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  • #46
    After specifying a particular edit range, you can do a lot with the digital audio editing - including Truncate (as we discussed previously), Cut, Clear, Copy, Insert, Mix, Paste, Insert Zero (basically, insert silence), Normalize/Level Adjust, Volume Ramp (what the rest of the world calls "fade"), Sample Rate Convert, and Reverse.

    For example, I sampled a guitar's high E open string and wanted to normalize it, because it was at a super-low level (okay, so I wasn't that careful when I set levels) - see the first image. No problem; the second image shows the Normalize screen. Range shows the range being normalized; note that you can set a normalization level, you're not just limited to normalizing to 0. You can save to a new sample, or overwrite the existing one.

    Then I wanted to add a fade at the end. The third image shows how the edit range has been shifted to the end (note that the waveform has now been normalized), and the fourth image shows the Volume Ramp screen. Simple: Choose fade in or out, with a linear or power (log) curve.

    One small, but very cool feature, is that you can audition just the range to be edited by hitting the Sample Start button.

    Of course, you can also do sample management like copy, delete, rename, convert stereo/mono, and the like. It's also easy to create multisamples, but I thought hey, I have this sample...let's see if I can turn it into a program - preferably without looking at the manual, just to see whether the process is transparent or not. Here's what I found.
    N E W S O N G ! To Say 'No' Would Be a Crime (Remix) is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

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    • #47
      Problem #1: I couldn't extend the sample's range downward. But that's because the M3 thought some of my attempts at sampling were actually intended to be samples. I simply deleted the Index located below the low note of my existing sample, and I could then extend the range of the single sample across the entire keyboard.

      While I was at it, I thought I'd see how well the M3 handled aliasing on the high end of the keyboard. The answer? Extremely well, which I think might account for why the sound is so clean. There was no problem taking that high E guitar string and having it cover the entire range of the keyboard - and sound very musical, as well. I was very pleasantly surprised.

      After assigning the sample to an oscillator in the program, I figured I'd better save it. Like all naming functions, when you hit a little T (text) button on the screen, a pseudo-typewriter keyboard appears in the display. The first image shows the little T you touch to bring up the keyboard, but I couldn't get a picture of the keyboard itself. (But hey, it looks like a keyboard mapped on a touch screen.) As someone who's wasted far too many hours hitting arrow buttons to go to the next character and then spinning a data wheel to find the right character, this is a godsend. Program names can have up to 24 characters, so you have the luxury of giving Real Names instead of something like "GTR-E-01."

      Next, it seemed like a good idea to copy the sample to another oscillator to thicken the sound. I tried the copy function - no dice. So I went back to the basic oscillator page, and sure enough, you could specify single oscillator, dual oscillator, or drum mode. I enabled dual oscillator, and then was able to create a copy. I offset the first sample by -0.3Hz, and the second by +0.3Hz, and got that nice chorusing kind of sound which I figured would sound even nicer once I added chorusing effects.

      Then it was Amp time, because I wanted some enveloping (to soften the attack a bit) and add velocity. I also noticed an EQ option, as shown in the second image, which allowed beefing up the low end while taking a bit of the high end to make the sound less bright.

      By this time I was really getting used to how you do page selecting in the M3, making it easy to jump back and forth among pages. After setting envelope and velocity I went back to the pitch page and added vibrato - triggered by that exceptionally expressive aftertouch, of course. The third image shows the OSC Pitch screen; the highlighted parameter is modulation intensity, and as you can see, Aftertouch is the parameter directly above this field.

      Before long I was tweaking filter settings, tying filter frequency to velocity, adjusting envelopes, and acting as if I'd been using the M3 all my life. Well, that's probably an exaggeration, because I'm sure I was missing out on a lot of options. But in the course of an hour or so, I'd gone from sampled sound to actually useful keyboard program, and even saved it.

      Feeling like I had the thing licked, I thought I'd add some reverb and chorus. So I went to the IFX page, and...my head exploded! I figured it would be way too complicated to figure out, and it was time to call it a day.

      Wrong. Within two minutes, I had my reverb and chorus (the fourth image shows the available parameters for the chorus effect - not too shabby, eh?). If you want to hear the results of my amateurish patch creation, check out the audio example. The reason why I say "amateurish" is because I'm taking advantage of about 0.01% of what the M3 can do, but even within that constraint, it's kind of cool I was able to create something musically useful without looking at the manual.
      N E W S O N G ! To Say 'No' Would Be a Crime (Remix) is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

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      • #48
        Let's take stock for a second. This is a very deep keyboard, and we're doing a Pro Review. A Pro Review doesn't mean just describing features, although that's an important part; the "review" part is where the rubber hits the road. You're following this review not just to find out what the M3 does, but how well it does it - and frankly, also to see how someone who's been working with synthesizers for several decades sees this instrument in the context of today's market.

        Instruments like the M3, Yamaha's Motif series, and even soft synths (like Cakewalk's Rapture) have a degree of functionality that was only dreamed of in the past. But with deep functionality comes the responsibility not just to pile features on an existing base (e.g., Microsoft Word!), but to continually re-invent the concept of a user interface so that these deep functions are accessible. Sure, it might take you a year to figure out all the functions: But that should be a year of playing with the instrument, not nine months of reading the manual and three months of playing.

        The M3 is daunting. Or is it? Its feature set is indeed daunting; it seems that this is a keyboard that can do just about anything. But if you isolate any individual aspect of the keyboard, it makes sense. As the above showed, when I wanted to sample a sound and create a program - without reading the manual - I could. This doesn't mean I now know anything about the sequencer, or KARMA, or using the M3 with a computer because I was able to sample and put together a program. What it means is that if you take the M3 a function at a time, the individual components make sense. (We'll see what happens when I hit KARMA, though, which is a whole other way of thinking about music.)

        The key to this is a hierarchical operating system with not a lot of levels. The top level is the buttons on the instrument itself. There aren't a lot of them, but they are the gatekeepers to subsections like Programs, Combis, KARMA, controller assigns, and the like.

        Once you're within a sub-section, there are three powerful aides to get you on your way: The Page Select buttons (these take you to logically-grouped pages of particular functions), the Touch Screen display, and within the Touch Screen display, the Menu options. This hierarchy is the way you basically do anything on the M3 - it's an operating system "rosetta stone" where once you've learned how to navigate around, say, creating a program, you know the navigation process for creating a signal or adding signal processors. Don't minimize the value of the touch screen: It's a very direct way to interact with an instrument. Instead of having to parse what button controls what function, you simply touch the function and adjust the desired parameter.

        The bottom line is it doesn't matter how many functions a device has if they're a pain to access. The engineers at Korg must have put a whole lot of thought into how to interact with this instrument, because the OS is a thing of beauty.

        It's unfortunate that this is the type of feature you appreciate only after working with an instrument for an extended period of time; it's not something that will reveal itself by playing with the M3 at a Guitar Center for five minutes. But that's why Pro Reviews exist - so I can spend a huge amount of time with something and distill the results for you.

        Keep reading...
        N E W S O N G ! To Say 'No' Would Be a Crime (Remix) is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

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        • #49
          I'm here - sorry, I was in Japan all last week with limited access to the Internet.

          You can easily get the M3 to 're-scan' the USB ports - in the Media Mode, select the Media Info Tab and from the Upper RH Menu (we call those the Page Menu Commands) there is a command to "Scan USB Device" and any media currently attached will then show up.

          Here's another cool trick with the TouchView Menus - you can direct-dial any of the Page Menu Commands by holding ENTER and typing a number. So in this instance there is only one command on this page, so hold ENTER+0 and it'll bring up the command directly without having to touch that arrow on the upper RH of the screen. Much quicker.

          So on the Media Load tab for instance, hold ENTER+4 to "Load Selected".

          In Program Mode, ENTER+0 will always bring you to the Write Program" command.

          In Sampling Mode (since you're currently working there), ENTER+3 will always bring you to "Copy Sample". And so on.


          Jerry the K

          Yup, you can do it. When I first plugged in a USB stick, it wasn't recognized. I thought maybe it needed to be formatted, so I did, but I think as long as your stick is FAT16 or FAT32 you're probably okay. What seemed to make the difference was turning on the M3 with the USB stick inserted. Once I did that, it was recognized.

          There may be some more efficient way to get the M3 to recognize the USB stick other than powering-up with the stick inserted; I hit the Media button to see if there was anything there, like "click here to recognize newly inserted media," but didn't find anything like that. Calling Mr. Jerry K: If you have any advice about this, let me know in case I'm missing something obvious.

          BTW samples saved to stick are WAV files, so you can also just remove the stick and put it in a computer-based digital audio editor, then put it back into the M3, which will think it's the original sample. Cool!


          • #50
            Before we get into the Sequencer and KARMA (I suspect that once I start working with KARMA, no one will see me for months!), let's look at how effects are handled.

            I'm not sure Korg always gets the credit it deserves for effects, but that just might be a personal thing because I've always been more into the keyboard/synth/tone module aspects. But two things got me more into Korg effects: The effects included with the Legacy Collection soft synths, which I often use on tracks regardless of whether I'm using any soft synths, and the PX5D (the subject of another Pro Review, by Jon Chappell) which sure is packed with features, especially given the cost. And it makes some really good sounds.

            The M3 has three different places where you can "park" effects: Insert, Master, and "Total." You can insert up to five insert effects for a given program, a given track in a sequence, or a given element in a Combi. The Master effect is more like an aux effect, as it has send/return for connections and sequencer track. The "Total" effect can be thought of as the final effect before the whole thing hits the real world. This is the effect for when the producer says "I like the sound of your keyboard, but can you make the whole thing a little bit brighter so it cuts better in the mix?" Also, note that these effects are in addition to the "built-in" EQ for programs and tracks.

            First, let's take a look at effects in programs. The first image shows the main screen for a program. You won't see any effects here, but I included this so you could see the three-band EQ (fixed frequency low and high boost/cut controls, and sweepable mid with boost/cut but no Q). This EQ, circled in red for clarity, is really for tone-shaping on a general level; if you want serious EQ, then you can use a sophisticated parametric or graphic EQ as an insert/master/total effect.

            Hit the page select button, and you get the helpful "here are your options for the various pages" screen. Page 8 is for insert effects, page 9 for master and total effects. The second image shows Page 8, and the important thing here are the tabs: Routing, Internal FX setup (where you choose effects and effects chains), tabs for individual effects parameters, and finally, a tab for the common FX LFO.

            Anyway, as the second image shows the Routing page, let's investigate further.

            The M3 uses a bus structure, where you can send the oscillator outs to various buses or in this case, particular effects. For example, if you're sending an oscillator to the internal effects, it can feed into the input of any of the five available insert effects. Or it can go to the main audio output, bypassing the Total effect, or sent without processing to individual outputs (for example, if you want to add your own processing). Another option, the FX Control bus, lets an effect's audio input be controlled by a different sound - more on this later. There's also a conventional aux bus option. All of these are shown schematically in a mixer shown on-screen. (By the way, effects can also be part of sampling and re-sampling.)

            But note these are not necessarily mutually-exclusive options; you could send the oscillator signals to an insert effect that appears at the main outs, but also send the dry signal to an individual out. Example? Sure! Treat the dry as the subwoofer out from a bass sound, while feeding the bass through internal effects to get a big stereo image.
            N E W S O N G ! To Say 'No' Would Be a Crime (Remix) is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

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            • #51
              The attached image shows the internal FX setup page, and there's quite a bit going on here.

              The left side of the screen basically lists the effects that are in play. This is also where you can enable/disable effects, as well as choose the effect for a particular slot. (Incidentally, note the insert effects on/off switches: These are paralleled by the play/mute/solo switches located just over the 8 real-time faders, so it's easy to do hands-on effects enable/disable.)

              Note the "Chain To" option: It's currently set to IFX3, so IFX1 feeds IFX3. But this can be changed. For example, setting it to IFX4 means that both IFX1 and IFX3 (which is also set to chain to IFX4) will feed IFX4. Essentially, this is what gives series/parallel effects options, although there are additional series/parallel combinations of effects that can go into slots. We'll show this shortly.

              If you disable chaining, then instead of the little line going to the effect it feeds, the effect goes directly to the sort of "mixer/routing" section to the right. Take a look at the section circled in blue, as this shows where IFX4's output goes. First, it hits a Pan control, then gets sent to your choice of bus (in this case, outs 1/2 - the effect below, IFX5, goes to the main L/R outs). You can also specify an Aux/Ctrl bus to send the effect (for IFX4, that's 3/4), with a parameter for the amount of send - in this case, 127.

              Flexible enough for you? Yeah, I thought so. I'm actually looking forward to using the M3 as an guitar amp effects rack, using the external inputs with my guitar. But that's for later! Let's move on to the types of effects that are available.
              N E W S O N G ! To Say 'No' Would Be a Crime (Remix) is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

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              • #52
                In the previous post, you probably noticed the little right-pointing arrow next to the effect name. This is Korg's universal symbol for "touch here to select stuff," and touching here opens up a screen with tabs for different effects families. This is where you choose specific effects.

                They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so rather than type, I've taken screen shots of each family of effects. We'll look at the interface for selected effects, but for now, let's get an overview of what's available.

                The first image shows the five dynamics effects. These are all "bread and butter type" effects, but the Multiband Limiter is particularly interesting - it's a "maximizer" type of device that makes for a good Total effect.

                The second image shows the 12 EQ/filter effects. In addition to a 4-band parametric and 7-band graphic EQ, the Isolator is sort of like a DJ "kill" feature; also notice the Decimator for lo-fi effects, wahs, and other more esoteric filtering effects.

                The third image is all about amp modeling effects. This is something that I believe Ensoniq pioneered, by mixing guitar effects with keyboard patches to give cool keyboard sounds. Also check out the mic modeling effect, and hi-gain wa; these are just begging for me to plug my guitar into the input and check them out. Must...be...patient...

                The fourth image relates to phasing, chorusing, and flanging. There's also vibrato, an envelope flanger, and a dead ringer for the Polysix's Ensemble effect. I like it when companies don't forget their past, but instead bring it into the present.
                N E W S O N G ! To Say 'No' Would Be a Crime (Remix) is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

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                • #53
                  Moving right along...the first image shows modulation and pitch shifter effects, as well as rotating speaker options. And yes, fans of the weird - there's a ring modulator! The Grain Shifter is really cool, too. Quite a few of these deserve audio examples as we dig deeper.

                  the second image illustrates the delay options. Not surprisingly, a lot of them sync to BPM. There are also "reverse tape" effects, panning delays, and the like.

                  The third image displays your choices in reverbs. This is the usual "various room algorithm options" approach, along with an early reflections effect. Putting reverbs in series or parallel can give extremely rich, big effects.

                  The fourth image lets you select combinations of two mono effects. The screen shot is misleading, because there are another 16 effects that would be visible if you could scroll the picture to the right. These are mostly for convenience and saving "slots" for effects, as you can create the same combinations with the individual effects.

                  Similarly, the fifth image has parallel combinations of mono effects, and there are 29 additional combinations not shown in the screen shot. There are some particularly hip combinations, like parallel compressors for when you want squashed drums but still retain dynamics - one compressor squashes like crazy, the other applies light compression. Wah in parallel with compressor is good for bass sounds, as you can compress the fundamental, deep bass sound while "layering" the wa effect on top of it.

                  Incidentally, the same roster of effects is available for the Master and Total slots.
                  N E W S O N G ! To Say 'No' Would Be a Crime (Remix) is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

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                  • #54
                    I'm back from Summer NAMM, I've finished my videos and the Summer NAMM trailer for the front page, and now, it's back to Pro Reviews. So...

                    Before leaving the world of effects for things like KARMA, the sequencer, and the 424,332 other features in the M3 (just kidding! There are really only 67,455 more features to cover), I thought it might be fun to come up with a guitar processing rig and see how well it did guitar sounds.

                    Part of this is the "because we can" syndrome. But part of it involves cost. The M3 isn't expensive for what it does, but it's not a budget keyboard, either. If it can be pressed into providing other useful functions, then that helps justify the expenditure above and beyond it being a great-sounding keyboard. As it so happens, the M3 can serve as a 4-in/6-out effects processor with (as shown in previous posts) a wide roster of effects, serial/parallel options, control surface options for parameters (e.g., footpedal or joystick control), and the like.

                    According the manual, you can process external inputs when in Program, Combi, Sequencing or Sampling mode. I figured I'd start in Program mode, as that way I could name and save the preset for future use. So, naturally I wanted to route the external input to the Program...
                    N E W S O N G ! To Say 'No' Would Be a Crime (Remix) is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

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                    • #55
                      The manual wasn't particularly clear on how to route the input to the Program; it acted as if the signal just kind of magically appeared, and you didn't have to do anything. Surprisingly, that's actually the way it works. I thought that perhaps I needed to select an Audio Input under the Sampling or Global options, and that setting would be carried over to the Program. As an experiment, I set the input for both Sampling and Global to SPDIF; as the guitar was going into the Analog 1 input, I didn't expect it to show up in the program...but it did. From what I can gather, the Program basically always has the input available if you want it.

                      However, it seems the input hooks into the signal chain just before the insert effects. Therefore, you can't use the synth's filter and amp modules to "play" the filter frequency, or "chop" the signal with the VCA. But you can insert suitable effects that do the same thing, i.e., multimode filter or noise gate, so not being able to use the synth modules isn't really a limitation.

                      The attached image shows the start of the preset construction process: I decided to use User Bank F as a home for signal processing presets, and named the first preset in the bank as Guitar Overdrive. Now, let's construct our guitar rack.
                      N E W S O N G ! To Say 'No' Would Be a Crime (Remix) is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

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                      • #56
                        I thought I'd start with a simple serial connection of insert effects, as shown in the first image. Here's the roster of effects.

                        IFX1: Stereo limiter. A little sustain is always a good thing with guitar
                        IFX2: Overdrive/High-Gain Wah (second image). This is basically a distortion section with an amp cabinet simulator. Don't expect Guitar Rig; there's only one distortion and one cabinet algorithm in this section (although there are other cabinet options, such as for bass, in other algorithms). For distortion, you can choose Overdrive or High-Gain.
                        IFX3: Pitch shifter (second image). Octave division is hard to pull off, so I figured I'd throw something hard at the M3. There are some interesting aspects to the Pitch Shifter: You can choose slow, medium, or fast detection modes (I found slow distracting, but medium worked fine - fast enough, and accurate enough). Also, there's a feedback option (hooray!!) with delay, so you can have ascending or descending "bell trees." I'll give an audio example of this later on.
                        IFX4: Reverb Smooth Hall. A little reverb at the end never hurts, right? Of course, I could have done this as a master effect...but I wanted to keep things simple for now.
                        IFX5: This is set to On in the screen shot because I thought I was going to need a Noise Gate, but I didn't.

                        Referring back to the first image, you can see the serial connection. Incidentally, just to play it safe, I turned off the oscillators on the main program page so if I hit a key accidentally, nothing nasty would happen. And by the way - this was another instance where the operating system was transparent. I was able to get this happening just by poking around, based on what I'd figured out so far about effects.

                        So far so good...how about some audio examples?
                        N E W S O N G ! To Say 'No' Would Be a Crime (Remix) is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

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                        • #57
                          The first audio example is the M3 doing octave division, with the high-gain algorithm, cabinet simulator, and plenty of overdrive to add dirt and nastiness. I was surprised by how well the octave division tracked, despite using the medium instead of slow tracking setting.

                          The second audio example is the M3 doing octave multiplication, i.e., multiplying the signal by two. This produces those Hendrix-like "Octavia" effects.

                          The third audio example is a downward "bell tree," produced by feeding back the pitch-shifted sound (transposed down by a semitone) and adding a delay of about 300 ms.

                          The fourth audio example is an upward "bell tree" - same thing as the previous example, but with pitch shift set for a semitone up rather than down.

                          The fifth audio example uses the wah from the overdrive algorithm. I hooked up a pedal for this one, and assigned it to the wah filter frequency.
                          N E W S O N G ! To Say 'No' Would Be a Crime (Remix) is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

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                          • #58
                            The previous audio examples were simply designed to give a hint of what the M3 can do. If the M3 were an effects processor, we could still do a pro review on just that - demonstrating serial effects, parallel effects, using aux effects, adding more variations of MIDI control, etc. But, I think we've made the point, and it's time to move on to more synth-specific features. The main conclusion here is that the effects are not just tacked on to the M3, but an integral part of shaping not just the M3's sounds, but external sounds as well.

                            (Oh, and one more fine point: When I talked about how the audio just appeared in the program, I should mention that under the Global section, Audio tab, I made sure the input was going to the IFX1 chain.)
                            N E W S O N G ! To Say 'No' Would Be a Crime (Remix) is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

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                            • #59
                              Craig wrote:

                              "However, it seems the input hooks into the signal chain just before the insert effects. Therefore, you can't use the synth's filter and amp modules to "play" the filter frequency, or "chop" the signal with the VCA. But you can insert suitable effects that do the same thing, i.e., multimode filter or noise gate, so not being able to use the synth modules isn't really a limitation."

                              If you want to have that sort of fun, you can with the optional EXB-RADIAS board. That synthesis engine does allow an osc source to be an audio input, and from there the sound-mangling fun can begin. Your review unit has the board installed, and the Programs are located in INT-F bank, so it's waiting for you...



                              Jerry Kovarsky
                              Korg Guy


                              • #60
                                Thanks, Korg Guy. I stand corrected: I have 67,456 more features to cover, not 67,455.
                                N E W S O N G ! To Say 'No' Would Be a Crime (Remix) is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

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