How To Use an SR18 Drum Machine As a Drum-Sound Module With Your Trigger|iO or USB Pro Drum Kit

October 8, 2008

SR18 brings a fresh face, new sounds, and a host of new capabilities to the most popular drum machine line ever.  Featuring a large 32MB sound set, dynamically articulated stereo samples, built-in effects, 32-voice polyphony, and 100 preset plus 100 user drum kits, SR18 raises the bar for sound quality, ease of use, and flexibility.

While the Alesis SR18 is ideal for backing up guitar players and singers when no drummer is available, you might be surprised that some of the SR18’s biggest fans are drummers! With an electronic drum kit and a MIDI cable, SR18 can become a powerful sound module for drummers who trigger electronic sounds. The SR18’s fully customizable kits dish out ultra-realistic, highly detailed drum sounds that are perfect for the stage and the studio.

One of the best tools to connect your SR18 into an electronic drum kit is the Alesis Trigger|iO. Trigger|iO features ten TRS trigger inputs for single or dual-zone drum triggers, and is compatible with all Alesis pad triggers, as well as most of those from Roland, and Yamaha, and other major manufacturers. Trigger|iO’s 20 programmable presets can be used for storing and recalling various setups. It also features a plug-and-play USB/MIDI interface, which is great for connecting to VST instruments on your computer. VST instruments are virtual-instrument sounds that can be triggered and controlled using external controllers.

Here are some tips on how use the SR18 as a sound module for your Trigger|iO, USB Pro Drum Kit, or other electronic drumset. To get started, visit the SR18 web page and download the custom configuration file. You can load the file into your SR18 by connecting your Trigger|iO to your computer with USB, and connecting the SR18 to the Trigger|iO with a MIDI cable. If you don’t have a Trigger|iO, you can use most other trigger-to-MIDI interfaces, and you will need a MIDI interface to load the custom configuration file.

In the custom configuration file, each of the SR18’s kits has been optimized for use with Trigger|iO. The factory sounds, configuration, and settings remain in SR18 and are not be damaged or lost when you load the custom configuration file. You can delete the file and roll SR18 back to factory settings at any time.

Click above for a connection diagram


Using SR18’s MIDI IN jack, you can tap into the SR18’s meticulously sampled acoustic and electronic sounds with your favorite electronic drum and cymbal pads. If your drum kit has its own sound module, using the SR18 in conjunction will enable you to layer multiple sounds to create new effects, colors, and textures.

You can play along with the patterns on SR18 and create your own using drum pads. Many sounds feature Alesis’ exclusive Dynamic Articulation™ velocity cross-switching technology, which alters the timbre of the sound to reflect differences in dynamics, enabling access to a wider dynamic range and the utmost in realistic response. You can program custom drum kits from scratch using SR18 sounds and the built-in Alesis studio effects.

You can connect the pads and pedals on virtually any electronic drum kit to the inputs on the Trigger|iO. Then, all you have to do is connect the MIDI Output on the Trigger|iO to the MIDI input on the SR18, and you have access to a whole new world of sound. SR18 is packed with drum, percussion, and bass sounds that run the range from the slimmest piccolo snare to the most thundering kick drum.

Trigger|iO supports both single-zone and dual-zone pads and cymbals, as well as the choke feature found on some newer cymbal triggers like Alesis’ SURGE 13” Crash with Choke and SURGE 16” Ride with Choke. When connected through the Trigger|iO, the SR18 takes full advantage of the expressiveness of these new drum triggers. Dual-zone trigger inputs enable you to trigger two different sounds from dual-zone pads, such as a tom on the head and a cowbell on the rim.

All of the SR18’s recording and playback features are still available, even when used as a sound module.  At any time, simply press record to capture your performance as pattern, which can be looped, added to, stored and played back from any of the 100 user presets.  You can also patch a CD player or iPod into the SR18’s rear input and play along with your favorite songs. 

If you’re after the ultimate setup, our new USB Pro Drum Kit combines a Trigger|iO, our best 8” drum pads, and our revolutionary SURGE Cymbals into one unbeatable package.

No other electronic drum kit offers such a realistic acoustic drum feel, superb response and advanced trigger interface.

Connect an SR18 to the USB Pro Drum Kit and you can go from studio to stage and leave your computer and bulky equipment rack at home.

SR18 is becoming a favorite of drummers around the world with its fresh, real sounds, Alesis effects, and Dynamic Articulation™ technology. With just a couple of minutes and an inexpensive, common MIDI cable, you can harness all the sounds and power for your drum setup.


Alesis SR-18 Professional Drum Machine

Alesis Trigger|iO

That wraps up Tips & Tricks for this month. Stay tuned for more tips in each issue. Do you have a tip or trick you’d like to share with us? We’d love to hear about it! Send your Tips & Tricks to tips@alesis.com .


  1. Thank for your post.

    • I’m not a drummer but I do have good timing & coordination.

      I play bass in an acoustic blues trio. Rather than play to a drum loop, I’d like to trigger percussion with my feet, something like the wooden stompbox?


      I read that Radio Shack sells piezo pickups for $2. I could make my own home-built trigger pedal.

      Can I use these Alesis units with some kind of foot pedal setup?

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