Music production upgrade from Atari

Soldato
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Ok, unsure as to where this should go, so General hardware seems to be about the most likely victim of my blarb,so...

My current music setup comprises of :-

Atari Falcon ( CT63 / 90 / 256 )
CuBase Audio
FDI Digital Interface
FriendChip +8 ( Parallel interface with 8 MIDI OUTS )
Export 3 ( Serial port Interface with 3 Midi OUTS )
Philp Rees 5M Midi Merge unit

I have a number of add-ons too

Yamaha CS1x, DJX, DD65, DD55, TG55 and MU10
Korg 05rw, Kawai GMega, and a Roland MT32

All old kit, but more than my skills can use.

Anyway...

Im considering upgrading the computer to a Mac probably or more likely to use one of my PCs, the main problem I have, is the number of Midi ports.

Right now, I have 12 outputs and 5 inputs, and I dont really know what options there are for PC / Mac

I also dont want to pay out tons of money that I could be happier spending on other things.

So, can anyone offer anythign to help me out here?

Thanks
 
Soldato
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The money you will pay for a Mac would serve a budget for a serious PC. In terms of MIDI ports, this is down to your sound card. I would take a look at the M-Audio range.
 
Soldato
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That said a lot of music producers I know use Mac's (im a DJ) but I prefer a PC as the Software is much cheaper and the hardware can be easily upgraded when needed.
 
Commissario
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How come you need so many MIDI ports?
I'm going to move this to the Sound City forum for you too :)
 
Soldato
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MACCY: Why the ports?
MikeHunt79: Can I daisy chain them?

Ok, answering both in my usual overly long way...

NOPE I HAVE DELETED IT... I got bored of my own crap, so I will give you a few of the basics.

1
A Synth or Expander, or Sound Module, or whatever you like to call it, is only capable of playing a certain number of sounds. This is the Polyphony. And they can only play a certain number of instruments too. This is called Multitimbre.

Now, many of these Expanders play 16 instruments a time, hence the 16 Channels, however some of the instruments might be made up of more than one actualy sound.

So, lets say you play a 3 fingered chord but this sound is made up of 2 sounds... You are actually getting the Expender to play 6 sounds... most of the time you could be using both hands to play a piece so, lets just round it off to playing 5 fingers on that one sound... The machine is actually playing 10 that way isnt it?

Percussions usually only take one, however the closed hat hits plenty of times on a Bass or a snare, plus you have the longer sounding cymbals, crashes rides and so on that you should sill hear for a few seconds after somtimes, so while they are fading out, the bass kicks in and a hat / closed and you are hearing 3 or 4 sounds from just the drum kit.

Already we are trying to play a possible 14 sounds now and we have not even touched on the bass or the lead or rhythm.

Now, what happens when the machines hit their max capability is that either new sounds simply dont play, or the older sounds cut out too quickly.

To be completely fair it only seems to happen to me cos I am a crappy musician and I have a nasty bad habit or layering more and more crappy music to hide my other crappy music. LOL

Some devices have a limit of 16 notes it can play, others have 24 or even 32. I thin kthat mine all have about 24 and perhaps the MT32 has only 16? not too sure to be honest.

---

Anyway...

Another reason is that some expanders have this sound and that sound... Another one might have a different sound again that the first one did not have.

I have a Kawai GMega here that has a nasty harsh sound on a lot of its voices, however the percussions are crisp and strong. Much bettert han my DD Machines in fact. and I only use those to input the music but I use the GMega to play the drums back ( some of the time )
The Korg 05RW ( Module version of my old X5 ) has lovely clean sounds that are great for most things, plus its user sound bank I have both created and downlaoded some brilliant technoish sounds and so I use that too.
The MU10 is an XG Sound Module, and so thats pretty much used for the main and its fully tunable and adaptable due to the XG capabilities.
The CS1X is my main Keyboard, and I use its performance sounds not the XG capabilities for strong front/Lead synths
The TG55 has the most perfect pianos and sazaphone sounds that are so amazing that none of the others can even come close to sounding as real.

Some stuff has some sounds, and other stuff has other sounds. Its as simple as that really.

Does that answer it?

I hope so cos I have typed down 4 different replies now!
 
Commissario
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I'm fairly knowledgeable about polyphony and texture :p

However, I don't understand why you would need 16 MIDI ports? You're not playing all 16 instruments at once? You'll only be playing one or two at most surely?
Most DAWs can playback up to 64 tracks at anyone time and that will be through your sound card, be it internal or external.

I'm failing to see how you can justify these requirements unless I'm missing something.
 
Soldato
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I'm fairly knowledgeable about polyphony and texture :p

However, I don't understand why you would need 16 MIDI ports? You're not playing all 16 instruments at once? You'll only be playing one or two at most surely?
Most DAWs can playback up to 64 tracks at anyone time and that will be through your sound card, be it internal or external.

I'm failing to see how you can justify these requirements unless I'm missing something.

That reply also mans that actually you are NOT as fairly knowledgable as you would like to think.

Ok, a little more specific then....

I am writing a simple song...

This consists of

1 - Drums
2 - Bass
3 - Rhythm Guitar
4 - Lead guitar

Right, so, lead guitars take up 2 or 3 polynotes per note played, and if you play a simple strum of the guitar goinfg across all 6 strings... Bingo, thats 6x2 or 6x3 depending on the type of guitar... Single accousic guitars are only one of course but processed Lead Electric / distorted guitars for example can take 2 or 3.

The drums likes I sad can take up a lot more than you think when you hit the crash then a ride and these are both still ringing and faing out, you get back on to the kick & Snare and tap the hats and then rolling the toms... If each sound from each piece of the kit is still playing out ( as it shoud do for a realistic drum sound ) you can easily go over a 6 note polyphony

We can clearly see that we can go way over a polyphony of 16 on just guitars and drums

Or do you still need more?

(( I only need one or two? ))

Ok, so each instrument only needs one channel. This is true yes. However, Drums being one, Bass bring a second, Lead Guitar a third...

For a lot music, sure, you only really need 4 or 5 and I will be honest with you, but you do tend to use them up a lot quicker than you think.

Like I said previously some of my hardware sounds different to others, and sometimes I might like to use, lets say the Jazz Drumkit from the Korg, but I mighjt like the Electronic toms from the Brush kit on the GMega, I might also want to use some special effects on the Jazz kit on some sounds on the Korg, but not on others, lets say I want the Kick & Snare to be crisp and clean, but the hats to be heaily effected, with say a lot of chorus.
Now that lot would require me to use 2 channels on the Korg, and a Third channel on the Kawai GMega... Thats only for the percussions.

I might also want to add some echo-ish sound to a Guitar solo... Maybe a half second delay for example...


Well, the simplest way to acheive this, is simply to copy the track, or the pattern section of the bit I want to have the effect on, and I simply copy & paste the section, and then shift that part over by whatever.

Bingo, I have just taken up 2 channels on that too!

Sure, I could perhaps point both tracks to the one channel, and this will work fiune for most sound Modules / Keyboards except for one small issue... It does not always happen, but some kit of mine it does, but Midi works by switching a note on and off at a certain volume right...

Well in this example, the keyboard might get a NOTE ON command and then half a second later it will get the NOTE ON ... It knows the note is on and it put it on again... It then gets a NOTE OFF comand and it stops the note dead. Now we could have 2 problems here... It might also cut off the echoed sound, of, when it received the second NOTE OFF command, it might think the note is off and not bother doing anything, and we end up with a hung note that wont stop.

Also we might want to effect the echoed sound differently to the main sound, and we can only do that if the main sound is on a different channel to the echoed sound.

Can you see where I am going here?

Not only this, but another example of using more than one channel even for the exact same sound, is for panning the voice over.

you can pan a channel to anywhere, the values are 0 for far left and 127 for far right, with 64 being the middlle

Now, you can set this to anywhere you like in that range at any time you like, you can also have it so teh sound flies around left to right, to right to left and so on... Its a nice effect.

Now,You might also want to add a really nice effect, that I think works great, and that is to have the lower / bass sounds of an instrument ( Pianos are the best for this ) playing down on the far left, and the higher up the piano you go, the further to the right the sound.

A basic example is that keys from Middle C and down, all play to the left-ish or PANNED to 32 and the Keys above middle C, panned to the right, or PANNED to 96

When you have headphones it makes a nice effect.

This requires 2 channels just on the Piano.

You could go a little more OTT and set up a channel for each octave too, and sure, I ahve done this and its completely silly and wasteful, but it makes it worthwhile... It takes up 8 channels on an 8 octave piece, but it also makes it sound brilliant. Its an effect that is built in on high end kit but not on lower end stuff ( usually ) and so, can you now see how I can need more than 2 or 3 channels?

There are other tricks also to lowering the number of channels used...

Even if I use all 16 channels, they are rarely all being used all at the same time.

I might have a peice that hasa nice guitar solo, and then a chorus, and then a Saxaphone perhaps and then the chorus and back to the guitar, and sure, the guitar and the sax could both share track X and as long as I put in the parameter values / sysex / effects etc in teh right places and as long as I dont need them to both play, then I will be fine, but why should I? one channel for each bit

Surely now you can see where I am coming from?

As another thing to consider... Why do professional recording studios have massive multitrack recorders and mixers? - its no different to twonks like me... We do need them even if we dont use them all the time.
 
Soldato
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Actually I kind of just realised that you said about 16 Ports.

I dont need 16 ports

I have them but dont need them

Also as an addition to the huge previous post....

90% of my music plays back just fine using only the MU10. This is a tiny little XG box.

The other 10% might want to use a sound from another expander, and I have to be honest but I have not yet done anything that has required more than 3 at a time... No, I li,e I have done one with 4 devices, but to be honest I could easily knock that to 2, I just cannot be bothered because I have fine-tuned it to the sound of the device and I am happy with the finished piece... I know that if I start adjusting it now, I will end up with a different piece altogether.


The MU10, the KORG are the 2 most used. with the TG55 and the Kawai being only occasionally used.
 
Commissario
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So do you need 16 ports or 16 channels? There's a slight difference...

And please don't insult my intelligence, I'm only trying to help.
 
Soldato
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Ok, sorry I was not insulting your intelligence. Or at least I was not trying to I promise you that, so please accept my appologies.

You said you were fairly knowledgable and then said that I wont need more than one or two, instruments, which is clearly wrong and I explained why, as some of my pieces can easily use up dozens of notes, which in turn eats up the polyphony, which in turn requires more channels, and since I both have a limit on the polyphony, plus different expanders have different sounds, this then means that I require more ports

I dotn not use the power of a sound card. All my music is coming from sound modules , keyboards, drum machines and so forth.

---

As I said, I dont need all 16 Midi output ports. I only really need a couple most of the time, but its all hooked up now, like it is, and I can have a couple of mates over, and we can have a session, and I can record the drum machine, 2 keyboards and a Midi guitar ( or 2 guitars and a keyboard ) and its great. Plus when I play back my stuff, I can simply switch on whatever device I need to, its all wired up nicely you see.

If I only had one or two ports then I would be limiting myself or, I would have to unplug and replug in this or that.

So, no, I dont need 16 ports. I have 9 devices plugged up to it and in truth I can drop this to half.

Even so, if I was to move my music to a PC, the most midi ports that I have found is the Midiman 4x4... This is about the size of it really.

If I was to move to a PC, then I suppose another option should be to also limit the number of devices I use.
 
Commissario
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No, I said that you won't be physically playing/inputting any more than 2 at a time, not necessarily playing back more than 2 at a time - that goes without saying.

Either way, I fail to see what you're asking - whether you need a PC or a Mac? :confused:
 
Soldato
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Ah, yes, ok.

No, you are correct... I myself will only ever play one device at a time, however, I do sometimes have a couple of mates around and we all have a little jam... I like to record it all for when we get a nice piece or part etc, so sometimes I do want to have the 4 inputs.

Not only that, but when I am on my own, trying to write a piece ( trying to sound like im any cop, but failing ) but its easier for me to play my keyboard piece and then maybe fitting a percussion track and a bass track together, its easier to move between one and the other synth / drum machine / guitar and have them all plugged in rather than having to unplug and replug them in... Besides, its not adviseable to plug/plug midi devices.

So, yes, I really do WANT just as much as NEED to have 4 inputs, and I could even make use of more... I also do SYSEX dumps from this or that device. MIDI THRU is all very well, but it does not do what I need it to.

What do I need?

Well, as the original post really... This has got side tracked very badly I have to admit.

Ok, well, I have plenty of PCs, and while I know that the Mac is a superior option o a PC for Music, buying a Mac will be out of the question since I have the PCs spare.

So, I think the basic and most simple form of the question would be :-

HOW CAN I GET LOTS OF MIDI INs AND OUTs ONTO MY PC
 
Commissario
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If you've got friends over to perform, surely they'll be plugging in via a jack or xlr, not USB or MIDI?
 
Soldato
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If you've got friends over to perform, surely they'll be plugging in via a jack or xlr, not USB or MIDI?

LOL

If we were recording Audio yes we would, but as I said previously, its all done via MIDI... Al my kit is MIDI. The only Analog Audio is when the Modules are all sent to the mixer

I have D2D capabilities and we did do this for a while, but that was only with the Guitars... Now we have a Guitar Synth, well I dont, my mate has, we can now do everythign via Midi...
 
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