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Yamaha VL1 alternatives


icarusi

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I love my VL70-m. And I've heard the Patchman patches are better than the stock ones, but the stock ones are pretty good too.

 

Alesis Fusion does modeling, but last I heard, the available models were pretty limited. And there's always Tassman - software only, but might work with a Receptor (and def works with a laptop, which is cheaper than a Receptor these days anyhow).

I played in an 8 piece horn band. We would often get bored. So...three words:

"Tower of Polka." - Calumet

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Also Patchman has a "turbo chip" they created for the VL70 that they trumpet. (pun alert :freak: )

 

When the Korg Z1 was new, I enjoyed some of their stuff although it appeared to have less detail in the models. Maybe somebody here has VL and Z1 synths. There are a few power users playing with waveguides and other modelling stuff for the G2 but it's all very experimental at this point.

 

Jerry

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Originally posted by icarusi:

Is there anything currently which can match the VL1 (VL1m or VL7) for solo wind and string instrument sounds? From past posts I understand the VL70 sound wasn't as good.

The Vl1/VL1m and VL7 are unsurpassed in their expressiveness and quality. The VL70m is in the ballpark, but when you do a direct compare, it's pretty obvious, though occasionally I've come up with things on the VL70m/PLG-VL that I haven't been able to reproduce on the VL1.

 

Editing is a big issue for me with these as I don't much use the factory presets and choose to do my own. With the VL1/VL1m/VL7 you have very good access to the programming guts of the beast. You do not have access to the innards of the model which is only available on a Mac OS 9 editor, which is a PITA.

 

The VL70m and PLG-VL give you very limited editing capabilities. Also, there are only six slots available for custom voices.

 

The VL1 series is designed to model single reed and brass instruments. There is no double reed model, though it can be faked. You can do string emulations, bowed and plucked but I found I got better results using dedicated plucked string modelers like the OASYS PCI and AAS String Studio (the Emgic EVD6 is also a marvelous plucked string synth).

 

The Korg implementation is lame, IMHO. You can get OK brass and flute but the sax line is very week. It provides a tiny fraction of the programming depth you can find in the Yamahas. Arturia Brass was a major disappointment for me.

 

If you have a passion for the VL, wait for one to come available and be prepared to spend good money for it. It is the only digital hardware synth I really care about. The LCD display went out on my VL1 a few years back. The technician who worked on it was told by Yamaha that it was the last display in Yamaha's US service inventory. The synth is getting old and the proprietary parts could be a major issue moving forward--buyer beware.

 

Busch.

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Well said Busch.

If I'm allowed a bit of 'gut' response in addition to the informed post by Busch, there's really no comparison in the sound quality itself between VL1/VL1m and VL70/PLG-VL.

The more complex voice channel, the better effects, better converters, the superior resolution, and the capability to layer two sounds, make it like day and night. I don't want to sound elitist, but I doubt I would use a naked VL70 sound in a recording, without processing it quite a bit, and maybe layering it with something else. But the VL1, I've often used it in pro application - sometimes even with its internal effects.

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Originally posted by burningbusch:

If you have a passion for the VL, wait for one to come available and be prepared to spend good money for it. It is the only digital hardware synth I really care about. The LCD display went out on my VL1 a few years back. The technician who worked on it was told by Yamaha that it was the last display in Yamaha's US service inventory. The synth is getting old and the proprietary parts could be a major issue moving forward--buyer beware.

 

Busch.

The topic came up recently and one was mentioned as possibly available. Don't know if it's a VL1 or VL1m or price. I should have better knowledge next week.
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Originally posted by marino:

Well said Busch.

If I'm allowed a bit of 'gut' response in addition to the informed post by Busch, there's really no comparison in the sound quality itself between VL1/VL1m and VL70/PLG-VL.

The more complex voice channel, the better effects, better converters, the superior resolution, and the capability to layer two sounds, make it like day and night. I don't want to sound elitist, but I doubt I would use a naked VL70 sound in a recording, without processing it quite a bit, and maybe layering it with something else. But the VL1, I've often used it in pro application - sometimes even with its internal effects.

I have to pretty much agree completely with what Marino said.

 

A while back I wanted to consolidate my studio and get back some space so I looked at replacing my VL-1 with a Motif rack with 2 VL cards. The VL cards were coarse-sounding in comparison to the VL-1...very grainy and harsh. Just really not in the same ballpark at all.

 

Also, I bought both banks of Patchman patches for the VL-1 and only found about three or four useful at all. Maybe their VL70m patches are better.

 

Sorry to be such a wet blanket ;)

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Hi Icarusi,

 

I have the VL7. From what I'm able to discern the VL1 is equivalent to 2 x VL7s. So if you'd like to layer 2 sounds (say a sax and flute) the VL1 might be the way to go, but in all honesty I don't really miss that capability with the VL7. I think it probably works better for composite sounds like guitar where each tone might represent a certain artefact of a guitar (e.g. pluck and body).

 

Heres an mp3 of me playing the VL7 on a patch called ECM_Tenor (apologies as I keep linking this everytime theres any mention of the VL!)

VL7 Tune

 

Cheers

Neil (also in UK)

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Originally posted by burningbusch:

 

The Korg implementation is lame, IMHO. You can get OK brass and flute but the sax line is very week. It provides a tiny fraction of the programming depth you can find in the Yamahas. Arturia Brass was a major disappointment for me.

 

If you have a passion for the VL, wait for one to come available and be prepared to spend good money for it. It is the only digital hardware synth I really care about.

The Z1 soprano sax is more like an English Horn (which is great as I love the music of Paul McCandless!), but saying that I think the models are more restrictive on the Z1 but with the advantage of polyphony.
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Additionally, I've you're picking up a VL1, VL1m or VL7 make sure it has the version 2.0 ROMs installed. These add a lot of improvements including support for a more accurate trumpet model. Many of the patches around are version 2.0 only. The ROMs sold for $200 when you COULD get them, and you pretty much can't get them any more.

 

Busch.

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Busch,

 

Wondered if you would enlighten me on something. It's got my curiousity piqued.

 

I'm curious about the use of "roms" in modelling. The patchman "turbo chip" kinda also seems unusual relative to the usual way they distribute sounds (midi, sysex, etc.).

 

Is Yamaha using some kind of sample at the core of this (a la resynthesis, V-synth, Roland SH32, etc.) Or are the model parameters so dense with data that parameter storage is a memory issue? Or maybe they were adding processing power as the models evolved? Or something else entirely?

 

Thx,

 

Jerry

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Originally posted by orangefunk:

I have the VL7. From what I'm able to discern the VL1 is equivalent to 2 x VL7s...

Not exactly.

 

Many of the VL-1's best sounds are layered, not for stacking, but to have a unique attack transient and a different sustain, also different overtone series can come in depending on breath pressure, you can fade between different excitation models on some instruments, ect...many of the sax sounds for instance are pretty lifeless with just one source.

 

Just because I can see fine with just one eye dosen't make me want to pull the other one out ;)

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Jumping in late as I've been away from the forums for a few weeks, and will likely be away again for over a month (October and November are always my busiest months both at work and away from work).

 

Lots of interesting and useful comments already; especially burningbusch's. I doubt I could add much to that, other than to maybe write up what I learned about current physical modeling research at the Audio Engineering Show (did I do that already?).

 

The reason I'm writing at all is to warn people about buying used VL1's. I have been trying for over a year now, and if the funds ever become available, will try again for as long as it takes. But most of those auctions end in tears. There are a LOT of scammers out there when it comes to hard-to-find specialty gear like this. I have lost track of how many "second offers" I've received on VL1 or VL1m auctions that eventually shot well past 200% of my top bid. I'm almost afraid to go for one now, as I don't trust the seller actually has one for sale in some cases!

 

Do heed the word regarding the version 2.0 ROM's, as they RARELY show up on eBay., and are out of stock everywhere. Note also that the v2 ROM's are different for the VL1 keyboard vs. the VL1m rack module, so be careful about that too.

 

I keep meaning to buy Patchman's replacement ROM's for the VL70m, but every time I procrastinate by a couple of months, I decide to wait for the next NAMM show to see if the VL70m gets upgraded. The replacement ROM demos sound way better than the custom voice libraries. My understanding is that Patchman was able to do deeper programming by going to the ROM's as it gave them access to the full parameter list and editing capabilities?

Eugenio Upright, 60th P-Bass, Geddy Lee J-Bass, Hofner HCT-500/7, Yamaha BBP35, Viking Bari

Select Strat, Select Tele, Am Pro JM, LP 57 Gold, G5422DC-12, T486, ES295, PM2, EXL1

XK1c, Voyager, Prophet XL

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As it relates to Tusker's question:

 

There are really two distinct issues here. The VL70m (and PLG-VL) has one major limitation. It only has memory for six custom voices. If you editing a voice using the Expert Editor you would load it into one of these six memory slots. As many people feel you can program better sounds than the factory presets, this is a major limitation. On the VL1/VL1m/VL7 you have 128 memory slots plus you can save banks/programs off to floopy so it's pretty much limitless.

 

So a while back someone figure out that all of the VL70m presets are stored in a single ROM and they also figured out the format. This is someone on the Wind Controller List. They came up with a replacement ROM which included some of my programs as well as others. It was distributed to the user base at essentially cost. As I understand it, Patchman picked up on the idea and created a preset ROM of his own. In both cases, they replace the factory ROM.

 

With the Vl1/VL1m/VL7 a new user upgradable ROM set was made available a year or two after they first came out. It included a number of enhancements to the synth and FXs. Version 2.0 programs are incompatible with a version 1.0 synth.

 

Busch.

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I meant to also ask about the VL in the EX5. I haven't had time to play with the VL aspect of my used EX5r yet, but am curious whether it is thought to more closely match the VL7, or the VL70m, or to be a further step down from those two?

Eugenio Upright, 60th P-Bass, Geddy Lee J-Bass, Hofner HCT-500/7, Yamaha BBP35, Viking Bari

Select Strat, Select Tele, Am Pro JM, LP 57 Gold, G5422DC-12, T486, ES295, PM2, EXL1

XK1c, Voyager, Prophet XL

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Although the original poster seemed focus on current models, plenty of responses have come along since, and other deleted modules have already been discussed, so I make no apology for going OT :-).

 

The Technics WSA1 (also available in a rack version) is thought by many to be the best physical modeling hardware synth ever. I bought a used WSA1r on eBay last night but have not yet done much with it, as I couldn't track down even a PDF of the manual until a month or so ago, and am now way too busy.

 

I think it used the waveguide principles but am not sure (I don't have the references in front of me at the moment). I do know that it combined some sampling capabilities, but I forget whether this was an option for layering, for triggering, or became part of the building block of the algorithms.

 

All I can say so far, as it is not intuitive from the front panel without the manual, is that it makes a very realistic bouzouki. So I expect the plucked string model was very well done.

Eugenio Upright, 60th P-Bass, Geddy Lee J-Bass, Hofner HCT-500/7, Yamaha BBP35, Viking Bari

Select Strat, Select Tele, Am Pro JM, LP 57 Gold, G5422DC-12, T486, ES295, PM2, EXL1

XK1c, Voyager, Prophet XL

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Originally posted by burningbusch:

With the Vl1/VL1m/VL7 a new user upgradable ROM set was made available a year or two after they first came out. It included a number of enhancements to the synth and FXs. Version 2.0 programs are incompatible with a version 1.0 synth.

Just a small correction: The VL1 has no ROM memory for patches, just battery-backed RAM. (A good thing, I think)

The upgrade to version 2 consisted in a new OS on EPROMS, which added a number of improvements to the voice channel and effects - *and* a new sound set, but these sounds were all overwritable. :)

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Originally posted by Carbon111:

Originally posted by orangefunk:

I have the VL7. From what I'm able to discern the VL1 is equivalent to 2 x VL7s...

Not exactly.

 

Many of the VL-1's best sounds are layered, not for stacking, but to have a unique attack transient and a different sustain, also different overtone series can come in depending on breath pressure, you can fade between different excitation models on some instruments, ect...many of the sax sounds for instance are pretty lifeless with just one source.

 

Just because I can see fine with just one eye dosen't make me want to pull the other one out ;)

Sorry but I think you talk rubbish... and incredibly patronising to boot...winkies or not...

 

the sax sounds lifeless because the player isn't really thinking like a wind player... the VL really shows up a players flaws and lack of technique...

 

I will issue you a challenge... play the VL1 on your best sax patch and I'll do the same with the VL7... we will post mp3s up and everyone can decide...

 

Care to take me up???

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Originally posted by Mark Schmieder:

The Technics WSA1 (also available in a rack version) is thought by many to be the best physical modeling hardware synth ever.

You assume full responsability for this statement, right?!

:D:D

Jokes aside, the WSA is no match for the VL1 for realism and sheer sound quality. It's a fantastic instrument, but for me, it's more suited to program original sounds of non-imitative nature.

I think it used the waveguide principles but am not sure (I don't have the references in front of me at the moment). I do know that it combined some sampling capabilities, but I forget whether this was an option for layering, for triggering, or became part of the building block of the algorithms.

Assuming you know that most phisical modeling algorithms are composed of a 'driver' and a 'resonator', each modeling different aspects of the original instrument, here's a fragment from Sound On Sound:

 

_________________________________

 

Technics took an alternative route to giving modelling technology a reasonable amount of polyphony at an affordable price. They realised that the greatest amount of DSP power was taken up by producing the driver, the original sound before the resonator modifies the harmonic content. By replacing a modelled (and therefore processor-intensive) driver with a PCM sample, they could save an enormous amount of processing power -- power which could be ploughed back into increasing polyphony. As a result, when other modelling synths on the market were duophonic at best, the WSA1 had 32 voices of polyphony, a figure still not achieved by the most powerful current modelling synths.

 

__________________________________

 

However, this came at a cost: Using samples instead of modeled drivers simply doesn't give the same results. To me, the best use of the WSA is to experiment combining samples and resonators from different instruments, for example, and build 'fantasy' sound that couldn't be obtained in other ways. :)

 

 

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Originally posted by marino:

Originally posted by burningbusch:

With the Vl1/VL1m/VL7 a new user upgradable ROM set was made available a year or two after they first came out. It included a number of enhancements to the synth and FXs. Version 2.0 programs are incompatible with a version 1.0 synth.

Just a small correction: The VL1 has no ROM memory for patches, just battery-backed RAM. (A good thing, I think)

The upgrade to version 2 consisted in a new OS on EPROMS, which added a number of improvements to the voice channel and effects - *and* a new sound set, but these sounds were all overwritable. :)

You're right Carlo. I couldn't remember the exact configuration.

 

Busch.

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Originally posted by orangefunk:

Originally posted by Carbon111:

Originally posted by orangefunk:

I have the VL7. From what I'm able to discern the VL1 is equivalent to 2 x VL7s...

Not exactly.

 

Many of the VL-1's best sounds are layered, not for stacking, but to have a unique attack transient and a different sustain, also different overtone series can come in depending on breath pressure, you can fade between different excitation models on some instruments, ect...many of the sax sounds for instance are pretty lifeless with just one source.

 

Just because I can see fine with just one eye dosen't make me want to pull the other one out ;)

Sorry but I think you talk rubbish... and incredibly patronising to boot...winkies or not...

 

the sax sounds lifeless because the player isn't really thinking like a wind player... the VL really shows up a players flaws and lack of technique...

 

I will issue you a challenge... play the VL1 on your best sax patch and I'll do the same with the VL7... we will post mp3s up and everyone can decide...

 

Care to take me up???

I'm going to have to agree with Orange on this one. I don't recall THAT many patches that use both voices. There's a very nice bassoon that uses one voice for lower and one for upper. I believe there's a bari sax done the same way. There are some duo patches with sax and trumpet (or other horn). Most of the programs I've used on the VL are single and would sound Identical on a VL7.

 

Busch.

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Originally posted by orangefunk:

Sorry but I think you talk rubbish... and incredibly patronising to boot...winkies or not...

 

the sax sounds lifeless because the player isn't really thinking like a wind player... the VL really shows up a players flaws and lack of technique...

 

I will issue you a challenge... play the VL1 on your best sax patch and I'll do the same with the VL7... we will post mp3s up and everyone can decide...

 

Care to take me up???

Hey there! I wasn't being patronising at all. :(

People who know me on this forum will attest to that...I'm more interested in giving back to folks for all the help I got along the way when I was just getting into synths. My motto is "what you give is what you get". I always treat people with the same respect I would like to be treated with.

 

I don't really want to get into a pissing match. I was being completely honest regarding the "dual" patches...most of my favorites use both voices. :wave:

 

Here's 3 "quick and dirty" MP3s I have up for when I finally get around to finishing the VL-1 site (to go with the other dedicated synth sites I host):

 

http://www.carbon111.com/vl-1/shakuhachi.mp3

 

http://www.carbon111.com/vl-1/oldsax.mp3

 

http://www.carbon111.com/vl-1/alto.mp3

 

These were all recorded direct to disk with no external processing whatsoever...as you can see I'm not the greatest player but I've played this beastie for many years now. I can honestly say I'm finally getting to be OK. ;)

 

As I said, I'm more interested in giving to the synth community than taking anything away from anybody, emotionally or physically. Feel free to check out any of my other dedicated sites:

 

Microwave XT: http://www.carbon111.com/mwxt.html

 

DSI Evolver: http://www.carbon111.com/evolver.html

 

Serge Modular: http://www.carbon111.com/serge.html

 

EDP Wasp: http://www.carbon111.com/wasp.html

 

Korg Lambda: http://www.carbon111.com/lambda.html

 

Fix your Fizmo: http://www.carbon111.com/fizmo.html

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