Understanding trigger parameters

Many drummers believe that unlike acoustic drums, electronic kits need no ‘tuning’ and are ready to play when switched on.

Alas, this is not the case: modules are shipped with generic settings designed for stock pads and cymbals – and a “default” playing style.

The more advanced the module, the more these settings can differ – and this can impact significantly on the playability of the kit because the various parameters affect the accurate detection of hits and their translation to sounds.

We break down the various parameters to help dial in the kit to your playing style.



Threshold is one of the fundamental trigger settings in an electronic drum module. It determines the minimum force required to register a hit on the drum pad or cymbal. Setting the threshold appropriately is crucial as it dictates the sensitivity of the pad. A lower threshold value will make the pad more responsive, even to gentle taps, while a higher threshold will require more forceful hits. Finding the right balance is essential to match your playing style and achieve accurate triggering without false or missed hits.



Sensitivity is closely related to threshold, but it focuses on how the drum module interprets the velocity of a hit. Adjusting sensitivity allows you to control the volume and dynamic range of the sound produced by each pad. High sensitivity settings result in more significant volume changes, providing a wide dynamic range. On the other hand, lower sensitivity settings can make the volume more consistent, making it easier to maintain steady dynamics.


Rim Sensitivity:

For pads with dual-zone capabilities, like snare pads with rim sensors, the rim sensitivity setting comes into play. It allows drummers to control the response and volume of the sound produced when hitting the rim of the pad. Adjusting this parameter enables you to achieve realistic rim shots and cross-stick effects.


Response Curve:

The curve is the relationship between strike force and trigger output. Typically, drum modules offer various curve options, such as linear, exponential or logarithmic. Linear curves provide a directly proportional output across all velocities, while exponential and logarithmic curves offer different levels of sensitivity based on the hits’ intensity. Some modules even allow detailed editing of the curve to make it more or less expressive at high or low velocities, depending on the drummer’s needs. Experimenting with different curve shapes can help you fine-tune the module to match your playing style and achieve a more natural feel.


Dynamic Range:

The dynamic range parameter controls how the module responds to different levels of playing intensity. This range affects how the sound volume changes as you hit the pads softly or with more force. Adjusting the dynamic range helps achieve a natural and expressive drumming experience.


Retrigger Cancel:

Retrigger cancel is an essential setting for rapid drumming techniques like double strokes and rolls. When enabled, this parameter prevents the drum module from registering multiple hits in quick succession, reducing unintended triggers and ensuring cleaner and more precise playing. Again, set it too high and you will struggle to play rolls.


Cross Talk:

Cross talk refers to the phenomenon where hitting one drum pad unintentionally triggers a response from adjacent pads. This can be frustrating and disrupt the accuracy of your drumming. Electronic drum modules offer cross talk settings that allow you to adjust the sensitivity between pads, minimising interference and enhancing the overall performance.


Mask Time:

Mask time is a crucial parameter that determines the duration during which the module ignores hits on a pad after an initial trigger. Properly configuring mask time prevents false triggers from vibrations and ensures that the module accurately interprets each hit.


Note that not all manufacturers use the exact same terminology for all of the parameters. Neither do all modules have all the options. Some have just a few, while others have additional adjustments not listed here.



Finding the right trigger settings is the key to unlocking the full potential of your electronic drum kit and maximising your control. It’s important to take some time to set up the kit for your playing style. If possible, save your settings so that you can avoid having to do it over if you have to reset your module. And remember to check your settings regularly, especially if you replace your heads or other trigger components.

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