There is something magical about percussion instruments. The almost paradox of brutally hitting something to make a sweet and pleasing sound. For as long as I have been a musician, drums are the things that people gravitate to over other instruments. You don’t have to learn a chord shape or memorize scales, you just hit things with rhythm. Children feel drawn to the drums, it’s as if we are all born with the desire to hit things and make noise.
I too, have been drawn to hit things and make noise. I have always loved the sound of a well tuned and high quality acoustic drum kit, but space and volume control in my home have been an issue. Therefore, I had always resolved to make an electronic drum kit part of my studio space. An electronic drum kit gives more flexibility in recording and post production fixes and tweaking, so it works best for my set up.
After much deliberation I decided on the Alesis DM10, and then proceeded to convince myself to purchase the Alesis DM10X , which adds larger pads and puts the Snare pad on a stand instead of the rack. Amazon.com had the best price, so I ordered one up and two days later I received 92.6 lbs. of electronic drum kit. Now, after some time with the kit, I am ready to review the Alesis DM10X Kit.
Hardware (Alesis DM10X review)
The DM10X does not come with a kick drum pedal, so make sure you have one or purchase one with the kit. The kit also doesn’t come with a drum throne either. These aren’t knocks against the DM10X, but I wanted to get them out of the way. It’s a funny thing that at some point, spending more on a kit gets you less. The DM10X costs over a grand, but doesn’t include a kick pedal or a drum throne or sticks and most cheaper kits do. But the reasoning is, if you are spending that much on a kit, then you probably have your own taste in Kick Pedal and throne and sticks. So, instead of selling you hardware that you would swap out anyway, they just let you select your own from the beginning.
Module (Alesis DM10X review)
The DM10X kit comes with the DM10 module in the silver color. The module supports up to 12 triggers and is compatible with other brand’s drum and cymbal pads so you can mix and match to upgrade your kit. The DM10 module also includes MIDI In and Out as well as MIDI through USB. There is a stereo Auxiliary Input for connecting mp3 players or other audio devices for jamming along to. The DM10 module sports two separate stereo outputs, so you can have independent main and monitor mixes. Finally, a headphone jack on the front of the module allows for private drum sessions.
The Layout of the DM10 module is very intuitive. There are large, easy-to-press buttons that are clearly marked and since I am a pretty technical guy, I was able to jump in and start adjusting parameters without even opening the manual. There are options for tweaking the sensitivity of each pad, options for adjusting cross-talk, velocity curves, trigger types, the options are plentiful and useful.
Band in a box
The DM10 comes with a bunch of “songs” preloaded so that you can jam along with a “band”, it’s great for practicing in different styles and you can mute or unmute the prerecorded drum part if you want to hear an example of a beat that works with a particular song. There is also a settable Metronome for working out your own timing without playing along to other instruments. If you want to record your drum parts with the sequenced music, there is an option for that too.
On the top of the DM10 module there is a mixer for on-the-fly volume adjustments for each pad. I emphasize on-the-fly adjustments rather than general mixing because I personally found that adjusting the pads’ sensitivity resulted in a more natural sound and a higher quality drumming experience than just adjusting ‘levels’. What good is it if the snare is louder, but has the timbre of a softly hit drum? For this reason, don’t use the mixer, but it’s a great option to have for those that will utilize it.
Pads (Alesis DM10X review)
The Alesis DM10X kit comes with two 10” drum pads, three 12” drum pads, a 12” hi-hat, two 14” crash cymbals, a 16” ride cymbal and a hi-hat controller with continuous control, for those half open hat sounds I love so much.
The included drum pads are Mylar covered and the two big concerns with electronic drum pads are noise and feel (rebound).
The first big concern (volume): The stock Mylar heads aren’t whisper quiet, but I don’t find them to be loud. There are mesh conversion kits available, but for most situations the stock heads should be fine. To give you real-world scenario: In my house, the music room shares a wall with the children’s bedroom. While I could technically get away with playing this kit whilst they try to go to sleep, it would be rude. However, during the rest of the day, I can play this kit with no disturbances to the family. Neighbors are not a concern in my situation, as my neighbor and I share no common walls near where the kit is located. In an apartment with poor insulation, the *clack* of the pads may be a problem in the later hours.
The second concern (feel): The Alesis DM10X pads are adjustable with a drum key for some variable tension, but using the stock Mylar RealHead pads out of the box, I had zero issues with the way they felt. I was able to execute double stroke rolls on both the drum pads and cymbal pads with ease. I felt the rebound was perfect for my likings and wouldn’t change a thing.
The cymbal pads have a plastic shell coated in the “strike zone” with rubber. These are pretty darn quiet considering you are hitting them with wooden sticks. There are adjustments for how much movement the cymbals have and with the right mix of Sensitivity adjustment, you can get a natural response from the cymbals.
If you are willing to spend some time tweaking settings, you can get a great feel out of this kit. It’s not a Roland kit, but it doesn’t cost Roland money either. The Alesis DM10X kit stands on its own as a great electronic drum kit for the money.
Check out the Alesis DM10X Manual and read up on it to see if it belongs in your studio.