Triggers are a very convenient and cost-effective way to make a “hybrid drum kit,” combining acoustic and electronic elements. Adding electronic elements to your acoustic drums can add a whole new dimension to your sound. Drum triggers are easy to set up and get started with.
The main principle of working is quite simple. These devices contain a sensor that picks up the signal and vibrations from your drum heads. It sends the signal to a drum module or sample/percussion drum pad by a wire.
One of the strongest points of these devices is their ease of use. The installation is very easy. You simply have to attach the trigger to your drum shell and connect it to a drum by a wire. Drum triggers can help improve your live performances, as well as increase the sonic opportunities for your playing.
My top recommended drum trigger is the Roland RT-30HR Dual Zone Trigger. This is by far the most popular choice that offers great quality and reasonable price.
My second recommended drum trigger is the Pintech Percussion RS-5 Acoustic Head Trigger. This is an affordable drum trigger if you lack the budget but still want something decent.
The 7 Best Drum Triggers (2023)
Let’s compare these in more detail.
1. Roland Dual Trigger (RT-30HR)
The RT-30HR represented quite a step forward for Roland’s drum triggers. It is a pretty compact and convenient device that fits pretty much every drum hoop, both classic and inward-curved designs.
It is made of high-quality ABS plastic, with a sturdiness that will stand any stray stick, though there probably won’t be many of them, thanks to the extremely low-profile design. You can count on long-term use for sure.
The RT-30HR Dual Zone Trigger is designed to pick both head and rim strikes. It seems like an ideal tool to get a MIDI tone from your acoustic drum. An ideal trigger to play electric sources.
Also, it is compatible with pretty much all related products from Roland, including TM-2, TD-series V-Drums modules, and SPD-series percussion pads.
2. Pintech Percussion RS-5 Acoustic Trigger
Pintech RS-5 could be a great choice if you are looking for a cheap alternative to professional triggers. Despite the low price tag, this product offers pretty decent quality.
The first thing you’ll notice is an interesting “kwik klip” mounting system, which actually works very well and keeps the trigger in place perfectly. Besides quick mounting, this product also offers a decent-quality sensitivity and response.
It can be used both for home recording and as a silent electronic kit converter. In the first case, you just have to connect the trigger with some drum software and create your sample. On the other side, if you need a quiet electronic drum kit for some small gig, just mount RS-5 to mesh heads.
It works amazingly. Finally, you can use this trigger even as a contact mic for acoustic guitars.
3. Roland Kick Drum Trigger (RT-30K)
This device is one of the newest additions to Roland’s drum trigger lineup. Introduced three years ago, the Roland RT-30K is a trigger designed especially for bass drums. It comes with the company’s recognizable easy-mounting system that makes the drum ready for playing in a matter of seconds.
One of the most interesting parts of this trigger is a convenient self-mounting system that automatically puts the sensor in an optimal position against the drumhead. Speaking of the sensor, it offers great sensibility and response.
The trigger is made of high-quality materials, mostly ABS. It seems very durable, definitely able to stand any stray hit of your mallets.
Another convenient feature is compatibility with other Roland products, including TM-2 Trigger Module, TD-series V-Drums sound modules, and SPD-series percussion pads. A connection cable is also included.
4. ddrum Acoustic Pro 5-Piece Trigger Kit
This kit seems like one of the most reliable trigger kits around, especially if we consider the price. Unlike most of the triggers that are sold separately, this product comes as a complete drum trigger kit that consists of five units.
There is one bass drum trigger, one snare drum trigger, and three tom-tom drum triggers. Looks like it has everything you’ll need.
All the triggers are simple and easy to use, the signal quality is very good and you can count on great sensitivity and response.
However, many consumers see its mounting system as the weakest point. Not that these triggers are hard to mount or that they are unsteady—the problem is that there isn’t any kind of protection that will keep your drum shells from damage.
5. ddrum CETK Chrome Elite Bass Drum Trigger
As opposed to the ddrum set above, this is a single drum trigger by ddrum that has an aesthetic appeal with its chrome finish.
This model features an improved wired harness that sets it apart from the rest, including an increase in sensitivity and overall parameter adjustments. It’s an all-in-one product!
Despite the cool look of this chrome trigger, it has a pretty durable construction that is more than suitable to handle frequent travel and other conditions. It includes a regular XLR input as most drum triggers.
All in all, this is a quality trigger that comes from a respectable manufacturer. With great components and durable construction, it is one to consider.
6. Yamaha DT-50K Metal Body Acoustic Bass Drum Trigger
Here is a product that comes from one of the most renowned names in the industry of musical instruments. This Yamaha DT-50K is a high-quality trigger that comes with a lot of great features. First of all, it offers excellent sound quality.
Count on amazing response and sensibility. Also, it features a metal body that guarantees excellent sturdiness and years of use.
Still, the mounting system is probably the strongest point of this trigger. The system is quite simple but very effective.
The setup requires no more than a few moments. It is very safe, so you won’t have to worry about damaging your drum set. Once mounted, the trigger works perfectly and doesn’t affect the natural drum sound at all.
7. Roland RT-MicS Hybrid Drum Module
To finish off this list is another Roland trigger, this time it’s the Roland RT-MicS Hybrid Drum Module. The Roland RT-MicS is a drum system that includes a drum trigger, sound source, microphone, and mixer in one gadget.
Many great features make this one of the most versatile entries around, like the 8 preloaded sounds, the importable user samples via USB, and the fact that it is usable for acoustic and electronic drums (hybrid drums).
It has separate outputs for acoustic and electronic drums so you can connect your mic to whichever one you need.
Taking into consideration what this system offers, this is an all-around Roland product that is simply amazing, especially considering the reasonable price behind it.
Types of Drum Triggers
Most of the manufacturers offer their mounting systems, though I would say that all of them are very similar. The process of mounting is extremely quick—a matter of seconds, I would say.
Though most of us see drum triggers as a studio and home practice device, these units are amazing tools for live performances, especially for small venues where drummers can’t control loud drum heads and where assistance from professional sound engineers is necessary.
If you have a quality drum module, you can adapt electronic sound so well that it will closely mimic acoustic drums.
Some of these devices are dual sensitive. In practice, this means that you can pick different kinds of sounds. For example, Roland RT-30HR is a dual trigger, which recognizes and separates rim and main head hits. This is great for sound and effects diversity.
Of course, these are just some of the many great things about drum triggers; the benefits are numerous.
Acoustic Drum Trigger Module
Once you get drum triggers, you are halfway through the process. The other part of the process would be getting a trigger module (or you could also use a sample pad or electronic drum module). They usually feature a bunch of sounds, onboard effects, etc. Other important parts of the trigger module are things like trigger inputs, PA and headphone outputs, MIDI ports, etc.
One of the most popular acoustic trigger modules is Roland TM-2. This is quite an affordable unit, characterized by the amazing simplicity of use. Setting up this module seems effortless since the number of buttons is minimal.
Since functionality is the strongest point of this unit, there is a pretty large number of built-in sounds—around 160. There are also 11 effects as well as several other functions. Also, it comes with an SD card slot, so you can easily import your favorite presets.
When it comes to connectivity, Roland TM-2 comes with one PA output, one headphone output, and two MIDI ports (in and out). Another convenient feature is that the unit can be power supplied both by cord and batteries, which is great for those who appreciate portability.
Drum triggers are a great way to add some versatility to your drum kit. Whether you’re looking for a way to practice quietly at home or want to add some electronic sounds to your live performances, drum triggers are the way to go. There are several different types and brands of drum triggers available, so be sure to do your research before making a purchase.
My top pick is the Roland RT-30HR Dual Zone Trigger. This is a popular, quality, and overall well-rounded drum trigger that is approved by many.
My budget pick is the Pintech Percussion RS-5 Acoustic Head Trigger. This is the most budget-friendly option around for those looking for a decent trigger without devastating their pockets.
Featured image by Sascha Jäggiuploaded on Flickr by: Dave Kobrehel from CH / CC BY
9 thoughts on “The 7 Best Drum Triggers for Acoustic Drums (2023)”
Hello, I know this is an old article but I hope you can help me. I’m considering getting a bass drum trigger and would connect it to my Alessis Sample pad 4, which has a trigger input. Would this be compatible with most triggers? I fear that the Roland triggers will only work with Roland modules/pads.
Hi Timothy, Alesis SamplePad models are compatible with most brands and types of external pads and triggers. From what I remember, the 1/4″ cable is included with Roland Kick triggers and you can hook this into the trigger input of the SamplePad 4. Alesis SamplePads have had some issues reported with low volume levels of external triggers, but the output of these was always loud enough for me. Hope this helps!
Thanks very much Mike. I ended up getting a second hand Yamaha DTX SP70 pad and it works well as a kick. It is a little on the quiet side, but it’s fine to practise with once I turn down other channels. I still haven’t found a good enough reason to get a trigger for my acoustic bass drum just yet though and will cross that bridge when I come to it.
Hi there, I am exploring the possibility of lighting up my kick drum every time it is struck. Can you advise me what I would need to do this…..not too expensive.
Hi Sean, there are a bunch of different companies online that do it, just search ‘triggered drum lighting’ or ‘led drum lighting’. They likely all use LED lights with a trigger (e.g. piezo trigger). There might be cheap options available, but if not, and if you wanted to do it really cheaply, you could possibly make one yourself using an arduino (with a piezo sensor and LED lights), although there would be a bit of a learning curve to that!
Hello – Do u know if something like that pintech RS5 would work on the surface of an old Simmons Hexagon pad? Those had triggers inside but these pads are very old but in great shape. The internal triggers no longer working. I know I could somehow crack the pads open and mess with the inside, but not sure it’s worth it. Just wanna use those pads for a specific project that is 80’s related so going for the look. Will those triggers work on the harder hex pad surface? They are basically rubber over wood. Thanks
Hi Nick, the Pintech RS5 is basically just an encased piezo which triggers based on vibrations. I can’t say for sure how sensitive it will be on the Hegagon rubber pad, but I think it would do a pretty good job. Any more expensive triggers would probably be overkill for it anyway.
I’m working on converting an old acoustic drum kit into an electronic kit using a Yamaha dtx502 module I had in the closet. I purchased some Yamaha cymbals and hi hat. I’ve got internal triggers figured out for the toms and kick but not sure what to use on the snare. It has a mesh head on it. I’d like to get drum and rim to work.
Hi Mike, the Roland Dual Trigger (RT-30HR) would work perfectly for this. It recognises the drum and rim as separate hits.