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The TrapKAT Tour

Welcome to the TrapKAT tour.  The goal of this document is to expose the features and functions of the TrapKAT and to introduce you to the KS sound card - powered by Kurzweil - built right into the TrapKAT 5KS.  Besides reading this text, there will be lots of videos embedded into the document so that you will be able to see and hear the TrapKAT in action.  Hope you enjoy!

What is the TrapKAT?

The TrapKAT is a flat surface with large 24 playing zones designed to emulate an enormous size drum kit but in a moderately sized footprint.  There are rims all around the instrument.  This makes the instrument feel much larger than it is because these rim pads are positioned as such to be played with the shaft of your stick.  This means that you have to reach to get to the cymbals, etc.  The curious thing about this shape is that despite its' unusual look, it is very natural and comfortable to play on.  The TrapKAT is the largest pad controller on the market today.  We created it this way because we wanted you to play the TrapKAT like a drum set, not just a bunch of E-Pads thrown into a kit.  Think of the TrapKAT as the Enormous 26 piece Ergonomic Electronic Drum Set



 

Feel and Sensitivity

Besides having the proper ergonomics, the feel and sensitivity must be the most important feature of the Controller if is to be considered a serious musical instrument.

The TrapKAT came about in 1995, and has been transformed again and again, each time improving and developing in every way.

After years of trial, we are very proud to introduce in our TrapKAT 5, our newly designed nuBounce pads.  Without boasting, we believe these are the best feeling pads available on any electronic pad or controller.  It just feels natural, comfortable and responsive like no other playing surface.  You can buzz, roll, hit...everything!

Great feeling pads wouldn't be so great if there wasn't leading edge technology driving the sensors.  The TrapKAT uses space age FSR (Force Sensor Resistor) sensors that have a tremendous dynamic playing range that's linear in response from soft to loud.

These sensors rely on pressure, not vibration for triggering, so the result is no crosstalk, a common problem with the mass usage of piezo technology in most E-Pads on the market today.  This allows for multi-zone technology without the worries of false triggering.

The TrapKAT now includes our exclusive "Power Dot" covering (designed by Aquarian DrumHeads). These pads greatly improve the feel and durability of the instrument, as well as make the pads easier to see in a darker environment.

It's All in the Training

All drum modules and controllers have some level of sensitivity control, but that just adjusts the overall dynamics of the entire pad. Unique to KAT Products, our controllers have Dynamic Pad Training...  

When you first get a KAT Controller, one of the first things you learn to do is to "teach" your instrument your playing style.  By simply telling the TrapKAT what you call a soft hit, and what you call a hard hit, the instrument takes the dynamic range settings of the TrapKAT's sensor and superimposes your playing style within it .  This creates a significant improvement over the response of the pads.  Why, because they respond to YOUR dynamics.  The TrapKAT is tailored to your personal taste.

Training pads is a real easy process.  Just check out the video.

Adding Bass Drum and Hi-Hat Pedals to your TrapKAT

The TrapKAT will work with a number of different manufacturers' bass drum and hi-hat controller pedals, but this is OUR tour, so we want to make sure you see OUR amazing pedals!

Alternate Mode's eKIC and eHAT Pedals

eKIC bass drum trigger pedal
eHAT hi hat trigger pedal

These two pedals take a different approach from other manufacturers. Our pedals use real bass drum pedals for triggering both the hihat and bass drum.  As simple as this sounds, you will notice that most of the E-Pads on the market today just use a foot board with a spring underneath for hihat use.

Our eHAT has both adjustable footboard height, and adjustable spring strength just like a real pedal.  Electronic hihat pedals never felt as good as this!  The eHAT sends out continuous controller data from top to bottom, making the open / closed hihat experience feel smooth and natural.

If you are using the eHAT on a drumKAT, DITI or Triggering Drum Module, there is another sensor on the pedal that can be used for sensing "chick" strokes.  This allows for truly dynamic velocity sensitive triggering of the chick sound.  This also means that the eHAT can be used as a beater-less bass drum pedal.  

Finally, the eHAT mechanism is UNIVERSAL.  This means that if you have your own favorite bass drum pedal, and it has a bottom plate underneath, then you can attach the eHAT triggering module to it and have your own custom eHAT.  Now that's a first!


The eKIC is a reverse style bass drum trigger that utilizes the nuBOUNCE playing surface as well.  It can be used with anyone's bass drum pedal, but you need our beater because of the specified bend in the shaft. The trigger is dynamic and responsive, and feels very comfortable to play on due to the natural of the nuBounce material.

The TrapKAT 5KS Kit Complete comes with the eKIC an eHAT included. More on that later...

The Kurzweil Sound Module Built In

Built into our newest TrapKAT and malletKAT (the KS Series) is a newly designed sound engine created by Kurzweil Music Systems and modified for Alternate Mode. The sounds built into this engine originate from Kurzweil's acclaimed PC3 keyboard series.  It is a high quality sound engine with 64 voice polyphonic capabilities.  The stereo outputs (or mono summed) are balanced TRS connections along with a ¼" headphone jack, with overall volume controlled by two up/down buttons.

The TrapKAT also has two ¼" line in jacks so that you can plug in another sound source (like a CD player for example) and have this signal merged with the audio outputs.

The TrapKAT has a MIDI IN jack.  It is possible to send MIDI songs to the sound card so that it essentially becomes a Music Playalong station.  The sound card can play up to 16 MIDI channels simultaneously, so there is tremendous possibilities for many applications of this feature.

Musicians that have a malletKAT can also use the TrapKAT's sounds at the same time as the TrapKAT player.  Perfect solution for schools and home studios.

The Sounds

The TrapKAT has built in over 1000 melodic instrument sounds.  Everything under the sink from keyboards, basses, orchestral sounds, guitars and lots of mallet percussion.  Because this engine was first designed for the malletKAT, there are over 15 different vibraphone patches, 15 different marimba patches, plus xylophone, bells, chimes, timpani, celeste, orchestral percussion, ethnic percussion tam tams and more.

This sound engine doesn't stop with melodic instruments.  A new chip has been added so that we could offer drum sounds in the TrapKAT.  There are now about 256 drum sets built into the TrapKAT, about 128 of them are new to the PC3 library and have been tailored to perform and function well with the TrapKAT.

The Synth Card with the Drummer in Mind...

Here are some of the DRUMMER features and functions of this sound engine.
  • A great sounding TURN KEY module that has hundreds of complete drum sets covering many drumming styles
  • Unique poly exclusive hihats for realistic sounding hihats
  • 8 pedal position hihat control
  • Cymbal choking
  • Multi velocity layered snare drums (up to 4) and toms.  Multi layered basses and cymbals as well.
  • Ability to change the individual volumes on snares, toms, basses, hihats, and miscellaneous sounds per kit.
  • Ability to change overall pitch of a kit
  • Ability to control Reverb and EFX settings
  • The ability to include up to 4 different kits on a User Kit so that sounds can be mixed from Kit to Kit
  • Special Kits that have a collection of snares, basses, toms, etc for construction kit building
  • Special program advance/backward function so that you can call up all of the kits with repeated hits on just one pad.

We should note that because this sound module is not a drum machine per se, the engine does not have the ability to control the ADSR of individual sounds or the ability to control the pitch of a single sound.  It is a "pick up the sticks and play" design.

This TrapKAT/Sound Module combination is designed for quick access to pre programmed drum sets without the need for tweaking.   It is possible however to call up your favorite snare from one kit and your favorite bass drum from other.  Up to 4 different kits can be called up simultaneously on one User Kit. There are even special programs that have all of the snares or bass drums, or toms, etc in the program so that you can make up your own kit.

Finally because the TrapKAT is a Controller, it is possible to connect this instrument to a computer and access any sound imaginable.  There are amazing soundware companies that make extraordinary drum sample libraries.  Alternate Mode offers downloadable files (SysEX dumps) from our website to make connections and programming to these programs easier.

As you will see in the next section, the TrapKAT is a powerful drum and percussion controller capable of doing amazing things.

Here are some links and videos that highlight the features and functions just mentioned:



The TrapKAT Controller

By now you probably have seen the unusually cool footprint of the TrapKAT, and have caught a couple of videos showing you the sensitivity of the pads and the quality of the sounds.  But what about the controller itself.

The TrapKAT, as you might have suspected, is a very powerful MIDI controller, with a huge set of extremely useful features that allow you to tailor the instrument to the way you play.  The TrapKAT also has very special creative features that opens up a whole new vocabulary for expression.

Let's go over the ordinary and extraordinary features of the TrapKAT.

THE INTERFACE

As powerful as the TrapKAT is, programming it is much easier than other KAT product. Why? Because there are dedicated footswitches for functions, and the pads themselves become a single function to access

Take note editing for example.   All you have to do is step on the note edit footswitch, and tap on the pad whose note you want to change.  Every time you tap on the pad, you hear the next sound advance.  Double tap the footswitch to go backwards.  When you like the sound and want to keep it on the pad, just let go of the footswitch.

KIT EDIT MODE

In every kit, you can control every aspect of the sounds response through MIDI. For example, each pad can have its own distinct

  • MIDI Channel
  • Minimum Velocity Setting
  • Maximum Velocity Setting
  • Velocity Curve
  • Gate Time Setting
  • Note Number
  • Hihat Setting
  • etc

On the TrapKAT, stepping on the KIT Edit Footswitch and tapping on one pad accesses one of these features.  You have the choice of setting the entire kit with a value with one tap, or you can set up each pad to its own value.

HIHAT MODES

The TrapKAT has different modes for controlling the hihats because of the many different ways that sound modules and VST plug-ins work with the hihats.  For example.

  • GM HiHAT Mode-- is standard hihat control.  There is an open/closed and chick sound.
  • CONTROLLER #4 - Variable-- You assign any pad to a single hihat note number, and the hihat pedal sends out position data.  The sound changes as you move the pedal board.
  • HATNOTE Mode-- The TrapKAT sends out different note numbers depending on the position of the pedal.  On the 5KS model, we use our own "poly exclusive" software control to make the hihats sound very realistic.  There is no machine gun effect when hitting the pad in the same pedal position.
  • Pad Assignments -- On the TrapKAT, you can program up to 4 dedicated pads for hihat control.
MULTIPLE KITS

Because the TrapKAT can transmit on different MIDI channels per kit, each User Kit can send out 4 different Program Change Commands.  This means that you can mix and match the sounds from 4 different kits to make your own custom kits.

SPECIAL ADVANCED FEATURES

The TrapKAT is capable of doing very cool things when striking the pads.   Here are some examples of the advanced features built into the TrapKAT.

  • LAYERING -- It is possible to layer up to 4 notes on one pad.
  • VELOCITY SHIFT -- It is possible to have different sounds play dependent on how hard you hit the pad
  • ALTERNATE MODE -- You can have a pad play up to 16 different notes.  Each time to hit the pad, it advances to the next note
  • CONTROLLER DATA -- You can assign a pad to respond to pressure so that you can control things like pitch bend or panning.  You can also have a sound play on the pad at the same time so that the "effect" comes in only when you press on the pad.
  • PAD LINKING -- You can link any pad to any pad.  This means that when you strike one pad, it will think that you are hitting two pads and will sound whatever is on the linked pad
  • GATE FUNCTIONS -- Besides controlling how long a sound lasts, the TrapKAT can turn a pad into a LATCH so that a "loop" for example can be turned on and off repeatedly
  • NEW KAT NOTE NUMBERS -- MIDI's note numbers go from 0-127.  On the TrapKAT, there are new note numbers that perform special functions that do some really cool things. Here's a list:
    • NOTE FREEZE -- Stops the alternating notes and keeps it there until you hit it again
    • NOTE RESET -- Brings the alternating notes back to the beginning.
    • KIT ADVANCE -- You can advance to the next kit by hitting a pad assigned to this note number
    • KIT BACKWARDS -- You can decrement backwards to the next kit by hitting a pad assigned to this note number
    • PROGRAM ADVANCE -- This calls up the next drum kit without changing your pad settings
    • PROGRAM BACKWARDS -- This calls up the previous drum kit without changing your pad settings.
USER KITS

On the TrapKAT, you can store 24 of your own kits, and assign a name for easy remembering.

Of course the TrapKAT allows you to COPY kits.  This is a great way to create your own default settings and copying them all over.

In Conclusion

We encourage you to visit our website and download the manual and 20+ questions guide to really learn what the TrapKAT has to offer.

TrapKAT Manual
TrapKAT Documentation

Here's a quick checklist why we think the TrapKAT 5KS is the best controller around

  • Lightweight strong aluminum frame, not a fragile molded plastic box
  • Large comfortable size pads in a small footprint but designed in a drummer's layout unlike the square pads of others.
  • Rim pads for shaft stick playing for natural kinetic movement when playing cymbals
  • 26 pad system (24 pads, bass drum and hihat).  The largest pad controller on the market.
  • FSR sensor technology for Superior Response and Wider Dynamic range without the crosstalk and cross triggering problems of piezo based controllers
  • Fantastic Feel without the trampoline bounce effect with our new nuBOUNCE surface
  • The only controller on the market that lets you train the pads to your own playing style
  • Powerful software.  The controller grows with you as your needs grow and develop.
  • Upgradeable.  Our TrapKAT started in 1995, and we are still upgrading.  We call this the "war on obsolescence".  No other controller has been around this long with a continued upgrade path.
  • Now with a built in sounds option for great sounding turn key drum kits at a fraction of the price of our competitors
  • The ability to use the built in sound card as a stand alone melodic synthesizer sound module through the TrapKAT's MIDI In Ports
  • Economical.  Pad for pad, sound for sound, it is the best value in the E drum market.
  • Newly designed bass drum and hihat trigger pads that feel natural, respond great and have the flexibility for height and spring tension adjustments