Alesis Nitro Kit Review
The Alesis Nitro Kit is an entry-level drum set at an entry-level price. This kit has all the drums and pads you will need to get started drumming, including a few learning functions to guide you on the way.
The Nitro Kit is a five-piece drum set with three cymbals and a hi-hat controller pedal. One thing that separates the Nitro Kit from other Alesis drum sets, such as the DM Lite, is that it comes with a kick drum tower. The DM Lite is one of the cheapest entry-level kits you can buy and is designed to be extremely portable. The Nitro Kit is also very portable, compact and flexible, yet it comes with this improved bass drum pad, which will appeal to many experienced drummers.
Who Should Buy the Alesis Nitro Kit?
The pricing of this drum set puts it firmly in the entry-level category. Naturally, and as the price suggests, this kit is ideal for those with no experience drumming and who are looking to start out. The low price means you can pick this kit up for around the same price as a low-end acoustic set. It may even be less expensive. The small financial commitment required means that many will be tempted into their first foray in drumming with the Nitro Kit.
This drum set functions well as an entry-level kit, although it lacks some of the extras that come with certain other brands. There are no freebies here like drumsticks, a drum throne or headphones. Other manufacturers, such as Yamaha, always make a point of including such extras. The Yamaha DTX400K, which is a similar entry-level drum set, comes with drumsticks, a drum throne and a set of Yamaha headphones.
This kit is not solely aimed at beginners. The Nitro Kit will serve well as a practice tool for many drummers who need a silent alternative to their acoustic drum set. The pads are made from a rubber type material so they produce little sound when struck. The cymbals are made from the same material, and therefore the overall noise level of the Nitro Kit means won’t disturb any neighbors. This is not the most quiet drum set ever produced but it will be adequate for most players’ demands.
The Nitro also has a few features that put it over other entry-level drum sets such as a more responsive snare and higher quality sampled drum sounds.
Drums, Pads and Other Hardware
The Nitro Kit is a typical five-piece drum set with three cymbal pads. There is one hi-hat, one crash cymbal and one ride cymbal. The cymbal pads are all 10 inches in diameter. The design of each cymbal means that they all have a semi-circle rubber area on the cymbal bow which can be played. This area houses the triggering components and should be positioned within easy reach of the user.
Each cymbal is single-zoned so the response is as basic as it gets. You can play at a variety of volumes but there are no fancy triggering features such as cymbal choking or playable bells. The 10 inch cymbals sit upon straight cymbal arms which are mounted on the drum rack. Each cymbal arm holds the cymbal in place using a wing nut and can be angled for better playability.
The drum pads are all 8 inches in diameter, including the bass drum. This size is just big enough so that you can use your single or double pedal with the bass drum pad. Alesis also offers the Nitro Mesh Kit, an all mesh pad variant, for just a slightly higher cost.
The bass drum tower is lightweight and made from a combination of plastic, rubber and metal. The tower can be moved around to best suit your playing configuration but needs to be placed on an appropriate surface. There are also two adjustable spikes on the base of the tower which allow it to grip onto carpeted floors for extra traction. Alesis have even gone as far as to include one of their single bass drum pedals which will save you from forking out more cash for one of your own.
The size of the drum pads is a little on the small side. This is fairly typical for most entry-level drum sets though. The pads have a good spring which makes for a strong stick rebound. Playing on them feels much like playing on a typical rubber practice pad.
The snare has a little extra over the other pads on the Nitro Kit. It’s a dual-zoned pad so that means it has more than one triggering area on which to play on. Both the drum head and the drum rim can act as triggers to produce different drum sounds. Dual-zone pads are not standard with all entry-level drum sets, so it’s a big bonus here for Alesis to have included them with the Nitro Kit.
The Nitro Kit comes with a hi-hat controller pedal. This pedal is a freestanding pedal which is connected to the Nitro drum module by way of a cable. The controller pedal works alongside the 10 inch hi-hat cymbal pad to simulate a real hi-hat. The pedal has three positions; open, closed and half-open. It’s not the most advanced hi-hat you will ever play on but is ideally suited for new drummers to learn the basics.
The hi-hat controller pedal is of the same design as on many other entry-level drum sets such as the Roland TD-1K and the Yamaha DTX400K. The controllers is quite to play on but lacks the realism of an actual hi-hat stand.
A freestanding pedal like this one can be a double-edged sword. On the one hand you have total flexibility as to where you position the foot pedal, regardless of where the hi-hat cymbal is stationed. This might beneficial to many players, especially small kids who are not big enough physically to be able to comfortably play with a real hi-hat stand. Additionally, freestanding pedals are usually quite noise free and are extremely portable. This is a huge benefit if your child will be playing the Nitro Kit in their bedroom and you want to store it out of the way from time to time.
But on the other hand, this type of controller pedal can be prone to moving about while you are playing. The response from the pedal is not akin to a real hi-hat stand, which provides a base of body stability for many drummers. Either way, pedals like this are a staple of entry-level drum sets as they are both cheaper to produce and make the more expensive higher-end kits more desirable.
Each drum and cymbal is mounted to the Alesis drum rack which comes with the Nitro Kit. This rack is lightweight and flexible. One of the advantages of the Nitro Kit is that it can be neatly folded away after use, and for transportation. A kit like this would suit a drummer without transport in need of a handy acoustic kit alternative.
The Alesis Nitro drum module has over 350 instrument sounds already built-in and ready to go. These sounds are spread over 24 drum sets of varying styles. There are rock kits, studio kits, electronic kits, percussion kits and even a few alternate sounding kits with some synth-like SFX.
On top of the 40 built-in kits you can also customize your own selection of drum sounds. Alesis have provided 15 empty preset banks in which to store your own custom kit configurations.
There are two ways to save a new preset kit. First, you can select the drum you wish to change by simply striking the pad with your stick. Alternatively, on the front of the Nitro module there are individual buttons that you can use for selecting and changing the pad sound. Once you have selected the pad to make alterations to, then you just select ‘voice’. By using the left and right cursor keys you can scroll through the vast catalog of sounds on the Nitro module.
This video demonstrates some of the Alesis Nitro on-board drum sounds:
The Alesis Nitro module has a few extras on top of the considerable drum and cymbal sound selection. There are playalong songs also built into the module which can be used to improve your musicality and skill on the instrument. All songs can be sped up or down in tempo so you effectively have an endless amount of backing track tools in your arsenal.
Along with the playalong songs, there is a standard metronome and a few learning tools as well. The learning tools with the Nitro Module will test your rhythm, timing and accuracy on the drum set. This is a neat feature for both experienced and beginner drummers alike.
On the back of the Nitro module there are two extra pad inputs that make the Nitro Kit expandable. You can add either two drum pads, two cymbal pads or a combination of both, in order to increase your musical options further.
The kick tower and pad make the Nitro Kit appealing to those who favor using real bass drum pedals over the beaterless variety. The snare on the Nitro Kit is dual-zoned so it’s more fun to play. You can have a lot of fun with the Nitro module which has more sounds than most entry-level kits of this price. The built-in coaching functions will also keep many a drummer occupied for hours on end.
The pads on this kit are all 8 inches in diameter so bear that in mind. Smaller pads like those can be frustrating for drummers who are used to bigger acoustic drumheads. The hi-hat is free-floating pedal and pad combination as opposed to the more advanced versions which use actual hi-hat stands. This is fine for most beginners but, again, experienced drummers might find it limiting.
Other Kits You Might Consider Instead
The Yamaha DTX400K is one kit that may be worth considering alongside the Nitro Kit. It’s a similar configuration in that it’s a five-piece drum set with three cymbal pads. The DTX400K comes with a beaterless bass drum pedal but if you want a proper kick tower then you can upgrade to the DTX450K. This kit is more expensive than the Nitro Kit but some will argue that it has better sounds onboard the DTX400 drum module.
The Roland TD-1K is another kit worth checking out. If you like the Nitro Kit for its portability, then you’ll also like this kit. It folds up neatly for storage and is quite light to carry. When it comes to extreme portability, not many kits can beat the Roland TD-4KP. This kit is about 50% more expensive than the TD-1K but has better sounds and weighs even less. The TD-4KP can fold up and be carried with two hands. Worth considering if you’re a drummer on the move a lot.
The Bottom Line
The Alesis Nitro Kit is a competitively priced drum set. It has many features that are not available with kits in this category. There is a dual-zone snare which offers increased responsiveness and expression. Most entry-level drum sets have single-zone pads all across the board. Also the inclusion of a proper bass drum pad will appeal to many drummers. You can take the techniques that you’ve mastered on your acoustic set and transfer them to the Nitro Kit without much fuss.
The Nitro Kit is solid yet flexible and portable. It will suit beginners and experienced drummers who require a quick and handy practice aid. All in all, this kit holds up well against its competitors.