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Messages - kbour

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ZenChat / Re: IMPORTANT: This Town Ain't Big Enough
« on: March 23, 2012, 07:21:24 AM »
I just received the email notification. Candidly, I haven't visited this forum in a long time, but I still play my Zendrum.

I completely understand and sympathize with your decision to close this forum. Spammers and other malicious actors are ruining the Internet. With the proliferation of malfeasance, I wonder whether, in time, it will be possible to conduct any responsible affairs using these technologies.

Hopefully, the FB page will be able to support this community. I look forward to catching up...

Ken Bour
Northern Virginia

ZenChat / Attempt: Chromatic Zendrum LT
« on: August 01, 2009, 04:17:04 PM »
Hey Everyone:

It's been a long time since I visited let alone posted, but I have been playing my LT strong ever since I first received in back in Dec 2007. I remain an enormous FAN!

Last night I had the opportunity to watch a steelpan player and got the idea to try a tonal chromatic map on my Z- LT.  I thought I would  emulate the pattern they use in tenor steel pans which is a set of concentric circles of fifths.  It's not perfect, of course, but I managed to get pretty close with 24 triggers - 2 octaves starting with F4. I messed around with it for several hours today, but it's tough getting the hang of it and feels like starting all over!

Before I go too much further with this experiment, has anyone tried a mapping like that and, if so, how did it work out?



P.S. Has anyone upgraded their LT to the new Z4 board and do you recommend it? Did you add any triggers?

ZenChat / Zendrum and Bass Amp: Myths Shattered
« on: October 19, 2008, 09:27:30 PM »
I have read numerous times on multiple forums that electronic drums will not work properly when played through a bass amplifier.   I am prepared to offer another viewpoint on that subject, so read on if interested. 

This weekend, after reading many positive reviews, I visited my local GC intending to purchase a Simmons DA200 amp for my Zendrum.   I already own 2 JBL 15" EON G2's and an 18" JBL Sub; but, I prefer to leave those puppies up on their stands in my music room and not lug them around when playing out.  Also, I lilke to practice my Zendrum in my library and wanted a good portable amp for that purpose plus one with decent power that could be ported to gigs.    I was using a Roland KC-150 (65 watts) and, even with its 12" speaker, it just could not reproduce a respectable kick drum sound.   

After listening to the Simmons amp in the store (connected to V-Drums), I was somewhat underwhelmed at which point the drum technician said, "What you need is a good bass amp."   I quickly replied, "No, I don't think so.  I've read countless reports that bass amps cannot produce the frequency range required for electonic drums."   "That's nonsense, man; you gotta stop believing everything you read on the internet.   We'll pull a Fender Bassman 250/210 in here and A/B them so that you can hear for yourself."   And so we did...  Holy smokes!   This Fender amp sounded incredible.   The bass drum was deep, powerful, and punchy; the snare sharp and realistic; the mids were all there; and the cymbals sounded crisp and lifelike.  This 250 watt Fender amp has two 10" woofers combined with a horn tweeter, 2-band EQ, and a knob on the back to raise/lower the tweeter's presence.  The rated frequency range is something like 10Hz to 42KHz!   Sheesh!  While I was there, I also auditioned the Fender Bassman 250/115 (a single 15" woofer plus horn tweeter) and, while it had a bigger low end, it was boomier (esp. lower toms) and the mids were also deeper and seemed muddier.   It would have required a lot more EQ to get it to sound as well rounded as the 210, which had plenty of chest pounding bottom anyway.   I was sold.  The bonus was that, unbenownst to the sales guy, until he rang me up, the 210 amp happened to be on sale for $500, regularly $650!   I also traded in my Roland KC-150 keyboard amp on the deal.   

After I got this baby home, I started putting it through the paces with my Zendrum LT and Battery3.   It's still only the 1st day, but I am astonished at how nice it sounds.   I am running it mostly FLAT with just 2 clicks above center on the Bass knob and I have to back that off depending on the kick drum patch I select.   

For those who are laboring under the notion, as I had been, that bass amps are not suitable for electronic drums, it is my reformed view that such information is misguided and obsolete.   The guitar and pro audio guys at GC advised me that most modern bass combo amps have horn tweeters and 10" woofers which produce an incredible sonic range.   Keyboard amps cannot do justice to the bottom end where e-drummers really need the deep punch.   

I love my JBL PA system; it is phenomenal and highly recommended, especially with the 18" powered sub.   On the other hand, this Fender Bassman 250/210 is a close cousin if one considers portability, power, great kick drum, shimmering cymbals, solid mids, and a smaller capital investment.   The Fender is not light by any means, but is reasonably liftable (by my scrawny physique) at 63 lbs, comes with with side handles and casters, has 2 band EQ (low and high mids), Aux IN, XLR Out, Compressor, and other buttons/functions that I probably will never use (e.g. Contour, FX, etc.).   

I was considering going the Barbetta route (e.g. 41C), but it is very expensive, hard to find/audition, and there are unsettling complaints about high end hiss as well as poor service response from the company.   I know that JE owns one and is a big fan.   That's why I researched it before deciding on the Simmons amp, which then led to the Fender. 

Anyway, while I decided to buy this Fender unit, there are many other 2 x 10" bass combo amps available that should also do the job quite nicely... 


ZenChat / Re: Using Battery 3 with Zendrum in live gig situation
« on: October 19, 2008, 07:26:31 PM »
I guess I'm relatively unsophisticated...  When a tune calls for some latin sounds, e.g. "Uncle John's Band," I just mosey over to my laptop and turn the ride cymbal off, cabasa on; rim off, guiro on; and so forth (I keep bongos/congas live on all kits).  Takes me all of 5-10 seconds and the band is never to count out the next tune that fast!   So far, that seems to be working pretty well.   If I think I want to use multiple kits on a gig, I just load them both ahead of time, the 2nd one being the one I want to start with...  When it's time to switch, I open the other kit, which seems to load much faster the 2nd time around...cached?   I would guesstimate, on my laptop, that a full Battery3 kit loads from scratch in about 10-15 seconds.  Once it has been opened, the time is cut roughly in half.   Plenty of time for most situations...  My laptop is a Dell XPS M1210 dual  core Pentium processor.  Fast, yes, but not even the latest and greatest. 


I use Garageband with my Zendrums pretty much exclusively now......but now I'm using EZDrummer as a plugin with Garageband as the host application to play through...IT ROCKS!!!!!!I  I've got lots of the add-on kits too...Nashville has an amazing brush kit...Vintage is very cool...and I just got Twisted by Michael Blair that is sick...Also the Latin Percussion is very good sounding also.,....check them out for sure...."the mayor"

Tom or others using EZDrummer:

I am always in search of better sounds, so I checked out the Toontrack site and listened to the MP3 samples for all of the expansion kits.   They do sound good (brushes were not demo'd), but in all the instrument lists that I examined, I did not see any orchestral percussion like timpani sounds.  Did I miss them or does EZDrummer not support those samples.   I am using Battery3 currently and it includes an extensive kit library, including orchestral sounds, that are pretty decent.  I need at least C and G timpani for various musicals that I play. 

Thanks, Ken.

ZenChat / Re: soundcards
« on: November 11, 2007, 10:11:01 AM »
I purchased a SIIG firewire PCMIA card and an Echo AudioFire2, which works extremely well with my Dell laptop.  No latency issues when used with Battery3.   The laptop is Dell XPS M1210 w/ 2 GB RAM running Vista. 

Ken Bour

ZenChat / Re: Software questions
« on: June 18, 2007, 08:05:52 AM »
I'm hoping to be able to play live along with either plain audio or other sequenced tracks, and also to record what I'm playing.

If you can play audio and handle the recording outside your laptop's environment, then you won't need a host sequencer.   In my case, to play along with recorded music, I run my COWON iAudio (MP3 player) into the ECHO AudioFire2's inputs and then out to headphones, an amp, or powered speaker.   That connection bypasses the laptop's CPU.  If I wanted to play along with drumless MIDI tracks, I could render them to MP3 (e.g. from Band-in-a-Box) and load them onto my iAudio device.  To record myself playing, I would have to hook up another device to the ECHO's Line OUT or, I guess, resort to a host sequencer.  I don't have that particular desire, at present, so I'll let others comment on that part.  My worry would be trying to do too much with the laptop, even a relatively high powered one like you have.  Using standalone Battery3 to play "live" drums seems to work fine with negligible latency; but, adding densely sequenced polyphonic tracks, at the same time, seems like it would overtax the laptop's I/O communications.  For just triggering drum parts via Zendrum, I have the sample buffer size set to 128 (5ms) and could probably go to 64; however, when I tried playing a sequenced production using Tracktion (one of their free samples), I had to raise the sample buffer to 320 which noticeably increased latency.  For that kind of setup, I would move to the MUSE Receptor (a.k.a. "The Freddy"), but then we're investing up into the $3+K range.  

I'm using a MacBook Pro 2.0 GHz with 1GB RAM and an Axiom 25-key MIDI controller (USB). I'm just using the on-board sound card on the laptop. Is that going to be a problem?

The laptop seems fine in terms of horse power, but how much free hard disk space do you have?  From reading other posts on this subject, sound libraries can be gargantuan in terms of GB!  The full Battery3 library, for example, is about 20 GB although it's doubtful that you would use it all.  With Battery3, you can delete the samples you don't need from your hard drive and, of course, they are always on the DVD if you ever want to reload something that was removed.  Other programs (e.g. BFD, DFH) may work the same way.  Assuming storage is OK, I'm not sure about your soundcard.  Does it even include ASIO drivers?  Mine didn't.  I ended up purchasing an external firewire audio interface (a.k.a. sound module) with ASIO 2.0 support.  There are several inexpensive models on the market.  I was steered toward the ECHO AudioFire line primarily because I needed Windows Vista compatibility.  For a MacBook, you may have several other options (e.g. Edirol, M-Audio) in the $200-300 range.  My impression is that USB 2.0 may be OK, but firewire is faster.  If you are playing your MIDI controller now and triggering SW samples, you may be OK.  You could always stay with your current soundcard/USB and, if it doesn't cut the mustard, then add firewire if your laptop doesn't have it already on the motherboard.  In my case, I added a firewire ExpressCard made by SIIG and it is definitely doing the job.  Regarding your MIDI controller, you will shortly be replacing it with the ZD!!!  As long as your soundcard or external audio interface supports MIDI (IN/OUT), you will be in business.  I just plug my ZD into the MIDI IN port of my AudioFire2 and I'm communicating with the computer via firewire.  By the way, Battery3 had no problem at all recognizing the ECHO audio interface device and enabling the ASIO/MIDI settings from inside the program. 

I am by no means a professional, and I probably won't be having any gigs (at least not for a long time), so I don't need a high-quality setup. I just want something that's relatively easy to play with and make recordings, and that won't have annoying latency.

If you have already demo'd BFD using your soundcard/USB connections/drivers and are not experiencing serious latency problems (snaps, crackles, and pops), you may be fine with your current setup.   From what I gleaned on this forum and elsewhere, ASIO drivers are a MUST and my Dell's soundcard did not support them.  YMMV. 


ZenChat / Re: Software questions
« on: June 17, 2007, 09:40:02 PM »
Welcome to the world of Zendrumming!  I have owned my instrument for about six months now and still love it.  I started by triggering a Roland TD-20 module and, while it is very good, I recently decided to take a small plunge into the realm of software samples.  I wanted something decent for a novice -- to get me started -- that wouldn't break the bank.  You might check out some of my threads to see how one person approached the problem, with lots of help from forum members. 

Clearly, there are many more knowledeable people in this group than me, but I think the solution you want/need has a lot to do with your musical purpose(s) and equipment.  For example, do you need a host sequencer?  Are you planning on recording multiple tracks and making arrangements that involve your playing the Zendrum?  If you just want to play "live" with software samples, you may find it easier to use an application that runs in standalone mode, e.g. Battery3 (which I just purchased).  Will you be using a notebook/laptop?  If so, does it have a fast processor and lots of memory (e.g. 1-2 GB)?  It sounds like you already have the audio interface and, presumably, it supports fast ASIO drivers via firewire. 

Tell us about more about your objectives and your setup and that should help the forum experts recommend solutions.  I recently asked a set of similar questions here and the help was extremely useful.  I am now up and running nicely using my ZD LT, a fast dual core Dell pentium laptop (2 GB RAM), a firewire ExpressCard (Texas Instrument chipset), the Echo Audiofire2 interface module, and software samples provided through Battery3.   Latency is around 5ms and not an issue in the slightest.  Since I have no need for a host sequencer, I am running Battery3 in standalone mode, which also lowers CPU overhead.  That was one of the reasons I picked it.  My audio interface came with Mackie's "Tracktion", but it would take me a month of Sundays just to understand the first screen!  Battery3 is confusing enough with tons of features/settings and its GUI is considered one of the easier ones to master.   


A brief (well maybe not so...) update:

1)  The SIIG firewire card installed uneventfully under Vista until I tried loading the Echo AudioFire2.  Windows would not see those drivers no matter what I tried.  I finally called Echo tech support and actually got through to a pretty helpful engineer...  He sent me the latest 4.0 driver and offered a few other suggestions, but no dice.  Finally, I noticed that the SIIG ExpressCard had installed proprietary drivers to enable the 800/400 speed capabilty (which I don't need just yet).  I then uninstalled everything and just let Windows find the firewire card and install its own drivers.   Success!   

2)  Battery3 was pretty easy to install and I was quickly able to get sounds playing through the very diminutive AudioFire2 box (a tad bigger than my Blackberry PDA).  I started with headphones (Senn HD650) and stuff was sounding very cool.  I am noticing much more life/reality in the instruments, esp. cymbals and tom ring.  Even the percussion parts sound more believable than my Roland TD-20, which is excellent in its own right.  Today, I purchased a portable Roland KC-150 amp from GC ($300) which sounds very nice with this ensemble.   It is 4-Channel with only 65 watts, but I have it set to 3 (out of 10) on the dial and can't take it any louder in my library.   The 12" woofer puts out enough bass punch for the Battery kick drums and otherwise has a nice flat response when I play music through it.   

Latency is no issue at all when I am playing "live" Zendrum via Battery in standalone mode.  As long as I disable my laptop's wireless (causes interruptions), I am able to use 128 samples at 5ms.  No clicks, pops, or other annoyances.  Flawless sound on every hit.   When I use Tracktion, I have to jack up the samples to 320 or so to avoid noise because the examples are dense with sound layers. 

I have a ton more to learn about Battery settings including modulation, pitch/volume envelopes, and a host of other things; but, overall, I am pretty satisfied with this "starter/novice" configuration.   I have modified my "KB-Tight Kit" pretty heavily and I like the way it's coming together.  I am still fiiddling with relative volume and pitch on some instruments -- which may never cease.  It seems that the snare "buzz" gives me an easier ability to play drags and rolls than Battery's "roll" function although there may be settings that I just don't know how to make yet. 

A few criticisms: 
  • I am annoyed that there is no UNDO function in Battery.  If I mess up a bunch of changes (drag/drop is very susceptible to error), I have to reload the kit and start over.  Saving frequently is a MUST (and, I guess, not such a bad idea after all). 
  • Now that I at least one kit that has some instruments I would like to copy to others, I can't find any easy way to accomplish it.  I have been loading my fav kit, copying 1-2 adjacent cells, then opening the new kit, pasting, and returning for more.   This is a clunky method for sure.  Is there an easier way? 
  • The Battery manual leaves a lot to be desired for a newbie!  I still haven't figured out how to layer yet.  I wanted to put a rim shot at velocity 120-127 on each hi-timbale and lo-timbale.  I see the Mapping section and can alter the velocity values for the samples already present, but I have no clue how to change a sample to something else (let alone figure out where it is in the cell library). 

I started building a new "KB-Old Jazz Kit" and got it working reasonably well.  It has a very different character that I like for a change of pace.  Just like my Roland TD-20, it takes quite a while to get a kit structured the way I want with a decent set of sounds and an appropriate balance.  I'm sure that I'll be working on kits for months to come... 

This laptop setup is wonderfully portable.  With a power strip, I can pretty much move anywhere in the house and be playing in minutes, esp. if I use headphones!   The Roland KC-150 only weighs 30 lbs, so it's pretty easy to handle.  I bought a 1/8" to 1/4" cable adaptor so that I can plug my Cowon iAudio into the analog line-ins on the AudioFire2.  Now, I can play along to 30GB worth of music without using any laptop CPU resources! 

Do any of you guys with Battery kits want to exchange?  Being brand new to this endeavor, I only have two to share, but I'll put all of my future work at anyone's disposal, if interested. 

That's it for now...


ZenChat / First Experiences w/ Battery3
« on: June 09, 2007, 07:16:32 PM »
Thanks to excellent assistance from Duojet, I am just now experiencing the world of SW sounds for the Zendrum on a starter budget ($400).  For those who didn't follow that thread, here's what I purchased:

1)  Firewire 800/400 Express Card ($82) for late model Dell notebook computer
2)  Echo Audiofire2 external sound module w/ ASIO and MIDI support ($195)
3)  N. I. Battery 3 ($125)

I ordered this stuff last Sunday, and all but #2 have arrived as of Sat afternoon.  So, instead of fooling around with my laptop this weekend, I took Battery3 down to my music room desktop computer, loaded it, and applied the upgrades (3.01 and 3.02).  N. I.'s licensing permits the owner to install Battery on a desktop and laptop without any restrictions.  I have an external Roland SC-D70 Sound Canvass module (w/ MIDI) on that PC and, fortunately, I was able to find a new XP driver which supports ASIO 2.0.  Attaboy, Edirol!  After setting up the audio drivers and plugging my ZD into the Roland's MIDI port, my latency is only 8-9 ms and hardly detectable!  Today, I ordered another 2GB RAM upgrade for that PC, so it can only get better...right?

For reasons I cannot justify, I started Zendrum mapping with Battery3's "Tight Kit."  I couldn't find any other way than to start at MIDI note 36 (kick drum) and work my way up the MIDI chart one at a time (maxes at 89 or so).  Finally, I was able to program each ZD trigger to a MIDI note corresponding to the way Battery has the various sounds assigned (they don't display MIDI note anywhere that I could find!).  I have no clue what will happen when I try another Battery kit!  Maybe I'll have to move the pieces around in the Battery3 cells to correspond to the MIDI assignments that I now have programmed.  I didn't see any useful help in the Battery manual regarding MIDI assignments, so forum consultation will be appreciated.  I did notice a "learn" function in Battery, which seemed to work OK, but I elected to follow their note assignments hoping that it will make adding other kits easier.  Fortunately, the ZD has 16 map possibilities, and I've only used 3 so far...

The "Tight Kit" is one of the acoustic groupings in the Battery3 ensemble.  I don't think it's their best, but I was experimenting and it just happens to be where I got started.  The toms sound much more ringy and alive compared to my Roland TD-20.  Some of that could be ambience settings, but it still sounds good.  I do love the snare's buzz/press roll capability and I assigned that one to a ZD trigger.  Battery also has the ability to vary L/R strikes on any drum to make it sound more 'human'.   So far, I have figured out how to balance the sound levels for each instrument although I am still clueless on the many other adjustments that are possible.   Time to read the manual... 

I managed to create my first saved kit:  "KB-Tight Kit" and it doesn't sound half bad.  The hi-hat sucks on that kit (IMO), the ride cymbal doesn't fit that genre, the kick drum is a bit too dead/thumpy, and I couldn't get the Snare Ruff to work at all.  Still, for one afternoon's investment, I'm liking what I hear! 

More after another day's experimentation and some education from the manual...


Thanks for all the help.  This evening I ordered the following:

  • A Dual 800/400 Firewire ExpressCard by SIIG ($82) {Planning for the future...}
  • Echo AudioFire2 Interface Unit ($195) {Entry level, MIDI I/O, small footprint}
  • N. I. Battery3 ($125) {Went for good kit selection, inclusive sound library, standalone play, low price tag}

The Echo unit comes with a host app called Tracktion, which is now on v2.  Any good or throw away? 

All of the above products included FREE shipping, so my total is just about $400.  According to the manufacturer web sites, each component is supported under Windows Vista 32-bit.   I sure hope it all works as advertised... 

Once I get some experience, I plan to try DFHS, BDF, ToonTrack, Addictive Drums, et al.  Hopefully, this approach will at least get me started in the world of SW samples for the ZD. 

I'll post my experiences once the pieces arrive -- ETA 5-7 days. 


Everyone probably knows this stuff already, but I thought I'd publish an update based on some additional research I did this morning re: Firewire...  (http://www.firewire-1394.com)

1)  There are two Firewire standards available:  400 (1394a) and 800 (1394b).   

2)  Firewire 400 comes in both 4-pin and 6-pin configurations and conversion cables are available.  For example, I could use my laptop's 1394 port, but I would need the 6-pin to 4-pin cable.  On MOTU's site, they caution that the 4-pin connector will not provide power to their audio interface; thus, it would need separate A/C.   So, maybe the 2 extra pins are for power? 

3)  Firewire 800 (9-pin design) is the latest evolution in this technology and, as the number implies, it is twice as fast as its predecessor.  The good news is that SIIG makes a Firewire 800 PCMCIA Express Card ($82) that is supported under Vista.  Now the challenge is to find a Firewire 800 audio interface.

4)  The only Firewire 800 audio interface I have found, thus far, is from RME and it is $1,500 (Yikes!) or 1/2 the cost of the Receptor.  The new Tascam FireOne interface ($300) is listed as Firewire 800 on some sites, but the owner's manual available via Tascam's website shows a 6-pin firewire port on the back panel; so I'd say NOT. 

If I find another audio interface that supports Firewire 800, I'll post it here. 


ZenChat / Re: Still Lovin' my ZD-LT, but...
« on: June 03, 2007, 07:37:20 AM »

Wow!  Very thoughtful comments.  I read it twice! 

I am in the process now of trying to incorporate SW-based samples vs. my TD-20 for added acoustic realism.  Although I'd hate to lug it around, I do have sound gear that can crank out some volume (Twin JBL EON 15" G2's plus JBL 18" Sub).  I appreciate the advise related to the 'groove.'   I tend not to be all over the ZD even though there are 23 buttons within easy reach.  It can be temping to throw too much stuff into any groove; but, to my ears, that doesn't sound pleasing.  For rock/pop, I try to emulate what the original drummer did on the track.  That approach tends to keep me grounded and playing straightforward and recognizable patterns with fills that fit into the space available. 

It's nice to know that, in the final analysis, competence, sound, and professionalism will ultimately persuade the doubters. 

Thanks again for taking the time to thoroughly answer my questions. 


Thanks, Duojet, I think I am starting to get it. 

I don't have WaveRT drivers on my internal sound card, so that's out.  I just noticed on my laptop that there is a port labeled "1394."  I didn't recognize it as "firewire," but the Echo unit that you recommended says, "FireWire (IEEE 1394a) interface with 8' cable."   Is that the same thing?  The female connector on my laptop looks like it only has 4 pins vs. 6 that are listed on the Echo specs.  Maybe I do need that PCMCIA card after all?  I found several on the internet between $30-50 that should do the trick.  I do see on Echo's site that Vista is supported for the AudioFire2 unit.  If firewire is faster than USB 2.0, then that's the way I want to go. 

Given your experience with the various SW applications (DFH, BFD, Battery, et al.), do you have a suggestion for me, esp. knowing that I'm running Vista?  My primary criteria are realistic acoustic sounds (need drums and percussion) and lowest possible latency.  BTW, nice price on Battery 3 at Nova Music!  I suppose if I picked up Reaper, I could start load Battery3 as a plug-in and then add DFH, BFD, Addictive Drums, et. al. down the road?  Are you using Reaper as your host? 

With only 30 GB free on my laptop, will I have enough space to operate?  I don't need to load every sample, of course.  I'll end up with favorites and the great majority of stuff can remain on the original media or, alternatively, I could load everthing on my library computer (HP Desktop also running Vista) and just copy the good stuff to my laptop once I figure out what they are. 

Thanks again,


P.S.  When I visited the Freddy site, recently, I checked out the instrument samples for BFD's Percussion pack and did not see timbales listed.  After your comment, I went back and found them this time = Slingerlands!  Thanks.

RE:  Above post...

I just noticed on Native Instrument's web site that the Kore2 product, which replaces Kore1, no longer contains an audiio interface and, from what I can discern by reading their community forum posts, the Kore1 audio interface had/has numerous problems.  That's probably why they dropped it from the next gen product.   So, Kore is not an option! 


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