Heavenly Music Easel
ST editing software for the Sound Canvas
The success of your Canvas could rest on this software.
Armed with Brush and Canvas, Ian Waugh gets to work at the Easel...
Think of the names of some popular synths and expanders - the ones with real names, not numbers. Which one would you associate the name Easel with?
It can only be the Roland Sound Canvas. With the growing increase in the popularity of MIDI files, the Canvas and its many siblings and offshoots is, along with other manufacturers' GM (General MIDI) alternatives, one of the few synth success stories of the past couple of years.
By their very nature GM modules tend not to be very programmable. After all, there's little point in having a programmable synth if it is designed to produce the same sounds as every other GM module. But there are those who like to tweak and push an instrument as far as it can go, and for these people a computer-based editor can make life much easier. An editor can also help users who don't want to tweak but need an easy way to set up the instrument - select the sounds, volumes, pan positions and so on.
Easel is a dedicated editor for the SC55/155. It uses different screens for different operations and the whole program is very graphic. Some screens do a lot, some do little. The Voicing screen, for example, is used when you need to select the sounds and associated parameters for each of the 16 MIDI channels. The Master screen houses four controls - Volume, Balance, Transpose and Tuning - while others include the Keyboard Setup (containing Split, Note Limit and Velocity controls), Effects, Controllers and Tuning.
You can also edit each Part on a nice big screen with Envelope, LFO, Tuning and FX parameters. There are similar setup options for the drums.
The cursor is square and hollow, rather like a picture frame, and is designed to make it easy to select a parameter for editing, but I still prefer the pointer - old habits and all that. Also, you only see the new value of a slider when you're finished dragging it - not while you're dragging it - which can make the selection of a precise value a bit hit and miss. Still, the process is a helluva lot easier than stepping through menus on the Sound Canvas itself. There are even keyboard shortcuts for those who wish to learn them.
The instructions are quite copious, supplied as a 'read me' file on disk. If this has helped keep costs down, fine, but I think we have a right to expect a printed manual even at this price. And while I'm whinging, supplying a few alternative sounds would have been nice, too - it's always interesting to see what programmers can do with their own program.
Niggles apart, Easel is an excellent program both for hackers and anyone wanting an easy way to set up their Canvas. Easel Junior is fine for setting up but not quite as friendly as its bigger brother. The Senior version wins the day for me - easy to use and very affordable.
|Ease of use||More buttons than a Pearly Queen|
|Originality||It's a voice editor!|
|Value for money||Good, for the full version|
|Star Quality||A twinkle|
|Price||Easel £24.95 (plus £1.50 p&p) |
Easel Junior £14.95 (plus £1.50 p&p)
|More from||Heavenly Music, (Contact Details)|
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Review by Ian Waugh
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