“This is a kit that will literally grow with them for those early years of playing”: Alesis Debut review

An affordable e-kit from Alesis that’s just for kids

  • £219
  • €249
  • $269
Best beginner electronic drum sets: Alesis Debut
(Image: © Alesis)

MusicRadar Verdict

Despite the cute appearance, the Debut kit is not a toy but in fact a fully functioning electronic drum kit that represents a decent package for the price – the only thing we struggled with was the pedals.

Pros

  • +

    Extremely affordable

  • +

    Amazingly compact size

  • +

    Mesh heads

Cons

  • -

    Not much growing room

  • -

    Troublesome pedals

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Alesis Debut review: What is it?

As the name very much suggests, the Debut is an entry-level offering in Alesis’ ever-expanding and evolving range of electronic drum sets. Just a few years ago we reviewed the Nitro Mesh which was at that time Alesis’ starter set (and was the number one choice in our best beginner electronic drum sets guide - now replaced by the Nitro Max). This Nitro mesh was later bumped up with the introduction of the Turbo Mesh and the Debut, which is a great e-kit option for kids.

This ultra-compact kit is aimed squarely at young kids looking to get their first kit and comes with everything they need to get started in one box. The setup comprises four 6” mesh pads (snare and three tom-toms), three 10” cymbal pads (hi-hats, crash and ride), two small pedals for hi-hat and bass drum and the sound module - all of which are housed on a simple two-poster rack. 

For the uninitiated, a sound module is the computing element of an e-kit that translates strikes of each pad into pre-recorded sounds which can be monitored through speakers or headphones (which are included with this kit). Despite the small size, this 8-piece configuration delivers everything a young drummer needs for learning the basics and beyond.

Alesis Debut electronic drum set

(Image credit: Tom Bradley)

The rack comes ready-assembled with the snare and tom pads already attached. This is then folded out in order to attach the cymbal arms and remaining pads. The module then connects to each pad via the wiring loom provided - each jack cable is clearly labeled for its designated pad, making it a breeze to rig up. The setup time is surprisingly fast and can be completed in less than 10 minutes.

All that is left is to throw the included stool together and grab a pair of sticks which, you guessed it, are also included! Having everything practically ready to go out of the box is a great move from Alesis - we’ve reviewed countless e-kits where the playing doesn’t start for a good 90 minutes while we build everything from the ground up, from piecing together the rack to mounting and positioning pads. This move by Alesis means that total beginners can get straight to the fun bit!

Alesis Debut review: Performance & verdict

The module features ten preset kits with a total of 120 individual samples. Considering the Debut’s extremely low price-point of just over $269/£200, the sounds aren’t at all as offensive as one might expect. The kits range from some drier pop-style kits to reverb-soaked stadium rock sounds. There is also an EDM-style drum machine setting and a couple of percussion kits for a balanced mixture. There are no separate head and rim sounds (which is no surprise as it’s not a feature we’d expect to see for this price) but the module does produce slightly different sounds depending on how hard the pad has been struck. This feature gives this small and fairly basic kit a leg-up in terms of expression.

Also consider

Where we found the Debut falls down is with the bass drum and hi-hat pedals which we found to be fairly hard work. Perhaps they’re not so bad for a young child who has nothing to compare them to, but for anyone who has played a kit with ‘real’ pedals before, these will likely feel a bit awkward. The foot switch style mechanism is so small that the only way to play them is to sort of float your foot around over the top, and they’re so light that they move around readily under movement - I actually managed to catch the side of it and flip it over like a Tiddlywink at one point during testing.

Now, for those of you with questions like “what age is the kit for?” or “how much space does it actually take up?” then the following information should be useful to you.

The vertical poles of the portable rack system are 63cm high which means the toms sit just over this height on the maximum setting, while the cymbals can extend to 90cm from the floor.

Alesis Debut kit at its lowest setting

Our Alesis Debut review kit set up at the lowest height (Image credit: Tom Bradley)

Fully extended, the entire kit is no more than 1 metre wide, but can be compacted to less, with a total depth of 50cm (not including the stool), which is ideal if you have limited space for rum kit. Interestingly, the horizontal bars of the rack can slide all the way to the bottom of the vertical posts, allowing the whole kit to be lowered dramatically. Aside from making cymbal positioning slightly trickier due to the posts protruding out of the top, this actually opens up the Debut kit to kids who aren’t even out of nappies yet. So, in terms of versatility for young drummers, this is a kit that will literally grow with them for those early years of playing.

In addition to the ten kit presets, the module does come with some added functions for budding drummers. Aside from 12 built-in playalong tunes, the aux input allows your own music to be played into the module from an external device like a smartphone, alongside the drum sounds.

Alesis Debut pedal on a white background

One of the footswitch pedals supplied with the Alesis Debut kit (Image credit: Alesis)

There are also five dedicated coaching functions on-board he module, which use the inbuilt metronome to offer timing challenges such as Beat Check (where it tells you if you’re on, ahead or behind the beat) and Rhythm Change Up which helps with practicing specific sub-divisions). There are also free interactive lessons included from Melodics, hich you access via computer or tablet.

Overall, for the price, this is an excellent option for first-time players. It’s small enough to not overstretch more slight players and, while the sounds won’t win any awards, they’re more than adequate to give the full experience of playing the drums. The only drawback for us is the hi-hat and bass drum pedals, which are tricky to master and won’t translate well if you move up to standard hi-hat and bass drum pedals.

Alesis Debut review: Hands-on demos

Andertons

GAK

Gear4Music

Alesis Debut review: Specification

  • Module: 10 kits and 120 sounds
  • Configuration: 4x 6-inch adjustable mesh head drum pads, 3x 10-inch cymbal pads, bass drum and hi-hat floor pedals
  • Other features: Sturdy metal mounting rack, drum throne, sticks, headphones and cabling included. Melodics learning software also included
  • Contact: Alesis
Tom Bradley

Tom is a professional drummer with a long history of performing live anywhere from local venues to 200,000 capacity festivals. Tom is a private drum tutor, in addition to teaching at the BIMM Institute in Birmingham. He is also a regular feature writer and reviewer for MusicRadar, with a particular passion for all things electronic and hybrid drumming.