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#369985 - 10/14/16 12:15 PM [Recording, Mixing, Performance and Production] Making MIDI sound like the Real Thing
Islansoul Offline
Journeyman

Registered: 05/15/15
Posts: 774
Loc: St. Petersburg , FL
I need your help BIAB users. For those of you who rely heavly on MIDI and virtual insturment, I need to know how you get them to sound as realistic as possible. I know that the instrument will never sound like an acutal instrument play by a musician, but I would to be proficient with MIDI so when in times I need to create specific part, I can make theme feel realisitic. Thank you and God Bless.
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DAWs: Pro Tools, Logic, and Maschine
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#370012 - 10/14/16 04:17 PM [Recording, Mixing, Performance and Production] Re: Making MIDI sound like the Real Thing [Re: Islansoul]
Noel96 Offline
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Registered: 10/31/08
Posts: 13449
Loc: Australia
Islansoul,

The secrets to getting great sounding midi instruments are...

1. Using a first class source of midi sounds. I have Miroslav Philharmonik, Dimension Pro and Garritan. These are good enough for me given how little I use midi. I haven't yet been able to justify spending the extra money on the EastWest sound libraries (which are brilliant).

2. Realistic sounding midi also comes from having notes suitably programmed with articulations that shape the sound in the same way that a live player would shape it. This is particularly true with instruments like Trumpet, Sax, Trombone, Violin, etc. For instruments that don't have too much individual-note shaped articulation such as Piano, Organ, Oboe, etc., midi usually sounds really good without too much fiddling around.

Hope this gives you some ideas.
Noel
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#370025 - 10/14/16 06:21 PM [Recording, Mixing, Performance and Production] Re: Making MIDI sound like the Real Thing [Re: Islansoul]
Guitarhacker Offline
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Registered: 04/03/09
Posts: 5740
Realistic Midi.... almost an oxymoron.

But, depending on the instrument, how well you understand how to program midi, and knowing the nuances a real musician who plays a given instrument would use... and having really great, sampled, sounds...... it's possible.

Drums, bass, and piano tend to be the easier to use and make sound real. Woodwinds, and brass, and stringed stuff like guitar ..... not so much.

BUT.... technology is improving all the time and there are some great sounding sample libraries on the market. Just don't expect to get a really good sounding sample library on the lower end of the cost spectrum. The good stuff costs money....and generally, lots of it.
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#370034 - 10/14/16 06:59 PM [Recording, Mixing, Performance and Production] Re: Making MIDI sound like the Real Thing [Re: Noel96]
MarioD Offline
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Registered: 12/27/03
Posts: 11210
Loc: Hamlin NY
Hi Islansoul,

I have been working with MIDI for about 30 years now. Thus the advice that I will give is based on my experiences as well as cost. Since you didn't specify what your limits are I will cover the good to excellent sound sources and equipment needed to make MIDI sound realistic. You will also need to listen to the instrument you want to emulate , pick up the nuances of that instrument then find the MIDI control called a CC number that best adds that nuance.

1-Horns and wind instruments: to get realistic sounding monophonic wind instruments you will need one of the following, a wind controller, a breath controller or software that uses the mod wheel for volume. I use an Akai USB wind controller but for you that means learning another instrument.

In your situation I would use a breath controller like this

http://www.ebay.com/itm/MRTaudio-Breath-Controller-Complete-Set-Compatible-yamaha-BC-Series-V2-/131575713438?rmvSB=true

or a program that uses the mod wheel (CC1) for volume. Garritan's programs are the best bet here.

If your keyboard does not have a 5 pin MIDI in then you will need a 5 pin to USB adapter like this

https://www.amazon.com/YCS-Basics-male-adapter-cable/dp/B00JGZZCOO/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1476495135&sr=8-1&keywords=5+pin+midi+to+usb

2- Any instrument that does not have pitch bends or vibrato will sound good with MIDI with little input. These include piano, bells, vibes, drums, organs etc.

As Noel indicated the best MIDI programs cost the most money. If there is a low cost ceiling then Garritan's programs are a great start. I have both the Jazz & Big Band and the Personal Orchestra from Garritan and they are great programs, as is Miroslav Philharmonik and Dimension Pro.

The better all encompassing programs include Kontakt, SampleTank 3, and others. I have Kontakt and it is my go to program for sounds however it is expensive plus I have purchased a lot of third party patches for it. Others here have more experience with SampleTank 3 which is also on the expensive side. Both of these programs go on sale periodically so keep watching for that.

The best sounding but also more costly are the individual programs. Samplemodeling has the best sax and other wind instruments. I have the sax one and it is the most realistic sounding sax emulation that I have ever heard. I also have East West's Symphonic Chorus. I would stay away from East West's programs until you have a working knowledge of MIDI. Their Play, the program needed to run their programs, is a PITA.

To summarize sounds I would go like this:
First to purchase -Garritan Personal Orchestra and/or Jazz & Big Band, Miroslav Philharmonik, or Dimension Pro. Note I do not know if Dimension Pro is available for a Mac.

Next and all encompassing program like Kontakt or SampleTank

Then finally after you have some MIDI experience some individual programs like I listed above.

I hope this helps and if you need anymore info or help feel free to ask.
_________________________
I NEVER RUN WITH SCISSORS. Actually those last two words were unnecessary.

64 bit Win 10 Pro - the latest BiaB and RB - Roland Octa-Capture audio interface - a ton of software and some hardware.

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#370088 - 10/15/16 06:51 AM [Recording, Mixing, Performance and Production] Re: Making MIDI sound like the Real Thing [Re: Islansoul]
Guitarhacker Offline
Veteran

Registered: 04/03/09
Posts: 5740
The amount of work behind the scenes needed to get MIDI to sound real is astounding. Nuances and inflections are hard to program accurately so that the track sounds completely natural and organic.

You also need to use a good sample set. The minimum entry level IMHO is Kontakt. It is at the bottom of the list for a "professional" level sample library. Kontakt is $400 by itself. The better libraries will easily run into the thousands of dollars each. Some of the manufacturers have started breaking their libraries down into less costly modules. Piano... brass...strings....orchestral...choirs...percussion... etc.....to make them more affordable to the folks with limited discretionary funds. Check out the East/West Quantum collection. The modules are several hundred dollars each, but you can buy and pay for exactly what you need without having to buy a very expensive all encompassing library. And talk about some good sounding instruments. I have a version of the E/W collection. Really nice stuff.

I see lots of ads and notices about other sample libraries on sale for around $100 (approx pricing)...and yes, I have Garritan and Miroslav and some others..... but they are not anywhere near as good as they need to be to get a realistic sound that fools the professionals.

For home & hobby recording... GPO and Miroslav are just fine and sound good.... so please don't misinterpret my comments as being down on the lower priced samples.

my 2 cents worth
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#370104 - 10/15/16 09:15 AM [Recording, Mixing, Performance and Production] Re: Making MIDI sound like the Real Thing [Re: Islansoul]
Jim Fogle Offline
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Registered: 08/20/11
Posts: 3922
Loc: Winston-Salem, NC USA
Islansoul,

I think you've asked a great question and you've gotten some interesting and enlightening responses.

Like you, I am just beginning my midi journey. I know midi directed music can sound as good as instrument played music but more often than not midi music sounds like ... are you ready for this, midi music!

I believe realistic midi directed music requires an understanding of the use of midi commands, an understanding of how musicians play their instrument of choice, a midi controller you feel comfortable with to input midi commands, proficiency with a midi sequencer and last professional quality instrument patches.

What's the difference between CC1, CC7 and CC11? Maybe you don't know but you need to and the people that write about midi assume you do know! If I write the same question a different way it becomes obvious. What's the difference between CC1 (modulation), CC7 (Volume) and CC11 (Expression)? (++ Bob Norton's website ++ and ++ MIDI.ORG ++ are two good places to look for a chart that lists midi commands. Midi.org has a forum and other resources for beginners. You need to know midi as well as you know how to play music.

Do you know the notes to "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star"? Using that song as an example, think about how the song would be played by (1) a guitar player (2) a banjo player (3) a saxophone player (4) a trumpet player (5) violin player (6) fiddle player. Each musician would play the song in a different manner, even the violin versus fiddle players. How would they attack the notes, use vibrato, sustain and release the notes? While you may not play all these instruments you should be able to envision each musician playing the song on their instrument so you can emulate their song playing.

There are a lot of midi controllers that emulate playing an instrument. In my opinion your first midi controller should emulate your most proficient instrument. The simple reason is you want to learn how to input midi and not the mechanics of an instrument you're not familiar with. There are also midi controllers that don't emulate ANY physical instrument but may prove useful if you don't play an instrument. In that case get a controller that makes the most sense to you, that you believe you can quickly understand how to use it.

In my opinion applications that began as midi applications typically have better midi support than applications that provide midi as an add-on. That puts Band-in-a-Box at the top of the list. Cakewalk's applications began as midi only. There are several midi only sequencers available on the internet. Whatever midi sequencer you choose get REALLY familiar with what it is capable of doing and how to do it.

Last on my list of got-to-haves are professional quality (substitute the word expensive for professional in most cases) instrument voices. In addition to sounds, many have interfaces that can automate instrument nuances or offer midi loops created by professional musicians. However, the truth is if you can create a good and realistic midi sequence driving the Microsoft GS wavetable it will sound great using any other instrument.

Your first step HAS TO BE knowing what each midi command does. Know that and you will be much more comfortable using midi.
_________________________
Jim Fogle
2018 BiaB (520) UltraPlusPak RB 2018 (Build 5)
Cakewalk by Bandlab - Sonar Home Studio - Cakewalk Music Creator 6 - Audacity - Zoom MRS-8 recorder
i3 laptop, 64bit Win 7, 8 GB ram, 480GB SSD
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#370118 - 10/15/16 10:06 AM [Recording, Mixing, Performance and Production] Re: Making MIDI sound like the Real Thing [Re: Islansoul]
jazzmammal Offline
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Registered: 06/08/05
Posts: 6531
Loc: Redondo Beach, Ca.
In addition to spending literally thousands for pro level sound libraries you have to also be a pro level player.

When you listen to online demos of these products they were done by really good players. The kind of folks who would be very comfortable in a recording studio.

If you're not that good then who's going to play the midi instrument for you? A wind controller needs someone who's a good sax player already. A midi keyboard needs someone who is very skilled already.

The reason I say this is you can't take a prerecorded midi track for example that is close but not exactly what you want and simply edit it. If there was any decent feeling in the original track, editing it changes that dramatically. Now you're spending hours, days, years (?) trying to manipulate the CC's to try to get that feeling back. A good player simply plays the part. If he's using a good midi controller all that nuanced info is recorded and embedded into the midi file.

I watch a lot of vids about this stuff. DAW vids are especially good for this because a lot of DAW work is based on midi. The people doing the vids are almost always really good players and they make it sound soooo good. They'll say they don't like this version of a track so they'll play another version and it sounds great. Doesn't mean you can do that unless you're equally good. Here's a few examples:

Guitar playing Spectrasonics

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zGhqYsoIeBQ

Keyboard playing Trillian bass

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l1toLihZkDs

Wind controller playing a Yamaha Tyros:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AH_w7AW7jPU

Garritan demo using four keyboards:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PTee0M-CjHc

If you can play like these guys, you too can make midi sound great.

Bob
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Biab/RB latest build, Win 10 64 bit, Intel 4770, 256 Gig SSD, 16 Gigs Ram, Roland Sonic Cell, Kurzweil PC3, Hammond SK1, Korg PA1XPro, Garritan JABB, Hypercanvas, Sampletank 3, more.

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#370138 - 10/15/16 12:19 PM [Recording, Mixing, Performance and Production] Re: Making MIDI sound like the Real Thing [Re: Islansoul]
Tobias Offline
Expert

Registered: 03/26/04
Posts: 1564
Loc: Way too close to Palm Springs,...
You can always create your songs with whatever synth you currently have. You'll have the midi programmed in to your songs for the most part. Then as your budget allows you can easily upgrade your instruments.
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#370145 - 10/15/16 02:24 PM [Recording, Mixing, Performance and Production] Re: Making MIDI sound like the Real Thing [Re: Islansoul]
Pipeline Offline
Veteran

Registered: 02/05/15
Posts: 2552
I haven't read all the posts here, but I will just say I use Kontakt with key switches to get the get what I can't get in BB/RB.
Another way you can try is RiffStation https://riffstation.com/buy-or-download/ there is a Mac demo version.

Select Riff Builder, drag a realtrack in from the realtrack folder, they are all in the different keys.
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#370157 - 10/15/16 03:53 PM [Recording, Mixing, Performance and Production] Re: Making MIDI sound like the Real Thing [Re: Islansoul]
Matcham Offline
Apprentice

Registered: 07/05/16
Posts: 221
Loc: Byron Bay, NSW, Australia
Personally I've given up on creating midi parts. There are some good midi samples around for drums, piano and bass. Nothing else sounds anywhere near realistic enough and I have some Kontakt instruments.

Realtracks are the future for sampled music and that is why I'm such a huge fan of BIAB. The best alternative is to do a session with a real musician. You'd buy a lot of bespoke sessions for the cost of a decent midi library.
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#370605 - 10/19/16 03:13 AM [Recording, Mixing, Performance and Production] Re: Making MIDI sound like the Real Thing [Re: jazzmammal]
Islansoul Offline
Journeyman

Registered: 05/15/15
Posts: 774
Loc: St. Petersburg , FL
Originally Posted By: jazzmammal
In addition to spending literally thousands for pro level sound libraries you have to also be a pro level player.

When you listen to online demos of these products they were done by really good players. The kind of folks who would be very comfortable in a recording studio.

If you're not that good then who's going to play the midi instrument for you? A wind controller needs someone who's a good sax player already. A midi keyboard needs someone who is very skilled already.

The reason I say this is you can't take a prerecorded midi track for example that is close but not exactly what you want and simply edit it. If there was any decent feeling in the original track, editing it changes that dramatically. Now you're spending hours, days, years (?) trying to manipulate the CC's to try to get that feeling back. A good player simply plays the part. If he's using a good midi controller all that nuanced info is recorded and embedded into the midi file.

I watch a lot of vids about this stuff. DAW vids are especially good for this because a lot of DAW work is based on midi. The people doing the vids are almost always really good players and they make it sound soooo good. They'll say they don't like this version of a track so they'll play another version and it sounds great. Doesn't mean you can do that unless you're equally good. Here's a few examples:

Guitar playing Spectrasonics

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zGhqYsoIeBQ

Keyboard playing Trillian bass

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l1toLihZkDs

Wind controller playing a Yamaha Tyros:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AH_w7AW7jPU

Garritan demo using four keyboards:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PTee0M-CjHc

If you can play like these guys, you too can make midi sound great.

Bob


So Bob, if I want my tracks to sound real, I need to play the tracks myself? What if I don't play the instrument. Can't I step sequence the notes and edited it myself?
_________________________
Computer: Mid 2014 Macbook Pro,
DAWs: Pro Tools, Logic, and Maschine
plays drums, percussion, bass, steel pan, keyboard,
music producer/engineer

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#370606 - 10/19/16 03:16 AM [Recording, Mixing, Performance and Production] Re: Making MIDI sound like the Real Thing [Re: Islansoul]
Islansoul Offline
Journeyman

Registered: 05/15/15
Posts: 774
Loc: St. Petersburg , FL
Guys, before you mention realband, note that I own a mac, and will never switch to a PC.
_________________________
Computer: Mid 2014 Macbook Pro,
DAWs: Pro Tools, Logic, and Maschine
plays drums, percussion, bass, steel pan, keyboard,
music producer/engineer

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#370609 - 10/19/16 04:19 AM [Recording, Mixing, Performance and Production] Re: Making MIDI sound like the Real Thing [Re: Islansoul]
Guitarhacker Offline
Veteran

Registered: 04/03/09
Posts: 5740
Originally Posted By: Islansoul
Guys, before you mention realband, note that I own a mac, and will never switch to a PC.


Don't they have a program for Mac that lets it run Windows programs?

You really might want to consider a small laptop running windows just for accessing the abilities of Real Band and it's ability to generate real tracks..... just export them as waves and any DAW on a Mac can use them.
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You can find my music at:
www.herbhartley.com

Add nothing that adds nothing to the music

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#370615 - 10/19/16 04:41 AM [Recording, Mixing, Performance and Production] Re: Making MIDI sound like the Real Thing [Re: Islansoul]
Charlie Fogle Offline
Veteran

Registered: 04/07/13
Posts: 4479
Loc: South Carolina
You can find great midi files on the internet but can't always learn about the composer.

David (DW) Barnes has been around for years and is an expert midi programmer best known for his Beatle song midi files.

He explains how he programs midi although he does not personally play keyboards.

How DW Barnes programs MIDI

Here is how one of his midi files looks opened in BIAB Chord Chart -


Attachments
oh darling.JPG


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BiaB Ultra Pak 2018:RB 2018 Build 5

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#370631 - 10/19/16 07:37 AM [Recording, Mixing, Performance and Production] Re: Making MIDI sound like the Real Thing [Re: Islansoul]
MarioD Offline
Veteran

Registered: 12/27/03
Posts: 11210
Loc: Hamlin NY
Originally Posted By: Islansoul


So Bob, if I want my tracks to sound real, I need to play the tracks myself? What if I don't play the instrument. Can't I step sequence the notes and edited it myself?


Playing them yourself is the best way however you can take a MIDI file and edit it to your liking. OR you can step sequence the notes and edit them also. When doing any MIDI track the object is to make the track as close as the actual instrument you are trying to emulate using CC messages. In other words do not keep it static (notes only).

PS - I edit BiaB MIDI files all the time.
_________________________
I NEVER RUN WITH SCISSORS. Actually those last two words were unnecessary.

64 bit Win 10 Pro - the latest BiaB and RB - Roland Octa-Capture audio interface - a ton of software and some hardware.

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#370895 - 10/21/16 12:04 AM [Recording, Mixing, Performance and Production] Re: Making MIDI sound like the Real Thing [Re: Islansoul]
markjr84 Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 11/13/13
Posts: 16
You need good libraries and good controllers. This breath controller for example allows you to control 4 parameters while leaving your hands free to play. And your feet can additionally be used with pedals.

http://www.tecontrol.se/products/usb-midi-breath-bite-controller-2



Mike Verta also has great videos and tips:


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