Selecting the best electronic drum kit can be a bit of a challenge with so many models on the market. Alesis is a well-established company that offers a wide range of drums and sound modules. Let’s look at five of their best-sellers to see which one will be the best for you.
Alesis DM6 USB Kit | Eight-Piece Compact Beginner Electronic Drum Set with 8″ Snare, 8″ Toms, & 12″ Cymbals [2009 Model]
The Alesis DM6 USB Kit is a very popular, affordable electronic drum set. Of course, in this price range, the toms and cymbals are built of rubber and plastic. But the snare is set up differently so you can play rim shots.
Similar to an acoustic drum kit, the DM6 also features an upright foot pedal to trigger the crash and ride and the high hat. The frame that supports the pads has sturdy clamps and strong tubing.
The sound module is pre-programmed with ten preset kits and five slots for you to program yourself. It also comes with 108 different drum sounds ready to use, 40 patterns, and a metronome.
Instead of a mess of individual wires, each pad’s wire joins into a central cable that plugs into one port on the sound module. On the rear of the module, you’ll see other ports for headphones, audio out, and mic in. There is a USB port for MIDI connections and so you can connect the DM6 to a Mac or PC.
In writing there’s no good way to describe how this kit sounds. Some musicians describe it like this: powerful, defined, and expressive. That’s good news for beginning players who don’t want to sacrifice good sound in order to afford a kit.
More features of the Alesis DM6 USB electronic drum kit:
- Weighs about 48 pounds (the shipping weight)
- Compatible with iPad by way of USB adapter
- Comes with one set of drum sticks
Alesis DM7X Kit Six-Piece Advanced Electronic Drum Set
The Alesis DM7X drum kit Has been discontinued by Alesis, but you can still find it for sale. Let’s take a look at why you would want to invest in it.
For starters, the DM7X comes with one more piece than the DM6. It has four toms instead of three. All the toms and the snare are dual zone for rim shots. It also has an additional crash cymbal.
The kick trigger pad and pedal are different, too. But you’ll notice that although the stand is larger, it’s still made of strong tubing and sturdy clamps. In fact, the DM7X is pretty easy to set up.
The sound module is improved over the DM6. While it comes with 40 pre-programmed kits, you can make changes to any of those or program your own. There are 385 drum, percussion, and cymbal sounds ready to use.
There’s also a metronome for practice sessions, and 60 play-along tracks. You can record your performance with the sound module’s sequencer. Link your kit with the USB MIDI connection to your Mac or PC or another drum machine.
Besides the USB MIDI port, the sound module features a headphone jack and stereo outputs. The stereo line-in makes it possible to play along with songs from an mp3 player.
More features of the Alesis DM7X electronic drum kit:
- Comes with one set of drum sticks
- Weighs about 64 pounds
Alesis DM8 Pro Kit
The DM8 Pro Kit has also been discontinued by Alesis, but it’s also available for purchase online. Let’s look at why you might want to track down this kit for yourself.
First off, it comes with fewer pads, which may be a disadvantage to you when you consider the larger kits like the DM6 and the DM7X. But the sound module is where the DM8 shines.
The sound module comes with 750 sounds ready to use, all sampled from real drums nd cymbals. It has 100 pre-programmed kits and 75 patterns to play along to in practice and performance sessions. You can also program up to 100 kits yourself so you can experiment with a wide range of sounds. Of course, the module has USB MIDI connectivity to enable you to work with just about any drum software on a Mac, PC, or an iPad.
The DM8 Pro kit includes a large 12-inch dual-zone snare for rim shots, three toms, and an 8-inch kick pad that you can use with both single and double pedals. (The kick pedals are sold separately.) The three-zone ride cymbal is 16-inches in diameter and it comes with choke. The crash and the hi-hat also come with choke. All these pads have Alesis’ RealHead technology.
RealHead is made from Mylar so it’s sensitive to the speed you use when you play it. With dual-zone sensing, you can trigger varying sounds from the head and the rim like you can on an acoustic kit. You can also adjust the drumhead tension and even replace it with a standard drum head.
More features of the Alesis DM8 Pro electronic drum kit:
- Comes with one set of drum sticks and rubber rim mutes
- Weighs about 72.8 pounds
Alesis DM10 Studio Kit | Ten-Piece Professional Electronic Drum Set with Black Aluminum StageRack (Mylar Drum Pads)
The DM10 Studio Kit is even more advanced than any of the prior kits we reviewed above. The free-standing kick drum, the four 8-inch toms, and the 1-inch snare are all RealHead dual-zone Mylar pads. They are all capable of rim shots and all very responsive to your personal style of playing.
The DM10 kit also comes with a 14-inch ride, 12-inch hi-hat, and two 12-inch crash cymbals. One of the crash cymbals is choke-able if you grab its edge. The ride has three trigger zones (bow, bell, and edge). All the cymbal pads are plastic with a rubber coating to reduce stick noise.
Every drum pad (except the kick drum) is mountable on the improved StageRack system. The aluminum tubing is lightweight and strong and the clamps are easy to use. Each drum pad is adjustable by way of a wing screw. The kick pad is a little prone to movement, but you can tape it down if you like.
If you decide you prefer a different drum head, you can swap out all the RealHead pads. But you may end up liking them quite a lot since you can tension them like acoustic drums.
The DM10 sound module is packed full of possibilities. It has a built-in sequencer and a six-fader mixer with two banks. This is helpful when you’re trying to balance all the elements in a new kit.
The module has twelve trigger inputs, two RCA stereo inputs, two MIDI ports, stereo and AUX outs, and headphone out. There are 1047 preset sounds and 75 preset sequencer patterns. There is space for 25 user-made patterns, but you can also overwrite all the other 75 as well.
More features of the Alesis DM10Studio electronic drum kit:
- Comes with one set of drum sticks and drum key
- Weighs about 66 pounds and takes up about 5 x 5 feet
Alesis DM10 X Kit | Ten-Piece Professional Electronic Drum Set with Chrome XRack (Mylar Drum Pads)
Our final kit in this review is the best one yet. The DM10X from Alesis catches a second glance right at the outset with its shiny chrome Xrack and larger drum pads.The chrome Xrack frame is especially nice for musicians who want quick setup and teardown without tools. It’s fast and easy to set up your kit just how you want it.
You’ll notice that the toms and snare are all larger on the DM10X kit than they are on the DM10 Studio. The six drums are all RealHead Mylar pads designed to be as close to acoustic as possible. They have a dynamic, expressive sound all their own. But if you should want to swap them for mesh or other kinds of heads, you can.The kick pad is also made of Mylar. While no pedal comes in this kit, you can use most single or double kick pedals with it.
The 12-inch snare and 10-inch toms are all dual-zone for performing rim clicks and shots. You can also assign another percussion sound (like a gong) to the tom rims from the library of over 1000 in the sound module.
We briefly described the DM10 sound module in the section about the DM10 Studio kit above. All the pre-recorded samples are uncompressed real sounds from real instruments. They’re so real that you can distinguish between Chinese and Turkish cymbals when you hear them!
Besides the samples, the metronome, and the patterns, you can set the module to reflect different room sounds and reverb. As you play harder or softer, both the drums and cymbals change their volume and timbre.
More features of the Alesis DM10X premium electronic drum kit:
- Comes with drum sticks and drum key
- Shipping weight is about 94 pounds
Now that we’ve covered the basics of each Alesis drum kit, let’s narrow down the choices to help you select the best one for you.
For beginning drummers, either the DM6 or the DM7X would be great choices. The advantage of the DM6 is that it’s still being manufactured while the DM7X has been discontinued. The advantage of the DM7X is that it contains more drum pads and is a larger kit.
The DM8 Pro is a good beginner to intermediate player’s kit. It has RealHead pads that can be tensioned like a real drum head. The disadvantage is that the DM8 Pro has also been discontinued. The advantage is that the sound module is more advanced than the DM6 or DM7X.
Once you’re an intermediate to advanced drummer, you’ll be able to make the most of the excellent features of the DM10 Studio and DM10X. The sound module is the same in both kits, and it’s very versatile and packed full of goodies. The Mylar RealHead drum pads in both kits are tensionable and can be swapped out for mesh or other heads.
If you prefer larger toms and snare, get the premium DM10X kit. Each of the drum pads is two inches bigger than the equivalent ones in the DM10 Studio kit. Plus the DM10X comes with a beautifully shiny chrome frame, the Xrack.
If the size of the drum pads and the chrome rack isn’t as important to you, you may save some money by getting the DM10 Studio kit instead.