There are multiple offerings in the DM10 “family” from Alesis and it’s actually starting to get confusing, as they’re now changing their lineup. Before this year, there was the X, Studio, and Pro kits. The Pro kit offers 3 toms while the X and Studio kits offer 4. The Studio’s toms were all 8″, while the X rose up in size to be more realistic. Currently on Alesis’ website, there are 2 new versions of the Studio and X kits that come standard with mesh heads. The DM10 Pro kit is no longer available, but you still might be able to find new versions, either in stores or on various online retailer websites. I have experience with the non-mesh DM10 Studio kit that I owned for about 2 years, so that’s what we’ll cover now.
All three of these kits utilize the same DM10 module. The DM10 is extremely versatile and offers a lot of features that most users probably never even end up using. It features a top-panel mixer with 12 trigger inputs (not including the hi-hat pedal trigger), stereo RCA inputs and outputs, MIDI in and out, 1/4″ headphone out, and a high-speed USB connection. It includes 1,047 sounds as well as 100 preset kits. You can build your own kits and customize each trigger (sensitivity, volume, etc). This module allows you the ability to either plug in and play or sit there for hours to achieve your desired sound.
The actual drum hardware is fairly good quality; the rack for the Studio becomes really sturdy once it’s assembled. There’s a good deal of versatility with the rack, so you can customize your setup any way you like. The drums themselves are constructed with Alesis’ “Realhead”, which are supported by layers of foam. These heads are pretty durable but don’t offer the response you get on a real acoustic kit. I never liked the rubber pads that some electric kits use; I prefer the “Realhead” to those rubber pads, but it’s all personal preference at that point. The cymbals are basic plastic and rubber cymbals found on most electronic kits. The main crash cymbal can be hand muted and the ride cymbal has a separate trigger for the bell, which is a nice feature.
These kits are much cheaper than your premium kits, so there are going to be some faults. The obvious one is the non-mesh heads, because let’s face it — nothing feels as good as the mesh heads that premium kits offer (although Alesis does now offer standard mesh heads as an option, I have not yet had a chance to try them). The rubber that covers the rims on these drums wears relatively easy. I had an issue with the cover on the snare drum cracking. These were not easily replaceable from Alesis when I tried to get this taken care of last year, so hopefully there is a more simple process in place now. The drums still functioned perfectly with the wear; it was more cosmetic than anything else. Some players report problems with the trigger on the hi-hat pedal; I have read on forums that some have received it DOA, and there have also been complaints that it would stop working over time. If it was DOA, getting it replaced through warranty shouldn’t be difficult, though, as Alesis has pretty good customer service. The pedal on my kit stopped working while I was trying to sell it, go figure. A viable option that most may take is to replace the pedal with aftermarket products.
These kits retail around $1000, depending on which model you go with. They can be had for much less in the used market, however. The module itself is a quality unit that produces very realistic sounds. If you want a solid electric kit right out of the box without spending thousands of dollars, I think you should definitely consider the top offerings from Alesis. There are also options to modify this kit for a small fee, which will vastly improve your experience. I purchased my kit used for $600 and did a mesh head conversion. For well under $800, I had a quality sounding kit that had a similar feel to a nice Roland set, and it cost me, at most, half the price. So to those of you that have a living situation that doesn’t allow you to regularly practice on an acoustic kit, it is possible to have a good electric kit without spending a fortune. If you’re interested in going this route, or if you already own an Alesis kit, I’ll be doing a follow up article on the mesh head conversion, so be on the lookout for that!
Photo credit: bigdrumthump.com
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