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Old 19th November 2014
Gear Guru
I have both the Alesis D4 and the Akai S900 with the trigger inputs.

I found the Akai is definitely more sensitive and also more adjustable for the triggers I was using. (Barcus Berry pickups mounted inside my acoustic drums, on the bearing edge but not touching the head.) The Akai only has 8 inputs. When I was using it regularly for live triggering, I found it faster than the D4, but that may be because I "skipped" MIDI - that speed advantage may disappear if you coming out MIDI and are not using the sounds loaded into the Akai itself.

I did not use it much as a trigger-to-midi only device.

The Akai was fun to use in live performance, but the very limited memory meant you had to load a new floppy disk () to change kits. I could squeeze 2-3 kits on a disk if I was clever about it. Recording-wise, it is important to remember that the S900 was only 12 bit. So the sounds are a little 'grainy' for recording.

The D4 is a serviceable unit. The triggers have a crosstalk parameter to keep false triggering down and it can do the hi-hat thing with a closing note and a held note. My pickups were kind of low-output for it, but I imagine with hotter pickups it would be just fine. The onboard sounds are quite extensive, but of course you can't add your own. It has like 100 snare drums, but no dog barks, firecrackers, or James Brown saying: "hey!".