Donner have become well known in music circles for their affordable guitars, and they aren’t stopping there, case in point, their electronic drums. Their percussion range has rapidly expanded, and now includes a wide range of kits for players of all ages.
We recently got our hands on their entry level model, the Donner DED-80 – a full electronic kit for under $300 – this is easily one of the most affordable kits on the market, so we were very keen to put it through its paces and see what it had to offer.
If you’re in the market for a low cost electronic kit, you’re definitely not going to want to miss this KillerGuitarRigs review.
Who Is This For?
The Donner DED-80 is clearly aimed towards younger players. It’s a reduced size kit, making it ideal for kids looking to get started. The reduced size also makes it great for those with limited space in their homes.
Not only does the size make it great for youngsters, but the “brain” having limited functionality also keeps players focused on the fundamentals, rather than on fancy features.
Appearance / Features / Controls
We were quite surprised at how compact the box was – each component was carefully packed in an individually labeled box, which made assembly a breeze. It came with a drum key in the box, which again ensured we were able to put this together without having to rely on any gear we already owned.
This was a fully turn key set, and included everything you need to start out. We first put together the stool, which was really straight forward, and actually pretty sturdy. Even though it’s ultimately designed for kids, it still felt pretty solid under 250lb of adult drummer.
One the stool was ready we got to work on the frame. We found the instructions to be easy to follow, and the pieces fit together nice and tight. In some cases it was a little too tight, and took some finessing in order to piece them together.
The pads had mesh heads, which is truly remarkable at this price point, and like everything else, they were easy to assemble. It also came with hi-hat, crash, and ride cymbals, each with a soft touch rubber strike pad, and a rounded mount for a more realistic feel.
Getting the control unit hooked up was also a straight forward affair. Each of the cables from the drums and cymbals to the brain was well labeled, and fit tightly to avoid being shaken loose through heavy use.
We were also pleasantly surprised to see that it came with a set of headphones.
Starting with the drum module, we found it to be very basic, but still, very simple to navigate for a kid. There were 15 different kits to choose from, with 180 different sounds. The module had everything from basic rock kits and EDM kits, through to quirky MIDI sounds.
It even came with a USB interface, allowing us to plug straight into a DAW. This makes it a great solution even for adults who are looking for a cheap way to lay down drum tracks instead of having to write them when recording.
Again, it’s important to remember just how cheap this kit is when trying to look at things objectively. There wasn’t a huge dynamic range to them, but the fact that they didn’t sound like a MIDI kit is what is most impressive.
The feel was another huge plus for this kit. They had true mesh heads, and the rebound was really authentic feeling. Incredibly, the heads could even be tuned, which let us adjust how taught they were. At the level that these drums are aimed at, it’s quite unnecessary, but still a nice bit of attention to detail.
One area that could have been improved upon a little was the pedals. They had switch type activation. This was fine on the bass drum, but on the Hi-Hat it made it a very binary experience, and therefore difficult to play with feel – although once again, for playing the basics, it was definitely acceptable.
The fact that Donner has produced a kit in the Donner DED-80 that is so affordable and actually useable is absolutely amazing. It makes a fantastic gift for a kid who might be showing interest in learning to play, but who might not be too sure that they’ll stick with it.
We also loved how easy they made it to put a custom drum track in a recording. They take up very little space, and they are almost completely silent – answering 2 of the biggest concerns parents might have about investing in drums for their children.
If you’re looking for a cheap drum kit for a young player, you really can’t go wrong with this set.