Having pottered about with the Alesis Sample Rack last month, it was nice to get into a drum module form those guys, especially given that I haven’t used one of theirs for about ten years now. So, after sending that unit back, this month I got to play around with the Alesis Sample Pad Pro, once I was able to pry it out of the hands of my slightly excited editor.
TAKE A HIT
We have seen a total overhaul of the Alesis digital drum range in the past twelve or so months. The layout is fairly simple, with six large pads on the top panel and two long bar-style pads running along the top edge. You also have inputs for Kick and Hi-Hat trigger pedals if you wish to add those to your setup for greater versatility. From there, it’s really just a matter of bashing away. Basic operation requires all of about a glance at the manual, still sealed in its plastic bag, to know how to get this thing up and running.
The actual samples within the unit are a real mixed bag, with some of them sounding huge and others that you could take or leave. I’m not overly fussed with all of them, but there are plenty of very usable drum and percussion hits in there. If there isn’t enough for you, or the pre- programmed sounds don’t suit your needs, you can load more from the SD card port on the front panel.
There is more than 200 inbuilt sounds that you can edit and store into the 10 pre-set kit banks. So, you already have a fair bit of variety, but it would have been nicer if a little more of the internal memory had been spared to allow for some additional kits to be stored, even ones built from the existing sounds. Alas, we can’t get always everything we want at the right price too. When compared to other products on the market, the Alesis delivers well in a number of areas and certainly remains price competitive compared to other digital drum pad solutions. When you consider that it also has a USB output for direct connection to your computer, it suddenly becomes a very handy recording tool and alleviates so much of the hassle of programming drum patterns into your sequencer. In all, this is a great unit and, ahead of its rack partner, I think the Samplepad Pro has the edge for usability.
Hits and Misses
Good size pads for ease of use with sticks or hands
Ready to take a beating and deliver results
Limited pre-set compared to available
Reliance on SD card seems a little painful