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Acoustic drums with triggers
Old 5th July 2010
Gear Nut

Acoustic drums with triggers

I have a Pearl acoustic drum kit with mesh heads, ddrums triggers (the XLR version) and an Alesis DM5. I have had nothing but trouble since day one, ghost strokes on snare are either missing or it sounds like a machine gun. Has anyone ever had any success with this, and if so, would you mind sharing your tips, or pointing me to a link somewhere? I feel like pulling my hair out.

Old 5th July 2010
Gear Guru

First of all, Ghost strokes are not the strong point of electronic drums. I used to mount my triggers on Fun-Tak (bulletin board putty) for better isolation. Don't know the Alesis DM5, but a good module should have a wide range of sensitivity and curve (dynamic response) settings. Depending on the settings, a soft hit could be missed altogether or show up at the same volume as a hard hit. Getting it to track your actual intentions is not easy. I spent hours fine tuning my triggers. Some modules have a "rejection" mode where, for example a loud hit on one rack Tom will momentarily raise the threshold on adjacent drums so they won't false-trigger by sympathetic vibration.

I remember having to plug my bass player into the 'rejection mode' so he wouldn't set my floor tom a-fluttering.

Last but not least, is the matter of adjusting the human element. Electronics demand a different playing style. You may have to learn where the threshold is, and play your ghost strokes there, instead of where you want to.

FWIW, I have an Alesis D4 and the triggers on that unit do not work as well as many I have tried. My favorite was the trigger card for the old Akai samplers - They could track anything from the softest to the loudest hits.
Old 6th July 2010
Gear Maniac
jmp72's Avatar
Acoustic drums with triggers

Is this for recording? If yes try to put the trigger in a microphone preamp, you will record a "pulse" and you can use plugins like drumagog, trigger or apptriga
Old 6th July 2010
Gear Nut

Thank you both for the replies! I will try messing with it, given the suggestions y'all made! I really appreciate your help!
Old 6th July 2010
Lives for gear

Originally Posted by jmp72 View Post
Is this for recording? If yes try to put the trigger in a microphone preamp, you will record a "pulse" and you can use plugins like drumagog, trigger or apptriga
That is effectively what his "brain" module is doing... interpreting the "pulse" and making it into MIDI.

To the OP I think joeq said it all - I have a client using mesh heads and triggers (with a ddrum brain triggering superior), and it's ok but there are constant issues. He had had his triggers mounted on those mesh heads for.... a long time, years and years, and we took them up and "reseated" them, and that helped the sensitivity immensely. We also played around with how tight we made the mesh heads, with tighter generally working better. Beyond that it's the whole song-and-dance with programming your head module to interpret correctly. I'd also consider sending the midi into your computer, as I've found that often the e-drum heads don't respond as well as drum programs, and that drum programs are more editable / tunable, or at least easier to access (on screen vs menu menu menu menu shift-hold enter etc etc).
Old 6th July 2010
Lives for gear
mikethedrummer's Avatar
Aside from metal or music that has no dynamics, the DM5 hasn't served me all too well. Its great live, but I'd never bring it to a jazz gig. In my experience, you either have to leave your kit acoustic or make it as electronic as possible. Finding a good blend of half trigger, half acoustic is friggin impossible. So what I mean by electronic is taping the hell out of the drums, not using the bottom head, and tightening them up as much as possible. This stops any vibrations other than the stick hitting the drums. Trying to blend the two has always led to mistriggers, machine guns from certain resonant bass frequencies, and me wanting to break everything in sight.

Also, the red shots are garbage. They work so terribly that I don't even understand how DDrum continues to get away with selling them. I'm not sure about the xlr version, but I can't imagine their technology varies that much between the two. I would try the roland.

You may be interested in the new Steven Slate Trigger program. You use a REAL mic on the drum, it reads the transient in real time, and sends a SSD sample back out that matches velocity. It is very very accurate at all dynamic levels. I think the processing delay is only around 5ms as well, which is below the human threshold. The only downside is needing to bring your laptop and interface with you everywhere you go... Beats the hell out of the DM5 though..
Old 7th July 2010
Lives for gear
msquared's Avatar

The DM5 is old technology and is not at all suitable for the type of playing you describe. Trying to get any kind of nuance out of it is like trying to make a good record using only off the shelf Radio Shack gear.

The only drum setup I've ever been happy with as far as playing ghost notes and other nuance stuff has been a Roland V-drum brain and either V-drum pads or Hart Acupads. Some of the Pintech pads are decent as well. Out of the box acoustic-to-electronic conversion stuff is garbage. Either get the pads or find someone who knows how to do a proper ground-up A2E rebuild (ie: Boom Theory).
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