Alesis DM6 Nitro Kit Review
The Alesis DM6 Nitro Kit is one of Alesis’ entry-level electronic drum sets. A big selling point of the Alesis DM6 Nitro Kit is that it is extremely compact and portable. The whole kit comes with five drums, three cymbals and a module, all mounted on a lightweight Alesis drum rack.
The kit can be set up in minutes and taken down just as quickly. It’s an ideal drum set for beginners to learn their trade on as well as established drummers who are looking for a practice tool.
The DM6 Nitro Kit has some of the features of the Alesis DM6 USB Kit and the Alesis DM Lite. However, it comes with a better drum module, namely the Nitro module. This module contains more sounds and better functionality than the earlier DM6 module. Let’s take a look at the DM6 Nitro Kit in detail.
Who Should Buy Alesis DM6 Nitro Kit?
The compact nature of this kit means it can easily be set up in places where you have restricted space. The whole kit takes up about four square feet of space and possibly even less. The pads are lightweight and this makes it easy to carry the kit from one room to another or on and off stage quickly.
This kit is ideally suited for beginners and drummers on the move. Any drummers without their own transport will see the appeal in the DM6 Nitro Kit. It folds up neatly and can be carried in two holdalls.
Parents who are looking to purchase the first drum set for their kids will also be interested in the DM6 Nitro Kit. In addition to being extremely flexible and portable, it also won’t break the bank. The cost of a DM6 Nitro Kit is usually well under $500 online and in stores. And for that price you get a lot of extras such as a bass drum pedal, drumsticks, a drum key and all the cabling that you need to get up and running.
Drums, Pads and Other Hardware
There are five drums on the DM6 Nitro Kit consisting of a snare, three toms and a bass drum. The bass drum is a proper trigger pad and not like the standalone pedal that comes with the Alesis DM Lite drum set. It can accommodate any single bass drum pedal but there’s not quite enough pad room for most double pedals. You might find that you can fit a double pedal to the DM6 Nitro Kit with a bit of adjusting, but for many pedals it’s just too small to fit comfortably.
The response of the pad is quite basic and although there is some dynamic range, it’s not a whole lot to work with. The pad is fine for what it is and stays in place. It’s also light enough for ease of transportation. Alesis have been generous enough to include one of their own single bass drum pedals with the DM6 Nitro Kit package so that will save on any extra spending.
The snare on the DM6 Nitro Kit is a dual-zone pad. This pad has a rubber playing surface with a rubber rim. The dual-zone technology enables you to play on both the head surface and the rim to trigger different sounds. Certain kits make use of this feature by assigning different samples to each zone, allowing you more musical options.
Each pad on the DM6 Nitro Kit is 8 inches in diameter. This is quite a small size but this consequently dramatically reduces the overall weight of the kit.
The tom pads are single-zoned so there are no fancy rim triggers here. The rims on the toms are made from hard plastic and therefore you must be careful where you strike the drum. Playing on the rim produces a nasty click that doesn’t sound great and increases the noise generated from playing on the DM6 Nitro Kit.
The three cymbals are mounted onto cymbal arms that are in turn fastened to the drum rack itself. Each cymbal arm has an adjustable head so that you can angle each cymbal pad to your liking. The poles of each cymbal arm are lightweight but stay in place during performances. The cymbal pads themselves can be tightened to the stand with a wing nut to prevent any movement. The pads are light and have quite a hard surface to them. They are not the most realistic cymbal pads to play on.
On top of the five drums and three cymbals, the Nitro Module is expandable by a further two pads. This means that if you want to, you can add either another set of cymbals or some extra toms to your setup.
The DM6 Nitro Kit’s sound module features 385 sounds. Those include acoustic drums, electronic drums, percussion, world instruments and melodic sounds. The sounds are ordered into a list of 24 different kits. You can navigate through each drum kit by using the buttons on the face of the Nitro module.
In addition to the built-in drum set sample sounds, you can also store your own kits. There is room on the Nitro module for extra custom user kits which can be assembled using any choice of the onboard sounds.
When you have selected a kit to play on, you can then choose from one of 60 built-in playalong tracks. These tracks are all different in style from rock to pop to jazz and can be sped up or slowed down using the Nitro module controls. Simply select your song, press start, and you’re ready to go.
On the face of the Nitro module there are buttons for each drum and cymbal. You can use these buttons to quickly change the sound of any pad. An alternative way to do this is to strike the pad you want to change and then make the changes.
First you select the pad in the above way by either using the module buttons or the hitting pad itself. Next you use the control buttons on the Nitro module to scroll through all the kits and sample sounds that are available. When you have finished selecting your sounds, you can store this setup as a new drum kit. There are 15 spaces in which to name and save your custom kit configurations.
The Nitro module has a metronome built-in and some cool coaching functions to help you improve. There are a few timing and speed exercises on the module that are fun to play with and will be a popular addition. Also included is a performance recorder that allows you to play back a snippet of your playing. You can use a feature like this at live gigs when soundchecking, in order to determine that your kit sounds the way you want it to sound. Alternatively it can be used as a handy dictaphone, storing your creative beats and drum solo ideas.
You can plug your MP3 player into the Nitro module for playalong purposes. This is made possible by way of a stereo input on the module itself. Monitoring your sound can be done using either headphones with the headphone jack output, or alternatively the stereo outs on the module can be used to hook up to a P.A. system.
There is also a USB MIDI connection which you can use to connect to your desktop computer or laptop. This will work with either Mac or PC and is great for using the DM6 Nitro Kit as a MIDI controller with your favorite DAW. Also on the module are two old-school MIDI in and Out jacks.
Check out the Alesis DM6 Nitro Kit here:
The build of this kit makes it extremely portable and easy to setup in a short space of time. It folds up for easy transportation and storage too.
The DM6 Nitro Kit is expandable so you can add another two pads, drum or cymbals, to the basic setup for more musical options.
The sounds on the Alesis DM6 Nitro Kit are still quite basic and lack the subtlety of certain other competitors. The sounds on the Roland TD-4KP are better and that kit is even more portable than the DM6 Nitro Kit.
One downside to this portability is that the kit feels a bit flimsy to play on. The cymbals move a lot when struck which can make it uncomfortable to play on. The pad sizes are small and the toms have plastic rims, which makes an annoying sound when struck.
Other Kits You Might Consider Instead
The Roland TD-4KP is an obvious competitor to the Alesis DM6 Nitro Kit. The TD-4KP is impressively portable and has some quite good sounds too. It folds up more handily than the DM6 Nitro Kit but is more expensive. It costs around $200 more than the DM6 Nitro Kit.
The TD-4KP received an award for the ‘Best Electronic Drums’ at the MIPA Awards in 2013. This kit has many coaching features like Quick Record, Quick Play and Rhythm Coach. The pads are a bit smaller than the DM6 Nitro Kit’s toms, measuring at approximately 7.5 inches. Also each pad, including the snare, has no rims to play on. What you pay for with the TD-4KP is the unparalleled portability.
The Yamaha DTX400K is another entry-level drum set worth taking a look at. It retails for well under $500, about the same as a DM6 Nitro Kit, and has many similar traits. It has 169 sounds in total and 10 drum kits, which is less than the DM6 Nitro Kit. It has a beaterless bass drum pedal which means it’s easier to transport, but this might not be to everyone’s taste.
If a bass drum pad is essential to you then check out the DTX450K instead. This is effectively the same kit as the DTX400K, but with the inclusion of a pedal mountable bass drum pad.
The Bottom Line
The Alesis DM6 Nitro Kit is a good starter kit and will suit most. The setup is small and light and can fit in the corner of a bedroom without much fuss. The kit features 385 sounds with 24 drum sets, and has the ability to store more custom configurations. The dual-zoned snare is a nice feature and lends itself to more musicality on the instrument. Most entry-level drum sets feature all single-zoned drum pads, so this is a major plus.
You can carry the DM6 Nitro Kit to your gig or practice space, set it up in minutes, and you’re ready to play. There are multiple audio outs which allow you to hear yourself through a monitor, P.A. system or a set of headphones. The inclusion of an Aux input means that playing along to your MP3 player or laptop is a breeze.
The coaching functions on the Nitro module will test all levels of drummers, from beginner to pro. However, this kit is not ideally suited to professionals sound-wise as the sample quality is not good enough. Some of the digital EDM-style kits perform well but the acoustic kits on this module are quite sterile and clunky. There isn’t the dynamic range of expression to sound convincingly like an acoustic drum set.
That said, the DM6 Nitro Kit has many uses and will appeal to many drummers of all abilities. When it comes to finding a kit to practice on and keep the volume down, this kit does just that. It might not be the best sounding kit, but it has many great features.