It doesn’t matter how good your electronic drum set is unless you have a great amp to showcase all its power and versatility. It is crucial to get a great amp that is strong, and that has great sound quality.
You also need to make sure your amp is highlighting your electronic drum’s good points, and not making its bad points more obvious. Whether you are using your electronic drums from practicing or for performing, a good quality amp is key to enhancing your sound.
Top Pick: Alesis TRANSACTIVE400Buy from Amazon
Firing the big guns, the Alesis Transactive 400 gives an insane load of 200 watts of consistent power (which is also 400 watts peak power), and it is still able to keep its top audio quality with an affordable price.
We also found the sound from the Alesis Transactive 400 is incredibly realistic and clean, helping tip the scale in its favor.
Here are a few tips on what to look for in a good quality drum amp, and a few reviews to help you get started shopping (inlcluding more on the top pick below).
In all the years that I have been playing the electronic drums, I never really thought that much about the amp until I found myself on stage with the set. I normally used my acoustic drums for performances, but the lightweight and easy to carry electronic drums had won out this time.
I soon found out that my amp was not right for the situation, and I learned quickly how important it is to do your homework and to find an amp that would make me sound brilliant when I was performing. Doing your research will help you avoid that mistake, and you will find yourself much more confident on stage with a great sounding amp.
Types of Sound Systems
1. Speaker Combinations
If you have done any research, you have found that speaker combinations are usually recommended for a sound system. Many of the same manufacturers that make electronic drum sets also make amplifiers and speakers. This means that the amplifiers will be enhanced to work with your drum set.
That doesn’t mean you can’t use an amplifier from another manufacturer. You should be able to use an amplifier from any manufacturer successfully by checking the specific requirements on the sound equipment to see if your drum kit is compatible with it. Sometimes guitar and bass amplifiers will also work, but you want to try and use amplifiers made for drums to get the best result. These amps are better able to amplify lower drum tones than other amps.
2. Passive Speaker and Amplifier Combos
When you are looking at combos, you will see a passive speaker and amplifier combo as an option. Passive speakers need to have an amplifier to make any sound. Amplifiers feed sound signals to the speakers, and they come with sound settings.
If you are using your drum kit professionally, having a passive speaker and amplifier combination will allow you to have better control of your sound. Always check their specifications to make sure the amplifier will work well with the passive speaker. It is usually best to buy them from the same manufacturer to ensure compatibility.
3. Powered Speakers
If you are a beginner or just play for fun, powered speakers are a good option for you because they come with built-in amplifiers. This requires less equipment for you to have to carry and set up, plus there are fewer cords to have to deal with.
Since it’s built-in, you also don’t have to worry about modifying amp setting to get a good sound. Powered speakers are often called “active” speakers, and this is just a reference to their inner wiring.
Before you start any installation, you need to arrange your equipment wherever you are going to practice or perform. It is best to set up your speakers on either side of the stage so you can stay away from any microphone interference. Also, make sure to not plug in any equipment until everything is connected by cables.
Once you find both the drum module and the module output jack on your electronic drum set, you can connect your module to the speakers. Most output jacks will accommodate ¼ inch cables, but if your output jack is a different size you can always buy a converter to accept the ¼ inch cables. It’s helpful if your ¼ inch cables are pretty long.
After plugging in the cable with your amplifier, stop and test the sound by first turning the volume to zero and slowly raising the sound until you reach the perfect level while you test your drums.
Working on Your Sound
It is important to be able to adjust the settings to your preferences on your drum module. One basic control that most drum modules have is the ability to control the different tones created by your drums. You should also be able to alter the volume of both low and high notes, and you should be able to change the timbre of the notes when you “change” the drum sets in your drum set.
It should also be possible to rotate through varying popular high-end acoustic drums in your drum module. Less expensive drum modules may not have some of these features, but they are a great addition if they do.
A pretty standard piece of equipment for any band is a mixing board that allows them to adjust their music quality. It is often difficult for some mixing boards to deal with the low bass tones that an electric drum set has.
If those notes are sounding dull, or your mixer doesn’t have enough input space, you may need to have your own specific sound mixer. If you find you are not using a lot of cymbal sounds when you are performing, a line-level mixer will work for you. Otherwise, another good choice is a mike-and-line mixer. Any of these mixers are easy to pick up at music stores.
When you are playing, are you noticing that the lower drum notes are flat? You may need to adjust the treble and bass knobs on the amplifier. It should be easy to turn them up to amplify the low notes, and to turn them down to make the low notes softer. If your amplifier has this feature, you will find the sound knobs on the front side of the amplifier.
We have all seen amplifiers that are stacked on top of one another, but what is the advantage of them? Basically, these have more power since they are bigger. The disadvantage, of course, is that if you are just starting you don’t need all that power. Beginners should skip the stacks and get a style that includes the amp head and speaker in one unit.
It’s a lot easier to move with most coming with a carrying handle. A combo amplifier is a basic piece of equipment that is powerful enough to work well in a small to a medium venue when you are just starting to perform.
Remember vacuum tubes from old TVs and radios? Well, they still exist in amplifiers, and they have several advantages.
Distortion – If you love that fuzzy distortion sound, a vacuum tube lets you push a lot of power into the tube so that it will produce some distortion. It will also give you plenty of sustain that keeps a note ringing after the musician is done playing it. These sounds are still popular today, especially in blues and rock music, so it isn’t surprising that tube amps are still available today.
Dynamic Response – Sensitivity is also a feature of the vacuum tube. With even the slightest touch, a high-end tube amplifier will respond. They are very good at finding those subtle differences when you play, and it should give you a change in sound from when you play harder and softer.
Vacuum tubes are also very warm or mellow and rich, and they are very well-known for this trait.
Alternatives to Vacuum Tubes: Advantages of Solid-State Amps
If you aren’t into vacuum tubes, the alternative is the more modern Solid-State amp.
Durability – If you want a maintenance free amp, the solid-state design is perfect for you. It is also more lightweight than the vacuum tube.
Affordability – These amps are also much more affordable since there isn’t the need to install a complex tube. Since they are inexpensive to make, that makes them much more affordable.
Versatility – Solid-state amplifiers can also produce distortion, only they do it artificially. There is no limit to the number of sounds it can make, and it easily recreates the sounds of other models. This means that you really only need one amp that can sound like all the rest combined.
The wattage or power of an amp is very important. Basically the higher the wattage, the more power there is.
- 1-30 watts – Small amps
- 30-60 watts – Mid-sized amps
- 60+ watts – Large amps
The only problem with this system is that not all companies use the same numbers in the same way. So a company may have a 40-watt amp that does not compare well with another company’s 40-watt amp. Here are a few tricks to figure out the wattage from the amps specs:
- Wattage can be thought of as a volume analog that means the louder the amp, the higher the number.
- In tube amps, a watt counts extra. If it is described as a “Class A”, it can be as loud as a 40-watt solid-state amp.
- You have more control over distortion if you have a higher power level in a tube amp.
- Make sure you have a headphone jack if you are buying an amp for practicing, so you can practice quietly around others. This is more important than the wattage number.
- If you are buying your first amp, a “small” range amp should be powerful enough for practicing, jamming, and small venue performances.
After hours of testing and research, here's the final competition.
|Hear a clean image of the sonic output that you are creating on the kit||Out of stock|
|This is a lightweight amp that is extremely durable||Check on Amazon|
|Well-rounded amp can be used as either a practice speaker or as an onstage monitor||$239.00|
|Has a 2.1 channel monitor system that is one of the most compact monitor systems you will find||Out of stock|
|Compact design that works really well with small drum kits||$299.99|
|High volume is due to the two 50 watt mid and high-frequency amps||Out of stock|
|Specially tuned for electronic drums||$235.00|
|Comes with a 3 band EQ||Check on Amazon|
|Incredibly durable and its rugged construction guarantees a long-lasting life||$89.99|
Our Top Recommendation: Alesis TRANSACTIVE400View on Musician's Friend View on Amazon
We’ll fire the big guns right from the get-go. For our top recommendation, we are going with the Alesis Transactive 400 Electronic Drum Stage Amplifier. Why do you ask? Well, it only gives an insane load of 200 watts of consistent power (which is also 400 watts peak power), and it is still able to keep its top audio quality with an affordable price.
The sound from the Alesis Transactive 400 is incredibly realistic, and you are definitely going to hear a clean image of the sonic output that you are creating on the kit. Plus, it comes with a standard set of tonal controls that is included with the kit that lets you create any type of tweak to the audio that you prefer, such as a brighter tone, more bass, or a little more punch.
The Alesis Transactive 400 also includes a set of basic stereo 1/4 inch and RCA inputs, a set of stereo 1/4 inch outputs, plus a 1/4 inch stereo link output that has an assigned left/right/stereo selector. If you are looking for a drum amp, you can’t beat the quality of the Alesis Transactive 400, and is an excellent value.
Current Amazon.com price: Out of stock
- Great sound for an awesome price
- A lot of power and great frequency response
- Realistic sound, and you can hook amps together with it
- The size of the amp is bigger than you expect
Runner Up: Simmons DA50View on Musician's Friend View on Amazon
The Simmons DA 50 Electronic Drum Set Monitor is a better choice for those that are watching their budget, or someone who is just starting out. Despite the great price, it is still a drum amp that has high-quality features that could be used as a stage monitor. It features 50 watts of power, and it a great sounding amp to use in practice, or when you are performing live.
Heavy-duty 10-inch woofers, headphone input for practicing silently, a high-frequency tweeter, and an MP3 input are just a few of the additional features you will find in the DA 50.
This is a lightweight amp that is extremely durable, so it can take a beating when you are transporting it. It is also easy to use. If you are looking for an affordable amp in the $200 price range, this sound system is really all you need.
Current Amazon.com price: Check on Amazon
- Very budget friendly
- Lightweight and easy to use
- Very durable and heavy duty
- Not enough power
Other Drum Amps to Consider:View on Musician's Friend View on Amazon View on Guitar Center
A little higher priced option, but still pretty affordable is the ddrum’s DDA50 amp. Like the Simmons DA 50, the ddrum’s DDA 50 is an extremely accurate and efficient monitor. This well-rounded amp can be used as either a practice speaker or as an onstage monitor. This device will give a nice clean sound that is distortion free, as long as you don’t overload it. You will get a nice realistic image of what your performance is like, as a good monitor should give you.
The ddrum’s DDA 50 gives you 50 watts of power and a 10-inch subwoofer. An adjacent 2.5-inch tweeter, an MP3 input, three ¼ inch inputs, a headphone output for jamming silently, and an XLR line out are also included.
If you need to make sonic adjustments, you can use the included three-band EQ that lets you adjust the audio output to fit your preferences. It’s also a great looking amp that is always a great match with a good sounding amp. This is one of the better amps you will find on the market.
- Great for playing quietly at night due to the direct orientation of the speaker towards you
- Nice full sound with crisp highs at low volumes
- You get a lot more than you expect with this amp
- Doesn’t work with microphones
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The Yamaha MS40DR was created for home use. It has a 2.1 channel monitor system that is one of the most compact monitor systems you will find. This is a great feature if you have pretty tight space options in your home. It is also a very chic looking monitor with an all-black design that should match well in whatever room you put it in. it includes both right and left speakers that can be fastened to the rack, plus a subwoofer.
You will get an intense and realistic stereo sound from these speakers that will make you feel like you are playing on an acoustic set. The set has a total of 20 watts of power in each of the two satellite speakers, and 40 watts of power in the subwoofer.
This is a very convenient system that can be fastened to any DTX drum rack except for the Hexrack. At time of publishing, it was also one of the most affordable systems on our list.
Current Amazon.com price: Out of stock
- Great product for the price
- Easy set up and installation
- Having the volume of base and tweeters separate is a great feature
- Doesn’t come with a lot of bells and whistles
The Roland PM-10 Personal Monitor Amplifier was created to be portable and to work along with the Roland V-Drums. It is a compact design that works really well with small drum kits. It has a very high rating with customers, and it comes with several options for mixing input and for integrating it with other audio sources.
The Roland PM-10 comes with a 30-watt amplifier and a 10″ 2-way coaxial speaker. You will be thrilled by how durable it is and how easy it is to carry, especially with the included handle that makes transporting it a breeze. This is a great addition to the Roland V-Drums, but it can also be used with keyboards, guitars, and MP3 players. The Roland PM-10 is another affordable option on our list coming in at $299.99 on Amazon.
- Excellent sound, great for using onstage
- Easy access to the volume and tone controls while you are playing
- Excellent build quality
- Not as loud as you would expect
Another favorite among customers is the Simmons DA 200S Electronic Drum Set Monitor. This is a great option for a drummer to use in the studio or live on stage. It has a 100-watt low-frequency amplifier that gives you a full stereo field to place each of your drums at just the right sonic location.
One advantage of this monitor is that it is really loud, but really clean. The high volume is due to the two 50 watt mid and high-frequency amps that come with the monitor.
This amp also lets you plug in your iPhone allowing you the convenience of being able to play along with your favorite songs through the speaker. It is also easy to transport with the included ribbed handle. This is another safe choice for a monitor at a reasonable price.
Current Amazon.com price: Out of stock
- Great product for the price
- Great for practicing
- Has more power than you will need
- Not lightweight, and it’s a little muddy sounding
The Kat Percussion Amplifier has a strong 50-watt sound output, and three ¼ inch inputs for other sound sources or instruments. This amp is specially tuned for electronic drums, and it comes with a three band EQ so you can fine tune your electronic drum kit. It is easy to transport to practice and to gigs with its large carry handle.
The KAT Percussion Amplifier is ideal for a small room or a small practice space. It is specifically designed to work with digital drums, so it can help the drums realize their most precise acoustic response. It is a durable amp that will last you awhile. This is also one of the more affordable drum amps.
Current Amazon.com price: $249.99
- Great sounding, easy to transport
- Easy to fine tune your electronic kit
- Very durable, it will last you awhile
- Not a great amp for a large space
The ddrum Kickback Amplifier the perfect compact drum amp for practicing or for playing in small venues. It comes with a 10” subwoofer and a 2 ½” adjacent tweeter, plus a ton of other features. The monitor comes with three 1/4” inputs, an MP3 input, an XLR line out, and headphone output for quiet practicing.
This is a 200-watt amp that also has a 3 band EQ so you can fine tune your output to your preferences. This is a very affordable drum amp atCheck on Amazon.
Current Amazon.com price: Check on Amazon
• Very affordable amp for some starting out
• Comes with a 3 band EQ, so you can make adjustments to your sound
• Has a ton of features for the price
• Does not work well in large venues
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The Behringer Ultratone KT108 is a very compact two channel amplifier that is also very versatile. It is a powerful 20-watt amplifier that has an 8” dual cone BUGERA speaker that gives you wide frequency response. There are two inputs for instruments, plus separate volume controls with each channel.
You will get superb sound shaping with the three band EQ, and get tube-like sound with the Virtual Tube Circuitry (VTC). It also includes a CD input that allows you to play along with your favorite songs, and a separate output for a headphone that allows you to practice silently.
The Behringer Ultratone is incredibly durable and its rugged construction guarantees a long-lasting life. The clean and powerful sound, plus its versatility, make it a great choice for both performances and rehearsals. This is also the lowest-priced drum amp on our list.
Current Amazon.com price: $89.99
- Very versatile and extremely affordable
- Can play along to your favorite music
- Has the vintage sound of a vacuum tube with its Virtual Tube Circuitry
- Hits the low notes well, but not as good with the middle or high notes