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Saturday, 19 May 2012

OrangeTreeSamples Products and Blogs

I came to know about OrangeTreeSamples from one of the virtual instruments forums.

OrangeTreeSamples Virtual Instruments
Their VI products seem to be very specialised, geared towards sampling world-instruments, and also electric/acoustic guitars and basses. Besides having about 5 products in each of the above categories (world & guits/basses), there is a Kontakt add-on script category too. (This is accurate at the time of this post).

In the Acoustic instruments section, we have the Acoustic Guitar and Acoustic Bass. In the Electric section there's also the Electric Guitar and Electric Bass counterparts.

I must say all their instruments sound very good! I also think that the prices are quite fair for the quality too.

All their products are running off Native Instrument's Kontakt engine, and most of them require the full version of Kontakt.

One product which I think is a very good deal, is the Core Bass Pear, which is an acoustic upright bass. This bass is as excellent sounding as the rest of their other products, but selling at only half the price, for some reason. I am guessing it's due to the size of the recorded samples (300mb). But that does not mean this is any less awesome sounding than the rest! It's really tempting :)

OrangeTreeSamples Kontakt Add-on Product: Mind Control
This is a very handy Kontakt add-on script that is selling for USD24.95. Very handy if you plan to assemble your own instruments from multiple sampled layers and takes.

Kontakt allows us to assemble our own instrument from different sample layers by dragging different samples into slots and then switching between them. The switching is triggered with midi program change messages. This can be unwieldy and counter-intuitive to set up at the sequencing end, and definitely does not allow us to play live, trigger with velocity thresholds or have the samples mapped to values from midi cc messages. This is working in a way we are not used to.

OrangeTreeSamples' solution is an elegant interface drag and drop that allows us to do the switching based on a whole set of conditions that can be configured. Some of these conditions are: note velocity, pitch wheel, midi controller messages, or note events (much like the key switching behaviours we are quite used to).

Each of these conditions would have a configurable value range that allows us to define the threshold within that range where that particular sample would be triggered and used. It allows us to define up to as many layers of samples as we want, and up to 5 conditions per layer.

Less talk, more show. Here's a video of how it works.

Besides having their shop-front and download areas, OrangeTreeSamples has a blog that talks about really interesting topics related to music and the sampling business. 

OrangeTreeSamples blog post: The Uncanny Valley
This blog post talks about sampling technology versus how the different samples and articulations are combined and strung together by the context of the passage of music being played, and how 'intelligent' or 'intent-aware' the sampler software is capable of. OrangeTree has been using Native Instruments' Kontakt for almost all their products. I must say they are really good at what they do, including the scripting and programming department.

Monday, 7 May 2012

ProjectSam: New Pricing for Symphobia & Symphobia 2!

ProjectSam has updated pricing for Symphobia and Symphobia 2!

Symphobia which originally cost US$1259 (or EUR899) is now US$999 (EUR749).

Symphobia2 which originally cost US$1399 (or EUR999) is now also US$999 (EUR749).
This comes down to 20.6% reduction in price on Symphobia, and 28.6% reduction on Symphobia2!

There is also a revised pricing for the Symphobia Pack. What used to cost US$2658 (or EUR1898) for Symphobia products is now only US$1899 (or EUR1399). This comes down to about 28.6% discount!

What a good deal! This is really tempting. If you've been keeping your eyes on these for a while, I think now is an even better time to grab them!

Note: All Euro prices exclude 19% VAT. 

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Resolution Workshop with Pro Tools 10 Part 2

Here it is again, the second part of the first workshop by Resolution.
Click on the image below (or manually send an email to revo@resolution.sg) to send an RSVP email. You will then receive an invitation to the event. This is based on a first-come-first-serve basis.

For those who attended the first session, this session goes deeper into the software and talks about more advanced tools and controls that speed up your workflow. This includes covering audio workstation set-ups that invovlve integration with control surfaces.

If you missed the first session, don't miss the 2nd one. Sign up now!

Thursday, 3 May 2012

The Keytar and the Alesis Vortex

Image taken from Wikipedia.org

Alesis Vortex is an effort to revive the waning popularity of the keytar in the last decade. I appreciate the effort because it let me properly acquaint myself with the instrument this time. 

Since my youth (in the 80s) I've always seen these being used in performances and on stage, but I never knew what they were called. Because of my web search for the Alesis-Vortex mentioned to be part of the products involved in a promotion, I finally found the proper name for this instrument.

Here's the definition and description of a keytar on Wikipedia.org: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Keytar

In the article, it mentions that another possible name people may identify it by, is the guit-board (not its official name). This was first used and coined in a tv-program where a character referred to it by that name.

From a certain forum I read lots of negative comments about its out-dated design and perceived impracticality from the majority of comments. However coming from a live performer's perspective, or even a person sequencing in the recording studio, there are some practical merits to this little guy.
- its got 3 octaves (37 keys).
- its got channel aftertouch for all the keys
- its got full-sized keys
- its got a ribbon controller
- last but not least, its got a built in accelerometer

For all the above merits I could add "Thats way better than my 25 key Korg Nanokeys2" at the end. It is true. I am not putting the NanoKeys down. I love my Korg NanoKey2 for the tiny footprint, making it possible for me to slide it in my bag everywhere I go.

The point I want to make, is that there are many midi controllers more limited than the Alesis Vortex in many ways, and less fashionable too. On that basis the Vortex should not come in last, in spite of all the negative posts in forums.

Then there's people's take on it being 'geeky', 'out of fashion' and 'so-yesterday'. Of course design is a subjective term, but you have to admit having shots of yourself jumping around playing an Alesis Vortex on screen is visually more interesting and dynamic than having footage of you sitting down playing a Korg NanoKey2 on your laps in the next music video of your band. Right? :)

Reviews of the Alesis Vortex here:
Review from www.uberGizmo.com
Review from www.theVerge.com
Finally, from www.djTechTools.com, a video review :

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Getting My M-Audio Keystation 88 to Work with Sonar

I am taking off the dusty cover of my M-Audio Keystation Pro 88, and trying to use it for my work once again. (It's been more than 6 years if I recall correctly). Yes I have finally ran out of space with the Korg NanoKey2's 25 keys and my cramped fingering and limited voicings :)

I remember getting it to work in Sonar 1 or 2 as a control surface. After 6 years and 6 to 7 versions of Sonar later, I could not manage to figure out how to do it in Sonar 8.5.

I searched the forums, and someone mentioned that Sonar 8 and above should have M-Audio Keystation series of keyboards listed as a control surface preset. I could not find it listed. I went to the M-Audio official resources, and they led me to download a U33 control surface preset (and Keystation pro 88 in the same download, so they say) for Sonar 2. You can imagine the date they released that one. I gave up without even completing the intallation.

After searching a bit longer, I found 2 very useful links. One of them is from YouTube and the other one from a CG artist! Here are the links. Although the YouTube one shows how to set-up M-Audio Oxygen series of controllers, I believe it is so straightforward that we can use that on any other MIDI/USB controller too.

Here they are, enjoy!

And here is the link from Ariel Chai's CG and music website:

As for my Korg Nanokey2 25-key controller...

I reckon I'll still be using the NanoKey for single lines or quick fix / record / edit stuff, just because it is super small sitting just in front of my laptop. If you've seen the photo of my room from one of my previous posts, you will see how far away the Keystation Pro 88 is located from my work desk. It means I have to keep moving between the laptop and the M-Audio controller in between takes and editing of the data.

Sonivox / Akai / Alesis "Fifty for Free" Promotion

I received an email promotion from Sonivox in partnership with Akai Professional and Alesis, for a limited time period only.
Qualifying Models include:
Akai Professional MPK25, MPK49, MPK61, MPK88 and MAX49 controllers.
Alesis Q25, QX25, Q49, QX49, Q61, QX61 and Vortex controllers.

When you purchase any one of the above Akai / Alesis products, you will be able to get a discount off any Sonivox DVI product.

Please visit their promotional site (by clicking the above image) to find out more and to confirm details of this promotion.

Disclaimer: I am in no way connected to this promotion, and bear no responsibility to the accuracy of this information. The promotion authorities reserve the rights to change the terms and conditions at any time, so please visit their website to get the latest updates.