I’m a massive Alesis drum kit fan. I always get giddy when I get to talk about their products. However, it wouldn’t be right to say that all their kits are fantastic with no issues. So, it’s good to do your research and see what’s good and what isn’t.
In doing that, you may have come across the Alesis Crimson and all its variants. The kit has been out for a while, and a few different versions of it are available. So, I’m going to give you my thoughts on it in an honest review format. After that, I’ll explain the hierarchy of Alesis kits and why I appreciate most of them so much.
Bottom Line Up Front: The Alesis Crimson II is an intermediate kit that tips over the $1000 price margin. It has a complete set of large mesh heads and a powerful drum module that offers several handy features.
It has the exact same specifications as the popular Alesis DM10 MKII. However, the one added benefit it has over that kit is that the snare pad sits on a regular snare stand instead of being attached to the drum rack.
Alesis Crimson II Review
Crimson I vs Crimson II
Before we get into the review of the kit, it’s essential to know the difference between the varying iterations of the set. When looking to buy one, you’ll either come across a version simply called the Crimson, or you’ll come across one called the Crimson II.
At first, I thought the two kits looked identical, making me confused as to why one costs more than the other. However, at a closer look, I found out that the Crimson II has an extra crash cymbal pad, giving you 4 overall cymbal pads instead of 3.
So, you need to spot the extra cymbal pad to notice the difference between the two. The other difference is that the base Crimson has a blue LCD screen on the module, and the Crimson II has a red screen.
You can only see that when the kits are turned on, though. Also, I much prefer the blue screen as it’s easier to read. But the extra crash on the Crimson II more than makes up for it.
Lastly, you’ll see some stores calling it the Crimson II and others calling it the Crimson II Special Edition. After looking on the Alesis website, I found out they’re the same thing. So, no need to worry about that!
Now, let’s move on to the specifics of the Crimson II.
Here are the exact pads you get with the kit:
- 8” bass drum pad on a tower
- 12” snare pad
- 8” high tom pad
- 8” mid tom pad
- 10” floor tom pad
- 12” hi-hat pad
- 12” left crash pad
- 12” right crash pad
- 14” ride pad
One of my favorite things about this kit is that all the drum pads are dual-zone pads. This means that they make sounds when you hit the center as well as the rims. While this may seem like a standard feature, you don’t get this luxury in cheaper electronic kits.
The pads are also all made of the classic mesh material that Alesis uses in all their kits. It feels excellent to play on, reacting appropriately to your stick hits. You can adjust the tension, allowing you to customize how the kit feels to get the perfect settings for your preferences.
The cymbal pads are top-quality as well. The crash pads are chokeable as expected with a kit of this price, but the highlight is undoubtedly the ride pad. It’s 14” wide, and it has 3 trigger zones. Having a large ride where I can play the bow, edge, and bell is all I ever want in a good electronic drum set. So, we have a winner here.
Overall, the pads are the best part of the kit, and they also contribute highly to my good thoughts on Alesis drums.
Let’s get this out the way first, the sound quality of the drum kits is typically the biggest downfall of most Alesis drum sets. Unless you’re playing the flagship Alesis Strike, you’re going to be disappointed if you’re looking for the best sounds possible.
It’s no different with the Crimson II. There are a few relatively okay preset kits, but most of them are no match for the sound quality that comes from Roland or Yamaha kits.
However, the rest of the drum module is commendable. You get 54 preset kits to play. While their quality isn’t fantastic, I know that this would only be an issue for drummers like me who live and breathe drums every day.
A beginner drummer or someone playing as a hobby would probably love the sounds. You also get 20 slots to create your own sets with, and that could lead to loads of creative fun.
The module gives you 120 play-along tracks that cover an incredible range of musical styles. They also range in difficulty, so there are songs for every level of player.
The sound editing features aren’t too extensive here. You’ll need to get a kit with a higher-powered drum module if you want more control in that realm.
Another weak point of this kit is the hi-hat pedal. As with most electronic kits that cost under $1500, you get a trigger pedal that controls the hi-hat. When you lift your foot off the pedal, the hi-hat has an open sound when you play it. When you press the pedal down, there’s a closed sound. This sounds good in theory, but it doesn’t feel great to play on.
I also find it incredibly difficult to get a half-open hi-hat sound with this kit. Trying to play heavy rock beats with the classic hi-hat sloshing leads to plenty of frustration.
The hi-hat issue may be enough to chase many drummers away from this kit. It’s an issue that is present in a few other Alesis kits as well. However, it won’t be too much of a hassle if you’re not a drummer who has a busy left foot.
Other than that, the build quality of the kit, hardware, and pads is quite good. One of my favorite aspects of the kit is that the snare drum pad sits on a standard snare stand. This is one of the cheapest e-kits that I know of that has this feature. It makes the snare pad feel a lot more durable and maneuverable.
The Alesis Crimson II has one additional input slot for another pad to be plugged in. You could either put a cymbal or drum pad as there is space on the kit to fit either one. Since it’s already a 5-piece kit, most drummers who buy it won’t overthink about adding an extra pad. However, it’s great to know that the option is there.
Something important to note is that the base Alesis Crimson model has two input slots for additional pads. So, you could buy that model and add an extra crash cymbal. It would technically turn into the Alesis Crimson II but keep the blue LCD screen.
The price of the Alesis Crimson II will differ depending on where you buy it, but most retailers will sell it for around $1100 to $1300.
The closest other Alesis Kit in price is the DM10 MKII Pro. It has a better-quality drum module and more drums to play on for about a hundred dollars more. Most drummers would think it’s the better option.
However, it doesn’t have the snare drum on a stand as the Crimson II does. That particular aspect will be more worth it for some drummers, including myself.
I’d say the price of the kit is very reasonable considering everything that you get with it. If you’re prepared to pay over $1000 for an e-kit, this is a decent one to get.
- Snare drum pad sits on a proper stand
- Large mesh head dual-zone pads
- Triple-zone ride pad
- 120 play-along tracks
- Feels great to play
- Sound quality of the preset drum kits isn’t amazing
- The hi-hat trigger pedal is frustrating to use
If you’re looking to buy an Alesis set, you’re going to be choosing between the Crimson II and the DM10 MKII Pro. As I said previously, the choice depends on which features you’re looking for. They’re both great kits in the $1000 price range.
The Crimson II isn’t an incredibly popular drum set. This may be due to the DM10’s higher popularity. Still, I also think it’s because there are some top-quality options from other brands as well. Some of them are the same price while others are even more affordable.
If you’re going to get this kit, make sure that you’ll prefer it over the DM10. Otherwise, the Alesis DM10 is what you should be considering.
Alesis Drum Kit Guide
When choosing to buy a drum kit from a specific brand, it’s always good to know as much as you can about it. This will give you several options to pick from, and you’ll understand why specific kits are more expensive than others.
Luckily, Alesis has a clear path to follow in their list of kits. It’s quite easy to see which kit sits at the bottom and which ones are at the top in terms of quality. So, let me take you through a quick guide on understanding all the drum sets from Alesis.
I’m going to divide the kits up into entry-level, intermediate, and professional categories. This is the clearest way of comparing the Alesis drum kits to each other.
Also, it’s essential to know that Alesis has stopped producing a few kits that you may still find in music stores. The best way to know if the kit is still being manufactured is to check the brand’s website.
Entry-Level Alesis Kits
Here is a list of the entry-level kits from Alesis:
All these kits cost under $1000, and they offer enough for beginners to be happy with them. The Nitro Mesh is one of the best beginner drum kits on the market, thanks to its complete set of mesh heads and affordable price tag.
The other kits are very similar to each other. The significant differences come in the features that the modules have. Take note that all the sounds on these kits are great compared to similarly priced kits from other brands. Alesis has a few quality control issues with their cheaper kits, so warranties are essential when buying them.
Intermediate Alesis Kits
Here is a list of the intermediate kits from Alesis:
- Alesis Crimson
- Alesis Crimson II Special Edition
- Alesis DM10 MKII Studio
- Alesis DM10 MKII Pro
You have two kits here that are mostly the same other than their physical specifications. Although the drum modules look slightly different, they have all the same sounds and features.
You also have two versions of each kit. With the Alesis Crimson II, you get one extra cymbal compared to the standard version. With the DM10 MKII Pro, you get larger cymbals and drum pads compared to the Studio version.
You’ll be paying between $1000 and $2000 for these electronic drum sets.
Professional Alesis Kits
Here is a list of the professional kits from Alesis:
- Alesis Strike
- Alesis Strike Pro
Alesis has one flagship kit known as the Strike. Your choice between the standard one and the Pro depends on what sizes you want. Starting with their module, it’s an incredibly powerful tool that gives you plenty of customization.
Sliders on the interface allow you to easily adjust volume and velocity settings, letting you edit the drum sounds to sound as realistic as possible.
The Alesis Strike Pro is the ultimate option. It’s a huge kit that has acoustic shells, making it resemble an acoustic drum kit a lot more than other electronic kits do. You get 5 cymbal pads and 6 drum pads.
If you have the money to spend, the Strike Pro is the best option you have from the Alesis lineup. The standard Strike is almost $1000 cheaper. If you don’t need a massive drum setup, it’s the wiser option to go with.
The Strike costs just under $2000, while the Strike Pro costs just under $3000. Roland and Yamaha have similar kits that use acoustic shells to give a better appearance. However, those kits cost well over $5000. So, the Strike Pro is the most affordable large professional electronic kit on the market.
Alternative Drum Kits to Consider from Other Brands
While I personally love Alesis drum kits thanks to their low prices, many drummers I know stay clear of them because of their quality control issues. You may buy one and never have a problem, but you may be the unlikely drummer who sits on the receiving end of some bad service delivery.
In that case, it’s good to know what other options you have. A few of my picks from other brands that compete with the Alesis Command II kit that I reviewed above are listed below.
If you have over $1000 to spend on an electronic drum set, the Roland TD-07KV is going to be your best possible option. Roland is the leading e-kit brand, and compared to Alesis, they offer much higher quality in their kits.
The downside of this kit is that the module doesn’t offer as much as the one from the Command II does. However, the sounds are far superior, and the pads feel much better to play. They’re a bit smaller, which some drummers may not like, though. After playing on 8 and 10-inch pads, the 6-inch pads on this Roland kit will feel incredibly small.
However, this kit is better in every other way, and it’s highly worth settling for some smaller drum pads. It’s slightly cheaper than the Command II kit as well, making it a fantastic alternate option.
- Fantastic kit for just over $1000
- Mesh pads are superior to the Command II mesh pads
- A bit cheaper than the Command II
- High-quality drum kit sounds
- Drum pads are only 6”
If you loved the sound of the TD-07KV but want a bit more, the TD-17KV is the next step up. It takes all the successful aspects of the previous kit and adds a few better features. Firstly, the module on this kit is highly impressive.
You get 50 high-quality preset kits as well as 310 sounds to work with. You can easily edit those sounds with virtual effects, giving you a whole world of possibilities. The module gives you 50 spaces for your own kits.
I could see myself spending a week on making the most exciting kits I can think of. It also has Bluetooth functions, letting you stream music while playing the drums.
Compared to the TD-07KV, this kit has a superior snare pad and a stronger kick drum pad. The snare pad is 12”, having a strong rim that helps it outperform both the Alesis Command and Roland TD-07KV snare. The toms on this kit are also 8”, which is slightly bigger than the ones on the previous Roland set.
- Fantastic drum module
- 12-inch snare drum
- Plenty of space for custom kits
- Better option than the previously mentioned sets
- More expensive than the Alesis Command II
KAT Percussion KT-300
The KAT Percussion KT-300 is a bit of a wildcard on this list. I wouldn’t ordinarily recommend an e-kit that isn’t from Roland, Alesis, or Yamaha. However, I’m surprisingly impressed with this one, so I’ve put it here as it sits very close to the $1000 price tag.
It offers most of the same of what the Command II has. However, the mesh heads on this kit are made by Remo. Remo is a widely recognized drumhead company, and their heads are fantastic. The exciting thing about these mesh heads is that you get a different response depending on where you hit the surface.
The module has 30 preset kits and 18 slots to add your own. You also get 20 music tracks to play with, letting you test your skills with different genres.
In terms of sound quality, the samples aren’t quite as good as Roland or Yamaha’s, but I think they compete closely with what you get on the Alesis Command II.
One thing that worries me about this kit is that KAT Percussion isn’t a relatively well-known brand. This means that if a problem arises with your set, it will be harder to get it fixed than it would with a kit from one of the three major electronic drum brands.
- Mesh heads made by Remo
- Great sounds that are similar in quality to the Alesis Command II sounds
- Cheaper than the Alesis Command II
- Won’t be as easy to get service for the kit compared to other brands
- Resale value isn’t as high as other kits
Moving on to kits from Yamaha, I’ve always gotten confused by their naming conventions, so don’t be discouraged if you do as well. Just make sure that you’re looking at the right kit when you’re looking to buy.
My first suggestion is the DTX6K-X. It’s Yamaha’s bottom-of-the-range intermediate kit that costs around $1000. The tom pads and cymbal pads are rubber, but the snare pad is made of silicone. Yamaha elects to have silicone heads on their kits instead of mesh. They feel pretty similar to mesh, though.
This is one of the cheapest kits I know of that has a triple-zone ride cymbal. It’s also chokeable, making it everything you could ever need from your electronic ride.
The module has 40 stock kits with a whopping 200 user slots. You can fill those slots by combining the 400 sounds given to work with. I’ve found that Yamaha tends to put more focus on their modules than the other brands when it comes to more affordable kits. That’s very clear with the module on the DTX6K-X.
- Triple-zone ride cymbal
- Sensitive silicone snare head
- 200 user slots for custom kits
- Excellent drum module
- Toms are rubber pads instead of silicone or mesh
After reading that name, you’ve most probably caught on to why I say Yamaha’s naming conventions are confusing. Anyway, this kit is a substantial step-up from the previous one. It has a complete set of silicone drum pads, and the hi-hat pad mounts onto a standard stand.
It’s the first kit that I’ve spoken about that has the hi-hat on a stand, arguably making it the best one. It’s also the most expensive because of this.
You get the same drum module as the previous kit, so the upgraded pads are the only significant benefits. If you’re willing to spend almost $2000 on an electronic drum set, the DTX6K3-X is an excellent option. It’s also far superior to the Alesis Command II.
Yamaha uses samples from their acoustic kits for these electronics. When comparing these preset kits to the Alesis samples, you can definitely hear the difference.
- Hi-hat pad mounts to a dedicated stand
- Complete set of silicone pads
- Highly extensive drum module
- Quite expensive compared to the Alesis Crimson II
Answer: Compared to Alesis’s other drum kit options, the Crimson II isn’t as popular. While Alesis still manufactures and sells the kit, it’s not as quickly findable as other products.
The reason it’s not as popular is that Alesis has a few kits in the $800 to $1300 price range that are very similar to each other. Since the kits are so similar, it’s typically a buyer’s choice to go with the cheapest option, which isn’t the Crimson II.
After speaking to multiple drummers, browsing through drumming forums, and constantly reviewing gear myself. I’d say that the most popular kits from Alesis are the Alesis Nitro Mesh, Alesis DM10, and Alesis Strike Pro.
Answer: Roland. Roland has been the leading electronic drum kit brand for as long as I can remember. They’re constantly releasing new kits with updated technology that surpasses everything before it. Their latest flagship kit, the VAD706, is the highest-quality drum kit that the world has ever seen. That sounds overhyped, I know, but it’s also why that kit costs $8000.
Alesis specializes in making great electronic drum kits that are more affordable. Most of their kits have mesh pads, even the cheap ones. The same can’t be said for other electronic brands. So, their entry-level kits are better for most people to buy. With the market being so large for beginner drummers, that boosts the popularity of Alesis drum kits.
Other names to mention would be Pearl and Yamaha. Both are established acoustic drum brands that make high-quality electronic sets as well.
Answer: The answer to this depends on your budget and experience level when it comes to drumming. If you’re a beginner drummer, spending $500 or more on a drum set isn’t going to sound very attractive. So, I’d say any price under $500 would be a good fit for a first-time drum kit buyer.
If you want something that offers a bit more in terms of quality, intermediate electronic drum sets cost from $500 to $2000. Anything over that would be the price of a professional set.
Answer: No. The brand specializes in electronics. They don’t only make electronic drums. They also make keyboards, headphones, amplifiers, and mixers.
As I said earlier, I’m a huge Alesis fan. If you want the most affordable intermediate kit that you can get, the Alesis Command II is a highly viable option. It offers excellent bang for your buck. You can also put the drum module through a VST on a computer if you don’t like the onboard sounds.
However, Alesis kits have a bit of a nasty reputation for having bad quality control. If you can’t get past things such as wonky hi-hats pedals, this may not be the kit for you. If that’s the case, check out the alternate kits that I recommended. Remember, in the electronic drum kit world, you can never go wrong with a Roland set.
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