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Messages - SWriverstone

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Thanks for the suggestions! I probably should have clarified in my initial post: for the moment, I only have/use a single amp---meaning it serves double-duty as both monitor and audience amp (in other words, I sit in front of, and just to the side of, the amp---so both the audience and I can hear it fine).

Obviously if I ever hit the "big time" (LOL) and graduate to a real setup, I'll need to switch to a monitor/mains arrangement.  :)


ZenChat / OPINION UPDATE: Best portable amp for live Zendrum performance?
« on: February 19, 2013, 03:42:46 PM »
I know this has been discussed here before...but I'm curious to get some current opinions. I've had (for many years) a Peavey keyboard amp that I've been using with my Zendrum. It's a KB-5 (I think), with a 15" cone. It's got plenty of power, especially for relatively small clubs, coffeehouses, bars, etc. and a good bass response (the 15" cone helps a lot there). But the thing is huge (plenty big and strong enough to sit on) and weighs a ton---a real pain to haul around.

John E, I remember you touting the virtues of the Barbetta amps...and I know people who have been pretty happy with the Roland KC series keyboard amps (though I realize the Barbetta is in a somewhat more "Gucci" category of amp).

Of course I'm looking for the impossible---something with big, deep, pristine sound...that is almost as easy to carry around as the Zendrum itself!  ;D (Oh---and also won't cost as much as a Zendrum!)

Any suggestions?

ZenChat / Re: Can someone describe the 4.0 chip in more detail for me?
« on: February 11, 2013, 09:25:32 AM »
Thanks John and peabody---that helps to know! I'm sure it's better...just trying to get a feel for how much (and it sounds like a lot!). Now I'm just trying to budget for the internal MidiJet upgrade as well. :-)

ZenChat / Can someone describe the 4.0 chip in more detail for me?
« on: February 07, 2013, 07:53:35 PM »
I'm considering upgrading to the latest chip. My understanding is that this improves sensitivity, and I'm hoping someone can describe in a bit more detail **how much** the sensitivity is improved?

Specifically, I'm wondering about the extreme soft (low-velocity) end of the spectrum: will the new chip make the pads so sensitive that even those incredibly tiny, feather-light, whisperings of my fingertips (almost not even touching the pads) will all trigger?

Currently, I often like to use 2-3 fingers on a single pad to play figures like grace notes, ghost notes, 2-stroke and 3-stroke ruffs---that sort of thing. But the 3.0 Zendrum often misses some of these very fast, very light/quiet notes. So I'm wondering if the new chip will change that?

Thanks for any more detailed comparisons!


ZenChat / Re: Software Zendrum Editor: A possibility?
« on: June 16, 2009, 05:37:33 AM »
So Inspector 109 (David)...what do you think? Can your code guy (who developed Z4) do something like this? (Seems like he's closer to really knowing what's going on than anyone else!)


ZenChat / Software Zendrum Editor: A possibility?
« on: June 12, 2009, 06:42:03 PM »
Hey everyone...

I don't know if I'm the only one who hates trying to edit/tweak/change things using a few buttons and an LED display...but I think it would be fantastic if we could all pitch in to get someone to develop a software editor for the Zendrum!

This might be irrelevant to those who use hardware modules...but many of us use laptops, and having a great on-screen interface showing all the Zendrum's pads...and being able to click on any pad and bring up a parameter entry window for that pad...as well as global parameters, etc. would be AWESOME.

What do you think David (Inspector 109)?

I for one would be willing to pitch in toward the cost of developing such an editor. Or just consider it an advance purchase. I'd be willing to pay up to $50, maybe even $100 to have this. If enough other people showed serious interest, maybe we could make it happen?

As an aside (and this is directed more at David)...the difficulty of editing the Zendrum is definitely a barrier to entry for "the masses." Not that having a software editor would suddenly result in selling 10,000 more Zendrums...but from a usability standpoint, it would make the Zendrum a lot more accessible, in my opinion.

What does everyone else think? (Editing the Zendrum just reminds me a bit too much of trying to edit patches on my old Roland JV-1080 synth module...AARRGH!!!  :)


ZenChat / Re: Using Battery 3 with Zendrum in live gig situation
« on: September 23, 2008, 12:34:15 PM »
Timecutter's idea is a good one---another possible workaround is to set up a single Battery 3 patch with 2 or 3 kits. I forget what the max number of cells you can have in a kit, but it's a lot more than there are Zendrum pads, so you can easily set up two different kits---make Kit#1 cover the top 2-3 rows...then Kit#2 the bottom 2-3 rows. Then you can quickly mute/unmute entire rows at once.

Granted, this would still take a couple mouse clicks, but it will preserve valuable CPU cycles and you could probably get pretty fast at muting/unmuting.


ZenChat / Re: melodic zendrumming
« on: September 23, 2008, 12:29:32 PM »
Hi All...

I'm a pretty good keyboard percussion player (marimba, vibes, etc.)...but I still find playing melodic instruments on the Zendrum to be pretty difficult, simply because the pad arrangement doesn't even remotely lend itself to a recognizeable (e.g. piano keyboard) layout.

But...I'm sure with a lot of practice and repetition (and NEVER altering your basic note layout) you could get pretty good at it (I'm still working on it!)

Another useful tip is to work with pentatonic scales (e.g. the black notes on a piano). By setting the pads to only notes in a pentatonic scale (across 2-3 octaves) you can still do a lot, and (contrary to popular myth) it's entirely possibly to play some beautiful melodic phrases on pentatonic scales without it sounding "Chinese" (to use another worn-out stereotype).

The nice thing about playing pentatonic scales is that there really aren't any "wrong" notes!  ;D


Thanks for the Battery tip duojet---I've been out of town for a week and just got back, so I'll try your suggestion later today and post up about how it goes!


Thanks David! I'll give those a try...I have MIDIOX already...

Any chance that this could be addressed in a future software update? I would think especially with the Zap, this could be an ongoing issue as so many people would want to do MIDI sequencing with it. (Or maybe it's only a problem with Sonar?)


I've been having problems recording the Zendrum (using Battery 3 as a sound source) in Sonar Producer 7. It took me some sleuthing, but I think I discovered what the problem is: when recording into Sonar, the Zendrum is producing some MIDI notes with a duration of "0", and these notes don't sound on playback in Sonar.

It seems that the Zendrum sends a MIDI note-ON and note-OFF command almost simultaneously when a trigger pad is simply struck (as opposed to held down).

Is there any way to adjust this "gate time" between MIDI note-ON and note-OFF? I hope so...if not, perhaps this could be added to the operating system?

By comparison, Alternate Mode's TrapKat and other controllers actually do have a [b]"Gate Time" parameter [/b] you can adjust that specifically sets the time between Note-ON and note-OFF. They provide increments in tenths (or hundredths) of a second up to "INFINITE" where only note-ONs are sent (if I'm remembering correctly).


Tech Help / Does anyone record your Zendrum playing within Windows?
« on: March 18, 2008, 05:07:04 AM »
I use the Zendrum with Battery 3 in Windows XP. I spent some time last night trying to record direct-to-WAV from within Windows and failed completely. In my case, I was trying to do it from within Sonar...(using Battery 3 as a DXi plugin). It didn't work, and I was getting some strange results...almost as if the Zendrum were sending some bizarre MIDI information along with the standard note information. The really odd thing was that I could hear what I was playing perfectly---and every MIDI note I played *was* recorded by Sonar (because I could see all the notes in the event list)...but MIDI playback was just messed-up as only every 2nd or 3rd note played back...

Wondering if the problem was the Zendrum, I swapped out the Zendrum with my M-Audio MIDI keyboard controller and did a few tests with Battery 3. Everything worked perfectly. Hmmm....really strange. So the problem definitely appears to be with the Zendrum, somehow.

It may well be my fault (something I'm not doing or did wrong)...but I just thought I'd ask to see if anyone else records direct-to-WAV...and if so, how are you doing it? (e.g. which software, routing, etc.)

By the way, when I say "direct-to-WAV" I mean the audio signal never leaves the computer (as opposed to routing your audio output to some other external recording device...or just using a plain old microphone!).


To anyone besides THUMPER who might scan this thread...I have to put in a plug for Native Instruments' Battery 3. (I seem to be the lone Battery 3 cheerleader here, LOL.)

If you are after more than acoustic drumkit sounds, Battery 3 is the best thing out there (especially for the cost). To be fair, I know John Emrich has been involved in a percussion add-on to BFD that (based on the sample demos) is really great...but it still doesn't have Battery 3's range of world/ethnic percussion. I'm talking about things like doumbeks, darabukas, tars, bendirs, riqs, tablas, ghatam, taikos, lion drums, and the entire range of African drums like djun-djun, ashiko, djembe, etc.

Battery 3 has a bit of a learning curve, but I find it fairly intuitive. Then again, I've been using MIDI software for years...so my perspective might not be accurate for the basic user. Battery 3 does come with over a hundred pre-assembled kits using the entire range of sample sets right out of the box...but at a minimum you have to set up the MIDI note mappings with the Zendrum to use them (since some kits have far more sounds than the Zendrum's 24 pads can use).

Finally, you obviously need a computer to use Battery 3...but it's cross-platform (Mac/PC). And I'd definitely state that 2GB of RAM is essential for reliability. In several weeks of wailin' away on my Zendrum with Battery 3, it's been rock-stable---no crashes, no hangs, no stuck notes, nothing.


User Reviews / Re: Battery 3
« on: March 05, 2008, 05:21:34 AM »
I thought I'd add to this thread now that I've had the chance to work with Battery 3 for several weeks (with the Zendrum).

Overall, I still think it's a great app and a fantastic sample set. I've found a few minor glitches that are annoying, but that's it---they don't really have any impact on using it as a sound source. Annoying glitches include...

- You can select all cells in the grid (Ctrl+A)...but you can't deselect them. WTF??? The developers just whiffed on this one, LOL. So if you select all cells, the only way to deselect them is to load a different kit, then reload the one you were working on. The workaround is just don't select ALL cells.

- The File > Save dialog boxes are messed-up and annoying. For example, if you've made changes to a file and save those changes, if you then try to close the file you'll be nagged "Are you SURE you want to close without saving changes?" HELLO!!! I just saved my changes! (The software seems blissfully unaware that you just saved your file.)

- Though holding the Shift key allows you to adjust knobs with greater control, it still doesn't give you fine enough control in my opinion. It's still difficult sometimes to set a nice round decibel number (like -6dB)...you end with -6.2dB (you can just type it in, but I've always found the knobs faster/easier).

So far my only gripe that affects performance with the Zendrum is that Battery 3's velocity curve control is pretty skimpy. I've never understood why apps like this don't give you the ability to create multi-point velocity curves (so you can have a curve with "plateaus" along it like a good EQ).

But that's about it! Overall, I'm loving it. The samples continue to amaze, particularly the percussion samples. My impression is that BFD gets a lot of attention in this forum. Though I haven't had the chance to play it yet, I've listened to the sample demos online, and heard nothing I thought was better than anything in Battery 3. But I've also heard that BFD's multisampling is superior.

As I've said elsewhere in the forum, I mainly use the Zendrum with percussion ensemble sounds, not traditional drumkits. I like setups that allow me to play gamelan or gyilli and balafon. Battery 3 excels in these instrument samples. But I have a feeling I'm an "outcast" in this regard, LOL (in that I don't really use the Zendrum for drumkit playing). From what I've read here, if you're primarily a drumkit player, you might be better off with BFD...but Battery 3 still has several excellent drumkits as well.


ZenChat / Re: Mastering the Zendrum: The Process
« on: March 04, 2008, 09:09:11 PM »
That's a good point Geosphere...and I'd certainly have followed your advice if the majority of my Zendrumming was traditional drumkit playing (which I suspect it is for most Zendrummers).

In my case, almost none of my Zendrumming is a traditional kit. Almost all of it is on kits like the Javanese gamelan or North Indian tablas and ghatam, which have absolutely nothing in common with the GM spec. It just seems pointless (speaking for my case only) to pretend that the hi-hat is a bonang at C#...or that the kick drum is a Thai gong. When your entire instrument set is radically different from the kick/snare/tom/conga/ride cymbal paradigm...what's the point in maintaining that? (In fact, I dislike even using the word "kit" because that's another holdover from the traditional drumkit paradigm. "Ensemble" would probably be a better word in my case...)

Put differently, I would never plug my Zendrum into a different box, because there would be nothing on that box I'd likely want to play. I'm certainly not bashing the use of traditional drumkits on the Zendrum...just saying it's not what I do.  I'm also not faulting other hardware/software; between Battery 3's enormous range of world percussion samples...and it being an open-ended sampler, it will serve any/all my needs as long as there is a computer (and OS) to run it.

But for traditional drumkit and Latin percussion...absolutely---stick with the GM spec!  :)


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