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Originally Posted by jerrythek
I'll add one more thought I forgot to articulate: As for choosing your own parameters for the learning to use (on the Analyze Tab); no doubt if you know lot about the design of the sounds you are going to use, then you could choose parameters that would have the most impact, or the specific impact you want. To say that another way: If you want to get deterministic results you need to fully understand the materials you are working with. If you know which Operator is the critical one affected the timbral aspect you would like to target, and if you choose sounds that all use that same Operator as a Modulator (for example) then selecting that parameter for the analysis should yield some result that moves in the direction you want. I assume. wink

If I had the time I would study and try to prove this out better, but it makes sense to me.Perhaps Manny has explored this some?

Jerry

Jerry,

You know me too well smile !

You are 100% correct you need to know the complete structure of the parents to start guiding the AI algorithm. You can 'restrict' the range of results, but you cannot get truly deterministic.

I assume you've listened to this episode from the Yamaha "Behind the Synth Podcast" series:
https://soundcloud.com/yamahasynth/bts0xx-manny-fernandez-and-montage-os-v35

At the 43 minute mark we start breaking down Morphalux and how it was built with parents that utilized the paradigm of Algorithm, Ratio, Feedback and Waveform uniformity, but with drastic differences in Modulation Index and Envelope shapes. This type of directed approach for the construction of the parents allows for continuity/smooth morphing in the SmartMorph results. Basically, you end up being able to control the 'range' of the likely realtime morph responses, but not to the degree of specific deterministic outcomes.

That said, if you get a result that is close, but not exact to what you want to hear in the morph and are using the SuperKnob to control the morph (not the screen), you _can_ direct the result with specificity by assigning the critical parameters to the knob(s), and build some User Controller Curves for them that increase/decrease those key parameters as needed in concert with the morph position of the SuperKnob to get the specific result you'd like (your settings will act as dynamic offsets of those parameter's data in the SmartMorph mapping).

To go a step further, you can also use this method to build in further controllable intricacies for simultaneously playing both the screen morph map and the 8 knobs with the arpeggiator or a sequence running -- meaning the knobs values can 'morph the morph" kinda like turning the '2D' of the morph map into a '3D' timbre space where the morph map gives different timbral results dependent on the knob positions. Apologies if that goes way down the ubergeek rabbithole !

Re: the Colors/Parameters for display/analyze. I'm afraid I can't answer exactly the relationship, as in my experience there wasn't any except in just the display visuals. Now, in that same podcast at the 4:50 mark, it mentions something that changed in the voicing OS that may have morphed (no pun intended) into some relationship with the Parameters/Color assignments in the shipping OS, but I don't know...

I do know regardless of what those Red/Green/Blue setting do or don't do currently in the AI process, is that the AI process of learing/analyze has not ever been 'reapeatable' - meaning if you take a SmartMorph Performance, and just hit learn without changing anything (Parents & Red/Green/Blue unaltered) You'll get a result. If you discard/undo, and run 'Learn' again still without changing anything you'll get a different result. Drove me crazy during voicing --- I'd get something cool with one or two areas that were undesirable. Hit 'undo' and make the needed changes in the parents to smooth that out, press Learn aagain with the same settings and it would go somewhere completely different than it did before. Which may be why you're correlating those 3 parameters as actually doing something idk

That level of unpredicability in the AI is what gave rise to the approach of "fixing" it with the knobs as described above.

Hope that helps !

Manny


People assume timbre is a strict progression of input to harmonics, but actually, from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint, it's more like a big ball of wibbly-wobbly, timbrally-wimbrally... stuff
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Thanks, Manny, for that thoughtful and illuminating reply. I will admit I did not listen through the whole Tech Talk, which I will do. I really need to move on (and get done!) with the review, but hopefully I can spend just a little time experimenting with your helpful guidance.

Thanks again!

Jerry

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I wanted to post this reply Manny gave in another recent thread about FM, since he's talking about the Smart Morph feature:

Originally Posted by Tusker:

<A hearty agreement on this issue of how to design complex FM to be easy to use. Mark alluded to a problem particular to FM, when the "timbral sweet spots" are not concentrated but widely dispersed in little puddles across a complex option-set? I would suggest two analogies.

The first analogy is to Amazon, where through the use of learning algorithms, seemingly unrelated product options can be brought to the imagination. You might be searching for a snow shovel and miraculously learn that people who searched for snow shovels also searched for snow blowers and Christmas sweaters. Currently digital synthesizers allow you to catalog your sounds, morph between patches, create offsprings from patches and randomize certain aspects of a patch. Learning algorithms can take it a step further. Imagine an FM synth where you could morph between a pad with one structure and a plucked sound a completely different structure, but the algorithm is predicting which intermediary structures will provide the smoothest timbral path. The software may even warn you when a discontiguity is about to happen. The software would have to "know" synthesis in the same way that Izotope "knows" some of the adjustments which can make my crappy mix just a bit more like that professional mix from a particular song.>

Manny replies:

"The SmartMorph in the Montage/MODX actually can does this quite well, but there are mathematical constraints you have to keep in mind that are the equivalent to repatching cords on a modular synth in real time. Specifically, changing Algorithms and Ratios cannot smoothly interpolate in real time, they're 'hard switching'. But if you set all the SmartMorph parents to use the same algorithm and ratio structure, fully seamless and smooth morphs and realtime control is the result.

If you have a Montage/MODX make a patch in Part 1 using Algorithm 68, setting up Ops 1-7 with uniquely different ratios, waveforms, envelope shapes and Levels. Copy it to Parts 9-12 to be future parents. Then go into each of those parents and reset the envelope parameters to something completely different for each OP, as well as the change all the levels, including turning off some (level =0) i.e. Level 0 for Ops 1, 2 in Part 9; maybe Ops 3 & 4 in Part 10. etc so each parent has different combinations of 'active' modulators of different levels and envelope contours. Then change the envelope for the Carrier Op 8 in each Part so one is percussive, one is a slow pad, another a attack with swell etc. Save them all.

Then run SmartMorph (sometime try running it 2, 3 or 4 times in a row with various Morph settings) and a whole lot of cool stuff will result out, and all smoothly continuous across the entire touchscreen. You'll have both subtle and extreme timbral and behavioral results depending how you set your parent parts."

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Some more “odds and sods”

Rhythm Patterns
The MODX has a dedicated button for adding/controlling drum grooves, and it couldn’t be simpler to do. Pressing the button brings up a selection of drum kits:
[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]
pick one and then you’re given a field to choose your drum groove (actually an arp pattern). You can search for them via Category search (no doubt the better method), and by Number (helpful for the more experienced owner/programmer).
[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]
Via Category Search you can look by genre, and if you touch the keyboard it’ll start playing, and will switch when you make a different selection.
[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]
My only small gripe is that when you switch genres it immediately picks the first pattern in that field and there’s no quick way to go back to what you were last playing. Reverting back to the previous genre doesn’t recall what was selected; it just starts at the top of the list again.

Anyway, lots of great grooves to play along with, and if you use (program) Scenes you can switch from various patterns and fills to interact with as you play. Behind the curtain the MODX had created another Part which holds the drumkit, and if you edit that Part you can play around a bit with the arp pattern. Used judiciously, various quantize choices (keep the strength low) and swing can help vary the feel.

Pattern Recorder
While the MODX does not have a traditional multi-track linear sequencer, it does offer a few ways to capture and work with your playing. You can record your live playing of a Performance as either MIDI data or as audio (recorded to an external USB storage device). It’ll record every interaction with the front panel and pedals in addition to your keyboard playing.

If you want to get deeper you can use their very capable Pattern recording system, added in MODX OS Version 2.0. Think of it as a building block approach to recording. You can create small segments that you chain together to create an arrangement, recording live (maybe you just have a single Part, or a layered keys texture), or building up the pattern Part by Part in a looping mode (imagine your Performance has a synth part, a bass Part and a drum Kit, each on different MIDI channels). Actually, each Pattern can be up to 256 measures long, and can contain up to 16 Parts in them, so you can get a fair amount of music built up in each one. Within your given Performance, you use Scenes to record/playback each section you want to record, so you can add 8 sections to your creation.

Here's a nice video tutorial covering the basics:


If you want to record a Performance that has multiple arpeggios running it can do that all in one pass. And then add additional Parts on top of it, either arp-driven or played live.

There’s a decent amount of editing possible once you’ve recorded. At the note level you can quantize (with strength, swing and gate time controls), scale velocity, scale the note gate time, create crescendos and decrescendos, transpose, and even create per note drum rolls/buzzes. Other cool things include the ability to divide a drum track into separate elements (bass drum, snares, cymbals and percussion all get separated onto their own Parts!), move phrases around between other recordings or between the 8 Scenes within the current recording, bring in phrases from Standard MIDI Files, turn patterns into arpeggios, and import and export your work via SMF (Standard MIDI Files) to move your work between the MODX and your favorite DAW. If your favorite DAW happens to be Cubase you can use special Yamaha software called MODX Connect to work even closer between the hardware and software. After building up a bunch of smaller sections you can chain them together to create a full song form/whatever.

Here's another tutorial going over the editing functions available (sorry - I can't embed more than one directly):
[video:youtube]https://yamahasynth.com/learn/events/tech-talk-live-may-12-pattern-edit-jobs[/video]

Another form of data manipulation comes in the form of Play FX. These are playback filters that don’t edit the data itself, including quantize, note shift, gate time and velocity. Special mention for swing which will only affect the second note of the grouping, so that note can be made shorter (gate), louder or softer (velocity), which a variable intensity (rate). If you like what you’re doing you can always write it back to the track (Normalize Play FX).

DAW Remote Control
OS 2.5 added remote control of DAW software to the MODX. Supported applications include Cubase (of course!), Logic Pro, Ableton Live and Pro Tools. Other titles likely work via Mackie Control protocols.
The implementation of remote control is very well-thought-out, and give you the usual mixing controls you’d expect, like volume, pan, track mutes and solos etc. along with transport controls and some available controllers for CC control of whatever you want. This is all found under the Track mode.
[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]
Plugin mode retains the transport controls and track solo mutes etc. but releases all the other controllers for use as CC controls over whatever plugin is currently active. They’re all pre-assigned to CC numbers and it’s easiest to just MIDI Learn within the plug-in to setup.
[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]
Transport mode (once again) retains the transport controls and returns all the other parts of the front panel so you can interact with the MODX itself.
[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]
If you recall from my earlier post, all of this communication between the MODX and the DAW is done via the USB MIDI Port 2.

Quick Setup
As you likely know, changing a keyboard to work with a DAW versus being played live requires some MIDI and perhaps audio settings to be changed, and Yamaha makes this easy with Quick Setup page found by pressing the Utility button. Going to Settings-> Quick Setup gives you choices at the bottom of the screen for Standalone (obvious), MIDI Rec on DAW (turns off MIDI Local so you don’t get sound doubling/phase), Arp Rec on DAW (which moves the generated notes from the arpeggiator from after the note triggers themselves into the MIDI stream so they can be captured by your DAW), and Audio Rec on DAW (which auto-routes each Part to a different USB audio bus for recording as stems within the DAW). It’s a nice way to configure the MODX without having to go to the various pages themselves.
[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]
[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]

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I'm winding this review down, so I'd like to hear any questions, or requests for things I haven't covered. The MODX is a deep instrument and I can't possibly cover it all, but hopefully I've covered the most important and desired stuff. I'll await your input before posting my final thoughts. I hpe you're enjoying this!

Jerry

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OK, as the year comes to an end, so must this review. With an instrument as full-featured as the MODX it’s hard to cover everything, but I think I’ve covered the important areas and then some. Other things that impressed me (without going into details) are:

- the more creative effects, with special props to Yamaha for adding Wavefolding in OS 2.0 (wavefolding is a Don Buchla invention for generating additional sideband harmonics via a form of waveshaping).

- the ability to load new samples, and even work with Sample Robot Montage Edition (since MODX loads Montage sound data). The MODX has 1gb of Flash memory for sound/sample storage.

- speaking of which, the compatibility between Montage and MODX is much appreciated

- Envelope Follower, which allows external audio to drive/shape many effects and functions, including deriving tempo from the audio to sync arps and effects to.


- Yamaha’s Soundmondo site is a wonderful resource for people to share sounds for lots of Yamaha gear

- Yamaha has supported the MODX well since its release, and the amount of online tutorial content is great.

So, what’s my wrap-up feelings?

The MODX is an incredible value; you get flagship synth sounds, effect and features for a mid-level price. Who’s gonna complain about that? It’s incredibly feature-rich, and has excellent computer integration. No other keyboard offers anywhere near its 5.67GB of wave rom plus 1GB of expansion memory.

If I compare it to it’s current competition, like the Korg Krome EX, Roland FA-06, Kurzweil PC3K (I only see this available at Sweetwater) (and the Forte SE for 88-note users) the only main thing the others offer that the MODX does not is a more complete 16-part sequencer, and true/flexible 16-part multi-timbrality. Each brand has its own sound and that is for you to decide what you like. Only Kurzweil offers multiple sound engines (with its KB3 and virtual analog engines), and Roland does offer pads if that is your thing. Roland wins for sound expansion choices, with 10 “boards” available (just sound files that can be loaded into 2 memory slots), all for free. So while we can play the specsmanship “game”, there is no other board out there that matches, and certainly none that outperforms the MODX in a significant way. Some may want to bring up the upcoming Korg Natilus, which certainly is feature rich, but it’s $2,000 for the 61-key version, $700 more.

Only you can decide what sounds you like, and what keyboard feels right for you. And for the MODX trying out the keyboard is important, as it’s decidedly mid-tier at best. But there is no doubt that if you’re looking for a new keyboard rompler/workstation you must check out the MODX. I was very pleased with the sounds and the functionality: my only reservations were the feel of the keys. I certainly have a wish list of things it could do more of, or do better*. And if they added a real modeled organ from their YC-61, or virtual analog (which they have the technology to do) then it would further outpace their competition. But for me it is the current winner in its price field and I am going to hate to have to return it.

* looking over my notes I never mentioned these things:
- Live Set: while its nice that the MODX allows you to configure your sounds into “setlists”, I was disappointed that there are no custom text fields (I use these ALL THE TIME with my Korg Kronos to remind me of split points, or to turn on/off timbres etc.). It gets the job done, but that’s all.
- I really wish Scenes could be named, and that the name would pop up when selecting them.

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Originally Posted by jerrythek
If I compare it to it’s current competition, like the Korg Krome EX, Roland FA-06, Kurzweil PC3K (I only see this available at Sweetwater) (and the Forte SE for 88-note users) the only main thing the others offer that the MODX does not is a more complete 16-part sequencer, and true/flexible 16-part multi-timbrality.

For what it's worth: Sweetwater does list the PC4 (in stock for the 88-key version, pre-order for the unweighted 76-key). Other differences that stood out for me were: aftertouch and more controls on the PC4 (but, no endless encoders, and screen is smaller and not touch-enabled), no vocoder/envelope-follower-like effects on the PC4, no USB audio. But, OK, the PC3K may be the better comparison since the cheaper PC4 is currently selling for $400 more than the MODX 6.

Action might be a deciding feature (especially for 88-key versions), but unfortunately at least for me it's hard to get hands on these things right now.

By the way, the one spec I wish every manufacturer reported, that none does: boot time. Am I just unusually impatient?

Thanks for the detailed review.

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Good catch - I was starting my comparison search based on the 61 so I missed them. Thanks!

After a while, it gets hard to make spec comparisons without just developing a spreadsheet to match things up between products. For example, the PC4 has more total polyphony (256 versus 192), but the MODX has way more waveROM (5.67Gb versus 2 on the PC4). Kurz has a total of 32 effects "units" versus 27 on the MODX but you need to understand the systems and listen to the quality to really judge these things. And not having all the units side by side I don't want to get into trying to judge the key actions beyond researching user comments online, which is not the accurate way to go.

But certainly if you're in the market for a larger than 61-key board the PC4 should be on your short list.

Thanks again!

Jerry

Originally Posted by bfields
Originally Posted by jerrythek
If I compare it to it’s current competition, like the Korg Krome EX, Roland FA-06, Kurzweil PC3K (I only see this available at Sweetwater) (and the Forte SE for 88-note users) the only main thing the others offer that the MODX does not is a more complete 16-part sequencer, and true/flexible 16-part multi-timbrality.

For what it's worth: Sweetwater does list the PC4 (in stock for the 88-key version, pre-order for the unweighted 76-key). Other differences that stood out for me were: aftertouch and more controls on the PC4 (but, no endless encoders, and screen is smaller and not touch-enabled), no vocoder/envelope-follower-like effects on the PC4, no USB audio. But, OK, the PC3K may be the better comparison since the cheaper PC4 is currently selling for $400 more than the MODX 6.

Action might be a deciding feature (especially for 88-key versions), but unfortunately at least for me it's hard to get hands on these things right now.

By the way, the one spec I wish every manufacturer reported, that none does: boot time. Am I just unusually impatient?

Thanks for the detailed review.

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