The TMC-6 Trigger MIDI Converter is designed for the person who wants to complement an acoustic drum set with electronic sounds or expand the sound palette of an electronic kit.

The TMC-6 ($295) Trigger MIDI Converter is designed for the person who wants to complement an acoustic drum set with electronic sounds or expand the sound palette of an electronic kit. The TMC-6 works with Roland V-Drums and V-Cymbals as well as other types of triggers.

To use the TMC-6, you simply plug in your pads or triggers and then choose a setting that corresponds to the pad or trigger you're using. The six trigger inputs are compatible with 2-way (head and rim) triggers (such as the PD-120 and PD-80R V-Pads), 3-way (bell, shoulder, and edge) triggers (including the CY-15R, CY-12R/C, CY-14C V-Cymbals), and hi-hat (such as the FD-7 Hi-Hat Control Pedal) triggers.

All the World's a Trigger

For me, the most exciting aspect of the TMC-6 is that it lets you use any acoustic-drum pickup or homemade piezo transducer to trigger a sound module or create MIDI sequences. I tested the TMC-6 extensively with acoustic drums and was impressed with its responsiveness and flexibility in a variety of setups.

In addition, I made six piezo-based sensors and tested them on a variety of drums and metal objects and even a tabletop. I was able to fine-tune the TMC-6's response to work with a wide range of playing techniques and sensor mounting positions. The TMC-6 offers 12 user memory slots for storing custom settings.

A host of parameters that allow the user to fine-tune the TMC-6's response are available: Sensitivity, Scan Time, Retrigger Cancel, Mask Time, Crosstalk Cancel, Threshold, and Velocity Curve. This is a big improvement over the Roland PM-16, a trigger-to-MIDI converter that I have worked with extensively over the years.

There are two ways to select a trigger input for editing. You can select the input using the Trigger Select button or use Trigger Chase mode, which lets you select an input by hitting the trigger that is plugged in to it.

Occasionally I needed to adjust the TMC-6 to minimize false triggers and crosstalk, even when using the presets. The terms crosstalk and false triggering are often used interchangeably, but there is a difference. False triggering refers to the broad category of any unintentional and undesirable triggering. Crosstalk, a sub-category of false triggering, is the undesirable triggering that occurs when you strike one pad but trigger another (often because the vibrations travel through the drum rack to the pad). The TMC-6 has specific and well-thought-out controls to deal with these problems, and it handles them better than any other trigger-to-MIDI device I have used. The weakest part of the TMC-6's design is the choice of a 7-segment display for the user interface.

Audio Realms

To use a microphone or line-level source as a trigger, set the desired trigger input to Aud. I tested the Aud setting by sending recorded percussion tracks into the TMC-6 and recording the MIDI information onto separate channels of a MIDI sequencer. I was then able to create a notated version of the recording by importing the MIDI sequence into a notation program.

Next, I tried triggering from the six channels of a surround mix. By changing the EQ on each of the individual audio channels, I got very interesting results from the TMC-6, including a bit of unexpected triggering. The TMC-6's inputs were sensitive up to about 11 kHz, after which the response fell away. However, the frequency response was dependent on the parameter settings.

Hi-yo, Trigger

Compared to the earlier trigger-to-MIDI converters and home-brew technology I have used over the years, the TMC-6 offers specific solutions to the problems of taking analog trigger signals and converting them to MIDI information. Its extensive parameter list gives the user a great deal of flexibility. The TMC-6 would make a great addition to any percussionist's setup.

Overall EM Rating (1 through 5): 4

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