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  1. #1
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    Default Software Based Stuff

    This is sort-of a continuation on the thread "Lack of Good Tone Generators," but I'm hoping for responses in this thread regarding other software.

    First, my end-all, be-all of this is that I want to find an inexpensive software-based sampler or synthesizer that can accurately do something with the MIDI output from a wind controller -- something other than just "louder" or "quieter," that is.

    Second, the reason why I'm going software-based is because the best hardware-based synths or samplers that can do something with wind controller data are old Yamaha VL-model synths or the pricey MOTIF line.

    The #1 thing I had a problem with is that when you type in "software-based sampler" or "software synthesizer" into Google, what you'll get back is a bunch of software that plays ... samples. As in, "DJ Jazzy P" samples. Not what I'd consider a sampler or synthesizer.

    I did find that you had to look for "virtual instrument." That's much gooder to Google for -- provided you don't get a billion links for something like testing and measuring equipment, which appear to be the most common "virtual instruments."

    So, I tried Amazon.com. There are quite a few. I'm going to look for some trial and/or beta software to see if I can actually test out the products. I know there are a few examples on YouTube, too. The one big negative for me, at the moment: I don't have a wind controller. I've got a $75 Yamaha keyboard that has MIDI.

    Anyhow, if you've got suggestions for me, please post. I'm going to look further into Kontakt and propellerhead, as those names came up often in my searches. I hear MOTU Software has something, too. That'll be a blast from the past: I remember using Mark of the Unicorn's software on a Mac 512.

    Yes, I'm the Artist Formerly Known as Saxpics.

    Check out my photoblog! Latest article: October 6, 2013, "The Eye (Brows) Have It."

  2. #2
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    Default

    Not sure how well it works, as I am not a MIDI guy. But, in the Fender world people are using IK media Ableton Amplitube and Live Lite. Mainly because both of these come free with the Fender Mustang amps. Sweet deal, and cheap at $100 for the amp, plus free software. I have not used the Live Lite 8, I don't currently have a MIDI controller. But I wouldn't hesitate to use that program to start. Very controlable, lots of mixing and blending options for recording. You can check out their web site here. Now that you have entered the 6 string zone, you might think about looking into an amp like the 'Stang I that comes with a nice sampler of the available software All for $100.

    Screenshot from my laptop.


    Left is amplitube, right is Live Lite 8

    Again, I haven't used this software more that just checking out it's function. I tend to use the Fender Fuse software. But for recording it is a nice "Analog" like setup.

  3. #3
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    Default

    You've actually pointed out something that is a problem: it's really easy to get interesting effects stuff and/or virtual instruments of guitars, keyboards and drums (lots of those), but I'm interested in woodwinds.

    The best saxophone sound I've ever heard was one of Roland's very high-end samplers back in the 1980's or early 1990's, and you still could tell that it wasn't a sax. Later, I bought the step-down version of that sampler and it was ... merely OK. I imagine someone spent a lot of time tweaking to get the thing have a passable sax sound. So ... I've given up that dream. However, the clarinet is relatively easy to sample or synthesize and flutes are, too. While they may not be, "Oh my gawrsh, it sounds like James Galway and Pete Fountain in the next room"-quality, it's better than James Galway on clarinet in the next room.

    Oh. I mention elsewhere that I got IK Multimedia's SampleTank free edition for the iPad. It's got two problems: it doesn't accept wind controller info (I asked) and I wasn't terribly impressed with the sound quality. Guitars and keys? Passable. Woodwinds? So-so. Probably OK for the price-range, though ($25 or so), but the lack of wind controller support is a deal-breaker.

    Yes, I'm the Artist Formerly Known as Saxpics.

    Check out my photoblog! Latest article: October 6, 2013, "The Eye (Brows) Have It."

  4. #4
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    Default

    Hey! I had some time to test, today. All of the ones I tested were time-limited demos, so you can download them and try them for yourself. Also note that I'm not evaluating for building tracks, etc. I just want instruments. The things I'm specifically looking for are flute, piccolo, oboe, clarinet and sax.

    * Arturia Brass 2.0. They have some demo songs here. $249.
    If the demo songs are the best possible quality -- and they probably are -- you'll quickly understand how much the sax samples suck. I think the sax sound on a Casio keyboard's better. Admittedly, the muted trumpet sounds great, but that's it. Additionally, there are no other orchestral instruments available from Arturia. The demo software is also very difficult to install.

    * Propellerhead Reason. Demo songs are here. $449.
    Again, remember that the demo tracks are probably the best possible quality. I can easily tell that the clarinet on the demo is being played through a keyboard, but when you use the software, you can hear that it's still very clipped. The flutes are very "messy": a very breathy and fuzzy sound. The saxophone is about average: a lot better than on Brass 2.0, but nothing that makes you say, "Wow, that sounds sorta like an actual sax!"

    * Native Instruments' Kontakt 5 Player Free.
    The reason why this product is free is because they want you to buy some virtual instruments from them. Note that I didn't say "samples." These are actually pre-built virtual instruments (VIs). For instance, some of the sax VIs specifically support breath and/or wind controllers, such as The Sax Brothers suite. I can say that this was the first VI that sounded better on sax than the sax sound on the Roland D50 I owned years ago, but it's also 120 Euros. There's also a really decent clarinet VI here (for another $50) and there's an OK flute built-in to Kontakt.

    You can really get in debt really fast if you want multiple instruments.

    I'll offhandedly mention that it's a little difficult navigating the software, especially when it comes to licensing the free sound library.

    ============

    Now, the fun thing is that a Yamaha Motif-"based" sound modules, like the MU-128, and keyboards are selling from about $200 and up on eBay. They have a lot more sounds than the above and the Motifs were (allegedly) built with the Yamaha WX-series wind controllers in mind. Hmmm ... I think a Motif 6 at around $300 would blow away most VIs.

    Yes, I'm the Artist Formerly Known as Saxpics.

    Check out my photoblog! Latest article: October 6, 2013, "The Eye (Brows) Have It."

  5. #5
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    Default The main problem that I have seen with software generated "instruments"...

    ...is that they have all been designed for rock or pop users. For example, the "breathy" flute sound appeals to the "It's acoustic!" tastes of the rock crowd (cf every rock flute solo ever performed).

    We're too small of a market - they ARE the music world to the developers.

  6. #6
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    Default

    Very true.

    FWIW, I've been conversing with the wife regarding getting a wind controller and tone module. She's receptive, but wary.

    Yes, I'm the Artist Formerly Known as Saxpics.

    Check out my photoblog! Latest article: October 6, 2013, "The Eye (Brows) Have It."

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