So, you have an edrum kit and can't figure out how to best amplify the thing. This first post in this thread should answer most of the basic questions about what works best and provide links to the more detailed discussions that have taken place over the years. The second post will list by brand and model a variety of options that have been covered at one time or another here.
Yes, this is a daunting subject but what we've tried to do is put the best information in one location. We're not covering items like seperate PA amps, powered mixers, sub-woofers (except by reference), in-ear monitoring (IEM) or the nuances of live sound (unbalanced vs balanced signals or how to route signals for example). Rather, this should get you in the ballpark when it comes to picking the correct components for your specific needs. Lots of things to choose from! Let's get started.
First, make a distinction between a PA speaker and a monitor. Now, in many cases, they can used as both but some manufacturers make dedicated monitors that are fine for YOUR ability to hear but won't cut it as an amp for your audience to hear or even as a generic stage amp for other bandmates to hear. I'll try to differentiate between the two where appropriate. Keep in mind that any PA speaker will be more than adequate as a monitor. In fact, in many cases, you can look at a lower-wattage version of many speakers that will serve as an adequate monitor.
Second, whatever you get needs to reproduce the highs, lows and other qualities of electronic drums. Depending on a few things, amplification choices come down to:
The last two are not recommended. Guitar amps just suck as edrum amps and while a bass amp will do in a pinch, you lose all the highs.
- Specifically designed edrum amp (powered speaker).
- Keyboard amp (powered speaker).
- PA amp (powered speaker).
- Bass amp (powered speaker).
- Guitar amp (powered speaker).
Of the remaining three (edrum, keyboard, PA amps--unless otherwise specified, assume anything that says "amp" is referring to a "powered speaker"), all have their pros and cons. Keyboard amps are often a good entry point because of cost, ease of use or a fellow band member already has one. What's more, many edrummers find that a keyboard amp/sub-woofer combo offers the best overall sound. If you prefer to not have a sub-woofer, look at powered PA speakers that have a 15" speaker. 12" speakers typically don't provide enough low end. Some might but most don't. Lastly, a dedicated edrum amp (like Roland's TDA-700) offers everything in one package but as you'll see, cost and weight are mitigating factors with this approach if you plan on gigging. When in doubt, at least one specification to look at on any given powered speaker is the frequency response. If you're concerned about low end, look for a the lowest frequency response number you can find amongst the models in quiestion but keep in mind that that's not always a great predictor of how a speaker will sound. Remember, what is "right" is very much an individual preference.
Third, consider portability, particularly if you're regularly gigging and expected to provide much of your own PA. You already have enough edrum crap to lug and setup, believe me, having to move one or two 60+ pound speakers is no fun.
Related to second and third, you'll have to decide if you want passive speakers (1-2) powered by any kind of amp, or powered speakers. While passive speakers *can* cost less, you need to take into account the cost of the amp that's driving them. And for most applications, you'll need at least 150w. Sure, some of us get by on little 15w keyboard amps for practice and rehearsal in small spaces but if you want to really reproduce your sound, you'll need wattage to throw at the audience...not to mention to compete with the guitar player. Most of what will be discussed here will center around powered speakers.
Fourth, reliability. Time for a quick Behringer digression. If you've been playing music for even the smallest amount of time, you've either seen or heard of Behringer equipment. They offer items that are feature rich and prices which seriously undercut everybody else. There's a reason for that. Their build quality is uneven. If you search here in vdrums, you'll see plenty of stories about how Behringer products crap out in a fairly short amount of time. Others have had no problems. One trend is apparent: almost anything Behringer that's a powered amp or speaker will blow on you at levels other brands easily handle. There's a reason you won't see lengthy threads in here about how someone's JBL Eon 15 system blew up. You will see those threads on Behringer products. Now, if all you plan on doing is playing in one or two places for rehearsal purposes, and at something less than ear bleeding levels, take a look at Behringer products. If you treat them like fragile china, chances are, they'll be fine. Even then, it can be a crap shoot. So, if you plan on gigging and banging around equipment, save yourself some money and endless frustration and look to other brands for your PA/Monitor solutions. Okay, end of Behringer digression.
Fifth, cost. Many of the models listed will cost you at least $4-500 a pop and there's a tendency amongst edrummers to want to have two speakers so as to take advantage of the stereo sound of the kit. For many, if all you want to do is hear yourself at home outside of the headphones, spending a grand on what is basically a monitoring solution is a bit much. That's where you should look at the lower-powered speakers in a particular brand's line. Or go with a personal monitoring system.
Incredibly Useful Discussions
A bazillion opinions on your "amp of choice":Now that you've digested years of experience and opinions, the next post will give you a list of components as well as some discussion.
A great discussion on two of the oft-recommended amp solutions, the JBL Eon 15 and the Mackie SRM450:
You'll find references to other possible speakers and discussion on how to fix audio problems like humms and hisses.
Another thread on the same subject:
Discussion about the pros and cons of JBL and Mackie speakers:
A head-to-head comparison on the Roland KC-550 and the Peavey KB4:
A side-by-side comparison of the JBL Eon 15 G2, Mackie SRM450, Roland KC550 and Roland PM-30:
One drummer's monitoring setup for his entire band:
Even if you don't do this, you'll learn quite a bit about how to do it and most likely can find suitable substitute (read, cheaper) components to do the same thing, only less loud.
A discussion on dB Technologies and Mackie speakers in PA and monitor modes:
An explanation of the basic audio issues that will help you understand why speakers sound the way they do plus some great DIY links if you want to build your own cabinets: