Review: M-Audio Trigger Finger Pro

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Yo what’s good fam!

Today I’m back with another review, this time I’m finally getting a chance to check out the Trigger Finger Pro from M-Audio.

Let’s just jump right in

What is the Trigger Finger Pro?

trigger_finger_proIt’s an updated version of the original Trigger Finger pad controller, with a lot of new features.

The first many will notice is the step sequencer along the bottom of the unit, which can be up to 64 steps (4 bars) and works via MIDI to trigger any software or hardware you may have connected.

There’s also the large LCD screen, 4 banks of 16 RGB pads, plus a set of 4 knobs, 4 faders, and 4 buttons that is also 4 banks deep.

It also comes with a huge suite of software that also offers some integration with the controller including the ability to wrangle all your plugin presets into one central location.

Quick Specs

So what’s the bottom line?

There’s a couple of ways to look at this controller.

When it was first released the software aspect was a huge focus of the marketing and product demos. In my opinion, the software is the weak point of this product. The Arsenal software just feels clunky, and I’m not sure what the benefit would be of having all of your VST patches in the Arsenal browser, which looks more like a drum  machine than anything else.

Also, while I loved the Anomoly kits inside of AIR Drums, it’s a double layer plugin, so if you want to edit any sounds you have to open the plugin’s interface from within Arsneal,  even though it looks very similar to the Arsenal interface. I would have loved to have AIR Drums as it’s own separate plugin with full control from the Trigger Finger Pro, as far as I can tell it’s installed inside the Arsenal directory and is meant to be an “internal” device. You could try to grab the plugin file and move it as needed,  I couldn’t get that to work though, and if it did I’d imagine you really only get the instant control of plugins when they are loaded through Arsenal.

So in the aspect of the whole “production station” thing, I don’t think it lives up to the hype. The software and how it operates is just too clunky and cumbersome. Also, even though you can browse kits/patches from the hardware, that too is really basic.

However, as a MIDI controller/pad controller, it’s excellent. The build quality is really solid, the pad response feels good, you get 4 banks of pads as well as the other controllers, and it’s SUPER flexible. You can have each bank setup to control things differently, and your knob, fader, and button controls can all be set individually.

Also DAW integration works well thanks to Mackie/HUI and it comes with built in templates for many popular DAWs including Pro Tools, Sonar, Steinberg, and Digital Performer.

4subsOverall I give the Trigger Finger Pro 4 out of 5 subs, the software leaves much to be desired but the hardware controller aspect really shines.

I would have loved to see some built in templates for different popular plugin instruments like Battery, BFD, and other drum plugins.

It’s super flexible and the step sequencer works great, it’s really easy to setup and works with anything not just the Arsenal software.

If you consider the price ($199) and the quality of the controller I think it’s definitely a no-brainer for someone looking to add a flexible pad and daw controller to their setup.

You can pick it up from spots like musicians’s friend, sweetwater, and many others

Leave a comment below and let me know what you think

Review: M-Audio Trigger Finger Pro
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16 Comments

  1. Michael Parson-McNamara · Edit

    Nice one, Joe. I guess it’s worth looking at again. I remember checking it out when they first came out. I am wanting some surface controller for Sonar Platinum, and this could double for drums, too.

    Reply
    • I think the hardware is great and it works really well as a controller. Can’t speak on Sonar specifically but they seem to have a template for it built in.

      Reply
      • Michael Parson-McNamara · Edit

        Yeah, that would be the deal breaker/maker. So I’ll check around on the Sonar sites. I’ve already got an Alesis ControlPad, so it’s more about the surface controller aspect and in that regard, it’s well made and inexpensive. Will it work for me? That is the question.
        Michael

        Reply
        • Cool, yeah they say it works but again, I don’t use Sonar so didn’t test it, can’t say for sure. But it’s definitely a nice MIDI controller, software aside.

          Reply
    • It’s dope as a controller, but I wouldn’t even get it for the software or expecting anything to change in that regard. Especially since the Akai keyboards are coming, which you can tell this was a precursor to.

      As a midi device though, well done imo.

      Reply
  2. Joint wack. Looks dope and is solid construction wise, but that’s about all they got right considering what was already alrsedy on the market – (Maschine Studio / MPC Ren). Has its little unique bells and whistles, and can where several hats, but even falls short there as a jack of not enough trades, master of none. That’s why id doesn’t deseverve as many subs and is selling for WAY under its original price point despite only having been out for a bit. When these guys try to break into a market, they need to not only come w/ there own unique features, but they have to respect the game that’s already been laid out and follow that to some degree. Yeah, it looks cool, but most would go ahead and pay double, even tripple to get all of the integrated software features of MPC Ren or Maschine. Maudio should know by now that the software is half the battle. They may have plans I don’t know about, but unless they have kinda secret software update (which I doubt), this is too little, too late. Good midi controller is about where it stops w/ this thing, and I predict that the few newbies to the audio game that buy it will be sorry when it collects dust after awhile. But now that its fallen short of expectations, they’ll at least be able to cop back what they dropped for it at Guitar center from the next newby lol. I might have been nice and gifted 4 subs had they put this out when everyone else came out, but seeing has how they waited and didn’t use the time to impress, 3 subs or lower from me.

    Reply
    • This joint is a MIDI controller, definitely not something like Maschine/MPC, so in that aspect, it’s fine. I think they tried to do too much with adding the arsenal software, I’m not feeling that at all. But most people buying Trigger fingers are just looking for a MIDI controller, not an alternative to Maschine or an MPC. For the most part this is those using a DAW with it’s own sampler/plugins and they want pads with extra controls. It’s more of an MPD alternative than a Maschine or MPC one.

      I totally agree, the original price was crazy, that’s also why I’m reviewing it now, at 199 it’s a very decent controller for the price. If you look behind trying to use the software with it lol.

      Reply
  3. An interesting review. I can see this appealing to those in the market for an Akai MPD controller as it seems to offer a little bit more flexibility and has a lower price point. But for those of us with Maschine or Ren it falls short, perhaps M-Audio can narrow the gap by improving the software. The build quality looks good though.

    Reply
  4. Hi SaintJoe,

    Ha you tried to control maschine with this controller? My Maschine controller has been broken and I have been controlling it with my MPC 5000 as midi but it the sounds in Maschine are not mapped in the same pads as the 5K. If it works would be grate for me. Need to know it before buying it.

    Reply
    • Nah, never tried it, wouldn’t be the same imo. Sure you could map the midi notes and it would work chromatically, but you could do that with any drum pad controller actually. Though you won’t get all the mapping as you would with a Maschine controller.

      Reply
    • Yeah, I wouldn’t expect any updates either, at the price it’s cool as a controller, I just think the software side wasn’t well done. But if you just want to map it to some stuff there’s plenty of control to go around.

      Reply
  5. Nice review St.Joe as always. So I’ve had my eye on this thing for quite a while now, looking to upgrade my korg pad kontrol and replace a radium I was only using for faders and knobs anyway. Throw in the step sequencer which can be used to control outboard gear and daw plugs, its the perfect solution at 2 bills. The software is just icing to me. You forgot to mention Hybrid 3 is thrown in which looks ill from the demos.

    I am concerned about the price drop and spotty support tho. Looks like they’re gonna let this one fade into Bolivia as Mike Tyson would say. Terrible way to do business. Either fix the software issues (which seem minor honestly) or support it with this price drop as the awesome midi controller with dope throw ins it is. Anybody got specifics on their struggles with maudio support of the TFP?

    They never said it would be maschine, they never said it would be push, its something different with a ton of utility. Their mistake was pricing it to compete with those guys. They brought a machete to a gunfight. Sometimes a machete is better, just not in every context.

    Reply
    • Totally agree, I think initially they priced it in the Maschine/Push/MPC realm, and it was definitely something totally different. They should have promoted it as a controller, with the software being an addition, not the focal point. Either way, at the price it’s at now, the hardware is good, no driver issues, and you can midi map it to whatever you want so it’s good in that aspect.

      Reply

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