We took a look at the Mandala drum controller last year: it’s a multi-zone drum controller you can play with sticks. Different zones give the device extra expression, packed into a compact area. And the manufacturers know something about controller design, having worked on the D-Beam IR controller for Roland (among other things). Check comments on our last post: the combination of the finely-detailed zones, smart MIDI configuration, and quality pads have made people fall in love with playing this thing.

That’s good enough as-is. Make the Mandala really cheap (US$349 list!) and add a USB plug for use with a computer, and you’ve really got something interesting. (It’s now purple instead of red as pictured here.) “But wait, there’s more!” These guys also bundled 4 GB of samples, including some 3,000 snare drum samples. That makes it arguably a better deal than some soundware libraries that lack hardware. I like the way they describe it: “It’s a synthesizer with drumsticks, with a drum pad so sensitive it responds even to a fingertip touch.” If they’re halfway there, this could be a must-have.

I have to get one of these in for review. Shipping in December, apparently just in time for the holidays. This one could rise to the top of our holiday list.

Mandala Drum Product Site