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  • #31
    Well, I'm going to sign off tonight. But I have to confess it's difficult to focus on the review, because I keep getting distracted...I wanted to see how easy it was to create a preset, so I loaded up one of my favorite Minimoog samples, and about 10 minutes later, I had a really cool bass sound poppin' out of the speakers.

    But what's a real problem is when you start checking out the banks. I loaded the Proteus X Composer bank, and noodled around with some presets. I feel in love with the "Silk OBXsaws" preset and was immediately inspired to come up with a chorus for a tune.

    In fact, all the sounds I listened to were stunning in their clarity and sound quality -- like hearing a guitar through a high-impedance DI box. I loaded a sawtooth sample and deliberately stretched it up five octaves to see how it would hold up; there was mild aliasing, but it was surprisingly low. I'll have to do a more rigorous test later.

    Anyway, I'll try not to get distracted so I post more about the X2. But I guess the fact that I'm getting sucked into this instrument says a lot in itself!
    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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    • #32
      <<Craig how useful if any or compelling have you found transform multiply if you have gotten a chance to try it out as yet.>>

      I believe this was first included in the Emax or maybe Emax II...there was some sort of convolution thing in there. But I never got into it because it was so computationally intensive, it would sometimes take hours to render a sound...and then I'd find out it sucked Then again, this was back in the days where when you wanted to render one frame of animation, you'd wind up your Mac IIci and let it think on it overnight.

      I haven't checked out transform multiply yet, but I suspect with my screaming dual core ADK system it will be a somewhat zippier experience than it was with the Emax . If you're into sound design, I suspect you might find this to be a very important feature...more later.
      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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      • #33
        thanks
        rsp
        richard sven
        sound sculptist

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        • #34
          Hi Craig,
          My heart's racing after hearing about the SP12ulator insert effect. I've owned both the SP12 and 1200, and hold onto them simply because I love what it does to samples, both the sound and the way it transposes it across the keys.

          As you are the author of the manual and have used the SP1200, how is that SP12ulator effect, is it right on, or just another bit reducing effect?

          Thanks
          http://www.myspace.com/dahkter

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          • #35
            I noticed you were disappointed by the EQ sliders. You may have noticed this already, but the linear EQ sliders can be bypassed by just clicking on the number above a slider and editing it; this works for all the effect parameters.

            It doesn't make it any easier to sweep the peak with a mouse (or MIDI controller, for the 1-band), but it gives you precision once you've picked a frequency.

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            • #36
              <<I noticed you were disappointed by the EQ sliders. You may have noticed this already, but the linear EQ sliders can be bypassed by just clicking on the number above a slider and editing it; this works for all the effect parameters.>>

              Yes, good point; you can indeed enter numericals. It's just that a lot of times I need to sweep to find the right area for EQ, and I like log scaling more than linear scaling for that application.
              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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              • #37
                <<My heart's racing after hearing about the SP12ulator insert effect. I've owned both the SP12 and 1200, and hold onto them simply because I love what it does to samples, both the sound and the way it transposes it across the keys.

                As you are the author of the manual and have used the SP1200, how is that SP12ulator effect, is it right on, or just another bit reducing effect?>>

                Well, somewhere in between. It processes an existing signal, it isn't a part of the transposition process. So that sort of "ring mod" effect you get when you transpose something takes a little work. But it's more than a bit reducing effect, although it does that too.

                But also understand that the SP12ulator has frequency and depth controls, both of which can be messed with via the MIDI patch cords, and you can alter the amount of bit reduction. This is where it gets interesting.

                So being that you're a true SP1200 aficionado, I went to the effort to create a patch where I took a Discrete Drums tom sample and tied its pitch to pitch bend, and also tied pitch bend to the SP12ulator frequency control. I then created a short sequence in Sonar that hit the drums and bent the pitch. Actually it took longer to render it to MP3 then it did to create the sound example.

                Click on the attachment to download a 128kbps mono MP3 file of this effect. It may not sound exactly like an SP1200, but it has a ton more character than the usual bit reduction processor. Enjoy!
                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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                • #38
                  Single channel view is part of the Multisetup page. This is where you assign presets, volume, pan, and output routing to a MIDI channel (64 in standalone mode, 32 as a plug-in). Click on the attachment to see Single View.

                  The main "LCD" display shows the preset number and name, and also displays the category and bank/program display (presets are numbered sequentially, but the bank/program number follows the standard MIDI numbering of a bank number followed by one of 128 program numbers).

                  Below the display are the volume and pan knobs, that (I must point out!) have a cool graphical glow. What I particularly like is the pan button glows more red as you pan left, and blue as you pan right (there's no glow when it's centered). As someone who believes it's easier to parse settings by color than by text, this rocks.

                  This is also where you set the output, and have enable buttons for the two insert effects (FXA and FXB) as well as an Aux output enable button. These make it easy to hear the processed/unprocessed sounds.

                  Above the display is where you can inc/dec presets (or type in a preset number), change MIDI channels, and choose a preset via category. There are also tabs for the outs and three aux effects, so it's easy to pull up an aux effect for tweaking. In this screen shot, Aux FX2 is selected, but it's bypassed. That way I hear what the other aux effects are doing.
                  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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                  • #39
                    This is the go-to place when setting up to do a sequence -- click on the attachment to see Multichannel view. Here you see all available MIDI channels in groups of 16. It's easy to assign presets to channels; you can drag presets over to a channel slot, or click on the slot and open up a list of all available presets in the bank (as shown in the lower left of the picture). If you click on a preset in the list, you can audition it; then double-click to pull it into the current slot.

                    You can also see that each channel has a level control, pan, FXA and FXB enable buttons, output assignment (as this is being used as a plug-in, it just offers Bus 1 or Off), and the Aux bus enable button.

                    The lower part of the Multichannel View window deserves some attention of its own, so we'll look at that next.
                    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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                    • #40
                      I'm a huge fan of using MIDI controllers, such as knobs and faders, to control parameters in real time and add expressiveness...and that's a big part of what the lower section of Multichannel View is all about.

                      Each preset has 16 available controllers; with something like the Proteus X Composer bank, most of these are assigned to something useful. Someone at E-Mu put some thought into these assignments, as they're very consistent from preset to preset (and given the huge number of presets, that's quite a task).

                      Now sit down and follow along, as we're going to delve deep into how controllers are assigned. Click on the attachment to follow along with what we'll be talking about.

                      The 16 MIDI controllers are named CTRL A through CTRL P. You do not assign these by a "MIDI learn" function; instead, you need to make global assignments in advance, via the Preferences dialog box (shown in the upper left). For example, in this case, Ctrl A is being assigned to controller #11. Thus, in every preset where Ctrl A affects something, it will respond to controller #11.

                      You determine the parameters to be controlled in the Voice Editing window, which we'll get to later. This makes sense; for example, if you want to control something like Filter Cutoff, you'll find that in the Voice Editing window.

                      Although this is less flexible than the on-the-fly "MIDI learn" approach, it does force a sort of order to your use of controllers: It encourages using a consisten control surface, making your assignments, and learning a consistent set of conventions for all your presets. My first take on this is that it's an inflexible leftover from the way assignments were made in the Emulator II. But as I've used it more, I've come to appreciate that committing to particular controllers leads to a more consistent approach that, when learned over time, becomes second nature.

                      So where do you edit the names and initial controller amounts? We'll cover that in the next post on Preset Globals.

                      Now let's look at the other controls in this section.

                      The Master Settings section has global tune, transpose, and tempo (which is grayed out, because I set up the X2 to follow the host tempo under Preferences).

                      Below that is the Filter Override option. You can have a different filter for each voice if that's your thing, and this window shows the filter for the first voice in the preset. However, you can click on Filter Override and select a particular filter type which will replace the various filters used in the voices. This may not seem particularly useful, until you release with one click and drag you can change a preset's character pretty dramatically.

                      Twistaloop Override won't make much sense until we describe the Twistaloop function, but basically, it determines how beats lock to tempo.

                      To the right of the filter override you'll find the Aux output assigns (again, because this is being used as a plug-in, there aren't multiple outputs so the choices are Aux and Off). In the lower right-hand corner, there are the output VU meters, Volume control, and the limiter. The horizontal meter below the output meters shows the amount of gain reduction that's happening.

                      Finally, along the bottom, there's a strip with various fields that show the amount of memory a preset takes up, CPU and disk usage meters, the number of samples currently playing, the currently selected channel.
                      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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                      • #41
                        For now, let's just consider the Controller aspects of this window. One reason for this is because we've been pretty much dealing with controllers, and the other is because my head is about to explode from going through all these possibilities. Really. Hey, I'm a synth veteran, but when you start getting to the point of sectioning off parts of the keyboard so you can use the keys to control modulation rather than play notes...and the alternate tunings...

                        Okay. As mentioned previously, you assign MIDI controllers to parameters in the voice editing window. But the Preset Globals window puts a more friendly face on the assignments. Click on the attachment to see the Preset Globals window. This is because the 16 knobs in the lower left control the initial controller amount assigned to a preset. Each knob also has an accompanying "scribble strip" where you can name what's being controlled. These names show up under Single Channel View and Multiple Channel View as well. ("Aha," I hear you thinking, "So that's where the names came from!") And of course, you want to be able to set an initial controller value so that if you're controlling, say, filter cutoff, when you call up the preset the filter setting is in a useful position.

                        The "patch cords" section toward the lower right is basically a matrix modulation type of setup where you assign modulation sources to modulation and effects-related destinations. Some people find this confusing because they think it crosses over with the MIDI controller sections. Not really; it's just that the MIDI controllers are also available as modulation sources.
                        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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                        • #42
                          One thing I did notice about the way controllers are handled is that if a physical knob is different from the initial controller setting, and you move the knob, the controller jumps to the new setting. As far as I can tell, there is no controller "offset" mode where moving the knob changes the value relative to the initial value. If there is such a beast lurking among the forty zillion possibilities, maybe if someone from E-Mu is reading this they can tell me where to find it.

                          I should also mention that I've had a few instances where Sonar just froze. This seems to come after doing truly abusive "learning process" things with the X2; when I've used it in a more normal fashion, it's been very solid.

                          And before I sign off for tonight, I'd like to reiterate that the sound quality is truly something. As I've been learning about the X2, I've been loading the Proteus X Composer bank a lot. I didn't just luck out and hit a few good patches right off the bat; the more I audition the patches, the more I find out that they're all very solidly crafted and musical, with useful controller assignments and intelligent voicing. There is a real clarity to the sound, a sense of definition, with no trace of "wooliness." It's definitely an E-Mu "sound," but it's a sound that I really appreciate.

                          Sure, it's great there are all these options and features (except when learning about some of the more esoteric ones starts to make my head explode), but ultimately, it's all about sound. There would be no shame at all if all you did was load sounds into the X2 and played them, and never got into any programming. Just spending some quality time with all the sounds that are available for it could take weeks: There's a tremendous amount of great material here.
                          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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                          • #43
                            Hey Craig,
                            Great review so far, really enjoying it.
                            I appreciate your taking the time to render an MP3 of the SP12 effect, definitely very cool.
                            My wife says I need to make some music with what I have, hopefully I can put together a good album, then buy it...
                            http://www.myspace.com/dahkter

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                            • #44
                              What i am anxious to know about is the auto sampling feature (i dont know how emu calls it). Where you can connect lets say an analog synth without memory and make a patch automatically within the emulator.

                              i hope you have the chance to try it craig

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                              • #45
                                <<What i am anxious to know about is the auto sampling feature (i dont know how emu calls it). Where you can connect lets say an analog synth without memory and make a patch automatically within the emulator.>>

                                That's called SynthSwipe, and it's one of the major X2 features along with Twistaloop. I'll be getting to those soon enough
                                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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