As of December of 2018, Alesis has released its brand new sampling pad, the Strike MultiPad. And I have to say I’m blown away.
It’s the first sampling pad to get the “Strike” treatment.
For a while now, there’s really only been one flagship sampling pad that professional drummers have been using on stage: the Roland SPD-SX. That may be about to change.
Alesis Strike MultiPad Review
- 9 Velocity-Sensitive Pads with Customizable RGB Lights
- Customizable RGB Lights, 32GB of Internal Storage with Over...
- Built-in Sampler and Loop Recorder, 5 Onboard Effects...
- 2 Channel USB Audio Interface, Connect a USB Drive to...
- Power Adapter, Quickstart Guide, and Software Download Card...
Alesis’s prior drum pad, the SamplePad Pro, was far inferior to the SPD-SX and I can tell that they have done their homework in creating a far better product both for beginning drummers and professionals.
The Alesis Strike MultiPad ships with both a special edition of Pro Tools | First as well as a copy of Ableton Live Lite for all you budding producers out there.
Let’s take a look at some of the main selling points.
- Nine velocity-sensitive pads with customizable RGB lights
- 5 built-in effects processors
- Expandable to an additional 3 drum triggers, a hi-hat pedal, and two dual foot controls
- 8,000+ pre-loaded samples
- 32GB of internal storage
- Ability to record samples from any source
- On-board looping software
- Built-in audio interface
Whew. There’s a lot of great features here. Let’s dive in.
Right off the bat, I was very impressed at the cool factor given off by the Strike MultiPad. It looks far better than its predecessor.
The build quality is superb and there’s a reason this drum pad is on level with the price of the SPD-SX.
The nine LED indicators look great and give you visual feedback while playing the pads, something the SamplePad Pro desperately needed.
The LED lights also function with loops, so you can see if one is actively running. You can see the entire progress of the loop on the indicator as it plays.
If for some reason you cannot hear your pad in the nightmare scenario of a bad in-ear monitor mix, at least you’ll have a visual representation of what your drum pad is doing.
In addition, you can change the color of each light as well as their animation. This allows for amazing visual feedback given the ability to change a given pad’s animation.
There are an available twenty different colors and several different modes to display on each pad.
Smack dab in the lower center of the unit is a 4.3″ color display, and it looks rather nice.
It’s very clear and is large enough to display a great deal of information without feeling overwhelming. Navigating the menus and editing samples is no problem.
The Strike MultiPad boasts a whopping 32GB internal storage drive, allowing you to bring all the custom samples you’d like to your next gig.
For reference, the SPD-SX only has 4GB of internal memory.
In addition to its large storage capability, the drum pad ships with 8,000+ pre-loaded samples which are both pitched and percussive.
Samples can easily be loaded on the Strike MultiPad via USB and a computer or with a USB thumb drive. If for some reason you fill up all 32GB of storage, you can also add an external SD card for more room.
Sounds and sampling functions
Being that the pad ships with 8,000+ sounds, there has to be some good ones in there, right?
There are. A ton of great ones actually. Some of my favorite sounds included are actually synths (specifically on the Pluck This preset). They work great with the looping functionality. It’s super easy to jam along with an acoustic drum kit with this pad.
I found the included samples to be very impressive and usable. There’s a well-rounded diversity of sound samples: lots of electronic, acoustic, orchestral, world and more.
Upon loading the unit up, you’ll find 30 preset loaded kits available to choose from and 70 empty user kits for you to customize.
The stock Cash Money Kit is reminiscent of the Roland 808 kit. Knife Jogger is a great kit for film production, though I’m sure you’ll be using more than just the samples from your Strike MultiPad if you’re in this world.
The Good Ol’ Rock preset is just as it sounds, a nice sounding acoustic drum set, though I do much prefer drum samples from a library like GetGood Drums or Drumforge.
Timpani is an orchestral patch with, you guessed it, timpani. I suppose it’s useful if you want to add a bit of orchestral elements to your set.
There are also preset patches like Latin Loops that feature various looped percussion you can jam over, including congas, bongos, and shakers.
One neat trick with some patches is the top right pad. Hitting this will trigger a high-pass filter, creating an EDM-like effect prior to a big drop.
You can add this to any kit on any pad, but you do lose the ability to place a sample on that given pad. The Ham & Beans preset is a perfect kit to try this out on.
Sampling your own sounds
Recording your own samples is easy. Whether it’s from your iPhone or any other source, you can do it with ease. Editing them is a little more time consuming, however.
Once you have a source plugged in to the auxiliary in, it’s as simple as clicking the ‘Sample’ button, choosing the source as ‘Record in’, and you should see some signal to the meters. Adjust gain accordingly.
Once you’re ready to sample, press ‘Arm to record’, hit ‘Record’ and play your sample. When finished, press ‘Stop’.
Editing samples on the Strike Multipad
Once saved, you will now need to edit the waveform so the initial transient begins when you hit your pad.
Editing the start and stop points done by using the two left rotary knobs. Be sure to use the zoom function to get as close to the start of the wave as you can.
Use the ‘Play’ button to see how you did editing. If the volume seems a little low, you can use the normalize function to bring it to the level of all the other samples.
This can be a little bit tedious to do on the sampler, so you may want to edit any additional samples in a DAW prior to importing them to your sample pad.
A + B sample function
A new feature being introduced by the Strike MultiPad is the A + B sample function. This allows you to have two samples linked to one pad. They can either play together at the same time or alternate between the two.
Of course you can take this concept much farther inside a DAW with a computer, but it is nice to have a standalone feature such as this.
The Alesis Strike MultiPad also features an awesome looping function. You can record your performance and overdub up to sixteen measures.
In addition to looping samples from inside the unit, you can also loop sounds from the audio input on the back of the unit. You can plug in a microphone, keyboard, guitar, mixer, anything you can think of.
I don’t believe the looper function quantizes your performance to a grid like Ableton Live does, so make sure your playing is on point.
Inputs and Outputs
Another impressive section of the unit is the back panel of inputs and outputs. The connectivity of the Strike MultiPad is far superior to any other pad available currently.
Here’s what the inputs and outputs look like.
- 1/4″ stereo (L R) record input
- Two foot control inputs
- Stereo auxiliary output
- Stereo main output
- Trigger input (5)
- Hi-hat input
- MIDI in/out
- USB to computer
- USB memory stick for loading samples
Tons of trigger inputs
I honestly couldn’t get over the number of trigger inputs that are available on this pad. You can have a major setup with controlled all by just this one unit.
Two of the trigger inputs are dual-zone and one is mono; you can really get creative with the types of additional trigger pads you add to your sample pad.
The auxiliary output is also great for running backing tracks. If you need to run a click track to just your mixer, this function makes that super easy.
The only thing this pad could improve upon I/O wise would be a traditional 3.5mm audio input jack for playing along with your favorite tunes. Unfortunate that we have to use an adapter to plug in, but that’s not too big of a deal.
The headphone jack is located on the front of the unit and you can either use a 1/4″ jack or a 3.5mm jack… Seems like this may have been the perfect spot to put the auxiliary input on the front if you ask me.
In addition to all the great features mentioned thus far, the unit also functions as an audio interface (2in/2out).
You can easily run backing tracks alongside Ableton Live without the need of an additional interface if you only need a few outputs.
Alesis has stepped up their game, making a serious case for professional drummers.
Being that the unit comes with a copy of Ableton Live Lite, I can see many drummers in bands using this sample pad to introduce backing tracks to their live performance.
The looping functionality is great and the ability to overdub samples in real time from the unit standalone is superb.
It’s definitely a step up in price when compared to the SamplePad Pro, but with the added features and build quality, I believe it’s justified.
Interested in other options? Read up on our roundup of the top electronic drum pads here.
Images courtesy of Alesis.com
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