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The Alesis DM6 Electronic Drum Kit:Drumming With Volume Control!

By Elianne Halbersberg

Whether you need a quality at-home practice kit, a backup kit for jamming with your band, or you are investing in your future as a drummer, the Alesis DM6 is a great choice.

The DM6 comes with three tom pads, an upright kick drum pad, hi-hat, crash and ride cymbal pads, drumsticks, hi-hat and bass drum pedals, metronome and sequencer with music tracks for playing along.

The sound module features 108 quality drum with cymbal and percussion sounds. Drummers can use headphones or connect their kit to an amplifier and a stage monitor with drum input and iPod dock, or a PA system. They can connect an external input and mix it in with the DM6’s stereo input jack. The DM6 is also compatible with the Alesis MasterControl studio interface and ProTrack handheld stereo recorder. As a special feature — great for parents, partners and neighbors — there is also a volume knob!

Planet Ill spoke with Dan Radin, Marketing, Alesis, about the DM6 and Alesis’ stronghold in the electronic drum market.

Planet Ill: Let’s start with some basic information about the DM6 and its target audience. Dan Radin: The DM6 is our new entry-level drum set. It’s compact and all in one. Acoustic drums are really loud, and parents aren’t fans of their kids taking up drums. If I’d had a DM6 when I was learning to play, my parents would have been very happy, because it has a volume knob. The fingerprint that the kit takes up is tiny. It comes with a lot of practice tools, so in that way it also has a lot of educational benefits.

Planet Ill: When did Alesis begin developing electronic drums?

DR: Alesis has been around since 1980 and started as a recording and audio technology company. Over the course of the 1980s, Alesis became a leader in drum modules, or “brains,” which have drum sounds in them. They were developed for keyboard players and studio musicians who wanted to program the sounds and not hire a drummer.

Fast-forward to the early 1990s, and electronic drum modules evolved into drum pads that you could play. This spurred us to get more serious about electronic drums. In 2007, with the DM5, we began looking at electronic drums as a direction for Alesis. We haven’t abandoned our roots, but drummers came into the company with great ideas about doing things differently and filling places in the market where there was no product doing what we wanted.

Planet Ill: What separates the DM6 from being “Just another electronic drum kit?”

DR: The feel. We are also experts in sound amplification and have built Dynamic Articulation into our products since the 1990s, to engineer realism into our electronic drum sounds, from the DM5 up to the DM10. When I talk to drummers, their experience with electronic drums is that they don’t feel like acoustic drums. Ours do. With the higher-end kits we use real acoustic drumheads and rims and real alloy cymbals. We use drum-centric designs to make things easier to use.

Planet Ill: How have the numbers shifted in terms of musicians using electronic drums versus acoustic drums?

DR: It depends on the musicians. With professional drummers, the willingness to integrate electronics into an acoustic set is more prevalent. Very frequently you will see someone playing acoustic drums with electronic pads dispersed around the kit. You don’t see professional drummers using an electronic kit onstage. You see them in the studio because they’re quick and easy. You have left and right outputs out of the module and you’ve got great-sounding drums. For students and weekend warriors, they offer ease of playing, working in a mix, and volume control. You see electronics the most with metal bands because they have such high stage volume. It’s common for them to use triggered bass and tom sounds.

Metal drummers have triggers on their acoustic drums to turn them into an electronic signal in a DM10 module or pads. You see acoustic drums, but they’re not using an acoustic kick. In Hip-Hop, when you listen to tracks, they’re nearly 100 percent samples and electronic sounds, so electronic drums are a perfect fit. Nine out of 10 times they’re triggering electronic sounds, and from producers I hear that they want the live drum feel on tracks. Travis Barker [Blink 182] played on half the hits of the last two or three years. With electronic drums, you can change the sound after the fact.

Planet Ill: What are the components and materials that make up the DM6?

DR: The DM6 uses DM rubber pads designed to give the feel and response of natural drumheads and lower the sound of the stick on the head. They are all velocity-sensitive. The snare is a dual-zone pad with one in the center and one on the rim for rim clicks. The cymbals are DM pad cymbals for a natural feel and rebound and less noise. The rack is all aluminum tubing. The clamps are all wing-screw adjustable. It’s an easy setup; you can do it without tools from the box. The cables are pre-snaked together and labeled. The multi-pin connector on the cables plugs into the back of the drum module. The bass and hi-hat pedals are a first.

There is a one-year warranty on parts and labor. I work with the quality assurance testers, and this is real-world tested for anything a drummer can throw at it!

Planet Ill: What about software compatibility?

DR: The DM6 was designed as a standalone and all the sounds are built in. It has USB-MIDI output, so just like with a standard MIDI keyboard or MPC, you can connect the module to a Mac or PC and work with any MIDI-compatible software. If you have Toontrack, Reason or BFD, you can use the DM6 as a controller, record your parts, MIDI them into your computer, and manipulate and control the software after the fact. You record the audio in real time and then apply any information. This is one of the only kits that will allow you to do it easily and directly into the software.

Planet Ill: The DM6 retails for $499. How does Alesis maintain an affordable price point?

DR: Really, the biggest part is we design virtually all of our products with the price point in mind: what it will take, and what makes sense to include and design to enable us to hit that price point. We’re very price conscious. For a lot of customers, music is not a means of income. What can they afford? We maintain our focus on price point being very important to the success of our products.


Elianne Halbersberg is a freelance writer whose work has also appeared in Mix, Premier Guitar, Electronic Musician, Audio Media, Ink 19 and many other magazines and websites.

Used with permission from PlanetIll.com. Read the original article here.