So you got an Alesis Nitro Mesh eh? Those preset sounds are pretty lame eh? But the Nitro Module is not lame at all, actually it can sound quite good once you learn how to make your own custom kits. I’ve done several videos on YouTube about this already, but they’re pretty lengthy and usually going for a specific sound. I thought I would put together this quick reference for anyone looking to get right into creating their own drum kits on the Nitro Module.
The Voice Key (NUM tells you watch sample you’re using for that pad)
The Voice Key – The voice key is where you’ll be spending most of your time. Tap it to enter edit mode and show the currently selected voice on whatever the last pad you hit was. Tap the pad, or the corresponding button on the top of the module to select which pad you want to edit. Then use the arrow buttons to select the sample you want to use. I have a complete list of all the samples in the Nitro Module located here.
VOL sets the volume of each sample
VOL – Tap the voice key again and you’ll see VOL. This is a hugely important parameter that is overlooked by a lot of people (including the preset programmers). This is your mix for each individual drum and needs to be set right, since you only have a stereo output from the module. It’s good to ballpark this setting at first, then try playing the kit and see what needs to be adjusted. Like the NUM setting, you simply tap the pad you want to change, then use the arrow keys to change the parameter. This method is used on all editing aspects of the Nitro. (Hint – try setting snares and kicks around 28 to 32, toms and cymbals around 25 to 28, and hi hats around 12 to 15)
PAN sets the position of the sample left and right
PAN – tapping the voice button again brings you to the pan menu. This is where you can put each sample more to one side or L or R. There’s two basic schools of thought here, panning from the drummer’s perspective (which is what I always do) or panning from the audience perspective. Panning from a right handed drummer’s perspective will usually have the kick and snare panned center, hi hats slightly to the left, crash 1 a little less slightly to the left, tom 1 about even with crash 1, tom 2 slightly left of center or center, ride a little right of center, tom 3 even more right, and if you have a 2nd crash and tom 4, still more right. The audience perspective will be the opposite of all of this. These are not hard rules, just general guidelines to get you started.
PIT adjusts the sample pitch up or down
PIT – Tapping the voice key again brings up PIT. This parameter allows you to move the pitch of each sample up and down. Essentially speeding them up and slowing them down to change the pitch. This is another very useful parameter to achieve your overall goal. I find it especially useful on cymbals and hi hats.
REV stands for reverb
REV – Tap the voice button again and bring up the REV menu. This allows you to set the reverb level for each drum individually. (hint, keep them all around the same it it can sound weird and uneven). If you want to turn all the reverb off, this is more easily acheived using the “KIT” button where you have the option to turn off all reverb.
SAVING YOUR KIT – DO NOT FORGET TO SAVE! Once you’re happy with how things are sounding, tap save while still in the voice menu. Select any memory slot from U25 or above then tap save again, and you’ve created your first custom kit!
Notes: What about the rest of the parameters under voice? Don’t worry about these for now, since they have to do with MIDI and using an external sound device. They are not really needed to create internal custom kits. Keep in mind that VOL and PAN are equally as important as the sample selected. This is your mix, and I view it as part of the overall production process. By default the Nitro hi hat is way too loud, bring it down a lot and it will sound more natural.
Anyway, I hope this little guide helped you out, feel free to post your comments or questions below!