Drum sampling made easy.
Nowadays, it’s standard to use drum trigger plugins to add samples to your drum recordings. However, when I first started producing music, It was hard to find a free drum trigger plugin.
In 2012, my process looked a little like this:
• Record live drums
• Comp the takes together
• Manually time correct every off-time snare and kick drum with the mouse
• Painstakingly paste a snare and kick drum sample on each and every hit, one at a time
After a couple years of doing this process in Logic Pro, I could edit and add samples to a song in a little over an hour. However, in around 2014, I made the jump to Pro Tools, which allowed me to use Beat Detective to time correct drums with just a few clicks. Thus began my journey to find a software that could take over the process of adding samples.
Enter Steven Slate Drums. I came across Trigger, an easy solution for adding sample reinforcement to pre-recorded drums. With just a few clicks, Trigger allows you to audition drum samples, change the pitch of the samples, and even layer multiple samples onto each drum. The 2014 version of myself was in drum heaven. Since then, almost every song I’ve recorded has used Trigger on at least the kick and snare! However, Trigger was not free when I initially downloaded it. I didn’t mind shelling out the cash to get samples added to my drums quickly and easily.
Trigger 2 Free
Slate is now offering what they’re calling a “never-expiring demo” of Trigger 2, including 6 different kick and snare samples to layer onto your drum recordings! This is great news for anyone looking for a free drum trigger plugin.
Don’t underestimate the power of this software – just because it’s a free version doesn’t mean it won’t be incredibly useful for beefing up your drum recordings! This is without a doubt the best free drum trigger plugin you can get.
Trigger 2 Platinum
If you’re enjoying the free version of Trigger 2, or you want to jump right ahead to the Platinum version, you can grab it now at Sweetwater or on Steven Slate Drums’ website! What’s the difference between the two? The biggest difference is the included samples. While the free version comes with 6 kick and 6 snare samples, the paid version comes with dozens of snare and kick samples, plus 8 sets of tom samples!
When you buy Trigger, you will need an iLok account, but you don’t need a physical dongle. The installation process is painless, and you’ll be up and running in no time. While there is a bit of a learning curve when it comes to adding samples to your drum recording, Trigger makes it pretty simple to learn, and everything is clearly labeled.
Best uses of Trigger
Trigger will come in handy if you’re looking to add some impact to a drum performance. For example, if you’re recording a drummer who doesn’t quite hit the shells as hard as you’d like, or is inconsistent with their technique, Trigger will allow you to level out the velocity of their drumming
It’s also great for shaping the tone of the kick or snare. If you’re mixing a song, and you decide that you want the kick to have a little more low-end, you can add a sample of an especially bass-heavy kick drum. This has especially come in handy for mixing live performances, since you don’t always have time to dial in drum sounds and mic placement at a live show. It’s also fantastic for mixing songs that you didn’t record, and it’s a lot quicker to replace a bad sounding drum than it is to try and EQ/compress it into something useable.
Will Trigger totally save a terrible drum recording? No. It’s not a full substitute for a decent recording. At the end of the day, you’re adding to or replacing the kick, snare, and tom sounds, but you aren’t replacing cymbals/overheads or room microphones. Don’t expect to totally polish a turd, but you might be surprised at the level of improvement that you can eek out of a decent recording. The kick and snare are the heartbeat of a drum recording, so improving them will make your mix that much more listenable.
Is it worth it?
The free version of Trigger is 100% worth downloading. It’s risk free to try it out.
Is the paid version worth it? In my opinion, it’s worth it if you find yourself recording live drums semi-regularly. Considering the low cost of the plugin, plus the included sample library, I think this software is a no-brainer for anyone who records or mixes drums. I’ve had the paid version for a long time, and even considering there’s a free version now, I don’t regret paying for it.
If you’re looking for more options, check out our list of drum sample plugins here!