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Traditional VS Electric Drum Set - What's Better for Recording?

If you are a drummer, chances are you have contemplated the differences between a traditional drum set and an electric drum kit. Each has something to offer and presents a different set of choices to the drummer. The traditional, or acoustic, set involves wood shells, metal cymbals, and metal or wood snares. An electric, or electronic, drum kit has pads made of plastic, rubber, or mesh for drum heads. Sound is produced by a sound module and relayed to an amplifier or headset. Both drum kit types can be found at the Drum Center of Portsmouth, as well as expert recommendations on the differences between the two.  

Both types of kits have their pros and cons of course. Often the choice boils down to playability and practicality. Some drummers often switch between the two types as there is a difference in requirements between playing live and recording. We will be focusing on these recording strengths and weaknesses here. When it comes to recording, both types have a lot to offer.  

 

Playability  

An essential element to any drum set is the playability. For acoustic versus electronic, this will be affected by how much money you can spend on your kit. Cheap electronic drums do not play anywhere near as well as cheap acoustic drums. The electric aspects of triggering do not translate well on a cheap kit. Responsiveness will not be as strong. 

Playability will also depend on the strength of your drumming technique. Recording on a cheap electronic kit tends not to pick up poor playing abilities. A cheap acoustic kit will definitely pick up poor playing techniques on a recording. If you want a playable electric kit, you will have to be willing to spend money and invest for larger pads and better triggers. If you are not willing to invest, you should go with an acoustic kit.  

 

Recording Space  

The first factor in choosing between the two types of drum set is the space you are working in. Where do you intend to record? Of course, a studio is the ideal location, but not always a possibility. The space you are in will affect the way the sound carries and records. Is this a home studio? If so, you will have to factor in your surroundings.  

If you are recording at home, which is quite popular these days, you will need to consider room acoustics. It is quite popular to record at home to playback and critique personal technique. However, if this is done on an acoustic kit with poor room acoustics, the recording might not be helpful. The sound quality has to be controlled with dampening devices and acoustic panels in a home studio. Sound engineering basics also come into play.  

If you are recording at home, an electronic drum set might be easier. You trigger professional drum samples with a higher standard of production and recording. This is ideal for those looking to produce covers of songs or ones without the cash flow to record in a professional studio. 

Another factor is just how much noise you will make while recording. Acoustic drums are loud, so not always ideal depending on your space. If you are recording in your apartment building, acoustic drum kits will not be the best choice. If you do want an acoustic set, you might need sound dampening tools to stay on good terms with neighbors.  

Sound bleed is an important factor when considering your recording locations. Since electronic drums use headset, these kits work well in spaces where you cannot record or play loudly. 

 

Budget  

As mentioned, a cheap kit is not the best move. However, what is a good budget for an acoustic or electronic set? The experts at the Drum Center of Portsmouth can help with this. We also have a wide inventory with options for every budget. Essentially, you are looking at around $1000 for an electronic kit.  

An acoustic kit would be more affordable, but still costs money to have a quality product. If you are recording at home, you will also need to factor in $200 or so to create an acoustic-friendly space. Acoustic sets are typically better for those on a tight budget.  

 

The Bottom Line  

There are pros and cons to each type, especially when it comes to recording. Here is the bottom line for both:    

Electronic drums do not record well if they are cheap. You have to be willing to spend a decent amount of money to have a large enough drum set and cymbal pads. You will also need a drum module and sampling software. Electronic drums are best for

  • Practicing at home when noise levels are a concern 
  • Recording Instagram/YouTube quality drum covers and video 
  • Recording high-quality tracks with the right software

 

Acoustic drums also have their pros and cons. While you can produce a sufficient product with a cheap acoustic set, you will spend more time worrying about sound bleeds depending on where you are recording. Acoustic sets work best for:   

  • Live performances 
  • Low budget 
  • Beginners just starting to record and learn proper technique  

It really isn’t a battle between both types. Instead, think of both as tools with different strengths. Many seasoned professionals switch between the two when recording. Just base the decision on your main needs and goals. Which one would be a cost-effective addition and choice? If you are recording regularly, which one will work best for your recording needs and space? If you are not sure how to answer these questions, let the team at the Drum Center of Portsmouth help you!