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Too many sounds! How do you organize them?


analogman1
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Between hardware and software, I have too many sounds to keep track of.

Any sugestions on how to catalogue/categorize them?

I was thinking of creating a spreadsheet but is there a better way?
Thank in advance...

Tom
 

Tom

Nord Electro 5D, Modal Cobalt 8, Yamaha upright piano, numerous plug-ins...

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I am having the same challenge, and have not found an easy way to do this.  Stating the "problem" is the easy part.  I have a bunch of artifacts (patches, voices, samples, etc.) across several places: local storage, cloud storage, etc.  Each has a link to it, wherever it is.

 

I then want to describe it in any number of ways of my choosing.  For example, "generic sample", "Nord patch", "trumpet", "horn", "solo", "jazz", "After Midnight", "Tiki Club gig", and so on.  Any way I want to tag it that makes sense to me, I should be able to do.  To find something, I just use some combination of words that I've used in the past to find likely candidates, where ever they might live.  For example, what horn patches did I use at that Tiki Club gig?  

 

Anything  I've seen so far insists that (a) everything lives in a place not of my choosing, and (b) I have to use their terms, concepts and hierarchies to describe my sounds.

 

My software skillz are weak, but ... that's what I would do.

Life is too short to be playing bad music.

 

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Software-wise, there are a couple products (Atlas, XO) that kind of manage samples for you.  I haven't used either but I'm considering it.  Supposedly they can group things together by doing some analysis and then showing you similar sounds (like, bell-like sounds over there, electronic kicks here etc).  I think mainly these are used for drum and sound effect samples but I'm not sure.

As far as patches...yeah...this is one reason I have stopped using quite so many synths unless I really can't get something done with my "main" ones.   I do really appreciate the tagging systems in synths like Alchemy and FM8; while perhaps not perfect, they can let you at least try to find patches by categories and attributes.  And I really should add more custom tags to good patches in synths like Repro the instant I come across them.  :)

On hardware synths, I was really struck by just how incredibly handy having a good librarian was the day I got my Novation Summit.  They have a fantastic librarian that runs in a web browser so it's super easy to get going.  I can save out custom banks and easily load them back.  Time for a pad, I could have a whole bank of them.   I'm contrasting this with my Kurzweil which has something by Soundtower that seems a bit outdated and flaky (going by at least one comment here that it messed things up...) so I'm not going to risk trying it.

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Organize? I don't organize. I just hold on to the pommel and try not to get bucked off.

 

I already get the spreadsheet effect, just by scrolling through Alchemy! I've been building a list of Cloud D-50 patches with small tips next to them. Its been slow but simple to I.D. the various keepers. It hasn't taken long to make good grab-&-go use of that.

 

This isn't the path to take if you have a major soundtrack deadline to meet, but my best utility is familiarity. Synth strings are a dime a gross and easily cut to fit. I know when its time for a Spitfire section and so do ya'll. I also know the higher/lower points of my stack, which shortens tweaking time as the work load kicks in.

 

I haven't owned a Minimoog in X years and my hand would still go right to the octave or filter knobs as needed. That operating model still overlays most synths, including my current rig. Trying to keep track of every sound can become counterproductive. Instead, develop a good grasp of each synth and then let your intuition do its part once you're in the right ballpark. One small plus is patches that pop up with names like ORGANASM, which assures you that its not a Bela Fleck-flavored lute.

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The internet has devolved into five giant websites,
  each filled with screenshots of the other four.
     ~  Cory Doctorow

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 For the studio:

This  (FREE)! for loops, samples etc.   https://www.adsrsounds.com/product/software/adsr-sample-manager/     Kontakt libraries,  Spitfire Labs,  Omnisphere, Stylus, etc.  Logic session files  all on dedicated removable drives.  With the idea I can take them to sessions if needed.   Occasional photos of  (non memory) analog synth patches, and notes on signal chain stuff goes within the session song file, or also in a dedicated folder in the Daw. . Though as David nicely said, I can usually closely recreate most of my non memory synths patches by ear.

 

 Live gig  Nord patches/samples, Mainstage concerts, Gig performer, Ableton Live files,  Finale Scores & Charts,  Forscore/Paperless music/Igig  show charts, Sysex files, and MANUALS!! -  in the Cloud (Dropbox and Google Drive).  So they can be accessed/edited anywhere, and to have redundant copies.   

 

That looks extremely organized, but I don't always put things in the right place, and there's lots of cross-contamination. LOL But conceptually, that's what I aim for. 

 

 I get 50 gb  SSDs when they're on sale and put them in a couple of these docks  for a  quasi- raid to hold the drives.  

 https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0711L68MS/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o00_s02?ie=UTF8&psc=1

 

 Over time I even dumped all my older CD Rom sample libraries that I still occasionally use (e.g Sony Acid, Spectrasonics, Big Fish)  over to the SSDs.   

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Chris Corso

www.chriscorso.org

Lots of stuff.

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The ADSR Sample manager looks great, for studio stuff. Just downloaded that, thanks so much!

However...my main concern is for live use.

I'd just like a simple way to catalogue names of presets in my synths so I can "pick and choose" approprate sounds for whatever venu I'm perforoming at.

 

Thats why I figured the spreadsheet route would be the way to go...I wish there was something already done that would work. 

Tom

Nord Electro 5D, Modal Cobalt 8, Yamaha upright piano, numerous plug-ins...

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I am terrible at this and am more likely look at the glass as half empty. Strategic pessimism. For me, the problem is not really solved until similar items can be organized across a spectrum, like bass sounds arranged from slow-attack to strongly plucked, or bass sounds arranged by distortion level. Let's face it, sounds, like animals, are not infinitely variable. They can be grouped and ranked according to attribute. If I am considering a duck for a solution, it would be helpful to know the availability of geese, chickens, emus and partridges as well. And perhaps otters, seals and beavers as well. We need to be able to look across a pool of possibility. Absent this solution, I tend to want to have fewer sounds, minimizing choice to maximize my feeble artistic intention. It may seem tragically archaic, but my experience is:  

 

I like synths which have multiple tags. I add my own tags to them. For sample libraries I try to reduce their number. I currently have nearly a terrabyte of samples. That is enough. Gas permitting, it won't grow very fast. The good news in all this pessimistic bleakness is that you can use synthesis or effects to shape any sample for any occasion. A power tool like Reaktor or Alchemy combined with resampling can completely reshape a sample if I am willing to give up key switching and other Kontakt features. If I am unwilling to give up the sample libraries' features I can still run Reaktor fx, Zebrify, other efx to partially reshape a sample. It is amazing what eq can do!! So what remains is a relatively small group of "character samples." The ones which can completely make a track by being the signature sound of that track. Those are the ones which should not be modified, but taken into the music with their full character. That's where I think tools like ADSR sample manager could be of real help. Awesome. Thanks obxa. 🙏

 

 

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This will be different for live work than for studio funs. 

 

Live, (I play guitar) I've chosen 4 essential tone variations. That's what fits on a Boss Katana 50 MK II footswitch. 

Clean tone, louder and dirtier tone, dirty tone with rotary speaker and high gain tone with delay (just a single delay, if I turn the feedback up it turns into a chaotic hellpit in terms of the sound of the band). 

 

Keyboards? Put around 6 tones up at the front of your preset list and go with it. Live, we need to be able to make decisions quickly and cut to the chase. 

Piano

Organ - maybe with and without Rotary

Horns

Strings

Lead synth

Pad synth

 

That should get you there more often than not and keep it simple for live work. 

Studio? All bets are off, I've got hundreds if not thousands of MIDI plugins. Sometimes I know what I want, sometimes I have to find something. It's my studio and my time so I don't worry about it so much. The basics above should get you through most of it anyway. 

It took a chunk of my life to get here and I am still not sure where "here" is.
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I'm mostly focused on singular instruments (NS2 and NS3) though I have regular gigs with 2-3 bands and ad hoc gigs with 1-2 other bands. So I have a lot of different Programs that I need to keep straight for all of these initiatives.

 

I also use two NS3 Compacts, one mostly for gigs and the other for rehearsals plus creating new Programs. I try to keep the gig and rehearsal boards as synchronized as possible, since I will often have both with me at bigger gigs in case a backup could be needed.

 

I don't have a perfect solution, though what I've been doing for years is taking an occasional "snapshot" of sounds for each band, saving them on my Mac with a date stamp, e.g. "Fighting Gravity Gig Sounds March 2022" or something like that. Then I know I have regular copies of sounds, even if there is some duplication or overlap. Within those Programs, I will also use some type of naming convention such as "FG Main Piano" as the Program name, so when I need to find sounds relevant to a specific band, I can do searches to find these.

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1 hour ago, KuruPrionz said:

Keyboards? Put around 6 tones up at the front of your preset list and go with it. Live, we need to be able to make decisions quickly and cut to the chase. 

Piano

Organ - maybe with and without Rotary

Horns

Strings

Lead synth

Pad synth

 

That should get you there more often than not and keep it simple for live work. 

 

 

Yep, get your most commonly used sounds in a single User Bank, at the top of the list. I've done this for every keyboard I've ever had. Never have to hunt down a sound I need, or search through various Preset Banks to find it, in a live situation. This has been standard protocol for me since about 1986.

 

Sure, for some gigs (stand-ins, sub-ins, open mics, etc.) a bandmember might whip out a tune quickly and expect you to have the correct sound ready for it. Well, you just gotta think quick and be on your toes in those situations. Suggestion: Have about 3 or 4 more sounds in your User Bank that you don't normally use, but feel that you might be called upon to use them at some point... i.e., if you never use Clav in any of the tunes you cover regularly... have it "at the ready" anyway.

Kurzweil PC3, Yamaha MOX8, Alesis Ion, Kawai K3M
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My Roland has a librarian app for PC. I have all my sounds for every single band or gig that I ever played saved to a file on my PC. When that gig comes up again I pull the patches back up at home.

Life is subtractive.
Genres: Jazz, funk, pop, Christian worship, BebHop
Wishlist: 80s-ish (synth)pop, symph pop, prog rock, fusion, musical theatre
Gear: NS2 + JUNO-G. KingKORG. SP6 at church.

 

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For live work, I've always appreciated keyboards that have some way to favorite patches beyond where they were actually saved.  My current MODX has the live sets, my Kurzweil has favorites (many pages) that store both Programs and Multis in slots.  When I had the Nord Electro it was tougher since there were the eight favorites (that auto-saved changes for better or worse) but fortunately with that keyboard that was enough.

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7 hours ago, KuruPrionz said:

Keyboards? Put around 6 tones up at the front of your preset list and go with it. Live, we need to be able to make decisions quickly and cut to the chase. 

Piano

Organ - maybe with and without Rotary

Horns

Strings

Lead synth

Pad synth

I've been doing that with the Nord Electro for years, and it works great!!!

My real dilemma these days is with the new synth, the Modal Cobalt 8.

It has 500 available slots...and truthfully, there is so much redundancy in the patches that if I stopped being lazy, I could probably make the first 50 Presets all the sounds I'd ever need live (probably a lot less than 50!). The app they give you is decent; great from a programming perspective, but only allowing you to name the sounds. Even a small "tagging" feature would be great. I emailed them and they had the same basic suggestions as above. 

I guess I just wish there was an easier way to catalogue all of the variations, though as was state3d above, the basic sounds are basicallty leaping points for me to mess with on the fly.

All great suggestions! You folks ROCK!!!!

 

Tom

Nord Electro 5D, Modal Cobalt 8, Yamaha upright piano, numerous plug-ins...

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I use a live performance VST/MIDI host (Cantabile3) to keep track of everything by song title. All the songs I've learned are in there, and each song remembers where all it's sounds are - whether in VST synths, in a Kronos Combi, or on the Forte. When I learn a song I start with duplicating a sound as best I can - either from scratch or more likely tweaking a factory patch. Kronos get's top priority for most things except the dedicated Piano/Hammond VSTs. Half the time I let Cantabile play single-hit .wav samples rather than put them in the Korg. The hard part is keeping my backup laptop in sync with the primary. Gotta maintain redundancy with this kind of rig. Like Chuck said above, all the Virtual Instruments like to save "user presets" and patches in their own place, so it becomes either a file config nightmare or a manual-mirroring nightmare.

 

For older tunes in Cantabile that were created prior to selling or replacing a hardware synth with a different one, if they come back to the setlist I do a one-shot quick-tweak on the Kronos or a VST for any missing sounds in the song. Cantabile is great about flagging a missing patch or external MIDI instrument.

 

~ vonnor

Gear:

Hardware: Kurzweil Forte7, Korg Kronos 2, Novation Summit

Software: Cantabile 3, Halion Sonic 3 and assorted VST plug-ins.

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I usually set up a bank of favorites/most used, but it depends on what I'm doing.  On my main axe, the MODX-7, I browsed the factory sounds (I'm still in this process) and I've set the ones I really like as favorites.  Then I'll copy the ones I use the most to a Live Set (I'm maybe up to a page and a half, so 24 at most.)  But if it's a specific gig, I'll get the sounds I need for the gig, and put them in a Live Set in the order I'll use them.

Yamaha MODX7, DX7, PSR-530/Korg TR-Rack, 01/W Pro X, Trinity Pro X, Karma/Ensoniq ESQ-1, VFX-SD/Behringer DeepMind12, Model D, Odyssey, 2600/Roland RD-1000

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