Does the Strike MultiPad's killer combination of features, practicality and price make it the best percussion pad on the market?
I've been reviewing electronic drum and percussion gear and, more importantly, using it in my drum setup, for several years, so I'm always interested in what's new and what advancements might assist the evolving hybrid drummer. There hasn't been a huge amount of new releases since 2017's launch of the Roland SPD-SX Special Edition (a slightly upgraded and much redder version of the SPD-SX reviewed in SOS October 2012), so I've been especially keen to get my hands on Alesis' new offering, the Strike MultiPad. Slotting in at the top of the MultiPad range (which also features the SamplePad Pro and SamplePad 4), the Strike MultiPad takes its name from the flagship Strike Pro kit. On first glance at the feature list, it certainly has flagship credentials, boasting an impressive 32GB of user memory, 8000 pre-loaded sounds, five effects processors, a multitude of inputs and outputs, a looper function — and a lot of flashing lights!
Pitting itself directly against the well-established Roland SPD-SX, the Strike MultiPad certainly looks the part. It takes the familiar percussion-pad form factor: nine discrete pads (six main pads plus three smaller 'shoulder' pads), plus controls and LCD sitting beneath them. Although cased in plastic, the unit feels sturdy and well built. The rubber playing surface of the pads extends across the whole top panel of the unit (apart from the recessed area housing LCD and controls), giving it a rugged feel and ensuring that misplaced stick hits will be both relatively silent and much less likely to cause damage. The most 'striking' thing about the Strike is the large multicoloured LED beneath each pad. These tell you a number of things about each pad and the sound allocated to it — but we'll come to that later!
At the rear of the Strike you'll find four outputs — a main stereo pair plus an additional aux stereo output — all on quarter-inch jacks. Beneath the outputs are the trigger inputs, comprising three jack sockets that can accept up to five trigger inputs. Input 1 is a single-zone trigger, while inputs 2 and 3 are dual–zone and can be split between two input sources with a Y-lead. The final input is a hi-hat control, which can be connected to an on/off or variable hi-hat pedal to achieve open and closed hi-hat effects. Not only is this a great feature, it isn't available on all of the Strike's competition, and it certainly adds versatility. A further two foot-control inputs are provided; these may be used to play sounds or control functions such as selecting the next kit, tap–tempo and so on.
The Strike ships with more than 8000 sounds, but a major selling point is that it also lets you import your own samples in WAV format via the USB memory socket. Or record samples direct using any audio source, from a smartphone to a microphone, via the left and right record inputs, which feature an input level control for setting gain. In addition to MIDI I/O, the Strike MultiPad can also use USB to exchange MIDI and audio data with your Mac or PC, without the need for an additional interface.
Back at the front panel, the controls comprise the usual collection of knobs and buttons surrounding the very large and impressively informative full–colour 'radiant' LCD screen, which measures 4.3 inches.
The main, aux and headphone outputs have dedicated volume controls, a nice touch that saves button pressing and menu surfing, particularly in live situations. Two front-mounted headphone sockets...
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