With every new firmware update, the Alesis Strike kit grows smarter and more capable of automatically adapting to each player, including the elusive hi-hat. Hi-hat auto-calibration and new precision settings for fine-tuning response mean a better feeling hi-hat and a more satisfying kit overall. This article covers every step of hi-hat configuration, including physical setup, adjusting settings (if necessary), and what do if the hi-hat is not responding as expected.
Before continuing with this guide, we recommend installing the latest v1.4 firmware update for your Strike module. Visit the Strike product page to download and our installation and setup guide for a complete overview.
- What to Expect
- Setting up the Hi-Hat
- Fine-tune Settings
- Default Settings
- I moved my kit to a new location and now my hi-hat responds differently.
- Open hi-hat sounds still trigger with the hi-hat closed, or closed hi-hat sounds still trigger with the hi-hat open.
- I have to press down hard on the pedal to trigger a closed sound.
- The chick and closed sounds are triggering too much or not enough.
- The splash sound is triggering too much or not enough.
- My top cymbal responds better when I hit the Alesis logo.
- I can't get the bow or edge to trigger on my hi-hat. What do I do?
While there is no one perfect preset to encompass all drummers, playing styles, hi-hat stands, etc., this guide will explain what you need to know to best adapt the response to you.
While following this guide, remember that every percussion instrument, acoustic or electronic, will require a unique touch. Electronic drum kits rely on distinct and deliberate performances in order to correctly read the player and react with the appropriate sound, velocity, volume, etc. This makes for a satisfyingly consistent and reliable sound when done correctly, but can be more unforgiving to mistakes than their acoustic counterparts. No amount of setting adjustments can account for simply not striking a pad consistently, completely or with enough force.
The intent of this article is to get you as close to a "perfect" hi-hat response as possible, so you can play the Alesis Strike kit with confidence.
The first step to being successful with the Strike hi-hat is the physical arrangement of the hi-hat pads and stand. The Strike hi-hats will work with virtually any hi-hat stand and can easily adapt to your playing style, but their response and feel will depend on if the pieces were put together correctly. Changing settings to account for placing the spring upside down, may only make the response worse.
So, before touching any settings, it's important to ensure the hi-hat is arranged correctly on your hi-hat stand.
- The hi-hat control module will go on first. But before placing the hi-hat control module on your hi-hat stand, look for and remove any felt washers that would sit directly beneath the control module on the cymbal seat (i.e. where a real bottom hi-hat cymbal would normally be resting).
Most, if not all, hi-hat stands will include a felt washer or pad to be placed below the bottom hi-hat cymbal to protect it. If not removed, this felt will contribute additional and unnecessary suspension to the Alesis hi-hat and control module that will result in unexpected hi-hat behavior.
For the most accurate and controlled response, please make sure that this felt piece is removed and the hi-hat control module is resting directly on the hi-hat cymbal seat.
- Make sure the smaller 1/8” cable coming from the bottom cymbal is plugged into the hi-hat module which the bottom cymbal sits on top of. This cable will communicate to the module that the hi-hat pedal is closed.
- Make sure the spring that rests on the bottom cymbal has the black "stopper" on the top side, closer to the top cymbal and not down inside the cymbal. If this 'Stopper' is upside down inside of the bottom cymbal, it will not function properly.
- Now loosen your hi-hat clutch and let the top cymbal rest on top of the spring.
- At this point your setup options will be somewhat preferential:
- You can tighten the hi-hat clutch right where it is. However, some users may prefer to have the top and bottom hi-hat cymbals a little further apart when idle. If this is your preferred setup, it is recommended that the top cymbal is pulled up off the spring slightly, or about an inch or so. However, lifting the top cymbal too high off the spring may result in some unexpected behavior when "stomping" the hi-hat pedal.
- Pushing down on the spring and then tightening the clutch is not recommended. Not only does this make the two hi-hat cymbals contact more frequently, but compressing the spring actually limits how much data the module can use to make the different hi-hat articulations sound correctly!
During your setup, be cognizant of the placement of the ALESIS logo on this pad. The logo should be farthest away from you, so you can read ALESIS correctly. If you need to turn this around to get a better response, see our troubleshooting section below for instructions.
The automatic calibration will complete the hi-hat optimization process for most users. But, there are a few adjustable parameters, that when used correctly, can help you further define the hi-hat perfomance.
Keep in mind, these settings should only be used to correct specific behaviors and changing settings without a full understanding may only make the response worse. Make adjustments only in small increments and as recommended below to avoid going down the rabbit hole. The settings do require a balance for the best response, but if you find that adjusting one setting means that you need to re-adjust another, you may be adjusting the wrong parameter.
- Offset - The Offset parameter will help the Strike compensate for where the hi-hat pedal actually closes, as in where the two cymbals actually touch or where you would consider them to be closed. For instance, if this is set too low the hi-hat cymbal will not play closed or "chick" sounds. This new parameter is crucial to the overall performance, but once this is set right, everything else is purely up to personal preference.
- Foot Sens - This will make the "Chick" sound more or less dynamic. The higher this is set, the louder but less dynamic the "chick" sound will play. For more nuanced style playing, experimenting with a slightly lower setting here will result in a more larger dynamic range. The Velocity Curve will also affect the dynamic response of the chick and goes hand-in-hand with the Foot Sens.
- Splash - Creating a splash sound with the hi-hat will require quickly pressing down and releasing the hi-hat pedal, basically striking the hi-hats together quickly and releasing so the top cymbal rings out. Use the Splash parameter to control how easy it is to trigger a splash sound. Higher settings will make it easier to trigger a splash, so setting this too high will result in more accidental splash triggers.
- Velocity Curve - Refines the dynamics of the chick sound. In general, the velocity curve will decide how the Strike module takes the incoming velocity (i.e, the speed and pressure of each strike) and translates that into sample layers and volume level of the sound that you hear. Each curve type will scale the velocity to output ratio in a specific manner. Linear, for example, will scale velocity evenly from softest to loudest response, Log will scale up to louder hits quickly, and Exp will favor softer hits more. Once you have the triggers responding to each hit, this is a great way to adapt the dynamics of the response to your playing style.
- Pedal Curve - Helps tune how easy it is to get closed versus open hi-hat cymbal sounds. If you prefer to hear more closed or semi-open sounds, choose one of the logarithmic curves (Log 1-4). If you prefer a more open sound, choose an exponential curve (Exp. 1-4). Select Linear for an even balance between these.
It's popular to reach for the Sensitivity setting when you're experiencing missed or dropped hits, but remember that the sensitivity setting here is intended only for adjusting the chick/stomp setting and will not make the pads more susceptible to responding to hits.
While making your adjustments, keep in mind that most settings will not need to be changed dramatically. If you feel like you've made too many changes and would like to start over, you can reset to all factory settings by holding down STOP and ENTER while powering on the module, or refer to the chart below for all default hi-hat settings for firmware v1.4:
|Hi-Hat Bow||Hi-Hat Edge||Pedal|
|XTalck RCV||03||XTalk RCV||00||Splash||80|
|Input Type||PIEZO||Input Type||SWITCH|
|XTalk Send||00||XTalk Send||00|
This section compiles common hi-hat behavior and what to do if you experience these particular symptoms. Remember that any setting adjustments should be made in small increments and only for the reasons prescribed. If you find yourself, reaching for more than one setting at a time, or pushing some of the values to their extremes, you may want to reset to the default settings above and start over.
Your hi-hat settings are specific to your hardware (i.e. hi-hat stand) and the physical arrangement of that hardware. If you were to change the distance between the top and bottom pads, switch hi-hat stands, or even the surface the hi-hat is placed on, you may need to make some new adjustments.
Just like a real drum kit, the surface/stage you are playing on will absorb vibrations better or worse than others, which means more or less vibration to be absorbed and used by the hi-hat trigger. For example, if the hi-hat has been optimized to respond best on a hard, concrete floor, you may find that moving to a soft carpet dulls the response. This will affect all triggers, but the intricate nature of the hi-hat makes this a bit more sensitive than the rest of the kit. In this situation, increasing sensitivity or decreasing threshold for the trigger in question (bow, edge, or pedal) will make the hi-hat more responsive when a portion of each strike is being absorbed into the floor.
Open hi-hat sounds still trigger with the hi-hat closed, or closed hi-hat sounds still trigger with the hi-hat open.
If it seems like the spectrum of movement between closed and open sounds is slightly off (pressing harder than expected to trigger closed, or mid sounds triggering when the hi-hat is wide open), try a different Curve setting. Choose Log 1-4 to favor more closed and mid sounds, and EXP 1-4 to favor more open sounds.
Try a different Pedal Curve setting. Choosing a logarithmic curve (LOG 1-4) will make it easier to generate a closed or semi-open sound.
The Offset parameter will ultimately decide where the Strike module considers your hi-hat to be closed. If set too high, you may find that chick or closed sounds start triggering too much, even when the hi-hat isn't fully closed. Start playing the hi-hat, preferably with a range of open and closed sounds, and slowly turn the Offset parameter down until the closed and chick sounds start triggering at a point that feels natural. Once this is correct, the other hi-hat parameters listed in the section above can be used to further define the volume and velocity of the response.
If the chick and closed sounds are not triggering enough, do the opposite: Start playing the hi-hat and slowly turn the Offset parameter up until the chick and closed sounds trigger at a natural point in the hi-hat range.
Reach for the splash setting. More footwork may make the splash trigger more accidentally, so decreasing the Splash setting will decrease the range in which the splash will occur. Increasing the value will open the splash range and make it easier to hit.
If you find that you're getting a better response by striking using the back-side of the top-cymbal (the side with the Alesis logo), this could mean a problem with the pad. Contact your nearest support team to help take a closer look.
If the top cymbal is not responding, start by making sure that the top cymbal is plugged in correctly by following the steps in the hardware setup section above. The cable labeled "Hi-Hat" should be connected to the top cymbal and the Hi-Hat input on the module.
If that doesn't do it, disconnect the cable from your crash cymbal and connect it to the top hi-hat cymbal. If you are able to trigger the Crash edge and bow sounds than the cymbal is working correctly and the problem is somewhere in the hi-hat settings or physical setup. If it does not respond, this could mean a problem with the pad. Contact your nearest support team to help take a closer look.