The Alesis Command Mesh Kit Special Edition gets you into electronic drums with everything you need to start, while delivering the natural feel of playing an acoustic kit. For example, the Command’s mesh pads offer much the same response as conventional drum heads, and you can choke the crash and ride pads just as you would with real cymbals. Dual-zone tom and snare pads let you load two sounds (one on the head and another on the rim), which makes it easy to deploy acoustic techniques—like switching between full-on swacks and rim shots on the snare. It also makes it possible to do things you can’t do with an acoustic tom or snare, such as bringing in a completely different sound. Switch between a floor tom and a conga, or a rack tom and a cajon, or perhaps even a snare drum and a siren. Play whatever inspires you, because the Command Advanced Drum Module not only includes hundreds of traditional, modern and high-tech drums, it also lets you load in your own sounds via USB.

Digging deeper into the Command sounds, the module gives you 671 options across a whole bunch of styles, as well as 74 complete kits (54 factory-created sets, plus memory slots for 20 user designs). Many of the sounds are multi-sampled at various attack and dynamic levels to accommodate different performance techniques. In other words, you don’t just hear a loud or a soft attack, you get many of the dynamic variations in-between, which allows snare and tom rolls to sound completely natural—rather than stiff and eerily mechanical, like a cheap 1980s drum machine.

If you want to document your licks, the Command Advanced Drum Module lets you record up to five internal tracks—or 99 with a USB thumb drive—for reviewing later. You can even lay down tracks direct to a DAW using the Command’s USB/MIDI connection, as well as take advantage of the expansive library of add-on kits available through the BFD Player plug-in. Furthermore, Alesis and Melodics offer learning tools that get you grooving with popular hits and provide feedback on your progress.