While they still generate sound, electronic drums only produce a fraction of the noise you’d hear from loud acoustic drums. On electronic drums, you only hear rubber or mesh pads being struck, thuds from pressing on the hi-hat and bass pedals, and sound from an amp (if you don’t wear headphones).
There are a number of factors that will influence how loud your electronic drum set will be…
The type of drum heads you have, whether you use a bass pedal beater or not, and whether you listen through headphones or speakers all affect the amount of noise your drumming will create.
Acoustic drums, regardless of how much you try to minimize the noise, can be heard next door, down the hall, upstairs or downstairs, or even a house or two away in some cases.
If you are trying to play the drums with as little noise as possible, there is no comparison to electronic drum sets.
Having said that, there are some noises that could disturb neighbours in older houses, or compact dwellings like apartments, regardless of what you do.
Nevertheless, we have some tips on how to minimize those noises below, too.
Fortunately, music shops know that you can’t always be sure that a new electronic drum set will be suitable for your home, and as a result often offer returns (be sure to check the rules on returns with each individual seller).
If you’re looking to buy your first electronic drum set – check out my professional recommendations to help you find the best electronic drum set for you.
The following article will help you better understand how you can minimise electronic drum set noise, but if I had to make one recommendation, it would be the following…
Don’t worry about getting a perfect, silent electronic drum set, as no such instrument exists.
I’d recommend jumping in, trying one out, and seeing what happens!
How loud are electronic drums compared to acoustic drums?
Let’s break down the differences between acoustic and electronic drums and discover why electronic drums are much quieter.
Acoustic drum sets have metal cymbals that create an explosive amount of high-frequency sound when struck.
Even when lightly tapped, cymbals ring out considerably, and those high frequencies travel very easily through hollow or thin walls, spaces around doors, any ventilation, or weak surfaces like windows.
With electronic drum sets, there are no metal cymbals – just rubber pads, so the only noise produced is the sound of your wooden drumsticks hitting the rubber.
Rubber pads still generate some noise, but it’s no contest when compared to traditional metal cymbals.
The other large contributor of sound from acoustic drum sets is resonance from within the drum shells.
When you hit an acoustic drum head, the energy travels through the entire drum, bouncing off the wooden shells of the tom, snare, or bass drum, and outward across the room.
Traditionally, acoustic drums were designed to communicate across long distances, thanks to the resonance that these instruments generate.
But on an electronic drum set, you are striking a non-resonant surface like rubber or mesh, so the noise you produce is much quieter.
The hardest-to-manage factor of acoustic drums is the bass drum.
Bass frequencies travel through just about anything and everything.
So even if you live down the hall, upstairs or downstairs, or even a house or two away, the bass from a bass drum can be heard.
The bass drum on electronic sets are simply rubber surfaces that only produce the noise of the pedal beater hitting the rubber, without these loud bass frequencies.
Hi-Hat and Bass Pedals
The only factor that remains the same between acoustic and electronic drum sets are the pedals.
While you can avoid most of the noise issues from acoustic drums when using electronic drums, you will continue to hear the thud, vibration, and sometimes squeaking of the hi-hat and bass drum pedals.
These thuds do travel through the floor – however, there are a number of ways to reduce the noise, which we’ll discuss further later on.
How loud are electronic drums with mesh heads vs rubber heads?
The kind of drum heads you have on your electronic set will influence how loud they are.
Rubber heads will generate more noise as they are harder than other drum head materials.
Mesh heads deliver a quieter experience as the material is soft and pliable.
There is a less defined striking sound because the surface isn’t as solid. Even so, you will still hear the sound of the stick impacting the fibres.
It’s worth noting that there will always be some rubber surfaces on your kit (as cymbals tend to function better as rubber).
I’d personally recommend the Roland TD-1DMK if you’re looking for a great sounding kit that uses mesh heads.
How loud are electronic drums? Your other noise reduction options
Many houses won’t require any of these additional noise reduction options, but if you’re still having issues with your drums, these are certainly worth considering.
Soft Beater Pedals
Please note: This solution is not suitable for bass drums that have a mesh head, as a soft beater can wear down the mesh fibres.
Some bass pedals are louder by design.
Hard plastic beaters often clank or vibrate more, so choosing a quieter beater is an excellent start to keeping the volume down while playing.
A soft beater pedal is an affordable add-on which reduces the volume of your bass drum.
It’s not a stand-alone solution, but it does take your volume reduction in the right direction.
Beaterless Kick Pedals
If you want to take your bass pedal dampening even further, a beaterless kick pedal is likely to be your best option.
While a beaterless pedal will still cause some vibration and an audible thud, it won’t be striking against a rubber pad, meaning you minimize pedal noise significantly.
Some electronic drum sets, like the Roland DTX402K, come with a beaterless kick pedal included.
You can also opt for an electronic drum set that doesn’t have a bass drum pedal included, and choose a beaterless pedal of your own.
If you want to take your noise reduction as far as it will possibly go, there are some beaterless pedals that are specifically designed to be ultra-quiet for low-noise home practice.
The KT-9 for Roland drum sets is one such choice, the design of the pedal ensures a considerable reduction in sound without sacrificing playability or natural pedal response.
In fact, it can reduce up to 85% of the sound you’ll hear in your practice space.
Roland have also designed purpose-built “noise eaters” that can be placed under their drum stand feet and pedals.
These noise eaters greatly reduce the ambient vibration and thud produced from operating your drum pedals.
Here’s an example video of how the NE-10 Noise Eater reduces the sound your pedals make. In this particular example, loud pedals are being used, so choosing quieter pedal options would likely reduce the volume further.
There are two separate Noise Eater products you can buy, the NE-1 and the NE-10.
It is best to couple the NE-1 Noise Eater Isolation Feet along with the NE-10 Noise Eater Isolation Boards for improved results.
Together, they significantly reduce the volume of sound reaching your neighbours.
Noise Isolation Floors
The last noise-dampening solution is the most cumbersome but also can be the most effective.
A noise isolation floor consists of a risen platform mounted on either tennis balls or sylomer foam pads.
Mounting a platform for your entire drum set onto these tennis balls or sylomer foam pads means you can absorb many of the vibrations and thuds of your drumset before they travel into your floor.
Because many of the vibrations are absorbed by the platform and tennis balls, this reduces the amount of noise your neighbours would hear.
However, this is a DIY project that requires patience, sourcing of the right materials, the right tools, some building know-how, and trial and error.
It may result in a slightly wobbly platform if not done correctly and can range from not very effective to incredibly effective depending on the materials used, and how well it is constructed.
When it comes down to it, there’s no better option than electronic drum sets if you want to minimize your drumming noise.
Of course, there will always still be some noise. The vibration and movement of the pedals and the sound of sticks hitting the drum heads.
I personally use the Roland TD-1DMK currently, which is a mesh head drum set, though as I mentioned earlier, it still does have some rubber pads and does make some noise.
It’s often worth trying a drum set that you have the option of returning (being careful to check the rules with each individual seller) so you don’t get stuck with a set that isn’t suitable.
Additionally, you can reduce the volume of Roland drum sets by buying the Roland KT-9 and FT-9 pedals and the NE-1 and NE-10 sound absorbers.
Take it even further with your own self-constructed drum riser/Noise Isolation Floor and you’ll get an even greater reduction in noise from your electronic set.
The bottom line is, electronic drum sets are the way to go for quieter drumming.
They may still produce some audible noise, thuds, and vibrations, especially in older homes, or thin floors – and to some degree, they may not be avoidable.
But if I had to choose a drum set that would be most likely to keep my neighbours happy, I’d choose an electronic drum set over an acoustic drum set every time.