Split the difference

digitalDrummer often gets questions about adding drums and cymbals by splitting inputs.

It’s a common challenge: connecting more triggers when you have maxed out your drum module.

In theory, since most inputs on most modules are stereo (TSR), you should be able to connect two pads or cymbals to each input with a simple cable. But, unfortunately, this is not necessarily the case, and we continue to get questions from readers who don’t understand why they are not able to assign different instrument sounds to the connected pads.

In this article, we will delve into the concept of input splitting, highlighting which inputs are splittable and which are not and what kind of connectors are required.

  1. Understanding input splitting

Very early in their evolution, drum modules advanced from a single sound per input to at least dual zones – such as head and rim. Increasingly, drum pads and cymbals were connected to the module by a single stereo (TRS) cable, with one channel handling the head and the second transmitting the rim signal.

Input splitting relies on the drum module’s ability to process multiple triggers from a single input. This feature is particularly valuable for drummers looking to enhance their set-up by adding extra pads or cymbals, for example, by forgoing the rim zone in favour of a second head input.

  1. Common splittable inputs

Theoretically, any stereo input should be splittable, meaning that most module inputs should support dual signals.

Commonly, snare, tom and crash inputs are stereo, while ride inputs can be more complicated.

It’s also important to note that trigger design varies. Some triggers are based on two piezos – one for the head and a second for the rim. Then, there are piezo/switch designs such as Yamaha’s snare pads or older rubber Roland toms. Cymbals can also combine piezos and switches.

Then there are mono triggers such as the kick channel and the hi-hat controller which is dedicated to open/closed messages.

3. Splitability’ by manufacturer
  • Roland

The most popular e-drum brand does not design its mainstream modules to support input splitting.

A product expert tells us the TD (Total Drums) modules are not splittable but TM (Trigger Modules) are.

“Since their launch in 1997, the TD modules are designed to give no rude shocks: the head and the rim only trigger when hit directly and not due to false triggering. TD modules also have behaviour modelling and are able to respond to position and interval, and incorporate synthesis and sample triggering,” he explains. Practically, this means that Roland, by design, makes it hard to separate head and rim inputs because the module needs input from both to calculate some of the enhanced features.

To make it more complicated, one module in particular, the TD-25, doesn’t have the ability to unlink the head and rim to assign separate sounds to each zone, so even if you can split the inputs, you can’t allocate new sounds. Most of the other TD series modules do allow for separate sounds on the same instrument. So, you can allocate a tambourine sound to a snare rim if you want.

“The TM models (such as the TM-2 and TM-6 PRO) are a different concept and designed to integrate into hybrid set-ups, don’t have a COSM/Prismatic drum synth engine and are .WAV sample based,” the expert explains. With these modules, a standard insert cable featuring a stereo TRS jack and two mono TS (tip, sleeve) cables is all that’s needed to turn one input into two.

When it comes to Roland multipads, the SPD-30, due to its V-Drums-style sound engine, is not splittable, but the HPD and SPD-S/SX/SXPro series all have splittable inputs.

  • Yamaha

On the latest-generation DTXpro and DTXproX modules, the snare, tom 1, tom 2, tom 3 and kick inputs are all splittable. A product specialist notes that the snare input can be changed to work with almost any kind of pad for convenience.

Splitting is further enabled as none of the input sounds are permanently linked. “ANY input on either module can have ANY sound on it. So, if you want a snare sound on the snare head, a china cymbal on the rim shot, and a cowbell on the cross-stick, you can do it, regardless of whether the input is linked or separated. You have always been able to do this on Yamaha pads,” the expert explains.

To split an input, all that’s required is a standard stereo-to-dual-mono cable.

Most inputs need no special configuration for splitting, but the snare input does need to be switched to the ‘2 piezo’ pad type.

“The easiest way of telling if an input can be split on a Yamaha module (and this goes back 20+ years) is to look at the number or numbers next to the input. If it says, for example, “5”, then the pad cannot be split and it will only work as a mono, two-zone or three-zone pad and will only work with a pad which has a switch rim (i.e. most rubber pads or cymbal pads).  But if it says “5/6”, then it can be split into two mono inputs or used with a standard mesh pad with rim,” he adds.

  • Pearl mimicPRO

The mimicPRO module allows for the splitting of all inputs, with the exception of the kick drum. This means that all pad inputs, excluding the kick drum, can be split to accommodate additional triggers or sounds, according to a company spokesman.

“Unlike some electronic drum kits where sounds may be linked or locked together, the mimic module offers a more customisable approach. While sounds are not inherently linked, users will need to engage in some programming to define how different triggers and sounds interact,” he explains.

Like the previous modules, to split the cable into two mono inputs, an ordinary “stereo to 2 x mono” cable is required. This cable allows for the separation of signals, enabling each input to be processed independently.

In terms of configuration, the mimic module provides specific trigger configuration settings tailored for split inputs. Users can choose between piezo/piezo split or piezo/piezo switch presets. To implement these settings, users need to navigate to the Kit Instrument assign section to allocate sounds to the respective split inputs.

The spokesman points out that the mimic module offers five auxiliary dual-zone trigger inputs and, in some cases, an additional input for a second ride. “This set-up allows for a substantial number of pads and cymbals in a standard configuration. However, for drummers with a need for an even larger kit, the eDRUMIN10 is recommended, providing an expanded capacity for more inputs.”

  • 2box

For the 2box DrumIt3 and DrumIt5 modules, the snare and tom 1 to 4 are splittable.

While the sounds are generally tied together in the module, it’s easy to disconnect the head and rim sounds and use other sounds, according to a company official.

The expert notes that users may have to tweak the Trigger type and Trig Gain settings when using a non-standard configuration.

To split 2box inputs, the company recommends a standard stereo into dual-mono Y splitter cable.

  • Efnote

Japan’s Efnote insists its modules are not splitter-compatible “for the sake of quality”.

A company insider says “splitting takes away functions and dynamics from the Efnote system”, based on the dynamic process between the rim and the head.

  • GEWA

Germany’s GEWA has splittable inputs on its G3, G5 and G9 modules on all channels except the kick.

All that’s required is a simple TRS-TS/TS cable and reassignment of the trigger from Head to Single. Sounds are not locked and can be changed via the Kit Editor function.

  • eDRUMin

eDRUMin is a trigger-to-MIDI interface (TMI) commonly used to add triggers to existing modules. Its advanced circuitry and powerful processor offer support for both Roland- and Yamaha-type pads and triggers.

eDRUMin works not just as a kit expander, but as a fully featured interface to drive VSTs, boasting hotspot suppression, positional sensing and editable velocity curves.

Currently available in four, eight and 10-input versions, the boxes boast up to 10 TRS trigger inputs, all of which can be split. Once split, each half of the input will have its own set of trigger settings.

The eDRUMin goes a step further, virtually turning a single-zone drum into a dual-zone. A feature called Edge Sense can be used to get two articulations from a single zone pad. This feature is handy when using a cable splitter to connect two pads to a single eDRUMin input. In this scenario, Edge Sense could allow you to get two articulations from each of those single-zone pads, the developer explains.

  • ddrum DDTi

Similar to and predating the eDRUMin is ddrum’s DDTi which was also previously offered as the Alesis Trigger i/o.

The DDTi can be used either as a TMI or as an add-on box to augment module inputs.

The DDTi includes 10 trigger/pad inputs accommodating single- or dual-zone triggers.

While the TMI has customisable trigger settings to dial in pads and cymbals, it is nowhere near as sophisticated as the eDRUMin.

However, if you simply wanted to add more drums and cymbals to an existing drum module, it would certainly enable that expansion.

  • Alternate Mode DITI 2.5

With up to 12 splittable stereo trigger inputs, the DITI 2.5 claims to be the first interface of its kind to power and convert FSR drum triggers (like the inHead, onHead or HybriHead) to MIDI.
The DITI can convert piezo triggers, dual-zone piezo triggers, membrane switch triggers, cymbal choking cymbals, and multi-zone cymbals as well.

Each input can be trained to play within the owner’s personal performance style. Like the eDRUMin and DDTi, the DITI can be used to augment other drum modules or to run VSTs – but it is significantly more expensive as it has additional features which may not be deployed if it’s simply used as a TMI.

The new DITI 3 adds inbuilt sounds to the functionality of its sibling.

The hack

While the Roland TD system does not support split inputs – and Roland (and Efnote) actively discourages splitting, DIYers have been expanding their Roland kits for decades, using a special cable.

More than a dozen years ago, Jerry ‘Jman’ Langenfeld modified a solution which involved adding a resistor to the Y-cable.

Among those offering off-the-shelf splitter cables is UK-based designacable.com.
A spokesman explains that the company offers two special splitters – a Roland-ready version and a standard version for use with Alesis and Yamaha modules.

The designacable expert points out that splitting cymbals makes them single zone and therefore not chokeable.

Germany’s drum-tec offers a couple of versions of its E-Drum Splitter designed to connect two drum pads to one stereo trigger input of a Roland module.

“Normal Y-adapters mostly do not work, because you need a specially built-in resistor to delay one signal,” the company explains. “So, we created this specialised adapter with a built-in resistor, perfectly fitting to all Roland modules and many more brands.”

One of its two versions is designed to work with modules which offer ¼” stereo trigger input jacks like Roland TD-12, 20, 20X, 30 and 50; the other is designed for modules with a multicore cable, like the TD-9,11,15, 17 and 27.

Drum-tec also offers a basic Y-splitter cable compatible with Alesis, 2box, Pearl mimicPRO, the Roland TM-2, TM-6-PRO, HPD-10/15 and SPD-S / SX and Yamaha’s DTX 500/502/700/900 modules.

In addition to specially modified Y-splitter cables for Roland modules, US-based drumsplitters.com also produces a line of splitter boxes that allow drummers to split a number of inputs in a single box. The Jambox 3, for example, splits up to three inputs in a single box with three inputs and six outputs.
“Tom and cymbal pads will still remain velocity-sensitive,” the company explains on its website.

“You can use only the head or rim side of a particular pad (the other portion of it will not function),” it adds.


Using splitter cables presents a cost-effective method for expanding your electronic drum kit by incorporating additional pads, all without the necessity of purchasing a new drum module.

However, not all modules support this ‘natively’ and you may need special cables to achieve “two from one”. Also, high-end modules from Efnote and Roland are not fully compatible and any attempt to split inputs will impede functionality. That loss of nuance may not matter if you are splitting an Aux channel into a cowbell and a handclap, but if you are planning on adding two extra snares, you may need to reconsider.

Also remember that any cymbals added through a split input will be single zone and will lose its choke function.

And finally, be aware that if you hit two split triggers simultaneously, they may not trigger at all.