Zendrum Stuff > I don't have a Zendrum, but...

The boss finally said YES!

(1/2) > >>

After drooling over the Zens for several years, the boss finally said YES!   I placed my order for a Birdseye Maple ZX today.  I can't wait for it to arrive.  In the meantime I am contemplating my setup possibilities.  I am primarily a multi-percussionist used to lugging lots of acoustic instruments from gig to gig.  I have recently added some electronics including a Roland HPD-10 and and an SPD-20.  I am also very fluent in Macs, having done some DJing on the side using my MBP and Ableton Live.  My primary reason for going Zen is to simplify my rig, reduce the stress on my back, and finally get out from behind all the gear. 

After looking over lots of data and reading many of the wonderful posts on the forums, I am looking at two basic setups. 

1.  My ZX will be wireless so I will plug the MIDIJet receiver into a Motu Fastlane.  I will plug a Roland FC-300 into the other side of the Fastlane.  The USB output goes to my MBP where I will run Ableton using various plugins.  My Motu Ultralite will handle the audio outs to the mix.  I've been looking at Superior Drummer and it seems to be the best choice of the software drum modules.  I've also played with Reason, but I'm not sure if that is a good fit.  I just recently saw a post about YellowTools Culture and that looks very interesting.  Its also the cheapest of the bunch.  About a year ago I tried BFD and wasn't that impressed.  I am interested in what you think of these choices?

2.  Since I have an SPD-20, I may try going the hardware route, (although I hate the idea of lugging it around.)  Since I have three Midi devices in this setup, I was thinking of picking up a used Motu Timepiece.  I would plug the MIDIjet receiver, the FC-300, and the SPD-20 into the Timepiece.  The SPD-20 would handle the outputs to the mix.

My primary goal here is flexibility and minimum pieces of gear to lug.  Any thoughts from the tribe?


Pocket Master:
I use Superior Drummer and I love it.  It sounds like you have a great plan.  I also use an FC-300, mainly for volume control and to control any melodic sounds I may use.  I am still learning how to integrate all of the functions that it offers into my setup.  I am also using a MacBook Pro to run SD2 through GarageBand.  Are you looking at playing out live or doing the studio thing?  If you are going to be playing out, I would invest in a good rig for sound.  I was using a keyboard amp but just upgraded to a JBL powered cabinet that I can put on a stand.  Using the amp was great, but it was on the floor and had issues projecting the sound if I wasn't playing through the main PA (Some of the groups I play with only use the PA for vocals).  I got the JBL's so I can elevate and daisy chain to additional cabinets if I want to.

I am interested to know how you are going to use your FC-300 for your rig.  The ZX does not have a MIDI input, only output, so you cannot control the ZX with the FC-300, only the software or module you are using.  Also know (if you didn't already) that the FC-300 does not have a MIDI thru, only and out, so you cannot run the ZX MIDI out to the FC-300 MIDI in, and then FC-300 MIDI out to your sound source and have it work because the ZX will not be recognized by the sound source.  You would have to get something like a MIDI merge brick from MIDI solutions with multiple MIDI in's and one MIDI out.  I picked one up for $50 at Guitar Center.  I am not very educated on the MOTU timepiece you mentioned, but if it acts like a merge brick it should work just fine.

What part of the world do you live in?  You may have other Zendrummers living next to you or within a short driving distance to get together and bounce ideas off of.


Hi Rob.
I play live gigs with a couple of bands in the Orlando, FL area.  I first saw a Zendrum played at Mo Rockin at Epcot.  I was blown away by the sounds they were getting out of the thing and of course I had to run up after the show and ask where the heck the sound was coming from.  Since then, I've probably seen them 50 times or more (the Boss loves Epcot.) I currently lug around a bunch of acoustic drums and world percussion that I setup on a DW rack and LP table.  After many years, my back is finally saying no to all of this, so I am looking for simple and light.  I won't dump all of my existing stuff immediately, but I hope to be playing it alot less.

What I was hoping to do with the FC-300 was control the volume of individual clips and scenes in Ableton using the two pedals.  I also want to be able to use the switches on the FC-300 to scroll clips and to control my looping.  I think it will work, but its bound to be time consuming to set it up.  I do some of this today with a Novation controller and a padKONTROL. Both the Fastlane and the Timepiece allow multiple MIDI ins and outs so I should be able to route the MIDI signals properly. As long as Ableton can see them, I think I will be ok.  I am a believer in MOTU having gigged with an Ultralite for almost 3 years now.  I've also never had an issue with my MBP, but I do have a spare just in case. 

I just sold my live PA system as the band I'm in has another and mine was gathering dust.  We use EV mains and and subs and we use an Aviom in-ear monitoring system.  It all runs through a Yamaha digital board and all the dbx toys.   For solo gigs I have a Roland KC-350 keyboard amp that I will probably use until I can afford a Bose L1 system.  The L1s don't have alot of low end so I will definitely get a couple of the sub modules to go with it.

What was the learning curve for SD2?  Do you have the Latin Percussion add-on pack?  How are the sounds?  I am good with Ableton and I have rewired Reason with it.  I have very little experience beyond that.  I have an old copy of Logic and I've poked around with Garageband but I've never gotten serious about it.


Great news - and a great boss by the sound of it!
I use SD 2 as well and it is pretty straightforward to set up with a Zendrum (esp with the Z4 hardware).  SD2 has a learning curve though - you can tweak the living daylights out of everything, both sound parameter and control parameter-wise.  I have defaulted to mainly using presets that you can buy from Toontrack as starting points for the included Allaire Kit - they save so much time if you are not a drum recording guru.  However, you can adjust so much it pays to mess around a little.  I play it via Solo which is TT's standalone host and it works well.  Plugged-in as a vst in Sonar 8.5 is great too.
Each pad on the zen can be individually set for preference in playing style AND each kit piece on SD2 can be similarly adjusted = amazing flexibility for individual players.  You will love it.  There are deals out there at the moment whereby if you buy SD2 you get a free SDX add-on included - just search the net.
I also use Yellow Tools "Culture" which I recently purchased.  I previously used the Latin Percussion add-on from TT hosted in SD2 but having played Culture I prefer it.  Again, setting up with the Zendrum is straightforward and playing is very natural sounding.  There is a good range of percussion and industrial instruments to choose from.  One of my set ups has congas sending on midi channel 11, eggs on 12 and tambourine on 13 whilst changing to the next programme on the Zen allows me to play S2 on channel 10.  Great stuff!
However, Yellow Tools is a bit buggy, it's support is infamous for being poor (a polite euphemism indeed), the installation routine is complicated and tedious, the support is poor, the interface takes some learning and the support is poor!  You really take a risk with them possibly disappearing as a business since they appear to be  undermanned and under pressure.  I was willing to take that risk with the view that I may not get future support.  The sound  are great!
All the best.

Pocket Master:
SD2 for me was very easy to use and learn.  I am still learning tricks as I go, but I stopped using SD2 with the standalone Solo program that Toontrack offers and started using it as a VST through GarageBand on my MacBook Pro.  The sounds were great right out of the box, I do have the Latin Percussion add-on and I am very happy with it.  I use the congas layered with shakers all of the time, I do that through the MIDI Node function within SD2.  I don't use the crossfade function on the Zendrum at all, unless I am going to use a module like my TD-6V, then I need to use the crossfade function.  As I understand, since you are getting the Z4 chip, you could use the Zenedit program and setup your crossfades within it, then import the settings into your ZX for a really great effect.  I am going down to Atlanta the first week of January and another Zendrummer, Dr. Shark, has the Zenedit program and we are going to really see what we can do with it since I am upgrading to the Z4 at the time.  Sounds like you have the plan down, I found that there is no right or wrong way to play the Zendrum, just your way.  Everyone is different and has different styles of playing.  I mainly use my FC-300 for volume control now, I can use it to control sequences if I hook up my TD-6 or a MIDI keyboard into the mix, but I am not that far yet, one day.

FYI----Toontrack is offering 50% most software until December 31st.  You may want to check that out, SD2 comes with the Avatar Kit, which is great, but they have so many other kits that are just as great.  When you buy SD2, it comes with disks for all of the kits availalble, you can load them all on but cannot access the add ons until you go online and buy the kit, it gives you an access code to type in and then you are good to go.

Welcome to the tribe!!


P.S. I live in St. Louis, so if you are ever in the area, let me know and we can get together.


[0] Message Index

[#] Next page

Go to full version