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Author Topic: My BFD/MUSE Breakthrough  (Read 4130 times)

Inspector 109

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My BFD/MUSE Breakthrough
« on: May 23, 2007, 07:11:21 AM »

I have been looking for the perfect thing to use for Zendrum sounds for over 16 years.

The weak link has always been what the Zendrum got plugged into. The Zendrum has been the most roadworthy piece of gear I’ve ever owned and does exactly what I expect it to…every time…but the net effect has never been better than the sounds themselves, limited by the drum samples and voice polyphony of past and current drum modules and rack-mount samplers. This has become the main deciding factor for choosing whether to use Zendrum or acoustic drums on the gigs I play. Sometimes it’s so much easier to express what I want to hear using my acoustic kit with all the subtleties and ghost notes, in-between the big bombs of beat, rather than to fight with one-shot drum sounds with limited dynamic range. I always assumed it was more a technique issue with my personal Zendrum chops (I'm no Futureman) and I figured I was just kidding myself all this time that I could ever master the dexterity and skill needed to move between acoustic kit and Zendrum without losing some of the artistry and musical grace of my kit drumming. It’s obvious that the practical aspects of the Zendrum outweigh making some compromises, and there are many live situations I go into where acoustic drums don’t suit, but it has been frustrating to be this close to a better mousetrap and still have to wait on the sonic elements to catch up to complete the total system. Again, the net effect has only been as good as the drum sounds have been.

I began a few years ago by looking into which laptop computers would run drum software libraries. Something extremely sturdy, like what the 101st Airborne would take on a combat mission, that would stand up to the rock and roll realities I have to deal with onstage. Just like early on in Zendrum's history, the response from experts to my inquiry was, “Why would you want to do that?”  They just didn’t get it that the speed of response and roadworthiness of the high-end laptop computer had to be up to the standard set by the Zendrum and the demands of my working band.  The answers always came back: “Software is used in stationary studio environments by keyboardists who factor-in the inherent latency of key action to the drum sounds they trigger. The tower computer required and peripheral parts are not portable, indestructible, or friendly to deal with, especially for someone who would rather hit things than learn to program them.” After throwing lots of money and time into it I became convinced that the day had not yet arrived when my application was important enough for anything significant to change.

About a year ago I bought (as an anonymous sale) a Receptor unit through the Muse official website in hopes of being able to review and recommend it to Zendrummers as the obvious alternative to the Roland TD-20 kits selling at $5500. At that point in time, there were only two distributors listed on the Muse site, for East and West coast. My costly experiment proved to be unbelievably frustrating because the distributor’s tech support was flippant, the installers hadn’t been invented yet for the BFD software, and I had to learn networking computers together just to load the software and sounds. I had to download, print, and bind the 200 page Receptor manual, and figure out how to protect the exposed USB key dangling from the front panel (the USB key has since been moved inside the metal case now). After weeks spent getting nowhere with this on my own, and hiring a computer tech who also had no success, I was told I should ship the Receptor back for repair. Muse support didn’t understand the Zendrum/BFD application I was after. It turned out that there was nothing wrong with the Receptor, so there was no help coming at all from anywhere: a 100% complete and total failure at every level. I never got as far as taking it onstage with me even once. I can’t say enough negative things about that experience and would warn anyone against following my uncharted path, although a few adventurous Zendrummers did buy and “instantiate” Receptors successfully- probably because they were more computer savvy than I was to begin with and had more patience for reading and assimilating Muse’s technical manual language. Primarily, it made ME feel stupid.

John Emrich has been a Zendrummer for well over ten years and had already created the Jazz and Funk library for BFD. He understood my frustration and vowed to create a solution for Receptor that people could use without fear and loathing of the gear or the learning curve involved. He then set about establishing a system requirement protocol and easy to understand instructions where all the initial installation was done for you, so you could plug-and-play BFD kits first day with the Zendrum’s simple MIDI interface. He found interested partners and financial backing, set up a company and website, and began customizing Receptors and thoroughly testing them out before delivery. That is the key element here: The Freddy units are personally configured by John, himself. He’s a life-long professional drummer/sound designer, and cares about the success of this product the same way I do about the Zendrum:  the bottom-line guy who knows that what matters most is- each satisfied customer. Currently, John is the only person I feel is qualified to tech support a Zendrum-based Muse Receptor/BFD system.

I can say for certain now that the Freddy system is equal to the Zendrum’s potential.
I’ve played it out with my band for a few gigs, and its solid performance and eye-popping realism are making a believer of me and the rest of the band, very quickly. I’m still tweaking things to optimize my live sound but I’m convinced that if I can understand the operating system and extensive editing capability of BFD- you can, too. All I needed was a simple starting point to work from, so I could focus on personalizing the kits to suit my musical needs. I’ve adjusted the sensitivity of every Zendrum trigger’s interaction with each sound on every drumkit and stored them as named patches, called up from the Receptor’s front panel.  It’s almost as if I’m starting completely over with my technique because now there’s so much dynamic expression within the sounds themselves, being triggered under my hands.

John Emrich’s group has created a turn-key product that anyone can implement, and it makes the Zendrum as real and expressive an instrument as any traditional drumset will ever be. In fact, it’s far better than my acoustic drums can sound without using expensive microphones and processing in a perfect studio room environment, and I can play chops on my Zendrum now that I could never play on my 1937 Radio King Slingerland kit. Gone are the days of the “machine-gun” snare sound with the old drum module. Every note I play is slightly different and the total experience is like watching a video instead of looking at a Polaroid snapshot of the sounds. In a word: “Lifelike.”

It’s back to the practice room and more hours spent woodshedding for me, but it's incredibly exciting to feel that this level of Zendrum mastery is finally within my reach. For me, that’s the realization of the 16 years of Zendrum’s potential- to have the sounds be this great with the undeniable practicality of the completely mobile drumset. It’s finally here. The Freddy Turbo Muse Receptor/BFD software combination is everything I could want in terms of detailed nuance and playability. It makes the Zendrum the perfect vehicle for triggering every sound that a drumset can make, plus an unlimited palette of other instruments in a traveling package that I can deal with onstage, night after night. 

I recommend that you buy your Receptor unit directly through the Freddy.com site, only. ( http://www.the-freddy.com/ is the link - Geo ) You’ll get a certified and tested unit with the software and sound library completely installed and ready to run, and a knowledgeable, experienced, and personally involved Zendrummer to follow through for your entire system’s technical support.

If what you want is no compromise drum and percussion for the Zendrum, this is it.
Two thumbs UP to John and Freddy for a job well done.

David Haney
« Last Edit: May 23, 2007, 07:41:20 AM by Geosphere »
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David Haney
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Geosphere

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Re: My BFD/MUSE Breakthrough
« Reply #1 on: May 23, 2007, 07:51:06 AM »

I'll be calling you and putting my wife on the phone so you can try to explain to her why I need this, OK, Dave?
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tomtato

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Re: My BFD/MUSE Breakthrough
« Reply #2 on: May 23, 2007, 07:52:51 AM »

Thanks David.  I've been hoping someone I trust totally would come up with a truely better way.  I've used Alesis from day one and have always wanted more dynamics and range.  It sounds like John has the ticket.  It's time to give the RKs a rest.  Where's my checkbook?

Tomtato
Tom Pettit
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Michael Render

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Re: My BFD/MUSE Breakthrough
« Reply #3 on: May 23, 2007, 08:10:00 AM »

Wow, where was that when I was buying my Receptor. That is the setup of my dreams.
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Inspector 109

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Re: My BFD/MUSE Breakthrough
« Reply #4 on: May 24, 2007, 07:20:33 AM »

Michael-
That's what I said, too! " Where was this?!"
Anything less is like having to learn to build the car before you can drive it.
A few pioneers can hack through that jungle, but all I wanted was to PLAY SOME TUNES.
John's the perfect mix of drummer and technician to break it down for the rest of us.
Freddy's also had the foresight to set up financing options too, and they seem to be trying very hard to "do everything the right way".
More power to them!
109
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Re: My BFD/MUSE Breakthrough
« Reply #5 on: May 25, 2007, 01:21:43 PM »

109,

You just brought a tear to my eye.  We should get together and cry over it sometime!  (For joy, of course!)

I bought my Receptor on July 4 06.  I just about killed myself and several other people in the process of trying to figure out, with seemingly NO help on any side, how to make the thing that I had just spend BIG bucks on work for me.  Like David, my ear is too well-attuned to be happy with any of the drum modules out there.  I was the guy who had a pre-order in every time Roland or Alesis came out with a new mod.  Each was always better than the last, but never what I wanted.  Then along came the Receptor, and its lofty promises of freedom from those issues, without the headaches of on-stage computers.

I got DFH (4 separate libraries) right away, and then the troubles began.  I will not bore you with the details, but let me say that NO ONE on planet Earth seemed to have the answer to the one burning question that was keeping me up nights: IF AUTO-LOAD IS ON, WHY WON'T THE DAMN THING LOAD MY KITS????  (If you are having this issue with DFH, all you have to do is make sure you are saving when it's in the MAIN menu mode, NOT the build menu).  Anyway, long story short, it was a month of serious stress before I could even play the thing.  But, OH THE SOUNDS I was hearing between my swear words!  It sounded like DRUMS in there!  I knew I could get what I wanted after all this time...

Enter my now-friend John Emrich.  David got me in touch with him, and John is now my e-drum buddy.  John (very diplomatically) informed me that BFD may meet my needs better than DFH (not trying to advertise here, folks...just my opinion) and he is solely responsible for the fact that I can network my Receptor with my PC.  (NOT a user-friendly process, in my opinion!)  I did not buy BFD, but continued using DFH.  I had been using it exclusively for about 8 months.  I got MAJOR compliments from all kinds of folks on my drum sound...some even saying it sounds BETTER than real drums (which it does).  The issue now was, some kind of funkiness with DFH (some people call it Bad Load syndrome) was making the kit-loading process unstable...it occasionally locked up on me.  So, I was forced to build a kit that sounds killer, and stick with it all night (in some ways defeating the purpose of playing e-drums).

So a month ago I'm complaining to J. Emrich again, and it seems that every complaint that I have can be fixed if I'd just jump ship and make the move to BFD.  You may have noticed that the price dropped to $199 recently...so I bought it.  And again, a (small) headache...

For whatever reason, my particular copy had NO SERIAL NUMBER.  Stress, stress, stress.  of course I just assumed I was an idiot and couldn't find it...and who did I call?  JE was there again to help me get that ironed out.  I did successfully install BFD (with no help...finally!) when I got the serial.

So here I am with both DFH and BFD in my Receptor, and (again, this is not an ad) I have to say...BFD is the one for me.  The interface is killer, the sounds are great (but I need to buy more of them!) and the Midi control features are unparallelled.  There are velocity curve settings for EVERY sound (which I have always wanted), instant control of direct vs. room mix, flexible kit-piece placement (which I have always missed from back in the Alesis days), realistic tuning and dampening, and a host of other incredible features.  AND, I can load my kits in half the time with 100% (so far) stability.  If I had had BFD to start with, I think I'd have less gray hair today!

Guys, I am not trying to sell you on the Receptor OR BFD...but if you ask my advice, here it is: GET THEM.  And then introduce yourself to John.  Tell him I sent you.

Bottom line: in my experience, there is no better system for your Zendrum than BFD in a Receptor.  Get one!

And John, if you are reading this, you are the Guru and a damn fine human being for sharing all that hard-won knowledge with the masses!

Jeremy Slead
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kunkyape

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Re: My BFD/MUSE Breakthrough
« Reply #6 on: June 10, 2007, 04:41:51 PM »

Guys, I have just read all your comments and completely agree with all that you have said. I had been SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO frustrated when I first got my Receptor through a distributor in the UK, but the problem was is that he is not a drummer and I struggled to get the most out of BFD.

I was asking John for some advice on the forum and he thought I was getting led up the garden path to which I was to a degree.

I should have gone for the Freddy but I think I ordered mine before the Freddy was finally launched.

I have now got BFD Percussion and Jazz and Funk and just installed percussion tonight but I am getting there with it now, just takes so long to make up kits, especially when layering with other programs like kontakt 2 but the results are amazing!!!

The other thing that is not ideal is that there is NO support for this at all in the UK, I estimate there are less than 100 zendrummers in the UK and Zendrummers with a receptor????? I reckon that must be in single digits!!!!!

I need John Emrich in the UK for a week!!!!!

Right, now back to making up some tasty kits............
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john emrich

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Re: My BFD/MUSE Breakthrough
« Reply #7 on: June 10, 2007, 04:51:32 PM »

I will be in London for one week in August!  PM me and maybe we can get together to look at your problems!

John
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John Emrich
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Re: My BFD/MUSE Breakthrough
« Reply #8 on: June 13, 2007, 06:58:33 AM »

Avast Thar Mateys,

    I had the honor and priviledge to have John come to my humble home (as well as several other notable Zendrumming personalities (refer to the MD get-together thread).  john brought his equipment with him and I am amazed by his skill and dedication to his craft.  I know I could never acheive his level of sophisitication and expertise even if I had a muse receptor (I have to sell me Pyrate ship to afford one).  but just watching John and listening to him play left me speechless.  He is truly a master.  Combined with the mastery of Kim and David at Zendrum, a Zendrum player would not need an acoustic kit at all.

    Someday, if i am a good little Pyrate, I hope to able to acquire a Freddy unit and learn to be proficient on the work of art that is my Zendrum.

Fair Winds and Following Seas,
Pyrate
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john emrich

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Re: My BFD/MUSE Breakthrough
« Reply #9 on: June 28, 2007, 01:55:50 PM »

Hello,

Summer NAMM in Austin is just around the corner.  July 27-30.  FXpansion is not going to attend this summer, but I will be at the show with Xdrums in booth # 841.  http://www.xoticguitar.com/xdrums2.htm  We will have a couple of systems put together with the BFD Turbo Receptor.

Stop in and say hello! 

John
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John Emrich
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duojet

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Re: My BFD/MUSE Breakthrough
« Reply #10 on: June 29, 2007, 02:01:17 PM »

FXpansion is not going to attend this summer,


hmmm....I thought they would be showing BFD2 by now. I thought it was supposed to be released sometime this summer.
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john emrich

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Re: My BFD/MUSE Breakthrough
« Reply #11 on: June 29, 2007, 04:01:58 PM »

BFD2 is in Beta and we are real close to going public!  The reason for not attending is simple.  Cost versus results.  There are many companies that have pulled out of this year's s Summer NAMM.  Last year was not that well attended and the general thought is that it is not a very productive show.  The list of vendors is much smaller this year.

BFD2 is just around the corner.
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John Emrich
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Re: My BFD/MUSE Breakthrough
« Reply #12 on: June 29, 2007, 09:14:00 PM »

I've been watching for BFD2 as well.  Looks like it will have many important upgrades.
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Re: My BFD/MUSE Breakthrough
« Reply #13 on: July 01, 2007, 09:38:44 AM »

Hi John I live in Austin and just got into the world of zendrumming this year and would very much like to come meet/visit with you when you are here for NAMM. I would very much like to hear the BFD sounds live.  This show ,however is closed to the public. Would it be possible to get a couple of passes? It would be greatly appreciated! If you are so inclined i could direct you to a couple of good places to eat while you here and maybe a couple of sites to visit if you have the time. thanks THUMPER
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john emrich

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Re: My BFD/MUSE Breakthrough
« Reply #14 on: July 01, 2007, 08:18:08 PM »

Sorry, I do not have any extra badges.   :(

I would check with the local music stores.  They might have some extras for friends.  There are also usually some people who only go for one day and you will see them handing them out to people on their way out.

Sorry I can't be more helpful.

John
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John Emrich
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