Alesis DM Lite Kit Review
The Alesis DM Lite Kit is one of Alesis’ entry-level electronic drum sets aimed at beginners to the instrument. It’s a five-piece drum kit with three cymbals and a selection of different drum sounds. With the DM Lite you get a compact and easily stored kit that suits all ages, from young to old.
Who Should Buy the Alesis DM Lite Kit?
The main selling points of the DM Lite are the low price and the light build. In most stores this drum set can be purchased for around $300 or even less. There are not many other alternatives at this price range and certainly nothing equivalent from either Yamaha or Roland, who are big players in this market.
The lightweight build of the DM Lite makes it ideally suited to kids. It can easily be folded away and moved which becomes a huge benefit when tidying rooms.
In addition, many parents will look at the price of the DM Lite and think that a $300 is an acceptable risk to take. Maybe their son or daughter will take to the drums easily, or perhaps he or she will play it once and abandon it for their games console. Alesis’ pricing of the DM Lite makes it a more viable option for thousands of families worldwide.
The drum rack that comes with this kit can be positioned in a number of ways to suit players of all sizes. You can raise the drums up for taller users and lower them for shorter players, such as children. The pedals on this drum kit are freestanding so they take up less space and can easily be repositioned.
Therefore, drummers who need a simple, portable, and low cost electronic drum kit will be interested in the DM Lite. It doesn’t have all the features of more advanced kits but for the price it is a bargain.
Drums, Pads and Other Hardware
As mentioned above, the DM Lite is a five-piece drum kit which means it has five drums. There are also three cymbals with this kit including a hi-hat, a crash cymbal and a ride cymbal. The five drums consist of four pads and one bass drum pedal. In this case the bass drum does not require a pad as it works on internal triggering.
Bass drum pedals like this are common on lower budget electronic drum sets as they are cheaper to produce. The way the pedal works is that it senses when your foot has pressed down in order to trigger an appropriate sample.
Pedals like this won’t suit all experienced drummers because certain foot techniques are difficult, or even impossible, to fully pull off. That said, for beginner drummers and heel-down players, pedals like this are perfectly functional.
The pads on the DM Lite are basic enough in that they really only have a surface trigger. You won’t find any ‘multi-zoned’ pads here. Likewise, you can’t play and get different sounds from the drum rims as there are no built-in triggers there. What the DM Lite does have though is built-in lights on each drum and cymbal pad.
This is not merely a cosmetic design. The addition of lighting on each pad means that it can be used as an instructional device. Certain tutorial exercises on the DM Lite module work with this built-in lighting to teach the user how to play certain beats and patterns. This is a clever and innovative feature by Alesis and will be extremely helpful to many budding drummers.
The hi-hat on the DM Lite is a freestanding pedal much like the bass drum pedal. Acousitc and some electronic hi-hats have cymbals, a stand and a pedal at the base on which to play with. But the DM Lite has no bulky stand, just the pedal and cymbal pad. The hi-hat controller is connected to the drum module by a cable and can be positioned wherever best fits your foot.
The sensitivity of the hi-hat is basic and you can play pretty much in three positions – open, closed or semi-open. The hi-hat is not the strongest part of the DM Lite but it has the added benefit of functioning as a second bass drum pedal. You can assign the pedal to play a bass drum when you press down as opposed to a regular hi-hat.
The DM Lite comes with 10 built-in drum kit for you to play with. There are rock, pop and jazz kits as well as a few unorthodox selections. In total there are over 200 sounds including cymbals and percussion samples.
The standard studio kit on the DM Lite is a nice sounding rock/pop kit. It has a full sounding bass drum with lots of attack for cutting through the sound when playing with a band. This kit is suitable for almost every contemporary setting apart from maybe electronic music. If you need a kit to play EDM, then the DM Lite has a few options.
There are techno-sounding kits with classic 90’s drum sounds as well as some synth sounds. In the preset kits these synths are assigned to the ride cymbal and crash but if you wish you can swap around these settings. There is no shortage of strange sounds like synthetic woodblocks and bells so you’ll have lots of fun there.
The sample quality of the sounds on the DM Lite are pretty basic, limited dynamically, but better than most sounds that come with a kit of this price. You could spend twice the price on a ‘better’ kit and find the sounds are no better.
This kit is more about getting started on an extremely portable setup that can be played practically anywhere. In this respect, and considering the cheap pricing, sounds are not really a priority. That said, you can modify and store your own configurations of the onboard kit sounds if you like.
The DM Lite is easy to setup and easy to fold away. The rack comes pre-assembled so you won’t have to fiddle around with the instructions too much. Each drum pad is already fitted to the rack so all you have to do is literally unfold the DM Lite, set it to your height preference, and you’re ready to go.
The lighting on each pad makes for enjoyable practicing and is a novel stage show especially when playing in the dark. The light-up pads can also be used as a visual tutorial, which is a handy feature when learning some of the built-in exercises on the DM Lite module.
Unfortunately the light-up feature of the DM Lite cannot be disabled so that might not be to every drummers preference. The light-up pads do resemble more of a childish feature and liken the kit to a musical toy. It’s perhaps an oversight on Alesis’ part to not allow the lights to be diabled.
The DM Lite lets you modify existing drum kits to create your own hybrid kit creations. This is a welcome addition as the 10 onboard drum set selection is not a huge number to play with.
The coach function is helpful for improving drum skills and timing and there are 30 playalong songs too. Each song provides a backdrop in which to try out your drum chops, all the while keeping in strict metronomic time.
Examining the connections we see that there is everything you need to get hooked up to a modern-day DAW. You have both MIDI and USB along with audio inputs and outputs. You can easily plug your MP3 audio source into the DM Lite module in order to play along with your favorite tracks. For monitoring, you get a stereo headphone out and ¼ inch stereo outputs for connecting to a P.A. system.
Watch the DM Lite in action here:
The DM Lite is a very portable kit. It can fold up easily for transportation and won’t take up much space in bedrooms.
It has pads that light up which, apart from delighting young drummers, also act as a visual learning aid.
The price of the DM Lite is a couple of hundred dollars less than many of its counterparts and there’s no doubt that this will be a major attraction for many customers.
There is a limited dynamic range from the pads on this kit when connected to the DM Lite drum module. Playing on the drum and cymbals lacks the subtlety of higher-end kits but it does hold its own against kits in the sub-$600 range.
The pads have one playing area which lacks realism. When playing on the ride cymbal you must play at higher volume with greater force to trigger the bell as this is a one-zone pad.
There are no advanced features such as chokable crashes either. The module has only 10 drum kit presets so that may become old very quickly for some users.
It’s not tremendously easy to position the pads on the DM Lite in any position you may want.
Another thing that might be a negative point is the size of the pads themselves, as they are a bit on the small side, which may be good for accuracy training, but does mean it feels a bit like you’re playing on a Drum Hero toy as opposed to a full instrument.
Other Kits You Might Consider Instead
Roland offer the TD-1K which is their bottom of the line electronic kit and has similar qualities to the DM Lite. It’s equally lightweight and has the same configuration of drums, including freestanding hi-hat and bass drum pedals. It’s more expensive than the DM Lite but has some cool features such as the ability to record your playing.
There are more drum kits on the TD-1K too with 15 kits in total. It’s not quite as portable as the DM Lite though so you might be better off looking at a Roland TD-4KP if that is important to you.
The TD-4KP has been designed by Roland to be as portable as possible. You can fold the 4-KP up into a size that will fit a Roland carry bag. There are space-saving features all wound with a lightweight rack and pads along with the absence of a bass drum pad. In place of a pad, there is a small bass drum trigger that is attached to one of the drum rack legs. The TD-4KP has better sounds than the TD-1K but is closer to $800 which is over twice the price of a DM Lite.
Yamaha offer the DTX400K which is their most basic model of electronic drums. It costs around as much as a Roland TD-1K but on many online stores it comes with a few extras, such as a pair of headphones that you can use to monitor your playing.
The DTX400K has the same number of drum kits as the DM Lite, but these kits are sampled from Yamaha’s legendary acoustic series of drums. You get 169 sounds in total and 10 drum training exercises, such as tempo trainers. Many online stores will also throw in a set of drumsticks and a throne so you’ll get everything you need to get started.
The Bottom Line
The DM Lite represents real value for money and is easily one of the lowest priced electronic drum sets available today. It’s a good chunk cheaper than what its main competitors have to offer and has some unique and helpful features.
Parents looking to invest in starter electronic drums for their kids should definitely look at this kit. The sheer portability of the DM Lite means that it might suit a drummer with no transport.
The whole kit folds up into something that can easily be carried in a large sports bag. Sure, the sounds are not spectacular but they’re as good as anything in the entry-level range. The pads might be a bit small, but if you need a cheap practice kit, then this might be the one for you.