Koby Mesh Head Electronic Drum Kit review

Koby have a reputation for making fine electronic drum paraphernalia, and this compact rig offers good value and feel

  • £649
The ability to vary the tension of the pad surfaces gets you closer to the feel of a ‘real´ kit than rubber pads

MusicRadar Verdict

This set-up demonstrates the company's ability to deliver real value for money, and its direct-to-customers nature means you don't deal with a middle man if anything goes wrong. According to Mr Koby, Colin Schofield, the company is all about offering alternatives and workable, flexible solutions to discerning drummers and on the evidence of this Z-ED-based set-up they've succeeded in doing just that again.


  • +

    Good feeling pads. Simple to set-up and use. Compact nature.


  • -

    Drum key ‘tuning’ would be nice.

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This electronic drum set as supplied mirrors a standard five-piece set-up, with kick, snare and three tom mesh head pads and a simple but effective-looking rack on which to affix everything. Koby's relatively small scale means that the company is flexible in the manner in which it supplies its products, so you can buy any of these component parts as separates.

If you're after a full rig, Koby also manufactures cymbal pads that you can add to this little lot for a modest extra outlay.

Z-ED heads

The pads are Koby's new Z-ED types and are similar to the new generation from other brands that have made their way onto the market and into stores in the last few years. The units consist of a moulded plastic chassis, or shell, on to which is mounted a chrome hoop with rubber-covered rim and tensionable mesh head.

The Z-EDs are reasonably light weight, but give the impression that no little effort has gone into their design and construction - the only thing that didn't agree with us was the use of Allen key bolts instead of standard drum key operated rods for altering tension. It's not a big deal (the arrangement simply means you need to ensure that you have one in your stick bag, after all), but therest of the kit is drum key tweakable, so it would have been useful if that method had been carried across here.

Four of the five pads here are 10" units, which are plenty big enough to offer a useful playing surface without being over sized, while the kick pad differs by being built to an 8"diameter. The kick is simply mounted on an L-shaped bracket, which is secured to the rack by a stainless steel rod - once you've got this clamped tight and a bass drum pedal is attached it is a remarkably sturdy approach.

Rack it up

The rack itself is a good-looking affair as far as we're concerned. The silvery grey of the main tubes makes them about as sexy as a collection of metal tubes can be and although it doesn't offer the cleverness of Roland's TD-20K rig (which hides all the cables in its tubing, allows impressively easy foldability, makes the tea, that kind of thing), it's a far more affordable proposition and works fine.

For what is a modest assemblage of bits and pieces - a couple of feet, two uprights and a cross-beam make up the skeleton of the kit -Koby's new rig goes together well and flinches very little at the level of abuse that will be regularly meted out. As mentioned above, the various clamp parts of the set-up are all operated by drum key as opposed to large wing nuts or the like. This slows set-up down a tad, but the fact that the kit is well thought-out and pretty straightforward means that faffing about is kept to a minimum.

You may be concerned that round tubes and simple plastic clamps might make for much slippage when the kit is used in anger, but we did not find that to be the case. At least, we didn't once we had experienced the front bar and associated pads rotate slowly outwards and then towards the floor in the first few seconds of use. A quick extra notch of tightness and things stayed just where they should have done for the remainder of the review period.

For peace of mind and ease of set-up some form of memory lockability would be useful, particularly if you plan to take the rig out gigging. You shouldn´t be too phased about the rack moving about, but fixed positions for clamps would certainly ensure that set-up and de-rig are as quick as possible.

Another fine mesh

The sensible, simple set-up procedure is backed up by excellent performance where the pads are concerned. Mesh heads are much less of a novelty than they were a few years ago, but it is still gratifying to find that the playing surfaces of the Z-EDs are quite as forgiving and responsive as they are.

The ability to increase or decrease the tension means that, although such units will never feel exactly like playing an acoustic drum, you are in with a better chance of getting close to the feel of a 'real' kit than you ever will be with rubber pads. We used a couple of handy Roland and Yamaha sound modules for the most part when using the Koby kit and experienced precisely no problems in hooking up either system.

The Koby Z-ED snare pad is a dual-zone unit, so you will need to use a brain that supports head and rim triggering from such a pad - the rest of those present are straightforward single-zoners and it is simply a case of plugging the 1/4" jack-equipped leads (which are supplied with the kit) from the pads to the rear of the brains to get sounds happening.

The only fiddling necessary to get things sweet was a decrease in tension on the snare head and a slight increase in trigger sensitivity in relation to the same pad. Once this is done, the pairing of the Z-EDs with either brain is a marriage made in heaven, or near enough. The playing surfaces offer plenty of feel and are of a decentenough size, which makes for a generous target area while still allowing for a pretty compact set-up.

Music Radar Team

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