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Roll up! Roll up! All your problems solved here...

Write to Grief, MT, (Contact Details).

QI recently bought a small Roland keyboard setup - a PC150 and a Boss DS330 - and I am already dreaming of sequencers and samplers, but I'm uncertain of what to get. It seems that a computer-based sequencer will be more versatile, letting me upgrade to more professional software later on.

My problem is what type of computer to get. Which make/range is the best value for money (I'm on a tight budget) and which runs the best range of software? I am also unsure of what software to get. I would like to get something affordable but not too limiting.

It is difficult to get objective advice as shop assistants are either ignorant or biased towards their own products.
Michael King
Witkoppie Ridge
South Africa

AAppreciate your problem, Michael. With so many computers and so much software on the market, it can be difficult making a decision. The whole subject really requires a full length article and that's exactly what you'll find in this very issue (see Computer World, page 20). But here's the short answer...

PCs are about to take over the world but they're absolute pigs to set up and to troubleshoot. You get more power for your pound with a PC - but you need it to run a program within Windows and on top of DOS. Apple Macs are, in my opinion, much better, and far, far easier to use. Also Apple are wont to cut the price and rehash the range every week so that they are just about, almost, nearly becoming affordable.

The ST is cheap (particularly secondhand) and there is more music software for the ST than all the other computers put together. With the advent of the Falcon, however, development on new ST software will inevitably slow down. The Falcon is nice but a lot of music software won't (at present) run on it.

From a musical point of view you can forget the Amiga - Commodore seems to have - and there's really not the range of music software for the Acorn Archimedes for it to be taken into consideration.

There's a growing range of music software for the PC and most new development work takes place here and on the Mac. The most popular top-end program is probably Cubase which is available for the ST, PC and Mac - although the PC version is rumoured not to be without its problems. Emagic's Notator is my preferred choice for a sequencer-cum-scorewriter. It's currently only available for the ST but Notator Logic is even more mega and will soon be available for the ST/Falcon, Mac and soon for the PC.

There are lots of less-expensive programs for all formats although the greatest range and choice, again, is for the ST. The Mac has a cluster of good programs but the range is not vast and there are not many budget opes. The PC is starting to show out in this area.

As you don't say just how tight your budget is, it's difficult to give specific advice. You can do the most with the least lolly by going for an ST and a budget sequencer - although you might like to consider buying a major sequencer, one which you can take with you if you upgrade your computer. Some companies have cross-platform upgrade policies so if you started with Notator on the ST you could upgrade to Notator Logic on the Mac or PC.

QAs a huge Jean-Michel Jarre fan, I was especially interested to read your interview with him in the August issue. I have all of his albums but was interested to see the large collection of other records he has released that I never see in the shops. I am very keen to get hold of a copy of 'Chronologie (Part 4)', with the remixes your list mentions. I presume that the only way of doing this is by going through the record company, so is there any chance you could send me the address of both Polydor and Dreyfus?
Jonathan Buchanan

AChronologie (Part 4) is still in the shops, having recently charted (slightly) following an appearance by Jarre on Top Of The Pops. Which should mean that if your local shops don't have a copy actually in the store, you can ask them to order one for you. The title, artist and label is all they need. The larger retailers should have a database of catalogue numbers for every record currently available in the UK, which they use to place orders with the record companies. As for the albums, Polydor say that all of Jarre's back catalogue is still available by following this procedure; nothing has been deleted. Furthermore, they do not supply recordings directly to customers.

Dreyfus is a French label with whom Jarre has a separate deal, who should be able to supply Waiting For Cousteau (1990) and the compilation album Images (1991) directly. Write to them at: Francis Dreyfus Music, (Contact Details).

QI regularly buy your magazine and would like to congratulate you on a first class publication. Whilst there is as much interest in electronic music here as in any other country, we do not have a national magazine and rely on imported magazines for information. So please keep up the good work.

I am interested in purchasing some MIDI connection equipment and on 7th September I wrote to Philip Rees after seeing their ad in your May issue. I regret to say that after two months I have not received a reply. Since you were offering a free V3 as a subscription incentive I assume you have a good relationship with the company and would be most appreciative if you could ask them to respond to me.
John Colville
Colonial Entertainment
Ozzie Land

ASuch flattery. Such honesty! We blush.

Yes, we do enjoy a good relationship with Philip Rees and on their behalf I would like to pass on the message that your letter was never received. Perhaps one of Her Majesty's postal workers thought it contained Castlemaine XXXX vouchers or something. Anyway, a catalogue is winging its way to Australia and should be with you by the time you read this.

Actually, the company does a fair bit of business Down Under, so in theory there should be no difficulty dealing with them. As for their gear, I can only recommend it. G'day...

QOver the past few years I have been building up my bedroom studio which entails: Roland S-330, Roland Juno 6, Roland SH-101, Moog Prodigy, Akai X7000 + upgrade, and Cubase on the ST. I write dance music, progressive underground, not like this commercial bullshit, mentioning no-no-no-names (ha! ha!).

Anyway, my problem is that I am sampling all my sounds. It's OK for the drums but when I sample my lovely analogue keyboards I can't change the parameters of the sounds while they're playing - obviously.

I've come to the conclusion that I need a Kenton retrofit for my Juno. With C/V outs I can, so I've been informed, run my SH-101 and my Prodigy. If this is so will all the functions on the SH-101 and Prodigy work as normal?

Could you please answer this for me before I go and spend £300-odd on a retrofit?
Mark Slyfield
Tonbridge, Kent

The Moog Prodigy (above) and the Roland Juno-6 (below) - MIDI retrofits are possible but tricky.

ANow then, Mark, the 'Stamp' pages are the place for your musical rantings. We get enough Grief here as it is. We just try to get the gear working - what kind of noise readers make with it is their own business.

I'm afraid your problem isn't quite as straightforward as it may at first appear. For example, how old is your Prodigy? Some early models didn't have a CV or S Trigger. But Kenton can supply a kit to add them for £9.40 or the company will do the job for you for £35.25.

The Juno 6 is not the best keyboard in the world to retrofit with MIDI. While it can respond to pitchbend and velocity info, the keyboard is not velocity sensitive and doesn't handle aftertouch - so it can only transmit note on and off info. But the retrofit is available at £229.

The best solution depends on exactly what you want to do. For example, it may even be worthwhile buying a separate keyboard to use as a master. Kenton's main MIDI-to-CV converter is the Pro-2 (£189) but the company is currently developing an even more mega machine, the Pro-4, which could well be a better option for you.

All things considered, the best thing I can suggest is to contact Kenton directly and head honcho, John Price, will explain all your options. He'll also be able to give you more info about the Pro-4 which is going into production at the time of writing. (Contact Details).

Of course, you could get rid of your antiques and go completely MIDI. But somehow I don't think you want to do that...

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 - books, magazines, manuals, massage parlours, phone calls and so on - 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 - Jan 1994

Donated by: Ian Sanderson

Feature by Ian Waugh, Phil Ward

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