The Best Drum Machine For 2020 - Buy Guide And Review
The Best Drum Machine For 2020
Alesis Drums Nitro Mesh Kit | Eight Piece All Mesh Electronic Drum Kit Review
The Nitro Mesh is quite an impressive kit. It comes with a Nitro module, four tunable pads, and a kick pedal.
It also comes with a hi-hat pedal, a small kick pad, and three cymbals.
The Nitro Mesh is also an upgrade of the original Nitro kit that featured rubber pads prominently. The heads are the main upgrade for this drum kit. The rubber pads in the original drum set are no longer viable in today’s market.
Who is this product for?
The Nitro Mesh drum is a good introductory kit for beginner drummers as well as intermediate players.
What is inside the box?
- · Nitro drum module
- · One 8″ dual-zone snare pad
- · Three 8” tom pads
- · One 10” hi-hat pad
- · One 10” ride pad
- · One 10” crash pad with choke
- · One hi-hat pedal
- · One kick pedal
- · Kick pedal tower
- · Two drum sticks
- · Drum key
- · Cable snake
- · Power supply
- · Four-post aluminum rack
- · Cable wrap strips
- · Warranty manual
- · Assembly guide
- · User guide
- · Drum throne (not included)
- · Headphones (not included)
What are the key features of the Alesis Nitro Mesh Kit?
The Nitro Mesh kit has a similar design to that of other Alesis drum kits. However, it is quite cheaper compared to many others.
As such, you may not expect it to have advanced features found in some top-of-the-line kits. However, it is still unique in its way. Let us look at some of the features of this electronic drum kit:
This electronic kit comes with three cymbal pads. They include a ride cymbal, hi-hat, and a chokable crash. With the chokable crash, you kill crash strikes by gripping the outer end of the pad.
All the cymbals have a diameter of 10 inches. They also have a playable rubber-type surface.
For the hi-hat pad, you connect it to a free-floating controller pedal. The advantage of this is that you can place the pedal anywhere that best suits you.
Mesh Drum Heads
The mesh drum heads are the main selling point of this Alesis drum set. You find the mesh heads on four out of the five drum pads.
Again, you can easily tune the mesh heads by adjusting the tension of the head. The adjustment will allow you to customize the drum to your feel.
All the pads have a diameter of 8 inches. The snare drum is a dual-zone pad. With the snare drum, you can get different sounds from the mesh pad and the outer rim.
However, the tom pads are single zoned.
This Mesh kit is mounted on a very sturdy drum rack. The rack has seven aluminum posts. It is very lightweight and therefore very easy to carry around.
You can also mount the snare, and the tom pads to the rack then adjust them for height and angle appropriately. Moreover, you also attach the three cymbal pads to the rack using adjustable cymbal arms.
The drum module of this mesh kit is attached beside the hi-hat cymbal pad. This positioning makes it easy to reach and use; only an arm’s length away.
The module is also the source of all the sounds, as well as every connectivity with the drum set.
The drum kit module comes with several drum and percussion samples. In total, you will find 365 sounds in the Nitro kit module.
The sample sounds include those of acoustic drum sets as well as from cymbals. You will also find digital kits, world percussion, and FX sounds.
In the Nitro kit module, you will also find 60 built-in play-along backing tracks. The backing kits range from styles such as rock, pop, Latin, jazz, blues, and many more.
The Nitro drum module also comes with some extra features. It allows you to record your playing to refer to them in the future.
The drum module also comes with a tempo button. With this, you can effectively control the metronome and adjust the pace of backing tracks.
You will also find an aux input in the module. In case you want to play along with external audio, the aux input will come in handy. It will also be of help in case you may need more than the 60 backing tracks provided.
Also, the Nitro module comes with a backlit LCD screen. You can, therefore, navigate the menus and sound banks with much ease.
Alternatives to the Alesis Nitro Mesh
If you are not fully satisfied with Nitro kits, you still have other options to consider.
The first option is Roland TD-1K. Although slightly expensive than the Nitro Mesh, it is also an entry-level drum set. It is light in weight, basic and offers you good use of space.
The Roland TD-1K has 15 preset drum kit sound banks. It also has a USB MIDI connectivity. However, it does not have mesh heads.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is the Alesis Nitro good?
Yes, Alesis Nitro is an excellent kit for beginners and intermediate players. It is the cheapest electronic drum set with mesh heads in the market. Despite the price, this kit has remarkable quality and offers excellent value for money.
Also, Alesis Nitro comes with 40 pre-set kits, 60 play-along tracks, and 385 cymbals, drum, and percussion sounds.
How Big is the Alesis Nitro?
Alesis Mesh is an 8-piece electronic kit. Its frame is adjustable to cover as less space as possible. Its pads and kick pad are relatively small as compared to other electronic kits. The actual dimensions of the kit are 5.8” by 4.4” by 7.2”.
Can I connect the Nitro drum to a computer?
Yes, the Nitro kit supports USB/ MIDI connections for recording software or virtual instruments. It features MIDI in and out ports, which facilitates direct connection to standalone MIDI gear.
Do I need extra drivers to use along with the Alesis Nitro kit?
No, this kit is class-compliant; thus, it works with all modern PCs and Macs without downloading any drivers or software.
What is the difference between Alesis Nitro and Alesis Nitro Mesh?
The only difference is that the Nitro Mesh kit comes with mesh heads, which gives it a more realistic feel of acoustic drums.
If you are looking for a good entry-level electronic drum set, the Alesis Nitro Mesh kit is your best option. It is very affordable, thus very suitable for you as a beginner.
Although it may not have many advanced features, it has the essential features. Its sound may also not be the best, but it is still good.
Native Instruments Maschine Mk3 Drum Controller Review
Native is among the best drum machine in existence. The drum device is suitable for creating a piece of favorite music. It is dependable while performing live. Still, this product will offer a variety of cool features that enable the best experience.
The drum machine has perfect dimensions that make it convenient for storage. Luckily, the same drum machine has more features, which makes it slightly heavy. The entire weight is about 4.85 pounds, which is portable.
Besides, the drum machine comes with integrated hardware and software. The two will work in collaboration to run the mixer, the arranger, FX, and the sampler. It also includes a library with creative FX and a pro-quality studio.
You will easily manage the drum device as it has touch-sensitive knobs. The design is useful in parameter tweaking.
You can also connect it to a computer while running its operations. The output will produce outstanding results.
Interestingly, the drum machine has a smart strip. The feature is essential while strumming the notes. Also, it assists when pitch bending sounds. You can also involve it while performing with FX.
The entire package has a MIDI connection. Also, it consists of a stereo headphone output and an audio interface.
It has a black finish having an Ableton push. The durable inside rubber is where every function name available.
What’s it like to start making music on pads if the Maschine MK3 is your first drum machine? How much learning is involved in order to operate the Maschine MK3 on a basic level? I might not have ever made music on a system like this, but my inexperience here is an asset. I’ll be breaking this down from the perspective of a newcomer to the system, as many of you likely are.
I was really thrown into answering all these questions, as when the MK3 was shipped to me, the manual wasn’t even available yet! So, here’s a review by a producer who had to guess her way through most of the MK3’s interface and has never used a hardware-based drum machine.
WHAT IS IT
When Native Instruments first released Maschine in 2009, there was nothing like it. Physical samplers had existed for ages, but this took the idea and paired it with software on a computer. Since then, the company has released several variations on its hardware / software hybrid, including the budget-minded Maschine Mikro and a premium version of the physical interface called Maschine Studio.
Ultimately, if you’re not familiar with this type of thing at all, Native Instruments’ own description sums it up best: the Maschine suite is for “groove production.” You record loops by playing sounds assigned to pads, then choose effects (like delay or compression), bring different loops or sounds in and out, control automation, and more. Since it’s based on layering loops, or grooves, the Maschine MK3 is great for recording song ideas quickly, and to some degree, finessing them directly from the hardware.
As a piece of hardware, the MK3 is beautiful and delightful in its restraint. It’s relatively compact, at 12.6 x 11.85 inches, and has a slightly sloped low profile. A matte black blankets most of it, including many buttons that were white in previous versions. This means the portions that do utilize colors, like the main pads, have certain oomph and extra appeal, glowing in hues like tangerine and deep rose. Overall, there’s a refinement with the MK3’s design, down to a font change that’s crisply thin, aligned in the top-left corner of buttons. If there were anything to complain about, a kickstand would have been a nice addition for extra visibility (collapsable kickstands are built into the Maschine Studio, after all), but it isn’t completely necessary.
Native Instruments built a lot of new physical features into the MK3 (like a smart strip, but more on that later) and also increased the size of nearly every button, including the drum pads. Despite there being more things and less space between everything, the MK3’s layout is surgically tidy. I’m a fan of function restraint, and find it irksome when brands offer new features for the sake of offering new features. However, what Native Instruments made room for on the MK3 makes sense, and the company managed to do it in just about the same amount of space as the MK2. Bravo.
Among the MK3’s laundry list of upgrades, there is a common theme: mindful changes that keep a user creatively jamming on the hardware itself, without having to break away.
A lot of thoughtfulness has been lent to navigation in general, but not all of it succeeds. I found, for example, that I didn’t use the MK3’s new push encoder much unless it was necessary. It’s meant to be an additional way for browsing the screens one-handed, giving another option for tailoring your personal workflow. Placing it on the left side seemed a nudge to use it for multitasking (left hand on encoder, right hand on pads), and I tried this, but it felt forced. Even when using it solo for simple exercises like selecting sounds, it’s clunky compared to the strip of touch-sensitive knobs. There are a few places where it shines: in the Mixer panel, using the push encoder is a fast and fluid way to navigate through groups, channels within a group, and then adjust both an individual sound’s volume and panning.
Other navigation fixes are a blessing. From what I’ve read, because people like to complain on the internet, there was a general gripe with the Shift button. Specifically, that many well-used features were buried behind Shift functions. Many of these are now broken out with dedicated buttons above the pads, like Fixed Velocity, a mode where all the pads play at the same volume, no matter how hard they’re pressed, and Keyboard, which allows you to play a single sound at 16 different pitches on the pads. This doesn’t mean there aren’t still a load of Shift functions (there are… everywhere), they’ve just been moved away from the main creative space to remove clutter from where it counts most.
There are two other new features that are borrowed from another Native Instruments product, Maschine Jam: a smart strip, and lock button. The smart strip, found under the push encoder, has greater functionality than its counterpart on Jam. Here, there are different buttons to select above the strip to apply a variety of effects. You can slide your finger across the strip to use it like a pitch bend wheel, or “strum” sounds that are mapped to the pads. It’s fun to experiment with; I liked hearing the twist and curl of a synth dampening under a low pass filter as I dragged my finger across. The strip definitely adds some organic feel to loops you’ve preprogrammed and another performative element as well.
The Lock button, also from Maschine Jam, is wildly entertaining for taking your loops off course. Pressing the Lock button takes a snapshot of your current project, allowing you to play around, add effects, or modulate any other parameter without worrying about losing your work. Once you’re done, just tap the Lock button again, and you’re back to your original project and settings. Like the smart strip, this is another function that begs for live performance. At home, I had a blast spontaneously creating breakdowns within Lock mode. Removing elements from a song, filtering others down for dramatic effect, and then tapping out of Lock mode to slam everything back in full force was very satisfying.
One of the biggest hurdles I had throughout was remembering the myriad of functions assigned to the multi-purpose knobs, buttons, and four-dimensional push encoder, which can scroll, toggle, and be pressed. This definitely tested my frustration levels. But, the MK3 does give you some hints. If the push encoder can be used to toggle on-screen, tiny navigation lights appear around it to indicate actionable directions. Likewise, the top strip of buttons only light up if pressing them will result in an action.
Even when you get used to this, doing your sound fidgeting and fine-tuning here can be a chore. There are several instances where executing a single action on the MK3 itself requires six or seven steps. I suppose it comes with the territory when you’re expecting to be able to condense an entire DAW into a handful of buttons and knobs. Know what would have really helped? Touchscreens! I definitely tapped the screens several times when I first set up the MK3, automatically thinking they would be touch sensitive (especially since I’ve had several hands-on with touchscreen products lately, like Denon DJ’s SC5000 players). Maybe next time.
There are significant core updates here that make the MK3 a more powerful all-in-one unit than its predecessors. It has a built-in 96kHz / 24-bit audio interface, a one-fourth dynamic mic input, a stereo headphone output, MIDI in and out, and perhaps most importantly, line outputs and inputs. It can be powered just with USB, or plugged into the wall for some extra illumination.
As I’ve previously mentioned, those line jacks are a big deal. Before the MK3, the Maschine hardware had no audio I/O, so you couldn’t just plug things like speakers or your headphones into the unit. Now, you can. Having these inputs available also means you can plug in instruments like a synth and record directly into the Maschine software. This is a leg up not only in comparison to the previous MK2, but other products like Ableton’s Push controller, which simply can’t accomplish the same thing without an audio interface.
I currently have the MK3’s audio output only routed to the headphone jack (because I live with people), which leaves my laptop free for, well, everything else. I do have some lovely Adam Audio A7X studio monitors, but here’s where a minor annoyance comes in: the headphone input doesn’t mirror the master outputs. That means if I’m listening in headphones and want to switch to my monitor speakers, I can’t just unplug. I have to go into Maschine’s preferences and reroute the output ports to my speakers. It’s a bummer. A tiny one, but still a bummer.
I have grown to really enjoy using the MK3, and am wistful about sending it back. I have some minor gripes, but they mostly have to do with memorizing workflows and getting used to making music via tapping these very touch-sensitive pads. These concerns would probably go away with time. In the weeks I’ve had the MK3, I’ve learned enough to create the bulk of two house songs, and have spent several late nights hovered over this blinking box, making loops, recording in vinyl samples, and getting lost in the on-the-fly creative process it’s meant to encourage. It takes me away from overthinking, and I appreciate that.
Something I find lovely about the Maschine MK3 is that because so much of the experience lives on the box itself, it feels welcoming and approachable. If you’re a beginner with DAWs, there can be an air of intensity and difficulty while staring at a program’s blank screen — where do you start? Sure, with the Maschine MK3 you have to know some basics, but it doesn’t require you be a pro to figure out how to make groovy-sounding loops and beats. It’s about connecting your brain with your hands without interruption, and since the MK3 comes stock with over 8GB of instruments and effects, there’s a lot of fodder at your fingertips. Also, that $599 price point might seem spendy, but it’s quite reasonable for the market. There’s bang for your buck here.
All that said, the more you know, the more it becomes a playground. You can dig into all the little wonky ways it allows you to change sounds within the hardware, use it in conjunction with a more robust DAW like Ableton or Logic, or connect instruments to record in your own samples. Basically, the MK3 is as complicated as you’d like it to be… to a degree.
Ultimately, I found the MK3’s layout fairly intuitive, and the software very streamlined, though still defined by its limitations. It’s not as comprehensive as other DAWs, but does it have to be? The Maschine MK3 isn’t for hemming and hawing over layers of effects on a single sound; it’s for sparking ideas and getting them out fast. After spending time with the MK3, I’d personally still save a song’s fine-tuning for a more robust DAW, but starting them on this little black box is fun as hell.