Alesis | Trigger iO | Alesis Trigger IO

ing system of the iO couldn't be
input, and the ability to change kits
much easier. There are dedicated
with an increment/decrement pedal
buttons for moving up and down
or trigger. Weighing in at less than
between functions , as well as for
2 Ibs. and boasting the dimensions
of a slightly overSized VHS tape,
Increasing or decreasing values ­
the box has a remarkably small
that's it. All of the iO's features are
footprint. It can be stand-mounted,
accessed and controlled from
these four buttons.
but a mount is not included with
On the left side of the screen
the unit. Unless you buy an optional
are four small LEOs that light up to
plate, you'll have to use it as a
indicate the kit function currently
tabletop device.
If you have older pads that use
active: kit number, program
separate monophonic jacks for the
change, trigger MIDI channel, and
trigger MIDI note. The screen con­
pad and nm, you'll need to use two
Sists of a three-value LEO that dis­
BY NORMAN WEINBERG
of the 10 inputs. If your pad uses a
the USB cable (no additional
stereo TRS (tip/nng/sleeve) jack,
plays the value information of the
ith today's best drum
power supply). Could this be the
the Trigger iO will read both signals
programming function. Included in
next big thing for electronic drum­
sounds coming from
through a single input. Yes, this
this screen are two additional
software programs
mers? Let's check it out.
means you could also rig up 20
small LEOs that light to indicate
rather than hardwired
trigger activity and "Tng B" which
FORMAND
mono pads with special cables.
drum brains, It'S no wonder that
FUNCTION
is used to program the second
Thankfully, user interface de­
players and audio engineers are
voice on a stereo pad. On the right
The iO's feature list is somewhat
signs for electronic percussion
looking for easier ways to interface
amazing for its price point: 10
Side of the screen are six more
have been getting better and bet­
their electronic kit to their com­
LEOs that indicate the trigger
ter over the years. And the operatstereo inputs, 21 user kits, hi-hat
puter. If you already own an elec­
setup parameters : gain, velocity
tronic kit, you can make the
curve, threshold, crosstalk, retrig­
computer connection with a MIDI
ger, and trigger type.
cable, as the kit's brain contains all
GLOBAL SETTINGS (TRIGGER) MODEL Trigger iO
The back of the iO is also laid
the necessary trigger-to-MIDI para­
Gain,
Velocity
Curve,
Threshold,
out In a clean and logical manner.
phernalia. However, you're also go­
FEATURES User Kits: 21 Crosstalk,
Retrigger,
Trigger
Type
The ten tngger inputs are clearly
ing to need a MIDI interface for
(numbered 0-20) marked with both the number of
your computer, and you'll be by­
ADDITIONS Fxpansion BFDlite, INPUTS 10 Trigger, 1 Footswitch,
the input and names of the kit's in­
passing the brain's internal sounds.
Power Supply, USB Cable 1 Hi-Hat
struments, such as kick, snare,
For another option, there's the Ale­
PRICE $299 crash , and so on. Two additional in­
sis Trigger iO.
OUTPUTS MIDI-Out, USB 1.1
puts cover a kit increment and
With this Inexpensive little box,
CONTACT Alesis decrement pedal (optional), and
the trigger-to-MIDI concept has
KIT SETTINGS Program Change
200 Scenic View Dr. the hi-hat's input. Along With the
been replaced with the trigger-to­
Cumberland, RI 02864 PAD
SETTINGS
MIDI-Channel,
USB Jack is a standard MIDI-Out
USB paradigm. The iO is a "plug­
401-658-5760. alesis.com MIDI-Note jack that can be used to control
and-play" device (no special
other hardware sound modules.
drivers) and it can be powered by
ALESIS
Trig er iO
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EXPERIENCE
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DETAILS
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EDITING
INDIVIDUAL KITS
Each one of the stereo trigger in­
puts can send individual notes
numbers over individual MIDI chan­
nels for the pad and the rim. This
offers total flexibility to control a
large number of differen t sounds at
the same time. For example, you
could have each pad's surface
and/or rim trigger control a differ­
ent sampler inside of Reason 4. If
you want to go full bore, you could
route the iO's signal to a VST or
Audio Units host and access a dif­
ferent plug -in for each pad.
While MIDI-Channel and MIDI­
Note settings work just fine for the
majority of e-drumming situations,
don't expect to become a one-man
band or handle highly advanced
textural drumming situations with­
out a lot of extra work. The iO
doesn't Include bells and whistles
such as alternate notes, stacked
notes, gate time controls, or con tin­
uous controller information. De­
pend ing on your software, though,
you might be able to create some
work-arounds that wou ld allow you
to take advantage of those features
if you really need them .
Setting individual values is pretty
easy. You simply strike the pad or
rim that you want to program and
the iO "chases" to display that In ­
put for your programming pleasure.
Once you've selected the proper
pad, simply select the MIDI chan­
nel and the note number. One of
th e trickier aspects of the operating
system is saving your changes to a
kit. Since there is no dedicated
"save" bullon, you save your
changes by using the func tion but­
tons to return to the "kit' function .
By doing this, any changes you've
made to your programming are au­
tomatically saved. If you don't want
to save your changes, you press
th e Function Down and Value
Down buttons at the same time.
Thi s pro cess is not exactly difficult,
but it' s not intuitive either - another
good reason to RYFM (read your
freakin' manual), no matter how
simple the OS might seem at firs t
glance. Believe It or not. the man­
ual to the Trigger iO is rea lly prelly
good. I found that It was easy to
read and clear to understand. And,
the included troubleshooting guide
could be very helpful if you run into
any problems.
One other programming issue:
While the iO chases triggers for
programming, the screen doesn't
indicate which of the triggers is
currently being programmed. If you
should accidentally bump into a
trigger dUring the programming
process, It's possible that you'll
jump to programming a different
trigger without realizing it.
EDITING GLOBAL
SETIINGS
As you might expect , global set­
tings are those that affect the trig­
ger inputs for all 21 kits. What
many manufacturers call "sensitiv­
ity" Alesis calls "gain:' By changi ng
the gain setting, you're making ad­
justments to how hard you'll need
to strike in order to get a maxim um
MIDI volume reading of 127. Th e
values of gain range from 0-20,
with lower values requiring more
powerful strokes.
It's rare to see so many velocity
curves available on a unit in this
price range. In all, there are 15 dif­
lerent curves you can call up to
SUit your playing style or a particu­
lar function. Curves include linear,
constant, and offset, as well as
four each of exponential, logarith­
mic, and spline curves. The refer­
ence manual contains nice graphic
illustrations of how the various
curves work.
A pad's thresh old may need to
be adjusted il you're gelling false
triggering from external vibrations.
This value is the minimum signal re­
quired for a trigger to send data.
Values here range from 3-64.
Crosstalk occurs when the strike
from one trigger causes another
trigger to vibrate and send a signal.
Unfortunately, crosstalk is some­
what common on stereo pads with
triggers on the head and rim. Oc­
casionally, crosstalk can occur
when pads are mounted on racks
that transfer vibrations between
separate pads. To cancel crosstalk,
weaker signals that arrive at nearfy
the same time as stronger sig nals
will be ignored. Crosstalk values on
the iO range from 0-7. When thiS
crosstalk value is set to higher
numbers, stronger crosstalk veloci­
ties will be ignored.
The ret rigger value determines
how the iO will react to successive
trigg ers from the same input. While
adjusting the retrigger time is criti­
cal when triggering from acoustic
drums, it can also be important
when working with pads. The faster
you play, the lower you'll want to
set these values .
The trigger iO offers a large se­
lection of trigger types to work ef­
fectively with a variety of pads. Six
different types are offered:
piezo/piezo, switch/switch,
piezo/switch, switch/piezo, switch
(as with a sustain pedal), and hi-hat
pedal. The Alesis web site contains
a pdf file that lists the compatibility
of various manufacturers' pads with
the Trigger iO. You may want to re­
fer to thi s chart to be sure that your
pads will operate as desired with
the unit. Al so on the site is another
pdf with a good explanation of
dual-zone pads that use both piezo
and switch triggers.
OTHER COOL THINGS
As an added bonus, the iO comes
with a copy of Fxpansion's
BFDlite. This is a terrific program.
Instal l the software and you'll be
up and playing in ju st a couple of
minutes. While the lite version
doesn't contain as many instru­
ments as the full-blown version
(9GB worth on two DVDs), it's got
enough sounds to get you going
and enough features to tease you
in to buy ing the whole ench ilada.
The iO also includes a 9-volt
power adapter for when you want
to use the unit without hooking up
the USB cable.
Unique to the Trigger iO is the
ability to upgrade its internal soft­
ware. While there are no upgrades
currently on the Alesis site, should
one become available, you'll be
able to download it to your com­
puter and dump it into the 10.
THE MOST
IMPORTANT STUFF
No matter what the features are,
the most important things about a
trigger interface are how well it
tracks you r dynamic subtleties and
how fast and cleanly it tracks your
strokes. I tried the iO with a vari­
ety of Yamaha pads, Roland pads,
and Alternate Mode pedals. I ran
the iO into Reason, Live, and the
BFDlite software that comes
shipped with the unit. I used both
the internal sound engine in my
Mac B ook Pro 2.6gHz Intel Core 2
Duo, and the M-Audio Firewire
410 dig ital audio interface.
In my tests, the Trigger iO
worked pretty much as you would
expect. It was relatively easy to
tweak the iO so that the pads
smoothly responded to my playing
style (more adjustments were nec­
essary for my older Yamaha pads).
As mentioned earlier, there are sev­
eral trigger settings that work in a
somewhat inter-connected way. If
you're not happy with the triggering
response right off the bat, don't
give up. It might take a little time,
but it's time well spent and you
only need to do it once.
The unit triggered fas t, but
wasn't absolutely instant. I really
didn't notice much of a difference
when using the Mac's engine or
the Firewire 410. In fact, depend­
ing on your playing style and the
type of music you practice and
perform, you might not even notice
this. Keep in mind that each
millisecond of latency is about the
time it takes for sound to travel
12". Latency shouldn't bother you
until it gets above 1Oms. If you're
using the iO with a PC and aren't
happy with the latency, you can try
downloading an ASIO (Audio
Stream Input/Output) driver from
the Internet. You may fin d that this
helps make the unit laster. •
VERDICT
The bottom line is that for this
price, there's no other device on
the market that does what the
Trigger iO can do. It's small,
simple, and effective_For all but
the most sophisticated users,
this may be the easiest way to
interface your pads with your
computer.
APRIL Z008
DRUM! 127
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