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The MalletKAT Tour

MalletKAT MIDI marimba, xylophone, bells, or vibraphone

Accompanying video clips are marked with this icon:


The MalletKAT is a powerful MIDI controller that is designed to capture your playing gestures and performance. It transforms your performance into musical notes (MIDI data), noticing the details of dynamics, pressure, speed, dampening, pitch bend, vibrato, etc., creating an incredible musical representation of your playing. It is this attention to nuance and detail, combined with the marvel of FSR* sensing technology, that makes this instrument so enjoyable to play. It is by far the most powerful percussion controller ever created.

The KS Series MalletKAT comes with its own built in sound engine designed by Kurzweil Music Systems. This is the world's only hardware sound module that has 15 different vibraphones and 15 different marimbas to choose from. There are also over 1000 different instrument sounds available as well as around 256 drum sets and percussion. More about the sounds later.

The MalletKAT is the perfect instrument for schools and students. The KS version has a full percussion battery to play on. Timpani, bells, chimes, xylo and orchestral percussion, ethnic percussion, drum sets and more all preset and ready to go. For less than a quarter of the price of a single marimba, the percussionist can have access to all of these sounds and use them for performances and practice. What better way to practice in the dorm or to do a local gig, or even a Broadway show, than the lightweight, fully portable MalletKAT KS.

The MalletKAT uses our "nuBOUNCE" playing surface. It's our best playing surface ever. After testing hundreds of different surfaces, "nuBOUNCE" unanimously chosen to be the best pads to play on. Far better than dampened non-pitched wood and much more responsive than our previous acoustic feel pads.

We also made our instrument water resistant. This is vital for musicians playing outdoors on the field. We also have an optional power dot covering for the pads that's perfect for pit playing because the material is white, making the bars quite visible in the dark.



Our newest generation of FSR* sensors combined with our most powerful software to date makes the MalletKAT incredibly sensitive and durable. It responds to every musical gesture.


The MalletKAT's nuBOUNCE playing surface feels very natural and comfortable to play on. These new pads are not spongy, nor are they dead or hard to the strike. We believe we have found the perfect touch and feel for a mallet controller.


The MalletKAT "sees" 256 levels of dynamics. That's twice the resolution of MIDI. Now you can train each octave and individual pads independently to your own dynamic range. Tailor the MalletKAT to your own personal playing style.


Judge the quality of an instrument by how expressive and responsive it is. No one wants each sound on the instrument to speak the same length (gate) or volume (velocity) for every single strike of the instrument. That would make the instrument sound static and boring. Every non KAT drum/mallet controller is guilty of this. We've created new modes that adjust the gate by how fast you're playing (Auto Gate Mode). This makes your melodic lines sound much more musical, preventing note bleeding overlaps when playing fast and avoiding aggressive staccato strokes when wanting to play legato passages. The MalletKAT also has "Roll Modes". If your playing a timpani roll for example, you would want the roll to sound like a roll, not the dreaded "machine gun" effect. The power of the MalletKAT gives you this control. We also have Velocity Gate control modes that affect the sound by how hard or soft your playing in real time. These features have a dramatic overall effect on the expressive musicality and potential of this instrument.


The MalletKAT Express weighs less than 8 lbs! It is made out of durable aluminum. Our Octave Expanders weigh under 4 lbs. The standard three-octave MalletKAT is still extremely light compared to wood, only about 22 pounds.



MalletKATs range from the 2 Octave MalletKAT Express (expandable up to 4 octaves) to the 3 Octave MalletKAT Pro that is expandable to a full FIVE octaves. The MalletKAT Grand is 4 octaves and can also be expanded to 5 octaves.


We are not suggesting that the instrument is waterproof, but now our sensors have been modified to handle those dreaded bouts of drizzle when playing outdoors. Our display also has a covering to protect it from the rain. Speaking of rain, Alternate Mode offers the "KATdome" cover when the going gets tough. It is a clear plastic cover that completely covers the pads, but allows you to continue to play on them. The cover has no effect on the performance of the sensors. A must have for the frequent outdoor player.


The MalletKAT has been growing since the 1980's from version 1.0 to the current 7.x family. Imagine a controller still going strong after 25 years! The MalletKAT continues to grow as new software ideas are imagined or requested by MalletKAT users.


Once again, the MalletKAT 7KS is available with a high end professional sound engine powered by Kurzweil Music Systems. There are two stereo ¼" balanced TRS jacks (or mono summed) for the audio output as well as two ¼" line inputs. This allows you to plug your CD player or fellow musicians audio outputs into the MalletKAT. This signal gets sent to the audio outputs as well as the ¼" headphone jack on the front of the MalletKAT.


Don't let our software scare you. Our 128 FACTORY KITS are preset for any GM (General MIDI) Sound Module. If you see the "GM" symbol on your external synth, the MalletKAT is ready for playing without any programming.

Better yet, if you get a MalletKAT 7KS, the sound module will work 100% right out of box with the 128 USER KiTs.


As your needs grow, the MalletKAT grows with you. There are many many features packed in for future experimentation. These features are designed to keep you busy for many years to come.


From our online videos, forum and e-mail, to our KAT Knowledge Database and phone tech help, no other company offers our level of comfort and support. We're proud to offer our USA made products which are vital for fast turn-around for upgrades and repairs.


We offer stands, mallets, amps, sound modules, pedals and more; all tested and approved for MalletKAT playing.


The MalletKAT is perhaps the only electronic instrument that INCREASES in value over time.

* What is FSR and why do KAT instruments use it?

FSR stands for Force Sensing Resistor. It is the magic inside the MalletKAT that makes it so sensitive. Unlike standard piezo sensors that respond to vibration and are susceptible to crosstalk and uneven response, FSR responds only to pressure. This technology offers superior tracking across the entire dynamic spectrum.

Because FSR responds to pressure and not vibration, the MalletKAT is capable of sensing dampening strokes, dead strokes and even sustain on any pad. The MalletKAT is the only mallet controller in the world that has the ability to recognize these gestures. This is what separates musical toys from real expressive musical instruments.

The Controller

The MalletKAT is really several instruments in one. A User kit (or configuration - the MalletKAT holds 128 of them) is broken down into two basic keyboards, called Controller One and Controller Two. Each of these Controllers are independent from each other. They can have their own sounds, dynamic response, keyboard and octave range, etc. Alternating use of controllers (switching between two sounds) can be activated by stepping on a footswitch. The user kit can also be set up so that both controllers play at the same time across the entire instrument (Layered mode), partially overlapped, or active on only a portion of the instrument (Split Mode).

Each MalletKAT User kit also has a third layer called a Reassignment Layer. Every note on this layer can be programmed by the User to play any note on any octave on any of the 16 MIDI channels simultaneously. MIDI notes do not have to be contiguous. This means that you can set up special arrangements of non-pitched sounds on any pad, or you can set up your own scales etc. This Reassignment Layer can be used in combination with the other Controllers or it can replace them. There are 14 programmable Reassignments stored in memory that can be assigned to any of the 128 User Kits.

The MalletKAT can also be used as an alternate MIDI controller that is designed to control MIDI data (pan, vibrato, portamento, volume, etc...) instead of playing MIDI notes. The "black" keys can be assigned to Continuous Controller Numbers while the "white" keys send discreet values to these controllers.

The MalletKAT can use dynamics and note position to create X,Y sensing so that multiple parameters can be controlled by how hard you are playing and where you are playing on the keyboard at the same time. There are special latch functions that can toggle notes on and off at will. Pads can be assigned to send out program changes instead of notes. Combining these features in a User kit is a powerful way to control programs for MIDI Light Control or Loop Sequencers such as Ableton's LIVE or Spectrasonics STYLUS RMX.

The MalletKAT has 2 Foot Controller Inputs and three momentary inputs. All of these inputs are user programmable, offering tremendous power to the performer. In any particular performance, you can add subtle vibrato, pitch bend, sustain and gate time variances, blending of sounds, filter control, etc. just by using these input controls while playing on the pads. It is possible to suddenly shift octaves, change sounds, sustain chords, etc. while the "main" sound is active on the keyboard.

MalletKATs are Expandable

The two octave MalletKAT Express can be expanded up to 4 octaves. The three octave MalletKAT Pro can be expanded up to 5 octaves. The 4 octave MalletKAT Grand can be expanded to 5 octaves as well. These Expanders can come on and off depending on the need using easy to install strapping bars.

You will notice that there are no buttons on the MalletKAT for editing. We have created an interface that allows for total programming without having to put down your mallets. Notice the words underneath the "white" keys. When stepping on the Edit footswitch these pads turn into editing functions. This allows for instantaneous adjustments in playing such as octave range, gate time, velocity range, program change, volume change, etc. This is an incredibly easy interface that allows you to quickly change parameters to your hearts content, even while you are playing live.


Sounds and Setups

The MalletKAT has 128 Factory Setups (Factory Kits), 128 User Setups (User Kits) and 16 Chain Setups. Each Setup is a complete assignment of the sounds and functions.

The 128 Factory Kits are pre-programmed for General MIDI. That means that if you have a sound source that responds to General MIDI (it should have a GM MIDI logo displayed on it), the MalletKAT is ready to go without any programming involved - right out of the box. The instrument name that you see on the display is the sound that you will hear on your synth.

User Kits for the KS with Built in Sounds
The MalletKAT 7KS has a sound engine from Kurzweil Music Systems that has been modified especially for the MalletKAT and trapKAT. We picked our favorite 128 sounds and programmed them into the User Kits. That means that you do not have to know about the innards of MalletKAT programming in order to enjoy playing. Just scroll through the kits and play. All of the work has been done for you.

In these 128 User Kits, we loaded in the vibraphone and marimba sounds as well as the orchestral timpani, bells, chimes, xylophone, orchestral percussion, ethnic percussion drum sets as well as keyboards, basses, orchestral instruments, vocals, synth sounds and more. These sounds will keep you busy for quite some time. But if you want hear more, you can go through the instrument list of over 1000 sounds and create your own User Kits.

Click Here to check out the list of sounds in the MalletKAT 7KS:

Click Here to go to the Kurzweil Website to hear some of the sounds

* Compatible with ANY MIDI Sound Module

While the built-in sound of the KS card are convenient, the MalletKAT is compatible with any MIDI sound module, as well as using the instrument as a controller to VST plugins you might have on your computer.


User Setups (or Kits) also allow you have control over customizing your sounds. You can name your own User Kits, store bank and program change information, create your own MIDI mixer with stored volume change commands. Every User Kit has its own velocity response settings, gate time settings, octave range etc.

Chain Setups allow for non contiguous arrangements of your Setups (a sequential "chain" of User Kits). This is an extremely useful feature for setting up quick sound changes in a performance situation. These changes can be accessed by stepping on a footswitch or by hitting the backward/forward function pads. There are 16 Chains in the MalletKAT. Each Chain can have 16 User Setups.


Basic Features

We are sure by now, that as you read this introduction, you realize the incredible power that lies within the MalletKAT! The real power, however, is not just in the "bells and whistles". It's the creative software in the MalletKAT that gives you the capability for real expression and musicality. Here are just a few of these powerful features.


Individual Pad Training
Everyone plays differently. The MalletKAT has a feature that "learns" your playing style. When you train it, the MalletKAT converts your softest and hardest hits from 256 possible levels into the 128 velocity dynamics that's offered in MIDI. This gives the instrument the widest dynamic range possible.

Dynamic Articulations
Every Kit stores a set of minimum and maximum velocity ranges along with velocity curves to get the instrument dynamics tailored to personal taste. Dynamics can be used to change a sound at a particular velocity point. Besides setting any "gate" length of a sound, dynamics can also control how long a sound speaks. These "gate time settings" can also be controlled by a foot or breath controller. The MalletKAT can detect "rolls" and instructs the software to let the notes ring so they don't have the machine gun effect heard on other devices. This is extremely useful when playing timpani or cymbal swells.

Acoustic Emulations
The MalletKAT can recognize "dampen" strokes, a common vibraphone technique and now "dead" strokes, a common marimba style of articulation. Like Individual Pad Training, dampening and dead stroke articulations can be tailored to respond to your personal style of playing.

Mono Modes
Special Mono Modes have been developed to allow you to play solo instruments such as flutes or lead lines without the "bleeding" of sounds heard when using a sustain pedal on a synth. Instead, the sustain pedal in this mode creates a legato single line passage. It is now possible to create staccato / legato articulations effortlessly. Auto Gate functions also help control the "bleeding" of sounds when playing fast passages. The length of a sound can vary depending on how fast you are playing.

Advanced Features (with Video Demonstrations)

The MalletKAT has an enormous musical vocabulary. These features provide the tools necessary for the color and expression needed for making a Controller a REAL musical instrument. Below is a sampling of some functions available on any MalletKAT.


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The mallet player can use their natural dampening techniques to cause individual notes to be quieted. This is like the dampen technique used on a vibraphone/vibraharp. Dampen Mode also has a unique function when controlling loops.


This mallet gesture is now implemented on the MalletKAT. The dead stroke sound on a MalletKAT can be any alternate sound and can be used for interesting new effects.


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Imagine bending notes and adding vibrato to any sound without having to find a pitch wheel. Simply program a third footswitch to perform this function on the fly.


You can automatically switch sounds depending on how hard you play. Switch back and forth instantly with precision and speed.


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This feature allows you to accompany yourself. Use the sustain two footswitch to access and then sustain one sound underneath while you play a different sound on the main controller.


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You can play up to THREE sounds at once by layering them. Each sound is independently assigned its own channel, gate, etc.


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Instantly Split or OVERLAP the keyboard so that you can play different sounds at once without needing a footswitch to access them.


You can set up individual pads as toggles for loop control or you can use the "black" keys as a loop on and the "white" keys as loop offs. The MalletKAT memorizes what notes are on so that one key can toggle groups of notes on and off.


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This mode is designed for working with solo lead instruments. The sustain pedal acts as a legato pedal, giving total control over staccato/ legato passages. Solo instruments like a flute only plays one note at a time. The MalletKAT recreates this allowing for a realistic monophonic representation of these sounds complete with overlapping note adjustments for added expression.


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This mode is a necessary feature when playing drum and timpani rolls. This helps eliminate the dreaded machine gun effect when rolling on drum machines and other sound modules.


Each stroke on the keyboard alternates between two sounds. Each sound is totally independent from each other.


Want to accompany yourself? No problem. In this mode, the MalletKAT "knows" if you are playing a melody line or a chord. It will switch sounds automatically depending on how you are playing. There are three variations of this incredible feature built into our current version.


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There are 14 reassignments. You can layer three sounds per setup, or use the new reassignments to LATCH certain pads in combination with your existing layer. These latch pads can control your loops with Start/Stop Commands. Reassignment mode can also replace your normal chromatic pad layout to any MIDI note and channel assignment you desire per pad. Great for special "percussion setups". Reassignment 14 is designed to send out program changes instead of note numbers. This can be used to control MIDI lighting and other devices that accept MIDI program change commands.


Automatically control the length of a sound by how hard or soft you play. Adds expression and realism to any performance simply by naturally using your dynamics while playing.


Playing fast runs with the sustain pedal down can be tricky business when trying to control note bleed. Auto Gate helps by making notes shorter when playing fast. Of course, this feature is programmable.


The MalletKAT has 128 GENERAL MIDI Factory Setups that are pre-programmed as well as 128 User Kits that are pre-programmed for the built in KS Sounds. All of the User Kits can be modified and stored by the User.


Now you can organize the 128 User Kits into groups (chains). There are 16 Chains each with 16 Steps. Arrange any sound next to any sound for instant access. A must for live performance!


You can name your own 128 User Setups, use the General MIDI instrument names or eliminate all instrument names completely, allowing more data to show on the display.


Assign any MIDI note and channel to the list of rhythms (sequences) built in. Tap in your tempo and go. Great for practicing. Many odd time patterns available.


A controller needs to automatically set up your synths and sound modules, and nothing does it better than MalletKAT. The MalletKAT sends out three bank change (MSB, LSB), program change, and volume change commands per kit. It also sends out "controller values" so you can preset settings for reverb, chorus, delay and more, automatically. You can further adjust these settings via our two controller pedal inputs and one breath control input. Velocity ranges, octave range, gate times, channel assignment, etc. are also stored in one of the 128 User Kits. You have the ultimate control you need to make music. The MalletKAT acts as a MIDI Mixer built right into each setup.

DJ SURFACE CONTROL (Real Time Control Mode)

Turn your MalletKAT into a virtual surface controller. Control programs like REASON and LIVE right from the MalletKAT. In this mode, the MalletKAT's black keys represent the knobs and buttons on your synth. The white keys move the knobs left (low notes) to right (hi notes). Play rhythms in real time to create effects only possible with the MalletKAT. Use the MalletKAT's other controller (layer) to play live on top of these effects.


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Explore new exciting rhythms with this built in feature. Call up a pattern, assign the amount of repeats and feedback, and start a rhythmic jam. These MIDI echoes are also transposable. You can create thousands of rhythmic and melodic motifs that react and interact with your playing.


The MalletKAT can function as a MIDI Merger. Incoming MIDI channel information can be filtered, routed, etc. A real time saver in the studio.


You can assign special functions to the footswitches such as pitch bend, combine sustain functions, even play MIDI notes (up to four) on the footswitch. The two Controller Pedals can send out data on any of the 128 CC numbers. Special functions such as Blend (), Warp, etc. are also featured as well as the option to use these inputs as KIT INCREMENT and DECREMENT for fast Setup changes.


Lots of global "geek" controls like auto train value adjustments, synth fine tuning adj., data stripping, CC# assignments, scan control, MIDI routing, etc.

Perfomance Videos

Click Here to view dozens of performance videos feature the MalletKAT!!

Thanks for taking the Tour!

We trust you will discover that the malletKAT pro is like no other instrument made on this planet. Our passion for excellence is represented by the detail in design, expression and functionality built into every KAT controller created. The longevity of the malletKAT has matured its software and playability, enabling unprecedented control for a musician's personal expression. We look forward to having you become part of the KAT family!

Mario DeCiutiis
President, Alternate Mode Inc