Alesis Electronic Drums
The Alesis electronic drums collection is one of the most comprehensive on the market today. With their wide selection of kits, Alesis cater to many consumer types from beginner to pro and many in between. In this article we will look at the standout selections from Alesis’ product range and discuss their strengths and weaknesses, starting with their cheapest kits all the way up to their flagship model.
Entry-Level Drum Sets
At the entry-level side of Alesis’ product range, there are a number of relevant drum kits. The first kit up is the DM Lite. This is a five-piece electronic drum set with a drum module, rack and pads. You get all you need to start drumming right away.
There are five drums, that’s one snare, three toms and a bass drum. The cymbals include a hi-hat pad, a crash pad and a ride pad. All pads connect to the Alesis drum module which stores the sound samples.
This module comes with 10 drum kits built-in and a total of 200 sounds. There are also a few handy extras such as a coach function and 30 playalong song tracks. Each playalong track is composed in a different style and tempo so as to stretch your playing capabilities to the max. If that’s not enough, you also have a handy stereo jack input on the module with which you can use to play along with your iPod or MP3 player.
Sound monitoring on the DM Lite is made easy with the addition of a headphone output. You can adjust the volume at any time with the large volume knob on the face of the DM Lite module. Also on the module are controls for tempo, start/stop and coach functions.
The makeup of the DM Lite is compact and portable. The whole kit is built upon a lightweight rack which can fold up for easy storage. The compact nature of this kit makes it ideal for young kids in particular. Each drum is mounted to the rack and can be moved or angled to suit your setup.
The cymbals are mounted on straight stands that are situated on the rack poles. You can raise and lower each cymbal, as well as tilt them for comfort, but you can’t easily move them laterally. There isn’t a whole lot of flexibility with this rack but that is not its selling point. It’s designed to be easy to setup and easy to store.
The toms are basic but perform well and are not too ‘lite’ to take a pounding. They also have the neat feature of being able to light up when struck. This feature really makes sense when used on some of the coaching exercises. The drums can light up to instruct beginner drummers on how to play beats and grooves.
The hi-hat and bass drum on the DM Lite are freestanding pedals with no pads or stands. This is usually fine for beginners but it may not suit you if you are an experienced kit player. If you’re looking for more realism here you might be better off looking at one of the mid-range kits or the entry-level Alesis Nitro Kit.
The Nitro Kit has the same configuration as the DM Lite in that it’s a five-piece drum set with three cymbals. But with it you get more sounds as well as more songs and the option to store your own custom kits. You can store 15 of your own creations on the Nitro drum module. Unlike the DM Lite, this drum kit comes with a bass drum pad that can be used with any standard bass drum pedal.
The hi-hat is similar to the DM Lite in design but more robust in design and will stand up to more abuse in the long run. It’s freestanding and without a hi-hat stand. If you want an Alesis electronic drum set with a proper actual hi-hat stand then you’ll have to look at their high-end collection.
The Nitro is a good kit and will suit beginners and more advanced drummers who need a competitively priced practice kit for home.
If you want a kit with bigger pad sizes, then check out the Alesis Forge Kit. The Forge Kit has an 11 inch snare which is considerably larger than the 8 inch pad on the Nitro. The Forge also comes with a more advanced drum rack that promises less movement. One for the heavy hitters, perhaps.
The Alesis DM6 USB Kit is another drum set aimed at the entry-level consumer. It’s a compact kit, like The DM Lite, but with better sounds and more of them too. The DM6 can be easily folded away for storage yet is ruggedly built to withstand the wear and tear of transportation to and from gigs. Like the Nitro Kit, the DM6 has a bass drum pad for a more realistic playing experience.
Mid-Range Drum Sets
Alesis offer a number of kits in their mid-range category. First up is the Alesis Command drum set. It has the same basic configuration as previous kits – five drums with three cymbals – but with some advanced features.
The module on this drum set has 70 drum kit presets built-in with over 600 sounds in total. There are also 60 playalong tracks for you to jam along to. The drum kits sounds on this module are better than anything in the entry-level range and have been sampled to a more detailed degree.
There is more sensitivity in the Command’s snare and tom pads than in either the DM Lite or the Nitro Kit. This, combined with the higher quality and more nuanced sample bank, lead to a more authentic and expressive performance overall.
The two rack toms are both 9 inch in diameter, while the floor tom is 11 inches. Each tom is dual-zoned, meaning you can play and trigger samples on the rim of each drum.
The cymbals are all 10 inch in size and chokable. You can mute both the ride and crash with your hand by grabbing the outer edge.
The hi-hat is a freestanding pedal, but won’t give any unwanted movement as long as you place it on an appropriate surface such as a drum mat.
The standout features of the Command is possibly the mesh heads which adorn both the bass drum and snare. The snare is a 10 inch dual-zoned pad so you can play rim clicks, rim shots or even reassign samples to the rim as you like. The bass drum is an 8 inch mesh pad which is big enough to suit either single or double bass pedals. Each mesh head can be tuned like a real drum using the lugs and a standard drum key. This is useful for customizing the tension of the drum heads to make them more comfortable to play on.
If mesh is your thing then take a look at the Alesis Crimson II Kit, whic is a fully mesh drum set. The Crimson II is considerably cheaper than many other mesh drum kits on the market.
With the Crimson II you get a five pads, four cymbals and a module with over 670 sounds. Each mesh head is tunable so you can set the tension to your liking. The size of the drums is bigger than that of most competitors in this price range. You get a 12 inch snare, 10 inch floor tom, two 8 inch rack-mounted, toms and an 8 inch bass drum pad. The performance of each pad is great and there is very little noise compared to rubber pads.
Cymbal-wise you get a 12 inch hi-hat, two 12 inch crashes, and a 14 inch ride. The crashes are chokable and the ride is triple-zoned, so you can play on the bell for more musicality. Cymbals are also mounted on adjustable boom stands so you have more flexibility in where you can position them on the kit.
A nice feature of the Crimson II module is that it allows you to import your own samples. This means you can use either MP3 or Wav files to load your custom samples onto the module by using a USB flash drive. Once imported, you can use the samples to create more kits and assign them to any of the nine pads.
The DM10 MKII Pro is a bigger drum set than the Crimson II. It has 6 drums in total compared to the Crimson II’s 5. The drums are also bigger in size. The two rack toms are 10 inches and the two floor toms are 12 inches in diameter. The bass drum and snare are the same dimensions as on the Crimson II.
Like in the Crimson II, the snare with the DM10 MKII Pro sits upon a regular snare stand, which is supplied. This is a feature that is usually only available with electronic drum sets that are more than twice the price of either of these kits.
You also get a bigger ride cymbal (16 inch) and an improved drum module. The DM10 MKII module has a few extra sounds and comes with recording software which you can use with either PC or Mac. Connectivity is similar to the Crimson II in that you have USB and MIDI for DAW compatibility along with stereo inputs and outputs.
High-End Drum Sets
On the high-end of Alesis’ product line we have the Strike Kit and the Strike Pro Kit. The Strike series is the flagship series for Alesis and has many new and prestigious features. This drum set is electronic but each drum shell is made from multi-ply wood. This instantly enhances the overall look of the drum set. Pad sizes in these kits are the biggest we’ve seen yet.
The snare is 14 inches, which is the same size as most standard snare drums. It’s fully dual-zone and sits upon a supplied snare stand for maximum comfort and flexibility. Tom sizes on the Strike Kit are 8, 10 and 12 inches and the bass drum is 14 inches. The toms and snare all feature Alesis’ dual-zone technology so you can create a variety of sounds depending on how you strike the drum. Rim shots are easy to pull off on these larger sized drums too. It feels more like a real acoustic kit as Alesis have gone to the effort of sizing it in such a way.
You get three cymbals with the Strike Kit but if you want more options you can opt for the Strike Pro Kit. Included in the upgrade is an extra 14 inch floor tom and two extra 14 inch crash cymbals.
The hi-hat on both Strike kits is designed to fit a regular hi-hat stand. It consists of two rubber cymbal pads and can be fasted to the stand by way of a hi-hat clutch. Sensors in the pads determine the hi-hat position and trigger samples accordingly.
Both kits use the same Alesis Strike Performance module which contains 1600 sounds and 100 different drum kits. The module is easy to navigate and has a clear 4.3 inch full color LCD screen. You can hook up the Strike Performance module to any Mac or PC and use it alongside your favorite DAW. Samples can be easily imported using the SD card slot and it also has full MIDI capabilities too. The Strike Pro Kit also comes with drumsticks, a drum key, cable wraps and a cable snake as standard.
Alesis have a considerable number of drum sets on available to suit all playing levels. Their electronic drum sets are usually a lot less expensive than those of their main rivals. Alesis have managed to keep the costs down in production and this has lead to better deals for consumers. Whether you’re buying for a child that is new to drumming or an experienced professional, Alesis kits offer exceptional quality and value that is hard to beat.
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