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Questions! Answers!

Don't panic - we'll sort out the technicalities. Write to Grief, MT, (Contact Details).

QI purchased a Roland W-30 sampling workstation a while ago and it's proving to be very useful for my compositions. I would like to make full use of it and have been looking into the possibility of using a CD-ROM drive with it. Please can you shed any light on any of the following queries.

1. What is the difference between a CD-ROM and a hard disk? Should I be using a hard disk with my W-30 instead of a CD-ROM?

2. I am having problems obtaining details of the Roland CD-5 CD-ROM drive - even from Roland, who say it is no longer being made. Have you reviewed this machine or any compatible ones in MT?

3. Once I have the CD-ROM/hard disk up and running, can I run through the sounds as I would patches on a synth card, or must all the sounds be loaded into the W-30's memory first, as with floppy disks? I have heard of a PA Decoder memory expansion board for the W-30, would it be useful to have one if I was using a CD-ROM or hard disk?

Any help/information would be very much appreciated.
Nigel Shepherd (a youngster - ageing rapidly!)

Roland W30: does a hard disk or a CD-ROM drive make a better add-on?

ALet's see what we can do about your premature ageing, Nigel... Functionally, the difference between a CD-ROM disk and a hard disk is that you can only load data from the former, whereas a hard disk lets you both read and write data - ie. you can store your own samples on it. For more detail on CD-ROM formats, check out our feature on the subject in last month's MT.

You can forget about the CD-5. It was only available in this country for a short time, then Roland UK stopped importing it because it was simply too expensive to be commercially viable. Much the same can be said of the three CD-ROM discs which Roland produce for the W-30 - to buy any one of them would set you back more than the cost of a drive. However, what you can do is book a day at Roland's Fleet office (Tel: (Contact Details) and ask for Technical Support), take along a hard drive or a healthy supply of floppy disks and copy as many samples off their CD-ROM discs as you want, completely free of charge. Be warned: there is currently a one-month waiting list for this service.

All in all, you'd be better advised to invest in a hard drive than a CD-ROM drive. You'll need a SCSI upgrade kit for the W-30 in order to be able to use either with the sampler. Roland UK used to sell the KW-30 SCSI connection kit and accompanying software for around £150, but dropped it a year ago - presumably due to lack of demand. However, DAC sell a W-30 SCSI kit for £99 including VAT; you can contact them on (Contact Details). According to Mark Young of DAC, the kit will work with CD-ROM drives and with fixed hard drives of up to 80Mb, but doesn't like read/write optical drives or removable hard drives.

Concerning your third question, you have to load samples and associated program data into onboard RAM off hard disk or CD-ROM disc before you can play them. And yes, there is such a thing as a PA Decoder memory expansion board for the W-30; it gives you six extra ROM/RAM bank pairs but only lets you use one of them at a time. Give W-30 owner Michael Green a call on (Contact Details) if you want to find out more; PA Decoder have no UK distribution, but Michael uses their board and is in contact with them. I am, however, inclined to feel that with a hard drive plugged into your W-30 you wouldn't really benefit from having the PA board fitted as well. ST

QA quick question. Is there an editor/librarian that will run on my Atari (1040ST/2Mb) for a Korg Wavestation SR?
Philip McGarver
St Ives Australia

AKorg UK are currently evaluating an ST librarian program for the Wavestation range; you may like to get in contact with your Korg representative in Australia to follow this up.

Steinberg don't support the SR in their Synthworks Wavestation editor/librarian for the ST, and have no plans to support it; however, owners of other Wavestation models may like to know that Korg UK's Phill Macdonald uses the program and rates it highly.

These days most software companies seem to favour a generic, modular approach to editor/librarian programs. The advantage to you as a user is that you don't have to buy a different editor for every bit of MIDI gear you have; the disadvantage can be that you don't get the full editing depth of a dedicated program.

Steinberg themselves are about to bring out StudioModule, an optional addon module for Cubase 3.0 on the ST. This will provide librarian and macro-edit facilities for any connected MIDI instrument, together with the capability to define and organise your entire MIDI setup (complete with a total recall function for instant reconfiguration of your setup). Another generic editor/librarian for the ST that you may like to check out is Dr T's X-Or. ST

QIn your July edition, the article on Sub Sub shows the group holding an LP titled Spotlight On The Moog: Kaleidoscopic Vibrations. Can you please tell me where I could obtain this record?
N Lloyd

AThe album was made by Perrey & Kingsley and released on the Vanguard label (distributed by RCA) in 1971, catalogue number VFD6525. Ironically, Vanguard was noted for its seminal jazz, folk and blues recordings in the '50s and '60s, but allowed a proto-new age experimentalism to flourish briefly in the early '70s: hence the showcase for Moog synthesiser tones. Long since deleted by RCA, they have no record of it at all. The Vanguard catalogue is now owned by Welk Records in Santa Monica, who have no distribution deal in the UK at the moment. Try them on (Contact Details) (they're eight hours behind) to obtain a copy directly.

Alternatively, try placing a wanted ad in Record Collector magazine using the title, artist, label and catalogue number I've just supplied.

As recently as last year, Start Audio & Video were distributing The Essential Perrey & Kingsley, an introduction to the duo's work. That distribution deal has collapsed, but one or two copies may yet be floating around the bargain bins and second-hand record shops. PW

QI am writing as a result of a great deal of confusion in trying to set up a very basic home studio. I have no knowledge of computers or music technology; however, I do know that the likes of the Aphex Twin, Sven Vath and other rave/ambient artists make me want to jump on the melody-making bandwagon immediately!

I already own a MIDI-compatible Casio HZ600 synth and an amp, and I am considering buying an Atari ST with Cubase software for sequencing. As to the rest, I am baffled. I'm working on a student budget (maximum £1000) and would like to know which equipment you would recommend for a basic, user-friendly start. I am happy to forgo any expensive recording equipment as long as I can play back my work in some shape or form. Your help would be much appreciated!
Tom Lucas

AWhat's this about a student budget of £1000, Tom? Spending our grant all in one go, are we?!

Well, the first thing I'd suggest is that you consider using a much cheaper software package such as Cubase Lite or Breakthru and use the money you save to buy another useful bit of kit; these packages are very well specified for their price, and will probably give you all the functionality you require as a beginner; you're also less likely to be overwhelmed by the sheer number of features provided by the more expensive packages.

As for the computer, an Atari 520STE upgrade to 1Mb or 2Mb of RAM can be had for a very reasonable price these days; you should have at least 1Mb of memory fitted in case you do decide to run one of the bigger software packages - whether now or later.

Presumably you're happy to use your Casio as a MIDI keyboard source, in which case you will probably want to add on one or more modules to expand your palette of sounds. However, for any novice looking to buy a cheap keyboard as well, I'd recommend Roland's PC200 MkII, an inexpensive MIDI controller keyboard (just £199 including VAT).

For the sort of music you're talking about, a combination of analogue synth module and digital sampler would be a good starting point. You'll need to buy old and second-hand to have a chance of affording anything - check out an Oberheim Matrix 1000 or Cheetah MS6 synth module and a Cheetah SX16 sampler module or Ensoniq Mirage keyboard. Oldies but goodies.

You could use the sampler as a drum module if you're prepared to create your own sounds; alternatively, you could check out a drum machine - a second-hand Boss DR-550 MkI or Mk II or a Yamaha RY10 would probably be your best bet.

Once you start using two or more instruments, you're going to need a mixer of some description. I'd recommend you look at the inexpensive Boss BX range of keyboard mixers; an 8-input unit with effect send/return connections would be the ideal minimum. If you still have any money left at this point (unlikely), invest in a cheap second-hand digital reverb processor (an Alesis Microverb, perhaps) to give the sound of your music some depth.

You can plug the keyboard mixer's output into your amp to listen to the music you're making. Alternatively, you could use your hi-fi for monitoring by plugging the keyboard mixer's output into an auxilliary input on your hi-fi amp - and of course you'll need a cassette deck if you want to record your efforts. As hi-tech gear can produce high transient signals, watch your mixer and amp levels if you don't want to run the risk of damaging your speakers.

There simply isn't enough room within 'Grief' to give a comprehensive answer to this sort of question; however, we will be running beginners' features in future issues of MT. ST

Much as we'd love to, we simply don't have the time to reply to readers' queries by phone or individually by letter. Similarly, if you phone us with a query you are more than likely to catch us in the middle of something, so we wouldn't be able to devote the time to you that we would wish. More to the point, most questions involve a degree of research, so many queries couldn't be dealt with on the spot anyway. Contrary to popular belief, we don't know the answer to everything. We answer as many as we can as quickly as we can through these pages, to which end we appreciate written queries - help us to help you and all that.

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Music Technology - Copyright: Music Maker Publications (UK), Future Publishing.


Music Technology - Dec 1993

Donated by: Chris Moore

Feedback by Simon Trask, Phil Ward

Previous article in this issue:

> Dare!

Next article in this issue:

> Stamp

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