Alesis_Turbo Mesh Electronic Drum Kit

The Alesis Turbo Mesh Drum Kit is designed to be affordable for entry level drummers or people who want to drum at home on a budget. It’s a feature-packed kit for the price, and you get a nice set of hardware for less than $400, which is hard to complain about. However, with the low price comes some limitations. Let’s check out the details of this budget electronic drum kit from Alesis.

 

5 Drum Pads & 3 Cymbal Pads

Let’s take a look at the pads first. Alesis had a history of using hard rubber pads on their budget kits, but now they are incorporating the use of mesh pads even on their budget kits like this one. This is great news! The four main drum pads (snare/toms) use a mesh drum head for a more realistic feel while playing.

Mesh heads provide a more natural rebound and tension feel when striking the drum head than a hard rubber pad will provide. Mesh heads also generate less acoustic noise and are much quieter for your neighbors, roommates or family while you are practicing. The cymbals are made from a hard rubber that feels more like a practice pad when striking with a stick or kick pedal.

  • An 8-inch mesh snare pad – This is a single zone snare pad, the rim doesn’t generate a separate sound.
  • 3x 8-inch tom pads – All tom pads are single zone and can only generate sound by striking the pad area.
  • A 10-inch crash cymbal pad – This pad is single-zone with no choke/mute.
  • A 10-inch ride cymbal – This pad is single zone – playing it harder triggers the bell sound.
  • A 10-inch hi-hat cymbal – This pad is single zone.

As you can see, most of these pads are designed for beginner players that might not require dual-zone pads for more complicated drum kit setups and soundscapes. There are no dual zone pads on this kit. The crash cymbal pad doesn’t even include a choke for doing hand mutes on the crash. The lack of a dual zone ride cymbal means you can’t have a separate sound when hitting the bell vs the main part of the cymbal pad. To get the “bell” sound from the ride cymbal pad you simply strike it harder.

Compared to other drum kits, the lack of dual zone pads all around the kit will feel like a limitation if you want to have a more complex kit sound with more options for sound variations. But for beginners or those who don’t mind simple drum kit setups, the single zone pads might not be much of a drawback.

The mesh heads on the drum pads have an excellent feel and you can adjust the tension individually on each pad to create an experience that feels more natural for your playing style. This is one of the benefits of mesh drum pads in general.

The hard rubber cymbal pads feel like any other basic cymbal pad, they are best compared to a practice pad in terms of how they feel when striking with a stick. When wearing headphones and immersed in the sound, the cymbals have a good feel.

There is also no kick pad, the kick is triggered by pressing on the electronic kick pedal which generates the sound – much like the hi-hat pedal. This could be a drawback for those who want a more natural feeling kick pedal experience.

The Rack

The stand for this kit is fairly basic and has a smaller overall footprint compared to other drum kits out there, but that’s to be expected since this is intended as a starter kit. The poles on the rack are made from aluminum, and are lightweight and sturdy. The braces and connectors are made from a tough plastic.

The stand is good enough, and supports the drum pads and module well, but depending on who you ask they might say they find the stand to be either just good enough or that it feels cheap. The stand should be considered sufficient for an entry level kit like this one, but it’s definitely not on the same level as the more expensive kits out there.

Sturdiness

Overall kit sturdiness might depend on your playing style, especially for this entry level kit. For people who have a lighter playing style, they should find this kit to feel plenty sturdy. Pads can be hit hard and in general you’re going to have a hard time knocking this over or moving the pads out of place with force while playing. If you play hard rock or metal you might push this kit more to the limits. It will wobble and shake a little while you hammer on it, but it won’t fall apart as long as you fastened everything securely during setup.

Maybe the best way to sum up the sturdiness of this kit is that drummers tend to be surprised at how sturdy it feels for the price and overall size/footprint, but more discerning players who play harder and have higher expectations for hard play find it to feel a little cheap or wobbly.

Feel and Playability

Considering it’s budget price, this kit is quite playable. When comparing to more expensive electronic kits, it can look like it comes up short in a few areas. Let’s take a quick look at playability.

The mesh pads are the main feature for this kit, especially in it’s price range. The mesh heads provide a very natural feel when striking the drum pads. The tension of the heads can also be adjusted to suit what feels best for your, whether it’s a tighter or looser drum head feel.

The smaller size of the drum pads can be a drawback for some players, especially the 8 inch snare drum. Some drummers who play this kit feel like the smaller drum pad radius is a drawback since it’s a smaller hit target than a normal snare drum, for example.

The rims of the drum pads also sit slightly higher than the typical rim of a real drum, be it a snare or tom. Some drummers who play this kit say that it can take some getting used to when learning how to play this particular kit.

The lack of a dual zone ride cymbal also means that you will need to get used to playing a ride bell sound by striking the pad harder, which some drummers may or may not like.

The kick drum drum pedal is electronic and doesn’t require a pad. It works, but it doesn’t have the natural feel of a real kick drum pedal striking a kick drum or a drum pad.

The hit hat pedal is electronic and has a springy feel to it. It might take some getting use to the feel compared to a real hi-hat stand and pedal, but it works well enough for this particular kit for it’s price.

The kit can be adjusted enough to create a comfortable playing setup for most players. There isn’t a huge range in terms of how you can set up this particular kit on it’s stand, but it’s good enough that it can be adjusted well for shorter or taller people or different playing styles.

Double Bass?

There is no way to use a standard kick pedal on this kit including double bass pedals. For this reason, you won’t be able to use a double bass on this kit. We recommend looking at the Nitro Mesh or higher level drum kits if you require double bass.

The Turbo Drum Module

The included drum module is designed specifically for the Turbo electronic drum kits from Alesis. It’s designed to provide enough sounds and features to get up and running without being overly complicated. It’s simple to a fault, so if you want to be able to tweak sounds and kits and do more advanced configuration, you’ll find this module to be very limiting.

Interface

The screen with bright lettering makes everything easy to see. Buttons are set up so that it’s easy to start switching between the kits and adjust volumes. This sound module isn’t too hard to figure out, which is one of it’s benefits. It’s simplicity is also a limitation.

Scope of Sounds

The Turbo Drum Module will provide you with a small range of 120 sounds and 10 drum kits. The drum kits range from various types of acoustic sounding drums to electronic drum sounds. Overall, the scope of sounds is limiting compared to other budget kits, but good enough for a beginner kit like this.

Audio Inputs

This drum module allows you to hook up your cell phone or an MP3 player, or any audio source that can connect with a 3.5mm jack – so that you can jam along with anything you like.

Metronome

The module includes a built in metronome as a standard feature, which is easy to use. You can adjust tempo, volume and click tone and time signature easily. Always practice with a metronome!

Play Along Tracks

There are 30 tracks/patterns included to play along with. They are nothing to get too excited about, but they are there if you need something to practice with or to play along with.

Practice Features

This kit includes some basic features for practicing, mostly targeted at beginner drummers. There is a beat check feature that can tell you if you are staying in time or not, and give visual warnings when falling out of time. There are also gradual up/down features that ramp the tempo so that you can practice along with increasing speeds from slow to fast or vice-versa. Additionally, there is a rhythm change-up feature that let’s you play along with changing rhythm progressions, which helps you get used to jamming with evolving music.

Overall, these practice features alone aren’t a substitute for lessons or learning general drumming theory and technique, but they are nice for beginners to get them on the right track.

Tweaking Sounds and Kits

There’s really no way to adjust the sounds or change the drum kits on the Turbo Drum Module. You aren’t able to do things like changing the individual sounds in the kits, or even adjusting the volume of each sound in the kit individually. It’s pretty basic. If you want to be able to tweak your sounds more more, we recommend looking at higher level drum kits.

Tweaking Pad Settings

Due to the basic nature of the sound module, you aren’t able to tweak any pad settings like sensitivity and velocity, etc. You’ll have to play this kit as it plays out of the box. Once again, if you feel this would be a limitation since you would prefer to be able to tweak and adjust how the pads play, you may want to look at other higher level kits.

Connections

The Nitro Drum Module provides a few different connections to help expand the capabilities and to interface with other hardware:

  • Cable Snake Connection – the cable snake connects on the bottom of the drum module, and is a bundle of cables that connects all the included drum pads.
  • Main Outputs – Left and right 1/4″ TRS outputs
  • Aux In – 3.5mm or 1/8″ stereo cable input for MP3 players or any other audio device.
  • MIDI In/Out – Inputs and outputs to connect to external MIDI devices. Use other MIDI devices to play sounds on the drum module or to play other MIDI instruments with the drum pads and drum kit.
  • USB – For connecting to a computer to send MIDI information.
  • Power – Standard power adapter connection for included power adapter.
  • Headphones – Dedicated output for headphones.

Headphone Output Levels

The general consensus from owners of this kit is that the headphones volume doesn’t go loud enough. This can be an issue for those that like to crank the sound up. Keep this in mind if you like loudness on your headphones, you might need to use an additional headphone amplifier to get the sound levels up.

Expandability

This is another area where this kit is lacking. There’s no way to add more pads or triggers due to the limitations of the sound module. If you will want to be able to expand your kit by adding new pads in the future, we’d recommend looking at other drum kits with more expandable sound modules. The only way you’ll be able to expand this kit is by outputting the MIDI to another sound module and working with that.

Sound Quality and Sounds

This kit comes with a sufficient number of sounds and the sounds are actually quite good considering the price level of this kit. You’ll find the typical range of sounds with multiple snares, kicks, cymbals and toms. The sounds range from more classical acoustic sounds to modern electronic drum kit sounds. There’s also a good chunk of non-typical sounds that you can mix into the kits.

For a full list of sounds available on this module: Nitro Mesh Kit Voice List

The sounds provide a wide enough range to keep things interesting. With the ability to output to MIDI, you can hook this up to any other sound module or even a computer to so you aren’t restricted to playing just the sounds included on this kit.

Accessories

This kit tries to give you enough to get up and running instantly, but comes up short in the accessories area. That’s alright though considering the low price point, since if they would have included more accessories they’d probably just be cheap stuff that you’d want to replace right away anyways.

What’s Included

Outside of the rack, pads, module and cables, here’s what else is included:

  • A drum key – you will need this for assembly and for adjusting the kit and head tension.
  • Drum sticks – a pair of wood-tipped drum sticks are included.

That’s not much to work with. The drum key is great, I mean every drummer will need one of those regardless of what type of kit you have. The drum sticks aren’t that great. The sticks that are included are wood tipped, which isn’t necessarily the best option for mesh head electronic kits. You’ll be better off getting some nylon-tipped drum sticks to use with this kit.

What You’ll Need

Here’s what we recommend getting for accessories if you want to hit the ground running after setting up this drum kit:

  • Drum Throne
  • Nylon Tipped Drum Sticks
  • 3.5mm cable for connecting phone/MP3 player to aux inputs for jamming
  • Headphones
  • 1/4″ TRS cable and small audio amp if you want to play without headphones
  • Rug – A heavy rug that lays flat and doesn’t bunch up works best to keep things from sliding around – if you can’t place it on carpet. Think like entry door mat vs rug, for example.

Setup & Assembly

Setup is an area where many owners of this kit have frustrations. While it’s not a very complicated kit, but people who have set up this kit say the instructions are lacking and not very clear. It’s recommended to find some high quality product photos and analyze those along with the instructions when setting this up, just to make sure you are getting everything into the right spot.

Recommended Assembly Approach

The best way to approach assembly on this kit is to lay out all the pieces and work out which pieces will connect where before you start putting them together, which will help with avoiding backtracking. It’s not recommended to just dump out all the pieces and haphazardly dive into immediately setting this one up.

When setting it up, don’t connect everything tightly at first. Tighten pieces just enough to hold them into place while you move onto the next pieces. Once you get the majority of the kit assembled, you’ll want to spend a good chunk of time adjusting all the pieces and aligning them to your preferred configuration before tightening everything down. And with the amount of plastic on this kit and in the connectors on the rack, be careful of over tightening as well, and only tighten pieces to the point where they hold firmly in place.

Module Placement / Cable Snake

The length of the cables on the cable snake, which connect the module to the pads, are designed to work best when mounting the drum module on the left side like in the images of the drum kit that you see. You will find that if you try to mount the sound module on the opposite side of the kit that the cables might not be long enough to connect to everything properly.

Support

Alesis support appears to be hit or miss in recent years. Some people have good luck getting products replaced, some don’t have much luck. Keep this in mind when buying Alesis products.

Pros

  • It’s a budget drum kit from a brand name
  • Small overall footprint
  • Simple, easy to use drum module for beginners
  • Mesh drum heads
  • Expandable via MIDI outputs

Cons

  • The basic drum module doesn’t allow for much adjustment of sounds
  • Lack of dual zone pads anywhere on the kit
  • Lack of kick pad with a real kick pedal
  • Small drum pads and slightly higher rims provide tougher to hit targets
  • Low headphone output volume

We recommend the Alesis Turbo Mesh kit only for the most beginner drummers and entry level drummers, or for people experimenting with getting into drumming.

If you are a discerning drummer whatsoever, we feel that you should take a serious look instead at the Alesis Nitro Mesh Kit in the budget kit range – it has a more advanced sound module, more zones on the pads and a kick pad that can use a real kick pedal.

Check Pricing or Buy

Overall, for the price, this electronic drum kit is a low risk investment. It will provide a beginner with a pretty nice setup for learning and practicing on without breaking the bank. It will provide a more budget conscious drummer with a sufficient kit as well, with a few drawbacks as mentioned in our review.