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#13286 - 02/07/09 11:36 AM [Band-in-a-Box for Windows] Re: Software Synthesisers [Re: jcspro40]
Registered: 04/24/04
Posts: 88
Loc: Lowell, MA
dburns Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 04/24/04
Posts: 88
Loc: Lowell, MA
Like most folks here, I've been through the hardware vs. software choices. I think I've tried just about everything.

I would suggest a hardware GM module, just to make using BB simple and fast. I just got a Ketron SD2 from PG Music, and I'm very happy with it. It sounds better than my former fave, Roland XV-2020, and sounds just about as good as the PLG-100XG in my Motif rack (it's an addon Yamaha XG GM card). The Yamaha XG is the best sounding GM I've ever heard, but I'm not lugging heavy rack units around anymore. The Ketron SD2 isn't quite as nice souonding as the XG, but it's very close. I don't think you'll find another GM synth today that sounds better, no matter the price.

Bandstand is NOT supported at all by NI any more (not that it was from the start). So, even though I like it and wouldn't recommend against buying it (if you can find it for less than $100), beware. You're on your own.

One thing you might try is to use the free softsynth in BB to sketch out a song, then after you have the structure and style the way you want it, bring it into a sequencer (Real Band, Power Tracks, Sonar, etc.) to assign higher quality sounds before rendering it to MP3, WAV, or WMA.

If you want the most bang for your buck, and the most hassle-free fun, get a nice hardware GM box.
_________________________
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Lowell, MA

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#13287 - 02/07/09 03:45 PM [Band-in-a-Box for Windows] Re: Software Synthesisers [Re: Mac]
Registered: 06/08/05
Posts: 6780
Loc: Redondo Beach, Ca.
jazzmammal Offline
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Registered: 06/08/05
Posts: 6780
Loc: Redondo Beach, Ca.
Quote:

Absolute quality of sound, zero latency, always works, no pops or clicks, no sudden surprises or be upset about a couple or three cables extra and having to wait a whole five minutes...


I'll go with the quality of sound, etc. man.



--Mac




Yeah, yeah I know. It's just I have so much, so very much cra uh, stuff already ya know? Sigh....I'll probably wind up getting it, you'll be the first to know.

Bob
_________________________
Biab/RB latest build, Win 10 64 bit, Intel 4770, 256 Gig SSD, 16 Gigs Ram, Steinberg UR22 MkII, Roland Sonic Cell, Kurzweil PC3, Hammond SK1, Korg PA1XPro, Garritan JABB, Hypercanvas, Sampletank 3, more.

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#13288 - 02/07/09 03:55 PM [Band-in-a-Box for Windows] Re: Software Synthesisers [Re: jazzmammal]
Registered: 02/05/09
Posts: 24
Loc: Michigan, USA
Beowulf Kingsley Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 02/05/09
Posts: 24
Loc: Michigan, USA
I'm not so worried about cables as cash right now actually! I can certianly see the advantages to a hardware unit...but if I could find a likely suspect used, ah, then I'd be in business. Well, I'd be in business after I finish that darn manual and figure my way around a bit...and if this computer doesn't crash again...

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#13289 - 02/07/09 04:10 PM [Band-in-a-Box for Windows] Re: Software Synthesisers [Re: dburns]
Registered: 02/05/09
Posts: 24
Loc: Michigan, USA
Beowulf Kingsley Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 02/05/09
Posts: 24
Loc: Michigan, USA
Quote:

I would suggest a hardware GM module, just to make using BB simple and fast. I just got a Ketron SD2 from PG Music, and I'm very happy with it. It sounds better than my former fave, Roland XV-2020, and sounds just about as good as the PLG-100XG in my Motif rack (it's an addon Yamaha XG GM card). The Yamaha XG is the best sounding GM I've ever heard, but I'm not lugging heavy rack units around anymore. The Ketron SD2 isn't quite as nice souonding as the XG, but it's very close. I don't think you'll find another GM synth today that sounds better, no matter the price.





You know, I've just looked on Ebay at the Yahama MU-100 XG modules, and there are several of those at reasonable prices...is that a related unit? I can never keep synth nomenclature straight, it's all numbers...man, just give me a Telecaster or a Les Paul! I at least know what they are. Somedays I miss the old Vox Vaguars too.

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#13290 - 02/07/09 07:38 PM [Band-in-a-Box for Windows] Re: Software Synthesisers [Re: Beowulf Kingsley]
Registered: 10/31/08
Posts: 1252
Loc: CA
Shastastan Offline
Expert

Registered: 10/31/08
Posts: 1252
Loc: CA
Thanks for this thread. I had assumed that the VSC was the best. I just downloaded the Coyote Forte after hearing the demo comparisons. I play on purchasing it, since the price is reasonable and the sound is so much better. I really don't need a hardware unit for what I do.
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#13291 - 02/08/09 12:16 AM [Band-in-a-Box for Windows] Re: Software Synthesisers [Re: Shastastan]
Registered: 04/24/04
Posts: 88
Loc: Lowell, MA
dburns Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 04/24/04
Posts: 88
Loc: Lowell, MA
Beowulf,

The MU-100 is not the same. It's an earlier version of Yamaha's XG synth line. The MU-100 does not sound as good. In fact, I bought a used MU-100 and was disappointed in the sounds and the overall usefullness of the thing. I'd choose the XV-2020 or Ketron SD-2 over it.

The SW1000XG is a PCI board for your computer. My card is a version of it for the Yamaha Motif, and it sounds great. I don't think there is a stand-alone hardware version. I did a quick search of Ebay for an SW1000XG and found a couple in Greece for about $600 each.

The MU-100R is the same as the PCI card, but is a hardware box. If you can find one on Ebay for less than the Ketron or Roland, it may be worth buying. But, they are pretty old now (stopped production around 2002), so be careful.

The Ketron is the only one of the above that is still in production, and has a future.

http://www.yamahasynth.com/products/sw1000xg/index.html

Also, in reference to Mac's mention of the Ketron SD-4 (I think it was), and using its two GM synths independently: I found trying to use the Motif Rack sounds for playing and the PLG-100XG for MIDI playback wasn't as simple as I'd hoped. You can play a MIDI file while you play, but you must stay in "Performance" mode, which means you can't just dial up a nice piano patch to play along. If you change your mind and want to use an organ patch during a song, you can't do that from the keyboard. You have to send the instrument patch via MIDI from a sequencer. I tried it live, but it proved to cumbersome (and the unit is too heavy!).

So now, (not to sound too much like I'm plugging a particular product!) I have a Ketron SD-2 tucked in the back of my rack, connected via USB, audio thru the Ultralite, and I'm very happy.

I tell you all this detail, not to push a product, but too share my experience with what's out there.
_________________________
Dave Burns
Lowell, MA

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#13292 - 02/08/09 08:04 PM [Band-in-a-Box for Windows] Re: Software Synthesisers [Re: dburns]
Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 457
Loc: Balmer, Merlan, USA
jazzwombat Offline
Journeyman

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 457
Loc: Balmer, Merlan, USA
Quote:

Like most folks here, I've been through the hardware vs. software choices. I think I've tried just about everything.

I would suggest a hardware GM module, just to make using BB simple and fast. I just got a Ketron SD2 from PG Music, and I'm very happy with it. It sounds better than my former fave, Roland XV-2020, and sounds just about as good as the PLG-100XG in my Motif rack (it's an addon Yamaha XG GM card). The Yamaha XG is the best sounding GM I've ever heard, but I'm not lugging heavy rack units around anymore. The Ketron SD2 isn't quite as nice souonding as the XG, but it's very close. I don't think you'll find another GM synth today that sounds better, no matter the price.

Bandstand is NOT supported at all by NI any more (not that it was from the start). So, even though I like it and wouldn't recommend against buying it (if you can find it for less than $100), beware. You're on your own.

One thing you might try is to use the free softsynth in BB to sketch out a song, then after you have the structure and style the way you want it, bring it into a sequencer (Real Band, Power Tracks, Sonar, etc.) to assign higher quality sounds before rendering it to MP3, WAV, or WMA.

If you want the most bang for your buck, and the most hassle-free fun, get a nice hardware GM box.




Hi,

This is a great thread. Mac's audio files displaying the Ketron SD2's abilities were outstanding. So much so that I plan to buy one. My question: I have an emu0404 audio interface and a cheap Casio midi keyboard. Where does the SD2 fit into the picture? In between the emu and the keyboard? I just want to be sure I don't go off and buy the SD2 then find out I need $$$ more equipment.

Best wishes,

Bob
_________________________
Soundclick: www.soundclick.com/BobBelas


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#13293 - 02/08/09 08:11 PM [Band-in-a-Box for Windows] Re: Software Synthesisers [Re: jazzwombat]
Registered: 05/29/00
Posts: 38502
Loc: Chesapeake, Virginia USA
Mac Offline
Veteran

Registered: 05/29/00
Posts: 38502
Loc: Chesapeake, Virginia USA
Connect the keyboard's MIDI Out to the E-MU's MIDI In.

Connect the E-MU's MIDI Out to the SD2's MIDI In.

One connection to each.

Then configure the software host (BIAB, RB, PT etc.) such that it recognizes E-MU In and Out.

If your keyboard only has a USB connection, just select that only on the Input side of the software, select the E-MU MIDI on the output side.

Connect the L and R stereo audio outputs of the SD2 to a Line Input pair on the E-MU so that you can hear the sounds it makes and record them.


--Mac
_________________________
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#13294 - 02/09/09 09:17 AM [Band-in-a-Box for Windows] Re: Software Synthesisers [Re: Mac]
Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 457
Loc: Balmer, Merlan, USA
jazzwombat Offline
Journeyman

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 457
Loc: Balmer, Merlan, USA
Quote:

Connect the keyboard's MIDI Out to the E-MU's MIDI In.

Connect the E-MU's MIDI Out to the SD2's MIDI In.

One connection to each.

Then configure the software host (BIAB, RB, PT etc.) such that it recognizes E-MU In and Out.

If your keyboard only has a USB connection, just select that only on the Input side of the software, select the E-MU MIDI on the output side.

Connect the L and R stereo audio outputs of the SD2 to a Line Input pair on the E-MU so that you can hear the sounds it makes and record them.


--Mac




Great! Thanks Mac.

Bob
_________________________
Soundclick: www.soundclick.com/BobBelas


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#13295 - 02/12/09 07:41 PM [Band-in-a-Box for Windows] Re: Software Synthesisers [Re: Mac]
Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 457
Loc: Balmer, Merlan, USA
jazzwombat Offline
Journeyman

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 457
Loc: Balmer, Merlan, USA
Quote:

Connect the keyboard's MIDI Out to the E-MU's MIDI In.

Connect the E-MU's MIDI Out to the SD2's MIDI In.

One connection to each.

Then configure the software host (BIAB, RB, PT etc.) such that it recognizes E-MU In and Out.

If your keyboard only has a USB connection, just select that only on the Input side of the software, select the E-MU MIDI on the output side.

Connect the L and R stereo audio outputs of the SD2 to a Line Input pair on the E-MU so that you can hear the sounds it makes and record them.


--Mac




I have a small problem: the emu doesn't have a line input pair to use for the L and R stereo audio outputs from the SD2. It has s/pdif inputs, but they're digital. I'm using one of two Hi-Z/line input for a shure 57, so no go there either. Any suggestions? (Should have looked before buying, but there must be a way around this... I hope.)

Bob
_________________________
Soundclick: www.soundclick.com/BobBelas


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#13296 - 02/12/09 08:34 PM [Band-in-a-Box for Windows] Re: Software Synthesisers [Re: jazzwombat]
Registered: 05/29/00
Posts: 38502
Loc: Chesapeake, Virginia USA
Mac Offline
Veteran

Registered: 05/29/00
Posts: 38502
Loc: Chesapeake, Virginia USA
Well, you could simply disconnect the mic and connect the keyboard to do that part of the thing.

If you absolutely must use Mic and keyboard at same time, I'd suggest looking into a Mic Preamp that has S/PDIF output on it, which would likely be an upgrade to the preamp in the 0404 anyway. Then you'd have the two analog inputs for the keyboard.

OR -- a set of line inputs (analog) that output S/PDIF for the keyboard.

In a real pinch, set the keyboard for monophonic output (most do that when you plug into only one output, typically L, check your manual or the back of the machine) and use one side of your E-MU for the Mic and the other for the monophonic keyboard.

Mono output will only be a kill for some of the effects such as rotary speaker and other spatial effects or the like. And, of course, the Stereo Grand Piano that's likely in GM bank as the first thing. But it can sound pretty good in mono, too. Since you don't have any other inputs.


--Mac
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#13297 - 02/12/09 09:25 PM [Band-in-a-Box for Windows] Re: Software Synthesisers [Re: Mac]
Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 457
Loc: Balmer, Merlan, USA
jazzwombat Offline
Journeyman

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 457
Loc: Balmer, Merlan, USA
Quote:

Well, you could simply disconnect the mic and connect the keyboard to do that part of the thing.

If you absolutely must use Mic and keyboard at same time, I'd suggest looking into a Mic Preamp that has S/PDIF output on it, which would likely be an upgrade to the preamp in the 0404 anyway. Then you'd have the two analog inputs for the keyboard.

OR -- a set of line inputs (analog) that output S/PDIF for the keyboard.

In a real pinch, set the keyboard for monophonic output (most do that when you plug into only one output, typically L, check your manual or the back of the machine) and use one side of your E-MU for the Mic and the other for the monophonic keyboard.

Mono output will only be a kill for some of the effects such as rotary speaker and other spatial effects or the like. And, of course, the Stereo Grand Piano that's likely in GM bank as the first thing. But it can sound pretty good in mono, too. Since you don't have any other inputs.


--Mac




Thanks Mac. I hope you will forgive my ignorance, but I'm not following you. My midi keyboard outputs are midi cables, so I'm confused about how they could be swapped for the mic? I think what you're telling me is to find something that converts analog line inputs (from the SD2) into S/PDIF input for my emu. Is that right?
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#13298 - 02/13/09 10:11 AM [Band-in-a-Box for Windows] Re: Software Synthesisers [Re: jazzwombat]
Registered: 05/29/00
Posts: 38502
Loc: Chesapeake, Virginia USA
Mac Offline
Veteran

Registered: 05/29/00
Posts: 38502
Loc: Chesapeake, Virginia USA
Quote:



Thanks Mac. I hope you will forgive my ignorance, but I'm not following you. My midi keyboard outputs are midi cables, so I'm confused about how they could be swapped for the mic? I think what you're telling me is to find something that converts analog line inputs (from the SD2) into S/PDIF input for my emu. Is that right?




Oh my.

The MIDI cables only contain MIDI data. Commands that tell the synth to turn a note on at a specified time, turn it off at another and a few other things like that. WE CANNOT HEAR MIDI DATA -- nor would we want to do so, for it would sound pretty harsh and nonmusical, it is all computer code.

Hook up the MIDI cables to get data to go to and from the computer to your keyboard.

But there will still be a problem with the AUDIO, which is analog.

Likely right now you must have built in speakers in that keyboard if you can hear it at all and have no Audio cables hooked up from its audio output to your computer input. Meaning you cannot hear the keyboard coming out of the computer's monitor speakers.

Look at the back of your keyboard. There should be two 1/4" Audio outputs labeled L and R -- or at least there should be a headphone jack that cuts the keyboard's speakers off and can be used, with the proper Y adaptor, to connect to your soundcard's Line Inputs. This is going to be the only way to record your keyboard's synth output correctly.


--Mac
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#13299 - 02/13/09 11:39 AM [Band-in-a-Box for Windows] Re: Software Synthesisers [Re: Mac]
Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 457
Loc: Balmer, Merlan, USA
jazzwombat Offline
Journeyman

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 457
Loc: Balmer, Merlan, USA
Thanks Mac. I think that your earlier idea of a new mic preamp that has digital output is my best option, although not as cheap as I wished. I've made a quick scan of the internet and the ART DPSII Digital Preamplifier System seems to fit the bill. I envisage hooking the analog output from the SD2 to the emu's two mic inputs, and using the ART preamp for my mic inputting it digitally into the emu's SPDIF input. I think this will be a satisfactory, if someone expensive, solution giving me keyboard, mic, and SD2 inputs into BIAB and Sonar as intended. As always, thanks for your advice. It is appreciated.

Bob
_________________________
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#13300 - 02/13/09 02:59 PM [Band-in-a-Box for Windows] Re: Software Synthesisers [Re: jazzwombat]
Registered: 06/06/03
Posts: 497
Loc: NJ
rkl122 Offline
Journeyman

Registered: 06/06/03
Posts: 497
Loc: NJ
Hi Bob. Not sure what level of expense that is, but how about a small (analog) mixer as an alternative. It'd probably provide greater flexibility, and avoid the spdif.

Just a thought. -Ron

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#13301 - 02/13/09 04:53 PM [Band-in-a-Box for Windows] Re: Software Synthesisers [Re: rkl122]
Registered: 05/29/00
Posts: 38502
Loc: Chesapeake, Virginia USA
Mac Offline
Veteran

Registered: 05/29/00
Posts: 38502
Loc: Chesapeake, Virginia USA
An analog mixer would have to still output to the two available audio channels.

You wouldn't be able to get separate stereo tracks that way and editing in the host software would be restricted because of that.


A mixer with S/PDIF output would be a horse of a different color in this situation, as it would be able to do the same as the Mic Preamp, take analog input signals and convert them to digital signals, introducing them on the "other" two channels of the 0404.


--Mac
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#13302 - 02/14/09 09:19 AM [Band-in-a-Box for Windows] Re: Software Synthesisers [Re: Mac]
Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 457
Loc: Balmer, Merlan, USA
jazzwombat Offline
Journeyman

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 457
Loc: Balmer, Merlan, USA
A quick follow-up: I decided to start with KISS and simply unplugged my mic, patching the output from the SD2 into the two existing mic inputs on the EMU. This worked and was beaucoup easy. Major comment: Wow! Everything that has been said about the sound quality of the SD2 is true and more. Mac, thanks for emphasizing the SD2's quality to price value and all of your suggestions and advice. Minor question: Is there an easy way to access all those midi commands via BIAB, PT, or Sonar (without resorting to a midi keyboard with control surface)? A search on the web suggests that there is or was some sort of utility to do so, but -- if true--, it is no longer available on the Ketron.it webpage. This would be frosting on an otherwise tasty cake.

Bob
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#13303 - 02/14/09 09:47 AM [Band-in-a-Box for Windows] Re: Software Synthesisers [Re: jazzwombat]
Registered: 12/27/03
Posts: 11845
Loc: Hamlin NY
MarioD Offline
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Registered: 12/27/03
Posts: 11845
Loc: Hamlin NY
Hi Bob,
The easiest way for me is to use a midi controller.

However you can draw midi commands in both Sonar and PT. I start my songs in BiaB and finish them in Sonar so I do not know it BiaB allows CC drawing. You may want to check the manual on that application.

Many times I will use the midi controller then fine tune it via drawing.

I hope this helps.
_________________________
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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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#13304 - 02/14/09 11:02 AM [Band-in-a-Box for Windows] Re: Software Synthesisers [Re: MarioD]
Registered: 05/29/00
Posts: 38502
Loc: Chesapeake, Virginia USA
Mac Offline
Veteran

Registered: 05/29/00
Posts: 38502
Loc: Chesapeake, Virginia USA
Stay tuned, Bob, there is indeed something in the works that is in first alpha right now. I'm testing and reporting and hoping that the developer will not let it languish.

BUT -- it will need a computer to work. Laptop with MIDI in and out is enough.


--Mac
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