Alesis Crimson II Kit Review
The Alesis Crimson II Kit is the second iteration of the widely popular Alesis Crimson Kit. This is a fully mesh kit with five drums and four cymbals. That’s one more cymbal than the original Crimson Kit has. This drum set also has an updated drum module with more sounds of a higher quality.
Being a fully mesh drum set means that the Crimson II is a perfect low-noise solution for drummers everywhere. The mesh heads are quiet and springy and therefore closer in response to acoustic drums than rubber pads. Each drum actually looks like an acoustic drum shell from afar. This makes the Crimson II stand out from other competitors in this price range such as Roland and Yamaha.
With the Crimson II you get a drum set that can function in a studio or home recording setup or at a live gig. This kit offers great value with high-end features for a low price.
Who Should Buy the Alesis Crimson II Kit?
Depending on your requirements, the Alesis Crimson II may or may not be the right option for you. It’s the type of kit that would suit a drummer who prefers acoustic set but needs a silent kit to practice on. The fully mesh setup and rubber cymbal pads mean that the Crimson II can be played practically anywhere and at any time.
When it comes to the sounds on the Crimson II, it can hold its own against many competitors. Some players will always prefer the sound samples that come with other manufacturers in this price range. The Roland TD-11K is one such kit that comes with a module to rival the Crimson II.
Drums, Pads and Other Hardware
One of the first things you’ll notice about the Crimson II when you see it is the large drum sizes. It comes with extra-large drums, particularly the snare and floor tom. The snare drum is a whopping 12 inches in diameter which is far bigger than the snare with either the Roland TD-11KV or the Yamaha DTX520K. Both kits are considerably more expensive than the Crimson II.
Each mesh head comes with actual drum hoops and lugs. You can tighten and loosen each mesh head to find the response that suits you. This is particularly useful when it comes to fine-tuning your setup. You can tighten the snare for more spring and loosen the toms for more of a deadened bounce. Likewise, the bass drum can be tensioned to suit your foot technique.
The bass drum pad is an 8-inch mesh pad that sits upon an upright kick tower. The tower is about one foot in height and supports both single and double bass pedals. There are supporting spikes on both sides of the tower that allow it to grip to carpets and other floorings. The pad feels good to play on even with the factory head settings so there’s no need to do adjustments. The pedal connects tightly to the tower unit and makes for a comfortable playing experience. Unlike some other models of Alesis drum sets, the Crimson II does not come with a bass pedal included so you will have to source one yourself.
There are three toms in total with the Crimson II, namely two front rack toms and a floor tom. The two front toms are each 8 inches in diameter while the floor tom is 10 inches. The different sizes here make the kit look and feel more like a real acoustic kit setup. It’s pretty standard to have bigger drums for the snare and floor tom and Alesis have made that a priority with the Crimson II. This is not seen on many other electronic drum sets in this price range.
The Crimson II comes with a hi-hat pedal controller that is portable and lightweight. Unlike some mid-range and high-end kits, the Crimson II does not come with a hi-hat stand. This controller pedal connects to the drum module and controls the hi-hat position. You can play in a variety of clutch positions from fully open to fully closed. The hi-hat cymbal consists of a 12-inch pad that is mounted to the drum rack. This cymbal pad rests on a cymbal arm that can be angled to best suit your setup.
Each cymbal sits on its stand and is fastened in place with a cymbal nut. There is some movement when you strike each pad and you can loosen or tighten the nut depending on your preference. Both the crash and the ride cymbal come with boom cymbal arms. This allows for better positioning.
You also get two crash cymbals and a ride cymbal with the Crimson II. Each crash cymbal is a 12-inch pad with the ability to perform choke functions. This is done by gripping the outer edge of the cymbal pad to mute the sample triggering. The ride cymbal is slightly bigger than the crash and measures in at 14 inches. This cymbal pad has more sensors built-in and allows you to play not just on the bow and edge, but also on the bell. With many cheaper and inferior drum kits you’ll find that the bell of each cymbal is not playable. This allows the manufacturers to keep costs down to a minimum. The inclusion of a playable bell in this kit is a welcome addition.
The Crimson II drum set is housed upon a shiny chrome rack. This rack is a four-post design with interconnecting poles. The toms are mounted to the rack and can be angled for playability. When it comes to the snare, Alesis have gone one better than their rivals.
The snare is already a larger drum than included with most kits of this level. It’s a 12-inch shell that is filled with complex components. Naturally, this makes the drum a considerable weight to support. Alesis have opted to supply a separate snare stand with the Crimson II for this very reason. The snare stand is double-braced, of a high quality and extremely robust. A separate stand like this makes for more flexibility and a more solid playing experience.
The Crimson II comes with many sounds and special features. There are 671 sounds in total. These range from standard acoustic drum sets to electronic drum sets to percussion and even some SFX sounds. The sounds are spread across 54 drum kits. You can also store 20 drum kits of your own creation.
Storing kits is quite simple. All you need to do is select a sound or ‘voice’ that you’d like to use. You can assign this sound to any pad, cymbal or even pedal. You can then make further adjustment to the sound, such as change the pitch or add an effect. Once you are happy with the new sound configuration on the kit, you can then choose to store it to one of the empty preset slots.
The sounds themselves are on the whole very good. There may be some dud kits that you won’t find appealing but there is always the ability to make alterations to these sounds, so all is not lost. Some people will prefer the sound sampling of other manufacturers but this generally comes down to personal taste.
On top of the 671 sounds that are the Crimson II module, it also comes with a few sample import options. You can use the USB port to load drum or cymbal samples onto the module. Once onto the module you have the same control over these sounds as you have with the on board ones. You can make adjustments and store them to your own new custom kit presets.
If you’re a fan of MIDI and using virtual instruments, then the Crimson II has some good news. You can hook up the module to either a PC or a Mac and use it alongside any standard DAW such as Logic, Pro Tools or Ableton. There are many virtual instruments that simulate professional drum kits on the market today. The likes of EZ Drummer or BFD are such popular choices among many studio engineers. Having full compatibility with such virtual instruments means that you’ll never run out of potential sound sources.
Installation is very easy and can be done through USB or MIDI. Once you have hooked up the Crimson II to your computer, simply assign it to be a MIDI controller in the DAW settings.
This video demonstrates the Crimson II being used as a VST controller kit along with Addictive Drums II:
An all-mesh kit is a huge plus point with the Crimson II. Playing on this kit is a pleasure and it’s very low on noise production. You can also alter the tension of these mesh heads, letting you find the right stick response for each drum.
The module has the ability to import samples through USB. This is a big selling point as it allows the user to constantly update his or her kit collection. Also the Crimson II works well in the studio as a MIDI controller kit which will appeal to many recording enthusiasts.
The hi-hat with the Crimson II is a little disappointing and diminished the premium look of it a little. Free-floating hi-hat pedals are not as playable as real stand-mounted hi-hat pads.
Another minus point to the Crimson II is that some of the sounds on the module are very harsh and lack dynamic subtlety.
Other Kits You Might Consider Instead
If you’re looking for an electronic drum set and you really want mesh, then there are several options. You could look at the TD-11KV by Roland. This kit has mesh heads on the snare and all three toms. The bass drum is not mesh and the drum sizes are a tad smaller than those of the Alesis Crimson II. It comes with the TD-11 module, which is a popular module among drummers. The TD-11KV is a few hundred dollars more than the Crimson II.
Looking at the options with Yamaha, it appears that the cheapest set they make with an all-mesh setup is the DTX562K. This kit has the same number of drum pads as the TD-11KV. It has four mesh drum pads, one rubber bass pad and three cymbals. The DTX562K can be purchased for a few hundreds of dollars more than the Crimson II KIt. It has many of the same features that come with the Crimson II including mesh heads. Each head is preset to a factory-set tension and cannot be adjusted with a drum key. Also, like the TD-11KV, this drum set does not have a mesh bass drum head.
The Bottom Line
Alesis have designed the Crimson II Kit to appeal to experienced drummers across the world. It offers great value with some premium features. None of the main electronic drums manufacturers are offering fully mesh drum sets at this price point. Looking at the Roland and Yamaha equivalents, it appears that you will have to spend a lot more just to come close.
There are enough sounds on-board the module to keep most drummers engaged for hours upon end. It has all the connectivity that you’ll need to use alongside modern DAWs and VST instruments. You can even load in your own custom drum samples if you find you’ve grown bored of the ones on-board.
The Crimson II Kit is an ideal silent practice kit with the ability to function adequately both live and in the studio. It’s bound to be popular among consumers.