Electronic drum kits have waxed and waned in popularity over the years. Some drummers wonder whether they are worth the money or not. Especially so when it comes to brands beyond the firmly established electronic music giant Roland.
I guess it’s because of this sentiment that Alesis has put a lot of work into the Strike Pro. Their aim was to create a truly professional electronic kit that is able to perform as well as top of the line acoustic kits. What we are looking to find out is: have they achieved that goal? This Alesis Strike Pro review is going to answer that question.
Alesis Strike Pro Review at one Glance
What’s in the Box?
When you unbox the Alesis Strike Pro, the first thing you will notice is the size of the thing. This is not a small kit!
Included in the box are:
- the Strike Performance module
- (1) 14” kick drum pad
- (1) 14” dual-zone snare drum pad
- a 8”, 10”, 12” and 14” dual-zone tom pad each
- (1) 16” triple-zone ride cymbal
- (3) 14” dual-zone crash cymbals w/choke
- (1) 12” movable hi-hat cymbals
- Premium 4-post chrome rack
- Double braced snare drum stand
- Drum sticks
So the only thing not included are the pedals for the kick drum as well as the Hi-Hat stand and you’d have to buy them separately or use your existing gear (which should be fully compatible).
Note: This is what you’ll get in the box with the “Eleven-Piece Strike Kit“. If you opt for the – less pricey – eight piece kit – you WON’T get the 14” drum pad and one 14” dual-zone crash instead of three. To my mind, this is up to your particular setup taste. In terms of quality, this doesn’t make a difference to the kit and all my following remarks will apply to both versions of the Strike Pro.
The heads are large and authentic-looking. They are designed to be like real drum heads in terms of surface area, and are also intended to mimic the feel of acoustic drums. The cymbals are not full-size (they are crescent-shaped rather than circle-shaped), but their surface area is impressive nonetheless.
The kick drum is sizable, and gives some good resistance to the kick pedal. This is maybe the greatest strength of this kit — the way it responds to being hit. Because of its size and weight (and the makeup of the drum heads) these things really look, feel, and sound like the real thing.
The Strike Module
The Strike performance module has some awesome features.This module sports a 4.3 inch color LED screen, which all by itself may be worth the cost. Images are clear and vibrant, and while this feature may not make you play better, it just might make you more likely to play more. I mean, who doesn’t love great tech, right?
The module has on-board sampling capabilities, which means that the module itself can sample audio. In addition, its USB/MIDI connectivity and SD card storage ability are designed with professional audio production software in mind, opening a whole world of audio processing and MIDI manipulation. This may not appeal to every drummer, but it could change the whole game for some of us.
Modules may not make the drummer, but they do in some aspects, make the machine; and this because of this module, this (drum) machine is top notch.
The Alesis Strike’s Sounds
The Alesis Strike Pro module houses a library of sounds that is impressive in both scope and depth, to put it mildly.
110 distinct (and newly designed) kits have been assembled from 1600 instruments, each multi-sampled (meaning that more than one sample was taken of each instrument to ensure accuracy and completeness). But it doesn’t matter how many sounds there are if they don’t sound good, and by that measure, the Strike Pro comes out with a home run once again.
Its kits are dynamic, responsive, and life-like in ways that old electronic samples couldn’t come close to. You may not find yourself using all 110, but the ones that you do use will satisfy you greatly. Hear it in action here:
This is what you get when you go Pro: unparalleled sound quality. More than any other feature, this is the one that drives the price of the unit up (in my opinion this is the one that makes the unit worth that price). Do I think it matters if you spend the extra money and get a top of the line piece of equipment? Well, it may not make you play like Mike Portnoy, but it will make you sound more professional right out of the box. And if that makes you play more, makes you practice more, makes you perform more, then it’s hard to put a price on that.
The Feel of the Pads
This is what so many players ask me about electronic drum kits: How does it feel?
Even if we know that we will be hitting electronic pads, what we really care about is how close those pads come to feeling like the real deal. It may not (yet) be possible to copy exactly the way a real drum feels, but the best kits come very close. Good electronic kits succeed at not only delivering great midi ability (which adds impressive flexibility to the instrument) but also in replicating the sounds and feel of real-life drum kits (which is what drove me, and probably you, to play electronic drums in the first place). The Alesis Strike Pro is one of those kits.
The first thing to notice is the size of the drum pads on this thing. They are real-life, full-size pads, with all of the room of real drum heads. The cymbals offer a bell area that is larger than most, in order to help you get a range of feels and sounds out of them (just like the real thing).
Beyond the impressive size of these drums are their responsiveness. They react and feel almost exactly the way real drum heads do. You don’t have to sacrifice much in the way of feel with these guys, and you even gain a whole lot in other areas.
Overall, these things feel great. If you want something that is 100 percent exactly like an acoustic kit, then maybe you should buy an acoustic kit; but if you want a close approximation to those kits, with a whole lot of functional bells and whistles, then the Strike Pro is a great option, even at its price.
How good is the Strike Pro? When I play a kit, I don’t just want it to be good, I want it to be fully professional. And for the price of this kit, that’s what I expected. The question is — with all of its features, what are its real pros?
The Strike Pro has two huge things going for it — feel and sound quality. Both of these things are subjective, and not all players will agree with me, but when I play this thing, the feel and sound impresses me to no end.
In the video above, notice how responsive the drums seem to be to his strikes. And notice how nuanced the sounds of the kit are. The people at Alesis have really gone out of their way to put together some great sample libraries.
When you hit one of these drum heads, it isn’t like hitting one of those old-school electronic drums (where the stick never seemed to bounce back the way it was supposed to). Here, it is as though you are hitting a real snare, a real tom… just like you are kicking a real kick drum.
I couldn’t find anything wrong with this kit, to be honest, but here are two that may be considered cons by some: the price and its cymbals.
The price of this kit is, for some, prohibitive. It isn’t a cheap thing, and you might wonder why it is worth spending this much on an electronic kit when you can get a great acoustic kit for the same or even less. This is a real concern for some people… but when you consider what you’re getting for the price — the drums plus the high-quality module — it isn’t so bad, really. Still, this is a major drawback for some. Is the kit worth it? Well, that’s up to you. I think it is, but not everyone might agree.
The other con for me is the cymbal action. In general, this kit feels great, but it is still an electronic kit, and it does sport the traditional crescent-shaped faux cymbals (the sort of half-circle-shaped electronic pads you may be used to seeing as the cymbals on electronic drum kits). They sound great — as real as they could be — but of course, they don’t feel the way a real cymbal feels. It isn’t possible to get that action without the cymbal itself — the metal that moves and gives and bounces. So, are these bad cymbals? Not by any stretch of the imagination, but they do lack something, and that may be important to you.
Is this product ready to use out of the box?
Yes and No. It comes with everything you need to use the kit, as long as you don’t need to use the pedals (and provided that you have an amp). It does not come with any pedals or amplification. Pedals are sold by Alesis separately and you need to provide your own amp.
How do you amplify this kit?
The kit will need a PA or keyboard amp to run through.
Does it come with pedals?
No, it doesn’t come with hi-hat or kick drum pedals. These are sold separately.
First, there are other Alesis products. These are generally cheaper than the Strike Pro, but they are great nonetheless. These include the Alesis Strike and the Alesis DM10X kits. Both of these kits are solid, and neither of them will hurt your pocket as much as the Pro.
Second, there are similar products by other brands. If you want to check out a comparable one here, you might want to check out the Roland TD-11K – it’s even slightly less expensive than the Strike Pro. If you want to go super-high quality (and a bit more expensive) see the Roland TD-30K.
My Final Opinion
Overall, the Alesis Strike Pro is an extremely high quality kit. I would absolutely recommend it, to electronic kit enthusiasts as well as acoustic players, if they can afford it. In every case in which I had the money to buy this kit, I would do so. It’s that good. There’s just really nothing wrong with it, and it has so many great features and feels and sounds so good that it’s a hard instrument to pass up.
So there you have my Alesis Strike Pro review. Do you have a similar opinion on this kit? Do you disagree? Feel free to share your questions, comments, experiences, and criticisms below.