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#146520 - 06/14/05 05:53 PM Need soft synth crash course.
Scott Langholff Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 06/09/02
Posts: 3106
Loc: Pensacola, Florida, USA
Hello

I again find myself interested in trying out an arranger soft synth set-up.

As it is, I am planning on getting a decent laptop very soon. I was at first just interested in using it for lead sheets.

Now that I start thinking about it, if I can find some software that I like, is relativily easy to use and sounds good, then, hey why not? I figure that this would be one arranger system that as better sounds and stuff came out, I could hopefully continue updating just the way I want it. Plus the idea of a 6 pound laptop and a 6 pound midi controller keyboard just sounds way too appealling to not at least give this a fair trial.

So, Frank, Rikki, Bluzeplayer and all you other soft synth techies I would sure appreciate some input on this. I have done a search and have a very basic idea from former posts on what this is all about, but it's a lot of bits and pieces to try and put together for me.

First I'll tell you what it is I want to end up doing. I would like to be able to sit down and play this soft synth just like I do on my Tyros. Pick a style, pick from a bunch of my favorite user voices or Registration memory and just start playing. I would like to be able to have ease of going between the different style variations and also want to be able to change solo voices quickly on the fly.

I am trying Jammer Live. I like it that it was so easy to just start poking buttons without doing any reading on how to do it. I like the idea that there are a bunch of ready made styles for it. Although, I didn't think a lot of those styles sounded that great, but that may make a difference if I am using Hypercanvas, Super Quartet, Sound Canvas, etc.

I like the appearance of Live Styler. It looks like it would be easy to work visually. Although, this one I am going to have to download the manual and do some reading before I could figure out step one.

One man band seems to have a lot of good functions on it. I will need time to test it out.

I've got a list of more questions and points but I didn't want to overload with too many questions.

What's the easiest way for me to approach this using the info I've given so far?

Thanx
Scott
http://www.ScottLMusic.com

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#146521 - 06/14/05 08:57 PM Re: Need soft synth crash course.
rikkisbears Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 12/22/02
Posts: 4819
Loc: NSW,Australia
Hi Scott,
a software setup is not going to be as straight forward to use as your Tyros.
OMB & Live Styler both can use psr .sty files but unlike an arranger keyboard, they don't use a specific soundsource which has it's pro's & cons. Good part is you have the choice of softsynth/hardware synth you want to use, be it an inexpensive soundfont setup like mine or a top quality setup like Franks. Not so good, is that you have to tweak the styles so that they sound good with your choice of soundsource.

Tweaking the styles isn't a hassle for me as I use relatively few. Style collecting was a bit of an obbession of mine. Wasn't till I started using OMB that I realized how few styles I really used. Now I have a few favourites that can be used with a variety of songs, I just create a new intro, sometimes an ending that suits the song, this way it's not quite as obvious that I'm using the same style for a number of songs. I just add styles as I need them. I mainly play piano voice for melody.

I personally prefer OMB software, mainly because of it's style editing functions. Haven't tried Live Styler recently. I like Jammer Live, but the styles don't suit the music I like to play. Even though you can create styles for the program, I found it a tad confusing,and didn't persevere.( Haven't totally given up on it yet).

Laptop 512mb
OMB software
ASIO4All driver
midi yoke
Forte Ensemble
Live Synth Pro/ or sfz / or sfz+
Soundfonts/ Hypercanvas
Clavinova Controller/Lead Melody Piano Voice

If you want to play around with fonts try downloading Synthfont ( midifile player ) http://www.synthfont.com/
and sgm128 soundfonts http://www.sf2midi.com/index.php?page=sdet&id=5038
and try playing a few midifiles via this set up.


best wishes
Rikki

[QUOTE]Originally posted by Scott Langholff:
[B]Hello

I
_________________________
best wishes
Rikki

SX900, PA800, Band in a Box 2019
V Arranger/Ketron SD2

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#146522 - 06/15/05 08:37 AM Re: Need soft synth crash course.
TresorTX Offline
Member

Registered: 09/20/04
Posts: 95
Loc: Dallas, Boston, Orlando
Thanks for asking this question Scott, I am in the same boat with wanting to explore the world of SoftSynths but have not idea where even to start learning about it. Questions such as, Is it practical or difficult to use in a performance environment, or should it be used to compliment an existing arranger workstation or is it meant to function as replacement to an arranger? What about the quality of sounds? Do external sound fonts need to be purchased in order for the thing to really sound decent? So many questions... and sometime just feel to dumb to ask. I'm also looking for a good starting point.

Thx, Russ
_________________________
Russ Bolduc
russbolduc@tx.rr.com
817-714-0488

PSR S900
Korg PA1XPRO
Kurzweil PC3X
Logitech Z

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#146523 - 06/15/05 12:30 PM Re: Need soft synth crash course.
Starkeeper Offline
Member

Registered: 09/16/02
Posts: 1704
Loc: Toronto
I found it extremely difficult to setup, but your mileage may vary. I didn't think I was that dumb when it came to software, but I was wrong.
If you try to setup Live Styler (unless it's been changed) the note numbers are totally off and you need to do trial and error to find the split points. When I get home on the weekend I could give you the split numbers.
I did eventually get Live Styler to work and OMB is still giving me one problem. So the OMB software is not configured properly.
I am using using OMB to play styles, and I am very happy with the results, but have yet to find decent lead voices that are as good as My Roland EM20 or Yamaha PSR550. I have not given up yet, but this is a slow process.
It would be desirable to have 76 note controller keyboard.(I don't have this)
My softsynth setup:
512MB ram
OMB/Live Styler arranger software
Synergy GS Sound bank
Soundblaster Live card
Roland EM20 arranger as controller.
2.1 sound system. Amazing bass.
Good luck, patience and perserverence.
Starkeeper
_________________________
I play Roland EM20 and Yamaha PSR550

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#146524 - 06/15/05 12:45 PM Re: Need soft synth crash course.
Starkeeper Offline
Member

Registered: 09/16/02
Posts: 1704
Loc: Toronto
"Is it practical or difficult to use in a performance environment,"
Can't answer that question because I don't play live. that's one for Bluzeplayer.
"or should it be used to compliment an existing arranger workstation or is it meant to function as replacement to an arranger?"
I am using my setup at the moment to enhance my arranger, because my arranger has only 1 variation and you cannot load new styles. Eventually I would like it to replace the arranger completely.
"What about the quality of sounds?"
That is totally dependent on the quality of your soundfonts/vst/etc.
"Do external sound fonts need to be purchased in order for the thing to really sound decent?"
There are a lot of free fonts available, but if you want high quality sounds, you would have to pay for them. It all depends on YOUR definition of decent. I haven't found any inexpensive lead voices that I find decent.
"So many questions... and sometime just feel to dumb to ask. I'm also looking for a good starting point."
Ask away, that's what Synthzone is for. I feel really dumb too, but you would be surprised how many other members are benefiting from the answers to those dumb question.
Starkeeper
_________________________
I play Roland EM20 and Yamaha PSR550

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#146525 - 06/15/05 01:50 PM Re: Need soft synth crash course.
Frank L. Rosenthal Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 03/18/00
Posts: 1008
You could do a search on this forum to find all the components of my system. The search words you could use are flr2004, flr2005, etc.

In general, it is not to difficult to setup a system to meet your needs. It does take considerable upfront effort to get it all setup and working (acquiring and installing the software - effects, samples, host and so on). Plus you need to pay attention to your hardware (keyboard/controller and computer/soundcard).

I have used my system many times in a live performance situations without difficulties. Yes, it is true that the control surface is not as good as hardware based solutions, e.g., Tyros or others. I got use to the shortcomings and live with them to enjoy vastly superior sounds. My system is expensive - very expensive, e.g., my saxophones costs around $350. I just bought EastWest Colossus at $995. As you can see it quickly adds up but it is worth it. There is nothing more delightful than to sit down and play a jazz combo with a very very very very good piano, jazz guitar, bass and drums.

To equal the quality of the common hardware based arranger keyboards would of course cost less than such keyboards (assuming you already have a computer).

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#146526 - 06/15/05 01:55 PM Re: Need soft synth crash course.
Starkeeper Offline
Member

Registered: 09/16/02
Posts: 1704
Loc: Toronto
Why bother?
I have limited funds and an environmentalist to boot. Upgrading a keybed, amplifier, speaker, os, styles, voices to a new keybed, amplifier, speaker, os, styles, voices just to get 2 new voices is ludicrous. I have done this.
When it is all setup, and working, I can upgrade a voice by just upgrading a voice. Lower cost, less consumerism, no enviromental impact.
Starkeeper
_________________________
I play Roland EM20 and Yamaha PSR550

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#146527 - 06/16/05 07:26 AM Re: Need soft synth crash course.
Bluezplayer Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 11/10/00
Posts: 2195
Loc: Catskill Mountains, NY
It can be relatively simple or it can be as complex as you want.

As far as the "free soundfont" issue goes, my opinion is that for me, several make for excellent arranger section or backing instruments, and then you can add quality voices for lead instruments. Good free soundfonts include Magic SF V2, SGM 128 & 180, Real Font 2.1, and there are others.

I think what often gets overlooked here is that your PSR's, Rolands, etc, come preset with effects and everything already set to go "out of the box" Try this.. Turn all of the effects off in your arranger, and see if the styles still sound good. I bet they don't. Well most of the Sf's come "dry" as well, so you see what happens here.

So how do I fix this ? I use OMB, and route it's output to Xlutop Chainer via a virtual midi cable ( Maple ). I open my SF's up in a SF host ( SFZ+ in my case ), and open that up in XL Chainer ( Vst host app ). Chainer also hosts effects that play in real time with the soundfont app. I have quite a few high quality effects, but even some of the freeware effects from Kjaerhaus, Classic, Frazier, and Mda can be rather good. Makes all the difference in the world.

Ax far as lead voices go, I'm a synth nut, so Pro53, Pentagon, Absynth, Korg Legacy, and a few others work well for me. For Guitars, Dasample Electro Acoustic and Music Labs Real Guitar as well as the Sonic Implants Telecaster and PRS offerings ( again the last 2 are soundfonts and benefit nicely from add on effects ). Organs are covered by NI's B-4, while electric basses are handled nicely by Steinbergs VB1 ( freeware btw ).

In contrast, my Motif ES6 is a nice all around workstation, yet I think I can surpass almost any voice on it sonically in the software realm. The softsynths I listed above by far surpass ( for me ) what is available on the ES6. No it isn't cheap, but inexpensive was not the criteria for me. Quality sounds that don't necessarily sound like typical sampled kb sounds was priority one.

AJ
_________________________
AJ

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#146528 - 06/16/05 11:13 AM Re: Need soft synth crash course.
Scott Langholff Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 06/09/02
Posts: 3106
Loc: Pensacola, Florida, USA
For me it's the 101 questions of getting started. Finding the basic steps to just make it at least seem worth the effort to pursue this. My wife and I seem to have a difficult time getting over the initial getting it rolling stage.

Tuesday night I had the results I mentioned in my openning post.

I decided to have my wife help me with this yesterday as she is my computer guru. She has some training in operating computers. She also built my present computer. However, working with soft synth stuff is new to both of us. Very frustrating indeed.

Not knowing what all the terms mean and how to start I suppose is the main issue.

So, last night Jen tried to help out. Things were not working as smoothly as it did the first night for me.

Things crashing and locking up. Instructions that are seemingly not user friendly. I think the people making these programs are techies and what seems like easy instructions to them is not clear to the beginner lay person.

We mentioned last night why we stopped trying this the last time and why we were not going to try this again. I would hate to quit if there is really something in this for me, but at this stage, I guess I just don't know if it's really worth it for me.

I would be willing to bet the above are experienced by a lot of people.

What I think I want to do is to be able to get my Tyros to work as the controller which we have been unable to do. I would like to be able to try the 3 arranger softwares with Hypercanvas as the sounds used in the styles and for solo voices. Sounds like a simple enough request to me.

Any suggestions on how to just get going to get some success to make it worthwhile to continue?

Thanx
Scott



[This message has been edited by Scott Langholff (edited 06-16-2005).]

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#146529 - 06/16/05 12:14 PM Re: Need soft synth crash course.
Musikman4Christ Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 10/01/04
Posts: 17
Loc: USA
Right now, I am using OMB 7.1 with a Yamaha Motif ES7. ITs 76 keys, so it really helps out when splitting the keyboard for the left part that will be used for Chord recognition. I also choose a differnt Sound for the left side of the keyboard split so that it plays as I change chords. I mostly choose Piano mixed with strings. It sounds really awsome!

For the right side of the Keyboard split, I have another two splits.
One one I have lead voice setup for Channel 3 I think. I have Saxophone setup for that one, using one of the available PLG150-VL synth cards for the MOtif ES.
For the Other Split, I have another Lead voice setup. The reason, Im saying this, is because OMB truly works awsome with all the built in sounds of the Yamaha Motif ES.

Just last night I recorded a complete song in one pass with OMB and the ES.
This is the main reason I love OMB. I can record its midi Output directly to all the sixteen midi tracks of the MOtif ES in one single pass. Once I have all those midi tracks on the ES with the Song information I played in realtime from OMB, then all I do is disconnect OMB from the ES, (internal MIDI switch on the ES) and playback my whole song on the ES.

The awsome thing now, is that everything I played on OMB, bass, drums, fills, everything, including leads, are in their respective midi track on my ES! Yep!! Now all I have to do is edit the tracks if I have to. If not, then thats it. Song is finished.

I can now whole heartedly recommend OMB either to record in the studio or to play live.

The cool thing too, is that the Yamaha Motif ES drumkits, I believe like 40 of them all, respect the GM standard. This means that no matter what drumkit you choose, you sounds will sound right. Like the song I did last night, I didnt like the GM drumkit, so once I finished the recording, I went to sound selection, changed the drumkit to an awsome Rock Stereo kit, and saved my mix.
Now on playback that kit plays back the entire drum track!
Same goes for all the other midi tracks. If you want a different sound, just choose it and thats it.

The only sounds I have had problems with are the megavoices for Bass and guitar. Sometimes they dont sound right so I choose something else. But thats it. I have to learn how to tweak the mega voices so they sound right with the recorded song.

If you are going to get a Laptop, and dont wanna deal with software issues etc etc... Get a Yamaha Motif ES6. Its much smaller than my ES7. the ES6 has only 61 keys but still can be used fine bigtime. Since I use the PC keyboard to select my variations, fills, endings, intros, etc etc, I dont really care if I have a 76 key synth or 61 keys.

But since youre going to get a laptop, you can get the ES, buy the Mlan16e option, which turns your ES into a complete Digital soundcard with analog inputs, and you can send you voice and instruments directly to your laptop via a single FIREWIRE cable. Yep. ONE CABLE MAN.
you can send MIDI, up to four midi Ports with 16 midi channels each!! Thats a lot of channels man.

ANd you can send up to 16 audio tracks from your Motif ES digitally too!!

I dont work for yamaha man, but I know what I have and I know what it can do. I truly beleive that Hardware and software can live along now with peace, so you can have the best of both worlds. Hardware synth, software synths, and record to your laptop live. Or use OMB, record it to your Motif live, send it to your PC live as audio. Oh man, the possibilities are mind boggling!!!!

God bless you man, what ever you decide to do, I wish you the best!

Cheers,

Musikman
_________________________
Peace,

Musikman
Email:
Musikman4Christ@yahoo.com

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