Alesis Forge Kit Review
The Alesis Forge Kit is a great value oriented electronic drum set aimed at experienced drummers and beginners alike. Alesis have priced the Forge Kit directly between their entry-level DM Lite and their mid-range Crimson II kits.
The Forge Kit has many features that make it a desirable purchase. The build of the Forge Kit is much better than both the Alesis DM Lite and the Alesis DM6 USB kits. This drum set comes with a durable and lightweight rack which makes it easy to setup and easy to transport.
The Forge drum module that comes with this drum kit has a wide range of sounds and more options than in earlier models. The Forge Kit can be used in a number of situations, from practicing, to studio recording, to live performing.
Who Should Buy the Alesis Forge Kit?
The Forge Kit offers a few features that place it above most entry-level drum sets. For this reason it’s ideally suited to drummers who have played acoustic drums for some time and are looking for an electronic alternative. The benefits of electronic drums are that they are a low-noise practice solution and also that they have the potential to create many more musical sounds than an acoustic drum kit.
The pads on this kit are made from a rubber-type of material which makes them low on noise and springy to the touch. They are a small bit louder than the more expensive mesh drumhead alternatives, but come with a smaller price tag.
The Forge Kit has a proper bass drum pad in contrast to the beaterless design that is standard with the entry-level Alesis DM Lite, Roland TD-1K and Yamaha DTX400K. With this in mind, there will be a bit more noise generated from playing the Forge Kit when compared to the beaterless models.
The benefit of course is that you win out when it comes to realism and playability. The Forge Kit bass drum pad can be used alongside any standard single or double bass drum pedal. This is an important point when determining who the Forge Kit will suit.
Drums, Pads and Other Hardware
With the Forge Kit you get a five-piece drum set with three cymbals. All pads on this kit are rubber with triggering underneath the surface. The Forge Kit package includes the drums, the cymbals, a drum module, a hi-hat controller, a bass drum pedal and a drum rack.
The drum rack is a step up in quality compared to lower level Alesis drum sets. It’s made from a lightweight metal and has strong and secure mounting. It’s flexible and portable which is impressive for a rack of this durability. Alesis have designed the Forge Kit to be both strong enough to put up with the rigors of live gig transportation and flexible enough to store up neatly in bedroom closets.
There are double-locking joints on the rack which make for extra security and stability. Each of the drum pads is mounted to the rack poles and can be positioned and angled to suit your setup.
The cymbals on the Forge Kit sit upon cymbal arms which can be raised or lowered and also angled for comfort. The rack is solid and provides a sturdy basis on which to play on. It’s also light enough to be picked up and carried by one person, which is tremendously convenient.
Of the five drum pads with the Forge Kit, four are single-zoned and one is dual-zoned. The dual-zoned drum is the snare. This snare can produce sounds on both the pad surface and the rim. This makes advanced drum techniques such as rim shots and rim clicks easily playable. In order to play a rim click you simply lay the drumstick over the drum pad, making sure to connect with the drum rim on both sides.
Along with having more built-in triggering than the other pads, the snare drum is also the largest pad on the Forge Kit. It measures 11 inches in diameter, making it three inches bigger than each of the other pads. Having a bigger snare makes for a more enjoyable experience and it dwarfs other snares on entry-level Roland and Yamaha models.
The three tom pads are single-zoned so there is only triggering on the pad surface. This is perfectly fine and very common with electronic drum sets in this price range. The tom pads feel different to the touch when compared to the snare drum pad. They are slightly softer and absorb the stick more than the snare does. The snare pad is quite springy, whereas the toms provide more of a deadening response when struck. This difference in response is more akin to a real acoustic drum set where the snare is typically the most highly tensioned drum of the lot.
The bass drum pad is a kick tower with an 8-inch circular playing surface. This pad is big enough to accommodate both single and double pedals which will be good news to many drummers. Alesis have been generous enough to include one of their own pedals in the deal too.
The hi-hat on the Forge Kit is of the free-floating variety. There is no hi-hat stand required here. The hi-hat controller works as a movable pedal with internal triggering. The pedal is connected to the Forge module, along with the hi-hat cymbal pad, in order to simulate a real hi-hat. The pedal has three positions, which are fully open, fully closed and half-open.
The hi-hat controller is lightweight which is good news if you plan on transporting the Forge Kit around a lot. It also has two adjustable spikes on the front base of the pedal which can be used to grip floor surfaces. If you don’t have a double bass drum pedal and you want to test out your skills, you can also assign this hi-hat controller to act as another bass drum trigger.
All three cymbals on the Forge Kit are 10-inch pads with dual-zone triggering. This allows you to choke the sound from each cymbal pad by using your hand to grip the outer edge of the pad. It is a useful feature for the ride and crash cymbals, but a bit unnecessary with regards the hi-hat. The hi-hat can already be easy choked by way of the foot pedal controller. These cymbals perform well but feel a little lightweight, especially when playing on the ride cymbal.
On board the Forge drum module we have 600 sounds which range from acoustic drum kits to electronic sets, percussion and more. Each sound can be modified further by the user in a number of ways. You can pitch drum and cymbal sounds to your liking and save them as your own custom presets.
In order to modify a sound, start by entering the ‘voice’ menu. Next you can strike and drum pad and it will automatically be selected on screen. By turning the large dial in the center of the Forge module either clockwise or counter-clockwise you can scroll through the selection of 600 onboard sounds.
Once you are happy with your selected drum or cymbal sound, you can then make further adjustments. You can alter the volume of the sample as well as edit the pitch and panning. When you are finished customizing your kit sounds, simply press the ‘save’ button and give it a name. There are already 50 preset drum kits on the Forge module with space to store another 20 of your own user kits.
On first impression, the Forge module appears very similar to the widely popular Alesis DM10 drum module. The Forge module does in fact have many of the same features as the DM10 such as MIDI, USB and a multitude of drum kit sounds.
There is an adjustable metronome which can be used to help improve your timing on the kit. You can easily adjust the tempo of the metronome using the module controls. The module is conveniently positioned beside the hi-hat so as to be readily within arm’s reach. Navigating the Forge module is easy and intuitive.
Examining the main menu we see that there are options for voice, trigger, utility, USB memory and factory reset. The voice section is where you can select, modify and store your drum sounds accordingly. The trigger section allows you to alter the response of the pad triggering on the Forge Kit. It’s recommended that before you get started with this drum set, you take a look at this section, as it will be crucial to how the Forge Kit performs for you.
The trigger section will allow you to alter how each trigger responds. Different players will vary in how they strike the drums with their hands and feet, so it’s important to use these settings on the module for maximum playability.
Another setting on the module which can be important is the ‘Xtalk’ or cross-talk option. Here you can make subtle adjustments to how sensitive the pad triggering is to rack vibration. In certain cases when cross-talk is not set right you can get ‘ghost’ triggering from pads on the kit. Use Xtalk to eliminate this phenomenon.
Utility mode lets you control the MIDI connectivity of the Forge module when using it in conjunction with a computer DAW.
Also available is a ‘Lefty’ mode that allows you to quickly swap the Forge Kit configuration over for use with left handed players. This is extremely useful, especially if you plan on giving drum lessons with the Forge Kit.
The Forge Kit is compatible with both USB and MIDI. You can connect the module up to your desktop or laptop and transfer samples over and back. You can load in your own new samples or export some of your favorite stored kits. The USB port will also work with any flash thumb drives that are over 8GB in size.
This video demonstrates the many features of the Alesis Forge Kit:
The Forge Kit comes with a module that is easy to use. It takes very little time to navigate the module and learn how the individual modes operate.
The fact that this kit can easily be hooked up to your PC or Mac makes it extremely useful for home recording. You can use the Forge Kit pads to act as MIDI controller pads for use with virtual instruments.
Along with MIDI compatibility, the fact that you can load your own custom samples onto the Forge module makes it a desirable product. A lot of entry-level electronic drum sets forego this feature which means you’re stuck with the same sounds until you upgrade.
The inclusion of a kick drum tower over the beaterless controller pedal makes the Forge Kit stand out from other kits in this price category. Beaterless pedals, while they are practically noiseless to use, just don’t have the same enjoyment factor as using your own bass drum pedal. The addition of a bass drum pedal by Alesis is another plus.
There are no mesh heads on the Forge Kit which makes it slightly noisier to play on than other kits. The hi-hat controller pedal is free-floating and can be prone to move which is not ideal.
Another bone of contention for drummers with the Forge Kit might be the pad sizes. The snare is fine to play on but the 8 inch toms may be too small for some players.
Other Kits You Might Consider Instead
The Roland TD1-KV is one kit which is around the same price as the Forge Kit and has a similar configuration. It’s a five-piece kit with three cymbals and a module. The TD-1KV comes with a mesh snare drum which offers a more realistic playing experience. Unfortunately, the TD-1KV has a beaterless bass drum pedal and no sample importing capabilities.
The Yamaha DTX450K has a proper bass drum tower which supports single and double pedals alike. The DTX450K is around $100 more expensive than the Forge Kit, but often comes with a few extras such as headphones, a drum stool, a bass drum pedal and drumsticks.
The Bottom Line
The Forge Kit offers impressive value and quality for a kit in its price range. It has many features that its competitors are lacking, such as a bass drum pad and the ability to import sound samples. This kit will prove popular among drummers of all playing levels.