Alesis Turbo Mesh review: What is it?
Since the mid-‘90s, Alesis has grown into one of the biggest names in electronic drum sets. Although better known for their studio gear, Alesis has quickly become the third horse in the hotly-contested e-kit race (alongside Yamaha and Roland)- and if you’re after a killer electronic drum kit for not a lot of money, then Alesis electronic drum sets are absolutely worth taking a look at. For absolute beginners, the Alesis Turbo Mesh is a strong contender.
The world of e-kits is one which is constantly evolving. Many available offerings meet the same criteria, just at different levels and price points - so it can be difficult to know which one is best. There are big-name behemoths and own-brand minnows battling for air at the lower end of the electronic drums price spectrum, making choice paralysis a real issue - but with the Turbo Mesh Alesis has hit the sweet spot, offering a quality kit for those who don’t want to spend an awful lot.
The Alesis Turbo Mesh took over from the popular DM Lite as one of the best cheap e-kits around. There’s a lot to be impressed about when it comes to this kit from a beginner electronic drum set point of view; it’s compact, quiet, easy to set up and most importantly feels good to play. Alesis puts playability and player experience high up on their list of priorities, and that is evident when you compare the Turbo Mesh with other kits in this price bracket.
Alesis Turbo Mesh review: Performance & Verdict
The Turbo Mesh looks pretty cool straight out of the box. The black steel frame is more solid than we’d usually expect at this price point, and was really easy for us to get to grips with - set up instructions are clear and everything is built and tightened using the supplied drum key, while pad adjustments are mostly made via wing screws. The cables that join each pad to the module are supplied as a ‘cable snake’, making it easy to connect everything up. Plug the correct jack into the correct pad, then the other end of the snake plugs directly into the module with one easy connection. We had our kit built and ready to play in half an hour.
Included in the box are four 8” mesh pads for snare and toms, three 10” cymbal pads and hi-hat and kick pedals, as well as a pair of drumsticks, the aforementioned drum key and the power supply; everything you need to get playing quickly.
Alesis Nitro Mesh
The main point of focus on the Turbo Mesh is the all-mesh-head setup - and this is, in our opinion, the best feature of the whole kit. Rubber pads on electronic drum sets - especially cheaper ones - are notoriously uncomfortable to play
Mesh heads are useful for a few reasons, but primarily they deliver a more realistic and natural feel than rubber. Solid rubber pads might be cheap and hard-wearing, but in reality they feel nothing like an acoustic drum set. This means if you’re swapping between acoustic and electronic kits for gigs or lessons, you’re effectively having to learn every technique twice. It’s still quite rare to see a full set of mesh heads on a kit under $/£300 - so for Alesis to prioritise this puts them firmly beyond some of their biggest competitors. What’s more, the mesh heads on the Turbo can be adjusted using a drum key, meaning you can tension them to tailor the rebound and feel to you.
The Turbo drum module, while being pretty simplistic, offers up some decent drum kit sounds and loads of cool coaching modes to help beginners hone their skills. 10 preset drum kits seems a little stingy, but they sound entirely respectable and this approach is more a case of quality over quantity. Alesis states that the onboard kits’ 120 sounds use ‘Intelligent Dynamic Articulation’ technology to sound more realistic - and while they aren’t challenging the dynamic sounds of higher-end e-kits, they aren’t bad at all when you consider the needs of most beginner drummers.
In addition, 30 on board backing tracks and a 3.5mm aux input (so you can connect and play tunes through an external device like a smartphone) means that you have plenty of options to jam along with. We especially appreciate the inclusion of a USB/MIDI output - allowing you to use the Turbo Mesh to record straight into any of the best DAWs. So, not only could this kit live comfortably in the bedroom of a budding new drummer, but it could also be the ideal budget choice for a producer laying down ideas in their home studio.
While being a very good e-kit for the money, we do have one gripe: the lack of any ‘real’ bass drum pad and pedal is frustrating. Playing the drums is all about making contact with the instrument and getting instant aural and physical feedback - and that is hard to achieve when your right foot is controlling a sensor instead of a felt beater. It’s pretty common at this price, but it’s possible to outgrow this type of set up pretty quickly. If that sounds like you, we’d suggest looking at the Alesis Nitro Mesh instead.
That being said, the mesh pads are responsive and the module offers plenty of cool features for beginners and sounds that should inspire newcomers to the instrument. Yes, there are better kits out there that will deliver a more realistic bass drum experience for more cash, but if you have a specific budget and you want to start playing today, the feature list for the money really speaks for itself.
Alesis Turbo Mesh review: Hands-on demos
Alesis Turbo Mesh review: Specifications
- Pads: 4x mesh tom/snare pads
- Cymbals: 3x 10” cymbal pads
- Kick pedal: Electronic (sensor)
- Kits: 10
- Onboard sounds: 120
- Backing tracks: 30
- Inputs: CD/MP3 aux
- Outputs: ¼” stereo, 3.5mm headphone jack
- Contact: Alesis