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Alesis 'DM5 Drum Kit ELECTRONIC BARGAIN BANGING
BY NORMAN WEINBERG
Ayear ago, if you wanted to get a new electronic drum kit on the cheap, you had ro drop nearly a grand . For some folks - and I count myself in this group - a thousand bucks is serious green. Then, allof a sudden , A1esis entered the market with a low-cost elec
tronic set (around $500 on the street), and lots of jaws hit the floor. So before you read on, pm a hand under your face. You'vebeen warned.
OUT OF THE BOX As you no doubt expected, the centerpiece of the OM5 kit is Alesis' OM5 brain . This
machine has been around for a while and is generally considered to be a good , solid module with fast trigger inputs. The set itself contains five drum pads - a kick, snare, hi-hat, and two roms. For cymbals, the kit comes with rwo pads that function as a ride and a crash. It also includes a kick drum pedal, a hi-hat pedal, a rack stand,
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no tes ro be cut of f befo re th ey are fin EXTERNALTRIGGER.All external trigger If you want ro use your DM5 as an exished sound ing. Wh ile it m ight seem tha t par am eters are ad justed inside this func- ternal sound mod u le for a software se--------'----- I. . all rhe necessary cables ro hook every rhing toget her, and even a pai r of st icks' In fact , th e D M 5 kit is so co mplete tha t the on ly thing you'll need ro stan p layin g straig h t away is some thing ro sit on.
FEATUREFOCUS Th e DM5 uses 18- bit sam ples recor de d at 48k Hz . Th at 's a littl e bet ter th an wha t you hea r on a typ ical com pa ct d isc (I 6bit files at 44 . l kH z), and is p rett y h igh end stuff fo r a low-co st k it. Th e audio po lypho ny for th e u n it, howeve r, is o n ly 16 no tes, w hich mean s that playing mor e th an 16 notes at a ti me wi ll cause som e
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no tes ro be cut of f befo re th ey are finished sou nd ing. Wh ile it m ight seem that p lay ing 16 note s at th e same time is a pretty rare occ urr en ce, when yo u're firing long sou nds like tom s and cym ba ls, it 's no t all tha t hard ro h it yo ur head aga ins t that ceil ing. H app ily, the DM 5 ho lds a tota l of2 J d ifferen t kits in me mo ry at one time , wh ich is no t a hug e nu mbe r of indepen den t kit s, bu t is certai n ly en ou gh fo r mos t g igs and nea tly any p racti ce situatio n .
Th e D M5 also bo asts a pr etty com plete set of so unds . T he re are 94 kicks, 116 sna res, 70 roms , 33 hi-h a ts, 35 cymba ls, 113 pe rcu ssion so un ds, 64 effects, and 15 "ran do m" so unds . Th e random so unds need a littl e bit of expl ana tion . W he n one o f the th em is selec ted , a dif ferent samp le of the same voice type (sna re, h i-ha t, per cussio n , erc.) will tri gger eac h tim e the pad is p layed.
Th e front o f th e o ne- rack-space unit incl ud es a headp ho ne jack, mast er volume knob , and a LCD d isplay. A large knob is used to cha nge th e value of the vario us param ete rs, and nea rly every fu nction has its own ded icated burton to en ter in to ed iti ng m od e. T he back of th e brain co nta ins an input fo r th e pow er bri ck, a foors wi rch jack , M IDI -In , MIDI O ur/ Th ru, 12 mo no tr igger inp ut s, and four aud io ou tp uts. Ha vin g four ou tp ut s incr eases th e po te nti al for live per form ance and st udi o use.
G ert ing arou nd rhe inte rface is really qu ite simp le and one of rhe best featu res of th e uni t. T he re's a sepa rate butt on for each of the fo llowin g funct ions :
VOICE.T his bu rton is used ro selec t the
sound ro be played or ed ited. It 's a snap ro DETAILS assign a new soun d ro eithe r a pad o r a
MODEL AlesisDM5ElectronicDrumKitM ID I no te num ber. PRICE $699TUNE.Tuni ng can be adjusted from +3
ro -4 half steps in one -cent in crement s. BRAIN FEATURES 540 sounds recorded at 48kHz in 18-bitstereo, 21 drumkits, 16-noteMilt T h is determin es the voice's volume polyphony, 12 trigger inputs, MIDIIn, MIDI
and stereo pos it ion. T here are on ly seven OutfThru, two pairs of stereo outputs, poss ible stereo positi on s, bu t that shou ld headphone output, note-chase feature
do the tr ick for all but th e most dem and KIT FEATURES Fivedrumpads , two cymbal pads , rack stand, hi-hatpedal, bass druming applications . pedal, connecting cables, drumsticks
OUTPUT. Are yo u looking for main ou t
CONTACT Alesis, 200 Scenic View Dr.,puts o r auxiliary out puts? Make your selecCumberland, RI 02864 . 401 -658-5760.
tio n here. alesis .com DRUMSET.Th is butto n selects one o f
th e 21 possible kits.
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EXTERNALTRIGGER.All external trigger If yo u wa nt ro use your DM 5 as an expara me ters are adju sted inside this func ternal soun d mo d ule fo r a so ftware setion . Th e)' are covered in de tail in th e next qu ence r, you ca n access 6 1 no tes at a time section . (from M ID I note numb ers 36 ro 96 ). You
GROUP, T his bu rton determ ines how a can also shift th e roo t-note range to any voic e will soun d wh en a number of strok es M IDI note numb er. Using thi s system , are p layed in quic k success ion . you co uld have your seque ncer rrigger per
MIDI.H ere you can edit th e D M 5's cussion sounds whi le you play d rums alon g M IDI param ete rs: the roo t no te, t he MI D I with it fo r pract ice. Keep in mi nd, howevch annel , th e MI DI O ut /Th ru selection , er, th at you ' ll be limit ed to l S-n oce th e local con trol onloff, the progra m polyph on y for th e enti re mac hi ne. ch an ge ena ble, the cont ro ller enab le, and th e pro gra m change table. PERFORMANCEREVIEW
Putt ing the kit rogethe r was actua lly qui ckTRIGGERTALK er th an I thou gh t it wou ld be. From op en All the trigger inpu ts o n th e DM 5 are ing the box ro playin g th e first note rook m on o. Th is wo rks just fine fo r th e kit , as me abou t 4 5 m inu tes. T he rack co me s in a all the dru m and cymbal pads are sing le numbe r o f p ieces, but th e instru ctions tri gger pads . You can't p rogra m a sepa rat e we re clear and relat ively easy to follow. As so und for a rim stro ke o r str iki ng th e bell m ight be expecte d for a kit at this price of a cym ba l pad . You cou ld , however, add point , everyth ing is pret ty ligh t-du ty. T he a du al -tri gger pad to the ki t (pe rha ps for cla mps and co llars are all plasti c, but the the snare) and use two inpu ts on the bars a re mad e of metal. Since the rack has DM5. Since th e kit ha s seven pads and th e th ree crossbars, it's sur prising ly stur dy. In brai n has 12 inpu ts, there 's room for fu stead of using a dr u m key to make adjus ttur e expa nsion . me nts , all partS on the rack and pads are
As for p rogrammin g the pad s, the adjusted with th e include d he x-wre nch . D M5 let s yo u se t th e ga in , th e veloc ity On ce all the pads and cla mp s were curve (e igh t di fferent cu rves are ava il tigh tened dow n, everyth ing p ret ty m uc h ab le), cross ta lk be tw een th e pa ds, decay, stayed put. You'd have to be a really heavy an d no ise. In Ales is-speak , decay is not p layer to get th e pad s to slide o r mov e t he len gt h of th e so und but th e amo unt from posi tion . I was also impr essed at ho w of ti me befor e ano ther stroke ca n be rec easy it was to get the pa ds int o a p layab le og nized from th e same pa d. Whe n ad position aro und th e rack. It migh t not fit ju sted co rrec tly, thi s parameter he lps to everyo ne's physical layout, bu t it sho u ld avoid do ubl e trigge rs. Th e "no ise" value wo rk fo r the vast ma jo rity of players. serves as a noise floor tha t mu st be met T he d rum pad s are a shaped a littl e like o r exceede d be for e the dr u m wi ll fire . a shield an d are abo ut 7, 5" wide and abou t T his hel ps pre ven t fa lse trigge ri ng from 7.75" front to back. Fo r d rum pad s, they're exte rn al vibra tio ns . on th e sma ll side . I don 't mind havin g a
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VERDICT Even when you're offering an electronic kit at this price point, you 've still got to bring enough to the table: For the cash involved, Alesis spreads out a banquet The OM5 provides seven pads with a high-quality brain and everything you need to start playing as soon as you get it home. If you're looking for a kit to put in a state-of-the-art studio or to take on the road with a busy band, you won't be happy with the OM5. If you're a beginner or intermediate player looking for an inexpensive way to pract ice at home without driving your family or house mates crazy, this kit could be for you. And if you're comfortable with acoustic drums and want to get your feet wet in the world of electronic drums , the OM5 will definitely do it. Right now, you won't find a better electronic kit for the money.
tiny targe t (I've got a pretry focused pad itself do es not have a tilt ing me cha
stroke), but they're so sma JJ that it feels like nism , there's one built int o the rack arm s I'm playing o n a kit made out of bon gos. that hold the cymbal. Wh en played , the pad s make a distinctiv e Both the drum pads and the cymba l click sound , not unlike hittin g a plastic pads track ed ju st fine, and the re was a tableto p cove red by a th ick sheet of rubb er. good deal of dynamic contr ast between Th ey're certainly not as loud as playin g real soft and lou d st rokes. Whil e not as sensi
drum s, but the y're loud er than mesh-head tive as some of the bett er pads o n the mar
pad s and even most rubb er pads. ket , for most playing , they wo rked fine.
Th e cymbal pads are 11" in diameter and are also made of plast ic with a rubb er LET'S FACE IT playin g surface . There 's a little bit of play If you're going to bring an electronic kit in that gives the cymbal so me mo vement on at thi s pri ce point , you've gOt to make the stand, and you can adjust the sprin g some sacrifices. H ere are a few thing s that tension to make the cymba l move mot e or matter , as well as a few min or issues . Th e less, depending on your likin g. While the hi-hat pedal, for exampl e, is vety light
weight and flimsy. Because of some strategically placed rubber button s, it didn 't slide around on me toO mu ch , but you'll be happier bu ying a bette r electr oni c hihat controll er to go with thi s kit. T he bass d rum pedal is fun ctional but certa inly not professional grad e. I was abl e to get it adjusted to my playin g sty le, bu t it didn 't inspire confid en ce. The includ ed drum sticks were terribl e - unbal an ced , unma tched , and way too short. D on 't even try to use th em .
The D M 5 brain will let yo u set an open and closed h i-hat and even a foo t strok e. But you wo n't be ab le to progr am a foot splash . MIDI and on-b oard sound layering or alte rna t ion is not possible. On e pad equ als one sou nd. Whil e the br ain doe s have a large numb er of sou nds, I've been spo iled lately by the amaz ing quality of recent drum sof tware packages such as BFD , Drums From Hell , and oth ers. The sounds on the DM 5 are good , but the y're not killer. And too bad that the unit do esn't h ave an audio input so th at you can play along with your favorite tunes on you r iPod .
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