Mandala Drum Pad Review

 

30 Nov 2012

 

 

 

The Mandala is a drum pad that synthesises countless drum sounds. The basic package consists of a single drum pad, two drum sticks, a USB link between the pad and your computer, and a single CD from which you upload the Virtual Brain software through which the drum pad runs. It's a simple enough set up.

 

For many a producer, branching out to incorporate live instrumentals into both production and performance as part of the music making process is something which can begin and end with a midi keyboard or synth. Even the usage of such hardware has become easily available in the format of software. What the Mandala brings to the table that I like is it's relation to both artists comfortable with production software and those who've experience playing an instrument.

 

The key to this is the simplicity of the actual setup. If you've ever sat down to a drum or drum kit and had a playful shot at the snare or kick pedal, and maybe even a comedy attempt at a sweeping drum solo, it is fun for a minute. Yet in reality, the physical setup of even the most basic drum kit can be technically daunting as it takes a time to develop from a beginner into a competent player, software, comparatively can be instantaneously rewarding.

 

The Mandala's single pad brings into effect the playful element of having a single drum to experiment with, alongside the endless possibilities that come from using software. Through Virtual Brain this experimentation with a single pad opens up to an array of music making processes, enabling you to build drum kits and put together drum beats without requiring a great deal of prior practice.

 

First off, the Virtual Brain user interface splits the pad, giving you 6 zones to adjust and manipulate – Centre, mid-in, mid-out, edge, Rim and x-stick. All of the zones can have effects applied to them and furthermore, their parameters adjusted to fine tune the sound you are getting from the Mandala. Each zone can be set up differently, which can essentially mean putting together and entire kit on one pad. Additionally the zones can be interchanged as you play along, a highly useful option when regarding the Mandala's capabilities in live performance.

 

With regards to the sample library, the Mandala provides users with a vast range of unique and diverse sounds, an amazing range of different drum options, i.e. alternative types of snares, rides, and crashes. The drum pad caters for a versatile array of sounds to be accessed, from a regular rock styled kits, to ambient and exotic drums, making it a useful tool for any musician of any genre.

 

The tones and samples available to the pad are not only useful in a studio environment but also able to be incorporated in a live setting, creating atmospheric sounds, with options such as wall E and Fleetwood settings there is a multitude of sounds to use with the pad on the one setting. On top of this you can expand the sample library.

 

The overall appearance of Virtual Brain allows the user to gain a quick understanding of how to use the pad within minutes of running the software. The layout of the interface allows you to explore and experiment with different sounds without it being too complex or confusing.

 

As electronic musicians are more frequently branching from DJing into the live performance, the Mandala can slot well into... The pad is very precise where you hit it and the sonics are very realistic and of a high quality. The setup would be enhanced by coupling with another pad, which is possible.

 

The only real criticism I have is that when altering the parameters in Virtual Brain, it is hard to make exact, it would be made easier if you could type in or have a slider option. I find this important as some laptops have poor drivers for their mouse touch pads causing a lag. If you are frequently altering levels over time it becomes fairly tedious.

 

All in all, it's an interesting tool to play about with, and it can be used for both production and live performance.

 

Words: James Paterson


    Related Links:

    Like it? Share it!
    Sign up for more with the Kmag weekly newsletter.

    Comments

     

     

     

     

    • Basher Launches PROX:LTD
      Basher on why he's setting up a sister label to Proximity called PROX:LTD and what to expect...

    • Noisily Festival 2014 Preview
      Noisily Festival returns to Coney Woods, Leicestershire for the third year, find out what they've got in store for 2014.

    • The Essential... Low Life
      We look back at 15 essential records from the back catalogue of pioneering UK hip hop label Low Life.

    • Crissy Criss Guest Mix
      1Xtra host Crissy Criss fills us in on the hard work behind the glitz and glamour, his new Trinity EP for Technique and also drops an exclusive mix for Kmag readers.

    • Introducing: Fluid State Recordings
      Fluid State owner Liquid Gav tell us all about his new deep drum & bass label.

    • Supreme Being Guest Mix
      Supreme Being has been tearing up the dancefloor with his Loco EP on Image so we tracked him down for a chat and an exclusive guest mix.

    • Top 20 North American Festivals 2014
      In the latest of our festival rundowns, it's now the opportunity for dates in the US and Canada to take the spotlight. Check out our top 20 of this year's North American festivals.

    • 86 Beatz Launch Shattered
      On May 23rd 86 Beatz launch Shattered at Bar a Bar in London. We recently caught up with them to find out what they're all about.

    • Sigma Top Ten
      With their new single Nobody To Love out now on 3Beat we asked Sigma to share ten of their own favourite tracks...

    • Alpine PartyPlug Review
      We put Alpine's PartyPlugs through their paces at Hospitality at Motion in Bristol. Did they live up their claim of being the number one earplug?

    • Homemade Weapons Guest Mix
      Homemade Weapons has been making a name for himself recently with releases on Samurai, Architecture and Cylon so we asked him for a guest mix and fill us in on his latest releases.

    • Reso Guest Mix
      Fresh from his massive Pulse Code EP on Hospital Records, Reso delivers an exclusive mix that charts a course from the hard and heavy to the smooth and blissed nether regions of bass.

    • Spectrum Returns To Great Suffolk Street Warehouse
      Spectrum return on Sunday May 4 with a massive line-up including Pendulum and Netsky. Resident DJ Pete Spectrum tells us what to expect on the night.

    • Gamma Guest Mix
      With his gig at Kmag Presents Demand Records this Friday we tracked down Gamma for a chat about his sound and a guest mix.

    • Top 10 Hip Hop videos March 2014
      We've scoured the stateside releases and rounded up the 10 best hip hop videos from the month of March.

     

     

    You have successfully unsubscribed from the Knowledge newsletter