Alesis Command Kit Review
The Alesis Command Kit offers value for money for anyone looking to invest in an electronic drum set. It’s effectively somewhere between a basic entry-level drum set and a mid-range kit.
The Command Kit has a few extra features that make it great value for money. With the Command Kit you get a drum module that is nearly identical to the superior Crimson II module, which comes with the mid-range Crimson II Kit.
Another selling point of the Command Kit is that it comes with two mesh drum pads. You get a 10-inch mesh snare and an 8-inch mesh bass drum. Mesh on the bass drum in particular is extremely rare with entry-level kits and even many mid-range kits, so this is a big plus.
Who Should Buy The Alesis Command Kit?
This kit is ideally aimed at drummers who are seeking value but don’t necessarily need to buy the cheapest kit available. There are many other kits that Alesis produce that are less expensive than the Command Kit. The DM Lite, the DM6 USB Kit, the Nitro Kit and the Forge Kit are all cheaper alternatives to the Command Kit.
The inclusion of mesh heads on the snare and bass drum makes the Command Kit suited to experienced drummers who are making the transition from an acoustic kit to an electronic kit. This kit is very quiet, as you tend to expect with mesh heads. The toms and cymbals on this set are made from rubber so they tend to generate a bit more room noise than the mesh heads. That said, the main offender when it comes to room noise with electronic drum sets is usually the kick pad. In this respect, having a mesh head there will keep the noise down a great deal. This is important if you’re looking for a drum kit to play on at any hour of the day without disturbing anyone.
The Command Kit has a few higher-end features that make it a decent live kit as well. You can import your own drum sounds or song samples onto the Command module and trigger them with any drum pad. This is great for expanding your collection of kit sounds and can also be used in a live setting with a band. Starting and stopping samples can be as easy as assigning them to any one of your chosen pads.
Drums, Pads and Other Hardware
The Alesis Command Kit is a typical five-piece drum setup with cymbals, a drum rack and a module. There are five drum pads, three cymbals and a hi-hat controller pedal. As previously mentioned, you get mesh heads on both the snare and bass drum along with three rubber tom pads.
The 10-inch mesh snare drum has a playable rim so you can create a mix of different sounds with different stickings. You can produce rim shots and rim clicks with this drum and the response can be adjusted. These mesh heads have tuning lugs around the rim of each drum so they can be tightened or loosened depending on your preference. The fact that you can adjust the tension here means that these heads are easily replaced should they need to be. This is not always a given with mesh heads, as you can see with the Yamaha DTX502 series of drum sets. These kits feature mesh heads but you can’t access the lugs in order to make adjustments in the same way.
The bass drum is mesh too. It’s an 8-inch pad that is mounted to an upright kick tower. The pad is big enough for you to attach either a single or a double bass drum pedal. As is typical with kick towers like this one, there are supporting spikes on either side of the base. These spikes allow you to grip into surfaces such as your carpet flooring.
This pad is very quiet compared to other kick towers in the sub-$1000 kit category. The mesh head absorbs the pedal beater and reduces the noise made on impact. Like the snare, this bass drum head is fully tensionable so you can customize the rebound to your liking. Be careful not to loosen the head too much here as you could possibly do damage to the trigger sensors underneath by playing forcefully on a loose head.
The triggering on these mesh heads is good, and is better than that of some cheaper competitors. In some cases with poor triggering you get a bad spread on the drum head. This leads to what are known as ‘hot spots’ or areas that are more sensitive than others. With the Command Kit there are no such issues.
The three toms are each rubber pads, much like the pads that come with the Alesis Forge Kit. The two front rack toms are both 9 inches in diameter, while the floor tom is larger at 11 inches. Pad response is springy much like an average practice pad. Each tom pad is dual-zone too so it can be played on the head surface and the rims.
The hi-hat pedal is free-floating so there’s no hi-hat stand required with the Command Kit. Free-floating pedals have the benefit of being less noisy than hi-hat stands. But, they have the disadvantage of providing less stability when playing and also lack the realism of an acoustic hi-hat. If a hi-hat stand is not essential to you, then you’ll find the Command Kit hi-hat a breeze to play on. You can perform all the usual foot hi-hat techniques such as hi-hat ‘chick’ sounds and hi-hat splashes.
The cymbals with the Command Kit are a bit on the small size. They are each 10 inches in diameter but tend to flop about a bit on the stands even when tightened with the cymbal nut. Each stand is mounted to the four-post chrome rack, allowing for them to be heightened accordingly. You can also adjust the angle of each cymbal for better positioning.
Both the ride cymbal and the crash are chokable so you can easily mute them while playing. Unfortunately, there is no bell trigger with the ride, which means the bell sample is triggered depending on how hard you strike the pad. The 10-inch pad is a little small, especially for the ride cymbal which is usually the biggest cymbal on any drum kit.
The following link shows a time-lapse video of the Command Kit being assembled along with some sound samples of the Command drum module:
To generate the sounds and effects, the Alesis Command Kit comes with the Command drum module. This module is very similar to the drum module that comes with the Alesis Crimson II drum set.
The look of the module is the same as that of the Crimson II with a total of 15 buttons and three movable dials. Each button allows you to access different aspects of your drum kit sound and make changes. The large dial in the center of the interface is the main control for navigating the Command module.
There are 600 sounds on the Command module and they are split up into 70 drum kits. Kit styles range from acoustic to electronic to percussion and more. The sound of the drum samples on this module is quite good but not jaw-droppingly good. Most of the kits sound a bit sterile and lack the raw dynamic range of better modules. The Command module does let you edit these sounds and save them as your own presets, which is a great addition.
There are 60 songs built into the module, which you can use to improve your timing and skills. Each song’s tempo can also be adjusted so you can find a speed that suits you best. There are songs in there to suit all styles from rock and pop to Latin and funk. They range in tempo and time signature as well.
The Command module has lots of connectivity, making it easy to use in a home recording situation or even a studio. You can hook up the module to your computer, Mac or PC, and use it in a variety of ways.
Once connected, you can import and export sounds to and from the module. This is very handy for loading in your own custom kit samples. You could also use this feature so as to trigger backing tracks in a live band situation. Samples can also be loaded onto the device through any USB flash drive. Once on the module, you can assign them to any drum or cymbal pad for easy triggering. Samples can also be looped so you can easily create your own backing tracks for playing along to.
The Command Kit will function just like a tradition MIDI controller kit. This means you can easily connect to your favorite DAW and control VST’s with the Command Kit’s pads. The net result is a virtually limitless resource for new drum sample sounds.
Other connectivity ports include a headphones output in stereo and also an Aux input. The Aux can be used for hooking up your laptop or MP3 player. This way you can jam along with your favorite songs quickly and easily.
The main plus point of the Alesis Command Kit is that it offers a better-than-entry-level drum set for well under $1000. In most cases you can get a Command Kit for $700. That’s a great price for a kit that gives two mesh heads, snare and bass drum, along with the same sounds of a $1200 drum set.
Alesis include a bass drum pedal with the Command Kit which can’t be said for other kits in this range such as the Roland TD-11K.
When it comes to downsides, the Command Kit disappoints with its selection of cymbals. The 10-inch pads are lightweight and don’t feel very durable. They lack the playability of bigger cymbal pads. The ride cymbal particularly loses out in that it has no playable bell area.
Other Kits You Might Consider Instead
The Roland TD-11K stands out as the obvious contender to the Command Kit. The TD-11K has a mesh snare and three rubber tom pads. The bass drum is also a rubber pad, so unlike in the Command Kit, there’s no mesh here. It is big enough for either a single or double pedal though.
If you want to spend a little more, the TD-11KV has the same module as the TD-11K but with mesh toms. Both kits are five-piece configurations like the Command Kit but, as mentioned above, you’ll have to supply your own bass drum pedal.
The Bottom Line
This is a solid electronic drum set for the price. Alesis are garnering a reputation for offering some of the best value drum sets on the market. The Command Kit is no different.
The sounds are of a decent quality but not amazing, however, this drum set has so many other attributes that put it ahead of competitors. You can import your own sounds onto the Command module which effectively means you’ll never run out of the latest drum sounds. This kit is ideally suited to a number of situations, from noiseless practicing to live performing to studio recording. The Command Kit is one to watch.