American music tech giants Alesis have become a big name in the world of electronic drums. Whether you’re a beginner just starting your drumming journey and on the lookout for a great e-kit to learn your first songs on, or a seasoned professional craving a gigging and recording workhorse, this expert guide should help you pinpoint the best Alesis electronic drum set for you.
After introducing the Midiverb, one of the world’s first affordable studio-quality effects processors, Alesis ventured into drum machines in 1990 with the SR-16 – the all-time best selling drum machine, which is still available to this day. With affordability and quality at the heart of their operation, 1995 saw the introduction of the DM5 drum sound module, which was another best-seller. 25 years later, Alesis is still producing some of the best affordable, studio-quality products money can buy.
The Alesis website currently advertises 17 e-kits in its extensive line-up, catering to all the above needs and then some. With so much choice, we’re here to help you cut through the noise and get straight to the best.
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The best Alesis electronic drum sets right now?
With so many different Alesis electronic drums to choose from, it’s hard to know what to go for. If you’re just starting out and don’t want to spend too much cash, but you still want recommended features like mesh heads and a realistic feeling kick drum pad, then the Alesis Nitro Mesh would be our budget choice.
For the more experienced drummer, the 10-piece Alesis DM10 MkII Pro is the best bang-for-buck option in the brand’s line-up. Also offering all-mesh pads, the kit also features Alesis’ ‘Premium Drum Module’ which delivers loads of high-quality sample options, as well as the capability to tweak every single one, or add your own.
Best Alesis electronic drum sets: buying advice
Playing an e-kit has many upsides compared with its acoustic counterpart. Whether it’s nearly silent practice, taking up less space in your bedroom, or seemingly endless studio-quality samples at your fingertips, the buzz around electronic drum sets is worth taking seriously.
There’s no doubt that Alesis is up there with Yamaha and Roland when it comes to quality. All three companies offer a wide range of great e-kits, with something for every type of player.
Where Alesis really pulls ahead of its rivals, though, is with value for money. Sure, Roland and Yamaha may have more of a reputation when it comes to their electronic drums, and Roland in particular has the upper hand in terms of hardware and technology, but when you consider that the Roland TD50KV costs nearly three times as much as Alesis’ flagship kit – and the Yamaha DTX920K costs nearly double – you have to ask whether the extra outlay is really worth it when Alesis offers great performance and features for less.
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Realism is key for Alesis electronic drums, so their tightly-woven mesh heads are there to reassure you that you’ll be able to swap between your practice kit and your acoustic kit without any difficulty. You can even tweak the tension of the heads to your liking, using a standard drum key via the lugs on each drum.
Regardless of whether you are looking for your first ever e-kit for jamming with friends, something quiet to practice with at home, a studio kit to help with writing and demoing, or something to take pride of place on a drum riser in a stadium, Alesis has something to offer. Let’s take a closer look at the range highlights.
The best Alesis electronic drum sets available now
This kit consists of three mesh toms, a mesh dual-zone snare pad and three cymbals, with the crash cymbal including a choke function – allowing for greater creativity as well as more control over your playing. The 40 kits on-board the supplied module offer a variety of high-quality sounds, from fat classic rock sounds to 808 style samples.
The new mesh heads are a much-appreciated upgrade from the original Nitro kit, with playability and feel high on Alesis’ list of priorities. The module is packed with useful features like a metronome, built-in play-along songs and a performance recorder, making the Nitro Mesh perfect for beginner drummers who want to train their ears and nail their timing. You can also plug in your phone or tablet via the aux input, and jam along to your favourite tracks. Cool, right?
Not only have the drum pads been beefed up a bit for the mesh edition of the kit, but the included pedals have grown in size too – making the Nitro Mesh a brilliant option for children or adults looking for a well-priced practice kit.
Read the full Alesis Nitro Mesh review
The Alesis Surge Mesh setup is very similar to that of the Nitro Mesh. With dual-zone 8” pads all round to help develop your playing accuracy and creativity, the larger 10” snare pad provides a greater playing surface for practicing new techniques.
The Surge module also contains many of the same features as the Nitro. The drum and cymbal buttons, which are laid out in a traditional drum set configuration make changing kits and tweaking new sounds easy – great for making custom kits on the fly.
Although slightly let down by the lack of dual-zone cymbals on this model, the Surge Mesh is still a high-quality e-kit for under $550/£450, and a perfect choice for any beginner or intermediate drummer.
Read the full Alesis Surge Mesh review
The Command Mesh is slap-bang in the middle of Alesis’ e-kit offering, and the first in the range to come with the so-called ‘Advanced Drum Module’. This upgraded powerhouse delivers even more in-built kits and sounds than the Nitro and Surge, with the capability to add more of your own drum samples via a USB thumb drive.
Although the kit is a little fiddly to assemble, once pieced together the chrome mounting rack features non-slip clamps which give the kit a reassuringly solid feel. This means you can play away the hours without having to worry about the hardware failing you.
This is not only a great beginner/intermediate choice, but would make a lot of professional drummers think twice about spending more than $749/£600.
Read the full Alesis Command Mesh review
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Featuring the signature Alesis mesh head setup, the realistic feel and response from the heads coupled with the extra cymbal option allow you to be more creative than ever, finding new ways to orchestrate and arrange your grooves and fills.
Frustratingly, the Crimson II shares a module with the Command kit which does restrict its capability a little. It’s not all bad news though – the simplicity of the Advanced Drum Module means that you still have access to some great sounds, and the potential to add your own, but without too much messing around.
This kit would be great for a player who wants to just get on and play, but it’s not so futureproofed as a more expensive option like the DM10 MkII or the Strike Pro.
Alesis’ signature mesh head setup allows for nearly silent practicing while retaining a natural and realistic playing feel. A second 12” dual-zone floor tom and second crash cymbal come as standard with this e-kit, so you can hone your setup to fit you and your playing style.
The Premium Drum Module allows you to explore more than 700 in-built sounds, as well as add your own. With kits suitable for rock, pop, jazz, soul and plenty of old-school drum machine-style samples, this e-kit is about as versatile as they come.
The DM10 MKII Pro is a truly professional-quality unit at under; perfect for the bedroom, studio or stage. It begs the question: is there any need to spend any more?
The Strike Pro SE consists of 8”, 10”, 12” and 14” dual-zone mesh tom pads, as well as a beastly 20” mesh bass drum and 14” dual-zone mesh snare. The hybrid wood shells, coupled with the ultra-realistic feeling heads and the super-solid steel hardware, make for a joyful, articulate, and responsive playing experience.
The included Strike software editor makes creating new kits a breeze, allowing you to spend your time playing and not diving through confusing menus. The sheer quantity of options means that this kit is prepared for any musical genre or scenario, whether you’re triggering live samples or laying down huge backbeat grooves.
The Strike Pro shows us that, without a doubt, there’s a third horse in the race for the e-kit crown.
Read the full Alesis Strike Pro review