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I have seen the worst manual ever: MalleKAT


Magpel

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Now, I am not a PhD MIDI/Synth geek , but I am not a noob either. I have worked to the bottom of some pretty heavy keyboards (Z1, etc.) and made my way through some tangled manuals from Korg, Roland, not to mention some pretty dense software documentation

 

So, when the tech-naive vibraphonist/keyboardist in my band told that the documentation of his new MalletKAT 7 KS was confusing him, I just assumed I was going to be able to step right in and help him out. Wrong, wrong wrong. In all my years of manuals, I have never ever seen a disaster like this, on more levels than I can begin to describe.

 

There are NO useful definitions ("A kit is a set of parameters that make up a kit" and that's one of the more lucid examples!); no instructional steps of any kind.

 

Wow. Just wow. it is not even my instrument, and I feel a burning frustration. I can not understand how anyone could go to market with documentation like this.

 

Just had to vent.

Check out the Sweet Clementines CD at bandcamp
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I feel your pain. Poorly written manuals suck.

 

Alternate Mode (the people who took over KAT products when they went belly up back in the late 90's) have an active forum that Mario (president) frequents... or at least used to (haven't been there in a while). Chances are good that you could get help there, plus an ear that matters for your venting! Good luck!

Custom Music, Audio Post Production, Location Audio

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"If be not work, turn on again."

 

- Roland Corporation c. 1980

 

:freak:

Any Roland mid 80's-early 90's manual was a classic example of "engrish." I had a Roland A-80 controller from 1991 and I couldn't figure out anything after multiple readings, following directions step-by-step, etc.; I contacted Roland USA about how to do certain tasks, and they actually sent me a 6 page translation of the manual that explained nearly everything....

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By the way...it is a well built product, and the Kurzweil soundset (built in module with new KS product) seems pretty good as far as we can tell---of course, we can't tell how to access any sounds other than 128 in the user set.

 

But I think the problem here runs much deeper than the manual. The terminology is unorthodox and confusing--Kits, Setups, Chains, Controllers, and other terms are used in unfamiliar ways, and they are almost completely undefined in the manual and there is not a single term clearly used to describe what you or I would call a "patch" or a "sound" or a "sample" or a "combi" or a "preset." "Bank" is not used conventionally, though there is an awfully unusual use of the terms "LSB" and "MSB."

 

 

They have eschewed the conventional language altogether, and it is a very confusing way to start approaching a new instrument. The manual is beyonf useless, and thus frustration bordering on blazing anger sets in quickly, both at the manual for failing to tutor you on an arcane system, and at the arcane system itself.

 

Some novel language, obviously, is required due to the novel nature of the controller, but I am telling you...this is crazy.

 

The player bought it because he was tired of lugging a vibraphone around and because we play a lot of club situations in which micing a virbaphone effectively has been problematic. So I DO have a stake in this, even though it is not my instrument. Right now, we can't even figure a way to call up a sound short of tapping the increment button 98 times to get to sound #98.

 

BTW, my first serious keyboard was a classic Roland from the Late '80s, early '90s--the U20--so I have done my time in that particular hell.

 

I am telling you guys: the MalletKAT manual, v. 6, is unprecedented,

Check out the Sweet Clementines CD at bandcamp
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one more stab at this...

 

have you tried their website yet? www.alternatemode.com

 

Forums, knowledgebase, guides, video help desk.... there looks to be a plethora of videos on most aspects of using / setting up / programming the unit.

 

Get busy, get happy! :)

 

Yes, thanks for the link. My friend has been all over that forum and has the "for dummies" DVD which does a good job of physical setup and connections but has very little to say about step-by-step programming and--I emphasize--baseline definitions of terms and functions.

 

Believe me, I take no pleasure in criticizing. I am A) marveling at what I saw to an audience that I know will appreciate it and B), yes, this company should get their documentation act together. The KS is shipping without a product specific manual. it is shipping with the V.6 manual that has no reference to the onboard Kurzweil tone module I could see this becoming a real issue for them. They have a good niche product, for sure. I have worked in documentation and technical writing in the past and know what's entailed. They need to hire somebody good.

 

I.e., my intent is not to bring a company down. Rather than to lift them up with some tough love. For real.

Check out the Sweet Clementines CD at bandcamp
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I remember well the manual for my Roland Juno 60, from about 1980, IIRC. With a few notable exceptions, the whole thing could have been replaced with these words:

 

"Try knob. Listen. Learn."

 

Instead, for every parameter FOOBAR, it was this:

 

FOOBAR: adjust FOOBAR of sound

 

Fortunately, it was a simple synth, and a few things were explained well enough, such as how to access the "extra" patch banks by holding TWO buttons (!) and how to save to / restore from cassette.

 

I don't think they improved much by my JX10, but as I recall there were good block diagrams -- in any case, I managed.

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I never actually saw it, but didn't Yamaha have a famous idiomatic error with setup instructions in the OM for the CP-70B?

 

Yup - when the japanese translated "screw the legs into the case" to english it was printed "f*ck the legs into the case" in the manual.

 

I've seen my share of poorly translated manuals in non-music gear too (at work!!!).

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From what I've seen, Roland manuals have not improved over the years.

 

D7

 

Then you either don't clearly remember how bad things were in the 80's, or you really haven't read their latest manuals. FAR better now.

 

If by "FAR" you mean they have improved from "this manual is utterly useless" to "this manual is terrible," then yes, they are FAR better now.

 

D7

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From what I've seen, Roland manuals have not improved over the years.

 

D7

 

Then you either don't clearly remember how bad things were in the 80's, or you really haven't read their latest manuals. FAR better now.

 

If by "FAR" you mean they have improved from "this manual is utterly useless" to "this manual is terrible," then yes, they are FAR better now.

 

D7

 

I don't know about that. I don't own many Roland products, but my Juno-60 and Juno-G manuals are pretty sophisticated. The Juno-60 is simple enough to use, but the Juno-G is a pretty complex, and I have to compliment Roland on their manual because it's very clear, even when it comes to the nitty gritty stuff like programming arpeggios and loops. MIDI could be easier to use, however...

~ Sean

Juno-60, Juno-G, MicroBrute, MS-20 Mini, PX-5S, R3, etc.

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