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B4 controller?


RABid

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I thought I saw a thread on this a few months ago but after going back 10 pages I could not find it.

 

I see some of the stores have the Roland VK-7 discounted quite a bit now. Is anyone using this to control Native Instruments B4? I know one issue with B3 hardware simulators is the control data sent when using the sliders. Was VK-7 one of the good controllers, or one of the "hard to use as a controller" keyboards?

 

Robert

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I recently picked up an inexpensive used VK-7 at an music retailer who shall remain nameless. My goal was to use it as a controller for the B4. It turned out that the deal was too good to be true, the item was hot. I returned it and for my troubles was able to pick up a CX-3 at cost.

 

The VK-7 does allow you to change drawbar CC settings. This worked fine with the B4 with one exception, I could never get drawbar level 7 to work. It would always jump from 6 to 8. The other buttons and switches are more problematic. Roland, in their infinite wisdom, programmed all of the other switches and controls to transmit SYSEX. Hence simple re-mapping isn't possible. I use Protools which doesn't have extensive re-mapping capabilites. Maybe other MIDI sequencing programs can deal with SYSEX -> CC. Using the MOTU MTP-AV, I programmed one of the pedal inputs to transmit CC1, so I could turn off/on the Leslie with a footswitch.

 

BTW, my impression of the VK-7 as an emulator hasn't changed much. I think it can be very warm sounding. The Leslie emulation is quite good. I don't like the chorus at all and find it very distracting to have chorus and fast Leslie. The percussion is OK but most of the presets have percussion too loud for my tastes. I don't like the distortion much.

 

The CX-3 is much better as a controller. All of the drawbars, switches and knobs are CC and can be changed. This, for the most part, works very well with the B4. The drawbars can be mapped to upper and lower (all volume levels work). The Leslie fast/slow, chorus/vib on/off, rotator on/off switches work fine. Things like the percussion switches don't work as expected, e.g. the 2nd/3rd switch causes the B4 to go from min to max setting, which doesn't map to 2nd/3rd. Things like perc vol, decay and harmonic as well as chorus/vibrator depth don't give expected results (the fault of the B4 providing continuous control).

 

As an emulator, the CX-3 is excellent. I think they nailed everything at least as well as the B4. The possible exception might be overdrive which tends to sound Jon Lordish most of the time where it could sound at bit warmer (more subtle).

 

My take is that if you can find a VK-7 used at a good price (mine was $750 and in good shape) then it probably makes sense. With the new price spread $450 - $550, I'd recommend the CX-3. $1200 is a lot for a controller, especially one that doesn't give you that much control.

 

I sent a note to Native Instruments suggesting that they create an add-on utility for the B4 which would allow all B3 clones to be fully used as controllers. It would be nice to have presets available for all the clones which would do all the necessary remapping within B4. I think users who need this would be willing to spend a little extra for this feature, as the B4 is such a bargin to begin with.

 

Busch.

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Thanks for the info. That is just what I needed to know. I may just look for an alternative. One of the modules that has the draw bars and switches needed for control.

 

Robert

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I was playing the Korg AND the Roland side-by-side yesterday...

 

The CX-3 sounds better (quite a bit IMO), feels better (all the controls are in the 'right' place), and seems better built. Somehow it also looks better. Ill JMO of course - whether these things justify a sizable price difference is your call.

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Originally posted by DSears:

Rob,

 

How many drawbars and switches do you think you'll need?

 

David

I'll have to look at the B4 and see what it has. Cannot remember and I am currently at work.

 

Robert

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i don't know if you've already considered this, but you might look into something like Phat.Boy, or Encore's Knobby, or Slidemate(like knobby but has sliders instead of knobs). I think Encore's controllers give you a lot of flexibility in terms of cc's and i think there's software too
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You possibly mis-read my post. The VK-7 is going for ~$1200 new. The CX-3 is ~$1745 to $1795. I was at Guitar Center last weekend and they had a special "take another $100 off two days only" price on the CX-3, so they were willing to sell it for $1645. That's where I came up with the $450 to $550 price difference on the Korg vs. the Roland.

 

Busch.

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I have a 16 knob controller in my XL-7 but am looking for drawbars. It is hard to adjust sound mid-note by trying to twist 3 different knobs to varying degrees at the same time.

 

Robert

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