Mandala Drum V3 System Lets You Trigger Thousands Of Samples From One Pad

Developer Vince De Franco let us know about a new drum pad control system, the Mandala V3, that takes takes percussion control to the next level – giving you control of up to thousands of samples at once from one pad.

De Franco’s goal is to create a new instrument, ‘with the feel and sonic depth of acoustics AND the control of electronics.

With the new Mandala system, pads now include 9 rim triggers; the software runs as both plugin & standalone; and they’ve introduced a new MDA instrument file format, which can hold thousands of samples.

The system includes:

  • V3 Pads – Patented position & force sensing surfaces and rims are the core of the V3 system.
  • MDA Sound Files – MDA files are a matrix of sound samples in one file.
  • V3 Module – Connects up to 7 pads, along with foot pedal controllers.
  • V3 Virtual Brain Software – Works as a standalone program or a plugin.

Production of the Mandala V3 system is being funded via an IndieGoGo campaign. System prices for backers start at $499 for a 1-pad system.

29 thoughts on “Mandala Drum V3 System Lets You Trigger Thousands Of Samples From One Pad

  1. It’s a great concept. Even if the drum only has concentric rings (like a target) as zones, it is still good for getting the different sounds of the drum. I was kind of hoping to see that if you hit the rim and the head at the same time that it might deliver some rimshot type trigger as a different type of hit (rather than just triggering both the head and rim samples simultaneously).

    I sure would love it if someone would make a reasonable fake hi-hat that didn’t suck. But I digress.

  2. The new V3 pads are fully capable of producing a rimshot trigger when the stick hits the rim and surface simultaneously. It’s working well here in the lab and we hope to get it into the production release, if not in a firmware update soon after. Timing of these things depends on the resources we have as a result of the crowdfunding campaign. Regarding the hi-hat, a V3 hat MDA instrument file is made up of thousands of samples for closed, tight, medium, loose, and open pedal positions for: bell to edge, velocity, and round robins. Our hat is the most complex instrument by far in the new system! Thank you for your interest!

  3. “thousands of samples at once from one pad”

    Um… hate to ask something so basic, but is this something anyone is actually doing?

    1. Imagine say 20 velocity layers x 4 round-robins– that’s 80 samples right there for one zone. 12 zones and you’re at 960.

      No one says you have to use all 1000 options. But having the infrastructure for plenty of zones, velocity layers, round-robin, rim combos, and maybe even some kind bank switching, means you COULD if you wanted to– use 1000 samples.

      I don’t know what this thing does, but 1000 samples for a pad that does what this thing suggests, isn’t that big of a deal. And for drums, they are short samples.

      However, for a cymbal, it could get pretty big, memory-wise.

      1. Even if a single Mandala MDA instrument file (like a cymbal, particularly a hat) is multiple GB’s it’s okay because Direct From Disk (DFD) playback only puts a small chunk of each sample into RAM and loads the rest as that chunk is playing back once it’s triggered. Barely any RAM is used, and latency is not an issue with this because of processing speed and power these days. All the videos we have released (in our campaign, YouTube, Instagram, Facebook) have been Mandalas using DFD streaming of triggered samples, even for the full kit.

      2. > Imagine say 20 velocity layers x 4 round-robins– that’s 80 samples right there for one zone. 12 zones and you’re at 960.

        I see, OK, thanks for explaining why I might need 1000 samples per pad, that makes sense.

  4. I recently switched back to acoustic drums, from V-Drums. Real cymbals are the things I missed the most. Something like this looks very interesting, but assembling an entire set would be hellishly expensive. I wish them all the best with this because expressive e-drums are something that I have wanted for a long time. I like the ability to control the stage volume that you get with e-drums.

    1. Each additional Mandala pad is only $200, which makes a Seven Pad System $1699. A full Mandala kit with pedals and PDP rack is $2999. Top V-Drum kits are well over twice that amount.

      Besides the 9 rim triggers around the edge, the Mandala surface detects strike position (0-127) from center to edge. Our new MDA files contain all the assigned position, velocity and round robin samples of different drums, cymbals, and percussion. Danny Carey, Pat Mastelotto, Will Calhoun and many others have been playing Mandalas for years.

      The video above and the additional videos on our page display the Mandala pads being played. Each pad emulates a mic’d acoustic drum or cymbal when struck anywhere on its surface, but with the sonic control of electronics.

      1. It should have been mentioned on the article… I was already doing math in my head… such 5 pads x $499, would end around $2,500. I was thinking: yeah, pretty much like a low-end Roland V-Drums…

        But if it’s only $200 per additional pad, then it’s definitely more interesting.

    2. I understand why you got back into acoustic drums. Especially the cymbals have a variety of sound that is next to impossible to replicate with sensors and samples. Actually every piece of metal has millions of sounds and tonality/character.

      Still, I like this development. There’s also Keith McMillen Instruments with a new pad style controller, the Korg thing, and more. The big advantage is that you don’t need microphones.

    1. Up to 1000’s of samples on the surface, pre-assigned in MDA instrument files, so no work required by drummers unless they want to lay out a handful of their own samples on the surface instead. That’s an option. Nine additional rim triggers for extra sound triggering if desired.

      Buy in is $499 for a pad and module with software and MDA library, and each additional pad is $199. A full kit (7 pads with kick and hat pedals and PDP Main Rack and all mounting hardware) is $2999.

  5. Not as expensive as I feared. Is there a way to incorporate an existing e-drum system? Perhaps use your old kit to play the Mandala system and then add new pads as finances allow? That would be great.

  6. These look like the next step forward in E drums…. I’m more of a finger/hand drummer (MPC, Mashine, HPD, Wavedrum) kind of man but ordered a 3 pad system last week simply because I was so impressed with the potential. Even if they’re only 80% as good as they promise to be they should be amazing

  7. @Vince:

    What kind of MIDI messages are output by the brain? I’d be interested in using the pad but not so much with samples, I’d rather like to hook it up to a synthesizer.

    1. The module outputs a MIDI note with velocity for each surface strike along with a controller value from 0-127 representing strike position from center to edge. Each rim strike generates a MIDI note with velocity as well. Since the surface and rims are force sensitive there is also the ability to output a controller value from the surface and the rims which represents how hard they are being pressed. That is a lot of ‘modes’ basically and they are useful in different scenarios so there will be the ability to turn these things on and off as you like. There will also be a utility that allows the user to reconfigure the MIDI output to almost anything they want, including different notes from user set concentric zones. There are an endless number of experiments that can be run with the system and I’d love to hear someone really dig into it with synthesizers as an audio source!

      1. I would love to see some user support! The website redirects to the crowdfund for the new unit, any way to get some support?

  8. I have a mandala 2.9 and am wondering if there is somewhere I can download the software that came with it. Both the application and the black beauty snare samples. My hard drive crashed and I can’t find the original discs

  9. No I haven’t heard back yet. I have the same problem. my old computer died and I can’t find the discs. They used to be available for download. My mandala is just collecting dust since I have no way of playing it without software.

  10. We can help you out if you email us directly. All of our contact info is the same as before and there are links to tech support and other resources at the bottom of while we are in development of the new V3. Please clear your cache if an old page is still loading for you there.

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