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MIDI or Audio

 
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Nigel Mulvey



Joined: 18 Jan 2006
Posts: 48
Location: Sydney, Australia

PostPosted: Mon Apr 06, 2009 12:14 am    Post subject: MIDI or Audio Reply with quote

Curious to know who uses midi files running a module and who uses MP3's (or other audio file). I'm currently using midi files driving an SC88-Pro with a reserved track sending chords to a TC Helicon Voiceworks for my harmonies with the signals travelling via a MOTU XT Express. It works well but I am carrying around too much gear and I'm not getting any younger.

I was thinking about recording the midi files to MP3, replacing synth guitar parts with real guitar parts (to add a bit of realism) and recording the harmonies. This will reduce the amount of gear I am carrying, reduce the risk of damage to my gear, eliminate rogue midi messages etc. etc.

Look forward to hearing from y'all,

Nigel Mulvey
Sydney, Awstraylya
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finelytuned



Joined: 06 Apr 2009
Posts: 3

PostPosted: Mon Apr 06, 2009 9:37 am    Post subject: Audio by far the way to go Reply with quote

I read your post.
I don't own AA yet but I am considering it. Working with the demo still. I am surprised at the limitations though. I want to record my midi tracks to audio and go wav all the way. You can get way better mixes and less bugginess.

However I am amazed there are no audio plugins, or mixing board, or ANYTHING to help you tweak your tracks. That amazes me! If I am missing something please let me know,but thus far I'm not impressed with the software.

Thanks
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Michael K Johnson
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Thor



Joined: 24 Jan 2008
Posts: 58
Location: Tampa, Florida USA

PostPosted: Mon Apr 06, 2009 1:41 pm    Post subject: Mid and Audio in SPSC Reply with quote

To Nigel,

I've been using the software for over a year now and find myself using it as a trigger for audio files (AIFF and mp3). The audio files are converted from midi files using Logic Pro. If you have a controlled program of material, then recording your backing guitar and Vocal Harmonies in a sequencer and mixing to mono output is a good choice. I do this to and have added up to 12 recorded sax parts playing behind my sax lead.

If you have a lot of spontaneity in your performance you can use the Show Control foot switch to change your Voiceworks patches on the fly.
The footswitches' ability to send hotkeys and midi events and work DMX lighting is invaluable. The downside to an all midi setup is those rogues you mentioned. About 15 years ago I ran my sequences from a Kawaii Q-80 and had a gig where I played for people coming into a new grocery store. They set me up next to a Coca Cola machine outside the store and when that vending machine cycled it threw my midi volumes all up to 127....OUCH!

To Michael,
I agree that some sort of basic editing could come in handy, i.e. adjust the start or end of an audio file or perhaps to fade the reverb tail at the end of the song, however in my opinion this software is more for the presentation of the song in which you have tweaked it in preproduction using whatever tools you have available. For me that would be Bias Peak and Logic Pro from Apple.

The developer is very open to feature requests to help make this outstanding Software/Hardware package even more amazing. The support tab of the Alien Apparatus site has all the links to contact the developer.

By the way, Michael...Bob Katz is a god! Good choice for Mastering.

Best of Luck to each of you

Thor Stevens
Tampa, Florida
www.thorstevens.com
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finelytuned



Joined: 06 Apr 2009
Posts: 3

PostPosted: Mon Apr 06, 2009 2:48 pm    Post subject: Audio tools for AA Reply with quote

Thanks for your input.

When I am not with a full band, I like doing the midi thing. And although I have used a ton of different midi sequencers, I decided to pick up a Alesis fusion keyboard which allows you to play midi and audio at the same time PLUS use the awesome samples to really tweak your tracks. Well... it doesn't work nearly as good as it should, so now I have pretty much decided to take my midi tracks, assign and combine some good samples, and record them all to create good dependable audio files. Most people are content with general midi sounds. NOT ME. This way of doing things will take a long time but the end results will be great. Finally..the right sounds with the right feel.

However, no matter how much I perfect my audio mixes, I'm always going to want to fix it in some way later on. That's why an audio editor of some sort, built in the program, even a cheapo plugin (eq, comp, verb) would be great. I use Logic Pro and DP and if they (Apple or MOTU) could incorporate the pedal system, thousands of musicians would be going crazy for this unit. Motu just came out with a wireless remote, and a special computer keypad but still you are not hands free. That is why I am very interested in this product here. I just wish they would take it up a notch. Now. Cause I really like the concept.

Does anyone know of another company in the world doing this pedal/software thing? but really honing in on the audio side? If so, I would like to know.

OH....still searching...


Thanks
Michael
Kissimmee, FL
mkj@kua.net
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Michael K Johnson
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ZB



Joined: 14 Mar 2006
Posts: 36

PostPosted: Wed Apr 08, 2009 11:54 am    Post subject: MIDI vs MP3/WAV files Reply with quote

Hey Guys: We worked with MIDI units early in the game but came to hate the 'cheesy' sound of the general MIDI instruments and lack of mix and general control. Just too darn much trouble to work the MIDI units at a gig and do a good 'show' if you know what I mean. We moved to taking MIDI files and putting them through Cubase and generally totally reworking them and substituting virtual instruments to sound like REAL instruments. We often found we had to re-mix the song a number of times to get a good 'live' sound on our Bose L1 Model II PA at gig volume (6 units)versus what you hear on near-field studio monitors. The results can be radically different! We use 2 Helicon Voiceworks units totally pre-programmed with changes via the Solo Performer MIDI sequence function. We hate doing 'tap-dancing' during gigs, again takes away from the 'show'. The MIDI sequence function is really great for freeing you up to 'just play and sing'. In addition to the Voiceworks units, we control our guitar pedals, guitar synth patch changes, electronic drum patch changes, POD patch changes, etc. all PRE-programmed ahead of time. Makes it a LOT more fun! Very Happy
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finelytuned



Joined: 06 Apr 2009
Posts: 3

PostPosted: Wed Apr 08, 2009 10:52 pm    Post subject: Method for converting midi to audio Reply with quote

I read that you use Cubase for making your audio tracks.
Question:
Do you take all of your midi tracks (as the song plays) and record to one stereo file, or do you convert each midi track to an audio track and then mix your audio tracks down to one stereo track? The latter way takes a lot longer per song, but you really can create a beautiful mix using all of your plugins. Does AA even recognize stereo audio files?

Your thoughts?
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ZB



Joined: 14 Mar 2006
Posts: 36

PostPosted: Mon Apr 20, 2009 11:28 am    Post subject: To Finelytuned: Reply with quote

We take the MIDI files in Cubase and break them into individual instrument tracks to replace with appropriate virtual instruments that we feel are way better than MIDI general instruments. Then create any extra tracks we need, e.g. a third guitar, an extra keyboard, SFX, etc. Then we will do a mixdown to a mono .wav file which is stored for archive purposes. We convert the .wav to mp3 for gigging out to save space on the laptop. Solo Performer doesn't care if you are using stereo files or not, it will play them whether they are .wav's or mp3's. However using stereo files in a live PA environment is not usually recommended. We discussed this with many an experienced sound man over time and all say that the stereo 'sweet spot' is very narrow and not worth the hassle for most live gigging environments. However if you need a SFX inserted as stereo for a special arrangement that may work OK. You would have to try it out. And for those of us who use live drummers you may need to use the other stereo track for a click track if your drummer needs one. (ours does not)
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Nigel Mulvey



Joined: 18 Jan 2006
Posts: 48
Location: Sydney, Australia

PostPosted: Sat Apr 25, 2009 9:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey ZB,

I see you have run SPSC on Macs and PC's, any reason for settling on the PC for live use?

Nigel
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ZB



Joined: 14 Mar 2006
Posts: 36

PostPosted: Mon Apr 27, 2009 10:58 am    Post subject: PC vs Mac Reply with quote

Nigel: Pretty much has to do with how we use the mic stand mounted LCD screens we use. The MIMO brand screens we are using do not work on a Mac at all. We went to these screens to get rid of the extra equipment/wall warts required. They do not have a driver for the Mac with this product. We keep our older NTSC video screens, the scan converter, the video distribution amp and wall warts for backup in our equipment trailer in case the MIMO's crap on a gig. We find that because we use a different MIDI interface unit on gigs (same brand, MOTU, we have one in our rehearsal space and another one in our PA gig rig) the MAC sometimes gets 'confused' on which unit its looking at and won't correctly send MIDI commands. Maybe we just don't know the MAC very well but we don't need more hassles at gigs trying to get setup. We've always been PC dudes and I guess we are just more comfortable with that platform. We've been using a Dell Inspirion for 3 years & have just ordered a new Dell Studio 15 Vista laptop unit with more RAM & a bigger/faster hard drive. Will let ya know how it works...
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Nigel Mulvey



Joined: 18 Jan 2006
Posts: 48
Location: Sydney, Australia

PostPosted: Tue Apr 28, 2009 7:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

ZB: Thanks for the heads up on the Mac driver for the MIMO, I was thinking of getting one, got to say running the monitor from a single USB cable has to be the way to go. I am using a car DVD monitor which has a cable about the length equivalent to the height of the mic stand. There are a lot of redundant cables hanging loose (DVD audio, secondary av signal etc) plus the AV that I use and a power cable, by the time I add the mic and USB for the SPSC it feels like I'm standing in a bowl of spaghetti.

Do you guys use the voiceworks for live harmonies or just for treating your main vocals? I reserve channel 16 on all of my midi files as a chord track which cc messages switching the harmonies on and off where required. I too am thinking of going to mp3 files just wondering what the options are for the backing vox as a solo performer (probably just record them to the backing track I guess).

Just curious, what other goodies do you have in your midi rack?

Cheers,

Nigel
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ZB



Joined: 14 Mar 2006
Posts: 36

PostPosted: Tue Apr 28, 2009 11:59 am    Post subject: How We Use Voiceworks Units Reply with quote

Nigel: We use rack mount TC Helicon Voiceworks for each of us (2--our drummer doesn't sing, just sorta screams when its required...) We program all harmonies with these units. We stay light on the global EFX. Technically with our two voices we can have up to 8 generated harmonies. However we try not to overdo it---it's easy to do that with these units! You want it to sound 'natural'. And if I sing flat (I ain't the greatest vocalist) then it can be 5 really crappy sounding vocals! My brother has become an expert in programming these units and a typical midi sequence file will have 50 or more commands just for vocal changes. A solo artist could program up to 4 harmonies but you also can pre-record harmonies on a backing track. The challenge here is to accurately mix audio levels for balanced vocals/harmonies. Much easier on the Voiceworks since you are generating them in real time and you pre-program the harmony level relative to your actual voice. The other MIDI devices are our individual guitar foot pedals (plus Roland TD-9SX Drum kit): TC Helicon G System, Zoom G9.2tt, Line 6 Pod, Roland GR20 Guitar Synth.
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daniel854



Joined: 11 May 2011
Posts: 1

PostPosted: Thu May 12, 2011 7:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for your tips!
Where we all can find more useful tips?
Best,
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UserSteve23



Joined: 03 Nov 2011
Posts: 32

PostPosted: Mon Nov 14, 2011 11:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wow, really extensive tips! Thanks for the posts, guys! I am thinking of the same thing as I have gigs in Gold Coast apartments, apartments for rent in Alexandria VA and Schaumburg apartments.
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UserSteve23



Joined: 03 Nov 2011
Posts: 32

PostPosted: Mon Nov 28, 2011 10:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

As always, helpful tips one and all. We'll be visiting Portland OR, Los Angeles, Philadelphia and stay in Camden County Apartments on our next trip.
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UserSteve23



Joined: 03 Nov 2011
Posts: 32

PostPosted: Mon Dec 05, 2011 9:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I shared this link to my friends in apartments Cape Coral, Ohio State off campus housing, BYU Idaho Housing and Markham Gardens who are all musicians.
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