Alesis Crimson Mesh Kit Review
The Alesis Crimson Mesh Kit is a five piece electronic drum set and as the name implies, one of the main features of this kit is its full lineup of mesh drum heads. Each head is tightly woven for extra strength to allow it to function as a drum head. Mesh heads are usually associated with higher-end drum kits so it’s quite rare to see a kit like this. The fact that Alesis have managed to produce a kit with all-mesh heads speaks volumes to their intentions of bringing real value to the electronic drum set market.
For too many years mesh drum heads have been restrictive in price. Sure, you can purchase the likes of a Roland TD-11K or TD-11KV but they are more expensive than the Crimson Mesh Kit and do not have as many mesh pads. For example, the TD-11K has a mesh snare and rubber tom pads but is a few hundred dollars more expensive than this kit. Alternatively, the TD-11KV has a mesh snare and three mesh toms but has no mesh head on the bass drum. And when it comes to mesh kits from Yamaha, the prices are even higher.
Mesh heads offer more playability with electronic drum sets as they are better at simulating a real acoustic drum head. This leads to a more realistic drumstick bounce and less wear on the drummer’s limbs and joints. Another huge advantage of mesh is that it is considerably quieter than both rubber and Mylar. A fully mesh kit like this promises to be extremely housemate-friendly and can be played practically anywhere and at all hours of the day.
Who Should Buy Alesis Crimson Mesh Kit Kit?
The price point puts this kit in the lower mid-range of electronic drum kits. It has many features that will appeal to experienced drummers and beginners too. You can use the Crimson Mesh Kit as a practice kit or as a professional kit. It’s quiet enough to play in bedrooms and has all the connectivity to make it work at live gigs or in the studio.
Most entry-level kits come with basic features and minimalistic components. This often means smaller drum pads, cheaper drum racks, poor quality drum sounds and low-level playability. But with the Crimson Mesh Kit, you get a drum set which can rival the high-end kits for playability in many ways. Each drum pad can be tightened or loosened with a drum key so that you can customize your kit response. This is not even possible with some high-end Yamaha drum sets.
The Crimson Mesh Kit It comes with many sounds over a variety of drum kits that you can use to hone and perfect your drumming skills. The extremely quiet nature of this kit also means you won’t be disturbing anyone as you put in those long hours of playing.
Drums, Pads and Other Hardware
This five-piece drum set comes with three cymbals, a hi-hat controller pedal, a drum rack and the Alesis Crimson drum module. Each drum pad was designed to resemble a real acoustic drum setup. There is a snare, three toms and a bass drum that are all supplied with woven mesh heads.
The toms are of different sizes. The two front toms are 8 inches in diameter. This is generally the minimum size drum pad that you’ll find with electronic drum sets, although there are some 7 and 7.5 inch pads about. On an acoustic drum set it’s very rare to encounter a drum size less than 8 inches. Anything smaller can get a bit fidgety and means the striking area is quite tight.
The floor tom is larger than the two front toms. It’s 10 inches in diameter, and its larger playing area makes it very enjoyable to play on. Each tom can be tensioned in order to get a realistic stick response. Be careful not to over-loosen the heads here as it is possible to damage the internal triggering by playing on loosened heads.
The finish of each drum is impressive. They are all made from wooden shells that resemble real acoustic drums. Of all the electronic drum sets on the market in this price range, the Crimson Mesh Kit is easily one of the most striking to look at. Each drum also has a chrome rim much like you see with acoustic drums. This adds to the look greatly.
The snare is the biggest drum pad on the Crimson Mesh Kit. It’s 12 inches in diameter and very responsive. You can play a variety of common snare sticking techniques with this drum pad. The playable rim has sensors that work along with the mesh triggers to assign different sample sounds. You can play regular strokes, from quiet to loud, and you can also play rim shots. Rim clicks are also possible by placing the drumstick across the drum head surface. The Crimson module knows when to assign different samples depending on which triggers have been activated.
When comparing the Crimson Mesh with similar priced kits, you’ll notice that many other kits are a lot smaller in size. Both the Roland TD-11KV and the Yamaha DTX522K have smaller drum pads. With smaller drum sizes, it’s easy to mount each drum to the drum rack, which cuts down on cost of hardware.
With the Crimson Mesh Kit there is a large 12 inch snare which is not rack mounted. This snare comes with its own snare stand included. The stand is double-braced and adjustable, just like any other regular snare stand.
The rack itself is a four-post chrome setup with hard plastic and metal mountings. You can position each cymbal and drum pad anywhere along the rack poles and tighten them into place. Each cymbal and pad can easily be angled to suit individual playing styles. Two of the cymbal stands are boom stands while the other is straight. Ideally the ride and crash can be placed on the boom stands for more flexibility.
The ride is a three-zone cymbal pad with different triggers on the bell, the bow and the edge. This cymbal is fully chokable so you can perform mutes easily with your hand. Its size is 14 inches, and so, the ride is the largest cymbal on the Crimson Mesh Kit.
Both the hi-hat and crash cymbal are 12-inch pads. The crash is also chokable like the ride cymbal.
Each cymbal is fastened in place by way of a cymbal nut. You can adjust the tension on each nut to get a comfortable cymbal swing. Most players tend to opt for a tight setting on the hi-hat with more of a loose setting on both ride and crash.
The hi-hat pad can be controlled by the accompanying foot pedal. This pedal is lightweight and portable. You can easily position it in any place that suits. It hooks up to the Crimson drum module with a cable and controls the triggering of the pad. You can use it to play different hi-hat positions from fully closed to fully open.
Alesis do offer a more realistic hi-hat with their Strike and Strike Pro model of kits. These hi-hats can be mounted to a hi-hat stand and are way more responsive dynamically. The main advantages of freestanding pedals are that they are cheaper to produce, they are very portable and they produce less noise. For many drummers a stand-mounted hi-hat is a must but for others it’s not an issue.
The Alesis Crimson module connects to each drum, cymbal and pedal to produce the sounds for your performance. There are over 600 sounds built into the module which very from drums to cymbals to SFX sounds. Alesis have amassed a large collection of acoustic drum samples that have been created in top-end studios. There are also a lot of alternative drum sounds such as EDM and Drum and Bass kits. These kits offer something different to the usual acoustic sound.
Additionally, the Crimson module has a wide variety of world percussion samples. You can assign any of these samples to pads on the kit for easy use.
There is a built in metronome that you can use to monitor your timing. The tempo is easily adjustable by way of the large dial on the front of the Crimson module.
As well as drum sounds, you also get 60 playalong tracks. These songs range in style from rock to pop to jazz and Latin. A lot of fun can be had just mixing and matching different drum kits sounds with different songs. Each song can be adjusted in tempo, just like the metronome. There are also a few challenging tunes that feature some of the rarer time signatures.
If the 60 playalong songs are not enough, there is also a stereo ⅛ inch input that can be used for plugging in any audio device of your choosing. You can easily jam along with your favorite songs by connecting up to an MP3, iPod or even a laptop.
Monitoring your sound can be done using the headphone port on the Crimson module. If you prefer to play along with the sound externally as opposed to headphones, then there is also a pair of ¼ inch outputs. These outputs allow you to hook up the Crimson module to any powered monitor or P.A.
If you like to play around with computer DAWs such as Cubase or Logic then there’s further good news. The Crimson module is fully MIDI compatible with any such program, meaning you can use the drum set as a controller instrument. The Crimson Mesh Kit will work alongside any virtual instruments (VST’s) and allow you access to even more kit sounds. Also using any DAW you can track your performances with MIDI and edit them later.
Another great feature of the Crimson module is that it will allow you to load in your own drum samples. This means that you can create and store your own personal custom drum kits for later use. Importing is relatively straightforward. You simply use a flash USB drive to import Wav files onto the module. Once on the device, you can edit and save them as new sounds. This feature is lacking in many of the Crimson Mesh Kit’s competitors, so that’s another bonus.
This video shows the Crimson Mesh Kit in action:
This kit offers supreme playability for the price. The mesh heads are very comfortable to play on and offer extremely good value. You will pay much more for features like this when it comes to the Roland and Yamaha brands.
The level of noise generated is quite low with the Crimson Mesh Kit so it will suit all drummers who need a practice kit.
The ability to load in your own samples will be a major plus point for many drummers. In so many cases, it’s very easy to grow tired of the on-board sounds that come with drum modules. Allowing the user to import his or her own custom drum sounds extends the shelf life of this kit.
Some of the sounds that Alesis have built into the Crimson module are not of a very high quality. Most kits are good and to an acceptable level but some kit sounds are way too harsh. They lack the dynamic range and come off sounding a bit tacky.
The lack of a stand-mountable hi-hat is another minus against the Crimson Mesh Kit.
Other Kits You Might Consider Instead
Check out the Roland TD-11KV if you can stretch your budget by around $200 – $300. It’s a good electronic drum set with a nice collection of drum sample sounds. The TD-11KV has four mesh pads too which add to the playability.
The Yamaha DTX562K is mesh kit too (excluding the bass drum) and is usually slightly more expensive than both the TD-11KV and the Crimson Mesh Kit. If you’re not necessarily restricted by budget, take a look at it as well.
It’s worth mentioning that Alesis offer the Crimson II Kit which is an upgraded version of the Crimson Mesh Kit. You get an extra crash cymbal pad with this kit and also a newly designed drum module.
The Bottom Line
Alesis is a strong leader in electronic drums when it comes to value. The Crimson Mesh Kit has something for beginners and experienced drummers alike. It offers premium playability without the restrictive price, and that will appeal to many consumers.