Drums are difficult to mix. Just the sheer number of mics creates unique challenges we don’t encounter with other instruments. This is probably why there are so many plugins dedicated to drum mixing; and Slate Trigger tops the list as an industry standard drum replacer.
Slate Trigger 2 Platinum
Drum replacers are pretty common these days. While there may be some purists out there who consider it ‘cheating,’ for whatever reason, it’s a totally normal practice for enhancing a performance and getting the biggest, best sounding drum mix you can.
Trigger is a one of the most fully-featured drum replacement plugins out there. It’s also one of the most natural, which is a very important factor. It allows you to load up to eight different samples and blend them with the ‘real’ recording. The samples themselves are highly customizable with velocity and dynamic control, envelope control, and independent levels, so you’ll have the option to massage the sound to fit with the live kit in a transparent way.
All things considered, Slate Trigger 2.0 ‘is the audio industry’s not so secret weapon for getting big, professional drums sounds in mixes.’ In one instance of the plugin, you can trigger 8 stereo samples simultaneously, such as a close mic sample, stereo overhead sample, and stereo room mic samples. Or, you can mix multiple direct mic samples to create your own sounds.
Slate Trigger’s multi-channel functionality allows users to recreate the sound of natural drums with real multitracked samples.
- Related: Using Drum Samples in a Mix
Trigger comes stock with its own sample library. Many ‘A-list’ mixers rely on Slate samples and have for years. One complaint might be that some sounds are a bit dated, but there’s enough variety for most purposes.
It’s cool to note that Trigger’s samples are recorded to tape and processed purely in the analog realm, so they tend to sound pretty natural on their own — perfect for blending with a live kit. The included samples themselves come in Slate’s own TCI format. However, the included editor lets you import WAV files and create your own multi-velocity samples. Plus, one-shot WAVs can be loaded directly into Trigger as well.
- 46 snares
- 33 kick drums
- 8 sets of toms
Of course, there are optional drum sample add-on packs by Chris Lord-Alge, Blackbird Studio, and more.
Trigger 2 Deluxe Expansion Pack
The Deluxe sample pack adds 16 snares, 14 kicks, and 19 toms to the Trigger Drum Library. These drums are unprocessed, but recorded with such detail that they will sit in the mix naturally and easily.
They’re perfect for customizing, too: they’ll respond nicely to EQ, compression, or other effects since they’re unprocessed out of the box.
Slate Trigger Instrument Editor lets you design your own multi-velocity drum samples to use in the drum replacer. It’s a free standalone application that automatically calculates velocities, features a resizable GUI, and utilizes optimized AAMG profiles for enhanced natural playback.
The latest Instrument Editor is very easy to use, letting you create better samples more quickly.
Slate Trigger: Conclusion
One of the best things about Slate Trigger is how well it works with minimal effort. Even just using it at surface level will yield some pretty fantastic results, so the learning curve isn’t prohibitively steep.
The included samples also sound great, and with nearly 50 snares and 30+ kicks, there’s sure to be one or two you like! And if you layer the room sound samples with the dry hits, you can make just about any tone.
Another huge advantage Slate Trigger has over competitors is cost. At the time of writing, it’s currently on sale for just $49. Even at full price ($149), Trigger is definitely an affordable plugin.