Running through the earphones the pre-amp is not strong enough to really do it justice. On the other hand, you will NEVER disturb your neighbors in this mode, probably not even your sleeping wife. The only noise it makes in earphone mode is the click track, (volume adjustable to zero then you use the LEDs), and sticks hitting soft rubber.
When you plug it up to an amplifier, I recommend a standard guitar practice amp, so the highs of the snare samplings and other high-pitched percussions can be properly heard.
The stereo earphone plug (1/4", saints be praised), will accept a standard mono guitar cord which you simply plug into your "guitar in" on your practice amp. It automatically converts the stereo sound into mono sound for your amp.
Then the sound improves dramatically, and although there are only about 15-20 of the 65 sounds that I believe are really good, you can enhance the sounds by adjusting your practice amp to help it along. Also, a simple 15 watt practice amp should be plenty for practice with any acoustic kit, or even small venues.
Overall, I love what it added to my kit, giving me that second floor tom sound I was missing, or that deep bodied snare I don't own. Cymbals are predictably poor, cowbells and such are OK.
So for making practice more fun, and adding some interesting sounds to your kit, this thing is great. Serious recording and actually using it as a sampler, forget it.
Seems pretty rugged, despite being plastic. Pad is almost gel-like, having more bounce than a standard snare. Actually, maybe a little too much bounce. Only complaint is that the screw on cymbal feature sometimes allows the unit to unscrew, causing it to spin. I think I need to add a locknut on the cymbal thread before tightening this thing on. Of course, putting it in a snare stand eliminates that.
It's new, so durability remains a question, but seems pretty solid. Buttons are solid, off-on switch is out of the way, good thing. 9 Volt adaptor cord is predictably thin, but the adaptor was a nice bonus not mentioned in the ad or literature. Pedals are cheap, cheap, cheap, and hard to use. U-formed plastic with the sensor in the middle. Expect to break one soon, and they move around too easily. Need to be held to the floor.
Obviously every tone stays the same since it's digital. But there are a fair amount of sounds which with the proper amp, you can add a LOT to your kit for small change. For instance, my Line 6 Spyder 15 watter and this unit along with a cheap cymbal stand all together was less than $235. Think 65 sounds with tremelo, chorus, echo, etc. from a simple Line 6. Lots of strange and wonderful effects.
Just started drums, been on guitar for a while, wanted to branch out.
Turns out I love drums. This offered me the most for the least amount of money, being a beginner. And the sounds are not that bad, at least through the amp. I would never gig or record with it, but it adds a lot to my kit.
Wish it had a stronger pre-amp, piping through the earphones is pretty worthless. Also, no back-lighting on the LCD readout.
Love the fact it intregrates seamlessly into my kit with a simple stand right next to my snare. With the cymbal stand at it's lowest seting, the unit is exactly the same height as my snare. Controls are upfront and easy. Pad seems gig tough.
By far my most favorite feature are the click tracks. 6 types, 24 patterns each.
Sampling is funny. I buy a simple $200 Yamaha keyboard, and the drum samples on that unit are so real it's spooky. I buy this, and the samples are so-so, with only 15-20 good ones out of 65, and yet it is touted as a teaching aid AND as a drum add-on.
If you want a practice pad with teaching features and fun sounds, this is definitely it. If you think this is a sampler that will pretend you own a Bozzio kit, you are wrong.
Overall, for $99, a wonderful buy, especially for the serious beginner.