Streamlined starting points for expanding your acoustic kit with electronics.
Not only is Roland a leading manufacturer of professional-quality e-kits, but it’s also dedicated considerable research and development into smaller, simpler products that allow acoustic drummers to expand their sonic palettes with electronics. For review this month is the new TM-1 stomp-box trigger module ($249.99), which has two trigger inputs, and the self-contained RT-MicS mic/trigger processor ($350.99), which allows you to blend the acoustic drum sound captured by an onboard microphone with one of eight preloaded samples.
TM-1 Trigger Module
If you’re looking to dip your toe into the world of electronics, or if you’re just looking to supplement your acoustic drum sound with a couple triggered elements, the TM-1 trigger module is for you. This compact, battery-powered module has two trigger inputs, a stereo main output, a headphone output, a DC adapter input (cable not included), and a USB jack that allows you to change and edit the supplied sounds, upload original samples, and configure kits via a computer or mobile device that has Roland’s free editor app installed.
The module is designed similarly to a guitar stomp box, complete with rotating knobs to adjust the triggers’ sensitivity as well as the samples’ pitch, decay, and output level. The TM-1 comes with fifteen ready-to-play kits, and the LED screen displays the kit number that’s currently being used. The two sturdy switches allow you to use your foot to change kits, mute the module (by pressing both at once), or trigger sounds.
In order to use the TM-1 effectively, you’ll need to supplement it with either acoustic drum triggers or stand-alone trigger pads, like an RT-30H trigger ($99.99) or an 8″ PD-8 rubber pad ($109.99). There’s also the option to link the two samples to a dual-zone pad or trigger via the editor app.
The preset kits provide a variety of acoustic and electronic kick, snare, and percussive sounds that should suffice for most applications. But to get the full scope of what the TM-1 can do, you’ll want to utilize the editor app to upload your own samples and customize the kits to suit your own needs.
RT-MicS Mic Trigger Processor
An even simpler option for adding triggered sounds to your arsenal is the RT-MicS mic trigger processor. This compact, 9V-battery-powered device clips to a drum hoop like a regular Roland trigger, and it includes a piezoelectric pickup for triggering electronic samples and a small condenser mic for capturing acoustic sounds. A large, round button scrolls through the eight preloaded samples when pressed, and the ring around the button illuminates each time a sample is triggered. There are separate quarter-inch outputs for electronic and acoustic sounds, while the electronic output can also be used as a mix output of both signals. There are separate control wheels for the trigger and mic volume and trigger sensitivity, and the unit is held securely to the hoop via a large thumbscrew.
The preloaded sounds in the RT-MicS include a higher-pitched and resonant snare, a deep and punchy snare, dry and reverberant handclaps, a tambourine, and three electronic snare-type sounds. The deep snare and tambourine had the most natural tones, while the other sounds provoked more produced, electronic vibes.
The sensitivity wheel provides plenty of range, so you can set up the RT-MicS to have the trigger fire at all dynamics or only during harder strikes. The built-in mic is very sensitive, so it will pick up ghost notes and light strokes with the same accuracy and clarity as rim shots.
You can also upload your own samples (up to ten seconds in length) to the RT-MicS, via a computer or mobile device, when using a micro-USB cable and Roland’s RT-MicS Wave Sender app. In addition to sample uploading, the Wave Sender allows you to determine if the sample is to be triggered from any strike above the sensitivity threshold or only from rim hits. This Rim Only option is a great way to separate the triggered sample from the acoustic sound based on where you strike the drum, rather than via playing dynamics. The separate mic and trigger outputs on the RT-MicS also make for a streamlined setup (fewer cables, mics, stands, etc.) and cleaner signal paths for your front-of-house mix or studio recordings.