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Simmons SD500 Review

Published on November 28, 2014 by in eDrum News



I had a chance to give the new Simmons SD500 a good test run and for the price ($499.00 street) it’s not a bad little edrum kit.

Getting Started/InitialThoughts:

The kit comes in one big box. In the box you will find that the rack is pretty much put together for you. All you have to do is take the packing material off and swing out the two side extensions and snare arm. You may need to loosen the wing screws before doing this. Once those are extended tighten down the wing screws. The manual does a pretty good job showing how to assemble the rest of the kit. Once set-up you now have a standard five piece drum set configuration.


Closer look at the SD500:

– Rack: The rack has redesigned plastic clamps that hold the triggers really well. They don’t feel flimsy and feel nice and solid (as far as plastic clamps go). The steel tubes of the rack appear to have a slightly textured powder coated finish and makes for a very solid base for the kit. Having the crash/ride cymbal mounts coming out of the two upright legs is also plus at this price range.


– Cymbal Triggers: The cymbal triggers of the SD500 track very good. There’s no hot spotting anywhere on the strike surface. Again, this appears to be a new design for Simmons. The magic to the “no hot spots” is where they placed the trigger sensor, The opposite end of the cymbal that is away from the strike surface. This type of configuration is not new, but it is new to Simmons kits in this price rage.


One other thing I really like on the cymbals is the small cable hook. On each cymbal there is a hook that holds the trigger cable perfectly against the trigger itself. This may seem like a small thing, but it goes a long way to help make the cable management look good.


– Kick Trigger/Pedal combo: I really like the idea of this integrated kick trigger, however I feel that the trigger itself is just okay. When using it on a padded surface (like carpet) be sure to use the included velcro strips to help keep the pedal in place. Without the velcro strips the pedal will “walk” away from you. What I would really like to see improved on this integrated kick trigger is a longer spring adjustment screw and a metal spring cam (where the spring mounts to the pedal shaft on this kick trigger is plastic). Because of it being plastic, overtime I feel it will either break or bend to the point the spring will not stay on. Please keep in mind that I’ve had this kit set-up for about a month and you can already see the spring cam post is bending.


Normally I would adjust the screw at the bottom of the spring, but it is already adjusted out as far as it can go. That is why I suggested that Simmons use a longer spring adjustment screw. I do like the feel of the trigger itself. It isn’t bouncy and its fairly quiet physically which is a huge plus. Overall I think the integrated kick trigger will be fine for those just getting started with drums. More advanced players will find the pedal a little sluggish.

– Hi-Hat control pedal: Nothing fancy, but it does work well. It’s a switch based controller that allows for foot chick, open, half open, & closed sounds. No heel splash which I don’t see as an issue at this price range.

– Drum triggers: The best way to describe the drum triggers is, they are softer than they look. At first glance they appear to be standard solid rubber triggers, but they’re not. The outer surface is solid rubber, but just under that surface is a foam layer that adds some cushion to the feel of the pad. Other than that they are pretty much standard rubber pads. Over all the drum triggers have a good feel, but again more advanced users may find the subdued stick rebound a little tiresome. For a beginner drummer the subdued stick rebound is a plus for building up sticking technique. That foam layer has another benefit which is, it cuts down on the physical noise that the pad makes when struck.


– Drum module (Brain):

The big plus about the SD500 kit is the module’s sounds. There is plenty of good kit sounds to satisfy just about any kind of music taste in the SD500 module. What’s really cool is the SD500 module sounds like it has a few of the same samples as its bigger brother the SD1000 module. It also has the same V.A.R. technology which really helps to cut down the machine gunning sound of the samples when playing rolls. The module button set-up is very good as well. Like most drum modules in this range, it does use the 25 pin din connector for plugging in the different triggers via a cable snake. The buttons have a good spacing to them and I really like the size of the volume control knob. The blue back lit LCD display is crisp and easy to see. The module also includes a “Stick Holder”, but to be honest I prefer to use it for my head phones.


As much as I like the SD500 module, I feel there are a few minor things lacking with it. The module always starts up on Kit “K07:Classic Rock”. Don’t get me wrong, I like the sound of that kit, but it seems odd to start on kit #7 instead of kit #1 and there seems to be no way to change this. So keep in mind that if kit #7 isn’t the kit you like to play, you will need to always select your kit on start-up since the module doesn’t remember the kit you last played when it was on. The other thing I wish this module had was the ability to back-up your user kits/settings to your computer via USB midi.

Overall I think its an impressive kit and a pretty good buy at $499.00. The kit is fun to play and the module sounds a little better than what one would expect from an edrum kit in this price range. If you are a beginner to just inside the intermediate range of drum skill and want to get your feet wet in electronic drumming, then the Simmons SD500 might be right up your alley. For more information on the new Simmons SD500 Electronic Drum Kit, be sure to visit: www.simmonsdrums.net.


(companion video to follow).

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17 Comments  comments 

17 Responses

  1. Ernesto Morales

    I’ve been drumming on and off for over 40 years (yikes!). From Slingerland and Ludwig in the 70’s to Tama Superstar in the 80’s to my current Tama Imperialstar. In the 90’s I actually bought a Simmons SDX, which was amazing for studio work but too unwieldy for road gigs.

    Now I live in an apartment and was looking into eDrums for practice (and that itch in my arms and legs) and have come across a gazillion options since the industry has evolved incredibly since the heady days of the SDX.

    I don’t seem to be able to find a straight review, answer or recommendation anywhere. I don’t want a toy but I refuse to plop down more than $1K for what I’m going to use it for.

    From what I’ve seen so far, my choices are beginning to drift towards the Kat K2 or K3, Alesis DM10 or Simmons (yeah, again) 1500. These seem to be comparable but I can’t find the scale seriously tilting towards any of them!

    I don’t find too much comfort in the fact that “Simmons is owned by Musician’s Friend,” yet Musician’s Friend doesn’t seem to carry their own product!!! Simmons disappeared a while back and I’m scared of investing in a fly by night company.

    I know you specialize in DIY and not endorsing, but from what I’ve seen in your Site and other places, you seem to be objective and knowledgable. So I would appreciate you shedding light on these choices and pointing me in the right direction.

    – Ernesto

  2. Ernesto Morales

    After just a few days of research, it seems many people think Alesis is a terrible brand with numerous manufacturing defects and and lack of customer support.

    Kat drums definitely seem to be a “rebranding” of Medeli drums, an Oriental outfit that half the eDrum manufacturers in the world seem to use as their supplier – which could conceivably be considered a good omen – but with their own, proprietary samples and programming.

    This makes their whole marketing concept kind of funny, since they tout the the marvelous inventions of Mario DeCiutiis as their founding father… so… what?… he came up with the idea of reselling Medeli drums???

    Simmons seems to have the better controller or “mind” (not surprising, considering their pioneering past) but perhaps Kat has the better pads/hardware… BUT I’m still nervous of the fact that their company seems like a mom and pop store and that their parent company doesn’t carry any of their OWN stock!

    Is there NOTHING BUT Roland at $4,000.00 ????

  3. Between both your messages there is a ton of stuff to touch on. I hope I hit on all of it.

    Like acoustic drums, edrum are pretty much “you get what you pay for”. What you are dealing with is the same problem most of us in the edrum community have, “I want the $4,000 Roland like kit, but I don’t want to pay that much for it”. I’m sorry to tell you there is no magic bullet to this dilemma. Most edrum kit under $1000.00 tend to have a somewhat toy like feel (this is also true for Roland and Yamaha edrums). It’s just the nature of the beast (especially when you look at the $500.00 and under sets).

    Yes, Medeli makes a lot of edrums for many of these manufactures, but Medeli does allow these companies to modify there stock offerings. Let me touch on the three different companies you named (Alesis, KAT, & Simmons).

    With Alesis, they have a good kit if you buy the DM10X kit (their top of the line).It’s a little more than what you want to spend, but I really wouldn’t use any other kit from Alesis with the experience you have. What makes Alesis good is (if you are a handy person), they’re easy to upgrade. If you get a chance, make sure you see what people are doing with their Alesis kits over at http://www.DMdrummer.com.

    With KAT, I would suggest you not look at any other kit other than their KT3 kit (again, because of your experience in drumming). What I like about the KT3 is the large 11 inch trigger pads. It is my understanding the KAT has some of their own samples in the KT3 drum module (this is the drum brain). KAT went away for a while but is now back. Unfortunately they are basically starting over. They are working on a make more expensive kit called the KATpro, but this is going to be a $2000.00 plus kit.

    Simmons. Similar to KAT (meaning gone for a while and now back). Actually Guitar Center is Simmons drums (and Guitar Center owns Musician’s Friend). I actually think the Simmons SD1500 kit would be better than the KAT KT3. The reason for this is, the Simmons SD1500 uses a much more powerful module and has the all metal rack and clamps set-up. The triggers are basically the same as the KT3 (just black instead of white and both are made by Medeli), with one major exception. The Simmons 11 inch triggers are true three zone, so on your snare you can have head, cross stick, and rim shot.

    Let me also state for record, I have an Alesis DM10 kit and the Simmons SD1500 kit. The SD1500 is my main kit. I always tell people to try before you buy. If you go to a Guitar Center, you should be able to try out a Simmons SD1500. You won’t be able to try out a KT3 but the Simmons SD1500 should feel similar. Alesis kits are hit or miss at music stores.

    What you find as an experienced drummer, you will not like the hi-hat control of these middle of the range kits. Only the higher end kits (by Roland and Yamaha) will feel more correct, but its all in what you are willing to pay. I hope that helps.

  4. Yes, you helped me a lot, and I appreciate you taking time to answer me immensely! I understand the “you get what you pay for” concept very well, although the Tama “entry level” kit I have now is an amazing one for my needs.

    Same thing with these e-drums: My main concern is having my acoustic set literally gathering mold and mildew (Puerto Rico = humidity) along with my arms and legs!

    I don’t know if the hi-hat control will be any worse than the Simmons SDX I used to own, but, hey, I guess I could live with it considering the advantages of being able to play in relative SILENCE.

    That being said – I forgot to ask you whether the KT3 and/or Simmons are QUIET enough for an apartment. From what little I’ve seen, the rubber pads seem to dampen noise quite well, and the KT3’s famous tennis ball does the trick with the bass drum.

    Any thoughts on that?

    Again, thanks for your advice!!!

  5. jacob halfman

    Simmons Is Owned By Guitar Center Not Musicians Friend

  6. So, now that I finally decide to go for the Simmons SD1500 kit, “it is currently unavailable” in Guitar Center and Musician’s friend??? Do you know anything about this? Has the company gone AWOL again???

  7. Under the SD1500 kit, it states for me, “Usually ships in 2-3 weeks”. It doesn’t state “currently unavailable”. Normally when this happens they have more coming.

  8. Ben

    I’m not a drummer, I’m a guitarist self recording/producing my own music and would like to add some simple drums to a few songs. Acoustic kits aren’t an option with my current living situation. Would the SD500 sound decent enough to use in a recording? The rep at Guitar Center told me that the sound quality in the SD1000 or SD1500 were the same as the SD500, but the more expensive models had more kits and the extra drum pad. Unfortunately they didn’t have the SD500 in so I couldn’t try it and know for sure. Based on your article, it sounds like he might be over simplifying. How similar/different are the models? Thanks, I enjoyed your review.

  9. The models are very different, but some of the sounds in the SD500 are the same as the SD1000 module. For the price point the SD500 does have good sounding drums, but they are not as good as VST drums (of course no drum module is). VST’s are going to have the best sounds, but you will still need an electronic drum kit to trigger a VST program on your computer. The SD500 can do this. I do think the sounds in the SD500 are decent enough for demo tracks, but if you want 100% pro sounds, you will need to go VST.

  10. Rick Sando

    Hi Phil,
    Love your site. You give very good feedback. I have a bit of experience with drums, none with edrums. What do you think is/are the best electronic kits for the money? I’ve been looking at the Simmons SD-500.

  11. If you already have some experience with drums, then you want to stay away from the cheapest kits on the market. That’s because they are geared heavily toward the beginner. You might want to look at the KAT KT3, Simmons SD1500, Yamaha DTX500 line, or the Roland TD 11 line.

  12. Jeff Malone

    I am looking for a beginner edrum set and I appreciate your info on the brands above. This drummer is a brand new learner, but is showing skills and Christmas is coming up…
    With that in mind, we have been looking at the Simmons sd500, the ddrum DD1, and the KAT KT1. I am leaning toward the Simmons, but your opinion would be very helpful.

  13. Jeff Peters

    I’m looking at buying an electronic kit looking at the price up to $1500. I’m considering the Simmons sd1500 and the Alesis dm10x…I use slate digital ssd4 and trigger, so my samples would come from these. Which kit might be better to sync with daw and trigger samples? Would there be a better option than these at this price point? Yamaha one or roland? I want to make sure I have enough triggers to activate SSD4 whole kit. Hopefully this makes sense. Thanks for any feedback.

  14. I really don’t like telling people what to buy. If you can try them out, that would be the best option. All the kits you mentioned should work just fine with your VST.

  15. Jon Johnson

    I am psyched! I found this kit in my fave Pawnshop for $150! (They always price stuff to move). I put money down and am picking it up in a couple days. I just dick around recording at home so I can’t wait to put this to work. Nice review!

  16. Phloid

    I may be late in saying this since it is November 2016 and most comments are from 2015. But right now from guitar center the Simmons sd1500 kit is on for $599.00. That is $400.00 off the normal retail price. Most all the reviews on this kit are great. I only came across a couple bad reviews with problems no one else has experienced. I just ordered one and I get it hopefully on Monday.

  17. Scott G. Nelson

    If the topic of prolems with the Simmons hi-had pedal have already been discussed, I apoligize in advance.
    I have a Simmons SD2000 electronic set, along with the upgrade package (a 4th tom and another crash cymbal). The hi-hat pedal tends to not really work as far as keeping time. It’s fine for open and closed striking with a stick, but you can’t hear it, even at full volume When using the foot control. I purchased an Alesis DM5 from a friend and it didn’t have a hi-hat pedal. So I went online and found an Alesis hi-hat pedal for about $50. It worked great. I swithched it over to the Simmons set and right away I was keeping time with it. I have also had problems with dead spots on my cymbals and appreciate the tips about moving the trigger to the rear of the cymbal. Thanks for the tips and I hope you enjoy mine. BTW, the Alesis set is great, but it is loud when you hit the heads and especially the bass drum head.

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