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Use Mandala pad with V-drums?

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Use Mandala pad with V-drums?

Postby jeremyjwatts » Sun Aug 05, 2018 4:15 am

Hi, new to the forum and to electronic audio in general.

I'm a drummer and just purchased a (USB) Mandala pad to add some electronic sounds to my acoustic kit. It has a USB out only. The Virtual Brain software that it comes with is pretty substantial, but additional Mandala pads are pretty pricey. I see used Roland V-drums (which have 1/4" out only) and such for sale all the time and am wondering if I can somehow run V-drums or other electronic drums through the Mandala's program along with the Mandala pad. I don't really need the Mandala's versatility on more than a single pad, but would really like to be able to use the Virtual Brain software to add my own sounds to all of my pads. Any input on how to do this, using language for a total audio noob would be greatly appreciated.
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Re: Use Mandala pad with V-drums?

Postby Wonks » Sun Aug 05, 2018 11:54 am

The pads produce MIDI signals which are run into the Virtual Brain software running on a computer. V-drum modules have a MIDI output, so in theory they may work with the software. However, the Roland pads/V-drum module won't be giving out exactly the same messages as the Mandala pad does, so I don't know how well it will respond.

Roland pads come in two types. The cheaper pads for the lower-end kits have only two zones maximum (centre and rim, or just centre). That's because they are only trigger pads that will give velocity only, and are connected with a 1/4" TRS cable to the V-drum brain. So the V-drum brain will output MIDI note and velocity information on the MIDI output. You won't be able to use the pads without some sort of brain that convert the piezo trigger signals into MIDI.

The more expensive kits use a digital comms connection and have more sensing areas. This is made use of within the V-drum brain for it's drum modelling software and will give a more realistic output when listened to directly. However, over MIDI, you'll still only get MIDI note and velocity information on the MIDI output, so you loose a lot of the V-drum brain benefit if you trigger MIDI drum sounds.

The cheaper V-drum kits are cheaper than the Mandala system, but the high-end Roland stuff is price-comparable or more expensive. So if you do go for a V-drum system, you'll lose a lot of the benefit of the Mandala system, (providing the system does work).

If you just want electronic drum sounds, then you may be better off selling the Mandala pad and getting a cheap used Roland kit + brain as they do produce some great sounds on their own, plus you can always use them to trigger other sounds via MIDI.

The Mandala system doesn't seem to offer proper kick, hi-hat or cymbal versions, which does limit its use in creating a full electronic kit, especially as it isn't compatible with the Roland or other e-drum systems.

The benefit of using a drum brain audio output is the near-zero latency you get when you hit a pad (difference in time between hitting the pad and the sound being produced). This latency is much longer with the Mandala system, (allowing for a very quick hit to USB signal production time) as you have the time it takes for the computer software to register the input and create the output sound, and the time taken for the computer's own sound card, or a separate audio device, to process and output the sound. It may only be a few milliseconds longer (say 10), but that can be enough to put some people off.
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