ARC de Triomphe

digitalDrummer tests a new aux trigger designed for acoustic shells.

ACOUSTIC DRUMMERS WILL be aware of Russ Miller’s Groove-Wedge, a Yamaha rim enhancer which disappeared a few years ago, much to the disappointment of many fans around the world.

The hiatus was actually due to Miller’s change of direction – he went on to found his own company, Gruv-X, specialising in drum accessories.

The ARC is the latest product offering, combining Miller’s fascination with enhanced rim sounds and his interest in electronic percussion.

What’s in the box

The ARC-MK1 is an auxiliary trigger in the vein of the Roland BT-1. The curved trigger bar is designed to attach to a drum via two tension rods, and it features a couple of flexible mounting brackets that allow fitting to almost any drums. The mounting system is borrowed from Gruv-X’s acoustic Click line, and when I tested it on a couple of 14” snares – an eight-lug and a 10-lug model, in both cases, it was easy to get a good snug fit.

Gruv-X products are aimed at acoustic/hybrid drummers rather than e-drummers, so the ARC presents a large striking area and lower profile than similar e-drum rim triggers. At 22 cm, the ARC is almost a third longer than its Roland counterpart and a bit slimmer.

The trigger has a sturdy feel, thanks to its machined aluminium body and poured rubber strike zone.

The ARC comes in a neat cardboard box, but it doesn’t include a cable, nor any instructions (although I suspect that will soon change).

Setting up

The ARC attaches to the tension rods of the drum. Simply remove two tension rods, insert them in the movable brackets, position the trigger pad on the drum and tighten.

There’s a single lead with a ¼” jack and although the trigger is mono, it requires a TRS connection to apply its ‘displacement sensing technology’.

According to Gruv-X, the technology “ensures accurate detection of hits while eliminating interference from other drum vibrations, like rim shots”.

Once attached, the trigger needs to be connected to your drum module. For this review, we tested the ARC with a range of modules, using the most logical preset as a starting point for configuration.

In action

From the outset, it’s worth remembering that the ARC is designed to provide acoustic drummers with an easily accessed electronic trigger. It’s not designed for e-drummers, so unlike the BT-1, there’s no active crosstalk suppression for the drum on which it is mounted. Also, the ARC has double the physical contact of the BT-1, attached to two lugs rather than one, so again, don’t expect to be able to dial out the crosstalk on the rim.

We tested the ARC on a 14” electronic snare with mesh heads. We tried it with a range of modules, attempting to find the best trigger settings which maximised the sensitivity of the ARC and also minimised the crosstalk on the host drum.

With a Roland TD-27, I decided to start with the BT1 Sens preset because the majority of users will assume that, because the ARC is similar to the BT-1, this would be the appropriate setting. The stock BT-1 preset did not work as it is designed for a piezo/switch signal, so the BT1 Sens was the next logical starting point. I needed to increase both the sensitivity and the threshold slightly to achieve a good dynamic range and excellent sensitivity along the body of the trigger device. I had to max out the TD-27 Xtalk setting for the snare (80) and raise the rim threshold slightly. (Threshold is a useful tool for getting the module to ignore signals you don’t want.)

On the Roland TD-30, I had to push the Xtalk cancel on the snare on which the ARC was mounted to 44 and also raise the rim threshold to block out extraneous signals from the aux trigger.

Again, following the logic of most potential buyers, I used the BT1Sens preset which only needed a touch of threshold increase to ensure accurate, dynamic triggering.

The Alesis Strike is not particularly friendly to third-party triggers. The first challenge for the ARC is the lack of free inputs – and the absence of dedicated Aux inputs in particular. To test the ARC, I had to connect it to the Tom 4 input.

There are few tweakable trigger parameters with the Strike, other than selecting the trigger type as a piezo.

With minor adjustments to sensitivity and threshold, I was able to get decent triggering on the whole surface of the ARC, but unfortunately, I was not able to totally dial out crosstalk from the rim of the host drum. So, if you’re using an electronic host, you need to be careful about which drum you choose to mount the ARC on and what sounds you need it to trigger. For example, if you’re triggering a rim click, then a touch of snare tone in the mix is not going to be disastrous

With the Pearl mimicPRO, the best preset proved to be TruTrac Bass setting designed for a single-piezo kick trigger. I had to increase the input gain and achieved quite a significant dynamic range. Initially, I encountered a bit of crosstalk between the ARC and the snare on which it was mounted, but this was quickly and totally eliminated by the “capture crosstalk” function.

There are no dedicated aux trigger presets on the ATV aD5, so I used the Roland PD-8, a simple rubber pad, as a starting point. After running through the set-up wizard, I had to adjust the response curve slightly (+1) to increase the responsiveness of the ARC which was a bit cool at the ends with the “normal” curve. Once dialled in, the bar trigger produced an excellent dynamic range and was almost totally unaffected by crosstalk.

The 2box DrumIt 3 doesn’t have a dedicated Aux input, so again, I used the tom 4 jack. The optimal trigger setting turned out to be the one designed for 2box’s rubber pads – the RubH1 setting. This required very little tweaking to perform well – the only change was maxing out the Xtalk cancellation. The bar was responsive and dynamic, but even with the Xtalk on the donor drum set at its peak, there was still some undesired rim triggering, especially close to the tension rod.

I suspect a lot of acoustic drummers will pair their ARC with a Roland TM-2 as it is one of the most useful mini-modules around. For testing, I used the BT-1 SENS preset which performed perfectly in stock format. The bar trigger was sensitive, dynamic and almost totally isolated from the donor drum on which it was mounted. There was zero crosstalk from the drum to the ARC, and negligible false triggering from the ARC to the drum, with the Xtalk setting at just 80%. In short, the ARC and TM-2 were a perfect match.

The ARC worked well with a GEWA G5, using the BT-1 preset. Most parameters had to be tweaked slightly, including an increase in gain, a drop in threshold and a change to the curve. As with most modules, there was no crosstalk from the snare to the ARC, but there was some false triggering from the ARC to the snare, even with the crosstalk setting maxed out and rim threshold raised slightly.

The new Medeli MZ28 doesn’t have a spare Aux input, so I plugged the ARC into the Tom 4 slot. And, having no control over the trigger type setting, I dialled it in as a stock drum. Good triggering required very little manipulation – I merely dialled out the rim triggering to avoid any possible crosstalk. The ARC didn’t pick up any false triggering from the donor drum, but it did send a fair bit of crosstalk to the snare on which it was mounted, and that had to have its XTalk cancel setting maxed out.

If you’re really Old School and still have a ddrum 4SE lying around, the good news is that it works perfectly with the ARC, with close to zero crosstalk on the mounting rim. The ARC triggers in almost any preset setting, but works optimally when set as Pad.


The ARC triggered brilliantly with almost any module – mostly with minimal trigger setting adjustment, which is a good thing since it’s aimed at acoustic drummers who probably don’t have the knowledge or inclination to start tweaking modules.

The trigger looks and feels solid and robust and the playing surface is responsive and natural-feeling.

When correctly dialled in, the ARC produces a wide dynamic range over a generous playing surface.

At $199.99, the ARC is more expensive that its mainstream Roland competitor, but it provides a larger playing area and a lower profile which would probably suit acoustic drummers.

The ARC is designed for acoustic drummers and it works perfectly for its intended application. While it can be mounted on electronic drums, dialling in crosstalk-free triggering is challenging with many modules, so it would not be my first choice for e-drummers. However, work is already under way on some modifications which would make ARC more compatible with e-drums – and we’ll certainly be testing any new versions when they roll out.