Making the most of your Mirage (Part 4)
Tony Hastings brings his enjoyable series of hints and tips to a close with a look at the Mirage's final four MASOS functions.
Part 4: Ensoniq Mirage expert Tony Hastings brings the series to a close with tips on how to make the most of the remaining MASOS functions.
Hi-de-hi Samplers!! Let me kick off by wishing you all an exciting Christmas with stockings stuffed to overflowing, plenty to eat and drink and, of course, your very own Santa trying to shin down the chimney with a new Mirage under his arm.
If you can remember as far back as Part3, you'll recall that we were looking at the Mirage's first four MASOS functions. This month I'm going to wind up the series with a look at the final four.
Before I start though, I'd like to mention a new piece of software that I've seen from Steinberg Research that works wonders with an Atari 520/1040ST micro and your Mirage...
It is a new visual editor with some great features. Last issue I reviewed the Steinberg Mirage Editor for the Commodore 64 computer and was impressed, but with reservations. This new editor appears to satisfy most points raised in my 'I wish...' list.
It has high resolution graphics - you can clearly see a loop end and beginning alongside each other; you can save Mirage samples on your Atari disk; you can perform FM and AM synthesis and store the new and completely original sound in the Mirage. More importantly, it will also allow you to vary the sample tuning. This means that you don't have to use a varispeed tape recorder when you first record a sample (great for One-Page Loops). I only managed a quick glimpse of it, but it looks great. Anyway, on to the MASOS commands...
This is the fifth command, and it would help to have your SOS December issue in hand so you can refer to the parameters we detailed in the first part of this MASOS description.
'Add' is a function that allows you to take two different samples and add them together so that they share the same wavesample pages in the Mirage.
First you must select two samples that you wish to combine; for example, piano and strings or maybe two different synth sounds etc. Next, set the Source Start [parameter 85] and the Source End  of the sample that you wish to Add, and then set the Destination value of where the Added sample is to be sent (the Destination doesn't need an End because it will always be the same length as the Source Start to End value).
Example: Lower Sample 1 is a violin from 00 to FF (hex code) ie. it occupies all the lower memory. Upper Sample 1 is a flute from 00 to FF.
Set Source Start  to 00 and Source End  to FF.
Set Destination  to 00.
Set Destination Bank  to LO.
Select Upper Sample 1.
You are now ready to Add the Upper Sample (flute) to the Lower Sample (violin):
Set MASOS function 5 and then press Enter.
You may have to wait 15 or 20 seconds depending how long the samples are. After that time you will have an Added mixture of both samples in the Lower Sample area from 00 to FF.
TIPS: You can add just the last half of one sample to the first half of another, or any similar combination. Try fading one sample in first (MASOS 2) then adding it to another sample that is fading out. Remember to turn off the loop before Adding, because you will need to set a new loop for the two combined samples if they aren't going to be a one-shot play. Also, you can increase the amplitude (volume) of a sample by adding it to itself.
This is a function designed to invert a chosen sample. All sound is made up of wave cycles, and one cycle is made up of a positive amplitude and a negative amplitude. Inverting the sample will change all the positive amplitudes into negative ones and vice versa ie. change the phase. To invert a sample set the values for Start and End that you require and then choose function number 6 followed by Enter. After a few seconds you will obtain the result.
TIPS: Don't copy a sample, simply invert the copy and then Add it back to its original self or you will get no sound. This is because Adding an inverted copy of a sample to itself will result in the positive and negative values cancelling each other out. Result? ...A big, fat, nothing! It can be of use if your End sample in a loop is nearly right but should be on a positive rather than negative slope from the zero-crossing point.
This MASOS function will take an area of sample and reverse the order of the individual samples in it. Meaning you will get the beginning at the end and the end at the beginning (if you use the whole wavesample) - like a tape played backwards.
Set the Source Start and End parameters to the necessary values and then press function number 7 followed by Enter.
TIPS: This is great for getting a 'backwards' sample which grows in volume at the start instead of decaying at the end. A reverse crash cymbal or piano sample can be used to great effect at the start of a song. Another very useful way to use this function is in bi-directional looping.
On samplers like the Akai S900 you can specify bi-directional looping as part of the software. This means a loop will play from the Start to the End but instead of 'jumping' back to the beginning (which is when the glitches occur), it will play backwards to the Start again. This will theoretically produce 'silent' loops (no clicks or glitches) - but we all know about those sort of claims!! It's still the sort of technique that requires a lot of trial and error.
Now although the Ensoniq Mirage is not capable of specifying this sort of bi-directional looping in its software, it can be simulated. Here's how...
First set a loop (there should be at least the same amount of pages between the Loop End and the end of Sample Memory as there are between the Loop Start and the Loop End). Now copy the loop section to the point where the Loop End begins. Now reverse the section of loop that you have just copied. Finally, set your Loop End at the end of this copied and reversed data. Although you now have twice as much loop, it produces the same sounding result as bi-directional looping.
Example: Sample Start at 00 and End at FF. Loop Start at 10 and End at 20.
Copy sample: Source Start (10), Source End (20) to Destination (20).
Reverse sample: Source Start (20), Source End (30).
Set Loop End to 30.
This is the final MASOS command on the Ensoniq Mirage and allows you to select a section of wave and replicate the first page of it to last the whole length of the sample section. In the 'Advanced Sampler's Guide' book they say that it is good forgetting rid of subharmonics, and who am I to argue? It is also handy for getting samples to loop where the content of the wave is fairly static. Synthesizer sounds are good for this. Vocal/String sounds aren't so good.
In essence, if you want a short loop and the end of it isn't quite right, you can replicate the samples so that they are all the same. This can produce good loops but sometimes the resulting sound is a little monotonous.
To use, select a section of wave in the Source Start and End parameters. Pressing command number 8 followed by Enter will produce a replication of the first page of the Source Start up to the Source End.
Okay, that's it for the MASOS commands and for the whole of this series. I'd like to thank those readers who have helped me in the past with ideas and inspiration, and I do hope that these four articles have been a help to all you keen but lonely Mirage owners.
I know that the Ensoniq Mirage is an old man by today's standards, but the fact that it is still selling strongly shows that for all its user 'unfriendliness', it is still a popular machine. New software that links with new generation computers like the Atari 1040ST is expanding the Mirage's potential all the time. And even though it doesn't produce 'transparent' samples (ie. they do change in texture a bit after sampling), this is sometimes a nice characteristic. After all, there are many famous musicians and programmers (Peter Gabriel and JJ Jeczalik for a start) who swear by their noisy Fairlight CMI Series I and say "It's Rock and Roll....man".
So, be proud of your Mirage and use it for what it is, not what it's not (ie. an AMS or Synclavier), and remember, when you struggle to make a sample of your favourite synth or local church choir going "Ahhhh"... you are not alone.
For details of the new Atari/Mirage visual editing software, please contact Steinberg Research on (Contact Details)
Feature by Tony Hastings
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