Alesis Control Pad

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The ControlPad is a compact performance instrument and drum-programming tool. The ControlPad is an eight-pad playing surface that you can connect to software via USB and hardware sound modules via MIDI. Play the sounds from virtually any MIDI software, drum module, synthesizer or keyboard workstation, or other MIDI instrument with your sticks.

We bought this unit from eBay a while ago and decided to put up a video review. Our friend Rob (visit him at dropped by and played few demo beats while producerD was taking care of unit’s demonstration.

Few weeks after we uploaded the video to YouTube, we start receiving lots of comments and questions. We tried our best to answer all of them individually. Many of these comments and questions are similar, so in this support article we summarized them into few major categories and tried to answer them.

Q. Can I load my own custom samples into Alesis Control Pad?

A.  No, not custom nor any others. Alesis Control Pad is a midi controller only. It doesn’t have any build in audio engine and this particular unit can only generate MIDI data to be sent to external sampler or tone generator.  In our case we hooked it up to our computers’ soundcard via MIDI. As a sampler we used BFD VSTi(not BFD LE) running under Cubase as a host.

Alesis Control Pad vs. Alesis Performance Pad
figure 1. Alesis Control Pad vs. Alesis Performance Pad

However, what may be confusing for some people is that Alesis has another product which is called Performance Pad. This unit does have a built-in tone generator.

It doesn’t need any additional samplers or tone generators to make sound. Refer to our figure 1. to see the difference between Alesis Control Pad and Alesis Performance Pad. However, according to Alesis, Performance Pad is not a sampler, that means users can not load their own samples nor they can use Line-level input of the unit for sampling. It is only designed to pass through the sound from CD Player, iPod, computer, or other audio device.

Q. Can I connect this unit to PA, speakers, recorders etc.?

A. No, for the same reason as explained above. Though it looks like Alesis Control Pad has a ¼” TRS connectors on the back of the unit, they are not designed for processing any kind of audio signal.

Alesis Performance Pad and Control Pad - Backs
figure 2. Alesis Performance Pad and Control Pad – Backs

Referring to figure 2. we can see that first two inputs from the left are marked as “trigger input”. These inputs designed to plug in drum triggers like “Pintech RS-5T Acoustic Drum Trigger, for example.

Pintech RS-5T Acoustic Drum Trigger with Trigger Trap
Pintech RS-5T Acoustic Drum Trigger with Trigger Trap

Next two inputs on Alesis Control Pad are foot-switch inputs for a bass drum pedal, HiHat pedal and an additional footswitch input for controlling other parameters like changing kits with your foot.

Although, Alesis Control Pad and Alesis Performance Pad look very similar, each of them is designed for slightly different purposes. There are features that are present in both of these units (for example, both units have foot-switch inputs for a bass drum pedal, HiHat pedal), but there are also few key features that makes them different like absence of trigger inputs on Alesis Performance Pad. We ended up buying Alesis Control Pad, since our main reason is to use it in our recording studio ( and we don’t care much (not at all) about build in tone generator.

What About Alesis PerformancePad Pro Multi-Pad Percussion Instrument?

This article wouldn’t be complete without mentioning about Alesis Performance Pad Pro.  This unit is the most expansive then Alesis Control Pad or Alesis Performance Pad.  Sims like Alesis Performance Pad Pro is little advanced version of Performance Pad and ads few extra features. There is a Large LCD display with easy-to-navigate interface, more sounds that can be tweaked and few minor changes compare to Performance pad.

Where Can I get them?

We know that BnH currently has all those models in stock. Here are direct link to each unit.

Alesis Control Pad

Alesis Performance Pad

Alesis Performance Pad Pro


Check out our video review on Alesis Control Pad.

Please feel free to live us your comments and further questions. We will try to answer them at our best possibilities.

Part 1.

YouTube direct link

Part 2.

YouTube direct link

Please feel free to live us your comments and further questions. We will try to answer them at our best possibilities.


  1. I am currently using SPD-30 Roland Product.I would like to know about your product – Alesis Performance Pad.

  2. [..YouTube..] Does anyone have any experience of how bad the delay issue is with this machine? I’m planning to use it with my MacbookPro (full option), and I’ll probably use Ableton live or Logic as my sample generator.

  3. Alesis Control Pad doesn’t have a build in sampler and is designed to work with MIDI data only.

    Also, Alesis Control Pad doesn’t record any midi data as well, so you can not record phrases into it.

    I would say Roland SPD-30 is more advanced even compare with Alesis Performance Pad.

  4. [..YouTube..] The delay should be the same as any other controller you connect to your system. It is all depends on latency of your sound card, not “this machine”. Machine pretty much has no “brains” and just sends a trigger signal to your computer or sound module via midi or USB with very little delay, not recognizable by human senses. The delay is added by computer and its sound card while processing samples uploaded in the software.

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  6. [..YouTube..] Depends what package of Logic you got. Otherwise sampler programs/plug-ins have it you you can do whatever you ask. Google “sampler plug-ins” and you find plenty of them.

  7. [..YouTube..] @CreativeMusicians Can you insert the USB flash with samples andt load them into this pad control? in other words can you play samples from inserted usb flash?

  8. [..YouTube..] in this case I can use the hit hat pedal roland fd 8? or do you think I would serve a sustain pedal, I bought the alesis performance pad because I have plugged a sustain pedal, if I worked but I get the sound with a slight delay. my question is: the sound is delayed by the type of pedal or is to be set at the controls?

  9. [..YouTube..] @santoshernandezjuan Are you having a delay on all sounds or just on kick? Delay is most likely to be caused by the settings of your sound card driver. If it is a generic sound driver, you might not be able get read of this delay. Make sure you using your sound card’s specific and not something like a Direct X full duplex driver. Try to adjust the buffer latency. Smaller number gives you shorter delay.

  10. [..YouTube..] Do you think this should trigger all eight sounds of something like the Vermona DRM pretty well over Midi? Without Computer, just this and the PA.

  11. I have one alesis perfonmace pad and a roland kick pad, my problem is I can’t set it up. could you help me to set up both together. thanks.

  12. Hi I personally think this is a great article I will definetely keep up reading your works, well done. It is very important to have quality contents on the web, we can use them as a reliable source for our projects.I’ve read it with pleasure and I’m sure I’m gonna read all the other things you will write, good job man!.

  13. [..YouTube..] Does it come with software bundle?

    I have Cakewalk Sonar LE X1, Guitar Tracks Pro 4 w Studio Instruments (drums) and an ALesis QX49 with Edirol Roland UA4FX for MIDI, and an Maudio Black Box

  14. [..YouTube..] @CreativeMusicians Thank you!

    I’ve been looking for pedals too. I was thinking that to start with, a budget pedal with the pad should help me to create solid drum patterns for loops, but I don’t think I’ll use it to perform live for example. What is a pedal that offers the function as low cost as possible to get that function? I can always upgrade later.

    MIDI controls confuse me because some seem to be proprietary, but I thought MIDI was fully standardized? How can pedals etc. be proprietary?

  15. [..YouTube..] @constructivereconcil Depends what pedals you are talking about. High hat peal and kick pedal are different. Control pad has two inputs for pedals that work as on/of switch. It is better use pad inputs for a kick by using Kick drum pads from preferred manufacturer (roland, alesis, yamaha, whatever). High hat is more complicated. For realistic bits I use Expression pedal connected to other controller and linked to the same software as Control pad (BFD)

  16. [..YouTube..] @CreativeMusicians “Depends what pedals you are talking about”

    What I hope to do is have any foot input to keep “tap timing” while playing the guitar or bass guitar. I can then fill in the other drums, and it’s not so much that I care which pad does the traditional foot operated percussion, but the need to keep tap rhythm when my hands are busy.

  17. [..YouTube..] Thanks for this video. It was very helpful in my decision to buy the unit. Could you explain how to get pedal to open/close the hat pad. I am using Sonar X1 and sometimes Dimension Pro (outside of Sonar). Thanks again, and I really hope you can help.

  18. [..YouTube..] @sixby24 I don’t use sonar, so unfortunately, cannot tell you exactly how to solve the problem. Most of the software plugin-s have “learn” function for various controls. You should look for one that responsible for switching hi-hat. The hi-hat switch on control pad gives you the “CC4” and “Note On” midi messages when used. In Battery, for example, you have activation of the open or closed hat by selecting “sell activation” to the note number assigned to the hi-hat pedal.

  19. [..YouTube..] do the 2 trigger inputs, kick and hihat inputs have different midi notes to the 8 pads? so that every patch has 4+8 = 12 samples that can be assigned?
    thanks, man, i’m getting one to use with ableton drum rack 🙂

  20. [..YouTube..] is it possible to program this so you could take it on a stage and play it like a electronic drum set? or does the usb have to be plugged in for it to work at all times. What i want to do is program it and be able to take it anywhere and leave my computer at home. please let me know.. thanks

  21. Hi, i have a question: can i preset one of the 8 pads for example, to trigger a loop?, can i trigger a 3 minutes loop with one pad?

    i want to use it with my real drums, but just like a tool for trigger a loop at tempo.

    can the alesis control pad have this function?

    Thank You

    1. Alesis control pad is just a trigger device, so if you software or hardware sampler can handle three minute loops, then you are good to go. The devise itself will not produce any sounds.
      I am not sure if Alesis performance pad has long samples (3 minutes) built in, because, although it does have it’s own sounds, it doesn’t allow to sample.

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