Not so much the price but the functionality and good pads.
SO, for example, avoid pads with hotspots. Get pads with multiple zones. Get a module with good pad adjustment settings to suit your playing and good MIDI capabilities (e.g. no limit on what MIDI note you can put where on the kit). Having a kit does does MIDI note layering and switching is also good so easier to stack sounds up or switch between two subtly different sounds on each hit, etc.
You don't need to pay $2500, no. But anything less than $500 new will be very limited.
Could you give some advice on specific kits that would be good for triggering a vst? (I have a 6 month old so need all mesh pads to keep noise down at night)
I have been considering:
Cheaper options:Alesis surge / Roland dm1-dmk,
Top end of my budget: Roland td17kv / Alesis crimson ii / Alesis dm10 mkii
Obviously I feel like I should buy Roland for build quality, but I also find it really hard to igore how much more you get for your money with alesis. Do you think the Roland's would be noticeably better just in terms of vst triggering?
Also, would there be a noticeable difference in sound produced in the vst between the lower priced kits on my list vs the ones at the top of my budget?
Wow that video electrodrummer posted was really a surprise with that set. Sounded really good and I think can tell you alot.
You can't go wrong with Roland IMO I really think there will be little difference when triggering a VST between those. I had pretty good results with mesh head acoustic set with D-drum triggers and interface into EZ drummer for a while but I ended up moving to a full electronic set.
Buy the cheap one and try it. If it doesn't get you what you want, return and upgrade.
I would say try to get a real hihat setup vs. What those sets offer. You could also consider Yamaha on your high end list DTX562k will give you the real hat option and the silicone pads are pretty quiet and to me feel better than mesh but that's a matter of personal preference.
That video was an old Yamaha DTXtreme. Rubber pads in that case (no hotspots). Yamaha DTXs have no limitations on what sounds (MIDI notes) can be put where on the kit and has 3-zone pads all over - drum pads and cymbals (both are limitations with Roland gear), so are excellent kit for all MIDI applications.
Please note - and I'm always saying this - mesh isn't necessarily quiet - that's an urban myth - can sound like hitting Tupperware. Silicone is probably the quietest.
Rubber vs silicone (using the rubber pads in my earlier video as a comparison) - even rubber is better than the mash example