Acoustic Drums/Drum Triggers/Modular

Hi there,
First contribution to the forum. I’ve been reading lots of a very interesting things and I learned a lot from you all. :slight_smile:
I originally play drums and I discovered the synth world couple years ago. I started the modular with Mutable Instruments thanks to some friends and because they sound phenomenal.

My topic today is about the connection between my acoustic drum set and and my modular system. I’m talking about acoustic drums triggering envelopes, notes, even sequences and I’m opening that topic today because I need your inputs. Actually that’s a very open/large topic and I’m pretty sure there are few really exciting things to do. Some drummers have already shown the way, working on that topic (

I’m very inspired by the work of Ian Chang, drummer for Son Lux, who play’s with some very elaborate (and very expensive :stuck_out_tongue:) drum triggers that help him achieve a new sound area. You should definitely check out his work, it’s amazing.
I was wondering how I could reach some kind of acoustic/numeric mixed sound from the modules I have now.

I have a Yamaha Ead10 drum mic (that I could send to the Rings audio In, still haven’t tried it yet) and I’m thinking about buying some classic Roland drum triggers. My question is what can I trigger on my modular setup? Could I use it on Veils gain cv input? Peaks trig input? Freezer on Clouds? Is the signal sent by the triggers compatible with the modules?

Here’s my current modular case:

Sorry I feel like it’s a very wide topic, and I have some theoretical basis but I do lack practice (therefore ideas). That’s why I’m asking for inputs, ideas, tricks you may have already experienced, things you’d like to be tried, before I spend hundreds in something I can’t handle haha :smiley:

Hope it’s understandable, not that easy to express.
Many thanks ! Have a nice day :blue_heart:

I don’t know much about drum triggers, but as far as I know, they are nothing more than piezzos, so they send a voltage on their own when they are hit. In theory, this voltage could be high enough to cause a detection on the trigger input of a Eurorack module… However, this voltage fluctuates, and I fear that this could cause double-triggering if you patch it straight into, for example, Peaks’ trigger input. The best option to solve this problem is Ears: it has the right circuitry to convert the signal from a piezzo into a clean gate signal, that can be patched into anything with a trigger or gate input.

You can also patch the output from the drum trigger in Rings’ audio input, it’ll work well!

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Yes I thought about getting Ears for a while and I will ! :slight_smile:
Instead of triggers on acoustic drums, there are also some electronic pads that should send constant voltage with velocity sensitivity.

I don’t think they send voltage. They rather act as resistive elements, so a voltage needs to be applied to them, and the resulting current indicates how hard they are being pressed.


Ok, so Ears should definitely help me.

You might also have a look at this:

This module generates voltages from resistive elements or switches.

your keystep pro has quite a bit of CV output functionality and you have a yarns…I’d probably look into the drum trigger -> midi boxes out there (googling brought me to this, I don’t know much at all about drums though)

Not sure if this will help but here we go anyway:

1: acoustic drum
2: you’ll need to mic this
3: the mic Signal will need to be Boosted significantly to eurorack levels ie: preamp
4: to extract a gate or trigger you need something called a ‘comparator’. This is nothing more than a circuit which detects when a signal passes a ‘threshold’ (ie: similar to threshold on compressor which tells the compressor when to turn on). The suggestions you’ve had of ears or the doepfer have a preamp and comparator. They also have an envelope follower which can be useful. I have mi ears and can vouch for it. You may need to experiment with the jumpers on the back re: sensitivity As well as the gain setting knob. The sensitivty setting are on the front of the doepfer, but it is twice the hp.

Thanks for the contribution !

The Yamaha mic I have, comes with a sound module that already boosts the level. I don’t plug the mic directly into my audio interface for example. Anyway, I’ll need that Ears module to work as a preamp on my modular system (for drums or something else :wink:)

Yes Yarns was one of my first modules, and now that I have the Keystep pro I’m still looking for its utility. That midi box looks interesting. I’ll check that thanks !

Given how cheap these interfaces are, and how they include all the right features (amplification, detection with adjustable threshold, and crosstalk removal if you have a large kit), they might be a very good deal indeed if you need more than 2 channels!


I just found this :

description : “signal chain: acoustic bassdrum - roland bassdrum trigger - roland tm-2 module - mutable instruments ears - gate - clock input intelljel metropolis - mutable instruments rings - digitech polara reverb”

The results is quite beautiful. Any idea how Rings reacts with the pitch ? The Roland tm-2 module works as a sound module and not just a midi box here. So the sound of the drum module goes to Ears. I guess Rings is triggered when the velocity of the kick is high enough, right ?

The Gate from Ears goes into the Metropolis (a sequencer), so it looks like every time the bassdrum trigger is hit, the sequence is advanced by a step, and this causes the note changes.

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OT really, but I saw an amazing performance by this guy, many years ago.

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Hey there,

I’m also using and EAD10 to interact with my modular rig. Here’s my setup:

  • Ead10
  • Yamaha dt-50s dual zone trigger on snare drum
  • 1 redshot DDrum trigger on bass drum (I’m using a mesh head on my bass drum so the EAD10 trigger isn’t triggering)
  • 1 pintech trigger on my bottom hi-hat (something like this)

I’m also using the keystep pro as a midi-to-cv converter, but for some unknown reason I couldn’t link the EAD10 directly to the midi input of the keystep pro (maybe the EAD10 require some special driver?) so I’m using my PC and VCVRack as an intermediate layer between the two.

Things I’ve tried so far:

  • Bass drum trigger into Marble’s X clock input to get new random CV values at every bass drum hit.
  • Hi-hat trigger into Marbles Y clock input is particularly fun in yellow mode.
  • Burst generator or cascading envelope generator like Quadrax to get strumming effect like in this video:
  • Clock divider to have something happen every X trigger (ex.: change chord every 8th bass drum hit)

I haven’t really experimented with velocity and midi cc yet but I’m assuming if you have some kind of comparator module you might be able to do some cool things with that.

Hi @Antoine_K - we made some videos going down the Piezo pickup route that @pichenettes suggested with Ears. We’re not using Ears specifically here but our own design (it has more channels) - however Ears would be a great choice for checking this out and getting started with piezos, as would Ears’ predecessor Music Thing Modular Mikrophonie.

Mutable Instruments’ Modules pair very nicely with this approach - our favourites (and the ones we us here) are Rings - either the trigger or the audio in, Plaits - the trigger in, and Clouds - the audio in.

Here the jazz brushes are picked up through the wooden baseplate with piezo contact mics, routed through our piezo preamp and into both Mutable Instruments Rings and Plaits in resonator mode. Plaits’ pitch is slightly altered each hit using the Turing Machine. The resulting sounds are processed through a TC Electronic Hall of Fame pedal.

Here, the sound of the wooden baseplate is picked up with a piezo contact mic and amplified with our 8 channel piezo preamp, then run through Mutable Instruments Rings. The Beatstep Pro sequencer is advanced a step each time you knock on wood, giving rings a different pitch. The spring board mounted at the top adds a subtle sonic texture, the shimmer on top is a TC Electronic Hall of Fame guitar pedal.

This one is an acoustic feedback patch, running a selfmade string contraption through Rings. The instrument is made from a solid piece of spruce, roundwound bass strings, ukulele tuning mechanics and a couple of LEGO Technic bushings to help and keep the strings in place. The strings are excited with a felt plectrum, picked up with piezo contact mics, routed through our piezo preamp and into Rings.

Rings’ output is pitch modulated using the Turing Machine (the pitch modulation acts as the feedback breaker also) and fed to our Dynaudio nearfield speakers, which return the signal through the wooden baseplate into the piezos, creating the beautiful blooming feedback. The shimmer on top is a TC Electronic Hall of Fame pedal, with the EHX Stereo Memory Man adding extra layer of delay.

Check out the whole playlist here. Patch descriptions are in the descriptions, and feel free to ask if you have questions!


You mean you wanted to connect the module directly to the keystep pro but the EAD10 does not come with midi because it’s only audio signal right?

That’s brilliant, definitely need the Marbles too… And the video of Shawn Crowder is really inspiring. Thank you!

Hi @MakingSoundMachines !
I did check out your work, it’s pure gold. But now I feel like I have a lot of work to do to reach your planet… thank you for the explanations. And your videos are very well produced by the way !

As a gate ?

Would you mind to explain how you do that ? I have a Keystep pro and a Beatstep pro so I’m quite interested :wink:

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No, the EAD10 absolutely does midi. You need to menu dive a little but for every voice you can set multiple midi setting like note, gate time, trigger velocity and midi channel.

Oh ok didn’t know that ! Thanks !