Alesis Strike Kit Review
The Alesis Strike Kit is one of the top-end electronic drum kits by Alesis. It’s effectively the younger brother of the Alesis Strike Pro drum set which is Alesis’ flagship model.
With the Alessis Strike Kit you get many of the same high quality features that made the Strike Pro such a hit. It’s a smaller kit than the Strike Pro with fewer drum pads and cymbals, but has the same Strike Performance drum module and much of the same hardware.
Let’s get into the ins and outs of the Strike Kit and discuss the features in more depth.
Who Should Buy the Alesis Strike Kit?
The Strike Kit is one Alesis’ top-level kits but doesn’t seem that way when you see how it compares to other kits in price. It usually retails for around ¾ the price of the flagship Strike Pro so it’s even more accessible to beginners and professional drummers alike.
This drum set has been designed to be super-quiet and playable. Each drum has a mesh head which helps keep the volume down while playing. The drum pads have all been manufactured with a special wood type that helps to keep noise to minimum. For these reasons the Strike Kit is an ideal practice drum set.
The sounds on the Strike Performance drum module are professional standard so this kit is ideal for a live performer or someone who records a lot in the studio.
The Strike Kit can be expanded, and therefore there is plenty of room on the module for more pads and cymbals. This option to upgrade is perfect if you don’t want to commit financially to the bigger and more expensive Strike Pro Kit.
Drums, Pads and Other Hardware
There are five drum pads with this kit and three cymbals. The look of this kit is remarkable and it could be mistaken for a genuine acoustic drum set. Each pad has a drum shell that’s made from two types of wood for ultra-realistic look and feel. Birch and cottonwood are both used to make the shells on the Strike Kit. Birch is a common wood in drum building, while the cottonwood actually reduces the noise from each pad when played. The shells are 9-ply and have dual hoops just like in real drums.
The pad sizes on the Strike Kit are very realistic too. You get an 8-inch, 10-inch, and 12-inch set of toms, along with a 14-inch snare and bass drum. The 14-inch snare resembles a real acoustic snare in size and depth. There aren’t many other manufacturers making 14-inch electronic drums. Roland have one available with their flagship TD-50KV but that kit is closer to $10,000 in price!
The snare sits upon a snare stand which is also supplied by Alesis, while the toms are mounted onto a large chrome rack. This drum rack is a four-post rack with mounts for toms and cymbal arms. You can position each tom at any angle and slide them around the rack to suit your playing style. Each cymbal arm is a boom type so cymbals can easily be manoeuvred around to sit nicely within reach.
The 14-inch bass drum is mesh pad as well, and it’s big enough to fit any pedal, whether a single or double. Each mesh head is tensionable, so you can use a standard drum key to perfect the head to a tension that feels right.
The cymbals with the Strike Kit are larger than most cymbal pads at this price range. Alesis have included 12 inch hi-hats, a 14 inch crash and a 16 inch ride cymbal with this set. The more expensive Strike Pro Kit comes with more cymbals and more drum pads. The hi-hat is movable so it will fit an average hi-hat stand. Alesis have also included the stand so you don’t need to worry there.
The crash cymbal is dual-zoned so it can be choke-muted with your hand after striking. The ride is triple-zoned meaning you can play on the bell, the bow and the edge for a variety of sounds. The larger size cymbal pad has a natural swing that is more like that of a real cymbal.
There are over 1000 sounds on the Strike Performance drum module and they range from acoustic kits to melodic synth pads. There is really every type of kit here, including acoustic, electronic, percussion and some SFX.
There are a whole host of extra effects that you can add to each drum or kit for more control over your sound. You can alter the decay of each drum to shorten or lengthen the sound.
The pan options allow you to configure the kit in full stereo. And the layering options allow you to mix two drum sounds together. This effect works particularly well with snares and you can come up with some really unique drum sounds this way.
When you have finished playing around with the sound options on the Strike Performance module you can store your new kits into one of the empty preset banks. There are 100 built-in kits and 100 user kit spaces, more than enough for most people. If you need more space you can use a USB flash drive or SD card for extra storage.
The most noticeable thing about the Strike Performance module is the big 4.3 inch color LCD display. This is a welcome addition to electronic drums and makes for a pleasant user experience.
There is a large circular dial on the front of the module that can be used to select and navigate your way around the Strike Performance. Large slidable faders on the module allow for easy volume control for each of the Strike Kit drum pads.
Some options on the module allow you to customize the kit to better suit your playing style. You can adjust the sensitivity of the triggers individually or as a group. This should be one of the first things you do when you sit behind the Strike Kit. Some players play heavily, while other players play lightly, and therefore important that you make adjustments so as to get the best out of both the module and the pads.
In addition to having trigger options on the module, each drum also has a control dial on the side. This dial is a sensitivity knob and will allow you to change the triggering area from wide to narrow. Play around with this setting to find your preference for each drum.
There are 12 trigger inputs on the Strike Performance module which can be assigned to either drums or cymbals. On the front of the module there are 8 separate outputs that allow you to send the pad signals individually to a mixing desk. There are also main outs and a headphone port for monitoring.
The Aux input on the back of the module allow you to plug any stereo mini-jack in for playalong purposes. You can adjust the volume and even make sample recordings. There is also a built-in recording and editing suite on the Strike Performance module.
Recording is as easy as plugging your sound source into the stereo Aux port and pressing record. Once you have completed the recording process, you will now be able to view the file in wave form for further editing. After completing the edit you can name and store this new snippet and place it in your custom kits folder. This feature is a lot of fun and effectively allows you to create an infinite amount of drum kit samples from your favorite albums.
There is also an SD card for easy importing and exporting of sounds and kits and a USB port for connecting to PC or Mac. The Strike Performance module is compatible with all the major DAWs and has full MIDI functionality. You also get a MIDI in/out on the back of the module for added connectivity.
The following video shows the Strike Performance module in greater detail:
There are a lot of pros to the Strike Kit. It has top-end drum pads and cymbals with supreme comfort and playability. The module has every function under the sun and is a joy to work with.
The Strike Kit looks amazing for playing live and is extremely quiet for practicing on at home. Alesis have added almost every possible feature to make this kit one to be contended with. The onboard module editing is very user-friendly and this means sampling your own drum sounds is as easy as pie.
Being super critical of the Strike Kit you could say that some of the sample sounds are a bit of a let-down. Certain cymbal sounds in particular lack the nuance and subtlety that is required to convincingly pass as an acoustic kit. That said, you can sample your own acoustic kit if you’d like and play those sounds on the Strike Kit.
Other Kits You Might Consider Instead
Other kits in this price range are the TD-25K and TD-25KV by Roland. This is a similar five-piece set up with three or four cymbals, depending on which you go for. The TD-25KV has some better features than the TD-25K, such as more cymbals and better pads.
If you want to stick with Alesis but pay less, you can pick up a Crimson II for about half of Alesis Strike’s price. This is a fully mesh kit with four cymbals and five pads. The sounds on the Crimson II are not up there with the Alesis Strike Performance module but they are worth their money. One downside to the Crimson II is that it comes with a free-floating hi-hat controller over a regular hi-hat stand.
Yamaha offer the DTX720K, which is a five-piece mesh drum kit with a hi-hat, ride and crash cymbals. The hi-hat is a real looking hi-hat pad that mounts to a standard hi-hat stand. The mesh heads are nice to play on but are not tensionable. You get roughly the same amount of sounds here with the DTX700 module but not as much functionality as the Strike Performance module.
The Bottom Line
Alesis have produced a stunning electronic drum set that will strike fear into the hearts of many competitors. The Strike Kit has many features that you would normally only associate with a drum set in the $5000 range and above. The fact that the Strike Kit can be bought for under $2000 means that it is sure to be a hit with drummers of all ages and playing abilities.
Some users will argue that they prefer the sounds on Roland’s higher-end kits, such as the TD-30 and TD-50 models. The Alesis Strike Performance module has many kits and the ability to constantly upgrade your sounds. Importing the latest sample sounds onto the module is easy and can be done in a number of ways. You can use the SD card slot and move between your Mac or PC and the module quickly. Alternatively you can use the USB connection to edit and save your new custom kits.
Whatever your intentions for the Strike Kit, it can handle pretty much all demands. It’s well built with real wood shells for durability and a professional look. It has a super-quiet stick response due to the specially designed shells and cymbal pads, making it an ideal practice kit. It has full computer connectivity making it ideally suited to both modern recording studios and home studios alike. You can even swap and share your sounds with friends easily using the SD card or USB port.
On top of all this, the Strike Kit is extremely competitively priced. Pricing like this is sure to turn a few heads at both Roland and Yamaha headquarters and could set a new standard in electronic drums. Whatever the future holds, for the money you won’t do much better that the Alesis Strike.