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#309611 - 11/07/07 12:34 PM Virtual Instrument for yoour real time arranger: Kontakt or reason ?
pedrorozo Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 11/07/07
Posts: 9
Loc: Vancouver, BC, Canada
Hi guys,

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.

Achievements

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.

Preliminary Conclusions.

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
to cover:

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!


Questions.


- 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 ?


Pedro.
_________________________
Pedro.

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#309612 - 11/07/07 02:10 PM Re: Virtual Instrument for yoour real time arranger: Kontakt or reason ?
Fran Carango Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 05/26/99
Posts: 8138
Loc: Levittown, Pa, USA
Pedro, I also experimented with the Axiom61..for the most part, I liked it.
I could not get the Native Instruments B4 draw bars to work with the Axiom61...so I gave up..

I just recently purchased a Roland Juno G..with the idea of using it as a controller with my laptop..

A single USB/midi connection to the laptop..

I use the Fantom X sound engine of the Juno G..with the option of playing from the Juno G..sequences, wav and realtime left hand bass? piano and accent sounds via expression pedal..It has a decent rhythm pattern player too [256 patterns]..

The Juno G also allows me to use the Mic input with effects for vocals.

The Juno G , after you set it up is an amazing package..

I also use OMB and JammerLive as software arrangers..

I also have tried many soft synths..but found that the sound source of the Juno G actually is better than most of my soft synths..

You may want to check the Juno G out and see if you come to the same conclusion as I...A very good solution to work with a laptop..
_________________________


www.francarango.com

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#309613 - 11/07/07 03:34 PM Re: Virtual Instrument for yoour real time arranger: Kontakt or reason ?
abacus Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 07/21/05
Posts: 4533
Loc: English Riviera, UK
Hi Pedro
Donít try too many things at the same time
With Kontakt use the setup feature to load all the sounds you need for a song or performance and then save the setup (Make sure you have Disk Streaming activated)
Do the same for your other songs/performance
If you follow this rule you will only have load times between songs/performance and Not in real time play (Unfortunately trial versions donít normally allow you to save setups or allow disk streaming)
The accepted standard for pianos is Ivory http://www.synthogy.com/index.html however it does need a good CPU, Ram and Hard Disk (However it is what a lot of professional studios use)
Also try True Pianos http://www.truepianos.com which uses sound modelling rather them massive samples
The best resource I have found for info on VSTs is http://www.kvraudio.com and if you have a look round the site you should find all the fixes you need to get your system running smoothly
Alternatively (If you donít mind spending) go for one oft software arrangers like Wersi http://www.wersi.net or Lionstracs http://www.lionstracs.com that look and operate like a hardware arranger
In addition as well as OMB have a look at LiveStyler http://www.live-styler.de/home

Hope this helps

Bill
_________________________
English Riviera:
Live entertainment, Real Ale, Great Scenery, Great Beaches, why would anyone want to live anywhere else (IÔŅĹm definitely staying put).

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#309614 - 11/07/07 07:42 PM Re: Virtual Instrument for yoour real time arranger: Kontakt or reason ?
Frank L. Rosenthal Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 03/18/00
Posts: 1007
Pedro, I am happy to see you get into the software based arranger system. Once you are setup you will never return to a hardware based system. If you spend the time (and the money) you will have a system that is effective and efficient....it will sound better than any hardware based keyboard out there today plus it will be very reliable.

In order to ensure high quality sounds you also need high quality effects (reverb, chorus and so on).

In addition, to a good controller you also need a good VST Host suitable for live performances, e.g., forte Ensemble.

Again I am very happy to see someone else take the torch and run with the 'virtual arranger' I very sad that we have lost Rikki .... she has gone back to hardware....I am oh so sad!!! Who would have thought???

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#309615 - 11/07/07 09:01 PM Re: Virtual Instrument for yoour real time arranger: Kontakt or reason ?
pedrorozo Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 11/07/07
Posts: 9
Loc: Vancouver, BC, Canada
thanks for the feedback and your suggestions guys, but still I have the curious questions about kontakt vs. reason.

do you have any liv experience or suggestions using them in live situations?

Thanks.

Pedro.
Quote:
Originally posted by Frank L. Rosenthal:
Pedro, I am happy to see you get into the software based arranger system. Once you are setup you will never return to a hardware based system. If you spend the time (and the money) you will have a system that is effective and efficient....it will sound better than any hardware based keyboard out there today plus it will be very reliable.

In order to ensure high quality sounds you also need high quality effects (reverb, chorus and so on).

In addition, to a good controller you also need a good VST Host suitable for live performances, e.g., forte Ensemble.

Again I am very happy to see someone else take the torch and run with the 'virtual arranger' I very sad that we have lost Rikki .... she has gone back to hardware....I am oh so sad!!! Who would have thought???
_________________________
Pedro.

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#309616 - 11/08/07 05:44 PM Re: Virtual Instrument for yoour real time arranger: Kontakt or reason ?
Jick Duck Offline
Member

Registered: 12/16/99
Posts: 140
Loc: Brooklyn NY
YYumm!!
Some more people in the soft arranger world.

I've been playing live for a couple of years using my laptop as an arranger.
I used to use sound fonts with my total Wavetable being about 300mb. I recently switched over to gigastudio and my current live Wavetable is over 5GB! It works without a hitch. Well, almost. Very occasionally, it will sort of stutter very slightly, almost unnoticeable. It really doesn't bother me and I think that itís the way to go.

I just can't understand why people donít use gigastudio for live performances. Gigastudio is very efficient and was "designed" for live use (so says Tascam). I just load my 5 gigabyte! , oh beautiful, gig file which takes about 2 minutes and then I can play for hours with NO loading time. There is absolutely NO program change delay because all the sounds are already loaded.

It would be nice to hear what others have to say.

Oh, by the way, I use OMB, which I found to be more stable than Livestyler, not even to mention easier to set up. I also use maple virtual audio cable.
_________________________
Jick

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#309617 - 01/31/08 10:44 AM Re: Virtual Instrument for yoour real time arranger: Kontakt or reason ?
Magica Alfa Offline
Member

Registered: 05/26/06
Posts: 259
That is true GIGA STUDIO is working without problem hours and hours.

Only problem is that is not so real time sinth.

For Real time SINTH is good additionl software like SUPERWAVE.

I had many tests with NI KONTAKT but I can say too much memory for nothing. But effect is good. This is good for prefoming right hand. in any case you need a lot of memorey and fast PC or whatever.

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