It seems that Alesis has once again introduced one of the hottest new products on the market, after releasing a DM10 update, aptly named the Alesis DM10 X. At first glance, it would be hard to disagree that the Alesis DM10 X is an especially good-looking piece of hardware. But is it all bells and whistles, or is it actually worth the hype? In this article, we take a deeper look and review one of the hottest electronic drumming kits on the market.
The kit has two 10-inch toms, two 12-inch toms, a 12-inch snare, a four-piece cymbal set which includes: 12-inch high hats, two 14-inch crashes and 16-inch ride. (You can change the pads into mesh ones, which is very highly recommended if you don’t want to annoy the hell out of your neighbours, but we will tackle this in the next part of the review.) These are all connected to a heavy duty, X Chrome rack that allows the drummer to hit the drums from many different angles without compromising the structural integrity of the kit itself. While of course, you shouldn’t buy the kit purely because of the way it looks, it helps that this kit is frankly, gorgeous!
In terms of software, the kit also comes with a DM10 sound module, which includes 12 trigger inputs so you can personally customize your kit. It also comes with over 1000 samples, a USB connection and even a connection to an iPad, should you need it.
Mesh or Mylar Pads?
Alesis have perhaps brought an end to all future spats between drummers and their neighbors. This is because the DM10 X has two versions- one with mylar heads and the other version has mesh heads. Mylar is used in real drum heads as well, but despite these ones being slightly different in composition, they sound very realistic.
The mesh heads have four points of sensitivity on each head and give better response and dynamic playability, without really affecting the authenticity and naturalness of the sound. They are also a lot quieter than your regular mylar pads. That being said, they’re still not exactly silent. They’re more akin to drumming on a big paperback book, meaning it could still be annoying if you have roommates or flat mates.
The Alesis DM10 Sound Module
The sound module is the same for both the Alesis DM10 and the Alesis DM10X, because why fix it when it’s not broken, right? Or in this case, why fix it when it’s already pretty great?
For starters, the Alesis DM10 sound module has all the rudiments you’d expect any respectable sound module to have – examples include recording, metronome tempo, drum kit muting. The DM10 module also has a built-in mixer, which allows the user to control the volume of each individual pad and cymbal instantly. It also comes with 74 tracks that you can play to; with or without a guiding drum track. What’s more, it comes with two auxiliary (AUX) ports in the back, which you can use to plug in your phone, iPod or MP3 player, and play to your favorite tracks.
The Alesis DM10 module comes with 1000 sounds, almost 5 times as many as the Roland TD 11K’s 190 sounds, which is the only real competitor in the same price range. Of course, the quantity of sounds would be useless if the quality is poor. Comparisons between Alesis DM10 and the Roland TD 11K will yield no real conclusion; some argue that the Roland module has the superior sound quality, while others will argue for the Alesis module. Both Alesis and Roland use real recorded instruments for their modules, but their techniques are slightly different.
Roland employs a technology referred to as ‘superNATURAL’, while Alesis uses ‘dynamic articulation’. Dynamic articulation means that each sound is a series of different samples. Ultimately, both sound very similar, but feel free to do more research on the subject.
One downside to the Alesis module is that it lacks any kind of training functions, which the Roland TD 11K does come with. Although hardly essential, these training functions can be fun to use.
You can read more about the set-up and software of the DM10 X here. Note that this is the Alesis website, so they’re pretty unlikely to mention any negatives.
Unboxing and Assembling
The kit came in a pretty big and heavy box, so if you can get a buddy to help you out with carrying it, that’d be better than you carrying it alone. The box contains the 10-pieces of the electronic drum set that we mentioned above. You’ll need to buy a couple of things alongside the kit, but nothing too drastic. The first thing you’ll need is a single or double bass drum pedal of your liking. Get any one that you feel comfortable using. The other things you’ll need are drumsticks (duh), a drum throne and headphones. Often times, you’ll find that these are sold alongside the kit in a bundle, but if not, these pieces of equipment can be easily found online (you can look updin the ‘frequently bought together’ section any online retailer).
As far as assembling the kit goes, it has to be noted that it isn’t all that easy. Well, if you’re an experienced drummer, it should be simple enough. Around two hours and you’re done. But if you’re more of a novice, it could prove a little tricky to know exactly where everything goes and at which angles they’re supposed to. The instruction manual that comes with the kit only addresses how to set up the sound module, so it’s not very helpful in regards to assembling the physical kit. However, the internet is your friend, and you can find many online resources, such as this one here, that can guide you through the process.
Using The Alesis DM10 X
Good. You’ve ordered the kit. You have it all set up, all nice and shiny and sleek and ready to go. This is the moment you’ve been waiting for.
This drum kit really brings the sounds to life and is incredibly sensitive. It sounds very realistic and natural, whether you’re using the mylar pads or the mesh pads. The snare provides a lovely rim shot, as well as a nice rim click. In terms of acoustics, the sounds produced by the drum kit is quite loud, but every individual drum has its own clear tone. However, the kick drum is actually surprisingly quiet, which again, makes this drum an attractive option to anyone with sensitive neighbours.
Finally, many drummers have the chronic problem of suffering with snare positions, and Alesis addresses this by giving the snare a completely separate stand. The one potential downside of the Alesis DM10 X is that the high hat comes with a pad and a foot trigger, rather than a stand. But ultimately, it is clear that the positives far outweigh the negatives of this kit, and that Alesis has really managed to produce a gem here.
Difference Between The DM10 And The DM10 X
Truth be told, these two kits are a lot more similar than they are different. We’ve summarized the main differences between these two kits into a handy little table for your viewing convenience.
Based on this comparison, it seems clear that, while the DM10 is a fantastic kit in its own right, the DM10 X is the more superior kit of the two. Not only does it sound better, it is also easier to transport, given that the XRack is more compact and portable than the 4-post StageRack frame. This should come as no surprise, given that the DM10 X was released as an update for the DM10, so it would’ve been a failure on Alesis’ part had the DM10 still been a better product than the Alesis DM10 X.
Here is a comparison of all the drum kits that Alesis currently produces, as found on their website, Alesis.com.
To Buy Or Not To Buy?
Price: Between $850 and $1,200 (depending on bundles, shipping, retailer and location).
Now here comes the big question. We’ve looked and compared and done our research. Is the Alesis DM10 X worth buying? We think: Yes.
For its price, it has the fantastic capabilities of drum kits that costs hundreds more dollars. It sounds incredibly natural, thanks to the superior equipment and the sound module. It also looks very slick, it’s not too difficult to put together and it’s not an inconvenience to any neighbours. If you’re serious about your drumming, then the Alesis DM10 X should be at the very top of your list of kits to consider.
Alesis is a company that specializes in designing and marketing electronic musical instruments, digital audio processors, audio mixers, digital audio interfaces, recording equipment, drum machines, professional audio and electronic percussion products. Its headquarters are based in Cumberland, Rhode Island, and the company is a daughter company to InMusic Brands.
The company was founded by Keith Barr back in Hollywood in 1984. Barr was also the co-founder of MXR, which manufactures effects pedals. Barr had a great ability to custom design circuits, and used that ability to produce and market feature sets for affordable prices (they were very expensive at the time). This made his company very successful with Hollywood studios. Alesis’ first ever product was the XT reverb, an all-digital reverb which is used to emulate sounds and spaces by using algorithms. Sold then at the bargain price of $800, it was the first of many innovative and affordable digital audio creations.
But despite the initial success, market trends changed and Alesis were unable to adapt their operations, and officially filed for bankruptcy in April, 2001. They were acquired by Jack O’Donnell during the restructuring. Almost a decade later, Alesis was acquired by InMusic Brands. Jack O’Donnell remains the president and CEO to this very day.
Under O’Donnell’s management, Alesis have expanded their operations into designing new products, such as (surprise surprise) electronic drums, mixers and other recording equipment. In fact, Alesis is one of the fastest growing drum brands in the entire world, and continues to produce high-quality products for relatively affordable prices.