Review: Alesis Strataprime Electronic Drum Kit

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Review: Alesis Strataprime Electronic Drum Kit

Alesis Strataprime Electronic Drum Kit
Words by Michael Pasahidis

Alesis Strataprime Electronic Drum Kit | Electric Factory | RRP: $5999

Alesis has once again bridged the gap between electronic and acoustic drumming. The rhythmic powerhouse ascends back to the top of the electronic instrument industry with 2024’s Strataprime, an electronic drum kit promising to knock the socks off any percussionist ready to take it on.

Alesis as a group has been igniting the electronics industry since the 80s, with recent models of drumkit such as the Nitro Max setting the standard for the field… but the battle between acoustic and electronic is as old as time (or at least the late 80s!) Never has an electronic kit claimed to have gotten quite as close, or dare I say to have surpassed, the appeal of a good ol’ set of shells.

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To get to the crux of this (conun)drum is to take a closer look at what exactly makes the Strataprime truly state-of-the-art, the next big step in Bonham vs. BFDs.

Alesis Strataprime Electronic Drum Kit

‘Strata’ is derived from Latin meaning to spread out, to expand. When looking at Alesis’ Strataprime, the sheer versatility and customisation are what immediately strike. To call it simply a 10-piece drum-kit almost seems unjust.

Featured are 8-, 10-, 12- and 14-inch toms, along with a sizey 20-inch kick drum all fitted with beautifully sleek mesh heads. The snare drum is 14 inches, with a dual zone mesh head of its own. The dual-zone mesh head, combined with a revolutionary new trigger system, gives rise to a beautifully dynamic snare that produces a spectrum of sounds in the exact way an acoustic snare would. Those drum rolls will in no way sound robotic, which is simply incredible.

The multi-tonality system doesn’t stop there. The kit features a stylish 14-inch hi-hat, two 16-inch crashes, and an 18-inch ride, all of which features Alesis’ triple-zone, 360-degree system. This means drummers can now get the soft bell rings, big sweeping washes and anything in between from anywhere on the cymbal, facilitating more control than ever behind an electronic kit.

We’ll pause for a moment to discuss the hi-hats with the Strataprime, their magnetic design picking up every nuance of both your pedal control and sticks, offering a world of sounds previously unavailable to the e-drummer, also being compatible with most hi-hat stands!

The list could stop there, and Alesis would have themselves an extraordinarily capable kit. But, you don’t build a name like Alesis’ by “stopping there”.

Alesis Strataprime console

Strataprime module

The most jaw-dropping abilities of the kit truly lie in that neatly packed little module. The brains of the kit feature an impressive 10.1-inch touch screen, a bunch of knobs, and a few extremely helpful buttons. There’s one to play, one to pause, and one to record. It’s a system that anyone can learn, yes even drummers, and a tell-tale sign of perfect design. In making a kit this powerful and this accessible, Alesis has struck a perfect balance.

The module also boasts a mind-blowingly customisable ‘Kit Edit’ section, through which you can select any of the trigger slots, and edit which drums go where. Essentially, you’re building your own drum kit from either the vast selection of 400+ pre-loaded pieces, or whatever else you choose to add with the 128 GB internal storage. Once decided on a desired set-up, you can alter the microphone levels on each drum using the module knobs. You can edit the overhead, top, bottom, stacks, and room microphones, giving the drumkit a genuine studio level of control.

Moving on to the ‘Trigger Edit’ menu, there are options to adjust the sensitivity of the triggers in each drum. This is where you can really make the most of the dual-tone mesh heads. The sensitivity and threshold of the triggers can be modified on both the rim and the head of each drum, meaning you can get beautiful rimshots that pop like fireworks without risking your hearing every time you hit the snare.

Scan time, mask time, mask decay, zone balance, and rim balance

The advanced ‘Trigger Edit’ settings include scan time, mask time, mask decay, zone balance, and rim balance. You’re practically creating your own sound profile for each head. Gone are the days of rifling through stacks of drumheads to find the perfect sound, in this module, they are elegantly brought to your fingertips.

Drums feel unique in instrumentality. So much of a good groove can be attributed to physical proprioception, or the ability to control all four limbs. There is no instrument as physically demanding and while the Strataprime has all the bells and whistles, drummers can surely agree that they wouldn’t mean much if the kit doesn’t ‘play’ well.

This is an area of drumming that electronic kits probably lend themselves to. They are significantly less space-consuming, and the Strataprime capitalises on this. The four-post steel rack feels ergonomic out of the box. It is simple to set up, features sleek, efficient and robust locking clamps, and promises to get drummers drumming as soon as possible. Moving around the kit feels easy, as would be expected of Alesis’ flagship kit.

Alesis Strataprime cymbal

A surprisingly successful feature is the cymbal choke. This has typically been a point of struggle for electronic kits, and the differentiation between the hit of a drumstick and the grab of a hand has left a bit to be desired. When playing, there’s nothing worse than moving around an electronic kit, feeling locked in, and keeping tight time, only for a cymbal choke to misfire and ring out like a distant call from the long-forgotten acoustic drum. The Strataprime has all but nailed this feature. It feels sharp and instantaneous, and while probably not the biggest problem to rectify, it provides a nice reminder of exactly what Alesis has achieved with the Strataprime; a kit that expands to cover all bases, that lives up to the ‘strata’ in its name.

All in all, the Strataprime pushes electronic drum kits into a whole other level. While traditionally fantastic for low-volume practice in apartments, bedrooms or for writing and demoing ideas, they’ve often been used with a caveat: the feel, rebound and sound quality that has been long associated with electronic kits.

The Strataprime bucks all this, delivering stellar drum sounds with complete control of the samples, and all with a forward thinking approach to triggering the samples that allow drummers to harness every nuance of each part of the kit like never before.

For local enquiries, visit Electric Factory.