Category Archives: Computer Music – Hardware

SCAN guide to MIDI controllers

SCAN GUIDE TO MIDI CONTROLLERS:

WHAT IS A MIDI CONTROLLER KEYBOARD?
Basically a MIDI Controller Keyboard is way of communicating with a Synth or a sampler or a Computer running a VST instrument or other software based Sound generator.
It is possible to play music via a computer by simply entering data into the DAW via the QWERTY key board, but it’s not very musical.
Keyboard controllers are usually based on a standard piano keyboard. Pressing down a key allows a Note On/Note Off message to be sent to a receiving device, a sampler maybe, telling it exactly which note to sound. At the same time a velocity message is transmitted, showing  how hard the key was struck.
Compared to a real piano, most keyboard controllers have small keys and provide a playing range of just a few octaves.
They usually have no internal sounds of their own. Many units also come with various sliders, knobs and pads which can be assigned to control other MIDI functions linked to filters and Oscillators.
The Controller usually connects to the computer via a USB port, doing away with the need for a MIDI interface. Most software can recognise the USB as a MIDI Device.

OTHER MIDI CONTROLLERS…….
As well as devices based on a Piano keyboard, there are many controllers available which are based around a series of pads, or sliders and knobs, as well as dedicated controllers for software packages like Ableton Live.
They basically all work the same way, sending MIDI controller data to the computer or synth, and allowing the user to manipulate the sound in a much more tangible and intuitive way.

PERCUSSION MIDI CONTROLLERS:
These are specialised ‘Drum Kits’ or individual drum like elements that allow the user to play sampled or computer generated percussion sounds in an authentic way.

64 Bit Computing for Windows Musicians



This is an important decision that you need to make when choosing your new pc, not only for your operating system, but also for your DAW software.

32 bit systems are limited to 4gb of memory in theory (in reality its between 3-3.5gb that windows can actually use). While this might sound a lot, every time you open up a plugin or virtual instrument, it uses memory.

When you start looking at sample based instruments, such as orchestral libraries these can easily load gigs of sounds into memory.

64 Bit systems can run 32 bit programs, but each application can only use 4gb of memory.
This is currently a popular choice, as most DAW’s come with 32 and 64 bit versions that can be installed at the same time.

64 Bit issues (and how to get round them)
64 Bit Sequencers cannot use 32 bit plugins or instruments.
Whilst many manufacturers are now producing 64bit versions of thier plugins and instruments, if you do switch to a 64 bit DAW, you will probably be left with plugins that you cannot use.
Many DAW’s, such as Steinberg Cubase 6 have built in “bridges” that try to make them work, but they only seem to work for some plugins.
Cubase’s bridge mode also limits you to 4gb of memory for all of the bridged plugins.

J Bridge working with Kontakt 3
J Bridge working with Kontakt 3

J-Bridge

The best soulution to this that we have found is a piece of software called Jbridge ( €14.99)

Jbridge is about 95% compatible, and has a number of options to get problems plugins to work.  Jbridge lets you use 4gb of memory per plugin.

 

 

REWIRE

The second issue  is that rewire will not work in 64 bit daw’s.
“Rewire” channels are  virtual midi and audio connections to and from your daw to (predominantly) Propellerhead Reason or Ableton Live programs.

A work-around to this issue is a plugin called Rewire VST (€19.00)

This provides one stereo and six mono audio channels into your DAW (plus midi control).
Whilst this is no way near the 64 possible connections that rewire normally offers, it does mean that you can run a handful of reason or ableton instruments alongside your 64bit DAW.