Slate Digital Trigger review. Replace your drums!
Trigger, from Slate Digital, is a drum replacement plug-in (AU/VST/RTAS). You feed it multi-track drum parts into it and it will replace your recorded kit with whole new sounds or variations of. Nothing new here I hear you say! Well… it is the concept and design of this plugin which really makes it the only choice for all your drum re-triggering practices. Lets not forget that we live in a world where sometimes you maybe given something to mix and the drums are just not right and no matter how much processing you do to them is going to change that. The feel is right but the sound is just not acceptable…what do you do. Replace the drums. We all know it would cost a fortune to go back intuit he studio and re-record the drums and that is why we use programs such as Trigger.
In one instance of the plugin you can seamlessly trigger multiple samples simultaneously such as a close mic sample, stereo overhead sample, and a stereo room mic samples, or mix as many different drum samples to develop your own custom unique sounds. This multi-channel triggering functionality allows the user to easily recreate the sound of natural drums with real multi-tracked samples. Of course the fun does not stop there – each sample layer has a host of parameters allowing you to control velocity and dynamic control, attack, sustain, release and independent levels to suite your sound. This is really what mix engineers as myself have been waiting for. The other absolutely killer features include 2 detection modes, MIDI in/out, automation, up to 127 different articulations per instrument, velocity layers, and a unique “Leakage Suppression” function.
The ‘Leakage suppression’ function is really the icing on the cake and really is the function I have been missing when working with multi-track drums. Obviously the problem with multi-track drums is the ‘bleed’ or ‘leak’ from one part of the drum kit into another parts microphone which can lead to some unwanted triggering. For example the kick drum may cause your snare drum to trigger a sample when ever it is hit and this can be tricky to get around. Listen to the following audio here of a snare track taken from a multi-tracked drum kit and notice how much kick drum, hi-hat and toms you can here on the track.
To get around this, Slate Digital have brought this unique ‘Leakage suppression’ functionality, whereby you can instruct the plug-in not to trigger certain leakages on any given drum track!
In the past I have had to do some complex filtering to notch out certain frequencies or use sidechain compression techniques to get a workable result. TRIGGER does it all for you. Setting this up is as easy as pie but does require another instance of TRIGGER to be activated on a stereo group or aux track which you must send it the drum track that you wish to replace routed to the LEFT channel of this new group track and send the track you wish to use as the suppressor to the RIGHT side of the Trigger group. Adjust the Suppression control in the upper left portion of the display and hey presto suppressing bleed from other drums without any filtering or crazy EQ!
Suppose we just want to replace just the snare and we don’t wish to use the suppression method as above, then no problem, as I mentioned above we are able to control the ‘Sensitivity’ (sets the engine’s sensitivity level), ‘Retrigger’ (sets the minimal interval between hits), ‘Detail’ (sets the level threshold below which the plugin will not trigger the signal) and ‘Input’ of any instance. The waveform display is truly fantastic for setting these controls exactly as you want them as you are able to see where to set the threshold precisely as well as using your ears. I had no problem setting these controls to get the sod I was looking for and I was able to get on with mixing the rest of the track in no time at all. Remember being a mix engineer means you are often working to a strict timescale so anything that can be used to increase the speed of your workflow is essential these days.
Listen to the same audio again with a new snare sample being triggered to hear how some unwanted hits will naturally occur.
Now hear it is using the above controls and all your unwanted triggering is now gone.
Ok so how does this all work when we are working with say 8 multi-track microphone tracks? Well, here is the sound of a drumkit I was given to start mixing on just as I was reviewing this product and consists of :
TRACK 1 – Kick In
TRACK 2 – Kick Out
TRACK 3 – Snare
TRACK 4 – Hi-Hat
TRACK 5 – Low Tom
TRACK 6 – Hi Tom
TRACK 7 – OH Left
TRACK 8 – OH Right
And it sounded like this:
Now these were by no means the worst drums I had the pleasure to work with but I knew the track need a little more power behind them and so I decided to replace the Kick IN, Kick Out, Snare and both Toms using Trigger. On an Aux track i loaded an instance of Trigger and sent the Snare track to the left hand side of this and the Kick Drum to the right hand side so that I was able to supress any Kick drum spill on the Snare track. I left the Hi-Hat and Overheads as they were but I had to make sure they stayed in phase by using Protools Timeadjuster (no need to on HD). The result sounded like this.
I am instantly a lot closer to the sound I am looking for in this mix and I have only just started playing around with only a few of the provided samples.
Installation & Added Library
At a mere 2.35GB, the install was extremely easy to do with 2.25GB of that being the accompanied high-quality industry standard 24 bit Steven Slate Drum samples which boasts: 45 snares, over 30 kicks (including 2 Deluxe kick drums) and 8 sets of toms (including 2 high-detailed Deluxe snares with adjustable overheads and 12 alternation hits per each velocity). All the samples in the Steven Slate packs are recorded to 2 inch tape and processed with the finest vintage and modern analog gear. Steven Slate Drums include three sample layers including stereo room mic samples from the famous NRG Recording in North Hollywood, California – basically they’re all fantastic quality and they are all labelled as below so you know which are close microphones or ambient.
TRIGGER EX is the slightly cut-down version of the TRIGGER Platinum and the library contains 10 snares, 9 kick drums and 3 sets of toms.
Make Your Own
With Trigger’s instrument maker, you can also create your own multi-velocity sample sets using your own drum recording or dig through your sample libraries. The instrument making tool is very simple to use – just load up 4 different samples and set the different velocity amounts and hit go and hey presto you have just made a multi-velocity sample set. Now just import this into Trigger and use it.
Here you can see I have 4 different snares loaded into the instrument mare – each one has slightly less reverb than the other so depending on where I set my velocity more or less reverb will appear in the mix. I tried this out using random drum samples too and I can see that this would be useful for more experimental approaches to mixing or even full music creation.
Alternatively you can use Trigger’s MIDI Out function to send MIDI to your favourite drum instrument such as BFD of BATTERY and use the samples from there! How great is that!?
When using Trigger, you will hear tight, phase accurate drum triggering without unwanted mis-triggers, flamming, or phasing. Kick samples line up tight with the original kick drums, snare drum transients align perfectly, and tom fills come out exactly like the original tracks. The level of control is just what we need these days as we work faster than ever. If you are a serious mix engineer who needs complete control over those tricky multitrack drums then this is the one for you and it is as simple as that. No fuss and no hassle, just great performance all round. Its also worth noting that Trigger comes with two detecting modes, LIVE and ACCURATE LIVE and I found the ACCURATE mode is the professional studio setting, which enables Trigger advanced engine to replicate the original drum track with the most precise detail and natural velocity response.
Windows® XP (32/64 bit) / Vista® (32/64 bit), Windows 7® (32/64 bit), any Intel or AMD CPU with SSE2 support, 1GB RAM, 2.4 GB free disc space, iLok dongle.
Mac OS X 10.4 or higher, PowerPC G5 or any Intel CPU, 1 GB RAM, 2.4 GB free disc space, iLok dongle.
Trigger Platinum $299.00 (€235.19)
Trigger EX $129.00 (€101.47)
…the only choice for all your drum re-triggering practices…
- Phase accurate drum replacement
- Complete control
- Comes with Steven Slate samples
LOVE IT OR HATE IT
- You’ll be tempted to use it even when it’s not really needed!
- Would be nice to have had some cymbals thrown in too
- Maybe make the sample browser a little easier to use
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awesome review and the samples are very helpful, too