My name is Pedro, I am a Canadian Software Developer/Architect that loves to play Arranger keyboards in my free time since more 10 years ago.
I use them to play live in my church most of the time. I am not a pro musician, but I play acoustic guitar, and a bit of piano; and I also enjoy combining my music and IT programming skills.
Some of the old stuff that I used to play includes: Yamaha PSR 500,600, Roland RA800, sometimes connected to other synths to complement the palette of sounds such as: Korg X3, Roland Jv90 and Roland XP80.
But the last three years I tried to simplify that configuration to a couple of modules: a Roland JV1010, and a Korg 05RW in my studio, and my main arranger since 4 years ago is a Ketron SD1 (upgraded to OS 4.0c)
It has been quite a journey play with these toys at home.
As a IT guy, since 4 years ago I have been researching and expecting to have a more software oriented setup (virtual instruments), virtual arranger, everything in a laptop, and controlled with a general purpose controller.
The main motivation for that research has been to improve the quality of sounds, to get more flexibility of the control, styles, and to get a lighter configuration: my back is complaining about the 21 kgs of the Ketron SD1.
So just this year, it seems that technology seems to be ready for the jump in arranger software (OMB), controllers (M-Audio, roland) and samplers (Kontakt, reason) so after a saving some money and make a plan three months ago, I decided to start my journey to the " ideal virtual arranger".
First step was to get a new laptop from Dell, an inspiron 1520 with a 7200RPMS hard disk, a Intel dual core processor (7300), 2GB of RAM, running windows XP.
So this is the new setup under review in my "lab" :
1. Dell Inspiron 1520
2. M-AUDIO Fast track pro (USB sound card).
3. OMB as an arranger
4. M-AUDIO axion 61 as controller (it took some time to master it) but it is perfect for the job
(I also evaluate the Roland PCM800) but I prefer the semiweigthed keys and look & feel of my axiom, controller features are similar.
5. Kontakt 2.1 (still on evaluation)
reason 3.0 (still on evaluating)
I tested a lot of virtual synths (sonic sampletank, NI bandstand, sonicsynth, and Hypersonic 2.0) but I didn't like the quality o the acoustic instruments, they sounded as the old CASIO keyboards, still with some tweaking ... so I don't use them anymore.
6. I am still looking for more professional sounds (samples) similar to Roland JV/XP series.
A. I was spending almost three weeks to have a stable setup in the laptop for real time sound. I tried everything possible to sue vista, but the lack of support for professional sound cards, the huge amount of resources consumed, and he compatibility issues force me to go down to XP.
So I finished with Windows XPsp2 installation, and after 1 week dealing with latency issues, following suggestions from three different web sites, I finally set up a cool environment for real time.
B. My experience with the OMB-Axiom-61 combination has been great, I am able to control 95% of important OMB events (fills, volume of tracks, and so on) from the axiom, and still have some pads, and knobs available to do something else. There is a bit of learning curve, while you get familiar with
MIDI program changes, OMB and the Axiom software, but is works very good.
0. XP is stable enough for real time apps
1. OMB is almost ready for real time use, minor things still need attention (such a start button trigger)
2. Axiom 61 is definitely the way to go
3 . So now the tricky part has been the quality of the sounds, as I mentioned before I have tested many software synths, and some samplers lately, and still with 24 bits a huge size, and so on.. they donít get close to the quality that I have with my Ketron SD1 or my Roland JV1010 modules.
As Frank mentioned in other thread there are two different set of instruments
3.1. GM instruments for your styles, with a good (real) drum set, and some decent Sounds for bass, string and so on.
On this areas reason 3.0 with the gold refills seems to be winner, because it loads the samples really quick, and the quality of the GM drum set is good enough, however, I have not found a piano close to my Roland JV pianos, or electric pianos or pads closer to the Korg ones.
Although I am testing Kontakt 2.2 as well, seems to consume too much memory, and
it takes almost 1 minute to load a basic setup of drum kit, bass, string and basic piano ...
As I mentioned before I tested NI Band stand, hypersonic and other VST instruments but the sound quality is really poor compared with the Ketron, Roland or Korg sounds.
3.2. The main instrument: acoustic, electric pianos. .. on this areas I have not found a good set of samples to replace my Roland and Korg modules; I have tries to sample myself, but the result were not good enough ... so still looking for ideas.
So, I am really close to have everything running together, it is just matter to decide my main sound source, and find a good sample provider, sure to spend some good time tweaking the styles and sounds!
- Should I go for Kontakt - Reason ?
kontakt seems to be more flexible and open as sample player, but reason consume less resources and load everything in second while Kontakt in minutes ..
Though I am evaluating a lot of products, at the end of the day I don't want to have a complex setup to play live, with the laptop, sound card, and OMB;
it would be ideal to have just 1 sound source (kontakt or reason) .. to avoid sync, latency and resource issues ... any suggestions ?