Alesis has expanded its line of electronic drumsets by upgrading the mid-level Command series kit to include mesh-head toms in place of the previously used rubber pads, in addition to the mesh-head snare and kick. Despite being a budget-friendly kit, the Command Mesh setup doesn’t skimp on performance and features.
What’s in the Box?
The Command Mesh kit ships with an 8″ kick (with a pedal), a 10″ dual-zone snare, three 8″ dual-zone toms, a 10″ ride cymbal pad, a 10″ crash, and a 10″ hi-hat with a foot pedal. All of the drums have mesh heads, and the ride and crash pads have choke capabilities. The included Command Advanced Drum Module features seventy-four kits (fifty-four presets and twenty for user customization) and 671 sounds. You can also build a full custom kit by loading in your own samples via a USB thumb drive. There are sixty play-along tracks within the module, and it has a built-in performance recorder, a metronome, and an auxiliary input so you can plug in and practice along to your own audio devices.
The entire kit mounts on an aluminum four-post chrome rack with a snake of cables that attach to the rack with included hook-and-loop fasteners. Including unboxing, I had the kit completely set up within seventy minutes.
Pads, Cymbals, and Pedals
The mesh-head pads offered a great feel and plenty of rebound, and the soft mesh made for minimal contact noise, which is ideal for quiet practice. Even though the snare was only 10″ in diameter and the toms were 8″, I didn’t find the sizes to be problematic. And they do contribute to a more compact stage footprint, which makes this kit ideal for smaller practice rooms and stages. The bass drum pad stood up firmly and can accommodate any pedal, but the included one got the job done just fine.
The rubber-coated plastic cymbal pads played as expected; there’s always an adjustment in technique needed to accommodate the more rigid feel of electronic cymbal pads as compared to acoustic cymbals. The choke function took some getting used to as well; there was a relatively small zone to grab, and it was a bit tough to achieve consistency. The cymbals and the cymbal inputs are single-zone, so if you wanted to add a ride with a second zone at the bell, you would have to connect it to the additional dual-zone tom input.
The Command Module is simple to navigate, and it’s identical to the one included with the pricier Alesis Crimson II kit. Customizing the preset kits didn’t require reading the manual in order to figure out how to select a pad, change the sound, and edit its volume, panning, pitch, reverb, or decay.
You can load your own sounds into the module from a USB flash drive, but the drive needs to be formatted to a FAT32 file system, which can be done through the module. The module can hold 15 MB of files internally, or you can trigger sounds from the USB drive, thereby increasing the available memory. I was able to upload a few samples and build a new kit just as quickly and easily as when I was modifying kits using just the onboard sounds.
I wasn’t optimistic about the hi-hat, since it wasn’t designed with two plates that come together, like a conventional hi-hat. But aside from a little lag in response when doing quick fills, I was able to get the hi-hat to work well in most patterns. Per Alesis, the hi-hat input on this module won’t support an upgraded hi-hat like the Pro X hi-hat from the Strike series. The overall sensitivity of all the pads on the Command Mesh kit wasn’t quite at the level you’d get from a pro-level kit, especially towards the edges. But the mesh heads still provide a huge improvement in subtlety over the rubber pads typically found on kits in this price range.
The Alesis Command Mesh drumkit is an affordable entry point at less than a third of the cost of Alesis’s professional-level Strike Pro. So if you’re looking into getting a simple electronic set for at-home practice, you’re dabbling with electronics for the first time, or your church or theater gig demands an electronic kit at a budget price, the Command Mesh model will get the job done. Even with such a competitive price ($699), it offers plenty of features, a relatively realistic feel, and a solid onboard library of customizable sounds.