Drums are an essential part of music. They provide the rhythmic foundation in most of the music we listen to and also add cohesiveness by supplying the appropriate dynamics. Additionally, they are very exciting to play, making them one of most fun instruments available. For these reasons, they are extremely popular. Not everyone can have a full acoustic kit in their homes though, as they are bulky, inconvenient, and make a lot of noise. This is where electronic drum sets come in. They offer a more compact footprint, drastically reduce the amount of noise generated, and present a lot of flexibility and features. Alesis has been in the market since the eighties and has democratized the concept. In their current lineup, the Turbo Mesh Kit offers a great value for your money, thanks to quality features and a small price tag.
Check out this short video of the Turbo Mesh Kit to hear how it sounds and my first impressions of the unit.
Alesis Turbo is centred on a Premium feature
The heart of the Alesis Turbo is the 8 inch mesh pads for the snare, two rack toms, and floor tom. Mesh pads offer a more realistic experience over rubber ones. You can actually adjust the tension to dial in the amount of bounce you want or need. For beginners and experienced players alike, this is an important characteristic, fostering proper technique in the wrists and forearms. All four of them are single-zone, so no, there is no possibility of rim shots on the snare.
You get three 10″ cymbal pads. These give you a hi-hat, crash, and ride. These are also single-zone, so you won’t physically get access to other sounds such as the ride’s bell. That being said, I did notice that if you hit the ride hard enough, you’ll activate a bell sample. While this isn’t the most natural way of doing it, it’s still possible.
The foot pedals are spring-mounted units. These provide functionality, but they don’t offer the realism of a real kick pedal and hi-hat mechanism that some more expensive kits have. This is especially important for the bass drum; the beater’s impact on the head is an integral part of the experience and will be missed by more experienced players. I’ve noticed that the contact point is just above the bottom position on both pedals, which might result in unwanted activations. This didn’t seem to affect the playing immersion and time keeping though.
Easy to use module
The module of the Turbo Mesh Kit is very simple and intuitive. A dozen buttons control the kit selection, click, drum coach, and backing track activation. There are 10 built-in presets, two of which are percussion sets. The drums range from big rock drums to tight, groovy kits. While the sound quality is good, I’ve heard better sounding banks in other products. The sampling is slightly noisy too, especially when using headphones. I get the feeling that things start to distort at a certain volume, and if many samples are firing at the same time. You also can’t edit any of the individual instruments in any way or mix and match elements from one kit to another.
Integrated drum coach
In addition to an integrated metronome, there is a drum coach feature. This is a neat way of working on your skills. One of the modes analyzes how late or ahead of the beat you are and will help you hone in on your time keeping. Another mode is the gradual up/down, which will accelerate and slow down the tempo for you, forcing you to concentrate on the click as much as you can to develop time keeping.
Many preset tracks
There are 30 built-in preset tracks that you can listen to and learn. These are short and feature various styles. Thanks to the Drum Mute option in the drum coach, you can play along by muting various instruments in the percussion to learn the grooves yourself, or even try to come up with a beat of your own if you mute everything. This is a very fun and creative way of experiencing music. You’ll also develop your rhythmic listening skills in this fashion.
The module has many different connections that can be very useful. First of all, there are separate stereo outputs for the headphones and main outs. You’ll be able to connect the Turbo Mesh Kit to a PA or amplifier or simply use headphones for your needs. You also get a USB output. This means you’ll be able to interface with third-party sound banks and/or plugins. This is great for creating your own songs and drum beats, using the realistic feeling mesh pads.
An ideal practice/learning tool
The Turbo Mesh Kit is clearly aimed at either beginners or players that seek an inexpensive alternative to their practice pad. It’s really hard to argue with the price and value of the mesh pads. Newcomers will reap the benefits of starting out with a realistic instrument and develop their technique accordingly. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said at the feet, since you’ll be dealing with spring loaded pedals. The drum coach is another added bonus, since you’ll be able to supplement private lessons with a fun and interactive feature to work on your timekeeping.
Players with some experience will appreciate the mesh heads, but also the fact that you can tighten or loosen them up to your liking. This will preserve the technique you’ve worked really hard to acquire. In general, it’s way more satisfying to practise on an electronic drum kit than a simple rubber pad. It’s also a great alternative to a loud, bulky acoustic kit in the basement.
Speaking of volume, the sound of the impact on the pads isn’t very significant. That being said, the pounding still translates through the kit into the walls and floor. I recommend setting up over a thick carpet or even a rubber mat to reduce complaints. This is especially important if you live with neighbours below you.
If you’re interested in trying out drumming for yourself, this is an inexpensive way of doing so and without bothering your housemates. You get all the essentials, quality pads, and some fun features to explore. You’ll even be able to interface with a computer to greatly expand the tonal possibilities.
Make sure to check out the Turbo Mesh Kit on Best Buy’s website.