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  • #61
    "Again turning to my wish list, though, I'd like to see the ability to program a short musical phrase into the search function that would play as soon as you selected a patch. "

    We have this feature on the Motif ES rack because you may not always have a keyboard connected. On the Motif XS, try turning on the arp button. The arps are programmed per voice, but may not always be turned by default.
    Athan Billias
    Director of Marketing
    Pro Audio and Combo Division
    Yamaha Corporation Of America

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    • #62
      Craig, did you use Direct Performance recording in making these demos.

      Try hitting the rec button while in Performance Mode and selecting a pattern section to record to. This will instantly create loops of any length (up to 256 measures). You can record to either Song or Pattern directly from Performance mode.
      Athan Billias
      Director of Marketing
      Pro Audio and Combo Division
      Yamaha Corporation Of America

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      • #63
        Cool! Thanks, Athan. BTW I like the idea of being able to update via USB memory stick. That seems less scary than doing it via USB or MIDI with a computer, because if the computer screws up, it can screw up any flash memory big-time.

        While you're here...wanna give a shout out to who developed the sounds and patches? Was it a bunch of engineers at Yamaha, one guy chained to his desk with an urn of coffee and 46 packs of cigarettes, adaptations from previous units, or...? I'm always curious as to the story behind the sounds.
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        • #64
          We have an international team of programmers.

          Scott Plunkett ( whose out on tour with Stevie Nick and Chris Issacs right now), Dave Polich, and bunch of young guys who focus on hiphop sounds are in the US, there are a European team from both the UK and around Europe and also a team from Japan. There are evensome things in there that I worked on .

          There's a blog on www.motifator.com about the team.

          http://charlie.keyfax.com/motif_xs_sound_designers
          Athan Billias
          Director of Marketing
          Pro Audio and Combo Division
          Yamaha Corporation Of America

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          • #65
            There was a question about how easy the XS is to program, so I thought this would be a good time to get into voice architecture, and editing voices. None of this is really earth-shakingly different from what's come before, but there are a few unique wrinkles.

            What Yamaha calls a Voice is basically a single preset playing over a single channel, as opposed to the multi-timbral Performance option. Each voice can have up to eight elements. These elements can be split or layered, for example, you could have eight elements multi-sampled across the keyboard and restricted to particular note ranges. They can also be layered using velocity switching, so that some elements are brought in at higher velocities, and others at lower velocities.

            Velocity crossfading
            is possible, so you can get a smooth velocity transition going from one sample to another. However, I did not find a way to do positional crossfading with multisamples (i.e., as one multisample fades out over a particular keyboard range, another multisample fades in). This feature doesn't seem to be too common in keyboards these days, but I wish it would make a comeback...it can help "cover up" problematic transitions between samples.

            One feature that has made a comeback is the ability to use an element as a key off sound. This was available on many Ensoniq keyboards; one application is to create the distinctive key-off sound of a harpsichord, or add finger squeaks for note transitions on guitar sounds.

            This part of the quartet of features that Yamaha calls Expanded Articulation, or XA. These are designed to create more realistic sounds. Another option uses separate elements for legato sounds, which allows more realism than simply extending an envelope from one note to the next.

            Of the remaining two XA features, one adds subtle waveform changes to impart animation, rather than using the more brute force "detune the oscillators sometimes" approach. The remaining one allows switching between different performance oriented sounds while you play, e.g., having velocity cause a note slide on a guitar sound.

            As to modules within the element itself, it's the usual: Oscillator with pitch controls, followed by filter, followed by amp, with various modulation sources.
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            • #66
              You have two main editing options, Common Edit, which applies changes to all elements, and Element Edit, if you want to work on a specific element. It's also possible to turn elements on and off or solo them, if you want to work on a particular element or group of elements without being distracted by the other ones.

              I started my editing journeys with the patch DX Legend, which gives that infamous DX electric piano sound. The Motif XS has a fair amount of dedicated buttons, which is helpful. For example, there's a dedicated Common Edit button, and mutually exclusive Solo and Mute buttons. Eight buttons are available for the Solo and Mute functions.

              At first, I wondered why soloing some elements produced no sound. Aha! They were velocity-switched, and I wasn't hitting the keys enough. This particular voice is structured with a main element that covers lower and medium velocity ranges, with two velocity-switched element that add "growl" at higher velocities. A final element adds the metallic, sort of plucked attack sound so characteristic of FM synths. (Of course, the Motif XS isn't actually doing FM synthesis for this sound, but rather, "deconstructed" an FM sound and sampled the strategic sonic characteristics.)

              I figured I might as well dive in to editing an element. When you hit the edit switch, you're presented with a logical main screen with six tabbed views for oscillator, pitch control, filter, amplitude, element LFO, and EQ; refer to the image, which shows the oscillator tab screen. (By the way, I'm thrilled to see more instruments including EQ as a standard voice parameter - you can really make major sonic alterations with the right EQ settings).

              The parameters are pretty self-explanatory: You can see where you can choose different waves, set velocity crossfade and velocity/note limits, key on delay (like predelay for a sound), etc. This is also where you choose the XA control characteristics; more on this later.

              Next, let's take a look at the other Edit screens.
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              • #67
                Before proceeding, two things...

                I asked Yamaha if they had any way to capture Motif screen shots, so you wouldn't have to suffer through my trying to take pictures of the screen. They obliged with an alternate operating system that can in fact grab screen shots. It does this by connecting to the Motif through Ethernet, and when you enter the Motif's IP address in a browser, voila - the screen shows up in the browser. From there, I copy and enlarge the screen shots for your viewing pleasure This is going to make the Pro Review a whole lot cooler, I think. Props to Athan and also Avery Burdette (who walked me through the procedure) for their help on this.

                Anyway, you'll note in the bottom of the previous shot there's a tab in the lower right that says "4 Elm." If you click on this with the associated button, it takes you to a text-oriented view that lets you see what's happening with four elements at a glance (see the attached image). For example, note how you can see the note limits, velocity limits, delay tempo sync, etc. Element 1 is highlighted, which shows the one that's selected for editing.

                What happens if you also have parameters you want to see in parameters 5-8? Select any of them for editing, and the screen jumps to that group of elements. I should add this is not a "read-only" display; you can edit the values with the cursor buttons and data wheel.
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                • #68
                  But aren't "oscillator" and "pitch" the same thing? Well, on some synths, yes. In this case, thought, the Motif makes a distinction between the raw waveform and how its assigned, and the tuning/scaling aspects.

                  Referring to the image, there are two pitch-oriented screens; this one covers tuning, where you have the usual coarse, fine, scaling, randomness (good for slight detunings to keep things interesting), center key, etc. Again, these are all fairly standard parameters.

                  The other image shows the PEG (Pitch Envelope Generator) screen. As you can see, this uses a Rate/Level-type envelope with additional parameters for envelope depth, key follow, time velocity sensitivity, and the like.

                  Having parameters neatly divided into separate tabs in a hierarchical structure is very helpful, especially when you take the color screen into account.
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                  • #69
                    The first image shows the main filter screen. There are 18 filter types including lowpass, highpass, bandpass, and band reject, as well as combination filters (remember the old modular Moogs, and the Korg MS-20 for that matter, where you created a bandpass filter by combining high and lowpass filters?). This doesn't represent the pinnacle of filter technology; I'd still have to give E-Mu's synths the nod for that distinction, what with their Z-Plane roster of filters. Still, what we have here goes beyond the "big four" options and given the number of elements, it's easy to take two elements with different filter types and "morph" them in various ways.

                    Again, there's nothing too out of the ordinary here; the FEG uses the same basic envelope type as the pitch section. Scale, shown in the second image, lets you determine how the keyboard affects filter frequency. I remember this back in the days of TX802 synths and their ilk, and always found it very handy for things like taming "shrillness" on the high end of sound while leaving the low end alone.
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                    • #70
                      It's dinner time, so we'll get to the other edit screens either later tonight or tomorrow. But I wanted to close out with the main voice screen, as it looks cool and shows how parameters relate to the Motif XS6 control surface.

                      The eight knobs at the top show which parameters they control, such as cutoff, decay, release, etc. These knobs have a nice "rubbery" feel, and while they do have a little bit of side-to-side play "wobble," it's much less than I've encountered with other gear, and I suspect these would stand up to a significant amount of real-time tweaking.

                      The eight sliders in this case control the levels of the elements.

                      Also, note toward the bottom there's data on what various controllers are used for, including the mod wheel (MW) and ribbon controller (RB).

                      See you later! Let me know if you have any questions.
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                      • #71
                        The first image shows where you control "static" amplitude characteristics, as opposed to dynamic settings that result from envelopes or scaling. Note the random pan and scaling pan options; everything else is fairly standard.

                        The envelope page in the second image is similar to the filter envelope, but note the addition of parameters for the half damper switch and half damper time.

                        The final tab is for scaling, but this is pretty much the same as the scaling display for the filter.
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                        • #72
                          When I first looked at the Element LFO screen, I thought it was a joke: Here you have Yamaha's top-of-the-line keyboard, but with LFO parameters more befitting of an entry-level keyboard. Ah, but things aren't that simple. It turns out there are two LFO options, one for Common Edit (i.e., it affects all elements) that has all the cool goodies, and a simpler one for individual elements.

                          The first image shows the Element LFO options. This is fairly common stuff: LFO waveform choices are triangle, saw, and square. Unlike the Common Edit LFO, Speed (which is calibrated in arbritary numbers rather than the actual speed in Hz) doesn't sync to tempo. Right below Speed, you'll find fields for setting the amplitude for pitch, filter, and amplitude; there are also the expected delay, fade in time, and key on reset parameters.

                          The second image shows the main screen for the Common Edit LFO. Here you have 12 waveform shapes, as well as a user-definable one (shown in the fourth image - we'll get to that shortly). There are a variety of cool features, like being able to use the LFO as a one-shot, set hold and fade out LFO times as well as the usual delay and fade in, vary phase, do tempo sync (which does triplets and dotted values, thank you), and add a little randomness to the speed. This is all good stuff.

                          The third image shows the Destination Assignment screen. This lets you choose three control destinations with a master depth, and toward the right, you can set up which elements will be modulated, as well as specify an offset to the depth if you want some elements to respond to the master LFO modulation differently than other elements. Here is also where you can shift the phase going to each element. It's definitely handy to have all these parameters on a single screen.

                          The final screen shows the user waveform construction page. You can program up to 16 steps, and although there's no "smoothing" control (add that to my wish list along with speed calibration in Hz), you can set "slopes" instead of having a stairstep/step-sequenced type wave. Also, note the Random button toward the bottom: Every time you press this, you get a different waveform with different slope settings.

                          The bottom line is that between the two different modes, Common and Element, the LFOs do quite a lot and can add a lot of animation to a patch - we're not just talking vibrato and tremolo. Of particular note is the settings screen, as you can apply very subtle amounts of modulation to particular elements if you're so inclined.
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                          • #73
                            That's pretty much it for the voice editing synth-type parameters, although there are plenty more editing options to say the least...

                            I was thinking of recording some more sounds next, particularly orchestral ones. But this is your review, too. Anything you'd like to see? Are you happy with it so far? Do you have any questions for Yamaha, as they're being very conscientious about following this thread?

                            In any event, I'll just keep on going but any feedback is welcome.
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                            • #74
                              I would definitely like to hear some more orchestral sounds, especially some strings and brass in both the soloed and choir variety....

                              Did we cover drum kits already? I can't quite recall. Guess I'll have to reread this thread from the start (not that I'm complaining - some good stuff in here.)
                              octatrack + monomachine mkII + live 8 + samples = crap.
                              also starring: Fender Strat / P-Bass, 828mkII, ADAM A7s, Vox VT30, TC Electronics RH750, some effect pedals, Venture Bros. DVDs

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                              • #75
                                Nope, haven't done drum kits per se, but I included as many different drum kits as possible in the various audio examples done so far.
                                CHECK IT OUT: Lilianna!, my latest song, is now streamable from YouTube.

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