This is not your father’s Trigger Finger.

The Trigger Finger has to be one of the biggest success stories in controllers, ever. Back before “controllerism” was a thing, this was what you took along – cheap, light, easy-to-abuse, it was a warhorse 4×4 grid of pads with faders. I’ve watched Flying Lotus tear up his; I’ve seen it win laptop battles. I’ve seen people play them with pads weirdly half ripped-off and all the knob and fader caps missing. I’ve seen Trigger Fingers that looked like someone dragged them through the mud tied to a pickup truck. (I knew that controllerism concert with Monster Trucks rally combo wasn’t a good idea.)

Well, now the Trigger Finger Pro USB controller is here, with a lot more controls. The pads light up with RGB color feedback, because, well, no pads anywhere will ever again escape the disco treatment. (Wasn’t there a Care Bears movie where that happened? Or did I just get high on Skittles once as a child of the 80s and dream that?)

But it’s not just light-up pads – you get bunches of new controls, and a metal stand, and a fancy screen, and, most importantly, a step sequencer.

Also, for reasons I can’t possibly explain, it has a drum kit from Justin Timberlake on it. And Timbaland.

(Anyone else fantasizing about a massive Artist Relations mistake there? “Hey, boss, I got the Timberlake samples you asked for.” “Not Timberlake, you idiot! Timbaland! Okay, fine, give me Justin’s … drum kits … and please get Mr. Timbaland on the phone.”)

The new thing:

  • 4×4 pads with velocity (no word on pressure?)
  • RGB feedback on pads
  • 16 backlit keys, internal step sequencer
  • High-res screen, apparently coupled with that step sequencer
  • Map controls to your favorite software (AIR Drums and Hybrid 3 are included, but there’s also something called Arsenal for controlling other software or operating standalone for performance)
  • Aluminum faceplate, detachable 3-position stand
  • Built-in instruments, 8 GB of sounds

Updated: we’ve got details on two additional features.

You’ll notice there’s a “roll” button.

And you get MIDI DIN out.

Lots more to ask, yes.

The good: step sequencing, lots of potential in the display. The bad: not in love yet with those looks (maybe it looks better in person), concerned about layers of controller software, possibly missing pressure on the pads. The unknown: lots. We’ll be researching specifics, for sure.

It’s more pricey than the original. But US$399 street with these additional controls and step sequencer could be worthwhile. It really all comes down to how the editor and step sequencer functionality work, I think, plus (vitally) how it feels. Let’s hope M-Audio has picked up some pad expertise in the acquisition by InMusic – otherwise known as the current home of Akai.

  • cooptrol

    two questions:
    1) MIDI out for controlling hardware? and thru?
    2) Built in instruments means it can be used to generate music without a computer?

    • Chris Bartholomew

      Re: 2) If it had an audio out on it, I think they might have mentioned it, but here’s hoping…

    • father

      The hi-rez press photo on their website has a MIDI OUT label at the top. But there’s no audio outs to be seen. Curiously, the cursor buttons are labelled DAW CONTROL, so I don’t think it’s standalone.

    • Yanakyl

      Something strange happened, so I’ll wright again(maybe there will be a copy)

      1) YES!!! thru, don’t know but I don’t think
      2) I don’t think so
      There’s a short video:

      Looks cool, a maschine like thing with more integration outside the computer??? Lets see how it performs, and price…
      Controlling hardware is a good move also.

  • Krzysztof Cybulski

    Nice, but I’d rather continue to use my old one 😉

  • trash80

    Must be legit samples coming from Timbaland… Now to decide, should I get this or the Beamz by Flo?

    • regend

      if Beamz by Flo is at NAMM they will be lonely and sad. I’ll take a picture and instagram the sadness =D

  • Jbomb

    I guess I’m in a niche these days but I need a midi out on my controllers.

    • Peter Kirn

      That’s not niche. And it has it.

    • jbomb

      Yeah, just watched the video and this thing was full of surprises! I guess I thought it was niche because I’ve struggled to find cheap key controllers with midi, but this don’t look cheap.

  • Ezmyrelda

    Huh.. Mine kind of sucked.. I’ve never been so disappointed with a piece of hardware as I was with my triggerfinger..

    • dirtbag

      yea the pads blow. mpc for the win

    • Ezmyrelda

      The USB connection on mine was super crappy too.. It would disconnect every chance it got.

  • James

    I am waiting for someone much cleverer than myself to build a Renoise 3.0 script for this thing. In fact, any of the recent M-Audio controllers.

  • wetterberg

    Nerp, it’s bigger than the old triggerfinger. Damn. But hey, at least it’s got more contr… oh, the 8 knobs turned into 4.

    On the other hand, it’s got a transport. That’s good. Not at all what you want in a performance instrument, so the step sequencer sticks out a bit…

    Really looking forward to finding out the juicy bits; pressure? how mappable is it – like, can we get at the step sequencer from max, for instance? And the display.

    As an aside, you seem to have hit your all-time high for parentheses, Peter. Good job!

    • father

      Well yes, if you’re going to bring advanced math to the site, technically it has less controllers. But it has more mode buttons and stuff. And those 4×3 pads look grr…

    • Peter Kirn

      Settle down, you two. It has “more” controllers in that the number of controllers on it is more. Come on.

      The *only* thing is has less of (that we know of) is knobs. And since they appear to have swapped endless encoders for the knobs, it’s generally easier to switch banks (and there are dedicated bank controls). Also:

      It adds transport controls.*
      It adds 16 (!) step sequencer triggers.
      It adds cursor keys.

      Plus four triggers below the faders, it appears.

      * why wouldn’t you want transport controls in a performance instrument? Maschine, Push, nanoKONTROL, etc., etc. would like to have a word.

      That said, I am keenly, keenly interested in whether they added pressure. At least they did add a “roll” function as on the KORG kontrolPAD.

      But I also want to know about mapping – this will be one for follow up afterwards.

  • Tony Scharf

    If it has a physical MIDI output port and isn’t reliant on a computer, It would be *excellent* for hooking up to my modular via a MIDI->CV interface.

  • Tony Scharf

    also: I for one am sick of the disco dance floor.

  • jake_sia

    should of kept the 8 rotary’s for live use with ableton racks….best thing about the original was being able to jump around on it without bumping important things..

  • stumm
    • Peter Kirn

      He says some … strange things in that video.

      They’re the only ones doing “this” … step sequencing? What does “only ones” mean?

      And don’t all plug-ins that load … samples … mean that you don’t have to manually lose samples?

      Confused more than anything by this. Nice to see that MIDI DIN output, though, that part made sense.

    • trash80

      Don’t worry. Confusion should be expected, as “it’s really the worlds first completely integrated rhythm instrument.”

    • Peter Kirn


      “It allows you to produce rhythm, for the first time.”

      And, of course, by “completely integrated” it means, relies on a host.

      ** cognitive dissonance **….

    • regend

      I’m going to go tell that guy he is lying.

    • Sylvain Poitras

      compare and contrast:
      – better product at a better price
      – no used-car salesman

    • hellojeffreyjames

      the beatstep can only sequence one channel. as in, you can’t hit two notes/hits at the same time.

  • a

    lol “Built-in instruments” got me excited it was a drum machine for a minute.

    awesome it has MIDI though! looks a lot like how i was hoping the new MPCs would be.

    what’s funny about all these super functional zombie controllers is that the next round of updates will probably toss an OS into them so they can work 100% standalone or use your phone as the brain. what else is left to add really?

  • regend

    If it comes with “signature kits” can you load kits? if yes WIN if no MPC wins…but the fact that InMusic is in cahoots with Akai and M-Audio is now all suspect. i am going to NAMM today and will report back on this MPC clones.

  • foosnark

    The step sequencer strikes me as deeply weird, somehow. I wonder how much is in software and how much in hardware, and how this thing interfaces with DAWs.

    Also seems odd that they’d keep the same product name, while moving it from being a MIDI controller to something obviously much more involved.

    • Peter Kirn

      Well, but it is still a MIDI controller. The DAW integration is just HUI and Mackie Control and MIDI – this is nothing new. It’s more involved in that there’s a software bundle, now, too, that’s more extensive – thank AIR.

  • Sylvain Poitras

    A really good point for the original TF is the logical and user-friendly layout. This seems to have taken a hit in the redesign and the new unit looks (to me) cluttered and complicated. I probably won’t make the switch, unless that sequencer is all hardware… that could help de-clutter my desk.

  • lematt

    I’m quite amazed by the colors chosen by all the makers of usb midi controllers this year… I mean, no trolling here, but am I the only one feeling that 80’s ski shoes vibe ?

  • Henry

    Hm, three months later and still no further details on the M-Audio website. Expected delivery date according to Thomann ( mid-June. This might really be an interesting controller, but the lack of information is a pity.

    Do people really purchase this, because it “Includes 5 ToolRoom Records artist sound packs from: Mark Knight, Reve Amesz, Tocadisco, Macro Lys, D Ramirez”?