Alesis has long been in the business of creating musical instruments that are both high quality and affordable. This year at the California music convention NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants), Alesis rolled out two brand new electronic drum kits: the Alesis Command Mesh and the Alesis Surge Mesh.

Alesis Surge Mesh Kit | Eight-Piece Electronic Drum Kit with Mesh Heads (10" Snare, 8" Toms, 8"...
  • All mesh drum heads for a QUIET and natural response
  • Dual-zone Technology: play two different sounds on each drum
  • 10" snare drum, (3) 8" Toms, 8" kick drum, and 10" cymbals: hi-hat, Ride w/choke, Crash w/choke
  • 4-Post Chrome rack - super solid and quick to set up
  • Kick drum pedal, connection cables, drum sticks, drum key, and power supply included

The Alesis Surge Mesh is an eight-pad, five-piece electronic kit featuring mesh drum heads that are both quiet and have amazing, natural response. This kit ships with a beautiful four-piece chrome rack. Let’s take a look at some of the features.

What’s In The Box – Alesis Surge Mesh Review

All drums feature mesh drum heads for a better, natural feel

  • 10″ dual zone snare drum pad
  • Three 8″ dual zone tom pads
  • 10″ cymbals (3): a ride, hi-hat, and a crash cymbal
  • Auxiliary input for playing along with smart device or MP3 player
  • Surge drum module that includes 40 kits, 60 play-along songs
  • 385 unique sounds
  • Four-piece chrome rack, cables, sticks, drum key, and power source

The Drum Module of the Alesis Surge Mesh

The module itself almost resembles a metronome, like a Dr. Beat. It features a backlit LCD screen with plenty of buttons for customizing kits and changing everything from effects to recording your performance. You can reassign pads and create kits on the fly. There are 40 ready-to-go drum kits right out of the box.

In addition to tons of kits and percussion sounds, the Alesis Surge Mesh comes pre-loaded with sixty play-along tracks for practicing and performing.

My Overall Thoughts on the Alesis Surge Mesh

It has come to my attention that I was originally a little bit too harsh on the Surge Mesh. Having realized what great value lies in this kit, I have updated the review.

Alesis is a fantastic company that makes everything from keytars, to MIDI controllers, to electronic drum sets, at an affordable cost. Now don’t get me wrong. I do like a lot of products that Alesis makes, but I have never been to big on their electronic drum kits. They have always seemed very cheap to me, but I believe they are beginning to turn themselves around.

For such a low price-point, you’re able to get an affordable electronic drum set with mesh heads. Now, why are mesh heads important? More expensive electronic drum kits from Roland, for example, feature mesh heads that feel much better than traditional rubber pads.

The responsiveness from the Surge Mesh is wonderful and even will allow you to use a double bass pedal. There’s no other electronic drum set in this price range that has more amazing features. Alesis is completely dominating the e drum kit market right now, and for a good reason.

The kit is extremely convenient, as it doesn’t take up too much room and can easily be folded and put into a corner to save space in a room. For beginners, the module features a training mode for learning and even will give you a score upon finishing. It’s super helpful for getting your timing to be spot on.

The only major complaints I have with this electronic drum kit is the stock sounds offered from the drum module. They seem to lack the dynamics and subtle velocity sample changes that Roland and others have adopted in recent years. Playing buzz rolls and other quick rudiments will sound like a machine gun more than anything. Now that being said, it is rather difficult to replicate everything you can do on an acoustic drum kit, so I’m still happy with what you get with the Alesis Surge Mesh.

Why do the more expensive Roland electronic drums sound so much better, you may ask?

Despite the Alesis Surge Mesh having incredible velocity recognition for playing quiet and loud dynamics, they dropped the ball in one area: the samples. Roland and other high-end electronic drum sets use multiple samples for each velocity. This means, that you’re getting a different sample of the same drum when you tap the drum near the rim versus hitting it hard in the center.

The Alesis kit uses the exact same sample across all dynamic ranges; it just changes the volume rather than the actual sample. I think it’s hard for people to grasp this concept, but this is exactly why this kit sounds like a machine gun to me. BUT, this isn’t a deal breaker.

Even though the kit doesn’t sound completely like a real drum set, you’re getting amazing value with the Surge Mesh. I understand why they did this, as it’s a great way to cut cost on their end and make the product more affordable for the public.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S9RZEIE82iw

Expanding the sound of your Alesis Mesh with Virtual Studio Technology (VST) Plugins

If you already own the Surge Mesh, or a similar kit, it’s very easy to expand the sounds of your drums. Using VST plugins, you can get different software like Addictive Drums 2, EZ Drummer, Steven Slate Drums, or GetGood Drums. There are many more plugin options; these are just a few of my favorites.

In order to use VST plugins with a computer and your electronic drum kit, you’ll need a digital audio workstation (DAW), like Pro Tools or Ableton. If you decide to get a DAW, you’ll also be able to record your performances and be on your way to producing your own music, drum covers, whatever you can think of!

One step up from the Alesis Surge Mesh

While the Surge Mesh is a fine electronic drum set for a beginner, we think you should consider looking at Roland for something more professional. We believe the Roland TD-11KV-S or the Roland TD-25KV are nicer options instead of the Alesis drum kit if you have the budget. Now both of these kits are more expensive but are more worth your dollar in the long run.

Roland TD-11KV Electronic Drum Set Bundle with 3 Pairs of Sticks, Audio Cable, and Austin Bazaar...
  • SuperNATURAL-enhanced sound engine with Behavior Modeling provides an expressive and natural drumming experience, with compact and solid MDS-4V Drum Stand that enables fast setup and flexible positioning of drum components
  • Diverse sound library covers a wide variety of musical genres for performance and practice, and professionally recorded backing songs onboard - ideal for play-along practice and performance
  • Practice features include Quick Record/Quick Play, plus a unique COACH function that helps players of all levels build drumming skills effectively
  • Large LCD and icon-driven user interface for easy operation, and USB function provides direct connectivity to computer applications, as well as data backup and playback of WAV and MP3 audio songs
  • Equipped with mesh-head V-Pads for snare and toms (PDX-8/PDX-6) and dedicated V-Cymbals (CY-13R/CY-12C)

Have you had any experience with the Alesis Surge Mesh? Let us know in the comments below. Do you have another kit you favor over this one?

Posted by Mike Williams

Mike Williams is an accomplished studio/touring drummer and percussionist who has played with many national bands. In addition, he is also a record producer and mix engineer.

4 Comments

  1. I recently purchased a Surge Mesh kit following a 25-year drumming hiatus and have very limited (almost none, actually) experience with electronic drums in general. I decided on this kit for a few reasons – price, mesh heads, and the advertised ability to run a double bass pedal. I have enjoyed this kit so far, despite the fact that I suck after not playing for all these years, but that’s another story. A few flaws – bass drum trigger doesn’t pick up every hit, particularly at higher speeds. I have read that using one of the other inputs and programming a kick drum voice has yielded better results, but haven’t tried this yet. Hi-hat is either open or closed, but I’m fine with that as I programmed the floor tom rim for an in-between sound. As for the overall sound, I am running noise cancelling head phones and am fairly pleased with what I am hearing.

    The review that is posted by Drumming Review should be taken with a grain of salt, in my opinion, because it seems to be based on a video from the NAMM convention and from what I can tell, was not actually played by the reviewer as there is no discussion of set-up, feel, playability, etc. That being said, I do agree that this is not a gold-standard in electronic drums by any stretch, but was more of a first step to get me back into something that I have missed doing for a long time for not too much money. Since I’m basically playing along to songs on my phone for my own enjoyment, I am not concerned about how it would sound behind an actual band, so its all good. I am hopeful that they are durable and allow me to get some skills back – time will tell.

    Reply

    1. Mike Williams May 5, 2018 at 9:51 pm

      Hi Mike. Thanks for leaving some constructive comments for me. I have since updated the review. I’ll be sure to include the note about the bass drum trigger being a little lacking in sensitivity. Glad you’re back to playing once again after a long break.

      Reply

  2. Are you kidding? You’re comparing this $500 Alesis kit with kits costing $1200- $2500.

    I’ve owned a $5,000 Hart Dynamics Kit with a Roland TD-12 Sound Module. I just took delivery on this $500 Alesis Surge Kit and am blown away with how well it worked right out of the box with no tweaking or adjustment needed! The mesh pads feel great. It sounds amazing for the price and there are some very usable kits. For those of us who want Pro Sounds, we can use the USB out with our favorite VST Virtual drum kit like BFD or Slate Drums. I prefer to have 2 crashes so I’m going to order an extra crash. While everyone has different taste go to a music store and try it with a good pair of headphones or buy it rom somewhere that gives you 30 day money back. I give this a huge thumbs up for the money.

    Reply

    1. Mike Williams May 5, 2018 at 9:52 pm

      Hi TheXIT. Thank you for leaving a comment. I do appreciate the criticism and have since updated the review, taking my harshness down a bit. I do like hearing people with positive experiences, so I appreciate you sharing this.

      Reply

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