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Hints, Tips & News From The World Of Music Software

Article from Sound On Sound, May 1991

More hints and tips from the software manufacturers themselves, this month: C-Lab, Steinberg and Voyetra.



Creator Version 1.3, many moons ago, introduced compatibility with colour monitors. Regretfully, this is no longer the case with Notator and Creator Version 3.0 and later. In common with most high-end programs on the Atari, such as DTP packages, only the Atari SM124 hi-res monitor is supported now. You may find that you can work with a colour monitor, but there is no guarantee that weird things won't happen. Only a tiny handful of users still use a colour monitor; everyone else knows that the hi-res monitor is a treat on the eyes by comparison.


It has come to our attention that some Hewlett-Packard DeskJet users experience occasional random printing problems. It would appear that this is not confined to C-Lab programs, as the fault seems to lie in the Atari's RS232 port, which sometimes delivers an inconsistent level for the DeskJet.

It appears to depend on the actual computer you own as to whether you will have intermittent problems or not: it is not related to a model or type of computer. The cure appears to be the use of a 'Centronics Parallel Booster', which brings the signal up to the acceptable level. These random problems are experienced by very few DeskJet users, and information is still being gathered on this subject.

AKAI S900/950 & RS232

User Eric Baird has discovered that Akai S900 and S950 owners can make direct use of Notator or Creator's extra MIDI Out ports B, C or D without having to purchase the C-Lab Export MIDI Expansion box. Like the Atari, the S900 and S950 have a built-in RS232 port; all you need is the cable to link the sampler to the computer. In the sampler, go to the appropriate page that selects MIDI or RS232 communication, set the baud rate to 31,250, and off you go!


It is a good idea to make a copy of a track first before using the Punch function on it, because Undo, exceptionally, does not restore you to the position you were in prior to using Punch; having a copy means you will be able to return to the original.


Normally, it's the Notator owners who make triplets! To achieve triplets in Creator, either play them in real time and quantise to '12', or manually enter the notes into the event editor Matrix, having previously changed the screen 'Format' from 1/16 to 1/12. The Format value changes the division of the beat in the Matrix editor (as indicated by dotted lines) allowing you to enter the notes exactly on the desired lines.


Notator's fonts compatibility, which appeared with Version 3.0, is proving to have far more to it than meets the eye. User Alan Middleton, a harpist, has found that the text fonts are just the tip of the iceberg. He, and others around Europe, are rapidly finding that the fonts capability is a powerful feature that is an unending source of help, in that it provides the means to create symbols of any kind which can be positioned wherever you like in the score editor. As an example, you may be frustrated by the fact that a certain symbol is missing from Notator's pop-up partbox: using a font editor, you can now create the desired symbol and insert it using the Text icon.

There is a catch: the user has to roll up his/her sleeves and do the font editing/creating without any outside help, using a font editor such as Fontkit Plus (current Version 3.2). To quote Fontkit's editor: "Designing fonts is less difficult than many people believe... Once you get the feel for it, it is also enjoyable and addictive!" One gets the feeling, however, that as users around the world start to flex their font muscles, various PD (Public Domain) fonts for Notator will appear in time. At the recent Frankfurt music fair, new symbols were seen that had been created by users; these symbols ranged from the useful (the 'rf' dynamic symbol which is not available in Notator, or the provision of little representations of drumsticks, beaters, brushes etc for percussionists) to the esoteric (blobs of grouped dots surrounded by a frame to describe certain electronic music instructions!).

Don't make the mistake one user made: under the impression that the fermata symbol could only be placed over/under a note, he spent time with the Fontz! font editor, designing the same symbol so that it could be placed anywhere. Everyone ought to know by now that Notator's fermata, and many other symbols, can be placed anywhere by pressing 'Alternate' as you enter the symbol!



The 'Cubase for the Macintosh' program uses a protection and hard disk installation system that is disk-based. The original disks supplied with the Cubase package contain two 'installs' on them. The presence of these items is the basis of the protection system. This means the disk can be used on its own, as a Master disk, as there is obviously at least one 'install' on the disk. When you run Cubase from the floppy disk, you will be given an 'install' count of 2, just to tell you the current situation on the disk and give the option of installing the program onto a hard disk. This really does two quite separate things. The program is copied onto the hard disk in a location of your choice and one of the 'installs' is transferred as well. Once this is done, Cubase can be run from the hard disk without any reference to the original floppy.

If you now tried to use the floppy disk, the situation is slightly different. There would be an 'install' count of 1 (the other is now on the hard disk) but you also have the opportunity to remove the installed program back onto the floppy, thus returning the install count on disk to 2. You could install Cubase onto another hard disk system, but that would leave you with a floppy that could not be used in isolation until applications are de-installed back onto the disk.

When purchasing a Mac Cubase, we strongly suggest that you run the floppy disk while you are in the shop and check that the Install Count is indeed 2. When you register your ownership of Mac Cubase, we (Evenlode) will send you another disk that contains the latest version of Mac Cubase and one more 'install'.

The understanding of the system is very important, even though it is simple to operate. We supply two types of disk: BACKUP disks (with the extra 'install') and UPDATE disks that are revised versions of Cubase (but without extra 'installs'). The process to update your disks is simple but precise, and is the same for either type of disk. Here's how you do it...

The first thing is to de-install Cubase from any hard disk. Before you pick up the icon and throw it in the wastebasket and say "Ha! De-installed," stop! That is not what you do. De-installing means putting the Cubase Master disk back into the floppy disk drive and running Cubase from that disk. When the dialogue box appears, click on REMOVE. Do this until the install count returns to 2 for the Master disk and 1 for the Backup. Now all 'installs' are back in their original places on the floppy disks.

The update process itself is again uncomplicated. Put the UPDATE disk in the disk drive and open a window for its contents. Eject that disk by using the 'E' keystroke. Put the Master disk, now complete with its 'installs', into the disk drive and open a window for that too. Drag the Cubase icon from the Update disk window to the Master disk window, and you will get a 'replace items with same names...' warning. Click on 'YES'.

Some disk swapping must be done until the process is complete. Remember: it is the Cubase icon that is being copied from one disk to another and not the disk icons themselves. Re-install Cubase as you wish, and you are back where you were before.

So far, the most common loss of 'installs' has been on hired computers. So, if you hire a Mac and install your Cubase on it, remember to remove it when you have finished! In this situation, it is questionable to actually install the program in the first place. Instead, either run it from the Master disk, or copy the Cubase icon (using the normal Finder routines) onto the hard disk and run it from there; it will work but will ask to 'see' the original Master disk when you load up.

If in any doubt, ask first. There is written documentation provided with the Update and Backup disks but, as regularly happens, the Evenlode Help Line will talk you though it. Just ensure you have the phone within a mouse throw of the computer.


As more computer users become aware of the potential benefits of a hard disk, in both speed and convenience, some common misconceptions start to appear with disconcerting regularity. Fallacy number one is thinking that a hard disk drive will increase the number of notes that your sequencer (any sequencer) will be able to record. This is not true: a hard disk of any size or any speed will only increase your off-line storage capability. Off-line storage is the long-term, power off retention of data, ie. just like a floppy. If you don't save your work to such a medium, all is lost, as the saying goes, when you turn off the computer. On-line storage is the data as it exists in the actual RAM chips in the computer's memory. This is transient in nature, ie. you open the fridge door and its gone (joke for the owners of unsuppressed refrigerators). When you save a song, all you are doing is copying the data from the chips inside the computer on to the stable(ish) medium of a disk.

The upshot of this is that the work you are doing is always stored in the computer memory itself (albeit temporarily), which brings us to fallacies 2 and 3. Once Cubase is loaded into the computer, you can take the floppy disk out of the drive. There is no need to do so, but Cubase does not need it to work normally. You will have to reinsert the disk if you try and load any other file (like a printer driver etc), but that still doesn't mean Cubase needs the disk to be in the drive during actual operation. Fallacy number 3 is related to the original problem: it is not necessary to have a disk in the disk drive while recording. The music is only copied to the disk when you save your work. Therefore, don't buy a hard disk if you just want to record songs with more events in them. Instead, you need a RAM upgrade — ie. increase the number of memory chips actually in the computer.



Version 4.0 of Sequencer Plus has a new system for MIDI interface support. Whereas previous versions recognised an MPU401 type interface when loading, the new system uses a set of DOS drivers in memory: a different driver for each interface. Before using the program the VAPI (Voyetra Applications Programming Interface) driver must be loaded into memory. Drivers are included for the following interfaces: original MPU401, V22/24S, MQX32/16, IBM Music Feature, Yamaha C1, SoundBlaster, AdLib, IBM PS/1 Music Option. The current version of VAPI is 1.14. Owners with earlier VAPI versions can update to the new version by returnina their disks.


The V22 and V24s MIDI interfaces are based on the Yamaha C1 Music Computer MIDI implementation. The Roland standard MPU PC interface has for a long time restricted all PC software development to single port and MIDI clock synchronisation (no timecode or MTC). The V22/24S system allows for expanded development along the lines of the C-Lab Unitor or Steinberg SMP24 products.

The V22 is a single card giving 2 input and 2 output ports (32 MIDI channels). The addition of an MPU card module allows the V22 to be MPU401-compatible, but this of course reduces its spec to 1 input and 1 output. The V24S gives an additional 2 output ports (64 MIDI channels) and timecode (SMPTE) read and write capability. Incoming timecode is read directly by the software, allowing fast lock-up, and there is no longer the need to programme tempo tracks into external Timecode-to-MIDI convertors.


The SoundBlaster card fitted with the MIDI Connector Box can be driven successfully from all versions of Sequencer Plus 4.0. However, the SoundBlaster protocol makes it impossible to receive and transmit MIDI simultaneously. If the SoundBlaster system is being used to drive external MIDI equipment, it will be necessary to make do with the internal sounds produced by the card itself while recording a new track. For playback, all tracks can be routed to external MIDI devices for better sound quality.

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Win An Alesis D4

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Publisher: Sound On Sound - SOS Publications Ltd.
The contents of this magazine are re-published here with the kind permission of SOS Publications Ltd.

The current copyright owner/s of this content may differ from the originally published copyright notice.
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Sound On Sound - May 1991


Previous article in this issue:

> Win An Alesis D4

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