Getting a MIDI drum machine used to mean shelling out a significant amount of cash, but you can now find a variety of different MIDI drum kit options that are highly affordable, letting you bring one into your home on any budget.
Below are our recommendations for the 4 best cheap MIDI drum kits on the market:
Pyle Electronics Roll-up MIDI Drum Kit
For the maximum in value and portability, this Pyle roll-up drum kit weighs less than two pounds and can be yours for a song. You can play it either with drumsticks or your hands, depending on the situation. It plugs in to your computer using a USB MIFI connection, making it easy to upload your music and communicate with all of your mixing and recording software.
The pads give you realistic sound that’s responsive to the level and speed of your touch. They are quieter than your average drum kit, however, making this a great tool for practice as well as recording. It comes with seven different sound styles and 12 pre-recorded demos that you can play along with, or you can easily switch over to recording mode to save your own sessions. In addition to the 9 pads on the kit, it comes with two digital foot pedal controllers. Simply unroll the pad on the tabletop and place the foot pedals underneath, and you can have a realistic drumming experience anytime, anywhere.
Pyle-Pro PTED01 Table Digital MIDI Drum Kit
Another great option if you’re looking for a table top drum machine is the Pyle Pro PTED01, which is both one of the best-looking options on the market and one of the most customizable options. It will give you the same nuanced control over your sound as a regular drum kit, making it perfect for all kinds of electronic music applications.
The Pyle Pro PTED01 offers you 215 different percussive voices and sounds to play around with. It doesn’t give you a whole lot of whole kit pre-sets, but this can actually be an advantage, letting you shape the sound of each drum to suit your needs instead of having to sift through a bunch of pre-sets looking for the one that comes closest to what you want. The whole package is an efficient, easy-to-use, and cheap MIDI drum kit with a lot of versatility.
Yamaha DD65 MIDI Drum Kit
Most table top drum kits are versatile and portable, but the flat, tight design can be frustrating to use for a drummer who’s used to more freedom of expression. The Yamaha DD65 is designed to feel more natural for drummers who are using the equipment, making it more useful for a wider range of users.
This drum machine has an internal ROM memory and can connect to an MP3 player using the aux in jack (see full specs), meaning you can play along with your favorite music or load MIDI tracks you download off the internet. It also comes with 254 percussion voices that you can assign to any of the 8 drum pads or two foot pedals, along with 50 pre-programmed drum kits and 100 included songs. You can also switch to a hand percussion mode to use sounds like congas and bongos more naturally. The LCD read-out and control interface on the front of the kit are easy to use, read, and navigate, letting you focus on the music.
Alesis Nitro MIDI Drum Kit
Table top models have their distinct advantages, but they are no replacement for a full electronic drum kit in some applications. You might think you can’t get a full-size MIDI drum kit if you’re on a budget, but the Alesis Nitro Kit defies this expectation, offering two foot pedals and eight sensors on a rig that will feel just like you’re playing an actual kit.
The control interface is intuitive and easy to read, letting you quickly and efficiently assign the 385 included sounds to whichever pads you want (see full specs). There are also 60 songs included for you to play along with while you practice. Because they’re designed with drummers in mind, the pads allow to make full use of the kit, including the use of cymbal chokes and rimshots, and the kit is expandable if you want to add toms or cymbals. At half the price of many other electronic drum kits on the market, the Alesis is easily among the best cheap MIDI drum kits you can find.
MIDI Drum Kits: Making Your Choice
As you can see the size and price of the available MIDI drum machines varies widely, and considering exactly what you need it for will help you to hone in on which one is the right option for you. Generally speaking, the closer you get to feeling and sounding like an acoustic drum kit, the higher your price will be. As you move up in the models, you’ll find you get more options in terms of the number of voices and playing configurations.
The portability of the drum set is also an important consideration. A full-sized electronic drum kit is still lighter in weight than a regular drum kit, but you shouldn’t expect to be able to just grab it and go. It will take some time in the set up and tear down, and may be a better option for a more stationary location like a practice room or recording studio. If you’re looking for something that will allow you to both make music and practice on the go, one of the table top models will be more likely to give you what you’re looking for.
Even cheap MIDI drum kits often give you a lot more freedom to create rhythmic lines than keyboards or other MIDI controllers, with a wide array of sounds that give it an advantage in electronic music over regular drum kits. If you want to have these sounds and functions at your disposal, any of the four options on the list above will satisfy your needs without breaking your budget. Good luck!