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#170429 - 01/08/05 02:10 PM First steps in the world of Soft Synths
Route 66 Offline
Member

Registered: 06/30/00
Posts: 803
Loc: Braganca, Portugal
I recently needed to purchase a new laptop for my (non-musical) work, which involves heavy computations dealing with mathematical and physics models. Thus I needed a reasonably fast machine. I ended buying a model with a 64 bit AMD CPU/1G RAM/80GB-HD-5200rpm, and I'm running both Windows XP Pro and Linux (the latter versions of Linux already take advantage of the 64 bit processing power). After having read so many posts - specially by Frank Rosenthal - about Soft Synths, attempting to make my own experiments was a too big temptation. The on-board sound board is crappy, so I went on, bought a PCMCIA Creative Audigy 2 ZS (asio drivers - 2.0), and loaded a couple of free soundfonts with the help of Forte Ensemble. I'm still fiddling around with the software, trying to find a good compromise between latency and quality, but I like what I hear. First impressions are that one can sound very good with free stuff only. The idea of a huge choice of sounds of the highest quality in a small box, is very appealing to me. The laptop is an inseparable tool of my working life and adding the making of music is great. Wherever I go, I just have to find a mute keyboard, select the midi channel and play my favourite instruments with the best quality. For now, I do not intend to install any arranger software, only play single instruments, or simple splits/layers, but who knows later I decide to take the time to check how playable (live) is a computer arranger?... Thanks to Frank Rosenthal with whom I learned so much.

-- Josť.

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#170430 - 01/08/05 11:12 PM Re: First steps in the world of Soft Synths
rikkisbears Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 12/22/02
Posts: 4464
Loc: NSW,Australia
Hi Jose,
no doubt Frank will be happy to hear he has another convert.Another member who appreciates all his help.

best wishes
Rikki

[QUOTE]Originally posted by Route 66:
[B]I
_________________________
best wishes
Rikki

Korg PA4x, Korg PA3X, PSR S950, Band in a Box 2018
V Arranger/Ketron SD2

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#170431 - 01/09/05 05:13 AM Re: First steps in the world of Soft Synths
Frank L. Rosenthal Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 03/18/00
Posts: 1008
Thanks Jose. Once you start down this path you will never return. Yes there will be some bumps - but you will overcome them - ALL of them!!!

Rikki, I am so excited. The more that take this alternative the more ideas will be generated. These are exciting times.

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#170432 - 01/09/05 06:43 AM Re: First steps in the world of Soft Synths
Bluezplayer Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 11/10/00
Posts: 2195
Loc: Catskill Mountains, NY
Hi all,

Jose, I agree with Frank. Once I went to soft stuff, I haven't looked back either. Don't get me wrong, I still love my Motif ES6 and find that it's very useful for playing live, but there are also many times that it serves only as a controller kb for my desktop setup.

One Man Band is very playable in real time. I'll admit that I am still more comfortable on my PA80 in a live setting, but I did use OMB at the last function ( a private party ) I played at, just to give it a try, and there were no issues.

Good idea to get a better soundcard. I actually tried out a set of generic ASIO drivers with my laptop's internal soundcard ( ASIO for all ), and I was able to reduce the latency to under 10 ms, but the sound quality was fair at best.. no surprise at all. Also, these drivers would not function at all with Sonar ( they worked fine in FL studio though )

Good luck with it all. There are plenty of freeware soundfonts and soft synths to get you going. The commercial stuff rivals and probably in some cases surpasses anything out there hardware right now, and usually at a fraction of the cost.

Putting it all into perspective, I would tell you that my laptop is by far the most powerful synthesizer I've ever had. Nothing, I've had, not even the ES6, comes close at all.

AJ


[This message has been edited by Bluezplayer (edited 01-09-2005).]
_________________________
AJ

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#170433 - 01/11/05 02:33 AM Re: First steps in the world of Soft Synths
Route 66 Offline
Member

Registered: 06/30/00
Posts: 803
Loc: Braganca, Portugal
Thanks, Rikki and Frank.
AJ, your detailled soft synth 'tutorial' in Terry's forum also helped me a lot. I'm sure that with time, I'll have questions, but for now, I'm surprised how easy it was to sound so good with just so little time invested. The sounds I'm using: Splendid Piano, Mr Ray LE, sYnergY GS (not free but inexpensive), Merlin GM bank, Organized Trio, this terrific Rhodes ( http://www.learjeff.com/sf/sf.html ), and a couple of other specif instrument soundfonts. Does anybody know where I can find a good bagpipe soundfont (preferably free)? I'm also using Forte Ensemble (not free) and sfz (free). I can't imagine how good are the commercial soft instruments...
-- Josť.

[This message has been edited by Route 66 (edited 01-11-2005).]

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#170434 - 01/11/05 07:08 AM Re: First steps in the world of Soft Synths
trident Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 08/22/04
Posts: 1457
Loc: Athens, Greece
Hi all,
I would like to ask 2 questions:

1) where is that tutorial in "Terry's" forum???
I am new to softsynths and any tutorials can be useful. Would you be kind and provide the link?

2) The 2nd question is much trickier: Do you have any idea about how the SB Audigy 2 ZS sounds? Do I need ASIO 2.0 or 1.0???

Let me explain: Having "played around" with some softsynth demos I downloaded from the net, I subsituted my el cheapo 5-6 Euros CMI 8738 soundcard (that is the chipset model, found in many integrated sound solutions) for a borrowed SB Live.
To my dismay, SB live does NOT provide native ASIO drivers, so it was ASIO4ALL time again.
Trying to look things up on the net, I found that Creative makes another sound card series identical to SB live, but badges them EMU xxxx and offers them at a higher price, aiming at professional musicians and so on. These cards DO HAVE ASIO drivers by Creative along with special software aiming to please any musician in a budget.

To cut a long story short: The cards are identical, the drivers are completely different, so some Russian guys, tinkered with the EMU drivers and made them load and recognise the SB live, so I downloaded them and hey... almost no latency.

To the point: Continued looking around and found that ASIO 1.0 is offered on Audigy 2 ZS (~70 EUROS) but Audigy 2 ZS Platinum (~150 EUROS) offers ASIO 2.0 along with external hookup unit etc.

Do I need it? Is it better, stronger, faster? (like lee Majors), or is it just a gimmick?

Is Audigy 2 ZS going to make a tight budgeted amateur using free soundfonts happy?

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#170435 - 01/11/05 07:23 AM Re: First steps in the world of Soft Synths
Route 66 Offline
Member

Registered: 06/30/00
Posts: 803
Loc: Braganca, Portugal
I'll answer the easy question right away, leaving the tricky one to the experts. Please check here: http://www.clubchops.com/forums/view_forum.php?id=16
The 'tutorial' is divided in three parts.

-- Josť.

[This message has been edited by Route 66 (edited 01-11-2005).]

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#170436 - 01/11/05 07:30 AM Re: First steps in the world of Soft Synths
trident Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 08/22/04
Posts: 1457
Loc: Athens, Greece
Thanks Jose!!

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#170437 - 01/11/05 08:34 AM Re: First steps in the world of Soft Synths
Route 66 Offline
Member

Registered: 06/30/00
Posts: 803
Loc: Braganca, Portugal
Trident,

Regarding your second question, I'm using the notebook version of Audigy 2 ZS (around 115 Euros in Portugal). It uses ASIO 2.0 drivers, I'm sure. I do not know how different are version 1 and 2, but you may find the answer at the Steinberg's site. With these drivers you can choose a latency as low as 2 ms. It works without problems with small size soundfonts, but for piano samples with around 150 MB, I have to select a latency of about 10 ms to obtain a sound of good quality. Still very good and indistinguishable from the lowest latency case, in terms of response to the keys.
I'm sure AJ or Frank will provide you more and better insight.

-- Josť.

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#170438 - 01/11/05 01:23 PM Re: First steps in the world of Soft Synths
Frank L. Rosenthal Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 03/18/00
Posts: 1008
If you achieve a latency of 10ms or less it should be ok for live performances. In general, if you can afford ASIO 2.0 I would suggest you get them. They will ensure compatiblity with new soundcards. This may also impact the new VST/DX instruments and effects. I don't know the impact on latency.

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