Free VST turns any mic into a MIDI drum trigger

I was looking to buy a MIDI drum trigger, and they are priced between $170 and $700, or more (!)

So I thought “I’ll bet there’s an app for that….”

Sure enough. This free 32-bit VST, KTDrumTrigger by Smart Electronix is the answer.

Available for Windows or Mac, still in beta, but works well. You can control a drum synth, bass synth, or any synth with it.

You’ll need to wear headphones while using this, to avoid feedback. It could probably be used live with a very directional mic or a contact mic, and a software gate.

This VST runs well in 64-bit Reaper, here are the settings I used to control another free VST, the 909 emulator drum synth, DR-910:


(Not sure what it will be in other VSTs, I came up with this solution in a few minutes of experimentation.)

I tried different settings and came up with these settings to trigger different drums (different MIDI note numbers) with different sides of the pad I used (a piano bench):

(Your settings may vary with that, depending on your mic and what VST synth you’re sending it to).

I’m using this mic, these drum sticks, and this piano bench. You don’t drum on the mic itself, you drum near the mic. Like on the piano bench in the top photo.

It has a bit of latency, so you’ll need to do some quantizing, and I recommend on beats of 110 BPM or less.

I also ordered this drum practice pad and this contact mic, to make a more permanent input device. Will tape the contact mic to the bottom of the practice pad.

All in all, a great solution to a problem that usually costs many dollars to solve.


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1 thought on “Free VST turns any mic into a MIDI drum trigger”

  1. That’s pretty cool!

    Back when Radio Shack was a physical place to buy cheap components, I bought a piezo transducer there ($0.99, if I recall correctly), and wired it to the broken end of an otherwise-unbroken 1/4″ audio cable and used that as a DIY trigger. It worked 99% of the time, which, honestly, wasn’t really good enough to use for anything intricate, but I didn’t have anything fancy on the software side to tweak thresholds.

    I’ve heard some people say that you can cut those transducers and make 2 or 4 triggers out of one, but I’d advise against it. The piezo elements aren’t that expensive, and being usually made of ceramic crystals, they ought not to be very easy to cut without damaging them.

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