Let’s face it – it sucks to be a drummer and to have to live in an apartment. Or any type of living situation where you have people that will be bothered by your drums, for that matter. If you don’t have a studio or some outside place to set up an acoustic kit, you might be stuck with not being able to play drums at all.
However, there are ways to at least be able to play or practice, even if you prefer playing on your acoustic kit. Electronic drums have come a long way, and there are plenty of affordable options that will allow you to keep drumming even while you are in an apartment.
What Makes a Good Apartment Drum Kit?
The biggest issues when playing electronic drums in an apartment is the sound of tapping on the pads and the kick pad vibrating on the floor. So, it’s best to try to find kits that have quiet pads up top and on the kick. There’s also a few extra items or techniques you can use to further isolate the vibrations of whichever kit you decide to go with.
Quiet Drum & Cymbal Pads
Not all drum pads are equal in terms of acoustic noise produced. Some will sound like practice pad, and some can be very quiet and not produce much tapping sound at all. It mostly has to do with the material used in the surface of the pads.
Mesh heads will be very quiet in most instances and are popular with most brands out there including Roland and Alesis.
As far as non-mesh heads go – Yamaha makes a TCS compound that they use on drum heads that is much more quiet than a practice pad type of surface, even though it’s a harder surface.
Isolation of the Kick Pedal
The kick pad is another problem point for most electronic kits when it comes to bothering your neighbors. You can have a kit that is fairly quiet all around, but still have issues with neighbors below you hearing your foot tapping or the pedal hitting the kick pad.
For this reason, it’s good to try to find a kick tower that uses softer, less acoustic materials in design. This can be tricky, since most affordable or compact kick towers won’t necessarily be the most quiet.
There’s also the cheap drum kits that use electronic kick drum pedals. These are the types of pedals that don’t have a beater and don’t strike a pad, they just work by pressing a spring operated pedal that triggers a sound. These types of pedals are actually really quiet for apartment use, but not very fun to play in most cases.
Isolating the entire kick tower and pedal is usually the best option, and can be done with thick padded rugs or platforms with padding underneath. For example, the Roland NE-10 noise eaters are great for this. They are basically just heavy padded carpet boards that use rubber footings to isolate sound from the floor. The kick tower and pedal can be mounted right on top.
Most people living in apartments aren’t going to want to sacrifice a lot of space for a drum kit. So in most cases it’s going to be ideal to have a kit that takes up less space, has a small overall footprint, and that is potentially light enough and foldable to move out of the way easily.
Our Top Picks for Apartment Drummers
We’ll recommend a few different kits here, mostly in the budget to intermediate range. If you really want to put a Roland VAD506 in your apartment, more power to you! But we’re going to recommend some more compact and affordable kits.
Budget Recommendation: Alesis Nitro Mesh Drum Kit
This drum kit is our pick for apartment drummers on a small budget. This kit isn’t anything overly fancy, but it has a small footprint and plays nicely for it’s price. This should be considered more of a beginners kit, but more experienced drummers can find it useful if they require a smaller kit or have a smaller budget to work with.
The Nitro drum module is fairly basic but has some good sounds and lots of options for tweaking and creating new kits. It won’t sound as good as modules on more expensive kits, but it doesn’t sound bad either. It’s good enough for the price.
This kit includes mesh heads on all the drum pads and also the kick pad. This is a really nice feature for a kit in this low price range. That will help keep acoustic tapping sounds to a minimum.
Keep in mind that this kit doesn’t include a throne or headphones, so you will need to purchase a couple more things in addition to the drum kit itself before you are fully up and running.
Check Pricing or Buy Now
$1k Recommendation: Yamaha DTX6K-X Compact Drum Kit
The DTX6K-X drum kit by Yamaha is a very playable but small kit. This is our pick for drummers who have around $1000 to spend. What makes this kit ideal for apartment use is that it’s so compact and straightforward in design. It’s easy to setup and play, and it folds up easily and moves out of the way if you need to make more space.
The tom and cymbal pads aren’t the most quiet, but they are sufficient enough unless you play really hard. The kick pad is pretty quiet though, so that’s a plus for this kit. The pads are small and the whole kit doesn’t take up much space. The whole kit only weighs 25 pounds, which most people should be able to lift on their own very easily.
The best qualities of this kit are the Yamaha TCS head on the snare pad and the DTX Pro drum module. The inclusion of the DTX Pro module here is excellent and this kit punches above it’s weight because of it. You will be hard pressed to find a better sounding module on anything cheaper than this.
Check Pricing or Buy Now
Over $3k Recommendation: Roland TD-27KV2 Drum Kit
This drum kit is our premium pick for apartment drummers. This is the latest version and newest generation of Roland’s TD27KV drum kit. It’s pretty expensive with an MSRP of about $3,500 on release. If you’ve got the budget for it, it’s well worth it.
This kit features some of Roland premium level drum pads all the way around. All drum pads have mesh heads to keep tapping sounds to a minimum. The cymbals include Roland’s digital ride pad and two of their new thin crash pads. The hi-hat is Roland’s digital VH-14D pad which is very high-resolution and satisfying to play. While this kit has premium pads up top, they include a compact kick tower pad rather than a larger kick drum style pad. With the smaller rack design and compact kick tower, we feel this is a very good premium level kit that will still not take up a ton of space in an apartment. It’s easy to move around or out of the way if needed.
The rack is pretty compact, but you will need to use a traditional hi-hat stand to mount the hi-hat pad. While this adds a little more bulk, it really enhances the feel of playing the hi-hats, which is critical to discerning drummers.
In terms of play, this kit will have a feel much closer to an acoustic drum kit and practicing on this kit might translate better to later playing on an acoustic kit.
Check Pricing or Buy Now