Using VDL:2 with a MalletKat

So, I've searched the forums pretty extensively for all of the threads about using VDL:2 with a MalletKat, bust I still have some questions for those of you who do this.

What kind of computer are you using to interface with the Kat?

What sort of specs might I need on a laptop that I want to do this on? Would they be any different from the standard VDL system requirements?

What hardware are you using to interface the two? USB, Firewire? Is the hub you use similar to the Edirol I have that plugs my MIDI keyboard into my computer? (MIDI cables to Edirol Hub, USB out to my computer?)

What about latency? I read one post where someone had a lot of problems with latency. How can you avoid that?

Sorry for my apparent ignorance on this topic. This forum has been really useful for learning about all of this tech stuff. I definitely sound more intelligent at cocktail parties...

Depending on how you plan to use it, you might want to look into the Muse Receptor. It is compatible with Virtual Drumline 2. I haven't personally used this, but for live use as you describe, it may be worth looking into rather than carting a laptop around. You can learn more about it at:

If not that, you'd want to be sure your laptop is using a high quality audio interface for best latency performance. On laptops, this may mean using a USB or Firewire audio interface for the sound, and a USB midi interface to get midi data from malletkat into the laptop (I think this is what you were referring to with your Edirol).

Using a good audio interface doesn't mean your latency will immediately improve. You need to ensure you're using the low-latency drivers the device comes with, as well as setting latency (aka: audio buffer) to a lower setting to get a faster response. You do this with the audio software the interfaces with the hardware device. Keep in mind, lowering the latency makes your CPU work harder, so if you're doing this on a slow machine and trying to churn out fairly dense parts in terms of polyphony, your results may vary. Also, if you do decide to go the laptop route, remember that streaming from a slower laptop harddrive (using Kontakt's DFD technology) isn't as reliable as if you're streaming from a faster drive - which may make a better case for using something like the Receptor which is specifically designed for this type of live performance.
This is something I have been thinking about quite a bit lately.  I am trying to decide if it is financially fesasible to purchase a mallet kat to augment my keyboards for marching band (allowing one board to be vibes, marimba, chimes, etc).  From reading the posts above, I am gathering that the Muse Receptor is the way to go if I want to use the VDL sounds (which I do since I already have them & they ROCK).  The Muse Receptor costs around $2,000 at sweetwater and the 4 octave MalletKat runs around $2,000 or so as well.  That seems like a bunch for an additional keyboard doesn't it?  Is there a cheaper alternative than the Muse Receptor to run the sounds through?

Thanks in advance for your help.
[quote author=Dave Ratliff link=topic=1703.msg8409#msg8409 date=1179414702]
That seems like a bunch for an additional keyboard doesn't it?  Is there a cheaper alternative than the Muse Receptor to run the sounds through?

You just have to weigh the opportunity cost between a few different options. First, consider how much it would cost to actually purchase all of the instruments that come with VDL2 that you would use PERIOD, not just marching band. You could also use it for percussion ensemble, jazz band, and your basic novelty ensembles with trash cans and typewriters :-) If you already have a decent sound system, it seems that $4000 would be a wise investment. Plus, you can load any virtual instrument you want into the Muse Receptor (if I understand it correctly), so you could also load other non-conventional instruments into it as well.

Just my $0.03 (because of inflation)
Good point about multiple applications (jazz band, perc ensemble, etc.).  I hadn't thought about it from that angle.

Thanks man!
Actually, you also may be able to get away with even more than that...  consider having a malletkat and a keyboard both running in.  Think about not having to drag crotales out every day.  Or tube chimes.  There are lots of instruments that get beat to hell by bringing them outside.  This could be a cost-effective way of saving wear and tear on those.
A couple of quick notes:
-I bought a MalletKat and I'm really glad to have it, but it has a different feel than an 'analog' instrument. I always prefer playing on a real marimba or set of vibes if given the chance

[quote] There are lots of instruments that get beat to hell by bringing them outside.�� This could be a cost-effective way of saving wear and tear on those.[/quote]
-Remember that electronics are not really made for being outside either. I have not tested, so I don't know how well the pads and other components hold up against rain, humidity, general bumps and drops, etc. (mine is purely a household 'kat :))

Well, now that the year is nearly over, I've found enough time to tinker around with my school-issued laptop and our malletkat. And finally today I got the thing to work!

I totally hit a brick wall with the M-Audio interface that I bought. Really, my laptop and Windows Service Pack hit the brick wall. With an inflexible school computer, I never was able to make them talk to each other.

So, I brought an old Edirol UM-1S USB interface to try and it worked like a charm! After toying with the latency and the sample rate, I have been able to get the malletkat to respond just about right. There's a very slight delay, but if I don't want the samples to pop, I just have to find a happy medium.

My memory is low compared to the recommended usage, so I'm going to see if there is a way for me to purchase and install more memory in this laptop. I know there is, but there's also the obstacle of the school district and all of the paperwork...

So, as far as I've been concerned, this has been a tabled discussion, but I'm fairly certain that with some tweaking to the laptop, I'll get this thing performance ready in no time (or however long my IT department wants).

Thanks again to Jim and crew for providing such a wonderful program through which there are so many cool possibilities!
Thanks for the report Eric!

If you're getting pops or clicks at lower latencies it's most likely one (or possibly both) of two things.

1 - Processor on computer is older/slower.
2 - Audio card isn't geared toward high performance.

Since you're using a laptop (likely with a slow hard drive), it's possible tweaking with your DFD settings could help as well. This is an area where more RAM may help you since you can increase the DFD RAM usage as well as increase the value in the ";override instruments' preload size"; field. If you're just loading one instrument, it's probable that you already have enough RAM to try this.
Also check the Edirol driver settings.  Some have latency times in them that are adjustable.
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