Alesis has long been in the business of creating musical instruments that are both high quality and affordable.
A few years back 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 (Sweetwater). The Surge was a popular hit with intermediate drummers, so they decided to roll out the Surge Mesh Special Edition.
The Alesis Surge Mesh SE is an eight-pad, five-piece electronic kit featuring mesh drum heads that are both quiet and have an amazing natural response. This kit ships with a beautiful four-piece black rack.
Let’s take a look at some of the features.
What’s in the box? Alesis Surge Mesh Review
- 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
All drums feature mesh drum heads for a better, natural feel.
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 too 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.
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 kit is also extremely convenient. It doesn’t take up too much room and can easily be folded and put into a corner to save space in a room.
The only major complaints I have with this electronic drum kit are 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 drum rudiments 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.
I believe 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.
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.
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 music production software, 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 SE
While the Surge Mesh is a fine electronic drum set for a beginner, we think you should consider looking at Roland or a higher-end model from Alesis.
Now both of these kits are more expensive but are more worth your dollar in the long run.
I currently own the Alesis Strike; it’s comparable to Roland V-Drums, but requires tons of tweaking to get it working correctly. If you’re interested, be sure to read my in-depth review of my Alesis Strike.
Also, if you’re still a bit confused and lost, drumming forums can be a valuable source of information. Don’t forget, you can also leave a comment or question down below!
Have you had any experience with the Alesis Surge Mesh? Let us know in the comments below. Interested in other options? We recently curated a list of the best electronic drum sets available which includes the Alesis Surge Mesh SE.
The Surge Mesh SE is a decent entry into the electronic drum kit lineup, but I feel it loses on the sounds. The Surge is a great kit for a new drummer who needs to keep the volume down.
Small and compact
Sounds are only okay
A little expensive
Images used courtesy of Alesis.com