Pearl Drums with Keith McMillen Instruments have come up with a MIDI controller for percussionists. Called the MalletSTATION EM1 it’s designed to mimic the layout of a xylophone or vibraphone instrument and to be struck with mallets. It opens the percussionist up to a plethora of sampled instruments, creative opportunities and portability.
It’s a 3 octave, USB powered mallet-able MIDI controller made with McMillen’s Smart Fabric Sensor technology. It has an adjustable low note range function which allows you to set the fundamental diatonic to whatever note you need. The fabulous bit about this is the inclusion of a number of keycaps or “Gap-Caps”. You can place these over the top of various keys in order to get the correct layout for the instrument you are playing.
As it’s just a MIDI controller you will have to source your sounds from some sampling software like Kontakt or other virtual instruments. It will play nice with iOS devices so you could go simply into Garage Band if you wish. The Smart Fabric handles all the velocity information but there are additional touch-strip controls and foot pedal inputs for handling extra parameters. So you don’t need to stick to marimbas or timpani, you can play synths, guitar, brass, whatever you want to beat sounds out of.
It’s made from aluminium and steel to withstand the pounding. And with the Smart Fabric being so resilient it’s also weatherproof. Perfect for those Hyde Park summer concerts in the rain. Or busking on the Underground – it is the perfect busking instrument.
The MalletSTATION is not something I thought I’d ever need when I started writing this article. Now I simply have to have one, it’s exactly what’s been missing from my performances and music production. The price is a very reasonable $999 and should be available soon.
- Pearl Drums MalletSTATION webpage