Electronic drum sets are increasingly popular with drummers seeking percussion instruments that offer custom noises, strong recording capabilities, and lower noise pollution. For drummers who don’t want to purchase an entire kit, electronic drum pads provide a compact and cost-effective alternative.
The best electronic drum pad products allow you to customize sounds, play over tracks, record music, and more. If you enjoy playing the drums but don’t want to be restricted to traditional percussion sounds, electronic drum pads might be the perfect solution.
7 Best Electronic Drum Pads – 2020
Our electronic drum expertise exposes us to a wide variety of industry-leading products. If you’re curious about the top electronic pads on the market, we’ve compiled a list of the best options available in 2020.
1. Roland OCTAPAD SPD-30 Digital Percussion Pad
One of our favorite electronic drum pads is the Roland OCTAPAD SPD-30. As its name suggests, this particular model provides eight pads that can be set to custom kit sound packs. In total, there are 99 onboard kits available to drummers.
While its dynamic kit options are excellent if you’re looking for a large range of sounds, the primary strength in the hardware is its ‘Phrase Loop’ function. This allows you to layer phrases and loops when you’re playing your pads. You can store up to 50 at a time.
This version of the Roland OCTAPAD benefits from excellent pad triggering and isolation, which helps guarantee the quality of your output. Lastly, there are inputs for additional pads. This means you have the flexibility to expand your Roland OCTAPAD into a mini-kit.
2. Yamaha DTX Multi Pad, Drum Pad
The Yamaha DTX Multi Pad is built by one of the most trusted names in the electronic instruments industry. Its compact design fits 12 pads into an extremely small surface area. With world-class isolation, you can be certain to reduce the potential for interference when you’re playing or recording.
Users have access to 1,061 drum sounds, 216 MOTIF sounds, and the ability to import external sounds via a USB port. The hardware can store up to 64MB of external sounds at a time.
Unlike other digital drumpad on our list, this particular model can be played using sticks, fingers, or hands.
One of our favorite components of this system is its iPad editor. Connect your electronic drum pads to your iPad and access a visual editor, programmer, and mixer. You can even play music from iTunes via the pads.
3. Roland Percussion Sampling Pad with 4GB Internal Memory (SPD-SX)
This Roland Percussions Sampling Pad offers 4GB of internal memory, which means you can record up to 720 minutes without the need for additional memory. Users benefit from nine pads that are sensitive to velocity, while effects and control knobs are accessible from the base of the pad.
Roland offers ‘Individual Pad Dynamics’ indicators that provide real-time feedback on audio-levels and other key performance metrics. For recording and editing music, users have free access to Wave Manager software.
The design of this drum pad is one of our favorite components. The pads are separated by sleek red lines, which provide a clear outline for drummers of any skill level.
While this offers some of the best internal memory on the market, you can still add more storage by using its USB port.
4. Alesis Sample Pad Pro
The Alesis Sample Pad Pro offers plenty of functionality at an affordable price. While this doesn’t have the same level of kit variations as other pads on our list, it’s an excellent option if you’re searching for an entry-level drum pad.
Drummers have access to eight dual-zone pads that are clearly outlined using LED background lights. The intuitive design is suitable for both novice and veteran drummers.
The Alesis Sample Pro offers more than 200 sounds spread across ten different kit variations. There are two inputs available for extra drum pads, as well as an input for a kick pedal.
The SD storage port built into the drum pad allows you to load tracks, samples, and additional sounds. You can control the core settings of the Alesis Sample Pad Pro using the control panel at the base of the hardware.
5. Alesis Strike Multipad – 9-Trigger Percussion Pad
If you’re searching for a premium electronic drum pad, it’s hard to go wrong with the Alesis Strike Multipad. It offers a seamless, intuitive design that comes with extensive controls and mixers.
You can loop, record, and edit directly from the control panel. Alternatively, the pad comes with ProTools First and Ableton Live Lite if you want to edit tracks and samples on your computer.
In total, there are over 7,000 available sounds. You can also attach additional speakers using the various inputs available on the pad.
On top of its exceptional functionality, this particular product has 32GB of internal storage, which is miles ahead of most electronic drum pads on the market. It’s an excellent option if you’re planning on importing sounds, loops, and other external elements.
6. Pyle-Pro Portable, Tabletop Set Machine
If you’re searching for a compact tabletop drum pad at an affordable price, the Pyle-Pro Portable is one of the cheapest options on the market. While it doesn’t offer the same premium features as some of the other pads on our list, it still contains plenty of power if you need an entry-level drum pad.
Unlike other pads on our list, the Pyle-Pro Portable uses a unique outline that resembles a mini-drum kit. This gives drummers a slightly more creative layout – there are seven primary pads, along with two digital foot pedal controllers for kick drum effects.
It’s easy to connect the pad to your laptop or computer, and you can play along to background music, loops, and other percussion sounds. The top of the pad has a small LED display that contains its core controls.
7. Yamaha DD-65 Portable Digital Drum Kit
The last pad on our list is the Yamaha DD-65 Digital Drum Kit. This is another compact drum kit that offers a unique layout ¾ as with the Pyle-Pro Portable, this pad resembles a mini drum kit. It’s easy to place this pad on top of a small desk, table, or surface.
The Yamaha DD-65 Portable Digital Drum Kit provides drummers with eight touch-sensitive pads. Additionally, there are two kick pads that plug into the main hardware. There are plenty of custom percussion sounds and vocal samples stored in the pad’s internal memory.
Users can input an MP3 player or another auxiliary device via the AUX input at the bottom of the pad. This is an excellent capability if you’re hoping to play along with your favorite songs or loops.
Types of Electronic Drum Pads
If you’re searching for specific electronic drum pads, there are plenty of options. In this section of our guide, we’ll take a closer look at the most popular electronic drum pad types.
Rubber-Surfaced Drum Pads
Rubber-surfaced drum pads are the most common pad types found in electronic drum kits. If you’re buying a product that’s in the middle price range, it will likely utilize rubber as its primary drum surface material. So, why is rubber such a popular option with manufacturers?
One of the primary reasons is that rubber is cheaper than many alternatives. Still, it also provides a durable and easily replaceable surface for drum pads, which is excellent for a product that will face constant contact with high-velocity drum sticks. Lastly, rubber pads feel good to hit – you’ll enjoy the resistance you feel when you play a rubber drum set.
Most rubber drum pads will also have dual-zone pad designs that act as a snare drum. On the corner of the pad, the surface will elevate to provide a separate zone that serves as your snare. It’s an excellent design feature that you’ll find in many quality drum pads.
If you’re someone who is looking for an entry-level drum pad, it’s best to work with a rubber design. Not only does this provide you with an affordable range of drum pad products, but it’s also cheap to replace if you damage the pads. If you’re not already playing a percussion drum set, the difference in texture won’t be a significant problem.
Higher-End Electronic Drum Pads
While rubber pads certainly offer an excellent playing surface, they don’t mimic the true nature of a percussion drum set. If you’re someone who regularly switches between your electronic drum pad and a traditional drum kit, you might find it hard to constantly adjust to new playing surfaces.
If you’re willing to spend more money, you can access higher-end drum pads that benefit from a host of premium designs. These designs mimic the resistance and surface of traditional drum sets, which allows players to practice on a digital drum pad without sacrificing their performance on normal drum kits.
Not only do these pads feel more natural, but they also enhance your playing capabilities. High-end pads provide a larger range of sounds, as you can better control the strength of your strokes. Additionally, the pads are much more sensitive to speed and other playing techniques that are relied upon by skilled drummers.
Roland V-Pads (Mesh Heads)
One of the most popular ‘high-end’ drum pad designs is the Roland V-Pad. This modern mesh head is durable, quiet, and provides excellent mimicking of traditional drum kits. It’s manufactured using multiple layers of mesh fibers that make drum strokes feel natural.
On top of its mesh-based design, there are electronic sensors built into the drum head. This provides resistance to the drum stick as you hit your pad.
Another popular high-end pad design is the Yamaha DTX-PAD. Instead of using traditional rubber materials, this Yamaha pad uses TCS (textured cellular silicone). Yamaha claims that it used feedback from many of the world’s top drummers when the company was designing the pads.
If you’re searching for an electronic pad that feels like a percussion pad, this is an excellent option. It also happens to be extremely quiet.
Alesis Real Head
The Alesis Real Head is a favorite amongst drummers that love the feel of authentic percussion drums. Unlike other electronic drum products, this uses an authentic Mylar drum head. You can even adjust the tension in the drum head by using a drum key.
As with most premium, electronic drum pads, the Alesis Real Head is dual-zone, which gives you access to a broader range of sounds.
The head is extremely velocity-sensitive, which means you’ll have complete control over your drum strokes. This Alesis design is compatible with most electronic drum kits and pad systems.
Electronic Kick Pads or Bass Drum Pads
While cheap electronic kick pads contain a button-like surface that activates the electronic drum sound, high-end kick pads offer much more. They mimic the tension and feel of an acoustic kick pad, which provides you with more control over your sound. It’s also much better for practicing.
If you’re purchasing an electronic drum pad, many of the available systems don’t come with electronic kick pads. While this can be frustrating if you’re attempting to purchase everything together, it also means you have the freedom to buy an electronic kick pad that mimics its acoustic drum counterpart.
No matter what, make sure that your drum pad system has the correct inputs for your desired electronic kick pads.
The Best Electronic Drum Pad – Buying Guide
Once you decide to purchase a new set of electronic drum pads, it’s time to find the right system. While our list of top drum pads is an excellent starting point, it’s critical to know what you’re looking for. Let’s explore some core elements that every drummer should consider before they purchase new electronic drum pads.
The Power of Portability
One of the primary benefits of electronic drum pads is the portability. By owning a compact set of pads, you can play the drums almost anywhere. Nothing can beat an electronic drum pad if you’re searching for a compact product.
Whether you’re looking to play a small gig, record music with friends, or take your drum pad on a road trip, the options on our list are all portable solutions.
Pads and Pedals
The first component of a drum pad to consider is its pads. The number of pads included in the system’s panel will determine how much variation you have available. It’s typically best to source a system that has at least eight pads included in the main panel.
Pads should also be ‘velocity-sensitive.’ This means that they respond to the amount of force you apply with your drum sticks. This ensures you have full control over your playing style and intended output.
Foot Pedals are also useful and can help you recreate a much more authentic drum layout. If your drum pad doesn’t come with pedals, make sure there are inputs that connect with third-party hardware.
Outputs and Inputs?
If you want to harness the full power of an electronic drum pad, it’s best to source a product that has adequate outputs and inputs. Outputs and inputs allow you to add functionality to your pad, as well as benefit from external hardware and software.
For this reason, we suggest you buy a pad that has USB, MIDI, and AUX inputs and outputs. You should also make sure there are outputs built specifically for extra pedals or pads. Having all these options will allow you to sync with your computer, record music, import loops, access additional sounds, use third-party pads or pedals, and more.
One of the primary benefits of using any electronic percussion equipment is the sound range. Unlike traditional percussion drums, you can fully customize the sounds each pad produces.
The top drum pads contain thousands of custom sounds, noises, and loops. Many of these will be grouped into different pre-set drum kits, which makes it easy to access a collection of similar sounds.
For example, if you’re searching for additional ‘foot pedals drum and percussion’ noises, a good electronic drum pad will have hundreds or thousands of options to choose from. Some will also allow you to import third-party noises.
Lastly, it’s critical to consider the sound quality provided by the pad. As electronic pads don’t produce traditional percussion sounds without electricity, the sound quality is primarily related to the quality of the pad’s internal systems.
As you may suspect, extremely cheap electronic drum pads typically produce poor quality sounds. By purchasing a product that has touch-sensitive pads, you can be confident that your sound quality reflects the amount of force in your drum strokes.
Understanding the Limitations
Despite the functionality available in modern electronic drum pads, there are still limitations to consider. The primary shortcoming associated with drum pads is their size. While the compact design has its benefits, it doesn’t contain the same layout or pad size as a traditional drum, so learning proper techniques is almost impossible with electronic drum pads.
Also, in most cases, you won’t have the same number of percussion sounds or samples built into the pads. If you’re searching for an extensive sound library, electronic drum kits usually have more options.
Benefits of a Drum Pad
The primary benefit of a pad is its basic and intuitive design. Pads are compact, portable, and easy to set up. You can take them almost anywhere without logistical complications.
Also, electronic drum pads typically have one central panel. This means that all your sounds are accessible within a small area. It can be a great tool for building loops, samples, and other useful sounds.
What is the Purpose of an Electronic Drum Pad?
The purpose of an electronic drum pad is to provide an affordable and accessible percussion solution to modern drummers. Unlike percussion drum kits and electronic drum kits, electronic pads are extremely affordable and easy to learn. Users have access to just a single panel, which reduces the complexity of creating samples and other music.
Drum pads can act as both a supplement to an electronic drum kit and a standalone product, depending on your budget and requirements.
Electronic drum pads are also highly digital and versatile, which makes them extremely powerful if you have the right software. Recording, editing, and producing music with a drum pad is markedly better if you integrate it with your computer.
While the core purpose of a drum pad will differ depending on the user, they’re excellent tools for playing music with friends, recording tunes, and experimenting with percussion sounds. Live performances are also possible if you choose a drum pad with external audio capabilities.
While there are plenty of excellent drum pads outlined on our list, there are two products that offer the most. If you’re searching for a premium product that comes packed with thousands of sounds, extensive customization options, world-class software, and a highly-functional pad system, our pick is the Alesis Strike Multipad – 9-Trigger Percussion Pad.
On the other hand, for those searching for an affordable, compact electronic drum pad, the Pyle-Pro Portable is our top pick. Its unique outline, portable design, and bargain price tag make it the best value electronic drum pad on our list.
Looking for a youth drum set? Check out our review of the top electronic drum sets for kids.