Welcome back, drum lovers!
Electronic drums have their supporters and detractors, for sure. Some people swear they will never come over to the dark side of electronics. Others love that you can rock on them with no noise. You also get a huge amount of drum sounds to expand your playing with, while on an acoustic kit, you’re stuck with the pieces you have.
This time, I’m reviewing the Alesis DM10 MKII electronic drum kit and module. A mid-priced, mid-range kit from Alesis that has mesh heads to simulate the feel of real acoustic drums. If you’re looking for a great, affordable electronic drum kit, this could be it.
Intrigued? Well, let’s dive into this Alesis DM10 MKII Review and find out more.
DM10 MKII – Overview
So, this kit is called the DM10 because it has ten pieces, or ten pads you can play on. You’ve got the 12” dual-zone snare on its standard snare stand.
After that, you have a 4-legged sturdy chromed tube rack that supports two 10” toms in front of you and two 12” toms off to the side. All the toms are also dual-zone. Of course, you can set this kit up for right or left-handed playing just by flipping everything over.
The Kick Drum
This is a heavy-based vertical pad that measures 8” in diameter. If you’re wondering if this is big enough for a double bass pedal, it definitely is. It can handle one or two beaters with no problem. However, the kit does NOT come with a bass pedal at all.
On the one hand, that’s great since you can select whatever pedal you think is best. On the other hand, it will represent an extra cost of about $100 or more.
Also supported by the tube rack are two 14” crash cymbals and a 16” ride. The ride cymbal has a triple-zone response. You can play the rim, shoulder, or bell for different sounds.
The Final Piece
The hi-hat is a 12” cymbal mounted on a boom arm off the tube rack. This is also supported by an independent hi-hat pedal that you can stomp to get a chunk sound. As well as open and close to change the sound of the hi-hat cymbal you’re playing above.
All six of the drums have mesh heads that are ultra-quiet but simulate the feel of beating the skins really well. You can adjust the tension lugs around them to set up a softer or firmer feel depending on your preference. However, this won’t adjust tuning like it would on conventional drums.
The cymbals are hard plastic discs coated with a thick rubber layer on the top and the bottom, and feature the triangular strike zone. There’s no reason for them to be discs because all you need is that strike zone, but never mind.
Now for the Brain
Now that you have a run-down on the different pieces of the kit, it’s time to talk about its brain – the DM10 MKII drum module.
This is a straightforward module that mounts to the tube rack of the kit and takes the cables from all of your electronic pads/triggers. It has a very basic display that lets you know which drum kit, element, or feature you’re manipulating.
The module comes with 80 pre-loaded kits made from 700 individual voices. Each kit is fully editable, and so is each voice. Plus, you can input up to 99 more voices from other sources via USB to create your own unique sounds. Now you can have that kit that plays cats meowing that you’ve always wanted.
A Variety of Sounds
Alesis gives you all the standard kits you’d expect – rock, jazz, pop, funk, fusion, etc. You also get a lot of African, Asian, and Middle Eastern drums, plus lots of purely electronic sounds for playing house to dubstep and beyond. Making this one of the most versatile electronic drum pads on the market.
To me, the standard kits are well produced, and the sounds are spot on. The drums generally sound right, but the cymbals are really what set this kit apart. They’re bright and explosive and sound great. In my opinion, this represents the best sounding electronic drum pad cymbals around.
Either way, you have a ton of flexibility in editing each voice to get it to sound the way you want it. Just isolate the voice in the drum kit you’re editing, and you can play with the pitch, pan, decay, reverb, sustain (for cymbals), FX level, and muffling, as well as even the minimum velocity needed to trigger that pad.
How Does It Play?
For the responsiveness of the kit, I think the cymbals do well. The drum heads can sometimes lag or miss out on strikes, though. That said, once corrected, it’s one of the most responsive electronic drum kits you can buy.
The mesh heads are a bit of a different animal. While the triggers are fully built-in for the cymbals, they’re floating on the mesh heads. This means that when you set the kit up, you might not get the triggers to their ideal positions. Still, you can work on this to improve your sound.
You can also edit the trigger settings for greater or lesser head and rim sensitivity, cross-talk levels, retrig, and velocity curves. Although it’s not ideal to have to fiddle with so many controls, at least they’re there for someone who wants to get their kit just right.
Other Module Features
On top of the built-in kits and voices, you can input midi or even .wav voices from a computer or a USB drive. The module comes with a click track with standard adjustability in tempo. Plus, you can have it lead you in ¾, 4/4, and 6/8 time.
The unit also has 60 built-in play-along tracks that you can use for practice. You can mute the drum tracks out of them once you’ve got them down, then lay down your own beats instead.
Finally, you can record and play back your tracks. This is a great way to keep from forgetting a cool beat you’ve just come up with, but it can also be an excellent way to critique your own playing and lead to improvement. As a result, this unit gives you one of the best multi feature electronic drum kits you can buy.
Alesis DM10 MKII Review – Pros and Cons
Like every electronic drum kit, the DM10 MKII has its ups and downs. Here are the main pros and cons I can see in buying and using this kit.
* Great drum sounds
You get 80 kits here. A great range of sounds from standard kits to out-there electronic sounds. With all the kits being fully editable, plus the ability to import your own voices, you can get pretty much any sound you want out of this drum kit.
* Lots of connectivity
The module has your standard headphone out plus L and R line-outs via ¼” jacks so you can listen through phones or play through an amp. It also has a USB/Midi port to connect directly with your computer’s DAW, plus MIDI In and Out/Thru to set up the module with other MIDI instruments and sequencers.
It also gives you AUX-In, so you can bring in audio and play along with your favorite songs on MP3 tracks.
* Realistic feel
Too many electronic drum kits boast a realistic feel but don’t deliver. I think these mesh heads do get the feel of actual skins right, especially if you tension them up a bit. The cymbals feel and respond well, on top of just sounding great. And the hi-hat pedal is really responsive for closed, partially closed, and open positions.
* Limited adjustability
One of my pet peeves with electronic kits is that they almost all follow the tube rack setup. Because of this, the positioning and height of different pieces can be limited. Here, the two tom bars fight for height on the tubes. This means that if you want the front toms lower, the side toms have to go lower too, or else flip and go higher, which is pretty unusual.
The hi-hat is also a concern for open-handed drummers. Furthermore, the hi-hat is almost always going to be set up too high if you want good access to the module. It would help to switch the position of the module and the hi-hat to get it closer to where you might want it to be.
* Difficult setup
Compared to a Roland kit that comes ready out of the box, this set needs some fiddling. Setting up all the pieces is one thing. I’m talking about getting the drum triggers right on the heads. Each one takes some real work to get it into the right place and pressure so that it responds properly and registers every blow you rain down on it.
* Not everything you need is here
Any drum kit needs a bass pedal and a throne, two elements that are conspicuously absent here. I’d like to see a package with both included so that this can be a one-stop purchase. There is an option to add about $70 and include an Alesis bass pedal, but the throne is still your responsibility.
* Noisy for electronic drums
Because these are mesh heads and not rubber pads, the drums do still make a bit of noise. Now, is this going to be enough to wake the neighbors? Definitely not. But people in your own house will hear you play, even though it’s quiet. If your household complains, you can always compare them to acoustic drums, which are way louder even with pads on.
Looking for Great Drum Pads, Drum Kits, and Drum Accessories?
We have you covered. Check out our comprehensive Alesis Drums Nitro Mesh Kit Review, our Roland SPD-SX Review, our Roland TD-25KV Electronic Drum Set, our Roland Octapad SPD-30 Review, our Yamaha DTX562K Electronic Drum Set Review, and our 2BOX D5 Drum It Five Electronic Drum Module Review for awesome items currently available.
And have a look at our in-depth reviews of the Best Portable Drum Kits, the Best Jazz Drum Sets, the Best Cheap Beginner Electronic Drum Sets Under $500, the Best Snare Drums, the Best Bass Drum Pedals, and the Best Drum Thrones you can buy in 2021.
Alesis DM10 MKII Review – Final Verdict
All told, I think this is a super kit for the roughly $1300 price tag. It’s well made and strong enough to hold up to years of beating. Yet quiet enough for almost no one to notice. The sounds in it are varied and editable to allow you to make it your own, and you can import more.
But the best part is playing this kit. It feels and responds like the acoustic drums you’ve been playing your whole life. Try it and see. This might just be the electronic drum kit you’ve been searching for.
Until next time, may the beat go on.