Hellfire Electronic Drum System has a new toy. It is the Alesis DM10 Pro Kit.
This post is my review of the new Alesis DM10 Pro Kit. If you would like the technical data, please visit the Alesis DM10 Pro Kit’s web page.
A couple things to keep in mind while reading this review. I am doing this review to two parts. The first part is the unpacking and drum hardware. The second part will be on the DM10 module itself. Also, I have never bought a complete electronic drum kit from a major manufacture ever until now. This kit cost $1500.00 and that is the most I have ever spent on any one electronic drum purchase. My reason for stating this, is to let you know that this is my spending limit on an electronic drum kit and I would guess that I am not the only one out there who lives on a budget. So take that for what it is worth. Lets get this show on the road….
Review Part #1: Unpacking and Drum Hardware
The kit comes in one box. Yes, you read that correctly. When I first got the package I was a little concerned that a package like that could not adequately protect my investment. It was rather heavy as well. After I started opening the box, I no longer felt that way. Everything in the box is well packed and well organized. Every piece in the box is bagged and either packed with styrofoam (Cymbals) or fitted cardboard inserts (rack bars).
As I took everything out of the packing material, I did a visual inspection of every part. Only two minor things caught my eye. First was, one of the screws on the back of the bass trigger tower was not tightened all the way. Easy fix, just used a screwdriver to tighten it down. The other thing that I saw was the bass drum trigger rim was not evenly tightened in to place. Again, an easy fix. I removed the rim and put it back on. Issue solved.
Setting Up The Rack
It has been awhile since I had to set-up a drum rack. This one took me a little time to set-up. Mainly, because I was trying to get everything in a good position as I went. The first thing when setting up the rack, you will have to locate a drum key. I recommend using the one that is provided by Alesis because it has a nice large sliding T-bar that is easy on the hand.
The rack has chrome plated steel bars and includes both metal and composite (fancy word for plastic) clamps. The upright bars act as cymbal stands as well (nice touch). The metal clamps are used for the main structure of the rack. The composite clamps are used for the “L” mounts, module mount, and the hi-hat cymbal arm. I really like the metal clamps on this rack. It is not really touted as a feature, but you could feed your cabling through the rack tubes because of how the clamps are made (see picture).
Admittedly, I’m not a big fan of composite (plastic) clamps. Over all the clamps work well. With that said, I would like to see Alesis make one small change to the composite clamps. Drop the plastic wing nut and replace it with a standard square drum screw. My reason for this is the fact that the base of the wing screw is tapered. When you try to really cinch it down, the taper ends up cracking the clamp. It does this because the base of the wing screw can’t touch the inside shoulder of the hole (see pictures). The wing screw taper is too large to fit all the way down to the shoulder so, it ends up cracking the edge of the hole. This isn’t a problem with the opposite side screw because, standard drum screws have a flanged base that sits nicely on the shoulder inside the hole. Not to worry however. By adding a couple flat washers under the wing screw, it resolves this problem (see pictures). The washers make the composite clamps a little harder to get on, but now I can tighten them rock solid.
Drum and Cymbal Triggers
I found the drum and cymbal triggers to have a very solid feel (build wise). I think the cymbals are fantastic! You get Alesis Surge cymbals with this kit. If you like the feel of acoustic cymbals you will love these triggers. Each cymbal boom (and hi-hat) come with an anti-rotation device (See pictures). The acoustic noise is about the same as a plain plastic practice cymbal, which tends to be louder then a rubberized cymbal trigger. Just something to keep in mind. The acoustic noise level is not a problem in my house, but for those who live in apartment with thin walls, it might be problematic.
At first my impression of the the drum triggers was not that great. I think a lot of that had to do with the fact that I knew some on the web have changed out the sensing system to be use with mesh heads. I do think the rubber on the rims is way too soft. Because of this, if you are a heavy hitter, they are not going to last long. Mine were starting to spilt after a couple hours of heavy use. Not a big deal for me. I like them better without the soft rubber rims anyway (can be seen in picture below).
Well, what about the drums themselves? I feel the 8 inch drum pads are a bit small compared to what I am use to. The 10 inch pads I feel are a good size and I would have been happier with 10 inch pads all around. Again, I didn’t think this was that big of a deal. I could always just buy two more 10 inch pads from Alesis when they start selling them. My first impression when I started playing on the pads (without headphones and without the module turn on) was that they acoustically sounded like a thicker REMO practice pad. As I kept playing, I couldn’t help but think I was hitting a plastic bowl filled with foam. Keep in mind I’m not describing the feel of the pad, but the sound was making me believe they felt like a plastic bowl. After I turned the module on and put my headphones on, I was quite surprised! I found that the sound you hear when play actually makes a difference on how you perceive a trigger pads feel. I now noticed that the trigger actually had good rebound. A lot like an acoustic drum but a tad stiffer. I would say they felt like a cross between a rubber pad and an acoustic drum. Softer then rubber but harder than acoustic drums. They really are not that bad to play on. Are they as good as mesh? No, but they do the job really well.
The kick is made the same as the drum triggers. The acoustic sound level of the bass trigger is a tad loud but, much quieter than acoustic drums. I felt the bass trigger had a good solid feel when played and it did feel pretty close to a real bass drum. My favorite part about the bass trigger was the velcro on the bottom of the tower. You put that down on a rug and it will not move. No spikes needed. I thought this was a great feature.
When you open the bag containing the cables, you will notice that it is a cable snake. Each cable in the snake is sized (length) for the standard placement of each trigger. Depending on how you see things, a cable snake is a fantastic idea, or it is a horrid idea. I think the cable snake is great for those who like the “out of the box simplicity”. If you like having things set-up in an unconventional way, you will most likely not like the cable snake. You might find some of the cables a tad short.
Conclusion to Unpacking and Drum Hardware
Over all, I am very happy with this kit. I would give this portion of the review an 8 out of 10. I think the above issues that I mentioned are very minor and are easily over shadowed when you consider what you get for the money. If you are using the kit as is, I believe that you would be please with your purchase. If you are a DIY’er, you will be more than please because of the possibilities that this package gets you. As a DIY’er it would be easy to change the stock drum pads to a mesh style if that is what you like. Get new cabling and run it through the rack pipes. Change out the composite clamps with metal ones and add to the rack with standard drum rack hardware. And as a DIY’er, Alesis kind of helps you out in the sense that you will end up with four extra 1/4″ instrument cables. They come with the Surge cymbals, but are not needed if you use the supplied cable snake.
In part two of this review I will go over the DM10 module itself. The ins and outs and the good and the bad so, check back later.