The Alesis Nitro is an entry-level electronic drum set aimed at beginners and drummers on a budget. This kit can be purchased for a relatively low price considering all of the features it comes with and that will surely appeal to any potential drummers not wanting to break the bank. On the scale of things, this is a very cheap kit price-wise, considering that many high-end electronic drum sets can fetch well over $5,000. For the money, Alesis have produced an impressive and lightweight drum set that will be popular amongst the old and young alike. Let’s get into the meat of our Alesis Nitro review.
First impressions are that Alesis have done a great job keeping the size of this kit down. It all folds down to take up a minimum of space. It’s similar to another Alesis drum set, the DM Lite in that it can be transported quite effortlessly. This is a five piece drum set with three cymbals, a drum rack, and a drum module. With this kit, they’ve really doubled down on what is actually important and cut out the noise.
The drum pads themselves are of the rubber variety. There’s no room for fancy mesh drum heads here when you’re working with a budget of a few hundred dollars. The three tom pads are single-zoned, meaning there is only one trigger on the pad. You can’t get any sound from playing on the rims. When it comes to the snare, Alesis have opted to make it a dual-zone pad. This lends itself to far more dynamic possibilities as you have another trigger on the pad to play with.
The pads are all 8 inches in diameter, which is not too bad considering competing kits on the market at this price range. They feel well built and are a considerable weight. There is an input on each pad which is used to connect up to the Nitro drum module. The playing surface of each pad is a gum rubber material which is not unlike the surface of an average practice pad. When it comes to dynamic playing the pads are touch sensitive. The sensitivity is very basic but it’s much better than a single level response.
The bass drum is also a rubber pad and in this case it’s mounted to an upright bass drum tower. Cheaper Alesis drum sets do not come with this tower so this is a big advancement. With other kits such as the DM Lite, it consists of a beaterless pedal. This is connected to the module and triggers a sample once pressed. While this style of pedal is convenient, portable and cheaper to make, it does mean that you miss out on the realism and playability of a tower. Alesis have included a pedal to go with the Nitro set but you can also use any standard single pedal here either.
While the Nitro drum set comes with the above included, there are no other extras such as a drum throne, headphones or drum sticks. This is understandable considering the price of the Nitro kit, and in most cases you can pick these up for a minimal cost. The rack proved by Alesis is easy to setup and use. This rack is made up of 7 poles in total. These poles slot together to provide a stable housing for all the components, namely the pads, cymbals and drum module. There are 4 upright poles and 3 horizontal poles which, when connected, form the completed drum rack. Setting up is relatively easy and intuitive. Once you have the rack setup, next you can go about positioning the pads where you find best suits your playing style.
Alesis Nitro Review
The drum module is the part of the electronic drum set that provides the sound output. This module is compact and rests upon the Alesis drum rack provided. There are a total of 385 sounds and samples. This includes a selection of drum kits and playalong songs. There are 25 drum kits which are stored as presets on the module. Selecting these kits is easily achieved with the simplistic controls. Simply select the pad or kit you would like to change and use the scroll wheel to cycle through the soundbank. The style of kits available on the Nitro module are the usual sort ranging from standard rock and pop kits to electronic, jazz and percussive kits. Also included is the ability to store your own custom drum set configurations. There is space for up to 15 user kits. Storing kits isn’t hard and is always a popular option. It’s worth noting that many electronic drum sets in the sub-$500 price range do not offer this option.
Here’s a video showing the Alesis Nitro Kit in action:
The Nitro drum module is a nice little piece of kit and great value for money. Not only do you get 25 drum kits to choose from, you also get 60 playalong songs included too. These songs are made up of a variety of different styles, tempos and time signatures. There are songs to suit all style of drummer, from blues to jazz and reggae. The module allows you to change the tempo of each song which increases your options drastically. You can also play to a metronome if you like to practice your internal timing. On the whole, this module performs respectably and has the added benefit of allowing the user to store custom drum set configurations.
If you are into home recording and the use of digital audio workstations, then it will please you to know that the Nitro Kit is compatible here too. You can connect the module up to any PC or Mac and use it alongside Cubase, Reaper or any other major DAW. The Nitro kit can be used as a MIDI controller simply by connecting a cable to your laptop or desktop. Installation is easy and, once connected, all you have to do is enable the Nitro module as a MIDI controller in your computer settings.
The Alesis Nitro Kit is also expandable, which means if you are finding that you’d like to add more drums or cymbals to your setup, well then you can. There is room for a total of 2 more drum pads or cymbals on the Nitro module. If you choose to add another pad or two to your setup, you can fit them either on the front of the rack or to the side, beside the floor tom. Likewise if it’s more cymbals you’re after, you’ll find that there’s room on the rack for them too. Having an entry-level electronic drums set be expandable is a major bonus. Quite often drummers will grow bored with the typical five piece setup and want more drums to express themselves on. This expansion is not something that is available on all kits, so it proves to be a nice inclusion.
The addition of a bass drum pedal with the Nitro Kit means that’s one less thing you’ll need to worry about spending cash on. The pedal is adequate but not amazing. If you are familiar with drums, or have your own acoustic drum set already, then the chances are that you will have your own bass drum pedal already. Feel free to switch between the two to find which works best for you.
The snare drum is the most advanced pad on the Nitro Kit. This is a dual-zone drum allowing for more than one sound sample to be played. Some entry-level drum sets have only single-zoned pads and it can get a bit grating after a while when you don’t have much of a dynamic range with your snare drum.
When it comes to transportation, the Alesis Nitro Kit is quite a compact setup. You can easily plug out and fold up to allow you to carry the entire kit from room to room, if necessary. This is good news for parents who are considering purchasing for their kids. The fact that you can easily store away the Nitro Kit means it can be out of sight in minutes, should you need the space.
The cymbal response from the Nitro Kit is a bit limited. These are single-zone cymbals and they play like it too. They are quite small and lightweight which means they have a sort of flimsy feeling to play on. There’s a tad of flappy motion going on, especially if you are playing a fast song, for example. Cymbals on electronic drum sets tend to be the major downside. It’s extremely hard to replicate the nuance and response of a metal cymbal using plain old gum rubber.
Each cymbal pad is the same size so the ride and crash are the same size as the usually smaller hihat. The hi-hat itself is connected to a controller pedal. There is no hi-hat stand with the Nitro Kit so you must secure the hihat cymbal to the rack, just like the other cymbals. On the one hand this means that you can easily position the hihat independently of your foot. With a traditional pedal this is impossible as the pedal and hi-hat are aligned. Having independence here may help if you are setting this kit up for younger, smaller players but for experienced players it lacks in playability. The hi-hat pedal controls the triggering for the Nitro module samples. You can play the hihat in three positions; open, closed and half-open. More advanced electronic hi-hats have a great deal more positional response but of course you have to pay more. With the Nitro you are limited to three positions which can get a bit repetitive after a while of playing.
One more criticism of the Nitro Kit is that you will have to fork out for a few essentials alongside this purchase. There is no drum throne supplied with this kit. A cheap drum throne may set you back around $30 but for a really good one, expect to pay well over $100. If you’re coming to the Nitro Kit as an established acoustic drum set player then you’ll probably not be wanting another throne anyway. A set of headphones will also be required unless you are planning on plugging the Nitro Kit into a powered amp of some sort. Also, bring your own sticks, as Alesis have chosen not to supply any with the Nitro Kit.
The build of the Nitro Kit means that ideally it will most likely not hold up to much travel on the road. It will sit nicely in a bedroom or study and has the advantage of being easy to fold away. If space is a premium and you are looking for a cheap beginner kit, then check out the Alesis DM Lite drum set too. This kit is tailor made for transportation and actually retails at less than the Nitro Kit. Also Roland offer the TD-4KP which is an electronic kit with portability as a priority. The TD-4KP even folds up into 2 carry cases, making it ideal for those drummers who rely on public transportation to get around.
If you like what you hear about the Alesis Nitro set and it falls within your budget then all in all it’s not a bad buy. It has plenty of features that will keep you occupied from custom kits to play along song tracks. It’s a good kit for beginners and drummers who just need a basic practice kit with sounds. It’s perhaps not quite up to the wears and tears of gigging although it should get you through a music recital or band practice with no major issues.
It’s also worth mentioning that if you like the features of the Alesis Nitro Kit but prefer mesh drum heads then you are in luck. They also have the Alesis Nitro Mesh Kit to suit this demand. This is practically the same kit but with four mesh heads instead of rubber ones. The nice thing too about this kit is it comes in at a relatively cheap price when compared to equivalent models by other brands.
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