If you are looking for a beginner electronic drum set the Alesis Nitro Mesh Kit may be just the ticket.  The Nitro Kit is one of the cheapest 8-piece drum sets in the space.  Now you won’t be taking this drum set out on gigs, or to a professional recording studio.   But, for learning, practicing, and enjoying a hobby without taking up a great deal of space, or waking the neighborhood this kit warrants serious consideration.

The Alesis Nitro Mesh Kit replaced the original Alesis Nitro model.  The primary difference is given in the name.  The pads were all upgraded from rubber to a much more authentic feeling mesh.  You can still find the original Nitro model for sale in a few places, usually used.  There isn’t enough of a savings to warrant purchasing it over the new mesh kits.  In this situation we recommend going new, and going for the upgraded mesh pads.

Alesis Nitro Mesh 8-piece Electronic Drum Set

The first thing you will notice about the Nitro Drum Set is that it looks cool.  Other beginner electronic drums look like toys.  When you unbox this kit and set it up you will smile.  It feels cool, it feels advanced, it looks awesome.  I couldn’t wait to play it.  Here is what you get:

Kick Tower with Pedal

I find it difficult to get the same feeling when I play if the bass drum doesn’t have something to hit against.  When my bass drum pedal looks like it was meant to operate a sewing machine I just don’t play with the same feeling.  This entry level drum set gives you a mini kick drum tower so if feels more like the real thing.  I’m a big fan.  The Nitro Kit tower will also accommodate a double bass.

Dual-Zone Snare

Electronic drums operate with a trigger that tells the drum module when to produce a sound.  Rudimentary edrums are single zone.  This means they produce one sound only.  With a dual-zone snare it gives a more realistic feel and sound allowing you to get a different sound from the center of the pad versus the rim.  This allows rim shots and

Two Rack Toms and a Floor Tom

The toms are all single zone.  In my opinion this is fine.  There aren’t many times you will be wishing you could hit a rim shot on your tom, at least not early on in your playing career.

Alesis Nitro Hi Hat Pedal

You will get a 10” hi-hat with pedal.  If you are used to playing a traditional acoustic drum set this may take some getting used to.  It is not connected to the hi hat stand like a traditional drum set, but you are able to reproduce most of the sounds you would expect.  For the price point, I can live with the hi-hat and actually think it does a pretty good job.

Crash and Ride Cymbals

The crash cymbal is 10 inches which gives you a good playing surface to hit.  The crash comes with a choke letting you muffle the sound.  Unfortunately the cymbals are not dual zone, but you can’t have everything with an inexpensive entry-level drum kit.

Alesis Nitro Drum Module

The drum module is the heart of any electronic drum set.  It is what reads the inputs from the triggers and produces your sounds.  The nitro drum module has an easy to read display and the buttons are large, well spaced, and nicely labeled.

It includes a headphone jack which is really useful for quite practice.  Most likely this is one of the major reasons you are looking at buying an inexpensive electronic drum set.

You also have two 1/4 inch line outputs to connect to a PA system, amp, or speakers.

There is also a USB port so you can connect to a Mac or PC so you can record your playing and use music production software.  A really cool feature and if you are trying to improve there is nothing like a playback so you can hear how you really sounded.

It comes with a 1/8 inch input so you can plug in your iPod or other media device for songs and sounds.   There is also a traditional midi in and out if you are using more traditional recording devices.

The drum module also come with two additional inputs allowing you to add a fourth tom, and a Crash 2 cymbal if you want to expand your kit.

The module comes with 40 kits and 385 sounds.  One of the coolest features of an electronic drum set is to be able to change the sound of your drum set with the push of a button.  This lets you tailer your sound to the music genre you are playing along with.  Even better is the ability to customize your kit.  You cannot record your own sounds to use like on higher models.  However, you can select any of the built in sounds and add them to the kit of your choice.

Since the Nitro Mesh Kit is designed as an entry level and practice kit it does have great built in features like metronome and play along songs with adjustable tempo.

The Pros and Cons of the Nitro Mesh Drum Set

Pros

  • Extremely inexpensive
  • Looks like a real electronic drum kit
  • Pretty sturdy
  • Mesh heads

Cons

  • single zone ride
  • may not hold up well for long term playing
  • some sounds are are a bit fake/artificial

Alesis Nitro Kit Setup

The kit is easy to setup.  It has a well positioned, sturdy aluminum rack.  The foot print is small enough to fit in about any space.  The position of the drums feels pretty natural.

Here is a video of the unboxing and setup.  There are a lot of small boxes but it is packaged in a compact way allowing for easy shipping.

The hardest part of the setup is the rack.  Once that is setup it’s a breeze.  The way it is designed you can position the overall hight and horizontal position of the drums and cymbals.  This is important to ensure a comfortable position for players of all sizes.

The cables are all clearly marked indicating what drum or cymbal it belongs to.  This saves a lot of time and headache setting up your kit.

Playing Impressions

First of all, an electronic drum set is never going to feel exactly like an acoustic drum set.  There is just no way to reproduce the same feel.  This isn’t a bad thing, it’s just different.  That being said, the mesh heads to respond more like an acoustic drum head.  The ability to tighten or loosen (tune) the heads can give a more approximate feel.

I would also like to point out that the Nitro Mesh drum set is not silent.  It will be much quieter than a real drum set, but it does still make noice when the pads are hit.  The sound is sort of like someone hitting Tupperware with  a drum stick.  Again, much quieter than a traditional drum set, but not silent.

As far as electronic drum sets go, the Alesis Nitro Mesh Kit does an adequate job as an introduction into the world of drumming.  It gives a full size kit, that allows overall height adjustment and horizontal positioning to make it feel comfortable for any player.  Having an actual kick tower makes the bass feel better and the dual-zone snare is a nice touch.

I don’t feel like I will break it when I’m hitting it which is a huge plus.  I like to pretend I’m Dave Grohl and not every kit will hold up to the abuse.  There have been some quality complaints with Alesis drums.  Personally, I think this tends to come from players that are ready to graduate to a more advanced drum set, or just have expectations that are beyond a sub $500 price point.

If you are beginning or just want something to bang on to keep your chops from getting rusty, I recommend looking at the Alesis Nitro Mesh Kit.  If you will be playing gigs, recording often, or playing for a few hours a day, you should probably check out some of the higher end models.