Electronic drum sets have become the go-to choice for those players who want to save space at home and stay friendly with the neighbours throughout their drumming journey. With ever improving technology, amazing features and falling prices, there are more and more plus sides to owning an e-kit. One consideration we do need to make though is how we choose to hear the kit.
Unlike an acoustic drum kit we need some method of monitoring the sound. In the situations where a pair of headphones just won’t cut the mustard, or you simply prefer to hear your playing out loud, a dedicated e-drum monitoring system is the way to go. In this guide we’ll take a look at the best options on the market right now.
We're covering options for ever budget and we have some handy buying advice further down the guide too.
Best electronic drum amps and monitors: Our top picks
While there are many strong contenders among big-name entries from Roland, Laney and Carlsbro, we’re choosing the Alesis Strike Amp 12 as our top pick. The massive 2000w of powered speaker is crammed into a compact and sleek package and it really packs a wallop. It can be positioned in a multitude of ways, has multiple inputs and a direct output. Alesis is well known for offering a lot of bang for buck, too.
If you’re enjoying the sound of your e-kit through a pair of drum-specific headphones but pine for the physical feedback of an acoustic drum kit then try out a Porter & Davies BC-X tactile monitoring system. It delivers the feel of a subwoofer without any of the volume.
Best electronic drum amps and monitors: Product guide
This PA speaker-style wedge speaker shares its name with Alesis’ flagship electronic drum set range - the Strike Pro. Its massive 2000 watt power is smuggled into a surprisingly small package which delivers a maximum of 131dB.
In addition to a 12” woofer and high-frequency compression driver, the Strike Amp features an EQ contouring setting (boosting high and low frequencies +3dB) and ground noise reduction.
The PA style speaker can be pole mounted, laid horizontally or stood vertically (in which it can also be tipped back for a more convenient listening angle) so you can place it where you need around your kit. Two separate inputs allow for multiple sources and an output allows for daisy chaining of multiple speakers.
The PM-200 is currently Roland’s flagship V-Drums monitor. This large wedge-style speaker cabinet has an angled design to offer the optimum sound for seated players.
An inbuilt mixer includes a dedicated drum input and a separate line input for a second instrument or a device for music playback. Bass and treble dials allow for fine tuning frequency response.
Direct XLR outputs can be found on the back of the unit for sending the signal elsewhere. This makes the PM-200 ideal for using on stage. For lesser requirements also check out the smaller Roland PM-100.
A more portable version of the Strike Amp 12 at number one in this best electronic drum amps guide, this one uses a smaller 8” woofer rather than 12”. It does however feature the same powerful 2000-watt amplifier as its big brother.
Connectivity is identical to the Strike Amp 12 which includes two separate volume controlled inputs and an XLR output for linking multiple speakers. There are also controls for EQ contour and eliminating ground noise.
Investing in a pair of these small and lightweight speakers could be just the ticket for immersive stereo sound.
From a big name in guitar amplification, Laney’s DrumHUB offers 80 watts of power delivered through a 10” custom woofer and 3” coaxial tweeter. The cabinet itself has been designed to enhance bass frequencies for harder hitting low-end.
For such a small amp the DrumHUB boasts an impressive amount of inputs and outputs. Most impressive of all is the Bluetooth auxiliary input which memorises the pairing of your favourite device.
Two mini-jack inputs allow for two kits (or other instruments) to be connected in addition to the wired or Bluetooth aux input. There’s even two band EQ, a direct XLR output and a headphone output.
This wildcard entry is a monitoring system with a twist. Porter & Davies thrones use bone conduction technology to allow low frequencies to be felt and even heard without causing any external noise.
These ‘tactile monitoring systems’ work best in addition to an existing speaker setup or headphones/in-ear monitors. Using a special drum throne top powered by a separate amplification unit called the ‘engine’, the system delivers physical feedback from an electronic kit that would otherwise be lacking through a small speaker.
The BC-X is the most affordable P&D option and features a round 13” all-vinyl throne and compact 8″x7″x4″ engine. The dual input also allows for a bass drum mic to be used if playing an acoustic kit.
This rugged 60-watt amp from SubZero boasts a large 12” speaker along with 3-band EQ and a host of separately controlled inputs.
The ability to run three sound sources independently makes the DR-60 ideal for practicing with other musicians and is a particularly welcome addition at such a low price point.
This sleek 2.1 unit features a 5” woofer and two 3” full range speakers for a stereo sound. With a combined output of 30 watts it’s not the most powerful option out there but would be well suited to a small setup such as the Roland TD-1.
The compact tower design of the PM-03 results in a small footprint and takes up less than 10 inches of floor space, making it easy to place anywhere within the kit. Connections are limited to a stereo mini-jack or separate left and right 1/4” jack inputs. There is also an auto standby feature which saves power after 30 minutes of non-use.
This 30-watt amplifier from Carlsbro is designed to best reproduce the frequencies from an electronic drum kit. It uses a 10” coaxial loudspeaker which means that the woofer and tweeters are combined into one structure.
Three band EQ allows control over bass, mid and treble frequencies and a mini-jack line input allows connection of a separate device for playing music. There are also separate 1/4” jack inputs for left and right channels.
The EDA30 is the smallest amp of the Carlsbro EDA family with the next available option being the 50-watt EDA50.
The DM-30 is a relatively simplistic yet sleek e-drum amp with an inbuilt 30-watt amplifier and 10” coaxial loudspeaker. Three band EQ allows control over low, mid and high frequencies customising your overall drum sound.
1/4” jack inputs allow the connection of drums (left and right) and a separate auxiliary input. Both of these channels can be mixed separately which is perfect for playing along to music.
The DM-30’s small stature and ease of use makes it perfect for beginners looking to break free of headphones during quiet practice.
Best electronic drum amps and monitors: Buying advice
What should I look for in an electronic drum amp?
Headphones are the go-to option for convenience and quiet e-drum practice, but where does that leave us when we want to jam with other musicians or show off our new chops to whoever may care to listen? Sometimes it just feels better to move some air and feel the punch of the drums as nature intended. Monitors which have been designed specifically for e-drums will more faithfully reproduce these desired frequencies.
How much power does my e-kit amp need?
Do you know your woofers from your tweeters? The fundamental factors that set these amps apart from each other are how much power they can produce (measured in watts), connectivity options in terms of inputs and outputs and whether the system delivers mono or stereo sound. E-drum brands such as Roland and Alesis produce their own speaker systems but it’s not necessary to match brands unless you really want to. Any kit will connect with any amp so keep your options open.
Consider when you might use the monitor and in what situations. If it’s just for quiet practice at home then a smaller, less powerful (and usually cheaper) amp will do the trick. If you plan to take it on stage then a bigger speaker (such as a 12”) would be a wiser plan. If having a good spread of sound is a priority then consider a stereo speaker or even buying a pair of mono speakers if budget allows.
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