How to Amplify Electronic Drums (2023 Guide)
It’s very easy to amplify electronic drums. You can either use a drum amplifier, a PA system, a set of drum headphones, or connect to a speaker.
To use a drum amp, connect the audio output from the drum module to the amplifier using a 1/4″ audio cable.
This article includes a step-by-step guide for each method. If you have any questions, then be sure to ask a question in the comment section!
Amplifying Electronic Drums At a Glance
- You can easily amplify electronic drums using a drum amplifier, a PA system, headphones, or a speaker.
- To use a drum amplifier, connect a 1/4″ audio cable from the drum module’s audio output to the amplifier’s audio input.
- Make sure to avoid using the headphone output for the amplifier.
- For a PA system, connect the drum module’s audio output to the sound desk or mixing desk using a 1/4″ cable or a DI box for better sound quality.
- A DI box is an audio input box that feeds the line directly into the mixer for sound engineers to manage.
- You can connect both a drum amp or PA system and headphones simultaneously for gigs or practice.
- If you want to practice at home, you can use headphones with the headphone jack on most electronic drum sets.
How to Use a Drum Amplifier
Here is how to connect your electronic drum set to a drum amplifier
You will need A drum amp and at least one 1/4″ instrument cable.
- Turn the drum amp off.
- Connect a 1/4″ cable from the audio output of your drum module to the audio input of the drum amp (not the headphone output; these come pre-amplified and should not be used with a drum amp or PA system).
- If there are two outputs on your drum module (Left and Right), you can collect and connect one instrument cable from the LEFT, sending a mono signal from your drum module to the amplifier.
- Turn on the drum amp and increase the volume.
- Increase the master volume on your drum module (this may be different from the headphone volume knob)
Start playing your e-drums. You should now hear them play.
How to Amplify Electronic Drums Using a PA system
Using a drum amp might be too quiet if you’re playing live performances. The sound engineer or your band might want to put your electronic drums through a mixer or the sound desk in the venue.
- Connect a 1/4″ cable from the audio output of your drum module to the audio input of the drum amp.
- For better sound quality, if your drum module has a left and right output in the back, you may want to use two instrument cables and connect both to the sound desk.
- Either use an instrument cable to hook the drum module directly to the mixing desk; in many venues, a DI Box will be used (a direct input box).
- What is a DI Box? It’s like an extension box for the mixing desk. It’s an audio input box that will feed the line directly into the mixer. The sound engineer will ask you to connect the audio cable(s) from your e-drum set to the DI box.
- The sound engineer will then feed the audio from your electronic drum set to the PA system.
- If using a DI Box: If you want to get a mono signal, you can use a regular mono DI box (usually connect the LEFT audio output of your drum module to the DI box). If you want to get a stereo signal, you must use a stereo DI box with two inputs. Alternatively, you can use two separate DI boxes, and the mixing engineer will then feed these into two lines.
Therefore, it’s very easy to connect e-drums to a PA system.
Drum Amp AND Headphones at the Same Time
You can connect most electronic drum sets to a drum amp (or PA) AND headphones at the same time.
This can be useful when playing gigs. It might be useful for the drummer to be able to listen to their beats more closely. You could also even route this signal to an in-ear monitor setup (which is more advanced).
Using Headphones with Electronic Drum Sets
You do not need an amplifier if you just want to practice at home yourself. Most electronic drum sets have headphone jack headphone sockets.
You can hook in your own set of headphones very easily. If you’re trying to use a set of headphones that you currently own, then you need to get a 1/8″ to 1/4″ jack connector, depending on the type of drum module that is on your electronic drum kit.
If using headphones, then always use the headphone output instead of the direct L/R audio output from the drum module (as the volume of the direct output will likely be too low). These headphone jacks are already pre-amplified, and the drum module will often have a separate headphone volume knob compared to the master volume.
If you do not hear anything from the drum module, ensure the headphone knob is increased enough.
If you want to record electronic drums on your computer, then make sure to check out our guide on this topic.
Connect to a speaker
A speaker can also get the job done in amplifying your electronic drum set. The sound quality of regular speakers like this can vary wildly, and it’s better to use a proper PA system when playing gigs.
You need to use a speaker with the correct audio connections; alternatively, you can get an adapter or an audio mixer.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Do I need an amplifier for electronic drums?
You don’t necessarily need an amp to play electronic drums, as you can also play them with headphones. Using headphones is a cost-effective choice; many electronic drum sets even include headphones in their package.
However, an amp becomes necessary when you want to jam with friends or play in a live performance. Also, to replicate the immersive quality and power of acoustic drums, using an amp is a must.
The most effective approach is to combine an amplifier with a mixer to get the most out of an amp in terms of volume and sound quality. A mixer grants you greater control, enabling you to adjust and amplify the sound to your desired levels.
Can I use speakers for electronic drums?
Using speakers for electronic drums is also an option, but it depends on the speaker’s compatibility and power. They should have an audio port accommodating a large jack connector to use speakers effectively. If the speaker only accepts a small aux cable, it won’t be compatible with electronic drums.
If you have powerful speakers, you may achieve excellent sound quality that can compete with the output of an amplifier. However, the electronic drums may sound weak if the speakers are not sufficiently powerful. In such cases, it is advisable to use headphones for a higher-quality drum sound.
While it is possible to use speakers, it’s important to note that they are not the most optimal choice for amplifying electronic drums. Investing in a dedicated amplifier is generally recommended for a more reliable and consistent drum amplification experience.
Can I use a guitar amp for electronic drums?
Any amp that allows you to connect the electronic drum kit with a cable will work for electronic drums. However, there are specific types of amps that are better suited for enhancing the sound.
The ideal choice is a dedicated electronic drum amp, as these amps are specially designed to accommodate the unique frequency ranges produced by electronic drum kits.
The next best option would be a bass amp because it excels at reproducing strong bass frequencies, which can enhance the sound of the electronic kit’s bass drum.
While guitar amps may not have as deep bass frequencies as bass amps, they can still be used effectively with electronic drums. Most people may not notice a significant difference in sound, especially those with untrained ears. So, using a guitar amp is a viable option for amplifying electronic drums.
Amplifying your electronic drum set can be done in several ways, and you’ll often need to make use of the right equipment.
Overall, the best way to amplify your electronic drum set is to connect it directly to a PA system or mixer. This is also something that requires little effort and will sound amazing, with almost no hassle involved at all.
Using headphones can also get the job done, and it’s a very easy task for anyone to achieve; you could even connect them directly to the headphone jack of your drum module.
Using an amplifier can get the job done, but you will likely need to mess around with settings, and it probably won’t be as good quality compared to the other two options available. You should also use an amplifier that is designed for use with electronic drum sets.
Using your speaker can also get the job done, but it should not be used unless there are no other options available (you may need to change your speaker’s output volume if you do).