Pearl ePro Live Electronic Drum Kit Review: Are Wood Shells Worth It?

Pearl ePro Live
Pearl ePro Live

Note: I get commissions for purchases made through links in this post.

Pearl has long been known for top notch acoustic drums. With the Pearl ePro Live electronic drum kit, they entered the electronic world of drumming several years ago.

The chief distinguishing feature of the ePro Live, which comes in two variations, is the real wood shells used for the drums. You can swap out the electronic pads for acoustic heads and play them as an acoustic kit.

Would you want to do that? Is the ePro Live worth getting for that reason and just because it has wood shells?

Let’s take a look at the details of the ePro Live to see if we can answer those questions.

If you’re in a hurry and want to check the pricing and availability of the ePro Live at Amazon, just click the link below.

If you want to skip ahead to a certain section of this review, you can click a link in the box below. Otherwise, just keep reading as usual.

Pearl ePro Live – the Pros and Cons

“Never before has today’s drummer been offered the limitless sonic capability and realistic feel of electronic drums on a drumset built with real drum shells, plastic cymbals, and real drumset hardware, all from the percussion industry’s leader, Pearl.”

The quote above comes directly from Pearl. It sounds great at first, but it’s mostly marketing hype – and not the best hype at that.

If the cymbals are only plastic and not some sturdier material, I wouldn’t mention that fact in a statement like this.

What is “real drumset hardware”? Is there such a thing as imitation drumset hardware?

The only piece of information really worth mentioning in that statement is the real drum shells. Most electronic drum kits only have pads, not shells. They’re made of wood – something that they forgot to mention in this statement. (I guess it’s implied by the word “real”.)

Pearl touts these drums shells by making them available in 5 high gloss coverings – Smokey Chrome, Jet Black, Pure White, Red Wine, and Electric Blue Sparkle – and 3 high gloss lacquer finishes – Natural Cherry, Black Smoke, and Honey Amber.

If one or more or those colors is enough to entice you into buying an ePro Live kit, that’s great.

To this point in the review, I’ve made it sound like the ePro Live is barely worth looking at. I really don’t mean to sound so harsh, but other than the shells, there isn’t much that’s all that special about this kit. It is a very good drum set though.

What Do You Get in an ePro Live Kit?

As I hinted at above, the ePro Live comes in two flavors, which Pearl dubs the forgettable EPADRBMSP and EPADRBMP. I’m not sure why they didn’t come up with better names for these variations.

The only difference between the two is the size of one of the rack toms. The “SP” configuration uses 10 inch and 12 inch toms, while the “P” set uses 12 inch and 13 inch drums. So it’s really just swapping the 10 inch for the 13.

Besides those 2 toms, the other pieces you get in each kit are these.

  • Bass Tru-Trac Electronic DrumHead
  • 16 inch Tom Tru-Trac Electronic DrumHead
  • 14 inch Snare Tru-Trac Electronic DrumHead
  • R.E.D.BOX Module
  • R.E.D.BOX Mounting Bracket
  • Cable Bundle
  • Multi-Cable
  • Plastic Cymbals Set
    • 14 inch Ride
    • 12 inch Crash
    • 12 inch Top Hi-Hat
  • Closed Hi-Hat Attachment
  • Hi-Hat Controller Pedal
  • Non-Drill Adapter (x5)
  • 16 inch TRS Cable
  • 15 inch Long Cable
  • 52 millimeter Tension Rods (x30)
  • 63 millimeter Tension Rods (x30)
  • Velcro Tape (x10)
  • Hole Position Template
  • Paper Ruler
  • Hole Punch
  • Foam Bass Drum Cushion

If some of those items sound a little unusual to you for an electronic drum kit, I would agree. Most such kits don’t require you to punch any holes or make any measurements. It seems that’s part of the deal when putting together a kit with real wood shells. (The Pearl site doesn’t go into detail about this, at least, not in a location I could find.)

The Tru-Trac drums are dual zone. The ride cymbal is triple zone; the crash is dual; and the hi-hat is single.

Since 2014, you can get the EHH-2 hi-hat that is setup and sounds like its acoustic cousin. You can play sounds from open to closed, half open, three quarters open, “chik”, and splash.

The R.E.D.Box Sound Module

All these sounds are possible because of the (which has various punctuations and capitalizations) sound module. Pearl says that r.e.d. stands for “Real Electronic Drums”.


Pearl ePro sound module
Pearl ePro sound module

The module has 1000 high definition sounds, 100 preset kits, and space for 100 more of your own. For me, that would be more than enough to play with.

Pearl claims that the has a “very unique” (poor grammar there) capability in its Memory Switch. This switch lets you “flash the memory” to load a “lush, super high-end set” in place of the original.

Why didn’t they include a lush set from the beginning? And what does “flash the memory” really mean?

They didn’t include such kits so they could ask for more of your money (generally, $30 to $50 per kit) at their website.

Flashing the memory is a techie phrase that really shouldn’t have been used here. It’s correct, but it just might scare you away from the whole process. It shouldn’t, but it might.

If you do decide that the original 100 kits just aren’t enough for you and that you don’t want to program your own kit using the 1000 available sounds, you can go to the Redbox site and try to work your way through the purchase and acquisition process in about 7 steps.

Be forewarned that you will need a special USB cable to connect your sound module to your computer. (I’m not sure that this is provided when you purchase your ePro Live.)

You will need good eyes to read a fair amount of tiny red print at that site. And if you need more help, you will for some unknown reason be directed to a Swedish site (that uses English) called Elektron.

It’s not for the faint of heart, but the process apparently does work, based on comments from owners. If you decide just to stick with the sounds already built into your ePro, I wouldn’t blame you.

What’s the Verdict on the ePro Live Set?

When the ePro Live was first released, many drummers were underwhelmed. This is a good kit, and it would have been an amazing set if it had come out sooner. By the time it did, there were other similar or better kits already on the market.

That’s why I think it’s the wood drum shells that really set this one apart.

One owner agrees about the kit in general but has a problem with the cymbals – those plastic ones I mentioned earlier.

“LOVE the E PRO live drum set, but the cymbals are sub par. In my opinion, these cymbals are for “bedroom drummers” because once you start REALLY rehearsing live with them, they break like cheap plastic toys.”

While it’s true (as an ePro Live Specialist states) that “Pearl is the only electronic drum manufacturer offering a Lifetime Warranty on hardware”, you shouldn’t have to rely on a warranty to be able to keep using what you bought.

But your experience with the cymbals may not be at all what the owner above complained about. I’m sure many owners never had a problem with them.

The Pearl ePro Live is a sweet looking set that you should be pleased with for many years.

Pearl ePro

Check the pricing and availability of the Pearl ePro Live drum set at Amazon.

Pearl ePro Live Drum Set

Check the pricing and availability of the Pearl ePro Live drum set at Ebay.

If you were unable to find the kits mentioned here, see if the Pearl EPLX205P is still available. Alternatively, you could look into this Roland TD-17 kit instead.

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Gary Sonnenberg
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