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...