Striking A Fine Balance
In this post we will cover the highs and mid lows. Please do your research and remember that all software is liable to have bugs. A good customer oriented brand will eventually address and iron out these issues.
Sounds + Kit Load Speed + Ease of Use
Out of the box, I immediately updated the firmware via USB to version 1.4.0. The instructions to do this are found here. In all, this took about 5-10 minutes and was specifically released to improved the hi-hat feel based on community feedback. I can attest to this and confirm the update is worth the minimal effort. A USB Male A to B cord is required. We will touch more on this later.
The module boots up within 7 seconds and at night the back lit buttons are a super nice touch. I immediately purchased a glass and scratch resistant screen protector for the 4.3 inch color screen. My thought was that accidents can and do happen. Protect your investment by buying a screen protector made for a larger model cell phone. Cut it down to size and apply by following the instructions on the package.
I recommend this to all users. A cracked or damaged screen decreases the resale value, leaves it susceptible to the elements, and adds navigation frustration.
For sound testing, I mainly played through amplified headphones (recommended). If you are testing this module in a store, know that the kits will sound a bit distant and lack focal clarity. If you are offered headphones, see if instead you can hook into a drum monitor or PA system.
The sounds are fantastic. I found myself happily playing more than my typical 3-5 kits. Subsequently, I never did import samples. The included sounds and as well as the additional kits received when updating the firmware were that good. The Alesis DM10 was good for its time but it really pales in comparison now. I had a chance to play both modules within a few days of each other and I would never go back. As a matter of fact, I typically bypass the internal sounds of the DM10 for a professionally recorded VST. Trust me when I say that a VST is 100% optional and overkill for the Alesis Strike Pro Module.
The module headphone jack is 1/4” so you may need to purchase an adapter for standard headphones. Higher end headphones will typically include this adapter.
Navigate by scrolling through drum kits with a simple twist of the wrist. When you stop scrolling, the kit loads in about two and a half seconds. I had zero problems with this. I would not call this latency as I assume the CPU is determining that by pausing, I am interested in loading a specific kit. Testing drums inputs is a breeze as the screen visually displays which input is triggering like your favorite recording VST software. I did notice that I had to slide the faders higher than I would have thought to get my desired sound level. The fader build was fine. The thought did not cross my mind that in the future these would become troublesome. The buttons were buttons, I do not have much to say other than they were as responsive as I could have hoped. Making edits to kits was not overly hard. I was able to figure this out without referencing the manual which shouts intuitive.
Screen Clarity + Build Quality
Overall the unit is impressive. The build is solid and actually leaning slightly towards the heavier side. What I loved is that this did not use a cable snake or pin connector. I had all the inputs I wanted and then some. At the time of testing I had an 9pc kit with two acoustic cymbals. A slight low is the drum module does not support Bluetooth. Playing along to personal tracks required an aux cord. I could have also potentially loaded content via the SD card but did not find this to be an immediate need. The screen is color but no one is going to brag about 19 million pixels. Off axis viewing leaves a bit to be desired but when will you ever really be off axis except during initial setup.
The Next 3 Years
When investing in electronic or hybrid drums, the best way to think is long term. In three years, will I be satisfied with my purchase today. Obviously this is hard to project but it is better to wait for the right setup than to compromise now. More and more companies are offering alternatives so do your research throughly. Here is one good thing about instruments in general. If you choose to jump in now, your life isn’t over. Instruments seem to retain their value better than most other purchases.
Should you buy this drum module?
Alesis Strike Pro Module vs. Roland TD-25 or TD-50
In most cases yes. It comes in at less than half the price with most of the features. I will say that I am not a huge fan of the flagship Roland module. It looks ancient but I cannot deny that it performs. The hi-hat settings are still said to be superior however as a person who enjoys minimal design, astetically I have an extremely difficult time overlooking the layout and use of real estate. Furthermore the mini screen really bothers me. I would compare this to those not so long ago Subaru in car infotainment systems. In 2010 these would make sense. Then jump into a Tesla or Dodge Ram which have cornered the market with bigger touch screens. My conclusion is bigger is better when it comes to consumer dial and touch interaction.
Alesis Strike Pro Module vs. Pearl Mimic Pro
I would choose the Strike module if I was price conscious but still needed gig worthy gear. The Strike module works well with 3rd party drums and triggers if you are pricing a hybrid setup. I do recommend that you stick to the Alesis Pro Hi-Hat for compatibility and full functionality as well their own branded cymbals. Other cymbals will work but may not function as well.
I would choose the Mimic Pro Module if I needed to ensure cross drum and cymbal pad compatibility. This module may be for users who already have a setup and just want to upgrade the brain. If you need help choosing between the 3. I would start with the Pearl Mimic Pro over the Roland. Its more powerful, modern, and should have the ability to add additional features via updates. If you can make the leap, do it. If not, the Alesis Strike is a good landing zone.
What about that Gewa G9 Drum Module?
The hyped Gewa G9 is set to redefine state of the art due to the ultra slick and modern touch interface. At the moment, the hype the only thing we can go off of. The price tag and features place it in the battle for module heavy weights and the pecking order can be reshuffled at any moment if the functionality meets the specs. I would love a demo module to do a thorough review as I feel it has the potential to be special. Is this coming to the states? No idea but stay tuned!
What will it take to push Alesis into the unbeatable realm?
We take a gander at the enhancements needed for a Generation 2 module. Our wishes and wants are below:
1. Motorized Faders – When I switch mid set to another drum kit, I may want my cymbals to punch below the set range. If I could save kit preferences, the module would auto adjust the faders to compensate.
2. Wi-Fi – At this point, if thermostats can connect to a wireless network, this should be standard. Over the air updates then become simple. Alesis could then also sell additional kit pieces or cross compatibility settings as an upsell.
3. Bluetooth – I love a good aux cord but some cell phones do not come with a headphone jack. I also have to leave my phone hanging by the aux cord or place it on a drum which is inconvenient.
4. Themes/Skins/Wallpapers – The current module comes with one color scheme. For some, the scheme may be hard on the eyes. The contrast knob does work but the screen is color...can I choose some other colors maybe?
5. Kit Favorites – The module has 100+ kits. I want a screen where I can bookmark my 10 favorites or create set lists. Convience sells and having to remember that kit #43 is my preferred Latin kit is unamerican.
6. Internal Headphone amplifier - The internal amp should have the ability to be switched on and off as needed. This would blow away everyone on the demo floor when paired with Alesis branded headpones (no brainer to me) with the internal sounds Alesis now has.
Written By: Phil O.
Philip has been in the electronic drum field for about 9 years. As a senior techincal service specialist for a software company, he enjoys an expanable and thoughtful user interface. He also enjoys providing commentary and enhacements on how products can reach the next level. Phil has contrubuted over 100 innovative ideas to the SAAS company he works for and often assists with designing solutions for pain points experienced by end consumers. If you would like Phil to review a product in any of it stages, click the help and support icon in the bottom right of your screen and shoot Prism a message.