The Alesis catalogue of electronics encompasses synth modules, studio monitors, audio interfaces, signal processors, mixers, e-drums, drum machines and sample pads.
Whether a home studio enthusiast, working musician or a budding basher, the ever- growing and rapidly expanding Alesis moniker has become synonymous with affordability.
Given its first public airing at the NAMM show earlier this year, the electronic drum set up for review here is a full-featured five-piece kit. It is one of the few sub-£600 kits which has the ability to load user samples and songs. With this apparent advantage, it would appear to be a great example of Alesis' cost-effective ethos.
At just a cursory glance, pad configuration appears similar to many budget type kits and especially the Nitro, also, the module looks to be almost identical to those used on two of the other mid-priced Alesis Crimson and Forge kits. Perhaps this is a mix and match approach from Alesis taking some of best elements from the other e-kits it has to offer.
Appearances can be deceptive, but the module has the design and feel of a piece of highly desirable hi-fi equipment which belies its price tag. As well as the ability to play user samples and play user created songs (via memory stick or being directly plugged into a PC), features include the ability to play user .wav files to play along with as well as the wealth of on-board songs.
Out of the five playable drum pads, this set-up features mesh heads on both the snare and pad of the kick tower. To be quite honest, a mesh head on the kick is perhaps a little overkill as we have found the feel of a mesh pad has little benefit.
However, the pads for the toms and cymbals are made from stick resilient rubber. There are three 10" pads for the cymbals (Ride, Crash and Hi-hat), two 9" versions for Tom1 and Tom2 and a slightly larger 11" pad for Tom3.
The tom and cymbal pads do look similar to those on Alesis' starter set-ups, but (with the exception of the hi-hat), they are each dual-zone. This will permit acoustic-like playing techniques of chokes, rim shots etc.
Included with the kit is the ever essential wiring snake, manuals, hi-hat controller pedal, power supply, drum key, 7A sticks and, of course, the Command drum module itself.
The pictorial guide takes you gently by the collar, guiding you through the simple rack assembly and basic pad set up.
A combination of 'L' type bracket mounts for the pads, especially designed rack mount for the module and the D-type connector makes set-up a breeze. Boom-style cymbal poles slot into the front uprights and the ride and crash cymbal pads are attached.
The single-arm pole of the hi-hat features a neat tilt to help optimise playing preferences. Which reminds us... the kit can be set up either as a left or right-handed player, simply by swapping over the position of the hi-hat, snare and 'large' tom pads. Then there is a quick adjustment of a parameter on the module and, voila, we have a lefty e-kit.
Overall the rack (with its chunky plastic bracketing and standard diameter poles), looks and feels surprisingly sturdy and the whole kit looks impressive.
The snare mesh head feels great under the stick tips and the Command module responds impressively to each strike of varying intensity.
With a quick play around the kit, making a few adjustments on the way, we find the controls are intuitively and conveniently placed. Any little tweaks or changes required during kit/pad editing, such as pan, pad voice or pitch, for example, are rapid, thanks to the plain and simple layout and our good old friend the value/dial wheel.
Accessing the menu to load songs (either .WAV or MP3), from your own memory stick or user samples to play on any pad (in .WAV format) is easy.
Simply by pressing 'Song' on the Command module, you'll have instant access to preset songs or those from your own memory stick.
Here the module comes into its own and it still staggers me to think of the capabilities of this module - eg: if you own an acoustic kit, you could play the sound of your own kit on this electronic set - nice!
The snare mesh head feels great under the stick tips and the Command module responds impressively to each strike of varying intensity, taking each stroke in its stride.
Not quite there in terms of realism, with some occasional robotic machine gun-type snare sounds but, bearing in mind that sub-£600 price tag, it's impressive nevertheless.
The rotary sensitivity pot at the side of the snare pad appears to have little noticeable effect for our playing style, others may find this works better for them.
Beater response on the kick pad is a little too charged on the meshed head for my liking and we think it could spoil us for the next time we play on our acoustic set! However, if you fancy some fast blast beats, this kick is right up your street.