A few questions on pad feel

In the search for a drum pad-style controller I’ve landed here and followed the path of many and purchased a Maschine Mikro Mk3. Maybe 7-8 years ago I had a Push (1st generation) and the memory of how that felt has all but a faded. I had been messing around with Velocity Keyboard app on an iPad before biting the bullet on the Mikro Mk3.

There’s no showroom to go into and compare controllers side by side anywhere near me as there was in the past. That would be useful.

I have a strong sense that the pads on the Mikro Mk3 are not all that sensitive — despite having been through the setup guide, reading all the posts here and scouring the usual suspect Internet forums.

My first question is: can anybody put into words — what do good pads feel like? It’ may be very difficult and subjective but maybe someone has the words that I’m just not seeing anywhere on YouTube etc.

Also, realistically, just how hard/light should we be hitting a pad to execute a low velocity trigger? Should it be like taping a smart device?

Also, do new pads take time to “break in” or is fresh out of the box as good as trigger sensitivity gets?

Any insights from someone further down the finger drumming road would be much appreciated :slight_smile: I’m very keen to recalibrate my touch expectations and expect it might be a valuable conversation for others too.

Hey! Let me try and give you some guidance.

If you hover your hand slightly above a pad and then basically just let it fall down, with one finger then falling down on that pad, it should already trigger. That’s the test I use myself. If this works, that means the pads will always trigger, also when tapping lightly.

Breaking in is not a thing in my experience. What could be the case is actually setting the sensitivity slider to less sensitive. That sometimes makes things better somehow.

That said, I do sometimes hear from people getting a bad mikro mk3. Not as often as the mpd218 or something, but there are differences between devices. I did buy another micro a year ago and that one again worked perfectly. That would probably be my 3rd one. So for me the experience has been positive, but I know the bad ones are out there. I once shipped one of my micros to another student who taught he probably got a bad one and indeed… my device was much better than his. So, yeah. A bad unit is always a possibility. I’ve not found a controller that is a guaranteed win though.

Thanks Robert. That’s very helpful. I tried my version of the test you suggested “hovering and dropping” and I’m getting mixed results depending on the specific physical approach I apply. The issue, I guess, is that there is a rather broad range of motion in terms of “dropping” or “striking” a pad and I haven’t figured out the efficiencies involved yet.

So, if I hover and drop with the relaxed weight of my forearm present I get a trigger 100% of the time, but it’s hard to get a low velocity note this way.

If I hover and lightly let my hand fall (not with full arm weight behind) so it very gently taps the pad it’s a 50-50 trigger situation on most pads.

If I hover and execute the action from my finger alone (like a gentle tap on a mouse button) it is very unlikely to trigger. But I’m being REALLY gentle…probably too gentle. Can you be too gentle in dynamic music?

I’ve played with sensitivity in the controller editor and somewhere around 80-85% seems to be optimal for me with a linear velocity setting

I spent some time striking pads and watching a MIDI monitor to try and understand finger energy vs actual velocity values that are occurring and when the pads are actually triggering. Honestly, they look a bit all over the place to me. One weird thing is that low velocity triggers perform more reliably once the initial trigger occurs…i.e. it’s hard to get a velocity of say 10-20 from an initial strike. You can get a 60-80 range hit and then a second stroke could produce a lower level somewhat reliably. It’s almost as lower velocities are blocked by the hardware/software.

The caveman part of my brain is also telling me that a pad is meant to be an analogue of a real drum – something that we generally hit with sticks, i.e. much more force than the delicate tap of a fingertip, even when playing extremely sensitively and dynamically. Maybe I need to “smash” more.

Unless any of that sounds really unusual, I’m thinking it’s probably best to place my faith in Native Instruments’ mostly good QC and work with this device until I get a chance to directly compare it to some other similar device. It wouldn’t be all that easy to return/exchange it where I live anyway.

As an aside, the salesman at the shop (I walked into an actual store to buy it) wouldn’t let me compare the pad response on the Aruba, Launchpad X and Mikro Mk3 because the boxes were sealed – the age we live in. As all prices were relatively similar, I basically chose the Mikro Mk3 because it was a more suitable form factor for my studio desk and NI has a reasonably reliable distributor in South Korea if there are any major technical issues going forward.

Thanks again!

Yeah so one thing about the micro mk3 is that the lowest part of the velocity range does not exist. The big mk3 does trigger velocity 10 when tapping softly (not very usable by the way, everything will disappear in a mix at that velocity) but the mikro jumps to a higher range with the softest touches. I personally don’t mind this, as I correct my own velocity curves inside addictive drums when I play my big Maschine because that softest range doesn’t work in my songs anyways.

Have you seen the video in my beginner course about velocity curves? If not, I recommend you check that out and play around with those. You might just find a nice resonse to the way you play.

Drumming on those pads is not very natural because the range is just super small. That’s one of the reasons I did not find playing “jazz” on the pads that satisfying. Some straightforward swing is ok, but the control over the dynamics makes it a bit too rough.

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Thanks for your insights. It’s really invaluable info. I’m a longtime student/player in various parts of the jazz universe (as a guitarist) so this may have colored my expectations for finger drumming hardware.

I’ve looked at your velocity curve settings vid a couple of times. It definitely requires some fine tuning but I can see the value. I haven’t really settled on a particular drum program yet but once I do I’ll get tweaking. Just exploring how all the pieces might work together at the moment.

Many thanks again for taking the time to respond to my questions. Love your work :slight_smile:

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