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Keith McMillen versatile BopPad comes to life (KickStarter)

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Keith McMillen versatile BopPad comes to life (KickStarter)

Postby mhschmieder » Thu Sep 28, 2017 11:52 pm

http://www.sonicstate.com/news/2017/09/ ... es-boppad/

Wow, I'm impressed, and only $200. I had Roland's first HandSonic and it wasn't sensitive enough, plus it had too much reverb baked into the raw samples. Korg's padKontrol was pretty good for what it was, but still limited in application, and the Arturia pad's similarly.

Korg's WaveDrum is great, but they don't have a pro edition and the ones available look to be quite fragile, plus they can't really be used as MIDI controllers per se (there's a lot of reasons for this, having to do with the complexity of the surface).

I especially like that the BopPad works well with mallets.

Although I had heard of Keith McMillen before, I didn't realize he had developed Zeta's excellent MIDI violin/cello technology, and that he's just down the street from my office:

https://www.keithmcmillen.com/about-us/who-is-keith/

I'll check around at work tomorrow, to see if any of our modular synth hobbyists have brought one of the BopPad's in yet.
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Re: Keith McMillen versatile BopPad comes to life (KickStart

Postby stubbsonic » Fri Sep 29, 2017 7:32 am

Does look like a great deal for what it does.

I wonder if it is hardwired to have 4 regions, or if you can configure it to have two or one (the entire surface-- as a single controller space). One down side to the radial control factor is that when you are close to the center, you have a tiny play area before you start tapping one of the other zones. Perhaps some of that could be addressed by scaling those controls.

For that price, I could see mounting one with a double pedal and getting a couple foot sounds as well.
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Re: Keith McMillen versatile BopPad comes to life (KickStart

Postby Michael Canavan » Fri Sep 29, 2017 8:59 pm

stubbsonic wrote: One down side to the radial control factor is that when you are close to the center, you have a tiny play area before you start tapping one of the other zones.

Can't remember but it seems some controller addressed this by putting a circular zone in the middle, this could have been the answer here unless somehow there was a patent on that design?
{edit} here it is, so not a full circle but.. if they had a single smaller circle in the middle of the BopPad instead, to me that would be perfect. Sometimes I wish developers would clue you in on what they're doing so feedback could happen.

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Re: Keith McMillen versatile BopPad comes to life (KickStart

Postby Shooshie » Fri Sep 29, 2017 9:08 pm

Ok, I'm not a drummer, so I'm afraid to use superlatives, but that's absolutely the best MIDI drumming I've ever heard. Have you heard better? It's amazing, because a snare roll is really a snare roll — every note played by sticks — and not a pre-recorded something. It's like vibrato on wind, string and brass instruments: it sounds better when you actually are producing the vibrato, not invoking a pre-recorded effect. But that's so hard to do on most MIDI instruments and VIs that I usually use the pre-recorded effect anyway. When I get one that responds well, I definitely do it myself.

So, that fact alone seems to set this apart from all the others. But again, I'm not a drummer, so I can't say with certainty that they don't ALL do that. If not, I'll bet they all start doing it. Why would you buy anything else? I wouldn't mind having one of those myself. I could sit and practice flamadiddles and paradiddles and rolls. Maybe my inner Buddy Rich could start getting snarkier with just a little practice!

Or... more likely, :deadhorse: .

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Re: Keith McMillen versatile BopPad comes to life (KickStart

Postby stubbsonic » Fri Sep 29, 2017 10:18 pm

Michael Canavan wrote:
Can't remember but it seems some controller addressed this by putting a circular zone in the middle, this could have been the answer here unless somehow there was a patent on that design?
{edit} here it is, so not a full circle but.. if they had a single smaller circle in the middle of the BopPad instead, to me that would be perfect. Sometimes I wish developers would clue you in on what they're doing so feedback could happen.


I do like that layout a lot better. If this had five zones with a circle in the middle that really would have fixed what bugs me about it.

It is possible that KMI did get some input, as most people are pretty excited. They just didn't ask us.

There's a video showing them driving over it with a car, but there's an obvious edit between driving over it and and testing it. Hmmmmm.
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Re: Keith McMillen versatile BopPad comes to life (KickStart

Postby mhschmieder » Sat Sep 30, 2017 1:57 pm

The DrumKAT and related devices (they have an electronic MIDI marimba as well) is extremely expensive, and quite old by now, but IS a lovely device for those who can afford it or can justify the cost. But I don't think it has the sensitivity this new device has.

Like Shooshie, I was extremely impressed by the realism of the rolls etc. The GS community already panned it because the "sounds" (which it doesn't have) were so "bad". I was mystified how those people had been unable to pay attention to the expressive nature of the controller and got hung up on the specific triggered sounds that were used.

Of course, membrane-based electronic drums such as Roland's V-Drums (vs. the cheaper rubber-pad-based ones from Alesis) should give a similar experience, but may only work with dedicated drum brains from the specific vendor and thus may not work at passing on MIDI information to other sound sources. And even so, I suspect McMillen's pad has increased sensitivity.

I may see whether Keith will let me swing by to try before I buy -- being a local company, it's quite likely, as we tend to have good close relations with most of the manufacturing and academic entities in Northern California. I'm mostly concerned about construction quality vs. the Korg WaveDrum's flimsy super-thin plastic edges. Otherwise, at $200 it's simply worth the risk.
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Re: Keith McMillen versatile BopPad comes to life (KickStart

Postby bayswater » Sat Sep 30, 2017 4:46 pm

mhschmieder wrote:Of course, membrane-based electronic drums such as Roland's V-Drums (vs. the cheaper rubber-pad-based ones from Alesis) should give a similar experience, but may only work with dedicated drum brains from the specific vendor and thus may not work at passing on MIDI information to other sound sources. And even so, I suspect McMillen's pad has increased sensitivity.

I may see whether Keith will let me swing by to try before I buy

I'd be interested to hear what you find out. It looks like a good deal -- I think I paid about double the price for a V_Drum for snare and as you suggest, it doesn't work that well with an Alesis sound module, not much better than old Sherpa rubber pads.

Another consideration is how well it rejects vibrations from other devices. I never found the Alesis pads very good at that.
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Re: Keith McMillen versatile BopPad comes to life (KickStart

Postby Shooshie » Sun Oct 01, 2017 6:55 pm

bayswater wrote:Another consideration is how well it rejects vibrations from other devices. I never found the Alesis pads very good at that.


What exactly do you mean by that? Other drum pads mounted on the same stand? Or low frequencies from nearby monitors? Stomping on the floor?
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Re: Keith McMillen versatile BopPad comes to life (KickStart

Postby bayswater » Sun Oct 01, 2017 7:24 pm

Shooshie wrote:
bayswater wrote:Another consideration is how well it rejects vibrations from other devices. I never found the Alesis pads very good at that.


What exactly do you mean by that? Other drum pads mounted on the same stand? Or low frequencies from nearby monitors? Stomping on the floor?


Could be any of the above, but the usual problem is other pads on the same stand transmitting vibrations through the mounts. Adjustment to sensitivity of trigger in the pulse to MIDI conversion can be used to deal with it, but that limits the range of pad. A pad that can distinguish being hit directly with a stick, from a vibration from an external source or through a mount would be a good thing.
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Re: Keith McMillen versatile BopPad comes to life (KickStart

Postby mhschmieder » Sun Oct 01, 2017 7:36 pm

Oh, now I see what you mean. I downloaded the manual last night, but don't want to go down the rabbit hole in the middle of a session, to see if it's talked about there. Let me know if you need the link to the user manual.
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Re: Keith McMillen versatile BopPad comes to life (KickStart

Postby bayswater » Sun Oct 01, 2017 8:23 pm

mhschmieder wrote:Oh, now I see what you mean. I downloaded the manual last night, but don't want to go down the rabbit hole in the middle of a session, to see if it's talked about there. Let me know if you need the link to the user manual.

I went through the manual. It has a sensitivity setting to control false triggering, but whether it has been engineered to reject false triggers better than other pads is not apparent.
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Re: Keith McMillen versatile BopPad comes to life (KickStart

Postby Shooshie » Sun Oct 01, 2017 9:01 pm

Gives me an idea... I wonder if you could set some up to tigger an infinite loop!
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Re: Keith McMillen versatile BopPad comes to life (KickStart

Postby bayswater » Sun Oct 01, 2017 10:22 pm

Shooshie wrote:Gives me an idea... I wonder if you could set some up to tigger an infinite loop!

Not on its own. That would be a perpetual motion machine. But with some sort of gain stage, you could set up an awesome feedback loop.
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Re: Keith McMillen versatile BopPad comes to life (KickStart

Postby mhschmieder » Sat Nov 18, 2017 4:14 pm

I forgot to follow up on this (been a busy time, including helping with fire relief associated activities).

This is a good buy for the price, but I have been advised that the vendors' products are usually best during their initial production run (which usually is done stateside) as they try to exceed tolerances and specs until they have settled into a groove where they may feel more comfortable relaxing those standards a bit without fear of too many returns or issues.

Probably of less concern, hardware products may not be fully functional to ultimate spec initially, but this doesn't bother me the way it does some people. I'm talking more along the lines of Dave Smith Instruments, which get many firmware updates post-release. As a developer, that seems natural to me, but some feel a vendor shouldn't release hardware until the firmware is closer to its final stable state.

Of course most products don't get updates past a certain point anyway, but my experience with vendors who get accused of premature hardware releases, is that they usually tend to be good about supporting products long past their expected lifecycle.

I will not be buying this product, but not due to the caveats above. I simply feel it is not quite the ergonomic experience I am looking for, but certainly it is extremely good value and functionality for what it is, and superior to most alternatives such as mini-pad controllers.
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