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In early 2011, Alesis launched the DM7, which was a marked improvement over many of its counterparts in the same affordable price range.
This USB kit was loaded with some of the best functionalities and sounds at the time. However, the new Alesis DM7X is an enhanced version of its older brother. It offers more pads and features while still retaining its core DNA.
The Alesis DM7X sports dual-zone pads, chokable cymbals, a selection of pre-loaded songs, and more rousing features for the common drumming enthusiast. It’s obviously not as fully loaded as some of the more high-end kits, but this is definitely one of the top picks if you are on a tighter budget.
As a drummer who’s spent a sizable amount of time on both acoustic and electronic drum kits, I’ve been delightfully surprised by the Alesis DM7X. I honestly did not expect a drum kit in this price range to exceed my expectations, but nevertheless, I have since learned from my mistakes.
Alesis is one of those brands that gained in popularity because they were catering to a wider range of audiences.
Their products are not only versatile but they’re also built to last, which makes them a perfect match for beginners. While they gained a loyal following in the novice drumming community, the Strike Pro series proves they can shine in the bigger leagues, too.
The choice for a new electronic drum kit is never simple, especially given the number of options present on the market currently. You’ll want to narrow down your choices to the one kit that is:
- Comfortable to play
- Looks good
- Sounds neat
- Fits your budget
With that in mind, the Alesis DM7X is a winner, in my opinion, for all the above reasons – and many more. Today, I’ll be taking a deep dive into the world of electronic drums and what makes the DM7X one of the top contenders in the budget drums category.
So without further ado, let’s go ahead take a look at some factors that make up a good drum kit.
How to Choose the Best Electronic Drums Kit
If this is your first time buying an electronic drum kit, then you probably have a lot on your mind. I’ve been there myself, and I’ve experienced this same excitement firsthand.
My first encounter with electronic drums taught me that it’s not all about the drum module. A lot of factors come into play here, especially if you are looking to create and record music at the same time.
Electronic drums are an ingenious combination of hardware and electronics. Manufacturers aim to retrain the aesthetics and feel of an acoustic drum kit while adding digital applications to enhance your capabilities.
In such a scenario, it’s wise to make sure that you are getting the right hardware but without losing out on your favorite drum samples or sound effects.
If your priorities lie in simply learning or practicing drums at home, then you probably won’t be needing advanced functions like the recorder, looper, or even the sequencer. On the other hand, if you are looking to get:
- The best sound
- The latest MIDI-compatible hardware
- An extensive sound library
- And other advanced functionalities
Then yes, you should be ready to shell out north of $2000 for a high-end drum kit. However, if these things aren’t that important to you, then a more affordable drum kit should fit the bill just fine.
Budget drum kits, like the DM7X, typically comprise all the elements of a full-size drum kit (such as the toms, snare, bass drum).
It also includes some complementary features like MIDI compatibility, metronome, jam tracks, pre-programmed kits, and more. For a better context on the selection process of electronic drums, let’s take a look at some expert tips.
Key Decision-Making Tips
Before investing in a drum kit, there are a few things you should ask yourself first. Important questions include:
- What is and isn’t included in the cost?
- What’s the footprint of the drum kit?
- What type of drum pads do I need?
- What’s the overall sound quality of the drum kit?
- How durable is the drum kit?
- Are there enough input and output ports included?
- What’s the kit’s audio latency?
Let’s go ahead and explore these questions further.
What’s Included In the Cost
Every drum manufacturer’s catalog differs in some ways, so it’d be wrong to assume that you are getting the same components with every kit. While every kit will include the basic elements, like the sound module, rack, pads, hi-hat controller, and cables to connect the pads, it may not include some essentials.
Some kits might be missing certain components like a kick pedal, drum throne, hi-hat stand (if needed), headphones, or sticks. You are more likely to find these items included in low-end kits, as manufacturers try to target new players who are less likely to have any gear.
If you are planning to perform live with your kit, then you may want to snag some extra gear to complete your live setup. A drum amp is a must if you are planning to play at open venues or in large halls.
On the other hand, if your priority is a quieter setup with minimal noise, then you may want to get a good pair of headphones to go along with.
It is highly likely that if you are planning to purchase a low-end kit, you are going to dislike the sound of your cymbals. There are few brands out there that include standard-quality cymbal pads in their low-end kits. If you are a fanatic of cymbals, then you may want to hunt for a third-party solution to replace the stock cymbals.
The Footprint of Your Drum Kit
Before you finalize your kit, think about the floor space that you have at your expense. Although every e-kit markets itself as a compact drum kit, its footprint can vary drastically from brand to brand. Determine the space available to you before you go shopping, and don’t forget to factor in the drum throne as well.
There are many ways to save floor space in case you’ve got yourself a big kit. A lot of players arrange their 6, 7, or even 8-piece kits as a tiny four-piece bebop kit. This saves you a lot of space but doesn’t change your approach to playing, which is a huge benefit.
The Type of Drum Pads
This one is very important. You want to make sure that the drum pads feel comfortable and provide an appropriate amount of feedback while playing.
There are no right or wrong answers when it comes to drum pads. Some players like them stiff, without almost any feedback, while others prefer mesh heads, which are quite identical to real drum heads.
Some older versions of e-kits are still rolling out with rubber pads, that is essentially a rubber covering a steel plate. These bad boys are really stiff and have a very distinct rebound feel. A lot of drummers I know are turned off by such pads, but there are some players out there who prefer stiffer pads.
Their Actual Sound Quality
When it comes to drum simulation, the choices of people are totally subjective. Every person has a different perception of artificially synthesized drum sounds, so to say that drum samples from a particular brand are better than others would be incorrect.
If you get an opportunity to demo the drum samples, presets, and other core details of the drum kit you are planning to purchase beforehand, it can help your decision immensely.
If that’s not possible, try looking on the internet. There’s a good chance that someone might have already reviewed that kit on Youtube or some other platform.
While you are auditioning the kit, don’t forget to test out the cymbals. A lot of electronic cymbals don’t behave or sound identical to traditional cymbals. If the manufacturer has resorted to any shortcuts in order to save space or equipment, this is where it will come to your attention.
The Overall Durability
It is, by far, no mystery that some kits are able to maintain their integrity over a long period of time while others start showing their age quite early in the run. In my experience, brands will sometimes cut corners to keep their profits up. With that said, there are some companies that put customer satisfaction ahead of personal gain.
If you want to test for durability, try this simple exercise. Walk into a music store that holds many of the popular manufacturer’s e-drum kits. Take a glance at the physical condition of all the kits. Look for what’s not working anymore, is broken, or simply fallen off.
These drum kits are abused on a daily basis by customers, so taking a gander at them will give you a sense of their durability. As you move up the price line, you will come across more robustly built kits that have a less than 1% chance to have manufacturing defects.
The Included Audio Input/Output Options
Are there enough input/output ports to support your needs? This is an important question to ask yourself before purchasing an e-drum kit. If you are planning on using your drum kit as a recording platform, make sure there are multiple audio outputs.
If you don’t see yourself taking your kit to any live performances, a standard stereo output will probably suffice.
Many lower-priced modules come with complementary input/output ports for plugging into a drum amp or taking in external audio inputs like an mp3 player. If you fancy jamming along to backing tracks, you may want to look into those kits.
The Audio Latency
The total turnaround time for a signal to appear in the headphones/speakers after a pad is struck is referred to as ‘audio latency.’ This time period corresponds to the conversion of the signal from AD to DA and vice versa.
High latency is one of the biggest concerns plaguing low-end kits right now. Some players can intuitively work around it but if you find yourself getting distracted by the latency, try looking for a higher tier drum module.
As you move up the price ladder, the module technology becomes more sophisticated, which in turn significantly reduces the turnaround time of the audio signal. In other words, you get less latency and a more realistic experience while playing e-drum kits.
Ideally, a turnaround time of 3-12 ms is considered manageable by most players. Audio latency, upwards of 20 or 30ms, can be easily picked up by our naked ears and almost never results in a pleasant playing experience.
The good news is, with each new generation of MIDI and AD/DA converters, the latency periods are getting smaller and smaller.
What is the Alesis DM7X?
The Alesis DM7X 5-piece drum kit is centered around the newly designed DM7X drum module, which is a comprehensive piece of gear designed especially for beginners.
It features both 8” and 10” dual-zone drum pads, which are the standard size for acoustic drum kits as well. Here are some of the more notable features of this kit for you to check before we hop onto the specifics.
Key Features of the Alesis DM7X
- A complete drum kit, with a drum rack and unified hardware
- Five 8” highly responsive drum pads, including a dual-zone snare
- Four 10” dynamic cymbal pads, including a crash cymbal with choke
- Chain-drive kick pedal with bass trigger
- A superior DM7X module, with a user-friendly UI and backlit LCD screen
- Forty modern and classic sampled drum kits, which are ready to play
- 385 cymbal and drum sounds
- Built-in sequencer, metronome, and recorder
- 60 play-along tracks for practicing
- AUX input for plugging in CD/MP3
- Use the drum as a virtual instrument in DAWs via USB/MIDI
- MIDI in and out ports for connecting directly to stand-alone MIDI equipment
- Stereo outputs connect to any sound system/PA
- Headphone out for private practice sessions
- Includes drum sticks, all the necessary cables, mounting hardware, and power supply
Each and every drum pad is built from an ABS base topped by a rubber covering. The piezo-type triggers are protected by a layer of synthetic cushion that also contributes to the pads’ respectable stick response.
Each pad, with the exception of “Tom4” and “Crash2,” is connected to the DM7Xs drum module via a single D-type connector.
Unfortunately, the kick pedal will only allow single beaters, but the good news is, it’s clamped directly to the pedal via a side-access bolt.
This means you don’t have to make any extra arrangements to clamp the beater onto the pedal. Double bass drummers will have to look elsewhere because the DM7X does not take third-party pedals.
On the rear, you will find the USB port in addition to two five-pin sockets for MIDI IN and MIDI OUT. This will be a huge bonus for those who own older MIDI equipment or drum machines. Navigating through the various functions on this kit is a breeze thanks to its graphic display that is not only bright but clear, too.
The UI has been intuitively crafted to appear simple and straightforward. Most of the top buttons have individual functions, thereby eliminating the need for complex menu systems.
The 12-push buttons on the lower half of the panel are a graphical representation of the drum kit itself. These buttons help you assign voices and sounds to individual pads and even edit them at your convenience.
A function that is unique to the range of Alesis drums is the “Pad Song Switch” function. This allows you to start a song at the press of a button with any of the designated pads or panel buttons. This function has incredible utility for drummers who like to work on multiple projects simultaneously.
- It packs a ton of utilities for the common drummer without an exorbitant price tag.
- Massive sound bank and collection of drum samples to mix and match
- Additional MIDI ports extend the range of MIDI instruments you can connect your kit with.
- A nifty UI that does not feel cluttered or confusing.
- The “Pad Song Switch” function is a great tool for drummers who like to shuffle through multiple projects and sounds quickly.
- The triggering and stick response feel very close to acoustic drums
- The graphic display is easy to read and shows just the right information.
- Navigating around the panel is fairly easy.
- Most buttons perform individual functions that can also help in reducing manual errors.
- Setting up the kit after removing it from the package is quite an ordeal (and if you’re likely to fold and unfold the kit frequently, you’ll want to factor this into the equation)
- Some drum samples lack sufficient grit and detail while suffering from a grimacing high pitch trill.
- The cymbals fade rather quickly but can be worked around though by changing the cymbal sound and adjusting the sustain on the pad.
Some Alternatives I’d Recommend
If the Alesis DM7X is not cutting it for you for one or more reasons, check out these alternative options that are very close to the DM7X – but vary slightly in their own regard.
The Donner DED100 electronic drum set is very loyal to its original roots when it comes to acoustic drum sampling. They have created a stunning collection of over 200 sounds from 15 drum kits that closely imitate the sound of real drums.
There are 20 play-along tracks to get your creative juices flowing and a built-in metronome to help you practice your chops.
The Donner DED100 5-piece drum kit is comprised of:
- Three 10” cymbals (hi-hat, ride, crash)
- Three 8” mesh toms
- 1×8” mesh snare
- Hi-hat pedal and kick pedal
- Drum rack, cabling, drum sticks, audio input line, and drum key
The drum kit also allows you to record yourself straight into the drum module. Believe me; this tool can be a game-changer for songwriters, bedroom musicians, and professional artists alike. The kit also sports an AUX input for plugging in your music player.
MIDI is becoming an industry standard slowly, so stay assured that Donner has installed one in their kit too. This drum kit can work as a MIDI controller via its USB MIDI output. According to user reviews, this kit is extremely easy to assemble and doesn’t take too much space when folded up.
When using headphones, this kit goes nearly noiseless due to its mesh heads. For its surprisingly affordable price, this drum kit is a steal for beginners and intermediate drum players.
- Great quality drum samples
- Premium quality mesh pads
- Lightweight and easy to travel with
- Fairly affordable
- Hi-hat and kick pedals are overtly sensitive, in my opinion
- Cymbals that came with the kit aren’t the best, sound and feel wise
The Yamaha DTX402K electronic drum kit strikes a great balance between sound, playability, price, and portability. It was released back in 2018, and even though it couldn’t reach the same heights of popularity as other brands like Alesis, it was well-received by those who bought it.
Some key features of this drum kit include:
- Ten preset drums kits, which can be both overwritten and edited
- A grand total of 415 onboard percussions, drum, and keyboard sounds
- Nine types of onboard reverb
- Ten training functions, including check timing and build chops
- Ten play-along songs
- A metronome and tone generator
- USB/MIDI Type B connection (for using it as a MIDI controller)
- Advanced features and kit building within the included DTX402 Touch app (iOS/Android)
That’s not all there is to love about the DTX402K, either. It’s also one of the few kits that feature stereo drum samples. The overall build is solid, too, thanks to its ironclad 4-post stand. As the kit was released relatively recently, it carries some of the most advanced functionalities in the low-end drums category.
Beginners and bedroom musicians will be delighted to know that this kit comes with ten training and challenge modes, which come included with the free DTX402 Touch app (for both iOS and Android).
It also comes with Yamaha’s Rec ‘n’ Share app compatibility, allowing you to film and share music straight from your iOS device.
If you aren’t impressed with this drum kit already, the nine different types of onboard reverbs will certainly change your mind.
The rubber pads don’t feel clunky or stiff as opposed to the typical experience I’ve had with other rubber pads. If you are looking for a complete drum package as a beginner, I would highly recommend getting this drum kit.
- Great starter drum kit for kids and beginners
- One of the quieter solutions for home practice
- The DTX402 Touch App gives this kit more flexibility and functions
- Has chokable cymbals
- Rubber pads aren’t everybody’s favorite choice of pads at the moment
- The user panel isn’t the most user friendly and will take some time to get used to
LyxJam is one of the lesser-known brands out there, but don’t let that distract you from the amazing electronic drum sets they produce. This 7-piece drum kit is technically a 5-piece, which counts the bass, snare, and three toms. This kit boasts a staggering 209 drum sounds, all of which have been sampled from real drum kits.
Some notable features of this drum kit are:
- Three 8” mesh toms with rims
- One 8” mesh snare
- Three 8” cymbals (ride, crash, hi-hat)
- 250+ preloaded songs, sounds, and drum kits
- Kick pedal
- Hi-Hat Controller
- Included drumsticks and drum key
- One-touch record and save
This drum kit was designed to keep varying ages and skill levels of players in mind. As a result, the ergonomics have been specially designed to help players get familiar with the layout of a drum kit. This kit offers excellent value for money without disturbing your neighbors’ peace.
Unlike other drum kits in its price range, this kit features 50 high-quality play-along songs, a 1-song recording capacity, and a built-in metronome. These functions are more than enough for beginner drummers to kick off their journey.
Premium mesh pads provide unparalleled familiarity, durability, and dynamism you need to jam your heart out. Although the kit is missing MIDI compatibility, it makes up for the loss with an extended sound bank and collection of play-along songs.
If recording through a computer is not your priority, this kit should do the job fairly well for you.
- Mesh pads sound amazing and are a great learning tool for beginners
- Extensive collection of jam tracks and drum sounds
- Built-in metronome and recorder
- Chokable ride and crash cymbals
- The action and response of the kick pedal is a bit off
- Overall build quality is poor, with some users reporting component failure within months of getting it
Frequently Asked Questions
Answer: There are many DAWs (Digital Audio Workstation) available on the market right now, out of which some are paid solutions while others are free.
Reaper is one of the most commonly used DAWs by amateur musicians for recording music. Although it’s not exactly free, the license for Reaper does not expire even after you’ve crossed the allotted demo time.
Paid software options – like Cubase, Pro Tools, and Logic Pro – take things to a new level by introducing their own unique workflow platforms.
These DAWs offer an abundance of lucrative features and tools for recording, editing, mixing, and mastering music. If you ask me, any DAW, be it free or paid, does exactly the same job, except for maybe a few distinctive features.
If this is your first brush with DAWs, I’d suggest trying out the demo version of Ableton or GarageBand. They have relatively easy-to-understand UIs, plus they have a bunch of useful tools that can help beginners get a whiff of music production.
Answer: Fortunately, electronic drums make tuning completely redundant with the help of their pitch envelope.
Some kits can also come with a tuning knob, which can be used to adjust the pitch of your sampled and synthesized tubs. Unlike acoustic drums, electronic drum pads do not need to be tuned by adjusting the drum heads.
You can use frequency analyzers to map out the frequency chart of your drums as a way to decide whether or not you are out of tune. This way, you can ascertain the exact pitches of your drums and make minor adjustments along the way rather easily.
Answer: Electronic drums aren’t that common in the professional music scene, but that doesn’t mean they haven’t been utilized on big stages at all. Here are some iconic names from the drumming community who have openly embraced electronic drums:
Ian Paice (Deep Purple)
Luke Williams (Dead Letter Circus)
Roger Taylor (Duran Duran)
Neil Peart (RUSH)
Chris Whitten (Dire Straits)
Larry Mullen Jr. (U2)
Answer: Yes, both nylon and wood sticks are alright to play with electronic drums. You might find that the hit back or rebound might differ slightly with different materials, but as long as you are comfortable playing with them, your sampled or synthesized sounds should stay unaffected.
As long as you are using a fresh pair of sticks, it shouldn’t damage the mesh heads. Some brands like Zildjian and Vic Firth do offer specialized drum sticks for electronic drums, so if you’re interested in a legit solution, do try them out.
Answer: Traditionally, even acoustic kits struggle to sound good in bigger venues without proper equipment. Fortunately for the electronic drum user, most kits come with in-built reverbs and settings to adjust room parameters. This is a major aid for drummers who are inexperienced with sound routing.
Once you’ve landed on your desired drum tone, you can send that directly to the front of the house or the mixer through either the stereo out or the universal ¼” output jack. The quality of reverbs is strictly governed by the drum module, so if you are looking for the best samples, a high-end drum kit is your only option.
My Final Thoughts
Now that we’re nearing the end of this review, I hope I was able to paint a transparent picture of the Alesis DM7X drum kit and its capabilities for you and why I definitely recommend it.
I can say, without fail, that this kit is one of the best beginner drum sets of all time, any day. That’s not to say that other options in the market aren’t appropriate for drummers, though.
You might also want to check out other kits in the line of DM series, such as the DM6, DM10, or the DM10X. It’s worth mentioning that if you are looking for the absolute best from Alesis, check out the DM10 drum kit.
Once you’ve cleared the first few milestones as a drummer, you’ll be able to make the most of the excellent features of the DM10 Studio and DM10X.
For more interesting reading on drum gear, check out the following articles: