Roland TD-30 + TMC-6

Roland TD-30 + TMC-6

Here are a six things I learned using the Roland TMC-6 trigger-to-midi converter to build my In The Heights rig.  It worked as advertised, but it wasn’t as straight-forward as I had imagined when I ordered it.

1. TMC-6 Rim Shot Support

While all of the triggers are dual-input and support separate head/rim sounds, only input #2 (“Snare”) supports a separate rim shot sound.  You can bridge inputs 3+4 or 5+6 using a stereo splitter cable to enable rim shots on up to three triggers.  This created an unexpected trip to Guitar Center for cables and a reduction in usable inputs to get rim shots on both of my timbales.

2. Independent Cross-talk Groups

The TD-30 cross-talk group feature is great for isolating triggers that share a common stand / mount point.  The TMC-6 also has cross-talk groups, but they are not integrated with the TD-30 groups.  This means that triggers coming in through these different devices will trigger each other if they are mounted on the same stand.  Some rearranging fixed the problem, but limited my layout options.

The remaining issues turned out to be limitations of the TD-30 Percussion Kit that the TMC-6 was driving.

3. Program Change != Pattern Change

The limitation that drove most of my setup decisions is the fact that changing kits on the TD-30 does not change the active Percussion Kit.  I need my program changes to be fast one-click operations, and this meant I needed a static set of instruments to sit behind the TMC-6.  I opted for a china crash and my two timbales which were constant throughout the show.

4. Master Effects : Not So Master-y

I never know what effects the house will add and the front-panel “Ambience” slider on the TD-30 is a quick way to adjust my effects level except for, you guessed it, the Percussion Kit.  The Percussion Kit’s dedicated effects section meant more menu-diving to update the Percussion Kit FX every time I touched front-panel “Ambience” slider.  The Percussion Kit also lacks the per-instrument EQ and Compression settings found on the main TD-30 kit, limiting my sound shaping options.

5. Cymbal Choke

I was disappointed to learn that cymbal choke functionality is not supported on the TD-30 Percussion Kit.  Luckily I didn’t need to choke the china crash, but this makes the TMC-6 + Percussion Kit combination less useful for cymbals in general.

6. Limited V-Editing

Finally, while you can assign any of the hundreds of instruments to MIDI note numbers within the Percussion Kit, the customization functions are a very watered down version of the powerful V-Edit in the main kit.  You have to make due with volume, pan, pitch, decay and FX sends for the Percussion Kit reverb and chorus.

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