Yamaha DTX400K Review
The DTX400K is Yamaha’s introductory electronic drum kit. It comes fully equipped with all the accessories you will need to get started, including drumsticks, a stool and headphones. The basic configuration of the Yamaha DTX400K is like that of the majority of electronic sets, consisting of five drums and three cymbals. Let’s look at this kit in more detail.
Who Should Buy the Yamaha DTX400K?
Drummers who are looking for a reasonably, entry-level, priced drum kit on which to practice will be interested in the DTX400K.
There is a range of different sounding kits to suit a lot of different music styles as well as training programs designed to improve skill on the kit.
Drummers in built-up areas or living in apartment blocks will appreciate the ability to play for hours on end on the DTX400K without annoying the neighbors.
The fact that this kit is fully compatible with DAWs such as Cubase will be a boon for many. You can record performances directly to your computer using USB and MIDI. Also the DTX400K can be used to control certain VST instruments when hooked up to your computer.
The DTX400K is also suited to beginner drummers, young or old, or those looking to get into drumming without making too big of an investment. It’s at that nice price range where you’re not putting a lot on the line.
Plus if it doesn’t work out and the interest never takes hold, you can resell such a kit without too much of a loss. It won’t lose much of its value as long as everything is in good shape and working order.
Drums, Pads and Other Hardware
This drum kit comes with four drum pads, three cymbal pads and two-foot pedals. All components sit on a minimalistic Yamaha drum rack. This rack is constructed from 8 black metal poles that connect together to create a frame. The stability of this rack is adequate and it stays in place when you are playing.
Each drum is mounted to the rack in quite a simple manner. There are no ball joints here so you are slightly limited in how you can configure the DTX400K. Setting up the kit as an orthodox five-piece is easy to do but there is not much room for deviation.
If you prefer to set your kit up with one front tom and two floor toms you’ll run into trouble here. The connecting poles are not long enough. That said, the kit can be configured for left handed players and is be perfectly symmetrical if you need it to be.
The DTX400K can be adjusted to suit all players of all sizes. The toms and snare can be lowered or heightened to a reasonable degree.
The cymbal height position is largely dependent on the rack height setup. Each cymbal is fastened to a lightweight stand that protrudes from the rack corners. Unfortunately these cymbal stands are not boom types and are quite short.
Each drum is a Yamaha 7.5-inch rubber pad with surface triggering. There are physical rims on these pads but they are not playable. You’ll only get a sound triggered from playing on the drumhead.
The drums are quite small in size, but this is typical of entry-level drum sets. Response from each pad is firm but springy so you can produce stick bounces. The sound from the pad itself is not exactly dead quiet and a bit louder than most practice pads.
The foot pedals with the DTX400K are for hi-hat and bass drum. There are no stands and the pedals are lightweight and can easily be repositioned. The bass drum pedal has internal triggering so there is no pad or beater required. One of the benefits of such a beaterless setup is that there is less noise in the room when playing.
The pedal on the hi-hat controller is of a similar design and connects to the Yamaha drum module with a cable. This hi-hat controller works on your foot position and can switch sound samples depending on how you press on it. You can play fully open, fully closed or somewhere in between. On more expensive drum sets the sensitivity of the hi-hat is usually of a higher quality, giving graded and nuanced hi-hat cymbal positioning. With the DTX400K hi-hat, subtlety is not a strong point.
Although the hi-hat controller on the DTX400K lacks the realism of higher-end electronic drum sets, it has the added benefit of functioning as another bass drum. You can reassign samples to the hi-hat pedal trigger in order to create double bass drum setups or even Latin percussion-style kits.
The hi-hat pad is a 10-inch rubber cymbal that can be positioned over the snare drum. All cymbals are of the same size and have the same playing response.
One of the downsides to rubber pads is that their feel and rebound does not live up to real brass cymbals. This is an on-going issue with electronic drum kits, but has the benefit of keeping the room noise down to a minimum.
The triggering on the cymbals is similar to that on the drum pads in that there are no multi-zones here. Each cymbal is circular with a semi-circle area that is playable. You play in this area to trigger a sample but there are no extras such as cymbal chokes or cymbal bells. The ride bell can be triggered by playing with added force on the cymbal pad.
There are 10 drum kits on the DTX400K ’s drum module with a total of 169 sound samples. Sounds range from studio drum kits to electronic sets to percussion. Yamaha have sampled some of the best kits in their acoustic collection to create sounds for this module. You can mix and match sounds too if you like. In addition, Yamaha have included 10 empty presets for you to store your custom kits.
The pads are touch-sensitive so they trigger each sample volume depending on how hard you play. This works well with Yamaha’s selection of drum samples but there is not much range with the bass drum pedal. It can trigger loud and soft samples but there is not much middle ground.
Along with the 169 sample sounds you also get 10 practice functions on the DTX400K ’s module. Some of these functions are “Groove Check”, “Rhythm Gate”, “Groove Tracker” and “Fast Blast”.
Groove Check will let you know how accurate your playing and timing is. This works by observing the buttons that light up on the DTX400K ’s drum module. If you play too slow the lights will light up on the right. If you play too fast for the metronome, then the lights will light up on the left, indicating you are ahead of the beat. This module will also speak to you to tell you how you are doing which is a unique feature of kits at this price range.
Rhythm Gate is the novel idea of only triggering sounds when you play in time to the metronome. It’s a great way of making the user more aware of his or her own playing in relation to the click. You can use this mode with the metronome or with any of the built-in songs on the DTX400 drum module.
Fast Blast is a fun mode that lets you play as blazingly fast as possible all over the kit. When the timer has elapsed Fast Blast will let you know how fast you really are. This is great for challenging friends or family to see who has the fastest limbs on the kit.
There are 10 playalong songs built-in to the DTX400 module. These songs can be customized by changing the tempo or even removing the drums. This lets you play along with the track without having another drummer get in your way. Some of the song styles include blues, rock, pop, jazz and funk. Simply pick your desired kit sound and choose a track from any of the 10 song types.
The DTX400K can be connected to your Mac or PC for use with a digital audio workstation (DAW), such as Cubase. Yamaha’s ‘Music Software Downloader’ is a feature that allows you to import new songs for playalong purposes. This software gets updated from time to time so you can check in now and again for additional material.
The DTX400K is expandable too. You can swap the bass pedal out for a real bass drum pad if you prefer a realistic feel, and there’s space on the module for another cymbal pad. You could add another crash to your setup and position it where it suits for more musicality.
You can connect to the Yamaha DTX400K’s module by way of a free iOS app too. The app lets you quickly and easily modify the kit sounds on the module. You can change the pitch or tuning of every drum and cymbal sample to create your own new and unique kits. You can also layer samples on top of each other, for example, placing a tambourine on top of a snare.
The app has extra control features such as allowing you to easily change any kit from single bass drum to double. You can customize your hi-hat settings by adjusting the clutch position and sound type. There are also a host of free drum lessons supplied by Yamaha that provide valuable tips for playing and practicing.
For a full overview of the DTX400K ’s features, see this video:
There are a few notable pros to this drum set which make it worth considering. It is competitively priced, well-built electronic kit. It has some quality sound samples and a multitude of practice features.
The cons to this kit are the ones common to most other entry-level kits. Specifically, that it might not suit drummers who are looking for a fully immersive realistic experience.
The drums are rubber pads and therefore don’t feel like real drums, and they are also louder to play on than mesh heads found on more advanced kits.
The pedals are freestanding so you can’t connect a real bass drum pedal to the DTX400K. But if you do want a proper bass drum pedal in your kit, then you can upgrade with the Yamaha KP65 Electronic Kick Tower for an additional cost.
Another small drawback of this drum set is that the Yamaha app that connects to the module is currently only available on iOS. This will not be music to the ears of many Android users.
Other Kits You Might Consider Instead
There are a number of similar entry-level kits that you may want to take a look at to compare with the DTX400K. Roland’s TD-1K and TD-1KV are both viable options and are in and around the same price. Both kits have the same basic five-piece configuration with three cymbal pads. The rack with the Roland is smaller than the one with the DTX400K and easier to store. The TD-1 module comes with 15 drum kits as well as 15 playalong songs and a few coach functions too.
If you want to keep the size of your electronic kit down to a minimum, you can look at the Alesis DM Lite or the Roland TD-4KP. Both are designed to fold away for easy transportation and setting up. Cost wise, the DM Lite is less than half the price of the TD-4KP.
If you like the DTX400K but want a better bass drum then take a look at the DTX450K. It’s essentially the same kit but with a physical bass drum pad. This pad can fit any standard single bass drum pedal.
The Bottom Line
Yamaha’s entry-level DTX400K is a good kit for the money. It’s well built, on a reasonably robust rack and with durable pads. The playability is pretty good with this kit and it’s expandable so you can upgrade if you outgrow certain components. It is compatible with all the major DAWs and has all the inputs and outputs you’ll need in an electronic kit.