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Interfacing Drum Pads to Modular
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> Modular Synth General Discussion Goto page 1, 2  Next [all]
Author Interfacing Drum Pads to Modular
calaveras
Hey all,
I'm working on setting up a modular based drum set. Initially to replace the acoustic kit I sold with something I can mess around on without ticking off the neighbors. But I also plan to integrate with some stuff like some 4ms clock/envelope modules to trigger other sounds along with what I am playing. So I am long term looking to not just make a sound, but also generate useful gate signals that can feed an ecosystem of clocking and sequencing.

Okay I've searched and most of the threads seem to mention the Doepfer A119. Which is not terribly in stock at the places I usually shop.
I'm also kind of balking at using one of these per each trigger? That gets expensive in price and space. The pads I have collected so far are dual zone so that is quite a lot of hp and just to interface 2 pads and a kick. Not even getting to the exp pedal for hihat control.

There has to be something with dual inputs that takes up similar space and is a shade more cost effective (DIY is a plus).
Bear mentioning that I'm trying to cram my whole drum rig into one small skiff if possible. So I can take it out to jam more easily.

Anyone have any experience using just a VCA or some other gain element to crank up the piezo a bit?

I'm also kind of wondering about the affect that the high impedance of a piezo element has on any of these modular inputs. I recall from my live sound days that a direct connection of a piezo element on a guitar or violin sounds completely awful, though it will work somewhat. Using a galvanically isolated DI to replace the impedance of the piezo with something that the input is more comfortable with makes this sound better. I can not help but wonder what would work similarly here. As we are talking DC pulses not AC audio, so transformers are not a tool that applies. Still it seems that the impedance is a problem for some of my gear.

ps. thought about posting under synth diy, but this seems more of a general question with possible sdiy solutions than a purely sdiy question.
nostalghia
I realize it's not a modular solution (which may or may not be a dealbreaker for you), but have you considered a Nord Drum 2?
Compact unit with multiple types of drum synthesis (not sample based), has 6 trigger inputs with (global) adjustable input threshold and sensitivity. Trigger type settings for Roland or Yamaha pads and acoustic drum triggers (piezo). Will also convert trigger to MIDI.
Main limitation is audio output is stereo, no individual outs-but you can set level and pan for each sound separately (internal stereo "mixer"), also has echo effect per drum channel. 400 program locations.

Check out the demos on Nord's site and YouTube. Got mine used for $400, saw another soon after at Control NY for same price.

Nord Drum 2
calaveras
Thanks but one of the main reasons I am going modular for my electronic set up is that I like to be able to bring out each percussion voice as it's own output for recording. It is pretty frustrating to me that only the very expensive electronic drum kits have better than stereo outs.

Speaking as a former live sound engineer, I would always want to at least see the kick and snare on their own, distinct from the whole kit.

There is also the added benefit of a modular kit that I can easily trigger a TipTop CB808 or Synthrotek DSM from one of my drum machines as well when I am playing a synth or whatever.
wes2600
Another non-euro solution is the Alesis D4.

It has 12 trigger inputs, 2 stereo outputs and 21 drum kits.

You would probably have to find a used one.
calaveras
I actually used to have a DM4 that I used with a sequencer, like a million years ago. Not really what I am into presently.
nostalghia
calaveras wrote:
Thanks but one of the main reasons I am going modular for my electronic set up is that I like to be able to bring out each percussion voice as it's own output for recording. It is pretty frustrating to me that only the very expensive electronic drum kits have better than stereo outs.


Maybe the Vermona DRM1 MkIII with the trigger input option then?
Individual output per drum voice plus a mix out. Analog drum synthesis.
Vermona DRM1 MKIII

There's one on ebay now at $800. Not bad for 8 drum voices with lots of parameters. I haven't used one, but think I've seen comments that the kick is great, snare a bit "meh". Depends on your tastes of course, listen to some demos.

Didn't see anything on Modular Grid with multiple channels of envelope followers like the A-119. You may not need this though (if you do, Analogue Haven has it in stock). Should be able to plug your pads right into trigger inputs, may just need a bit of level and/or gate length control on the way in, and modules that provide that are fairly common.

Here's the trigger in spec for the Vermona, from the manual:
"You can purchase the DRM1 MKIII either with or without trigger-inputs.
The eight trigger-inputs allow triggering the DRM1 MKIIIā€™s sound from an
analogue sequencer. The unit will accept gate signals between 2 and 12 volts."
pre55ure
Interesting problem. It sort of seems like this should be something that has an easy solution, but maybe it's just not common enough...

Anyway, so just to be clear you are just looking to create triggers from the pad outputs. Not sounds. Correct?

Have you tried simply connecting a pad output to something with a trigger input?
(Probably best to run it through a pot or something else to attenuate the level first)

Do you have an oscilloscope available that you can use? I haven't ever played with piezo's but I think I read somewhere that they can produce suprisingly high voltage spikes when thwaked with a drumstick or something. But I don't really know so an oscilloscope would be your friend here.

Anyway, assuming that you either attenuate or boost the outputs to a level that your modular is good with I can't see why they wouldn't work (as triggers). You might run into trouble with double triggering, (once again it would be really helpful to get a look on a scope to see what the output really looks like) but theres ways to deal with that in either hardware or possibly software if you wanted to make something simple with an arduino.

Just did a quick search for some schematics and found this thread-

https://www.muffwiggler.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=34138&highlight=

It has some interface schematics for piezo triggers to modular, maybe just what your looking for.
Slabwax
i've not tried it yet but have you looked in the drumkat etc.. http://www.alternatemode.com

The drumkat midi out to a midi /cv like a Q174 . They have 4 midi outs and 9 pad trigger ins. I've used the Drumkat to my moogs and I've had good luck. The old dotcom midi / cv seem to sell relatively cheaply on the BST sub around here. Just a quick thought.
calaveras
I do have a few modules which in theory take direct pad inputs. And they do trigger after a fashion. However the output is very inconsistent. I also get the impression that over time the level seems to get fainter. Not a good situation.
I'd like to condition the spikey output to be more like an actual gate signal. Though it would be great if I could preserve some of the amplitude variation while stretching the whole transient out into a gate.
A few of my modules have sensitivity that changes the timbre based on the gate/trig input.


As far as midi, that is not on the table for me. I'm trying to keep this strictly voltages so that everything can be swapped over to being triggered by my gear that has trigger outs.
I'm also wondering about using a VCA with not a lot of headroom so that it limits the transient by design. Basically what you do with a compressor to make drums sound big. But applied to make the gate big.
nostalghia
calaveras wrote:

I'd like to condition the spikey output to be more like an actual gate signal.


Doepfer A-162 will do this. Dual channel and only $80:
A-162 on Modular Grid

"Module A-162 contains two identical circuits that generate a trigger signal with adjustable delay and length from an incoming rectangle signal (e.g. gate, trigger, rectangle output of an LFO or VCO).
The rising edge of the incoming signal is used to trigger the new trigger signal. This module makes it possible to delay the onset of a trigger pulse, and also change its length.
On each of the two units, two controls can alter the onset time and duration of triggers, from about 2 ms up to more than 10 seconds."
calaveras
nostalghia wrote:
calaveras wrote:

I'd like to condition the spikey output to be more like an actual gate signal.


Doepfer A-162 will do this. Dual channel and only $80:
A-162 on Modular Grid

"Module A-162 contains two identical circuits that generate a trigger signal with adjustable delay and length from an incoming rectangle signal (e.g. gate, trigger, rectangle output of an LFO or VCO).
The rising edge of the incoming signal is used to trigger the new trigger signal. This module makes it possible to delay the onset of a trigger pulse, and also change its length.
On each of the two units, two controls can alter the onset time and duration of triggers, from about 2 ms up to more than 10 seconds."

I was already looking at that one. It isn't too pricey, so if I need some preamplification in front of it not too much of a loss.
I'm also considering some of the various erthenvar tiles. They have a contact mic/piezo preamp that is interesting. As well as a few straight preamps and level shifters.
jkjelec
Here's an interesting solution... use a Roland PM-16 Trigger to MIDI converter ( ) to convert the drum pads to MIDI, and connect the MIDI out to a PAIA MIDI2CV8 MIDI to CV converter (~$125) in "Analog Drum" Mode. This gives you the velocity sensing you want and almost zero "messing around with custom circuits". I can't imagine that the delay due to MIDI would be a problem, and you get 8 pads/triggers for around $200.

From the PAiA website:
Mode 5: Analog Drum

This mode provides for control of devices that use variable amplitude pulses for
triggering, such as analog drum circuits. Each output corresponds to a key and the
each key activation produces a 5ms pulse with amplitude proportional to velocity
calaveras
that is an interesting solution. At least it has the potential of combining multiple pads to one cable that interfaces to the modular unit. I'm just pretty dead set against getting midi involved at all. I'm trying to make this drum kit as unlike current Roland/Yamaha/Alesis kits as possible. While still leveraging some of the existing gear that is out there.
(why make a kick pedal from scratch when the Roland ones just work?).
I really wish Control in Brooklyn carried Doepfer.
Meme Antenna does, but not the stuff I'd like to check out.
And I dont see them letting me hook up a couple of pads in the middle of their store.
Slabwax
If you are into diy how about making Moog 1130 pads? The scamatics are on line.
lvoemachine
If your pads spit out midi notes, a midi to trigger device is what you need. That would be the most efficient way to do it.
eolianmollisol
Drum Kit (DIY) by spikenzie labs

http://spikenzielabs.com/SpikenzieLabs/dkkai.html

Works for me, I'd post a pic of my set up but I am moving currently and everything is in boxes.
MindMachine
calaveras wrote:
I'd like to condition the spikey output to be more like an actual gate signal. Though it would be great if I could preserve some of the amplitude variation while stretching the whole transient out into a gate.

For this you will need an envelope follower. The A-119 has the Preamp, Envelope follower and can do a few other things. I have three of them for various uses including what you mention.

It is worth noting that some modules can trigger straight from drum triggers and others will not. I use the cheap Pintech on practice pads mostly or hand drums and they work best with some amplification.
http://www.musiciansfriend.com/drums-percussion/pintech-acoustic-drum- trigger
If the pacth I make needs them to be amplified I can sometimes get away with a Doepfer A-183-3 Amplifier, but it usually will need a full A-119. I also use a Synth.com Q118 Interface for 1/4" action and it works great.

The nice thing about the Preamp/Envelope Followers is that when micing drums, you can 1)process the amplified sound, 2)send gates and 3)send the basic envelope out. You can get a lot going from one bongo slap or chime strike.

The Arrick Q118 and Dopefer A119 are $99USD each which is a fantastic buy. Many disapprove of these modules as low grade, but for my applications they are quality and versatile. Compared to the stuff I used in the olden days they are quiet and behave well.
DruMunkey
Did you ever build a solution for this? It's exactly what I'm trying to do.
HexagonSean
DruMunkey wrote:
Did you ever build a solution for this? It's exactly what I'm trying to do.


me too...
tito_tunes
I tried plugging my Roland Kick pedal directly into the function input of Maths and it gives a great velocity sensitive envelope.
HexagonSean
Has anyone tried the Bastl Kong?
chachi
yamaha dts-70 might let you do it without midi even though it has midi on it.
MindMachine
Very many modules don't require any amping or pre-amping, etc. Some work directly from static triggers.

I use a Remo practice pad with a cheap ass Pintech drum trigger. It will fire most Euro and MU modules but not all and not all equally when it does. I can add a Doepfer A-183-3 Amp or A-119 Pre-amp Env. Follower for amplification or complexity.

You could likely buy a 5 pc. Pintech set and make some scrap plywood pads to mount to ala Kraftwerk style for a whole set. Score one to see if it works with your modules first of course.

Also the little Korg clip on CM-300 clip on contact mic works great and is good for a lot of applications.

https://www.korg.com/us/products/tuners/cm_300/
DSC
I have done it a couple ways. If you want stable, repeatable performance, then a midi trigger converter from Ladik work best. If you want a 'decent' conversion then a couple of CTACT tiles from Pulp Logic work great too. I have dual piezo triggers on each of these pads so I use both at the same time. Adding them to a custom modified DR 220 is the business thumbs up
Pelsea
This is probably long ago solved, but I want to put a word in for PAIA.

Their 9212 sensor board is exactly what the OP was looking for. 8 inputs for $75. It's just a board + parts, but can easily be put into a module. I also see their 9302 drum tone board as a good candidate for making a module. It has 6 twin-T resonator circuits for $50.
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