Synthesizer Hardware > drum - Late 90s

Alesis DM5 (late 1995) 16 bit drum module



--- Quote ---"The DM5 is a worthy successor to the D4. No sequencer should go to work without one."
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--- Quote ---PAUL WHITE checks out the successor to his beloved D4 and ends up casting sidelong glances at his cheque book.


A cursory glance at the new Alesis DM5 module is enough to confirm that much of its hardware and operational architecture is based on its predecessor, the D4 (reviewed in SOS November 1991) -- but the sounds are largely new, the front panel has been brought into line with Alesis' more recent product range, and there are one or two extra features well worth taking a look at.

Unlike conventional drum machines, the DM5 doesn't have an on-board rhythm sequencer -- it is a drum sounds generator that may be triggered via MIDI in the same way as any other synth module, or directly via drum pads or contact mics. It may even be triggered from off-tape drum sounds (ideally gated first), allowing sub-standard recorded sounds to be replaced by DM5 sounds.

There are 12 separate input trigger jacks which may be adjusted for sensitivity and set to trigger any of the sounds in the currently loaded kit. The trigger system includes a hi-hat footswitch mode for open, closed and closing sounds, and the sounds may be assigned to groups, so that closed hi-hats cut off open hi-hats, just like the real thing. The footswitch input may also be set to cycle round the drum kits if the hi-hat feature is not required.

On the D4, it was possible to feed one of the trigger inputs from a pickup mounted on the frame of the drum kit (or pad system) to help cancel out any crosstalk between pads, but on the DM5, this has been replaced by a more conventional crosstalk elimination system which is individually adjustable for each pad.

The external triggering appears to be much the same as it was on the D4, except that the new display now shows which trigger pad is being hit, while a small VU-style meter at the bottom of the screen aids in adjusting the sensitivity to match that of the pads or trigger units being used. The drum trigger section isn't just an add-on -- it offers facilities to rival very serious stand-alone pad-to-MIDI converters. Those wishing to use the triggering feature may be interested to read the constructional article in SOS August 1995, which describes how to make a full set of working drum pads for less than the cost of a takeaway curry for two!

As with the D4, there are two sets of stereo outputs to which any sound can be assigned (Main and Auxiliary), and I find that assigning the snare and bass drum to one pair of outputs (panned left and right to maintain separation), and the rest of the kit to the other pair works best. Level and Pan for each sound within a kit may be set, and because many of the sounds are recorded with ambience or reverb, external processing isn't always necessary and EQ is rarely needed. The MIDI socket arrangement is the same as the on the D4 with a dedicated MIDI In and a combined MIDI Out/Thru.


"The sound quality of the D4 was excellent, and the DM5 is no less impressive with its 18-bit DACs and 48kHz sample rate."

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--- Quote ---DM5 is a classic Alesis drum-sound module for drummers, programmers, producers, and anyone else who needs great-sounding drums and percussion. DM5 contains 540 stereo, 18-bit drum sounds that can be assigned to any of the 21 programmable drumsets. 12 trigger inputs enable DM5 to be used with all Alesis drum and cymbal pads, SURGE Cymbals, and the triggering devices from most other major manufacturers.

DM5 also has full MIDI I/O so it can be used as a sound source for composing, programming, and sequencing with a wide variety of controllers including keyboards, pad triggers, MPCs, and more.

Alesis' exclusive Dynamic Articulation™ technology modifies sample sounds so they change as you play them. This results in sounds that respond accurately not only to dynamic changes, but also with the appropriate timbral and color changes you'd expect from their acoustic counterparts. Our Random Sample feature also ensures you don't get the same sound twice for further creative realism.

Built-in Alesis studio effects including reverb and ambiance ensure that you can send a complete, finished sound to the PA, recording system, and your headphones with no additional processing.
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