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Are Mandala drums right for me?

Posted: Mon Feb 24, 2014 11:49 pm
by mfaylor
I've been wanting to add some electronic drum pads to my acoustic drum set for quite sometime, much like Danny Carey. Originally, I was going to add 6 trigger pads, a hi hat trigger pedal, an Alesis trigger IO and Battery 4 to run my samples. But after doing some research and learning a little more about the Mandala drum, I'm thinking about getting 2 Mandala drums, a synapse and some kind of hi hat trigger pedal. I feel like I can be more creative and explore different possibilities with the Mandala. But I still have some questions that I haven't been able to find answers to. I will try to be as thorough as I can in my questions :)

1. Can you record the Mandala drum samples from the Virtual Brain in a DAW?

I'm new to VST's and MIDI (and basically any kind of recording that isn't just a microphone and a drum). I will be running Logic Pro X to record my acoustic drums. So basically, can you route the samples from The Virtual Brain to Logic Pro and record those samples as you are playing the Mandala? I've read online that you can run a program called ReWire to route the software to Logic. I just want to be certain you can record too.

2. What is the difference between The Virtual Brain Software and a program like Battery 4?

The Virtual Brain Software triggers your drum samples. But so can Battery 4. So I guess why would one need Battery 4 if you have The Virtual Brain Software? I know each program will have its own library of samples, but is there any reason to also run Battery 4 (because I know a lot of people do it) if you are running samples from The Virtual Brain Software or any benefit? I feel like I'm not grasping something here.

3. Are the Mandala mk2.9 drums compatible with USB 3.0?

I will be running a new iMac and they have upgraded their USB ports to USB 3.0 and their FireWire to Thunderbolt. Will I have any problem connecting a Mandala directly to the USB 3.0 ports? What about the Synapse to USB 3.0 port?

Those are my main questions right now. I'm working on recording a drum cover of The Grudge by Tool for fun and Danny Carey uses some electronic drums and 7 different samples in that song plus 1 hi hat clap. I think at the time of recording Lateralus, he was using the Simmons SDX pads but I figure I can achieve a some what similar sound with just Mandalas, working the different zones for each sample. Anyway, any feedback would be great. I love the idea of these Mandala drums and I really hope they work out

Re: Are Mandala drums right for me?

Posted: Wed Feb 26, 2014 6:29 am
by saucehp
If you have never used electronic drums i suggest you got a store or find a friend who has some and spend sometime both with onboard sounds such as roland and also vat programmes e.g. superior drummer / addictive drums etc. This is the quiets way to set your expectations - check out Vdrums forum as well for advice.

I was disappointed with the mandalas at first coming off my drums, but now i have excepted them as their own beast and i am extremely happy with them - now I'm disappointed with my programming speed.

You can get really creative with bleton live and using basic home made triggers.
With max4live you can even route the cc4 hh ctrl as an expression pedal and do all sorts of weird an wonderful things your band members will not appreciate.

Overall don't forget you will need a high spec sound card and lots of ram if you plan on using the computer as a performance tool!! Its far from flawless some people have success and no issues ever - others have goblins living in their system.
Oh an buy some cheap usb 3+ metre cables from ebay, £5, makes it easy for laptop/imac placement options

If you like the idea of Mandalas. Get them!!! Don't worry about the rest.

1.Yes you can record into logic and ableton via rewire or sound flower, there is also a app called audio hack which i use to just record the Virtual Brain.

2. Simplified.

Battery for is more like a drum brain with tweaking possibilities. Ideally you would design your sounds and trigger them not really looking for extreme differences in expression - though you can do so. The effect possibilities are restricted and i find it limiting in regards to effect junkie gratification and routing.

Virtual Brain is more of an creative instrument you can load sounds into.
It lets you feel like you are playing a new instrument rather than electronic drum per se'

Ableton live is like an over load of the first 2 which may cause you never to see the light of day again.Add MAX 4 live and the sky is the limit.

They all operate differently so it depends how you like to view things and your personal expectations of a daw/sampler.

The velocity sensitivity is completely different across all 3 and i have found it takes time to get it right. If you were to switch between them and use a preset you would find the feel is different across the 3 platforms - though you would swear it were the MK 2.9s :-P

3.Yes, USB 3 is backward compatible they work fine.

Last statement-- Pretty sure Danny was using Mandalas. Either way they are just the controller not the sound, sound quality will always depend on your samples your processing your speakers and your personal perception of what sound is.

Get some and enjoy the ride

Re: Are Mandala drums right for me?

Posted: Wed Feb 26, 2014 1:50 pm
by mfaylor
Thank you saucehp! I really appreciate the reply. I'm really liking what I read from your post. One thing you mentioned is having a powerful enough computer. Here is what I will be using. With your experience and expertise, do you think it'll be enough?

27" iMac 3.4GHz Quad-Core Intel Core i5
256GB Flash Storage
2TB External RAID hard drive to record to and store projects, plugins, etc.

Audio Interface-
I use a Presonus Studiolive 16.0.2 as my interface/mixer
Firewire to thunderbolt adapter

For now, I plan on just getting 2 Mandala pads and connecting them straight to the iMac. I'll eventually add a Synapse, hi hat pedal and who knows, maybe a couple more pads.

Re: Are Mandala drums right for me?

Posted: Sat Mar 01, 2014 10:32 am
by saucehp
Dude ,

Your iMac is superpowered!!
I should have been more specific in referring to laptops.
You will benefit from getting some longer usb cables as you are using a desktop.
Measure what you need and ebay should provide with a a cheap solution.

Do get the synapse it looks like the perfect solution verses drum brains and all the extra crap you end up having - thought they synapse could benefit with a few extra 1/4 inputs as you don't always need the versatility of the mandala :-).

One more tip, get some quality cymbal boom clamps e.g. ... wgodjKEAsQ
They are overpriced here n the UK, i got mine for £20 each in a deal.
The mount great to the bottom of a snare stand too. Really sturdy no issues.
I am in the process of modding the front strike edge of mine as i don't like the plastic twack sound nor its feel and volume - a design sore point for me.Currently i have add some sugru and will add some form of foam/neoprene.

enjoy yourself

Re: Are Mandala drums right for me?

Posted: Wed Mar 05, 2014 2:34 pm
by mfaylor
Awesome! Thanks for the reply! I just ordered 2 Mandala drums and a Synapse yesterday. Now I just got to get those extra accessories like the longer USB cables and mount stands. I'm really stoked!! :D

Re: Are Mandala drums right for me?

Posted: Thu Mar 13, 2014 12:11 pm
by mfaylor
saucehp Where did you get Audio Hack? I can't seem to find it anywhere. I've tried Soundflower but I'm not getting anywhere with that.

Re: Are Mandala drums right for me?

Posted: Thu Mar 13, 2014 1:47 pm
by mfaylor
Nevermind! I think I figured it out.