Which is the very best electronic hi hat for your edrums? There are so many options now and choosing the best one can be very confusing for many drummers. Worse still, the hi hat is one of the triggers that tends to be proprietary to particular modules, limiting the selection of which triggers might be compatible with your module.
The hi hat is one of the most important parts of the drum set. It is certainly one of the most expressive pieces of drum gear on an acoustic set and has the reputation for being much less expressive on electronic kits. However, this is not necessarily so, depending on your choice of module and hi hat trigger.
This post details the best of the best when it comes to edrum hi hats. Ready to deep dive? Let’s go!
Best Edrum Hi Hat Pedals
Many entry and mid level edrum kits use a separate cymbal and pedal controller to create a hi hat. The 2 pieces are both connected to the module via cables, but are not connected to one another in any physical way. Therefore, they can be placed anywhere on the kit without having to remain in the same vertical plane like an acoustic hi hat would. This can be an advantage for players who like their pedal in a different location than their cymbal, such as long legged drummers or those who position the hi hat centrally or even on the opposite side of their kit compared to “usual”. However, the separate pedal can also diminish the realism of the hi hat experience, unless you are a drummer who is acclimated to cable hats anyway.
Here are our choices for the very best hi-hat control pedals:
Yamaha HH65 is cheap and built like a tank. We have never had any issue with one and they seem to last forever. The HH65 is a great choice for Yamaha sets and select other edrum brands that are compatible with Yamaha controllers.
Roland FD-9 is well built, but does not feel great to us. It is very stiff and unnatural. If you remove one of the 2 side springs, the feel improves quite a bit, but it is still not organic feeling. The pedal is extremely well built and will last for a very long time.
Roland FD-7 is really old school and has not been manufactured in many years. However, they are still around and work very well. Of all the Roland hi hat pedals, this one feels the best to us. Build quality is also awesome, as is most old Roland gear before they moved their manufacturing to Malaysia.
Worst Electronic Hi Hats
Before we get to the very best options for edrum hi hats, let’s mention the very worst:
Roland FD-8 is the most widely used hi hat pedal in history. The design is fundamentally flawed and this pedal simply sucks! The actuator stiffens, breaks and/or melts into goo as a normal part of its life. The pedal mechanics tend to become noisy and stiff, as well.
Roland FD-1comes with some entry level kits like the TD-1 series and even some of the newer TD-07 kits. This pedal is a piece of crap and often breaks at the location where the actual footboard attaches to the base. This pedal also suffers from actuator stiffening, melting and breakage like the FD-8 above.
All the Alesis hi hats (especially the real hi hat designs) that we have ever used really suck. They were clunky and inaccurate at best and triggered completely wrong at worst. We find the hi hat to be the virtually universal weakness in all Alesis edrum products.
Best Real Electronic Hi Hats
Real hi hats are designed to be used on normal acoustic hi hat stands. They work just like a real hi hat and come in 3 basic configurations:
The first type uses a separate controller placed under the cymbal to simulate the bottom cymbal. The controller and top cymbal are calibrated to relay data about how open or closed the hats are. Roland VH-10 and VH-11 are notable examples.
The second type is similar, but in this case, the controller is part of an actual bottom cymbal that more closely resembles an acoustic set of hats. Roland VH-12, VH-13, VH-14D and ATV AD-H14 embody this approach.
The last type of real hi hat has the controller built right into the bottom of the top cymbal itself, for a neat 1 piece design. The most notable example is the Yamaha RHH135.
The ATV AD-HH14 is very popular, but we do not like the fact that it needs a separate electrical supply. We also do not like the angle needed to activate the edge zone on all the ATV cymbals and find this a very annoying feature. Additionally, ATV seems to also be plagued by a growing number of quality issues with cymbals that should still be working, but are beginning to lose functionality. ATV cymbals have lost our support for this and other reasons.
The new EF Note EFD-H14 is promising, but unfortunately has a proprietary 6 pin connector that limits its use to EF Note modules only. Sure, the same could be said for the new Roland VH-14D, but Roland is not in danger of disappearing as a company, while EF Note is a new addition to the ranks without much history. If I were running this company, I would offer an adapter box to convert this hi hat to become usable with Roland modules also. I think this feature alone would help them to sell more kits. We like the EF Note hi hat and feel it is both accurate and expressive. We want to encourage EF Note to press onwards in development, since we like what we see in their hats! All our goodwill is behind them.
The Roland VH-13 was for a very long time the king of the hill when it came to edrum hi hats. While it is still a great option and our choice as the leader, there is one set of hats that is better. The Roland VH-14D digital hi hat is definitely the best of the best in the current market. It is the most accurate, the most expressive, the best feeling and most expensive set of hats available. It is unfortunately only compatible with Roland modules that can utilize the digital pads, such as the TD-27, TD-50 and TD-50X modules. The VH-13 can be used with these modules too, but also with the TD-12, TD-20 (all variants) TD-30 and some non-Roland modules also.
So, as of today, if we had to name a king of the hill for edrum hi hats, the Roland VH-14D would sit alone at the top of the mountain. It is our #1 choice. Which would you choose if price was not an issue?