(mtebaldi | Posted 2011-02-07)

Alesis is one of those companies that constantly strive to never let affordability be pushed aside when introducing new developments to their line of products. Consequently, this paradoxical battle takes Alesis products to be considered as entry-level, thus less equipped to perform more professionally driven tasks. I bet during your visits to your local drum store, V-drums far takes one’s attention on electronic kits for its design and sound quality. But no regular Joe would drop 4Gs easily for their self-indulgence on an electronic kit. In the midst of this war between price versus quality, Alesis recently released what I would describe as the company’s “masterpiece” of electronic drum kits, the DM10 Pro Kit, who’s “pro” title far better fits when comparing it to any of their other electronic kits currently available in their catalogue.

Seven hundred American dollars. Yes, that’s the price for Alesis’ top of the line electronic kit. And to everyone’s advantage, the positive aspects of this kit are not only found on its price tag. The DM10 module is far better than any other drum module that Alesis has made available on the market. And another plus is that the DM10 drum module is a “work in progress”, since the company now is expanding its capabilities by offering more sound libraries and even a to-be-released feature that will let you pour your own sound creations inside the module’s memory. A product with room for improvements is a product with longevity, that’s for sure. There are many attributes in the DM10 module that makes it a worthwhile piece if gear to own. A sound library with dozens of well recorded, high-def, professional sounding samples, that includes many traditional acoustic drums, cymbals and percussion sounds, as well as famous electronic drum machine samples and interesting sound-effect type of sounds. They all come arranged into 100 pre-programmed kits, which can be further customized with many of the built-in sound processing tools and effects, including EQ, compression, and reverb. The module also offers 100 other slots so you can create and save your own kits without having to overwrite them on top of the ones already featured with it. One of the great improvements I found in this particular Alesis drum module is the simplicity of how its interface is arranged, making it intuitively easy to use. Such user-friendliness can also be found in the user manual that gives quickly, clean and remember-able information of how to operate it. The dynamic articulated triggering capabilities of this module greatly overshadows other close-priced drum modules. With many triggering customization tools, the performance results created by the DM10 are full of realism. The DM10 also comes with USB and MIDI outputs expanding even more its use capabilities. This electronic kit can also put in use to be a great drum-practicing tool. It features 75 pre-programmed accompaniments tracks for your own playing enjoyment, coming even with a recording feature for further evaluation e application of your take. The accompaniments offer a wide variety of music styles with the capability of choosing a tempo of your skill level, what can be quite useful as a learning tool or even as a warm-up exercise. Its built in mixer gives you freedom to control your output levels, LCD screen is informative, especially when optimizing your rims and pads triggering. In sum, the DM10 module really is a fun drum-brain to operate that produces professional results.

There are two important aspects of the kit that caused me to be concerned about its overall quality. Pads and rack. Surge cymbal pads and the ReahHead drum pads are quite great once you spend some time optimizing them. I found having the ride and crash cymbals installed on a separated rack can further improve their overall sensitivity response and thus one’s performance. The RealHeads are also very nice (especially when compared to other Alesis rubber drum pads) since you can set their tension and because, as their name hints, they are really real drumheads. The only little flaw of the drum pads is that if you for some reason leave the lugs unattended after banging the pads for a while, chances are you might loose the washers that hold the head in place. I think if the were built in the pad hardware, this probably could be avoided. Although these are minor details, my main concerns for the pads are the rims. Despite being great in triggering quality, functionality and feel, they lack in durability. They will get damaged quite quickly, especially if you play with the sticks that you also hit cymbals and acoustic drums with. Drumsticks’ necks get damaged because of that, and those shaved sticks will further damage the rubber rims of the Alesis DM10 Kit. Although they are not too expensive to replace, it would be cool if within the package a replacement kit was offered.

My second main concern is with the rack. The ErgoRack, formally part of the DM10 Kit was recently (more precisely at winter NAMM 2011) replaced by a completely new drum rack design, the StageRack. You might overlook the importance of the drum rack in the kit’s overall sound quality. If you do, you will be missing quite an important aspect. Not only the rack has to provide great stability for one’s performance, but also tries to isolate and thus eliminate x-talk between pads. I have quite experience using Alesis StealthRack, which profoundly lacks in both areas. Unfortunately, both ErgoRack and StageRack feature very similar constructions characteristics found in the StageRack. If the new StageRack really is an improvement, it’s quite questionable especially because of its plastic-tubular features. I believe with some design and engineering on the concept of how each of the pads is attached to the rack could greatly x-talk issues while relying on heavier-duty materials could enforce stability. But then, I’m sure affordability could be at stake.

Weighting down positive and negative aspects and fully regarding its market price, The Alesis’ DM10 Pro Kit is still certainly credible to hold a “pro” title. Its module features and capabilities largely overcome many others found in the market especially because of how affordable it is. I could see the DM10 being a personage that would last quite sometime in the electronic kit realm, since with a few improvements of character it could truly make it become a 100% satisfactory type of product. Meanwhile improvements can be implemented to it at the consumer’s cost.

For more information on the DM10 Pro Kit, please visit www.alesis.com

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