I’ve been reluctantly using drum triggering for a long time; I must admit that I consider it a necessary evil. But now that I’ve reviewed Steven Slate Digital’s Trigger, I must say that I don’t have to be so reluctant, as Trigger’s process isn’t so evil and neither is the end result.
Trigger is available in two configurations: the EX package featuring 10 snares (including one Deluxe Snare with adjustable overheads and a dozen alternation hits per each velocity), three sets of toms, and nine kick drums; and the Platinum package featuring an extensive sample library (reviewed here).
Trigger is a VST/RTAS/AU-compatible plugin that very effectively triggers up to six stereo drum sounds when inserted on a drum track in your DAW. Slate Digital’s library of sounds is large and useful with the Platinum package’s 6GB of 24-bit samples (losslessly compressed down to 2.4 GB), allowing you to accomplish just about whatever creative amalgamation you can imagine.
For example, trigger from one to six snare sounds from the Slate Digital library on a snare track, with each one having its own mix level, pan, envelope (attack, sustain and release), dynamics and velocity profile. Or any of those six slots can have an AIF or WAV of your favorite snare sounds. Or you might prefer one of the two Slate Digital Deluxe snares (there are two Deluxe kicks, too) with close mics, overheads, room mics and room sounds from North Hollywood’s now-legendary NRG Studios — the combinations are endless.
Trigger’s triggering is accomplished with a complicated, but ergonomic feature set that does the “impossible” — it triggers sounds with phase accuracy in regards to the original sound (allowing blend-ability), all without false triggering or missing notes.
Without delving into technical detail that is only meaningful if working with the Trigger GUI, let me summarize that Trigger simply works. In overview, one adjusts Input Gain, Detail, Sensitivity and Retrigger in order to make all drum hits generate a trigger, to create no false triggers, and to accurately mimic reality. Excellent performances will make this process quick and easy as pie; troubled performances require significant effort — but either way, the end result delivers increased quality. The GUI does a very good job of feeding you a plethora of information to tweak those troubled notes with ample indicators of captured notes, missed ones and the margin of error.
All parameters of Trigger are automationready; as a matter of fact, this automation becomes a lifesaver for very difficult passages. Do you have extreme metal blast beats not capturing all the notes? Crush rolls on snare sounding more like a cluster of chaos? Draw automation on input sensitivity, Retrigger or Detail and you’ll likely be good to go before you know it.
Trigger is designed so flexibly that I can recommend it for two divergent tasks: both realistically replacing drum sounds without alerting the listener, and radically changing drum sounds to purposefully alert the listener. The flexibility of Trigger’s six sample slots is the key to this flexibility, and the effectiveness of its justifiably complicated GUI seals the deal.
Getting great drum tracks has never been easy, and triggering is hardly something new. However, the ease and speed at which Trigger delivers great drum sounds is astounding: a savior for poor drum tracks and an important corrective (or artistic) tool for the modern engineer who must deliver excellence in less available time than ever before.
Prices: $249 and $99 (Platinum and EX configurations, respectively. Upgrade to Platinum available directly available from Slate Digital website)
Contact: Steven Slate Digital | slatedigital.com
Rob Tavaglione owns and operates Charlotte’s Catalyst Recording.