The Alesis DM10 MKII is a high-end intermediate electronic drum kit for anyone who fits that skill set. It’s got enough features to be decent for a professional player, too, but it does lack some of the “bells and whistles” a pro might be used to having. For what it is, however, it is a sensational example. How many beginner or intermediate kits, for example, have cymbal boom arms? That is a particularly nice touch from Alesis.
This is a good practice kit because the ambient sounds off of the mesh drum heads are very quiet. It can transition to the stage easily, too, because the 700 instrument sounds and 80 available kits make the 10 pieces of the Pro version of the kit unbelievably flexible for any genre of music. The solidly built chrome stand is also a winner. These are all things you would expect from a kit costing much, much more.
What Comes with the Drum Set
- One 12-inch Snare
- Two 10-inch Snare
- Two 10-inch Rack Toms
- Two 12-inch Floor Toms
- One 8-inch Kick Drum
- Two 14-inch Crash Cymbals
- One 16-inch Rid Cymbal
- one 12-inch hi-hat
The best part of these components is how they sound. The reproduction is crisp and responds to strength of stroke so that the player can add dynamics. Many less-advanced kits just have one volume, which is disconcerting when playing what are supposed to be softer passages. The one exception to this is that the bass drum can sound too heavy in certain configurations, but this is a small price to pay for the superiority of the electronics at this price point.
The drums of the Pro kit are larger than those of other kits and give this kit the feel of an acoustic drum kit. The mesh pads on all surfaces feel great and have the same kind of response as standard drum heads.
Although you shouldn’t use brushes on this kit, the module is programmed to simulate the sound of brushes with regular sticks. So, break out your trusty pair of Vic Firth SD1 Generals and go to town on a rock tune, Cool-School jazz chart, or anything in between with great success.
The module doesn’t just produce top-quality sounds either. You can adjust the sounds for reverb, muffle, and pitch on each item. The quest to reproduce Bruford’s iconic snare sound continues!
Perhaps most fun of all, you can plug in your favorite mp3 player or mixer to jam with your favorite tunes. Adjust all of the drums to the perfect sound to create the perfect drum mix. “Five Percent for Nothing” can’t be far away or “Moby Dick-Live” either.
One knock against the kit is that the cymbals have been prone to wear more so than the other components of the set. The construction of the ride cymbal, for example, is such that it allows you to play the edge, bow, and bell of the cymbal and get the appropriate sound. That, however, led to a design susceptible to damage. They’re not going to fall apart in a few hits, or anything, but it would be a good idea to purchase the extended warranty with the item. The other knock against the kit is that the hi-hat pedal is a little too stiff to do complex hi-hat patterns. Neither of these is a deal breaker by any stretch of the imagination, though, because of the great quality of the rest of the kit. It is important to note, too, that the kit does not come with a bass-drum pedal. Also, when using a bass-drum pedal, be sure it’s not felt. Felt can damage the mesh. Wood is best, and plastic is a close second.
Assembling the Kit
The kit has a footprint of 183 cm by 183 cm, or 6 feet by 6 feet. The frame is as solid as granite, but it doesn’t weigh a ton. It also assembles in about 10 minutes, which is comparable to acoustic kits. The first time you assemble the DM10 kit, however, you have to unpack all of the components one by one. You don’t need a whack of tools to put it together, and the instructions are easy-to-follow too.
The bad part about assembly is adjusting after the fact because you have to make all of the connections tight to keep the kit from falling down. For this reason, it’s a good idea to put it together all the way first to get a feel for what you’re doing, see what you need to adjust to your liking, and then disassemble it and reassemble it the way you truly want it. Takes a while the first time, but then you know what you want, so it’ll be a snap each time thereafter.
If you want to incorporate a double bass pedal like John Bonham or Ed Shaughnessy, the Alesis DM10 MKII Pro kit has space for them on the frame. Remember to use only plastic or wood and not felt.
DM10 Drum Module Details
The kit comes with instructions on how to contact customer service for help with assembly, programming, and sound customization. That’s great because the customer service is exceptional. The reps on the chat service on the Alesis website are knowledgeable, polite, and engaged. Not only do they want to help, but they also can help, which is a refreshing change in an industry where “help” is usually not readily available.
The spacing of the various mesh drum heads and cymbals is very much the same as on an acoustic kit, which means that you, as the player, can play the kit with the same hand spacing and spatial awareness you have when playing an acoustic kit. In its stock configuration, the module is equipped with multi-velocity samples of the sounds of each drum. When you strike a mesh head with a certain level of force, the module will search through the various samples of such a drum being hit with such a certain force, pick one, and use that to produce the sound.
By sampling multiple sources this way, the kit produces a sound extremely close to an acoustic kit. Usually such advanced qualities come only with top-of-the-line kits costing eight to 12 times as much as the Alesis DM10 MKII Pro.
The 80 kits with the Pro version of the item include 50 presets and 30 slots for user-defined kits. After you set up the sounds you want, you can connect your phone or media player and jam out. With the headphones in, the sounds of the sticks hitting mesh are less than those you would get by practicing on a dictionary or phone book. The onboard sequencer contains 100 patterns, too, and the module can produce a metronome to help you be rock steady. In the world of unpitched percussion, there is only one friend who will never lie to you: your metronome.
The best thing about the module is that you can connect it to your computer to load samples to play along with without worrying about extra drivers or other software because the module is class-compliant and plug-and-play.
The one drawback to the kit and module is a tendency for the various components to crosstalk if the frame isn’t tightly assembled or the kit is on a hard floor. Fortunately, this crosstalk is easy to fix. All you have to do is tighten the cymbals so that they don’t rock too much and put the kit on a piece of carpet to control floor vibrations.
- Sensational mesh drum heads
- 10-piece configuration
- Speedy, powerful module
- Sturdy frame that approximates acoustic kit
- Snare drum pad not bolted to the rack and is movable
- Bass drum can sound louder than other pads at the same volume
- Does not come with a drum pedal
- Hi-hat pedal not as responsive as on other kits
Overall Impressions of the Alesis DM10 MKII Drum Kit
For the most part, it plays like an acoustic set. It sounds like an acoustic set. It gives you many features for which you would think you would have to pay much more. Any small bad experiences can be corrected with a little ingenuity, such as reducing the bass drum’s volume as part of a custom kit, or a small expenditure, such as needing a pedal for the bass drum.
It truly is an astounding and magnificent piece of electronic gear for the price, and percussionists of all skill levels will love it.
The Final Verdict
Is the Alesis DM10 MKii drum set worth buying at this price point? The answer is a resounding, “YES!” Heck, it would be worth buying at twice this price point. The Roland TD-11 is this item’s only real competition, and the argument about which sounds better is suspiciously about deciding to drive the Porsche or the BMW today.