No, most electronic drums do not have in-built speakers.
This is how they’d sound if you’re playing them without any sound output:
So…where does the sound come from?
The drum module that ‘powers’ the electronic drums would come with various output ports which gives you the option to connect to speakers, amps or headphones.
If you’re new to electronic drums, I answer some of the common questions on the edrum sound output options you have below.
How do I hear myself on my Electronic Drums?
All electronic drums produce sounds by triggering drum samples stored in the drum module aka drum brain.
The drum module comes with various output options – Phones output (for TRS or TS cables, usually 1/4″) and Master output (XLR cables) are most common.
For example, here’s the Roland TD-50 drum module:
You should find some Phones output on all drum modules. These are low power outputs that you can plug your headphones, a small set of speakers or any sound producing equipment that doesn’t require external power.
The Master Out options can usually accept 1/4″ cables or XLR cables and these usually connects your drum module to external amps or PA systems. If you’re playing on larger speakers, the drum modules are usually not powerful enough for louder volumes on such speakers, hence you’ll need an amplifier to amplify the signals coming from the drum module.
Depending on your needs, you can choose to listen to your electronic drums using headphones, an amp or a PA system.
Do I need an Amp for my Electronic Drums?
If you’re practicing alone and need to be quiet, you do NOT need an amp. Simply plug your headphones into the Phones output port on your drum module and you’re good to go.
However, if you’re performing at a live gig, you may want to consider a drum amp or even a Public Address (PA) system to project the sound of your drums.
The manufacturer of your electronic drums would usually product a line of suitable drum amps as well. That’ll be the best place to start.
For example, Alesis produces the rather powerful Strike Amp that is compatible with its popular Alesis Nitro drum kit:
Such amps tend to come with speakers, so you’ll only need one additional equipment. They are sufficient for band practice or live gigs at smaller venues.
These amps also tend to be perfect as monitor amps – which could provide a rather satisfying even if you’re practice alone in a garage or studio.
Do note that there is a vast difference between a guitar amp and a drum amp. Avoid using a guitar amp with your drums because it is not built for the frequencies and power requirements of an electronic drum kit. You’ll usually get poor quality sounds and may even end up damaging the amp.
Depending on the gig venue, you may need multiple speakers, that’ll lead us onto the next question.
When should you consider using a PA System?
PA systems usually come with a couple of additional equipment – mixer, amplifier, speakers.
Because you’re breaking the sound chain into multiple equipment, PA systems tend to be slightly more expensive.
That said, because they allow multiple components, you’ll have the flexibility to tweak any of the item in your sound chain. For example, you could have multiple speakers for larger performance venues.
You’ll also have the option to control and amplify more instruments, all you’ll need to do is to feed their signals into the mixer. You may need a direct box for each instrument.
I hope this short article have given you the key information that you’ll need to start drumming on your e-drums. Remember, most electronic drums do not come with speakers. You’ll need to get an external speaker, headphones or amp to listen to it!