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About dfahrner

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  • Location
    Rural Oregon
  • Interests
    Jazz, cycling
  1. Finally got my malletSTATION last month - it was a long delay between product announcement and first production shipment, but hey, it is a new and complex product...like any new musical instrument, it's taking me some time to get it set up the way I want, and to get used to playing it, but it works well...the playing feel is good, and any kind of mallet works, although mallet noise is a little greater that on a Xylosynth...sensitivity and velocity curves are fully adjustable, and mallet dampening and deadstrokes work just about like on a "real" vibe...you have to play a little more accurately than with the XS, since the very edge of the "bars" doesn't respond, but it's not a big deal...the additional panel controls, which are programmable and can send just about any MIDI message, are big enough to use a mallet to adust them while playing (!)....the mS a little smaller and lighter than the other mallet controllers, but is very solidly built...I'm using it with a Korg KRONOS synth (with my own Deagan vibe samples) that has USB class-compliant connections, which can connect directly to and power the mS; I've also tried it with USB-to-MIDI adapters from Kenton and Hobbytronics and they work perfectly (as I'm sure the Keith McMillen adapter does, too)... There's an article on the Alternate Mode website comparing the mS and the Malletkat, and it's worth looking at if you're in the market for a mallet controller, if you know how you're going to be using it and what features you need (although the article is clearly aimed at convincing you to buy the Mk)...you do need to use a computer to configure the mS, while this can be done on the instrument with the Mk (although not easily), you can set up four different configurations on the mS, selected by pushbuttons, and that's probably enough for most players (it is for me)...the article also emphasizes the internal sounds available with the Mk, but if you're going to use a computer or an external synth or tone generator, that's probably not important...I do have an Alternate Mode Gigkat module, which has the same sounds as the internal sounds of the Mk, but they're not programmable and the vibe sounds aren't as good as my Deagan samples... I think that my Xs has a little better playing feel than the mS, and certainly has a classic look with the bubinga tone bars and wood ends (although the mS looks high-tech and modern, if that's what you want), but again the Xs is not as configurable and its MIDI capabilities are limited... df
  2. I think that standard MIDI (serial, 31250 bps) is OK for melodic percussion instruments like mallets / keyboards, particularly for players (like me) who don't play like Gary Burton / Oscar Peterson, but more like Milt Jackson / John Lewis...for other kinds of percussion, I can see that even delays measured in milliseconds might be a problem...7 bits, 128 levels, is probably enough resolution for volume (the ear's perception of volume is less than that) but maybe not for some other parameters... df
  3. The Buchla Marimba Lumina is long gone (as is Don himself, now)...it was product by Nearfield Systems (in Los Angeles) for just a year or two; Nearfield was the company that had developed the technology used to measure mallet velocity and position (originally, for earth satellite docking purposes!)....I had a Lumina about 15 years ago, and never really got into it because it required a whole new playing technique: the playing surface and the mallets were very different from standard mallet instruments, the mallets were huge foam things that never felt right...but you could do some amazing stuff, like sliding along the "bar" after playing a note to send a MIDI CC, play a different MIDI channel with each mallet, use the speed at which you lifted the mallet off the "bar" as another CC, etc....I sold mine to get the Xylosynth, a lot more limited MIDI-wise but a lot more like a "real" mallet instrument... df
  4. Another mallet controller that has been around for awhile is the Wernick Xylosynth - see http://www.wernick.net/ ...I've been using one for the past 12 years or so without any problems, with a variety of synths, as an easy-to-transport / loud-enough-to-play-with-electric-instruments vibraphone...my early XS has limited MIDI capability, but external MIDI processors (MIDI Solutions EPP, MIDICpu, etc.) take care of that...one of the reasons I went with the XS is that the bars are hardwood and can be used with conventional (soft) mallets, and play just like standard mallet percussion instruments...Matt Jordan at Pearl tells me that the malletSTATION can be used with any kind of mallet, too; that and it's more extensive MIDI capability and controls (including mallet dampening, yes!) make it pretty attractive - I've got one on pre-order... df
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