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#2900285 - 01/07/18 12:26 PM The Growing Complexity of Technology
Tom Williams Offline
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This is not so much a kvetch, as a musing, which may or may not be amusing.

So here I am, puttering at home, familiarizing myself with my newest keyboard (in this case the PX-5S, but the principle is universal). I've already cleared room in memory to save my own patches. Now, let's see what the raw materials are...

Hmm. 418 waves. Some are attacks, Most are loops: some single-cycle, long and chorusy, even some with ugly vibrato built in.

90 minutes into the process of auditioning wave after wave, I started to feel fatigued-bordering-on-ill. I pushed through to the 183rd wave, which means I still have 235 remaining just to catalog the available multisampled voices.

A piano has one voice.

An analog synth has saw, square/PWM, sine, triangle, plus of course various cross-modulations.

A Pipe organ has maybe 25 ranks.

A drawbar organ has 9 pitches, all the same timbre.

A D6 had 6(?) timbre tabs.

A guitar has, what, maybe 8 wiring variations before you go into the pedals and amp.

Preliminary conclusion: part of the love for older technology is that it is possible to almost fully understand it in a fairly short time, in comparison to modern deep stuff (e.g., Kurzweils and Kronoses) that we can never really wrap our brains around.

That or, I'm just getting old.
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#2900296 - 01/07/18 12:58 PM Re: The Growing Complexity of Technology [Re: Tom Williams]
Josh Paxton Offline
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While that's not inaccurate, I'm not sure it's a meaningful comparison. A piano is designed to do exactly one thing: sound like a piano. Modern keyboards are designed to sound like hundreds of different things, and they're designed that way because that's what a significant number of people want. That added complexity goes with the territory. Of course they're not the only thing people want, which is why pianos, organs, analog synths and guitars still exist too.

Also, I would guess most people who buy a rompler-type keyboard know they're going to end up not using most of what's in it. When you described the process you were going through, I was kind of surprised that anyone would do that. I have a PX-5S that I got maybe three years ago, and the thought of going through and listening to every single sample waveform never even occurred to me. The relatively few times I've even done any editing at the waveform level, I just auditioned the handful that were closest to what I was looking for. Of course that doesn't mean there's no value in what you're doing. My point is only that I believe it's a rarity; that the reason the process you describe hasn't been made easier is because it's something most people won't ever do.
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#2900298 - 01/07/18 01:04 PM Re: The Growing Complexity of Technology [Re: Tom Williams]
GRollins Offline
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Originally Posted By: Tom Williams
Preliminary conclusion: part of the love for older technology is that it is possible to almost fully understand it in a fairly short time, in comparison to modern deep stuff (e.g., Kurzweils and Kronoses) that we can never really wrap our brains around.


I'd like to note for the record that when the craze for two/three/four button devices began, they were touted as being "simpler."

I never bought it. Different, yes. Simpler, no.

Hitting one button to get to a menu, then another button to navigate the choices isn't so bad as long as the menus are only, say, two or three layers deep. When you're seven layers deep and counting, it's quite easy to lose your sense of where you are in the overall scheme of things.

Basically, they were saving money (and in some cases physical space) by not buying as many switches, pots, knobs, etc. It wasn't for you...it was for their profit margins. Anyone who's ever done anything with electronics can tell you that it's not (usually) the circuit that kills you, it's the pots and jacks and switches. They're far more expensive than the resistors, chips, and transistors.

For what it's worth, I'm seeing what I believe is the beginning of the pendulum swing back in the other direction, with some manufacturers pointing out that they've got lotsa knobs so that you can see what's going on at a glance--something that's bloody impossible with menus.

Case in point: Moog produced the Little Phatty. It had a hybrid control system wherein one knob could control several functions. As long as you were on the one function you wanted to see, you were fine, but if you wanted to check other settings, you had to poke buttons, just to check. But...all subsequent (see what I did there?) models of that line are knob-a-paloozas, so you can see everything.

Grey
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#2900299 - 01/07/18 01:04 PM Re: The Growing Complexity of Technology [Re: Josh Paxton]
MathOfInsects Offline
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Though that "up-play-up-play-up-play" thing we do the first time we get a new board with multiple samples, holds a place of warm anticipation and familiarity like few other processes in my world. It's like an entire universe assembling itself in front of you one note/sound at a time.
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#2900300 - 01/07/18 01:13 PM Re: The Growing Complexity of Technology [Re: MathOfInsects]
Dave Bryce Administrator Offline
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Originally Posted By: MathOfInsects
Though that "up-play-up-play-up-play" thing we do the first time we get a new board with multiple samples, holds a place of warm anticipation and familiarity like few other processes in my world. It's like an entire universe assembling itself in front of you one note/sound at a time.

I call it the two finger shuffle. Key of C, typically. grin

dB
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#2900304 - 01/07/18 01:25 PM Re: The Growing Complexity of Technology [Re: MathOfInsects]
Josh Paxton Offline
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Originally Posted By: MathOfInsects
Though that "up-play-up-play-up-play" thing we do the first time we get a new board with multiple samples, holds a place of warm anticipation and familiarity like few other processes in my world. It's like an entire universe assembling itself in front of you one note/sound at a time.


I do that with presets, sure. But with the actual samples under the hood? That's beyond my level of need or interest.
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#2900305 - 01/07/18 01:35 PM Re: The Growing Complexity of Technology [Re: Josh Paxton]
MathOfInsects Offline
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Originally Posted By: FunkKeyStuff
Originally Posted By: MathOfInsects
Though that "up-play-up-play-up-play" thing we do the first time we get a new board with multiple samples, holds a place of warm anticipation and familiarity like few other processes in my world. It's like an entire universe assembling itself in front of you one note/sound at a time.


I do that with presets, sure. But with the actual samples under the hood? That's beyond my level of need or interest.


Agreed.
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#2900317 - 01/07/18 02:19 PM Re: The Growing Complexity of Technology [Re: Josh Paxton]
Tom Williams Offline
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Originally Posted By: FunkKeyStuff
I have a PX-5S that I got maybe three years ago, and the thought of going through and listening to every single sample waveform never even occurred to me.

And that's fine -- I still respect you. smile
Part of my enjoyment of synths is the fact that I can wrestle with them until they're truly mine. My main point is that that was a heck of a lot easier with a PolyMoog or a PolySix than with a modern machine with a gazillion samples, let alone with 6 or 8 or 127 steps in the envelope definition.

Originally Posted By: FunkKeyStuff
The relatively few times I've even done any editing at the waveform level, I just auditioned the handful that were closest to what I was looking for.

Closest how -- name most similar? Nearby in the built-in wave numbered list?

Originally Posted By: FunkKeyStuff
the reason the process you describe hasn't been made easier is because it's something most people won't ever do.
Most normal people, you mean. I do understand that the increase in complexity is linked to an increase in versatility; my main point is that, like computers, we're approaching the point where hardly anyone can actually understand his instrument.

All the more reason to sing the praises of folks like Mike Martin and Dave Weiser, who appear to fully understand these beasts; and PoserP, who has taken instruments places their creators never anticipated.
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#2900327 - 01/07/18 03:07 PM Re: The Growing Complexity of Technology [Re: Tom Williams]
GregC Offline
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I am not obsessed with tech.

But I really appreciate it how it has provided a low cost recording studio into the home.

Imagine if it was 1970 and I wanted to record tracks to 10 original songs. And assume I wasn't ready for a studio session and all the band members were not on the same page.

Lets say 3-6 months of studio time, on and off.

Venture a guess ?

http://mentalfloss.com/article/57656/15-albums-cost-fortune-make

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#2900330 - 01/07/18 03:27 PM Re: The Growing Complexity of Technology [Re: MathOfInsects]
Dave Bryce Administrator Offline
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Originally Posted By: MathOfInsects
Originally Posted By: FunkKeyStuff
I do that with presets, sure. But with the actual samples under the hood? That's beyond my level of need or interest.

Agreed.

You haven't lived until you've been handed a development unit with a bunch of Wave ROM and no programs.

Your job: fill it. cool

dB
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#2900333 - 01/07/18 04:02 PM Re: The Growing Complexity of Technology [Re: Dave Bryce]
CEB Offline
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SomethingS are way easier today. I don't even use MIDI at a lot of gigs anymore. I'm doing with the Kronos what took me 3 boards a 360 Systems programmable MIDI router and shit ton of rack gear in the late 80s/ early 90s. At least it is easier once you figure out how file management works when rolling your own samples on the Kronos.


Edited by CEB (01/08/18 06:17 AM)
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#2900406 - 01/07/18 09:27 PM Re: The Growing Complexity of Technology [Re: Tom Williams]
Piktor Offline
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Loc: Edmonton, Canada
Originally Posted By: Tom Williams
Part of my enjoyment of synths is the fact that I can wrestle with them until they're truly mine.

This...at least within whatever factors limit one’s time for such things. Checking out all of the waveforms, filter choices, etc. does make sense to me too, but only because I am so inclined. I usually find or create an init patch on synths and spend some time (sometimes a little, sometimes a lot) trying to develop sounds of my own. That might be because I am fascinated with manipulating sounds or want to try to find a personal voice in an instrument. I know that there are some many other useful and important things that can occupy one’s musical time and energies and it might not be realistic for a person to try to get deep with every instrument that they own, but if I am using a synth for soloing, I am reluctant to play a preset specifically for that.

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#2900421 - 01/08/18 02:46 AM Re: The Growing Complexity of Technology [Re: Piktor]
chelsea4023 Offline
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Registered: 08/25/14
Posts: 139
Hi Tom,

As a very happy owner of a PX5-S, could I point you in the direction of Casio Forums where for nearly four years PX5-S owners have (along with Casio themselves) been creating sounds for the PX5-S and posting them for free so that other owners can enjoy. It's gone a little quiet recently due to the age of the PX5-S but all the files are there for download.
There are also many video tutorials on Youtube. Google Mike Martin PX5-S.

http://www.casiomusicforums.com/index.php?/forum/25-privia-pro-px-5s/

I hope you enjoy it as much as I have.
Chris

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#2900425 - 01/08/18 03:41 AM Re: The Growing Complexity of Technology [Re: Dave Bryce]
MorayM Offline
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Originally Posted By: Dave Bryce
Originally Posted By: MathOfInsects
Originally Posted By: FunkKeyStuff
I do that with presets, sure. But with the actual samples under the hood? That's beyond my level of need or interest.

Agreed.

You haven't lived until you've been handed a development unit with a bunch of Wave ROM and no programs.

Your job: fill it. cool

dB


I'm not sure if that's my idea of heaven or hell.
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#2900457 - 01/08/18 06:15 AM Re: The Growing Complexity of Technology [Re: MorayM]
ProfD Offline
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Today's technology/instruments do not seem complex to those of us who grew up with it and/or are so inclined to get underneath the hood.

Menu diving and learning new terminology present the biggest challenge. The presets provide a good representation of the sonic possibilities.

IMO, we get the best of both worlds. The instrument comes pre- packaged yet the end user is free to modify or take it apart and put it back together without breaking anything. cool
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#2900465 - 01/08/18 06:47 AM Re: The Growing Complexity of Technology [Re: ProfD]
GregC Offline
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Originally Posted By: ProfD
Today's technology/instruments do not seem complex to those of us who grew up with it and/or are so inclined to get underneath the hood.

Menu diving and learning new terminology present the biggest challenge. The presets provide a good representation of the sonic possibilities.

IMO, we get the best of both worlds. The instrument comes pre- packaged yet the end user is free to modify or take it apart and put it back together without breaking anything. cool


In my 60's. So I was there in the DOS/Lotus 1-2-3 days. May or may not be relevant.

I have a few friends where 90% of their time on a keyboard or music software is fiddling around with experimenting or doing some DIY on the hardware. They are entertained by the ' tech puzzle '. I am opposite in that I am not excited about tech puzzles with 90% of my time. 95% of my time on a keyboard is for song writing. I get learning curve and will invest in that up front.

The other issue is poor usability more across the board. I will pick on Montage. I know, I know, there are 10 people who say its not a problem . Let go larger population- I ( and some others) are not going to study the manual for 6 hours before trying the Montage at a store.

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#2900471 - 01/08/18 07:01 AM Re: The Growing Complexity of Technology [Re: Tom Williams]
Rusty Mike Offline
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Tom, at first I was surprised when I read the subject line with you as the author. You impress me as someone not daunted by technology. Your post is actually about the tedium of browsing through the content (in your case, the catalog of waves in the PX), and not so much about the technology.

Yes, I agree. The content can be overwhelming, and tedious to go through, and boring.

I remember thinking "how many reverbs can there be?" when originally going through the KDFX on the PC3.

About 2 years ago, I auditioned the entire synthesizer catalog from the Nord Sound Library to look for applicable synth sounds for my Electro 4. It took days to load in each sound, play around with it using the EQ and effects, then catalog whether it was something useful for me and what song it might work in. I went through literally hundreds of samples for isolate down to a handful of useful ones.

Kudos to the folks who can persevere through that exercise.
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#2900472 - 01/08/18 07:05 AM Re: The Growing Complexity of Technology [Re: MorayM]
The Real MC Offline
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Originally Posted By: MorayM
Originally Posted By: Dave Bryce

You haven't lived until you've been handed a development unit with a bunch of Wave ROM and no programs.

Your job: fill it. cool

dB


I'm not sure if that's my idea of heaven or hell.


Usually hell if you have three weeks before its showing at NAMM to program 128 patches coffee

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#2900473 - 01/08/18 07:07 AM Re: The Growing Complexity of Technology [Re: Rusty Mike]
Synthoid Offline
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Originally Posted By: Rusty Mike
About 2 years ago, I auditioned the entire synthesizer catalog from the Nord Sound Library to look for applicable synth sounds


After I bought my Korg M3, I'd go through all the combination sounds and many of the programs every month or so, looking for inspiration... for both sound programming and songwriting. I'd always find something fresh and end up losing hours tweaking. Then I bought the Radias a few years later. It's still an adventure for me.
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#2900476 - 01/08/18 07:26 AM Re: The Growing Complexity of Technology [Re: Synthoid]
dsetto Offline
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Ideally the keyboard makers would have their rom waves somewhat categorized. Like a supermarket.

There's the dairy. There the fruit. So when looking for meat, I don't comb through Doritos.

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#2900477 - 01/08/18 07:29 AM Re: The Growing Complexity of Technology [Re: dsetto]
Synthoid Offline
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Originally Posted By: dsetto
Ideally the keyboard makers would have their rom waves somewhat categorized. Like a supermarket.


A search feature would also be a step in the right direction.
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#2900480 - 01/08/18 07:42 AM Re: The Growing Complexity of Technology [Re: dsetto]
Dave Bryce Administrator Offline
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Originally Posted By: dsetto
Ideally the keyboard makers would have their rom waves somewhat categorized. Like a supermarket.

There's the dairy. There the fruit. So when looking for meat, I don't comb through Doritos.

As far as I know, most of them do.

dB
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#2900482 - 01/08/18 07:47 AM Re: The Growing Complexity of Technology [Re: Tom Williams]
Synthoid Offline
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As far as a search feature... it would be helpful when looking for a particular program and/or combination, setup, whatever.

Sometimes you remember part of the name but don't feel like meandering through hundreds of sounds trying to find it. mad

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#2900486 - 01/08/18 08:01 AM Re: The Growing Complexity of Technology [Re: Tom Williams]
The Real MC Offline
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You're not getting old. We want to focus our energy on creating music instead of learning UIs and surfing presets and raw waves.

I started with analog synths of the 70s, and abhorred menus and complete lack of knobs starting in the 80s.

The user interface for menus on many keyboards and modules were (and still are!) very user hostile. One of the few exceptions was my Kurzweil 1000PX; despite being completely devoid of knobs, its menu navigation system was intuitive and I never got lost or overwhelmed.

I'm probably more willing than most to dive in deep UIs to tweak my own sound, but I do recognize my limits. After I got the 1000PX and studied the user manual, I quickly realized that memorizing multiple menu navigation systems was going to drive me batty. So when it was time to expand, I acquired the PX sister units 1000HX, 1000SX, and 1000GX. That way I only had to memorize one UI. I have multiple Korg SDD-3300 delays and Lexicon PCM60 reverbs for the same reason. None of my digital reverbs have menus (Lexicon PCM60, model 200, and Eventide 2016).

Although I'm completely OTB with knobs wherever possible, there's no way to completely avoid menu navigation systems. I *STILL* keep quick references on hand. I don't always remember certain functions, especially the ones that are used infrequently.

A badly written manual is a deal killer. This industry is so cutthroat with products rushed to market that manuals and UI are often the last items to be developed (patch libraries often dead last). I refuse to own a product with a badly written manual, especially one that is poorly translated. There are certain brands on my blacklist because they seem incapable of developing a user friendly UI and/or user manual.

Having hundreds of raw waves or presets is just plain overwhelming. Especially with menus and no knobby UI. I don't have the time or energy to sort those out. Sometimes having so many options can be too much. I have visited friends' studios who are ITB - when they showed me all these plugins with hundreds of raw waves and/or presets, I am immediately turned off.

Keyboardists have cried for years for a single keyboard that can do everything. I knew early on that they should be careful what they ask for. The closer we get to that goal, the more we realize that our brains can't process so many configuration options.

Technology is great, but I chose separate boards over a do-it-all package. I intuitively know how to configure my clonewheel using drawbars, my analogs using knobs, my amps and guitars, and my rack effects. Sure they don't do everything, but I'm not going crazy.

I've been tempted to upgrade to newer Kurzweil models. They have features my older 1000 series units don't, like digital effects and filters. But most of the raw sounds are the same. And I have come to prefer outboard effects. So with a new UI to learn, I decided there was no compelling reason to replace my 1000 series units.

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#2900487 - 01/08/18 08:04 AM Re: The Growing Complexity of Technology [Re: Synthoid]
GRollins Offline
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Registered: 09/01/17
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Originally Posted By: Synthoid
I'd always...end up losing hours tweaking.


This, for me, is a huge problem. I have so little time available for music that I resent time lost fiddling. When I was younger, I enjoyed messing with stuff more. I didn't have a house that needed fixing and three kids underfoot and a dozen other distractions. I totally get the idea that some people like the sound design aspect, but it's not for me...not anymore. If I have time to play, I want to actually play, not arm wrestle with the bloody hardware. People who delight in messing around inside their keyboards don't seem to grok this. To them, the fiddling is part of the fun (if not all of it, from some of the posts I've read). To me, the menu-diving aspect is a means to an end and it had better move quickly. If it doesn't get me results pronto, I start feeling like I'm wasting my time. I'm entirely focused on writing music. I've already got ideas--they come to me, unbidden. I don't need the distraction of arguing with a damned computer while I'm trying to work out parts to go around a melody I've just come up with. It's counterproductive. Others, clearly, feel differently...and for some reason cannot fathom why someone like me doesn't share their joy in messing around; it's because I'm not 25 years old, anymore. Nor 30. Nor 40. Nor even 50. I need to move, not tinker. Music motives me, not fiddle-factor.

Grey
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#2900490 - 01/08/18 08:20 AM Re: The Growing Complexity of Technology [Re: Dave Bryce]
GRollins Offline
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Registered: 09/01/17
Posts: 897
Originally Posted By: Dave Bryce
Originally Posted By: dsetto
Ideally the keyboard makers would have their rom waves somewhat categorized. Like a supermarket.

There's the dairy. There the fruit. So when looking for meat, I don't comb through Doritos.

As far as I know, most of them do.

dB


I was aghast when I went through the banks in the MM8 back when I first got it. They would have, say, two related sounds listed consecutively then, thirty voices down the line, there would be three more that were clearly just minor variations on the same voices. It would be far more efficient if they simply put all five voices in a row (plus the one from the next bank and the two from the bank after that) so you could look at it as a spectrum, with one underlying theme, then increase the vibrato (or whatever) by increments. Don't like #1, feel it needs more? Try #2. Not enough, go to #3. Etc. As things stand, you've got to hunt all over the place to find related sounds.

My Kronos is better, but still prone to scattering related sounds into unexpected corners of the menu system. And they still put bizzaro things in amongst the "normal" sounds, which really annoys me.

After thinking about it for a while, I realized why they do it--if a customer is told that the Model XYZ has 1000 voices, they're not going to be quite as impressed if they realize that there are multiple blocks of ten or twenty that are only minor variations. They're going to start feeling like their "1000 voice" keyboard has more like 500 or 600 voices. It's understandable if you group organs together, such that you've got all the Hammond sounds in one place. The problem arises with the synth/pad sounds. They don't want you to realize that there aren't as many truly different sounds as you originally thought.

Grey
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#2900491 - 01/08/18 08:20 AM Re: The Growing Complexity of Technology [Re: GRollins]
EscapeRocks Offline
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Tom, have you grabbed the PX5S Data Editor from Casio yet?

It can at least help you scroll the the hex tones, etc... while hooked up to your PX5S.

At least it made it a lot faster than the on board menu diving.
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#2900492 - 01/08/18 08:23 AM Re: The Growing Complexity of Technology [Re: GRollins]
Synthoid Offline
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Originally Posted By: GRollins
I totally get the idea that some people like the sound design aspect, but it's not for me...not anymore.... To them, the fiddling is part of the fun (if not all of it, from some of the posts I've read)... Music motives me, not fiddle-factor.


For me, writing music and sound design go hand in hand, since creating a new sound or rhythm often leads to a new song--or a way to freshen up an old one.

I wrote a light jazz piece about 15 years ago on the Triton. When I played it for a friend who plays guitar, he came up with a tasty "echo" for the melody. We played it live once and it was well received. Then after I bought the M3 I found a Karma combination that interested me. After some tweaking, I played my jazz tune with the result. Quite different, with more of an EDM feel... but I like having two versions of the same song.
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#2900501 - 01/08/18 08:40 AM Re: The Growing Complexity of Technology [Re: Synthoid]
GRollins Offline
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Registered: 09/01/17
Posts: 897
Originally Posted By: Synthoid
For me, writing music and sound design go hand in hand, since creating a new sound or rhythm often leads to a new song--or a way to freshen up an old one.


Like I said...I get it. I used to like fiddling around. I used to take PCs apart and put 'em back together for fun. I used to do the same with cars, stereo gear, you name it. Had a blast.

No more.

As a bass player, I pick up a bass (or guitar, for that matter), lay hands on the strings, and notes come out. It works first time, every time. Barring equipment malfunction, it will work as well tomorrow as it did yesterday. If I want a different sound, I pick up a different guitar. Again, instant music. No time wasted on menus and other sundry diversions.

Idea-->music.

Done.

I really like that progression.

Grey
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I'm not interested in someone's ability to program. I'm interested in their ability to compose and play.

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#2900508 - 01/08/18 09:08 AM Re: The Growing Complexity of Technology [Re: GRollins]
J. Dan Offline
Bannination Free Since '08
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Registered: 07/25/08
Posts: 11775
Loc: St. Louis, MO
As the technology changes, standard practices need to change with them. By that I mean, in a synthesizer with 3 waveforms, you can run through them pretty quickly. 128 samples, ok still manageable. 2000 waveforms and you're going to spend more time listening to variations of waveforms you'll never use than actually playing.

Most synths and workstations now have more efficient ways to navigate and accomplish what you need, I wait until I need to create a sound and then go looking specifically at waveforms and/or modeling engines that apply. I'm not familiar with the Casio, but at least on the Kronos and other workstations there are categories. I can click Strings, then Ensemble, and have a list of all of the string ensemble patches. Then if it's an engine that uses samples,mi can modify ROM from there. There's a list you can print of all of the factory ROM so you can just glance through and find what applies. No need to audition and catalog everything that's in there, somebody already did that.

I will say that ever since my Alesis Fusion, I've gravitated towards VA engines for anything that can be created that way because I don't have to search - I can just make the sound from sctratch. That's one thing I like about the Kronos is that in most cases, I'm not using samples, I'm using modeling engines (which may use some samples as part of the engine, but it's hidden).. Even some of the clarinet parts use the string modeling engine as opposed to samples which allows you to tweak it instead of being stuck with however it was sampled.
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Dan

Acoustic/Electric stringed instruments ranging from 4 to 230 strings, hammered, picked, fingered, slapped, and plucked. Analog and Digital Electronic instruments, reeds, and throat/mouth.

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