Kenton MIDIStream Wireless MIDI

Setup could not be easier. There is none. The thing has a manual. No idea why... The box contains the Transmitter unit, the Receiver, an Adapter for the transmitter, a 9 Volt Battery (When's the last time you got a 9 volt instead of a "Batteries Not Included" slip?) and the Belt Clip/Velcro piece.

The Catch: Zendrums need power. They draw it from MIDI cables. You need to power your Zendrum. The Answer: A battery merge box made by Chris DeHaas - Futureman's tech. You can get one at for about $60.

So what you have is the receiver device, which attaches to your sound module via 1 MIDI cable. Its very, very similar to a wireless internet router - a box with 2 antennae. The two antennae apparently read two different signals, so if one drops, the other is there as a backup. Nice. From your ZD, a 1' cable to the Battery box, clipped to your strap, then another 1' cable to the MIDI transmitter clipped also to your strap. The transmitter is the size of a pack of cigarettes. But you shouldn't smoke.

The receiver has a pretty blue Power Light, a Receiving light for each antennae, and a MIDI light. Each flickers to show activity. Ooooh. Aaaah.

The belt clip is a sturdy metal deal with a Vecro block attachable by an adhesive side. I wouldn't use it as a conventional belt clip, however. Strapped to the Zendrum strap itself is much more comfortable.


It sounds a bit much, but it's not. Wear the ZD, and at first you're all careful not to dislodge the gear, but playing, you don't even notice it.

I played for about an hour non stop. I ran into my backyard. I would say the range is about 50'-60' in each direction - certainly enough for an average stage. When you leave range, it cuts out -and I mean cuts the sound totally - not that it stops receiving. It cuts any sustaining sound. If you jump right back in range, it reconnects. No reset or anything.

At no time, except when out of range, did I experience anything other than exactly what would happen if I were cabled. Setting changes were flawless, and sensitivity seemed perfect.

The obvious catch - 30 feet from your module, its hard to read settings, so you better know your numeric equivalents of everything on the ZD. AND - if you are travelling away from your speakers - get ready for sound delay. Not MIDI delay - but for the sound to take a moment to reach you. First you'll notice the pads feeling a bit 'mushy' - like they're not responding as crisply as they should. Then you start fighting the lay back of the beat and it becomes uncomfortable trying to play and ignore the delay. Of course, the answer is either adapt, or don't travel so far from the speakers.

It certainly gives you an amazing freedom. As much as it was a leap to go from behind a kit to standing and moving around with a ZD,
this is another leap. No tangles, tripping (usually other band members), pulling or such. Both the Battery Box and the Transmitter
fit in the pouch on the outside of the ZD case (with their cables) with no trouble. While recording a radio spot, I was able to position myself in a corner where I would definitely not have been able to get to had I been cabled.

I have nothing negative to report and no complaints. The Zendrum impresses the crowd even more when you wander around with it. At
this point, battery life (a 9 volt in each of the two boxes) is my only concern, easily solved by switching batteries between sets. Needed? Beats me, but who wants to go dead in the middle of a gig? I have about 3 hours logged in on one set of batteries at home, but I like playing safe live.

Overall, it is very impressive. Presently, they go for around $650. This is not small change. Neither is what it does to your live show.


  The KENTON MidiStream Wireless MIDI System available at Patchman Music $649
  Battery Mergebox For Wireless Operations available From Chris DeHaas $60