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Messages - SWriverstone

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User Reviews / Re: Battery 3
« on: January 27, 2008, 12:34:32 PM »
Just got Battery 3 the other day. Installation took a while (two DVD's worth of samples!), and I had no problem with activation.

I've been going through the Battery 3 samples sets...and all I can say is that I'm BLOWN AWAY. Native Instruments did an outstanding job. I've particularly been impressed with the world percussion samples. I spent 20 minutes just playing the Asian gongs, water gongs, tam-tams, temple bowls, etc. Incredible!

I haven't heard BFD so can't compare...but after hearing Battery 3, I can only say that the "quality curve" is definitely flattening out. We've reached a point where improvements in any given sample set or software will be very, very small—because they're outstanding already! A few years back, I thought the HandSonic set a new standard for percussion samples...but Battery 3's samples surpass the HandSonic by far.

Now I'm DYING to get my Zendrum...which hopefully will ship this coming week! Together with Battery 3, I'm just buzzin' with the potential!  ;D


User Reviews / Re: Battery 3
« on: January 22, 2008, 05:32:04 PM »
Hey guys...one more question about Battery 3 ('cause I can't seem to find this info on the N.I. website anywhere)...regarding the 12GB sample set...did they do a pretty good job multisampling the various kit instruments? (Did they do it at all?) I'm wondering how good the dynamic response (soft to loud) is?

I'm guessing they might not have multisampled with several different mic setups (ala BFD)...but I'm hoping there are at least 3-4 diff. sample layers per instrument?


ZenChat / Re: First Experiences w/ Battery3
« on: January 21, 2008, 10:43:06 AM »
Thanks for the report kbour. I plan to use my Zendrum with Battery 3 as well, so I'm very interested in your experiences!

So let me get this straight...can the sample kits in Battery 3 only be used as a whole kit, mapped the way N.I. did it? Or can you access all the individual samples (e.g. pick a tom from this kit, a snare from that kit, etc.) and reassemble them into your own custom kit? I'm counting on being able to do the latter!

Secondly, it sounds like from what you guys are saying that Battery does not allow you to see MIDI note #'s assigned to individual cells? That's crazy!!! Are you sure there's no way to get this info?

What I'm imagining doing is creating a custom cell layout with exactly 24 cells (I think that's how many buttons the Zendrum has?), then just assign each of the Zendrum's MIDI note #'s to a corresponding cell in Battery. Then I'd just use this as a "template" and start building kits by dropping samples into the cells.

Will this work?


User Reviews / Re: Battery 3
« on: January 18, 2008, 08:12:06 PM »
Hey Timecutter and Zennerman...

I've been doing some more research online into Battery 3, and I'm starting to find all kinds of people griping about Native Instruments product activation and the Service Center...people saying they couldn't activate the product...that the Service Center makes using it a pain, etc.

Have either of you guys had any issues with this? Or is this a case of people whining about nothing?


User Reviews / Re: Battery 3
« on: January 18, 2008, 03:29:51 PM »
Hey all...thanks for the info on Battery 3. Zenkat, I have an older PC laptop, Pentium 4, 3ghz (WinXP) with an Echo Indigo PCMCIA card interface---I've been getting latency in the 3-4ms range just using standard MIDI keyboard controllers with software like Reason and Kontakt.

In my experience, the power of the processor isn't nearly as important as the interface and the amount of RAM you have. (Of course newer faster processors certainly help, but aren't necessary).

I was just listening to the Battery 3 sample collections on the NI website (the little MP3 player)...and I was impressed at the wide range of samples they include, such as African and North Indian percussion, orchestral percussion, etc. (in addition to the endless variations on drumkits!). And as Zennerman pointed out, I already have piles of my own samples, so being able to use those is a big plus!


Tech Help / Re: Opinions on Battery 3 with Zendrum?
« on: January 18, 2008, 03:22:57 PM »
DOH! Thanks. (Missed that before...)

Tech Help / Re: How many velocity layers are practical?
« on: January 18, 2008, 03:22:06 PM »
I'll have to check out fxpansion's site and see if there's a way to hear everything in BFD. I just spent some time listening to the sample sets in Battery 3 (as an ensemble, via the MP3 player on their site) and was impressed with the range of samples in the package---the African and North Indian samples sounded pretty good (I'm sure there are better ones out there, but these sounded pretty good in the context of the sequences they used in the demo!) So it seems to be a really good collection for the money.


EDIT: BFD does sound fantastic...but I definitely want/need the ability to load in my own samples...so Battery 3 still seems like the best choice for me. I'd also add that having the extensively detailed ability to mix various mic positions, etc. is great...but far more than I need right now!

Tech Help / Re: How many velocity layers are practical?
« on: January 18, 2008, 01:39:01 PM »
More good words loosesnare.  :) check out my other post on Battery 3. I'd love to pick up BFD...but as I mentioned in the other post, I'm broke!  :-\ (As in "I've already stretched myself so thin that one more big purchase, even on the credit card, will break me!") I can't even afford the $300 that BFD costs right now (and for what it is I *do* think it is very reasonably priced!). Hence my decision to go with the $160 Battery 3.

I think one of the unavoidable difficulties with big, realistic sample sets is that they take time to get to know and use well. Developers have come a long way toward making all this easier...but for me anyway, it's important to remember that even the time it takes to learn an app like Battery 3 or BFD is time away from actually making music! (I know, you get beyond all that eventually...but then new stuff comes out, and you're back on the learning curve again!)

Put differently...the countless thousands upon thousands of hours I've spent with MIDI and hardware/software come closer every year to just making me want to say "Screw it!" and ditch it all and go back to just playing a djembe.  ;D (But don't worry---I plan to enjoy the Zendrum!)

One question I do have for John E. or others...what I'd REALLY love to have in a virtual instrument (if it exists, I'm not aware of it) is a top-notch, super-realistic set of world drum samples: particularly Indian percussion such as tabla (the full spread of sounds), dhol, dholak, mrdangam, kanjira, etc. I've found that these are often left out of world percussion kits, presumably because not just anyone can play these instruments well---you need to find someone who is a guru to come into the studio!

I'd also love a super-detailed sample set of gamelan instruments---another difficult one because there aren't exactly lots of gamelans lying around in people's basements. LOL


Tech Help / Opinions on Battery 3 with Zendrum?
« on: January 18, 2008, 01:24:34 PM »
Hi All:

I've already decided that my laptop will be my "sound engine" for use with the Zendrum, at least until I can afford a good hardware module. I'm reformatting it, tweaking it to WinXP "stripped-down perfection" (at least as close as you can come), and upgrading RAM to 2GB. I have an Echo Indigo PCMCIA card (ASIO) that works really well and has super-low latency.

So that leaves software. I have Kontakt 2 and Reason 2 (NNXT) as far as samplers go...but I'm considering picking up Battery 3. I think using Kontakt or NNXT just for Zendrum kits is a little overkill...plus I like the Battery 3 interface---it's easier and faster to use just for programming drum/percussion kits.

I've certainly considered BFD and others, but my decision to go with Battery 3 is based mainly on cost---Nova Musik has it for $160...and I'm on a TIGHT budget for a while! So Battery 3 appears to be the best thing going in terms of value. (Features versus cost.) I'm not even that interested in the sample sets that come with it (or any other virtual instruments) because I have thousands of samples I've collected over the years, and enjoy assembling my own sample kits from scratch.

If anyone else here is using Battery 3 (or v2) with the Zendrum, I'd love to hear about it. Is it working well for you? Any particular likes/dislikes? Any "gotchas" to be aware of?


Tech Help / Re: How many velocity layers are practical?
« on: January 18, 2008, 09:42:41 AM »
Great response loosesnare! And I agree with everything you said. It's good to hear that the Zendrum is capable of maximizing any sample set---can't wait to play with it! And you're absolutely right about context---that's everything.

I forgot to mention round robin variations per-note in my first post, but yes---that's a good thing to have. Interestingly (and I say this at risk of sounding snobbish) one of the biggest goals (in my experience) of classically-trained percussionists is to minimize the difference in sound between left/right hands as much as possible (mainly by practicing endlessly until you literally don't have a "weak" and "strong" hand anymore and routinely alternate between starting licks with left and right hands). Playing timpani, for example, I developed a technique over years and years where I actually strike the head in almost the identical spot for every stroke, even when rolling. Obviously achieving perfect "sound unity" is impossible...but I've noticed that the difference in left/right positional sound variations depends a lot on the skill of the drummer! (I've seen some drummers that don't even seem to notice that one hand is 1" from the rim and the other is in the center of the head! LOL)

But back to the point, in playing the Roland Handsonic for several years, I (like you) just adapted to the more limited expressiveness of an electronic instrument...and instead (in a very Zen-like way!) focused on working with the strengths of an electronic instrument (diversity of sounds, for example) and also tried to be unique not through the "realism" of sounds...but through the rhythms I played.

I was flipping through the latest issue of "Sound On Sound" magazine (a most excellent e-music publication, BTW!) and read a review of the "Mixosaurus" virtual drums. I have to say, I think this thing is going too far---it's a sample set for a single acoustic drum kit (one snare, one hi-hat, 4 toms, one BD) that (get this) comes on its own external hard drive! It's 160GB of samples!!! I mean, I understand the desire to produce high-quality sample sets...but where does it all end? Seems to me when you've reached a sample set of 160GB for one instrument, you seriously need to just go play the real thing! LOL

I might also suggest that if you're relying on the quality and depth of a sample set to make you a good drummer, you're missing the point!  ;)


Tech Help / How many velocity layers are practical?
« on: January 18, 2008, 07:07:39 AM »
I'm working on some sample sets while waiting on my Zendrum. My initial plan is to use Kontakt 2 on my laptop with an Echo Indigo PCMCIA card (with ASIO). I'm wondering how many velocity layers are realistic for the Zendrum?

I ask because, not being familiar with the Zendrum's sensitivity, I don't know how sensitive (and more importantly, how subtle) the dynamic sensitivity of the pads (or do you call them buttons?) are.

I think with MIDI controllers in general, people often get a little carried away with velocity layers---in the sense that some sample sets I've seen simply exceed the velocity "granularity" that a given controller is capable of.

I'm not familiar with BFD and some of the other good virtual instruments, so don't know how those sample sets are constructed.

So basically, do most people find they can easily and repeatedly produce _____ dynamic levels? 3? 4? Or actually more than 4?

In my experience with other controllers, I've found that going with 4 velocity layers provides a sound that's realistic/sensitive enough for me (in musical terms, levels for p, mf, f, and ff).

Of course I can construct samples with ppp, pp, p, mp, mf, f, ff, and fff per-note...but I think that's getting a bit silly!  :)


ZenChat / Re: How many use a laptop for live performance?
« on: January 17, 2008, 05:26:30 AM »
I guess I tend to play in more "tame" venues than you guys...because I've never once even come close to having to worry about spilled beer, people puking, fights, chairs being thrown, etc. LOL

The places I play tend to be the kind of place where I could leave my whole setup unattended for an hour, and when I came back find one drumstick moved and a note saying "Your stick fell on the floor---I put it back for you." LOL

Maybe the Zendrum will open up some of those more "brawling" establishments for me...LOL.


ZenChat / Re: Ordering a ZX Monday! (Moving on from HandSonic...)
« on: January 14, 2008, 05:07:12 PM »
WOOHOO! Talked to David Haney today, placed my order, and shipped payment!

I must say it was a real pleasure talking with David. From our conversation, it was obvious that Zendrums are finely crafted by a few people who really care about the instruments---quite a difference from going to the local "Electro-Music-Mega-Store" and picking up a mass-manufactured instrument from a ceiling-high stack of them!  :)

David took time to tell me about the preparation and finishing of the wood body for the Zendrum, and even said he had a single piece of flame maple large enough for the whole body---fantastic! (I ordered the Honey Sunburst Flame Maple finish.)

So now begins the painful waiting period...but I know it'll be worth it!


ZenChat / Re: How many use a laptop for live performance?
« on: January 14, 2008, 09:38:43 AM »
Good comments Bruce. I've never looked into a rack-mount PC, but that's a good idea.

It's surprising how tough some laptops are. I hauled my HP Pavilion laptop on a 5,000-mile motorcycle trip (including dirt roads) to Newfoundland, carrying it in a sidecase on the bike wrapped in a fleece jacket...and it survived the trip fine. I figure that's a lot more abuse than it'll ever see at a gig! LOL

Another tool I've found invaluable is Acronis TrueImage---it's a hard disk mirroring/cloning app (similar to Norton Ghost but far superior) that has changed my computing life! I reformat my Windows PC's, intall my apps, tweak everything to perfection, then mirror the whole setup. If at any point the system becomes unstable (or virus/spyware-infected), I just break out the mirror image and restore it to a pristine state---it literally takes about 10 minutes. Amazing, and fantastic!


ZenChat / Re: How many use a laptop for live performance?
« on: January 14, 2008, 07:27:29 AM »

If you want the functionality of a laptop and a reliable rig, there is no better choicethan the Muse Receptor.  MANY more details can be found in these forums...check 'em out!


Oh believe me...I know all about the Muse Receptor. But frankly, I think the price point for those things is WAY too high for what they are. I don't know if it's because they routinely sell them to rich rock stars? Or that they sell so few of them they've got to recoup development costs...but it'll be a while before I plunk down $2K for rack-mount box. (But admittedly I might be forced to do it sooner or later.)

I'm a pretty hardcore "Windows Tweaker" and am pretty good at stripping a Windows install down to the bare bones, so laptop reliability isn't too much of a concern for me...but the fragility is an issue, definitely.

If I could find a used Muse Receptor for $1,000 I'd buy one...but like the Zendrum, the only people who buy them seem to know their value and hang on to them!


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