Roland and Alesis are two of the most popular electronic brands in the world. When searching for an electronic kit to buy, the chances are high that you’ll choose a product from one of these two companies.
If you’re not sure what the differences between these drumming brands are, this guide is for you. You’ll learn about each brand and their drum sets to make a more informed buying decision. We will look at all the subtle differences between the products from each brand. I’ll also suggest drum sets from each company that fit into different budgets.
Roland vs Alesis Electronic Drum Sets
Roland is one of the main players in the electronic instrument world. The brand doesn’t only make drums, but Roland electronic drum sets are some of the company’s best-selling products.
The company has been running for almost 50 years, and their most popular drumming product is undoubtedly the TR-808 drum machine. It has had a lasting impact on the music industry, with thousands of producers using those drum sounds for songs.
This popularity has branched over to the electronic drum kits that Roland offers, and Roland has always been the top brand for e-kits in the 21st century.
Roland drums have always been at the front of electronic drum set innovation. When a Roland kit gets released with new technology, other brands tend to follow in the same footsteps at later stages. A classic example of this is how Roland released some of the first kits with mesh heads.
So, Roland drum sets are high in demand, and they are typically packed with top-quality sounds and features.
The Alesis company is a bit younger, and even went bankrupt at a stage. However, the electronic drum sets from the brand have become increasingly popular in recent years. The main reason for this is that Alesis electronic drums are more affordable than Roland kits, without sacrificing much on quality. So, they’re often more attainable drum kits for beginners and drummers with lower budgets.
Alesis drum sets typically don’t sound quite as good as Roland sets do, though. You’re only going to find high-quality samples in the top-tier kits. However, the drums cater incredibly well to new drummers as the sounds are relatively decent for players who aren’t very experienced in the drumming world.
Although Roland dominates the high-end electronic drum set market, Alesis does offer premium and intermediate level drum sets that have found some popularity amongst the drumming community, such as the Strike drum set and the DM10 E-kit.
I already mentioned how Alesis drum kits are more affordable when thinking of Alesis vs Roland, but I’ll give you a few numbers so that you have more context.
Alesis sell several electronic drum kits that cost under $1000 while Roland only sells about 3. You may find some older products from Roland for that price, but most of their newly released drum kits cost well over $1000.
If you have a low budget and want to find the best electronic drum set possible, you should look for a good Alesis drum set. If you’re happy to spend more money, a Roland drum set may be a better option.
The lower-priced Alesis kits typically offer a lot more value for the money that you pay. A signature trait of Alesis drum sets is that most of them have tunable mesh-head pads. Even the ones that cost $400. You won’t find any kit from Roland costing less than $700 if it has mesh-head pads.
If you want the best sounds possible, you’ll need to go with a Roland set. However, Alesis have come very close in competition with their Strike drum sets in terms of sound quality.
You’ll find that the sounds on the cheaper Roland sets are just as good as they are on the top-quality sets. You just don’t get the same responsiveness. Higher-quality Roland sets have pristine technology. Prismatic Sound Modeling is one of the biggest selling points of a high-end Roland electronic drum kit.
Are Roland or Alesis Drums More Popular?
Roland kits are undoubtedly the most popular options amongst pro drummers. Their quality can’t be beaten at the current stage in the drum industry. However, Alesis kits are more popular amongst beginner drummers due to their affordability.
Since Alesis drum sets are cheaper, more of them are purchased from music stores than Roland kits. A beginner drummer will find an Alesis kit more attractive thanks to its lower price.
Overall popularity is fairly subjective because of these factors. If you’re looking to buy an electronic kit, the best thing to do is to look at what both brands offer. After that, you’ll find a kit that fits your needs and budget.
Roland vs Alesis Electronic Drums
Let’s look at exactly what each brand offers. The best way to do this is to categorize kits into entry-level, intermediate, and professional categories. You can compare your options like this and see what the kits offer and how much they cost.
The Alesis Nitro Mesh is arguably one of the best beginner electronic kits on the market. You won’t find a cheaper kit that has high-quality mesh heads, and the module offers plenty for beginner drummers to delve into. This includes 40 preset drum sets and multiple practice features.
The kit also has a sturdy kick drum tower that uses a proper bass drum pedal. This is essential for new drummers as they can learn to play the bass drum the same way they would on an acoustic drum set.
The cheapest drum set from Roland is the TD-1K. It costs a few hundred dollars more, and it’s a much worse overall kit. It only has rubber pads, stopping it from having the natural response that mesh pads offer. It also doesn’t have a kick drum pad, instead only giving you a trigger pedal. The only great thing about this kit is the high-quality sounds.
Alesis is the clear winner in the entry-level category.
Both brands have multiple high-quality intermediate drum sets, so I’m only going to recommend two of them to keep things short.
The Alesis DM10 MKIII Pro is a fantastic kit from Alesis that gives you the benefit of having a large drum kit setup. It’s called the DM10 because it has 10 drum pads to play on. 6 of them are for the drums and the remaining 4 are cymbal pads.
This is the cheapest drum kit of this size that you’ll find on the market, and the sounds and features are quite decent. It has mesh pads, a large library of sounds, and a unique onboard sequencer that is loads of fun to play around with.
The kit that Roland offers in the same price range is the TD-07KVX. The drum module is simpler, but the setup of the kit is far superior. The snare drum feels a lot better to play and the hi-hat pad uses a proper stand instead of only having a trigger pedal.
If you want many drums to play, the Alesis kit would be a good option. The Roland kit is a better option in terms of overall sound and build quality.
Alesis has the Strike Pro as their flagship drum set. It’s an incredible kit that has acoustic shells, a large number of drums, and a module that has a surprising number of editing features. This kit feels incredible to play, and it’s a solid option to get if you want a professional electronic kit for a relatively affordable price compared to the other flagship kits on the market.
Roland has two flagship sets – the TD-50KV2 and the VAD706. Both of them cost more than double what the Alesis Strike Pro does. They’re clear winners in the professional category, both offering better sounds, features, and build quality than any other electronic drum set on the market.
However, the Alesis Strike is a perfectly good professional kit to go with if you’re not looking to spend exorbitant amounts of money.
Are There Other Good Electronic Drum Brands?
The other main player in the electronic drum world is Yamaha. They have some incredible electronic kits on offer. The unique thing about them is that they all have silicone heads instead of mesh. They feel slightly different, but they’re just as responsive.
Yamaha also uses their top-quality acoustic drum sets to get samples for their drum modules. So, when playing a Yamaha electronic kit, you’re hearing sounds from their acoustic product line.
There are other electronic brands out there, but none of them are near as popular as Roland, Alesis, or Yamaha.
Is Alesis or Roland Better?
In summary, Alesis offers more value for money in their lower-priced drum sets while Roland has higher-quality kits that cost a lot more. You should consider getting a Roland drum set if you want the best quality kit you can possibly get.
Otherwise, Alesis sets are decent options to consider. They’ll save you a lot of money. You could even use the saved money to buy a VST that will allow you to run much better sounds through to the kit.
There are long lists of electronic drum kits from each brand. Learn about all of them so that you know which are the best options when you’re ready to buy a new kit.