Can you beat a BT-1?

digitalDrummer revisits an aux trigger bar which continues to divide the market.

We regularly get reader questions about the Roland BT-1, often complaining about the performance of the triggers with non-Roland modules.

Users are quick to diagnose ‘faulty’ products and we feel sorry for the retailers who have to deal with returns of triggers which are actually performing perfectly.

The main issue is that people don’t understand the technology and configure the aux trigger incorrectly.

Unfortunately, the BT-1 is something of a victim of its own success and drummers assume that it is the new ‘standard’ in external triggers. This means that drummers looking for a trigger bar will buy a BT-1, believing that it will be the best option – regardless of the module they will be using it with.

The owner’s manual helps identify the first red flag: “You must use a stereo cable. Operation will not be correct if any other cable is used.” Commonly, we hear of drummers using a mono cable because they only need single-zone triggering – or they only have a mono input available on the module because they are splitting an input to share it with another trigger.

As Simon Ayton, Roland Australia’s V-drums product specialist, explains, the BT-1 features two sensors to both monitor vibration for anti-false triggering and to act as a single trigger. This is why users need to connect the trigger via a TRS stereo cable for full trigger and anti-false triggering functionality.

The second owner’s manual warning is also commonly overlooked: “In order for the BT-1 to operate correctly, you must specify the optimal trigger parameter values on your drum sound module.” Optimal trigger settings, in short, means the BT-1 preset on Roland modules. Any other preset on another drum brain is a gamble – it might work, but chances are, it won’t work perfectly.

So, for full functionality, the module must support a dual trigger input and BT-1 trigger type.

Some Roland modules have two BT-1 settings: BT-1S mode delivers full sensitivity dynamics with lower trigger threshold and is ideal for expressive playing of percussion sounds; BT-1 Pad trigger type uses an anti-false trigger function.

When connected as a single trigger pad, the BT-1 can’t distinguish strikes on its ‘head’ and ‘rim’, so the trigger might generate rim sounds rather than head sounds. In fact, the manual clearly states: “When the BT-1 is connected to some drum sound modules, the head sound will not be triggered. The BT-1 will operate only as a rim trigger. This is not a malfunction.”

Provided you have connected the BT-1 correctly and have the appropriate pad settings, there is no doubt that it is a great product.

The digitalDrummer review noted the superior mounting system – either via a tension rod or with a separate L-rod adapter.

We found that the trigger performed beautifully in BT1 setting on a TD-30, even attached directly to a snare via the tension rod.

We also got flawless performance with the original 2box module, using it as an aux trigger.

The review did, however, note that at $99, it’s clearly at the costly end of the spectrum.

While there were once several alternative trigger bars (682 Drums t-RIGG, Pintech Tube Drum Trigger Pads, drum-tec and others), this style of aux trigger seems to have fallen out of favour and many previously available models seem to have disappeared.

There is one ‘new’ alternative: aux pad maker Dauz has released its Bone Electronic Trigger Pad, a single-zone natural gum rubber, bone-shaped electronic drum trigger with standard L-arm mount that it claims works with all modules.

Available in a range of colours and patterns, the Bone is available for $139 (plus shipping), the same price as the 8” round pad which we reviewed positively many years ago.

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