The Nitro Mesh is the most affordable member of the Alesis family of electronic drum sets, and having seen its higher-priced siblings, the Strike and Strike Pro kits, take a bit of the limelight, it has had a few upgrades of its own.
It is still available at a very accessible price, positioning the Nitro Mesh as Alesis' beginner's set, but how do these new features stack up?
Aesthetically, there's not a whole lot of difference to the previous Nitro setup, but the addition of some brand new mesh snare and tom pads. We've got 8" pads in all-black, each with an extremely shallow profile and plastic rim, allowing you to adjust the tension of the mesh heads.
Also worth nothing are the revised bass drum and hi-hat pedals which, slightly wider than its predecessors, allow for a more sturdy feel. The brushed-steel pedal boards add a classy touch.
The budget package comprises a dual-zone 8" mesh snare, rubber kick drum pad, three single-zone 8" mesh tom pads and three single-zone 10" cymbal pads (one with choke functionality so you can use it as a crash).
The included 25-pin loom cable connects the pads to the module and you also have some room to expand the set with a fourth tom pad and cymbal (the tom pad is dual-zone capable, the cymbal is single-zone but chokeable) via additional jack inputs.
Elsewhere, there is a mini-jack headphone output and aux input, not to mention USB connectivity and 5-pin MIDI.
Considerably smaller than others in the Alesis range, the Nitro Mesh’s aluminium frame also features slimmed down tubes. The whole setup is very lightweight and occupies less space. It is a relief to find that the rack slots together with ease, and while it might be small, it feels nice and solid.
We like the black-on-black finish. It's all black, from the trigger pads to the mesh heads, frame and even cymbal arms. Very classy. Typically a vertical setup, the L-rods position horizontally through the bottom of the pads, so once the snare and toms are in place the hardware is hidden from sight.
The module is small, curved and home to 40 kits that works out as 24 factory presets and 16 empty slots. You will find some 385 individual samples onboard, including some that can be used to create brand new user kits or alter existing kits.
There are 60 built-in MIDI sequenced play-along tracks. Truth be told, they are a little cheesy, but they are diverse, spanning all kinds of genres from rock and funk to Latin and jazz – and it's a very useful feature for beginners.
The module is intuitively designed and even offers some basic coaching with the inbuilt metronome.
It takes very little time to build the kit from scratch, and it delights us that the kit is so compact once you have assembled the mini four-post rack and all your pads are placed.
You could set the kit up for a small child, and then with a few adjustments set it up for an adult. The supplied cable loom is a godsend when it comes to connecting the pads.
Sure, the kit presets are on the basic side, but, remember, this is an entry-level kit. Comparatively, the inbuilt samples are above average. The Nitro Mesh is ideal for someone starting out, but equally it is an excellent practice option for more experienced players. It coves a wide range of styles with a good mix of acoustic, electronic and percussion-based kits.
For up-and-coming players, the dynamic range is very passable. There are multiple velocity layers to allow for ghost notes and accents, and rim shots on the snare. While advanced phrases and intricate ghost note patterns don't translate so well, the performance is perfectly gratifying for simplistic patterns.
The snare pad is dual zone, opening up rimshot and cross-stick capabilities whenever you strike the rim. Give it a gentle tap and you'll get the cross-stick; whack it with a bit more force and it will trigger a rimshot.
Unfortunately, keeping this consistent is a quite difficult, and now and again you'll find yourself triggering one when you need the other. On balance, we prefer the kits without cross-stick sounds.
One caveat with plastic rims is that they are noisier than the more common rubber rims. As for the mesh heads, they are actually relatively quiet. While the onboard songs are useful for beginners, you'll probably want to jam with your own music, and that's a breeze – just hook up the aux input.
Via MIDI, you can hook up programs such as Superior Drummer should the inbuilt kit sounds lose their appeal over time.
Playing around with the extra trigger inputs, we set up a second crash and fourth tom, making for a very enjoyable practice session. Though we used our own hardware to mount the extra pads as the existing rack is a little cramped when it comes to fitting in that fourth floor tom.