Alesis Intros Performance Pad Drum Machine

Alesis Performance Pad

Alesis has introduced a cool new drum pad controller/drum machine, the Performance Pad. It’s a drum machine, an electronic percussion instrument and you can use it as a MIDI input device.

Performance Pad features eight velocity-sensitive drum pads and a built-in electronic drum machine with professional sounds and features.

Features:

  • 8 natural feeling, velocity-sensitive drum pads with Dynamic Articulation
  • Built-in professional drum machine so you can record and play back your own beats
  • 50 Preset / 50 User drum kits with 233 sounds assignable to any pad
  • Built-in rhythm patterns to complement your playing
  • Large LCD display with easy-to-navigate interface
  • Dynamic Articulation stereo samples with reverb and ambience for realistic playing
  • 2 inputs for external kick and hi-hat pedals (sold separately)
  • Stereo input to play along with your CD or MP3 player
  • MIDI output to play external MIDI devices
  • High-quality 24-bit stereo and headphone outputs
  • Lightweight, durable enclosure

Performance Pad includes inputs for a bass drum pedal, hi-hat pedal, and a Line-level input to connect a CD Player, iPod, computer, or other audio device so that percussionists can play along with nearly any recorded mix. Built-in rhythm patterns are also included to compliment playing.

Dynamic Articulation technology is included to add nuance to the feel of every drum hit. In addition, there are industry-standard mounting holes on the bottom for easy attachment to an existing drum kit rack.

The 24-bit, high-quality headphone output on the Performance Pad insures a no-compromise playback experience without disturbing others. Connection to keyboards and sound modules is made simple thanks to the integrated MIDI output.

Pricing and Availability:

The Performance Pad is is due at music retailers late 2007. Suggested retail price is $399. Estimated street price is $299.

19 thoughts on “Alesis Intros Performance Pad Drum Machine

  1. Come on, being a percussionist, I have been begging Alesis to put out new percussion products. At first glance, and a quick glance at that, this Performance Pad looks good and has a great price point, but think about it. Only 2 outs, or 1 stereo out, no mention of a midi input to access the drum machine and other setting. No midi thru either? According to some internet sources, the sounds are from the old Alesis SR-16. This unit is at least a decade old if not older and it doesn’t contain 24 bit samples. If converted, these samples would have a lot of zeros added and not necessarily be true 24 bit. 233 sounds are ok, but 1000 sounds are better. Is that LCD display backlit? That would come in handy when playing in a dark pit. The sound stacking is cool, and the sequencer seems to have enough notes, I guess, but Alesis seems to be hiding a lot of information about this unit. I think the old Alesis D4 and DM pro were the best things that ever happened to electronic percussion. They even forced Roland to improve their electronic percussion. But since then, Alesis has produced nothing worth mentioning in the percussion area. I love Alesis, especially the HD 24, the S4 sound module, the Masterlink, and yes my old D4, but if they are going to introduce new percussion products, they gotta have 21st century things like, hmmmm, how about a usb interface, midi thru and input, multiple stereo outs, memory backup slot, true 24 bit samples including new sounds, a way to update sounds and expand capabilities, and even self powered via usb. Some of this instrument is still in question, thanks to very limited PR photos and no specs at this point. What is in question? How about the number of tracks in the sequencer, samples other than percussion sounds, orchestral percussion samples like timpani, chimes, good sounding keyboards like marimba, rosewood xylophone, Deagan orchestra bells, wuhan gongs and snare drum rolls. Quantizing ability, editing ability, effects, and a ton of other things are all in question. Some of this might be in the unit, but I haven’t read it anywhere, even Alesis’ website. Again I love Alesis, but I hope they get on the ball and makes a Performance Pad Pro sooner than later.

  2. The new Alesis Performance Pad looks absolutely identical to the ION iED04 Digital Drum Station, except the ION has a white case and the Alesis has a black case. My guess is Alesis liked ION’s product, and purchased the rights to produce it under their own name.

    To me, it seems like ION built it’s iED04 DSS around an Alesis SR-16 drum machine. The ION states that it is “powered by Alesis” on it’s back edge. I own both an Alesis SR-16 and an ION iED04 DSS, and you can see they are very similar, except the ION has 8 larger-sized pads and the SR-16 has 12 smaller finger-sized pads. The buttons and display on both the SR-16 and the ION appear to be identical as well, and they appear use exactly the same software and sampled sounds. So if you already know how to use an SR-16, learning to use the ION, and also likely the new Alesis Performance Pad, should be a no-brainer.

    One big difference I did find between the SR-16 and the ION is the SR-16 has two footswitch inputs for it’s A/B fills and start/stop, and the ION has two footswitch inputs for a kick-drum and hi-hat. I really wish the ION would have included two additional footswitches for the Start/Stop and A/B fills as well as for the kick-drum and hit-hat, for a total of 4 footswitch inputs. That would have allowed my ION to fully replace my SR-16.

    Another thing I would have liked on the ION is for it to use all 12 drum pads from the original SR-16 rather than just 8. Not sure why they stopped at 8, but maybe it was a design choice to keep the unit more compact?

    I also wish the footswitches on the ION would have controlled 2 separate and unique drum pads, rather than simply duplicating 2 triggers from the 8 existing top pads of the unit. At this point, the footswitches duplicate the triggers for lower left top pad and the lower pad 2nd from the right. This makes no sense because the original SR-16 had 12 pads to choose from? Why not just pick 2 more pads for the footswitches rather than duplicating 2 of the 8 top pads?

    Although I don’t actually own an Alesis Performance Pad, I am guessing based on it’s identical appearance to my ION iED04, that the two units are probably identical in every aspect. I compared very close up photos of the Alesis Performance Pad from the Alesis website to my ION iED04, and they appear to be absolutely identical, except for color and brand name labeling.

    As far as my opinion of using my ION iED04, I think it is a very good drum machine, so I have no doubt that the Alesis Performace Pad is equally as good. I also really like my Alesis SR-16, and it’s nice to now have a similar machine that uses full sized sticks and footswtiches to control it, rather than tapping with my fingers. Most of the drum sounds are very realistic, and the response time is very quick. You can perform drum rolls and every single beat is heard in real time.

    As a previous person mentioned, I would have liked a USB interface, and a MIDI in/thru. But I guess since the SR-16 was pre-USB era, they probably didn’t want to modify the design too much when developing the ION iED04.

    One minor issue the ION iED04 has, is if you strike around the outer edges of each drum pad you trigger sounds for a different pad rather than sound for that pad. This may have been corrected in the Alesis product, but since I never tried the Alesis, I couldn’t say for certain.

    I would rate my ION iED04 machine a 7/10 for being a nice compact unit with decent sounds and good response. I highly doubt it compares to the full sized electronic drum rack systems, but it is very good for what it is, and I would recommend it to anyone.

  3. I just got an Ion iED04, and maybe you can help me. I got a Roland KD-8 kick pedal for it. If the Ion is on, the moment the cable between the pedal and drumpad is plugged in, one beat of the sound of the lower left drum pad is produced. However, when I hit the KD-8’s kick pad with a kick pedal, I get no sound. It seems to me that I came across something like my experience (no sound from KD-8 on iED04) on some forum, but I can’t find it now. I’ve heard that the Ion kick pedal that you can still find around produces only one volume level/timbre kick drum sound, and I wanted the KD-8 because it can generate variable volume & timbre. But maybe the KD-8 just won’t work with the iED04. If you don’t know, maybe you can point me at a resource. Alesis doesn’t seem to want to respond to my e-mail, so I guess I’ll have to call them to see if they’ll tell me how to get a competitor’s pedal working with their no longer supported old model–not much incentive to help me. Answers or suggestions?

    1. I know this is old, but maybe the poster will see this.

      The Roland KD-8 is a velocity sensitive pad. I imagine it uses some sort of resistance-coded feedback to a Roland drum. I know that my HandSonic 10 (Roland) reads my KD-8 as velocity sensitive.

      The ION iED-04 (which I also have) expects only a simple switch there. A standard electronic piano sustain pedal will work fine here, but (if memory serves) it needs to be normally open. A normally closed switch will trigger on the reverse pulse (not an issue for a HandSonic, which has selectable pedal polarity.)

  4. Following your description of the issue, it seems, that the pedal input is designed for a pedal with a switch only.
    So far no better suggestion, sorry …

  5. “My guess is Alesis liked ION’s product, and purchased the rights to produce it under their own name.”

    A quick check reveals that Ion Audio’s world headquarters and Alesis World Headquarters share the same address.

  6. I couldn’t agree with jerry more. Give me a USB port, room to load up any sounds I like and some type of easy interface software to allow me to do this quickly. Make me this product and I will buy it.

  7. I’m not a professional user, so what I’m asking might sound simple.. But can you sample the stereo input and save it on the device itself? Since there’s no USB to load samples in, it seems as if there’s no way to put your own samples in. Thanks for replying.

  8. BEWARE! The Performance Pad is appropriately named. It's ok for playing at a gig, IF you like it's internal sounds, but, you cannot change it's MIDI output number, which can screw you up in hooking to a module, say if the module only has percussion on MIDI channel 10. AND, more importantly you cannot change any pad's MIDI note number. In other words, it is USELESS in a MIDI studio. I'm swapping it for the Alesis Control Pad or having my old Octapad repaired.

  9. BEWARE! The Performance Pad is very appropriately named. It's ok for playing at a gig, IF you like it's internal HR-16 sounds , but, you cannot change it's MIDI output number (defaults to #1), which can screw you up in hooking to a module, say if the module only has percussion on MIDI channel 10. AND, more importantly you cannot change any pad's MIDI note number. In other words, it is USELESS in a MIDI studio. I'm swapping it for the Alesis Control Pad or having my old Octapad repaired.

  10. BEWARE! The Performance Pad is very appropriately named. It's ok for playing at a gig, IF you like it's internal SR-16 sounds , but, you cannot change it's MIDI output number (defaults to #1), which can screw you up in hooking to a module, say if the module only has percussion on MIDI channel 10. AND, more importantly you cannot change any pad's MIDI note number. In other words, it is USELESS in a MIDI studio. I'm swapping it for the Alesis Control Pad or having my old Octapad repaired.

  11. I bought my Alesis performance pad along with Battery 3, it's a fantastic combination of hardware and software and is everything i ever hoped for in a small portable drum package, the issue with the performance pad's inability to change midi note numbers for each of the pads is not a problem when using battery 3, just select the sound in battery 3 then click on midi learn then hit the pad on the performance pad you wish to assign that sound to and your done, you can build your own drum kits realy fast. I would Go for the alesis control pad if you want hassle free connection to a sound module, sampler etc as you can change midi channel and midi note numbers with this unit, although finding one for sale could be a problem, which is why i bought the performance pad. i love it.

  12. Has anyone by chance used the performance pad along with the Roland TR-505 or similar unit? The TR-505 is pretty old so I'd be worried the midi assignment problem that Jeff p mentioned might be an issue

  13. Has anyone by chance used the performance pad along with the Roland TR-505 or similar unit? The TR-505 is pretty old so I'd be worried the midi assignment problem that Jeff p mentioned might be an issue

  14. Can you produce actuall sounds from the alesis performance pad or is it just actual drum beats, or can you playy korg sorta sounds through it?

  15. Hey Dave,

    I know it has been a million years since you posted this about using the Performance Pad with Battery 3, but I am trying to to that now using Ableton Live, and cannot successfully make it happen. If you do get this and would be kind as to give me a more step by step. I cannot seem to find the Midi Learn function when operating through the Live DAW. I know I'm a dork, but if you could help I would greatly appreciate it.

    Thanks a ton!

  16. Its like you learn my mind! You appear to know a lot about this, such as you wrote the guide in it or something. I feel that you simply can do with some p.c. to drive the message house a bit, but instead of that, that is magnificent blog. A fantastic read. I will definitely be back.

  17. *Where the Alesis Performance Pad shines is as a midi output to (many) software drum programs/samplers. I can’t imagine any other practical or rewarding use of the machine, but it’s quite excellent at what it does, even if it is limited to only one useful applicaiton.

    Another user review mentioned using this pad in conjunction with the Battery 3 drum program. This is a nearly ideal setup for the hardware. I wouldn’t be caught dead using any of the internal samples of the pad, to me that funciton is totally useless.

    Not being able to change the assignment of the midi pads on the Alesis Performance Pad was initially a shocking disappointment until I realized that for my specific purposes (as a virtual drum machine to control software); although, you couldn’t effectively use certain virtual drum programs – ezdrummer and that family, for example – because there are static midi assignments in the software (static software midi assigns and static hardware midi assigns don’t mix), it was exactly what I wanted!

    Also, I believe that complaints about the pads or response of the unit are many times the results of poor technique on the player’s part. Many people that get this machine aren’t “drummers” by trade, and even a number of those that would say they are usually suffer for technique. This kind of setup will absolutely highlight errors: the surface area of each pad is much smaller than would be a real drum on a kit and it takes quite a bit of practice to get used to this. Also, if you’re using samples, you’ll find that some samples need to be cropped/tweaked in order to work really well for use in a rhythmic pattern. I would recommend youtubing Alesis Performance Pad and you will find some named drummer guy using and you’ll get an idea of the capabilities of the machine in the right circumstances, and even more importantly, a competent and fundamentally sound drummer.

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