buskers, the adjustable sensitivity of the pad proved useful. Also, it's ability to be powered by batteries greatly improves its flexibility and number of use cases.

    Cons

    Some found it to be expensive for a single pad. This was designed for users with already complex set ups or for those who need a high quality single pad over multiple pads of lower quality. Some wished that it had line inputs so it would be easier to incorporate into monitor setups without an external mixer.

    Overall

    If you want to add single percussion sounds to your set up with minimal footprint, this is the device for you.

    Roland SPD::ONE Electro

    88
    GEARANK

    88 out of 100. Incorporating 50+ ratings and reviews.

    Street Price: 

    $185
    Roland SPD::ONE Electro Drum Pad

    The Roland SPD::ONE Electro is the electronic sounding sibling in the SPD::ONE family.

    It features 22 electro sounds including claps, snares, hi-hats and more.

    It's great for creating a minimalist hybrid set up or for mixing and matching from the SPD::ONE family to create your own modular multipad set up.

    Specifications

  • Built-in pads: 1
  • External inputs: 0
  • Internal Sounds: 22 instruments, 1 user sample
  • Effects: Reverb, Delay
  • Additional Functions: Powered by batteries or AC, Import your own WAV data via USB to one of the 12 sound banks, USB-MIDI support enables use as a pad controller for music software
  • Dimensions (WHD): 5.56" x 2.25" x 6.31"
  • Weight: 2 lbs
  • Pros

    Like its other SPD::ONE siblings, the Electro is praised by its users for its simplicity and modularity. It's easy to incorporate this device into a multitude of different setups, whether you're a drum set player who needs an electro clap next to your snare or a guitarist who wants to trigger 808 sounds alongside stompboxes.

    Cons

    There were some who felt that if this device had a line input, it would increase its ability to be included in most monitor set ups without the need of an external mixer.

    Overall

    If you're a musician that wants to add electronic sounds to their performances, this is a great way to start.

    Things to Consider When Buying Electronic Drum Pads

    If you're new to drum pads then you should find this advice helpful.

    The Different Types of Drum Pads

    Sample Pads

    Sample pads are mainly designed for triggering and manipulating samples and incorporating them into your set up. They usually come with an onboard sampler which you can use to capture and manipulate sounds from an external sound source such as a music player or microphone. Notable examples would be the Roland SPD-SX/SPD-SX-SE and the Alesis Strike.

    Percussion Pads

    These pads are designed to be used mostly with the built in sounds to augment or replace percussion instruments. A cost-effective example on this list is the KAT Percussion KTMP1.

    Multipads

    This is a catch-all phrase used to describe most of the devices listed on this guide. One special example would be the Nord Drum 3P which is not a sample pad or a percussion pad but uniquely a drum synthesizer.

    The Number of Pads (form factor)

    Do you need more portability and simplicity or do you need to play more sounds at a time? Two examples on the opposite ends of the spectrum are the large Yamaha DTX MULTI 12 with 12 pads, weighing over 7 pounds and the Roland SPD::ONE Electro with only one pad but with an extremely small form factor.

    Expandability

    In some cases, you might want to expand your multipad with additional pads, kick or hi-hat pedals. The number of external inputs will dictate your options.

    Memory Storage Space

    This is mainly a concern for sample pads dictating how much audio you can save onto the device. The Yamaha DTX MULTI 12 only has 64mb of usable space while the Alesis Strike comes with 32GB! Note that some models, like the Alesis Strike MultiPad have the option for additional memory sticks.

    Additional Functions

    Looper, sampler or synthesizer? It's not always just about the built in sounds. Do you want to trigger external sounds via MIDI? How you will use the device other than playing the pads should highly influence the purchase you make.

    Best Electronic Drum Pad Selection Methodology

    This is the first edition which was published on June 8, 2021.

    To be eligible for this guide an Electronic Drum Pad had to have MIDI out (either USB or 5-Pin Din), had to be designed for use with drumsticks (not exclusively for hands or feet) and it had to be available from a major US based music gear retailer. With this criteria in hand our survey resulted in 14 models being placed on our short-list for closer examination - you can see the list in the Music Gear Database.

    We then collated and examined ratings, reviews and discussions about each product and processed those with the Gearank Algorithm to produce the rating scores out of 100 that you see above. A total of more than 2,900 sources were processed. We used those ratings to select the highest rated options to recommend above. For more information about our methods please see How Gearank Works.

    About the Author and Contributors

    Here are the key people and sources involved in this guide's production - click on linked names for information about their music industry backgrounds.

    Lead Author & Researcher

    Alden Acosta Alden Acosta

    A drummer and former lead guitarist of the band Callalily, a platinum selling multi-awarded band from the Philippines. When not researching gear he is learning to play bass.

    As an experienced producer and musician, Alden loves to help fellow musicians find the right gear for the job. Aside from music, Alden's interests include: CS:GO and MLBB.

    Contributors

    Jason Horton: Product research, Editing and Illustrating.

    Media

    Main/Top Image: Compiled using photographs of the Roland SPD-SX and Nord Drum 3P.

    The individual product images were sourced from websites, promotional materials or supporting documentation provided by their respective manufacturers.