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Tips and Tricks

Set Up And Optimize The USB Pro Drum Kit

 

The Alesis USB Pro Drum Kit is a powerful musical instrument that gives you a wide array of interface and performance capabilities. Setting up an instrument with so many options can be a little tricky, especially if it is your first time, so this article will help you get up and running.

ELECTRONIC DRUM TRIGGERS, MIDI AND YOU

 

The USB Pro Drum Kit is based around the the Trigger|iO trigger-to-MIDI interface. This module turns the signals coming off the pads and cymbals into MIDI, a language that many electronic sound devices and software can understand. That means you can use the drums to play the sounds in software or hardware just like a keyboard player can use the same keyboard with different sound modules or synths. In addition to the drum pads and SURGE Cymbals in the USB Pro Drum Kit, you can use the Trigger|iO with virtually all drum pads, triggers, electronic cymbals, and pedals from all manufacturers. You can even use multi-zone pads and cymbals and different kinds of pedals with the Trigger|iO. The Trigger|iO works with software on your Mac your PC via USB and other hardware such as sound modules, samplers, MPCs, and synths with a MIDI (DIN) connection. Later in this article you’ll see how you can configure the Trigger|iO to work with different kind of trigger inputs.

YOUR COMPUTER - YOUR INSTRUMENT

The USB Pro Drum Kit harnesses the processing power of your computer to drive its sound engine. To get the best performance from your computer, here are some tips we recommend.

 

USB Ports – Many computers have multiple built-in USB ports, some of which provide intermittent or unreliable connection for audio applications. This can be due to things like shielding, cabling, power supply, or other issues. In most cases, if you are having trouble with a USB port, just switch ports and try again. This tip solves many USB-port problems but just in case, there is a troubleshooting guide that we have created for addressing specific problems.

 

Audio Interfaces And Latency – If you have never used your computer for recording or performing with audio, you probably don’t own a professional audio interface. You might notice a delay from the time you strike a drum pad to the time hear the sound. This is called latency. If you have a computer running Windows, there is a free solution that may eliminate latency. Software called ASIO4ALL is designed for many sound cards to perform with low levels of latency. You can find out more at http://www.asio4all.com/. For the best performance, we recommend an external audio interface, such as the Alesis iO|26, the MultiMix 8 USB 2.0 or MultiMix 8 FireWire mixers, or the MasterControl.

 

For more in-depth discussion on fine-tuning your personal computer for audio performance, take a look at this article

CONFIGURING THE USB PRO DRUM KIT WITH BFD LITE:


The USB Pro Drum Kit’s Trigger|iO comes configured ready-to-play with the BFD Lite software using Kit #0. There are a few settings you may want to change to optimize the performance of the SURGE Cymbals.

 

The SURGE Crash and Ride Cymbals have choke strips on the underside to grab and choke the cymbal’s sound. The SURGE Ride Cymbal also has a velocity-sensitive bell zone so you can trigger a different sound on the bell of the cymbal than on the bow. These advanced trigger features work with BFD Lite. We’ll walk through how to make these changes in a moment.

 

The Trigger|iO is always “listening” to the trigger inputs. If you want to modify the settings of a specific trigger – the crash, for example – just strike this trigger. The Trigger|iO is now ready to edit the crash settings. If you have already experimented with the Trigger|iO’s settings and want to start from scratch, you can factory reset it by simply holding Value Up and Value Down while powering the Trigger|iO up. You will see RES on the display, confirming that you are back to factory settings.

 

BFD Lite automatically listens to all MIDI interfaces and devices connected to your computer, so just set up the kit, connect the Trigger|iO to a reliable USB port on your computer, and launch BFD Lite to get started. Need help setting up the kit? Here is the quick start guide.

 

After connecting each trigger to the proper inputs on the Trigger|iO per the diagram above, let’s make those changes to the settings for the Crash and Ride.

 

SURGE Crash:

 

  1. With all pads and cymbals connected, select Kit #0 on the Trigger|iO
  2. Tap or strike the bow (face) of the SURGE Crash cymbal, which should be connected to Trigger Input 8
  3. Function Up or Down to Trigger Type
  4. Value Up and Down to PS
  5. Function Up or Down to Trig MIDI Note #. By default, this should be set to 49 / F4. If not, Value Up or Down to it.
  6. Grab the choke strip
  7. Function to Trigger Type
  8. Value Up or Down to PS
  9. Grab the choke strip again and watch the LEDs at the bottom of the display. Two LEDs should illuminate when touched and the third LED should illuminate when the choke strip is released.  If not, go back and follow steps 2 through 8 again.
  10. Function Up or Down to Trig MIDI Note #
  11. Value Up or Down to 57 / A4
  12. You will notice that Kit is blinking green, indicating that you have made changes and not saved. Function Up or Down to Kit, which will save the settings.

 

SURGE Ride:

 

  1. Check that the cable is connected to the Bow/Choke jack on the underside of the SURGE Ride. This is the left jack if you are looking at the underside with the jacks at 6:00.
  2. Tap or strike the bow, which should be connected to Trigger Input 9
  3. Function Up or Down to Trigger Type
  4. Value Up or Down to PS
  5. Function Up or Down to Trig MIDI Note #. This should be set to 55 / G4 by default. If not, Value Up or Down to 55.
  6. Grab the choke strip.
  7. Function Up or Down to Trigger Type
  8. Value Up or Down to PS
  9. Grab the choke strip again and watch the LEDs at the bottom of the display. Two LEDs should illuminate when touched and the third LED should illuminate when the choke strip is released.  If not, go back and follow steps 2 through 8 again.
  10. Function Up or Down to Trig MIDI Note #
  11. Value Up or Down to 58 / A#4
  12. Function Up or Down to Kit.

The settings described above are reflected in the Hit Options section of BFD and appear as follows:



BFD Lite 1.5 has tools built in for modifying and customizing sounds and room ambience. You can check out the BFD Lite Setup Guide for more information.

USING THE USB PRO DRUM KIT WITH OTHER SOFTWARE

 

In addition to BFD Lite, you can use the USB Pro Drum Kit with any MIDI sequencer or virtual instrument that permits external MIDI interface support. The steps for setting this up vary, but the starting point is always choosing the USB Audio Device as the MIDI IN port and assigning that input to the virtual instrument you want to use. Many virtual instruments have a fixed MIDI Note assignment and you will need to match the Trigger|iO’s to them. You will find the bank of 20 different User Kits on the Trigger|iO helpful for storing different maps for different instruments.

 

Here are some basic settings for some common programs you may be using the USB Pro Drum Kit with. Set the Trigger|iO Trig MIDI Note #s as follows:

 

Ableton Live – Impulse Instrument

 

In order as it appears in Impulse:

 

36 / C3 | 38 / D3 | 40 / E3 | 41 / F3

 

43 / G3 | 45 / A3 | 47 /B3 | 48 / C4

 

Propellerheads Reason - ReDrum

 

36 / C3 | 37 / C#3 | D3 / 38 | D#3 / 39 | E3 / 40 | F3 / 41 | F#3 / 42 | G3 / 43 | G#3 / 44 | A3 / 45

 

ToonTrack EZ Drummer

 

 Kick: 36 | Snare Left: 33 | Snare Right: 38 | Snare Rimshot: 40 | Tom 1: 50 | Tom 2: 47 | Floor Tom: 43 | Hi-Hat: 24 | Crash: 49 | Ride:  51 | Ride Bell: 53

 

You may need to consult the EZ Drummer documentation for full hi-hat control and cymbal choking.

BFD is a trademark of FXpansion Audio UK Ltd.
Toontrack EZ Drummer is a registered trademark of Toontrack
Ableton Live, Impulse are trademarks of Ableton AG
Reason is a trademark of Propellerhead Software AB
ASIO is a trademark of Steinberg Media Technologies GmbH