The KAT brand is a relative newcomer to the electronic drum kit market. The top panel of the brain is clear and clean. There are power, mode, and page buttons on the left side; with the master volume and click on/off on the right side. Two larger buttons labeled + and — sit in the middle and control the value of different parameters. The back has ports for 9V power, USB, MIDI-Out, stereo outputs, auxiliary input, and headphones.
Getting down and dirty with the KT1 is straightforward. There are four main modes: pattern, drum kit, voice, and click. You press the mode button to access one of these four choices, then the page button to scroll to the command you want to adjust. From there, the plus and minus value buttons do the rest. While the module lacks dedicated buttons for individual actions, some people may prefer the simplicity of this interface.
One unique feature of the KT1: while all the pads are single triggers. The crash cymbal is chokeable. Like the DD1, the KT1 does not come with a bass drum pedal.
Yamaha has been creating electronic drum kits for a good long time, and the 400K offers a few unique features. Rather than having controls on the front and back of the brain, this unit incorporates the top and the sides, making everything easy to access.
The 400K doesn’t come with a bass drum pad, but it does come with the freestanding KU100 electronic bass drum pedal. Yamaha states that this pedal system is quieter than a pad-based kick. A freestanding hi-hat pedal offers open, closed, foot closed, and foot splash sounds.
The 400K sound module is laid out in a way that is both easy to understand and ergonomic. There are controls for the ten pads, kit and song select, metronome, start and stop, tempo, volume, and drum mute. From the very beginning, Yamaha has stressed education in its electronic kits, and the 400K keeps this tradition alive. There is a specific command for “training” that takes you into commands for working on your rhythmic accuracy (groove check, rhythm gate, measure gate, tempo, and change up), playing drum patterns (easy session and groove tracker), learning new drum patterns (pad gate, part mute), and something called “fast blast” (a game where you can score more points by playing faster).
As I stated earlier, your final decision should be based on how the kit feels beneath your hands and feet, and how the on-board sounds fit with your needs. Hopefully, this guide can help you limit your choices to just a couple of kits with the features that you want or need. From there, it’s up to you. But you really can’t loose with a functional electronic kit at this price.
All the kits included in this article have a street price under $500 even though the list prices are significantly higher.
Alesis DM6 $699.99
KAT KT1 $849.00
Yamaha DTX400K $799.99