The Best Drum Triggers: Editor’s Pick + 5 Alternatives
While the prejudice still lingers that using drum triggers is a form of cheating, many drummers rely on this tool to add extra dimensionality to the music they make. Whether you’re looking for the best drum triggers for acoustic drums or electronic brass triggers, the question remains what parameters to take into account.
This article contains drum trigger reviews for potential buyers with all the pros and cons explained.
Before you go on to read the whole article, let me proudly introduce my personal favorite, the Aquarian Kickzone Bass Drum Trigger. This is an excellent budget-friendly product. The model is meant specifically for bass drums, working off any vibration that the drum head generates. It comes with a reliable adhesive mount, and a cord control bracket is included to secure the cable during operation.
Unfortunately, the cable bracket backing might come off in a while. The product comes with a mono jack and will work with Aquarian or other drum systems. Its greatest advantage, however, is how accurate and reliable it is in picking up vibrations, which is rare with inexpensive devices.
Please, read below to get a complete review of this model and other recommendations.
Best Drum Triggers: Reviews by SimplyDrum
Here are my impressions of the top pick featured in the intro section as well as five excellent alternatives for those looking for another trigger type.
My Pick: Aquarian Kickzone Bass Drum Trigger
The chief reason why I celebrate Aquarian’s Kickzone as the best of the best among bass drum triggers is that it offers excellent value for the money. Indeed, it’s more affordable than most competing models. However, you can rely on this little trigger for excellent pick-up accuracy and responsiveness.
False triggering and latency are both common faults with cheaper drum trigger sensors. However, Kickzone stands out as it’s prone to none of these, making it a viable solution for live performances and some fun using a drum recording interface.
One instance where it might turn out sub-par is touring, though. This is mostly due to the design rather than sensor quality. If you look at Kickzone, it’s simply a small pad with an adhesive lining on the back that sticks to the drum head. While this might sound somewhat insecure, I was impressed by how well it actually sticks, staying out no matter what.
Attached to the unit is a cord to be mounted in a cable bracket, and here’s where the problem lies. The cord is way too short to give you any flexibility, and the bracket, which is a soft structure rather than a rigid one, has a relatively weak adhesive backing that will wear off over time. Finally, the unit’s adhesion is so strong that it’s essentially fixed as soon as you’ve placed it, so be sure to think out the positioning carefully.
All in all, Aquarian Kickzone is a great entry-level alternative to more expensive devices that will work well in most settings but requires extra care during the placement and is not free of minor design faults. I highly recommend the item to anyone who feels hesitant about whether a drum trigger is their thing at all as well as those making music on a budget.
- Kickzone Bass Drum Trigger
- The Aquarian kickZONE is an easy to use bass drum trigger designed to work off the vibration of any bass drumhead
- Highly affordable;
- Simple to use;
- Responsive and accurate;
- Stays put when attached.
- Flimsy cable bracket mount;
- Short cable.
Yamaha DT-50K Metal Body Acoustic Bass Drum Trigger: The Most Robust of Bass Drum Triggers
Just like the model above, DT-50K was designed as a bass drum extension. It is a professional acoustic drum triggering tool meant to preserve the natural feel of your instrument while also reading its vibrations with accuracy and reliability. It also comes with a weighty price tag as compared to Kickzone.
The product has excellent compatibility and will work with a drum trigger kit by Yamaha such as DTX900M, DTX700, DTX502, or DTXM12. Communication is enabled by a 1/4″ phone output jack.
What makes this model truly stand out, however, is its rugged design. Rather than a flat adhesive pad, this is a whole unit protected by a solid die-cast metal body. It boasts a neat, professional-looking lug shape with stylish chrome finish. Durable as it is, the device has a small footprint that doesn’t impede the sound of your drums; the natural feel is further increased by soft head contact.
This Yamaha is also easy to use and install as it simply clamps onto the drum rim, making it a highly adjustable piece of equipment. It will adapt to a variety of hoops, too. However, the hoop should be made of wood rather than metal.
DT-50K is surely the best kick drum trigger for those who spend a lot of time touring. It will easily withstand the rigors of travel. Apart from being extremely reliable, the unit has great responsiveness and isn’t prone to mistriggering, which makes it perfect for stage performance as well as studio use. Time lags aren’t an issue with it either.
- Solid metal die-cast body for the ultimate in durability
- Chrome finish and Yamaha Absolute lug-style design provides a clean, professional look
- Highly adjustable when installed;
- Clean-looking design;
- The sturdy solid metal body;
- Ideal for trips, recording, and live performance;
- Accurate and reliable.
- Not metal hoop friendly;
- Pricier than some rival items on the market.
Roland RT-30H Single Trigger: One of the Most Easy-to-Use Acoustic Drum Triggers
The RT-30 series is a replacement for the over-ten-year-old RT-10 line previously marketed by Roland. The first thing you will notice if you compare the new model to its older counterpart is how much sleeker and smaller it has become. It is indeed a great benefit in terms of appearance as well as footprint and impact on the sound.
RT-30H is the single version of the model, in which H stands for head based as opposed to head plus rim. Head contact designs are by far the most common drum triggers, valued due to being relatively cheap. The risk of drum muffling is lower with this approach, too, and is hardly present when using RT-30H.
Unlike most head based models, this Roland doesn’t come with an adhesive backing that simply sticks to the drum head. Instead, it uses a clamp mechanism that makes it a breeze to install, remove, and adjust with most drum hoop styles.
Please mind, however, that this model will only work for you if you use metal hoops rather than wooden ones, although this includes the novel inward-curved style, adding a lot to the tool’s versatility. To make the installation even easier, the product features a self-guided mount.
The above factors contribute to the model’s overall reliability as it isn’t prone to coming/sliding off when in use. This is simply not the case with RT-30H, nor are performance faults such as latency or, on the contrary, false triggering. It also doesn’t impact the natural sound of your drums.
The body of the device is made of acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene; a highly durable terpolymer reinforced with glass fiber to prevent excessive thermal expansion and shrinkage. The trigger output jack is mounted on the side for better cable management, and a TRS connection cable is included with the product.
RT-30H is compatible with a number of Roland’s drum trigger modules and sound modules, such as TM-2 Trigger Module and TD-series V-Drums, as well as the SPD series of percussion pads by the same brand.
Generally speaking, this is a flexible, unobtrusive model for hybrid drumming that doesn’t take long to install and is easy to use. The only fault I’ve found with it is that the screw that holds it on the drum might need some retightening every once in a while.
- Advanced head-based trigger device for playing electronic sources from acoustic drums
- Installs on nearly any metal drum hoop, including the latest inward-curved hoop styles
- Sleek low-profile design;
- Easy-to-use due to a self-guiding mount;
- Perfectly responsive;
- Durable body;
- Compatible with most metal hoop styles.
- Might need screw adjustment;
- Priced higher than some rivals.
Roland RT-30K Bass Drum Trigger: The Best Option for Double Triggering Free Trigger Drumming
Just like RT-30H above, this model is part of Roland’s innovative hybrid drumming RT-30 series. However, it’s designed specifically for the kick drum (hence the K in the designation).
Double triggering is a common problem with bass drum triggers, meaning that a kick sound might be reproduced more than once. To combat this effect, Roland uses two piezo transducers in its RT-30K trigger to avoid mistriggering, which you can further enhance by tweaking the modules that this model is compatible with. These include the abovementioned TM-2 Trigger Module and TD-series V-Drums modules as SPD percussion pads.
The model is very similar to the one above in terms of design. It comes in the same ABS body reinforced with fiberglass for greater durability that relies on a tightening screw to keep it in place on the drum. It also includes a protective grip that prevents damage to wooden drum hoops. A TRS connection cable is included, and the body boasts of a well-thought design with a self-guiding mount for quick and easy installation.
Apart from being sturdy enough to travel with you, the model delivers excellent fault-free performance in both live and studio settings. It is extremely responsive even when it comes to the softest beasts and leaves little to be desired in terms of sound quality.
One disadvantage of this model is that it’s not the perfect choice if you have relatively shallow hoops on your drum. The grip pocket that it comes with is really deep, which does enable perfect fit on most hoop shapes – unless they are really low-profile. Occasional tightening of the screw might be required, too.
- Advanced trigger device for playing electronic sources from an acoustic bass drum
- Compatible with Roland’s TM-2 Trigger Module, TD-series V-Drums sound modules, and SPD-series percussion pads
- Compact body;
- Prevents wooden hoop marring;
- Highly responsive even to softer beats;
- Great build quality and durable materials;
- A breeze to install.
- Not the cheapest option available;
- Not shallow hoop friendly and might need retightening.
Pintech Percussion RS-5 Acoustic Head Trigger: One of the Best Drum Triggers on a Budget
If you feel suspicious of hybrid drumming or simply don’t want to overinvest in it, you’ll probably appreciate Pintech’s budget-friendly solution as a way of adding an extra dimension to any drum type.
RS-5 is essentially an external drum trigger that consists of a sensitive head with a cable attached to it and a cable bracket securing it in place without any adhesive.
The model also boasts of Pintech’s free-floating system that provides for the trigger’s free movement inside the casing to keep it safe and flexible at the same time. It also adds a lot to triggering quality, enabling the sensor to pick up all kinds of vibrations.
While a vast majority of drum triggers are either head or rim-mounted, this product has enough flexibility for either style. It can be attached to the drum head or, alternatively, its shell, depending on where you want it to pick up your beats.
Versatility is truly the greatest advantage of this product. 5 packs are available for sale, too, enabling you to save money if you want a full kit. Some of these also include the so-called TT3 Trigger Trap System, also developed by Pintech. TT3 is essentially a mounting system that acts as a protective cover for the trigger. However, it’s not absolutely necessary for operation.
The Kwik Klip mounting system is extremely easy to use and works well to keep the jack in place.
Finally, the product shows excellent sensitivity and responsiveness in pretty much any settings. I wouldn’t recommend it to someone who travels a lot, though, as it’s not the most rugged option on the market. However, it’s a great experimenting tool for players looking for a versatile solution on a budget as it enables you to try various positioning options.
- Head or shell mount capability
- Features Pintech's exclusive mounting disc that allows the free-floating chamber to move freely with the drum head and not damage it.
- Simple installation procedure;
- Versatile in terms of drum and mount type;
- Highly responsive;
- Cheaper when bought in packs;
- Extra sensor protection can be purchased additionally.
- Not fit for touring.
ddrum AcousticPro Kick Trigger: An Accurate Moderately Priced Acoustic Drum Triggering Device
The AcousticPro series by ddrum is known for its constructional simplicity, making it possible for the brand to offer better prices than most professional rivals. The line is focused entirely on superb tracking over convenient design and other niceties, making it the perfect choice for those who prioritize the performance.
The model under review is made for the bass drum. It features a specially designed transducer that’s pressed very softly against the drum head, preventing any interference with the natural sound. This also protects the sensor while changing drum heads.
If you are looking for a really rugged piece of equipment, AcousticPro is one model to consider as it comes in a super simple yet sturdy metal chassis that protects the transducer effectively. It’s far from the sleekest looking model on the market, though; consider this if you want a pretty unit for on-stage performance.
The product comes with an XLR input. However, the cable is not included in the price, so you’ll have to purchase it additionally.
As for compatibility, the model is pretty versatile in that it fits most wooden hoops and works well with mesh drum heads as well as regular ones. It’s also advertised as compatible with most modules.
Simple as it is, the AcousticPro kick trigger still provides a great response with no signs of latency or double triggering, making it the perfect unfussy solution for recording.
- Trigger Acoustic Pro Kick
- Recognizes dynamics for a realistic response
- Compatible with mesh heads as well as standard ones;
- Moderate price;
- Sturdy chassis;
- Excellent response;
- No interference with the sound.
- Not the prettiest design you’ll find;
- Cable not included.
What Makes a Good Drum Trigger
Here’s a quick guide to help you navigate the drum trigger market and get the best of the technology. Consider the following aspects when looking for a trigger to rely on:
Be sure to check the reviews to find out whether there’s a latency/mistriggering problem with this or that model.
Drum triggers are subjected to a lot of stress when in operation, so make sure the model you’ve chosen has a sturdy casing. Ideally, it should be a seamless solution, although this usually comes at a cost in terms of the increased price. Those who do tours should pay special attention to the ruggedness factor.
Find out which cables and connectors you need for the piece you are considering and whether these are included. Cable length is another important parameter as it influences how safe and flexible the design is.
Speaking of rim-mounted drum triggers, it’s essential to know what height they can accommodate effectively without muffling the sound. The trigger should fit your drum snugly.
Quite obviously, there’s always a tradeoff between price and durability. If you’re shopping on a budget, consider simple designs that still offer transducer protection and have a good response.
While drum triggers don’t require much in terms of maintenance, they do need some adjustment and, most importantly, protection. This is especially true with head contact triggers that come with exposed wires that risk pinching. The best way to tackle this is probable by positioning your trigger carefully to minimize potential danger.
In this section, you’ll find the answers to some of the most common questions regarding drum triggers that buyers ask frequently.
What are the triggers in drumming?
For the purpose of drumming equipment, triggers should be understood as electronic transducers that are attached to your drum hardware. This enables the drummer to control an electronic drum unit, causing a palette of pre-sampled sounds to be played as you generate vibrations by hitting the instrument rather than actually play it.
Midi drum triggers are thus a way of extending the range of voices you can use without adding physical instruments to your ensemble. A short answer to the question, “What are drum triggers?” might be as follows. Drum triggers are devices that pick up drum vibrations and convert them into an electronic signal that, in turn, is used to generate a pre-sampled output.
Do you need a drum module for triggers?
Strictly speaking, a drum module isn’t absolutely necessary if you already have a device that stores the pre-sampled sounds for you, such as an external sound module. In this case, all you need is a trigger-to-MIDI interface.
It differs from a full-fledged drum module in that it doesn’t have the capacity to store sounds on board. If you don’t have anything of the kind, it’s probably easier to get a drum module as it has all you need for triggered drumming (except for the trigger).
What is the best drum module?
Some of the most well-received models on the market include Pearl MIMP24B Mimic Pro, Roland TD-50 V-Drums Sound Module, and Roland TM2 as well as some by Yamaha, namely DTX900 and DTX502. These are mostly high-end options, so you might want a simpler module if you’re a beginning drummer.
How do drum triggers work on acoustic drums?
Electronic drum triggers are attached to acoustic drums, where they work by picking up the vibrations generated as you hit the instrument and re-shape them into a digital signal. The signal is then passed to the electronic drum module, where it triggers a pre-sampled sound according to your settings.
Wrapping It Up: Time to Choose Your Drum Trigger
Digital triggers are smart little devices that can add a lot of depth and diversity to the sound of your drum kit. Due to their location on the drum and the presence of cables, they tend to be vulnerable and prone to performance issues such as mistriggering unless highly effective technology is used to combat these issues.
When looking for acoustic drum triggers to rely on, you should always consider compatibility, craftsmanship, design, and responsiveness.
Now that you know how digital triggers work, you’re welcome to contribute to the age-old debate by commenting on the question: “Is triggered drumming cheating?” Feel free to post your opinion in the comments section down below!