Tag Archives: electronic drums

What are the BEST external drum triggers money can buy? The answer will probably surprise you!

Since I got into A2E conversions I’ve tried nearly every external drum trigger on the market. I’ve tried expensive ones, I’ve tried cheap ones, and I’ve tried homemade ones. I’m sure of one thing, that there is ONE external trigger that just works better than all of the others. However, there’s a few things you should know, so read this whole post.

The one external trigger that tracks the most consistently, evenly, almost never mistriggers or double triggers (if you have your module set right) is without a doubt the ddrum Red Shot!

ddrum Redshot Trigger

It may seem hard to believe, but this simple $20 trigger from ddrum beats out every single other trigger I have tried! This includes Yamaha, Roland, Pintech, Drum Dial, 2box, and even the ddrum pro triggers! I’ve tried literally every brand out there making external triggers at this point and the Redshots kill them all! HOWEVER….. ONLY ON THE TOMS AND SNARE!

The Red Shot kick drum trigger is very hit or miss and doesn’t work so well depending on the module and size kick you’re using it on. I had decent luck with it on a tiny 14″ Club Jam Flyer kick, but nothing else. There is not a single company on the market that makes a perfect external Kick trigger that I have tried, but there is a solution. I’ll go over that further down this post.

Unfortunately Red Shots are only single zone triggers, so that means using one on your snare will give you no rim zone. To me this is a small price to pay for being able to play without ever getting a mistrigger. Nothing drives me more crazy, ruins a recording or performance more than a trigger that is not reacting to what you are playing correctly. Redshots react correctly, and accurately nearly 100% of the time, probably somewhere in the realm of 99.9%. Other external triggers operate on about 90%-95% accuracy depending on the trigger.

I’m almost sure the thing that makes Red Shots work so well is the fact that they are secured to the drum by the actual tension lug. This guarantees a secure connection with the drum head. Other brands clamp to the rim of the drum with varied results.

If you absolutely MUST have a dual zone trigger on your snare, the only two worth considering in my opinion are the Roland HT30RT, and the 2Box Triggit. Neither are perfect and neither trigger as well as the Red Shots, but they’re dual zone and work decently well.

Roland RT-30HR

The HT30 can double-trigger occasionally, and can misfire dynamically occasionally, which requires having to set a scan time higher then you normally would like on your module. The thumb screw to secure it to the rim isn’t very secure and easily comes loose, making all of your accuracy go to crap once that happens. Plus it’s all plastic, one good accidental whack from a sick could destroy it.

2box Triggit

The 2box Triggit could be near perfect if they just fixed a couple things. It’s far sturdier than the Roland and costs half as much, but the main problem is drum key tightening screw isn’t quite long enough to really tighten it down securely on your hoop. If you have die cast hoops, it’s probably fine. But on triple flange, it will tighten just enough to hold it, but not enough to make a great tight grip. The rim sensitivity is very low as well, causing you to have to really whack the rim to get the second zone, even if I had my rim sensitivity cranked all the way up on my module, this was still the case. I actually think this is the result of not making a good connection to the hoop. Also, like the Roland, it can misfire sometimes, though not very often. The head zone picks up a wide dynamic range, and the trigger looks great.

Still though, if you plan on playing full sets and want reliability, the Red Shots are the way to go. I’ve been doing weekly live streams for hours at a time for months now using them, and they always work great. Every time I try something else I regret it.

So what about the Kick? As I said before, I am yet to find a commercially available external kick trigger that works to my 100% satisfaction. The closest I have found is the ddrum Pro trigger. BUT IT HAS SOME MAJOR FLAWS! The biggest being it can sometimes just not trigger at all when it is supposed to. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does, it’s infuriating. Also, for some reason ddrum puts XLR connections on their Pro and elite triggers. Everybody hates this, and nobody has any idea why ddrum does this. It just makes you have to buy a bulky adapter to plug into the trigger, then plug your snake cable into that.

My solution was to make my own kick drum trigger. It’s an insanely simple design, that somehow works a million times better than anything else I’ve tried.

My homemade kick trigger

All it is, is a piezo stuck to the side of the mesh head pictured above. However, getting it to stick to the mesh is harder than one might think. Simple two sided tape wont work, mesh is a horrible surface to tape things to. What I had to do was cut a piece of mylar drum head from an old acoustic head, then contact cement it to a spot on the mesh head, creating a smooth surface to attach my piezo to. Once I did that, I used a combination of 3M double sided tape on the piezo itself, stuck that to the mylar, then covered that with some gaff tape and gorilla tape. I thought this would be a temporary solution, but it has been working for months this way.

However I do think you could do this same thing with a Pintech RS-5 stuck to the head the same way I did mine. I plan on trying this in the near future and will update this post when I do. The concept is the same so it should work. The main issue with kick triggers, is the piezo needs to be attached to the head, so there’s no possibility of the bounciness of the head breaking contact with the piezo which will cause a double trigger or mistrigger. Also, make sure your kick drum is stuffed with something like a pillow or foam to keep extra vibrations from happening.

Pintech RS-5

HXW / Avatar PD705 Review – Affordable Roland SPD-SX Alternative

I recently picked up an Avatar PD705 multipad / sample pad, and I must say that I am pretty impressed with this device. It is well built, triggers very accurately, has decent pre-loaded samples, multi-layering capabilities, a fair amount of editing features, USB import/export, and a large amount of expansion ports. That’s a lot of stuff for only $247, compared to Roland’s SPD-SX which is $719!

A cheap Roland SPD-SX?

The PD705 features 9 velocity sensitive The pads themselves feel good, and I’m experiencing no crosstalk, nor retriggering problems on all 9 pads. The built-in samples sound decent, not amazing, but not bad either. They’re definitely usable in a pinch. It has ports in the back for 4 external triggers (if you’re using splitters) or two dual zone triggers. It also has two foot switch inputs that can be used for hi hat control, bass drums, or changing patches. There’s two USB connections, A and B, one for importing/saving samples, and another for using USB MIDI. There’s also Stereo audio outputs, MIDI DIN connections, aux in, and headphone out.

The menu and controls are fairly easy to use once you get used to them and there’s the usual pad adjustments you’ll find in Roland devices such as threshold, sensitivity, muffling, tuning, pitch, velocity curves, MIDI, and several other settings I’ll go more into detail in my YouTube review of the device.

Importing samples is a bit cumbersome and not as simple as just putting some samples on USB and importing them, but it works and the final result is good. First you need to download Avatar’s Wave Manager software Then you assemble ‘kits’ within the software then import them into the device via USB. This can just be a bit time consuming because you can’t do much editing on the software, so you’ll still want to adjust your layering and other options on the PD705 once the kit is imported.

The good news it, it just works. Once you have your stuff imported and edited, you can create fully customized multi-layered sample based drum kits which play very well on the nice Avatar pads.

My biggest pet peeve of the device is the fact that none of the 4 trigger inputs default to a Kick sound on any of the preset kits. This is completely mind baffling to me as to why they would do this. Yes you can easily edit the trigger input to a kick sound, but I feel like most people will be plugging in a kick drum trigger into trigger input 1, and having it default to a hi hat sound is, quite frankly bizarre.

So which input is defaulted to kick? Switch 2! This choice is equally as bizarre. Why would anyone want a non-velocity sensitive switch input for kick drum over an actual trigger? Well they wouldn’t. Switch input 1 works as a hi hat controller out of the box, and I’m happy to report that both a Roland FD7 and KD7 worked perfectly for hi hat and kick drum inputs. 

Stay tuned for my full YouTube review on this device. Overall I think it’s very worth the money!

Can You Draw Me?

Pre-Order, or Pre-Save “Can You Draw Me?” Now! Worldwide Release on 12/4!

 

2020 was a weird year to say the least, so what better way to finish off the year than with a really weird album by Demonic Sweaters? Yes, “Can You Draw Me?” is weird, but I do not think it is weird in a way that makes it non-relatable to the average listener.

On this album I have returned to my roots and it is very synthesizer and drum heavy. Above all I believe this album conveys a consistent mood throughout. A mood of mystery. A mystery steeped in technology gone awry. A ghost in the machine.

The album is organically played, but electronically produced. My electronic drum set was used on most of the songs on the record using the Roland TD-8 and Alesis Nitro drum modules. Synthesizers and controllers used were the Kawai K1m, The UVI Emulation One, UVI Darklight, Casio CT-370 (Soundfont by DS), Akai MPD16, MidiPlus Classic 49, Mothman 1966, Mothman 2000, Elogoxa Cosmogirl, EGOkILLERversion2, and the Korg Monotron Delay, and some others I probably forgot about. Guitars and basses used were the Squier Mustang HH, Harley Benton RX-10, Rogue Fretless bass. Acoustic drums Tama Club-JAM Mini with expansion kit and Paiste Cymbals (on Space Dingo only)

You can pre-order the album already on Bandcamp, or pre-save it on Spotify!

‘Low Volume’ cymbals and drums suck, build your own e-drums instead

Okay hear me out here before you get tiggered, but I really think this trend of the past couple of years of “low volume” cymbals is really stupid. Yes yes, I get that some people (including me) live in small apartments with neighbors all around who really will not like you banging on full volume drums, but if the option is playing something that looks like a drumset, but sounds like awful garbage, like the example above, I’d rather just play guitar.

I started playing drums when I was 10 years old, and as a kid (and as an adult), the power, loudness, resonance, and tones of the drums, all are part of why I loved playing them so much. If I had something that sounded like cardboard boxes and baking pans, I never would have wanted to play them. So what can you do?

Well, what I do is rent a small room about 10 blocks away from my house in an industrial neighborhood for my drums, but I realize this option isn’t realistic for everyone, so option 2 is build your own electronic drum set. Even though I kinda hate electronic drums too, but at least they’re better than what you hear above. I built my own electronic kit back in 2009, and it wasn’t that difficult, here’s some  pics:

I’ve also made a playlist of youtubers who made some pretty awesome ones:

Or… you can just buy one (which is probably what I’d do now, haha.


E-kits have gotten a lot cheaper and better in recent years. But honestly, I would rather play any of the above than Low Volume cymbals with silent heads. At this point you’re just hitting drum shaped objects that sound like nothing. At least with electronic drums you can record them and have endless options of sounds. Plus they’re STILL QUIETER than LV cymbals and drums.

Anyway, I know this was a bit of a rant, but just had to get it out there ;P