Not too long ago, I made a YouTube video detailing the differences between Alternate Mode’s malletKAT and the new Pearl
Unfortunately, that video was taken down due to my use of video footage from Pearl. I mistakenly figured it was fair use.
That being said, it sure is interesting that the same type of product from two different companies is stylized in the exact same way.
Table of Contents
- Pearl MalletSTATION Review
- What is the malletSTATION?
- Overview of the malletSTATION
- Wrapping Up
- Quick Overview of Pearl
Pearl MalletSTATION Review
Disclaimer: Links throughout the article are affiliated — some with Sweetwater and some with Amazon. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.
What is the malletSTATION?
The malletSTATION is an electronic mallet controller, similar to that of a percussion instrument like a xylophone.
It functions as like a standard MIDI controller. You are able to play pitched notes with your sticks or mallets as long as you have some sort of sound source.
Electronic drums function in a similar manner. The only difference here is that the malletSTATION has no internal sounds or sound module.
Overview of the
On November 8, 2017, Pearl uploaded a video to their YouTube channel announcing the Pearl malletSTATION (Sweetwater).
The model EM1 is a full-sized three-octave mallet controller designed for players of all genres and of all skill levels.
This product is intended to directly compete with Alternate Mode’s malletKAT.
Overall Look and Design
The malletSTATION looks incredible. The design is sleek and modern-looking. The body is a hybrid aluminum and steel chassis.
It’s also very thin, measuring in at a slim 1.6 inches. The pads also look awesome, which are made from soft silicone.
There are No Internal Sounds
The big issue I see here is that the
I don’t see that being a total game changer, but I could see kids in marching band not wanting to use their iPhone or Android for the
It will drain their batteries, limit the use of their phones, and isn’t as convenient as just plugging a cable into an amp.
I guess it kind of bugs me that this thing is just a glorified MIDI controller. Maybe I am biased because I actually own a malletKAT.
Mine does include the internal sounds and I find that it is far easier to setup and play this way, rather than hooking it up to a computer and DAW with virtual instruments.
malletSTATION’s Price Point
The malletSTATION is much more affordable than the malletKAT.
That being said, it does seem that Alternate Mode is trying to lower the cost of their new instruments, as the malletKAT 8 was recently released at a far lower cost than what it was in the past.
Programming is Simple
The malletSTATION is also far easier to program since there are multiple buttons on the front panel.
With the malletKAT, you have to plug in a sustain pedal to one of the back
I feel like you may be limited with the Pearl, but it’s a great entry-level option for something like this.
Serious players will still use the malletKAT at the pro level, but finally, there are more companies actually pursuing the idea of electronic keyboard percussion.
No Traditional MIDI In / Out
Another bummer with the malletSTATION for me, at least from what I can tell, is the lack of traditional MDI inputs and outputs.
I understand that we are now in a USB world, but it would have been awesome if I could have linked this to say, my Roland SPD-SX and then from there I hit my DAW.
This now means I have to use two USB cables going to my computer rather than just one MIDI cable like with my malletKAT and SPD-SX.
I am currently selling my malletKAT, but not necessarily in exchange for the
isn’t making any innovations to their products, so they are aging. When I had written this originally, that was the case.
Alternate Mode did just release the malletKAT 8 which is significantly less expensive and, although there is no USB I/O, does seem to perform better in professional situations.
By using the Pearl
I was originally a little cynical about the instrument, but as the weeks have gone on, I’ve realized that this is a strong competitor to Alternate Mode and that this is the future of mallet controllers.
The mallet dampening and the velocity problem are two giant issues Pearl must work hard to remedy before the instrument can be taken seriously at a professional level.
Pearl malletSTATION - Our Rating
This is the most affordable entry into MIDI mallet controllers, so I think it will be a successful venture for Pearl. What do you think? Leave a comment below and share the article if you enjoyed reading it!