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Sequencer options and what not.


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I would like a little input from some of you here that have far more experience with sequencers than I. A Bass playin buddy and I are seriously thinking about doing a little duo group on the side just for the fun of it, and we both agree that we'd like a full band sound for most of the act.


I feel the best way to do this, at least initially, is to buy some SMF's and delete any parts we are going to play, and run them through a hardware sequencer with an onboard sound engine preferably. I've been researching some of the units on the web but lacking any real experience with hardware sequencers I'm not real sure what to look for. In reality my only experience with sequencers is with Cakewalk Pro Audio 9, and that experience is pretty slim.


I've looked into the MPC line, which is cool because it has sampling but I'll probably end up getting a hardware sampler pretty soon so that's not a huge deal to me. How is it's sequenceing functions and ability??


Anyone have any experience with the new Emu Command Station sequencers? These look really cool, and I like the idea of having 2 onboard synth engines plus expandability and real time control features. But I don't see anywhere on the web or advertisements for them that they are GM compatible, anyone know if they are or not?


There are far more to list but I won't waste your time, if you're reading this you probably know far more about them than I do.


So does anyone have any suggestions for me? Possibly some people here are involved in a solo or duo type group using this type of setup that can offer some suggestions?


I gotta tell ya, I never would have considered this type of thing but I went out about a month ago and saw a 3 piece group (guitar, bass and drums) that heavily used sequencing to augment their sound and they ROCKED! That is no joke, I was very impressed with their sound and ability to *get a groove going* relying heavily on sequencing. I'm sure that a lot of that was due to the live drummer, and I know that we'll never be able to re-create that vibe without one. But they opened my eyes to the possibilities that are out there for even a couple of musicians to put on a good sounding, funked up show.


So how bout it, what say you.


This message has been edited by Stratman on 09-16-2001 at 05:10 AM

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I've used various Roland hardware sequencers and they have never crashed on me and I find the user interfaces pretty intuitive. The MC-80 has an option for onboard sounds....I've never used it but I would definitely consider it for what you are proposing. Having the sounds and sequencing in one machine would make for a very easy set-up and you would only have to learn one operating system. I'm not sure how much you can edit the sounds and whether that is a concern to you.


I use an MC-50 mkII (about $450-500) and it doesn't have onboard sounds but it's half the price of the MC-80. You could combine it with a sound module like the EMU Proteus 2000 and that would be a good set-up too.

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Hey Stratman,


I have an Emu Command station, an MPC and other assorted sequencers both hard and software based. The Emu would not be a good choice for your application in my opinion because it doesn't have an easy way (like floppies) to load SMF data. It does support SMF though. The MPC's don't have onboard sounds, only the samples you wait to load. I wouldn't recommend either of those units for your application.


I would however highly recommend the Roland XP-80 workstation. It reads SMF files on the fly (no waiting for loading) from floppies and has a fantastic soundset which can be expanded using Roland's wonderful expansion cards (19 of them available now and still counting). I'm not sure if the lower numbered XP's like the 30, 50 or 60 have the same on the fly SMF reader feature, but it's great and one of the main reasons I bought the XP-80. A great board with great sounds and on the fly SMF. It sounds like that could be your answer.


Hope that helps,



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Hey, thanks for the tips everyone. Too bad about the Emu's, they do look really cool.


I'd actually somewhat considered the XP-60/80 as an option, a friend of mine just got an XP-60 not too awfull long ago and he just LOVES the board, though I don't think he uses the sequencer. I think your right about the on-the-fly SMF reading of the XP-80 R, that would definately help.


I actually have a Korg N364 but I really don't want to have to use it because the sequencer only holds 32,000 notes and it takes FOREVER to load up songs into it. And the songs have to be loaded into memory before you can play them, I just don't think it would work well in a live situation taking as long as it does.

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There's other synths that can load SMF's, they have only a playback sequencer. The alesis qs line and the yamaha cs6x come to mind. I'm not sure about the load times.


Can't be of much help, I did help some people set something up like this once but I did more of the midi arranging than the mechanics of setting it up. Good luck!

Korg Kronos X73 / ARP Odyssey / Motif ES Rack / Roland D-05 / JP-08 / SE-05 / Jupiter Xm / Novation Mininova / NL2X / Waldorf Pulse II


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Here's a possible alternative;

Do you plan on a fixed repertoire, or one that doesn't vary much from night to night? If so, why not just burn your tracks to a CD or MiniDisc once you get the mix right. Most singles and duos I've seen lately do this. That way you're not limited by the sonic limitations of a synth module. Not to mention you don't have to deal with fudged program changes, stuck MIDI notes, etc. And all you'd have to take to the gig would be a CD/MD player and a few cords. (and your discs, of course!)


The most obvious downside of this is that you couldn't change the mix live, but you could get around this by using a multitrack MD recorder.


The other is that you're limited to songs you've already prepared, which could require a steep time investment. But if you're doing your own arrangements you'll have to make your own tracks anyway, and it might be easier to just make them from scratch than to edit existing files.


I've also seen a few guys using laptops with soundcards loaded with sequences that contain both MIDI and audio tracks if it's necessary to have access to a LOT of songs right away. That might be the ideal way to go. Using a hardware sequencer and modules live is just asking for headaches. Besides, it's SO 20th century! http://www.musicplayer.com/ubb/biggrin.gif


Peace all,




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Originally posted by Rod CA:

There's other synths that can load SMF's, they have only a playback sequencer. The alesis qs line and the yamaha cs6x come to mind. I'm not sure about the load times.


I don't know about the Yamaha, but I do know a bit about the QS...


The Alesis QS series can play back SMF (.mid) format sequences that can be stored on flash memory cards. You can store up to 50 sequences per card, and the synths hold two cards, so you can keep 100 sequences on board the synth at all times. The cards are burned using a computer (Mac or PC) and a proprietary program that comes with the synths called SoundBridge. Last time I looked, SoundBridge was available for free download at the Alesis web site.


There is no note limitation, save for exceeding the memory of the flash card. You can use up to an 8 meg card per slot. To give you an idea of how many notes 8 meg can hold, the average workstation sequencer (like the N264) has 32-64k of memory.


There is no load time at all - you plug the cards in, and the sequences are instantly ready for playback. The sequences can control sounds in the synth, and/or sounds on external synthesizers. You can also put user programs and samples on the same card - these will also load instantly .


Basically - making one of these cards and sticking it into the card slot on the back of the synth is just the same as burning the data on to your own EEPROM, and plugging it into the circuit board.


It's a very, very cool trick.





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