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Make A Modular Module?

Published on March 18, 2008 by in Drum Modules

With the release of the Alesis Trigger I/O, I started thinking of other ways to use this MIDI interface. Normally, you would connect the Alesis Trigger I/O to your computer and run a virtual drum synth software. (BFD lite comes with it) That’s cool and all, but I found that if you don’t have the latest and greatest hardware in your computer, using the synth software live can’t be done. (Too much signal lag) Then it hit me. Why not make a modular eDrum module? It has a MIDI out jack, so one could just connect your favorite MIDI synth. You could connect, say a, Boss/Roland DR-670


or maybe the new Alesis SR-18.


As time goes on, you might get tired of the sounds. You don’t have to buy a whole new eDrum module just a MIDI sound device. Now, I have not done this myself yet. I just don’t have the money right now, but lets take a look at the cost comparisons.

The total cost to achieve isn’t that bad when you look at the cost of a new eDrum module.

Alesis Trigger I/O = $149.99
Boss/Roland DR-670 = $279.99
Total = $429.98

Not bad when you consider a Roland TD-6V cost $499.99 new and I think the Boss/Roland DR-670 sounds better than a TD-6V. Now if you want to get a little crazy you could always match the Alesis Trigger I/O with the Boss/Roland DR-880. Lets look at that cost:

Alesis Trigger I/O = $149.99
Boss/Roland DR-880 = $499.99
Total = $649.98

Not bad when you consider a the new Roland TD-9 will still put you out $745.00. Now there are some drawbacks. For one, if you are a diehard Roland module fan you will not like not have the cosum functionality. The second drawback is, if you already use Roland mesh drum triggers, they tend not to work well with the Alesis Trigger I/O. I happen to be a DIY type guy, so my edrums can be easily modified to work with the Alesis Trigger I/O. This whole concept could be taken a lot further. One could use the Trigger I/O with a sampler like one of the Akai MPC series samplers.

MPC sampler

With that said, I think that if you are a big DIY type person, you might want to explore these option.

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7 Comments  comments 

7 Responses

  1. Samm W.

    Having stumbled across your page a few weeks ago after discovering that one could actually MAKE (rather painlessly, I might add) their own pads, I began to search for used modules. Then I discovered the existence of the Alesis Trigger i/O. THEN, I came across this post! So… here is my question (and please keep in mind that my only knowledge is what I’ve gained from two weeks poking around on forums!).
    I have a zoom streetboxx that I am quite happy with, as it makes the bombastic noises that I like in my music. However, sometimes I would like to flail my arms about wildly while still making the same sounds- this is why diy pads appeal to me so much.
    The streetboxx has MIDI In, so would it be compatible with the setup I’m imagining here? The chain would obviously be PADS-Alesis TMI-streetboxx.
    From the little information I’ve been able to find, it seems this might be totally doable, although your “firmware” report makes me wonder what sort of problems I could encounter (and not know how to fix them, thus spending $159 on an Alesis paperweight). I am pretty much computer and electronics illiterate, though confident that I can put together the pads!
    Any advice you could give me would be greatly appreciated! I’m sorry this is so long, but I don’t have the e-vocabulary necessary to be succinct!
    Thanks again!
    Samm W.

  2. You understand it correctly. What you laid out should work. You will have to make sure that the I/O and your zoom are on the same channel (which should be 10) I know the I/O defaults to 10 and I would bet the zoom does as well. You sound like you know your way around midi so I don’t think you will have a problem setting it up.

    As for the firmware issue. I don’t think that is going to be a problem. The I/O work good the way it is. Most want a firmware update for more hi-hat control. I don’t know if that is something you will be needing.

    I can tell you that I use a Trigger I/O and like it lot. I hope that helps.

  3. NatDaGamer

    Hey, would this trigger io thing work with an alesis sr-16? I’m only asking because I’m being offered an Ion IED01, which has an alesis sr-16 as it’s brain, for £30. Hope it can be done!!


  4. As long as the IED01 has a midi in port, it should work with the trigger I/O. I hope that helps.

  5. Frank Zotz

    Is there a forum post in http://www.dmdrummer.com/ that follows up on this concept? I am seriously considering using an Alesis SR-18 with my trigger I/O but would love to have more info on what works, what doesn’t work, and so forth. Alesis now has a software pkg that says “Presets for use with the USB Pro Drum Kit” which uses the trigger I/O as its interface. Thanx in advance for the help.

  6. I can tell you that I ended up using an SR-18 with a Trigger I/O and gigged out with it twice. There is a small down side to using this method. Most modern edrum kit use a variable hi-hat control (meaning you have not just open, closed, foot chick, but also many sounds in between open and closed). Using the Trigger I/O with a midi sound generator (like a drum machine) you can’t get the variable sounds in between open and closed (that’s because drum machine don’t recognize the midi control CC#4). To be honest, I didn’t find this really much of an issue, because most of the cover songs we played didn’t have much fancy hi-hat work in them anyway. One more thing, you will not be able to choke a cymbal with this set-up either. That’s because you can not set up “mute groups” in drum machines. All in all I think it works pretty well.

  7. Frank Zotz

    Thanx Phil, don’t have either chokable cymbals or a variable hi-hat controller at this time, I have a Trigger I/O with a dm-hat controller(switch type), 10″ realhead snare, 3-8″ real head toms, all with additional fun foam from walmart added between the mylar and the trigger foam, to save wear and tear on the trigger foam, and reduce some of that ” I just hit a table top with a drum stick” feel, doesn’t seem to have reduced any sensitivity, at least to a guitar player like me, 2-simmons SD7PK Single Zone Cymbals, for ride and crash, and 1-alesis single zone cymbal for the hi-hat coming in the mail, and a simmons SD Series Kick Pad also from GC, all strapped on to and old DM rack unit, Can’t tell I am a newb on a limited budget buying a piece at a time can you? I have listened to the vst software sounds, the kits that are built into Logic Pro 9 and the SR-18, and to my ear at least, the SR-18 sounds as good if not superior “IF” it can be controlled accurately to represent what it is sent. Am I on the right track for a newb wanting to record blues in a home micro studio?

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