Drum Trigger Basics
The typical electronic drum system is made up of two components, the drum trigger (at least one,) and a control module. Most drum modules have inputs to accommodate several triggers simultaneously.
The trigger is a small device that simply senses when a drum, pad, or cymbal is hit. The trigger should not take a direct hit as it can be damaged. The trigger should be positioned near the rim on an acoustic drum or beneath cushioning under the surface of a drum pad so that it can react to the vibration but not get damaged.
The trigger converts the physical energy into electrical energy and sends it down a wire to the drum module. The module is usually located somewhere near the drum set for convenience of operation. The trigger voltage can vary within the millivolt range depending on how hard the drum is struck.
The drum module, upon receiving this voltage, converts the voltage into a midi note which in turn causes a stored sample to be played. The greater the voltage from the trigger, the louder the sample gets played from the module. This gives the listener the same impression as real drum dynamics and playing technique.
The module can be connected to any standard HiFi system, PA system, or studio recorder. Most modules will also accommodate headphones for quiet rehearsal. Some modules send all of the samples to at least stereo output jacks while others offer 4, 8, or more independent outputs to allow for external mixing.
In most electronic drum sets the triggers can all be exactly the same type but the module gives the appearance that they are different by the sounds it produces. Any sample sound can be assigned to react to any trigger input. For example, even if your trigger is located on a cymbal, you can make it sound like a snare, a kettle drum, or a tambourine. Most modules offer a wide variety of sample choices and effects. Some samples can even be edited to your taste within the module. They also allow for trigger type, sensitivity, threshold, and double trigger tweak adjustments.
All modern drum triggers and modules use standard instrument or microphone cables for easy hookup.