First Time DAW Users: Frequently Asked Questions about MIDI

MIDI, or Musical Instrument Digital Interface, is a language by which computers, virtual instruments, and hardware samplers/synthesizers can communicate. It’s a way to give instructions to music production software like SONAR X3 to play, control, and program your own tunes. Even touchscreen tablets have the ability to generate and accept MIDI information. MIDI is a great way to work with music and has powerful capabilities that appeal to users of all levels. There are a lot of unfamiliar terms and concepts in the MIDI world so let’s take a look at a few questions that I typically hear from first time users.

1. What is MIDI, can I hear it?

MIDI by itself is data and is inconceivable to the human ear. It is a universally accepted standard for communicating information about a musical performance. It encompasses both hardware and software components, and though it could be used for sending information about many other things, such as the control of lighting in a theater, or even to control your coffee maker, Continue reading First Time DAW Users: Frequently Asked Questions about MIDI

Video: Playing Z3TA+ 2 with the new QuNeo MIDI controller

Electronic music producer Encanti has a brand new toy.  Watch as the Z3TA+ 2 preset designer takes the new QuNeo controller for a spin with Z3TA+ 2.  Z3TA+ 2 is currently available as a VST for Windows, and it’s coming soon for Mac, so it can be used in other hosts like Ableton Live as pictured below.

Encanti: “In this example, all of my square pads on my QuNeo are set to “latch”, which means where ever my finger goes on the x-y axes, the value will remain there once I take my finger off.   The notes are pre-programmed and playing back on the sequencer. This gives me 16 x-y controllers, which I can use to fine-tune values across the board.  QuNeo’s XY pads are immediately useful with Z3TA+ 2 because once you’ve set up some interesting routing settings in Z3TA+ 2’s modulation matrix, you are free to explore their potential by dialing in many different values at once with the QuNeo pads.  When I find a “sweet spot”, I save a preset in Z3TA+ 2 and keep on exploring.  Later on, I can revisit all my variations, and explore them further, add/subtract ideas, make pads into leads, and keep ideas flowing until starting the process over again with new routings in Z3TA+ 2’s modulation matrix or possibly binding my QuNeo to different controls.

 quneo z3ta infograph

First preset:
Two sweeping resonant bandpass filters are at the soul of this gnarly bass sound.  While most traditional x-y setups typically control “filter freq” and resonance, I’ve opted to control filter frequency and pole separation width as my x-y, on two different x-y pads.  I’m also modulating these filters with two envelopes, while I control the duration/volume using two different x-y pads. This opens up a huge range of expression – because 3 sweeping poles on two filters (that’s six points of resonance all moving together) is easier to keep track of since I can define their movements all at once with the QuNeo. I’ve also got an envelope opening a delay effect, which I can control the attack/sustain and duration of.   With a soft attack on my delay volume, my bass womp has a nicely compressed-sounding impact when the note hits, but I can still add lots of variation to how spacial it sounds, lending me the ability to make those long notes sound really massive.

Second preset:
The QuNeo is controlling the same parameters as the last preset, except I’ve added a few things: each filter has it’s own LFO modulating the frequency along with the envelopes – and again what’s also true with this patch is that the soul lives in the filter modulation settings.  There’s also a quadruple-phaser modulation, with pad control over speed, depth, volume, and feedback, which sounds good with all the LFO sounds happening.  I also have the ability to change the octave of different oscillators independently.  One of my faders are also controlling the key of my chords (via Ableton “pitch” midi effect), allowing me to easily explore different range potentials for the patch.”

More info on Encanti‘s music.

Sonic State Gets First Look at A-PRO Series

Sonic State was first on the scene at the NAMM Show this weekend to get an exclusive look at the new USB Keyboard Controllers. Brandon Ryan demos the 49-key controller, the A-500 PRO, along side SONAR 8.5’s Session Drummer 3 virtual instrument.

Whether you’re using SONAR, Logic, Ableton Live, Cubase, Digital Performer, Garage Band, or Pro Tools, these keyboards and the included Production Plus Pack instruments are Mac and PC compatible. If you’re using SONAR, exclusive Active Controller Technology keeps you in the flow and focused on your music. If you’re using another DAW, the keyboards ship with a variety of built-in control maps designed to get you using the A-PRO as a control surface quickly.

Boing Boing Gadgets Barely Scratches the Surface of V-Studio 100

Gadget Reviewer Rob Beschizza spent the weekend with Cakewalk’s SONAR V-Studio 100.  After hooking up the portable device to his computer via USB and plugging in his guitar through the Hi-Z input,  Rob discovered that he did not need an amp to produce great sounds. In a matter of minutes, Rob was blown away by the device’s ‘triple play’ of powerful features:

“The key point is that it’s a unique box, combining MIDI controller, portable multi-track recorder, and mixer, all in a case the size of a Harry Potter hardback.”

Rob also liked the unit’s SD Recorder function (or as he called it ‘screw software’ mode) for recording on the go; saying that it gives the SONAR V-Studio 100 an ‘aura of awesomeness’.

Read the rest of Rob’s short & sweet review and see close-up shots of the V-Studio 100 at Boing