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Hints, Tips & News From The World of Music Software

Article from Sound On Sound, April 1992

More hints and tips from the software publishers themselves. This month: C-Lab; Steinberg; Opcode.



Most of the time, using the 300DPI (dots per inch) size will give you the conventionally-sized notation at 'optimum size' for 24-pin printers, lasers, InkJets etc. within Calamus itself. The only reason for using the 72DPI resolution would be so that you could include complete pages in miniature size, like a storyboard, useful as an overview for an orchestral score or similar, but too small for normal use. If you have a 9-pin printer, exporting at 300DPI allows the flexibility of magnified notation in your page layout, at an optimum size setting.

Now click on 'Exit' in the Edit Printer Adaptation page. The next stage is to tell Notator where to store the notation file. In the Printer page, delete the information in the Adaptation line (the Printer name normally appears here) and, if you are running from floppy disks only, type the following path: "A:\TEST300.IMG". If you are using a hard disk, in its place type: "C:\NOTATOR\IMAGES\TEST300.IMG". This assumes you have created a folder called 'Images' in which to store your .IMG files. If you haven't, leave out the "\IMAGES\" part and create such a folder later. (Change the partition letter and other folders to suit your own drive.)

Now click on 'Page Preview' and, if you're using a floppy disk, make sure that you have a blank formatted floppy disk ready in the drive. Now press [P] or click 'Print Page'. You will see the normal magnified printing process on screen and Notator will now 'print' this file onto your floppy disk or hard disk. What it is actually doing is saving the notation as an .IMG file.

Now load up Calamus and select 'Create New Document' from the File menu. Then select 'Print Document', left-click 'LOAD DRIVER' and select the NEC P6-7 driver. Change the settings to Resolution = 360 x 360, Page Format = A4, and click 'RASTER' to on, then click OK. To avoid this tedious process every time you load and use Calamus, you can store these settings under 'Save Setup' in the Extras menu. Now follow closely the following steps to get your piece of notation on screen.

1. In the main Calamus screen, left-click the 'Raster Graphic Frame' which puts you into Frame Draw mode.

2. Now place the mouse pointer, without holding or clicking the buttons, to the position on the page where you want the notation. Then left-click the mouse and move it freely around. You will see a dotted outline mirroring your mouse movements. When you have selected the area you want, just left-click once more to complete Frame Draw mode.

3. We now need to de-select the frame. To do this, move the mouse over to the Icon menu and left-click on 'Change Frame'. Now move the mouse back over to the frame you have just drawn, and with the mouse positioned over the frame, left-click once: the frame is highlighted, indicated by nine small black boxes in the corners and sides of the frame.

4. Now move up to the File menu and select 'Import': a box appears asking which graphics format you want to import. Select the 'GEM IMAGE' option. Now insert the disk containing the .IMG file from Notator, or find it on your hard disk. Select 'TEST300.IMG' and click OK in the menu selector.

5. After a few moments the notation will appear on the screen, but there remain a few further steps before it can be used. Left-click on the sub menu icon 'Frame Special Functions', then left-click on the 'Optimum size for printer' icon, then click on the 'Frame general functions' icon to return you to the main screen.

6. The frame containing the notation on the screen should now be at its best size for your printer. If, however, it is too big or too small, left-click the 'Draw up Proportionally' icon; it is now possible to re-size the picture within reasonable limits, without image distortion. Experimentation here will reveal how far you can go.

7. Incorporate some text into your layout if you desire, then print it!

That's basically it. You could also try importing the notation into a graphics program for further modifications or for drawing new symbols, saving the result and importing it into Calamus. If you are using a program other than Calamus, most of the principles are the same, but check your manual!

Failing that, if you are not a DTP user and are just reading this out of interest, you can obtain a demo version of Calamus from the ST Club ((Contact Details)) which allows you to import .IMG pictures and print them (the save function, however, is disabled).

One final idea you could consider: Notator, at present, does not allow you to insert track names in the left margin of a header page, such as the first page of an orchestral score. When you are at the stage of saving just the first page of a score as an .IMG file, switch 'Print track names' off in the Printer page. Then increase the size of the left margin in Page Preview with the mouse by the normal method of dragging. Port the notation across to Calamus, and use Calamus's built-in text instead!

One last word: last month's example of the Font Configuration page contained a small error. The two letters in the 180DPI column should in fact have been in the 300DPI column.

With thanks to Pete Dudley of Holiday Music.



Cubase v3 has been on the market for a couple of months now, and apart from one or two small problems with the first few disks that came into the country, the main helpline calls for the first few days seemed to relate to the manual. If you get an v3 update kit for your v2, you will find that it contains a new folder and sleeve and another set of chapters supplied without a folder.

The general idea is that the newly supplied folder is left as it is, and the separate pages go into your existing folder once you've discarded the original contents. That in itself proved to be a bit of a wrench for some people — they seemed to want to incorporate the new pages into the old, as with the v1.0 to v1.5 upgrade, and v1.5 to v2.0. Steinberg decided that so much of Cubase had changed in either details or major areas that fiddling about with new pages, 22-2a/b/c/d etc was best avoided.

Keen manual readers (all four of you) will have noticed a change in the structure of the manual. The purpose behind this move is to help in the way manuals are really used. We thought that the Cubase manual was pretty good as computer software manuals go (and we know how bad they can be; after all we created the most obfuscated waste of trees in the form of the original SMP24 manual). It is rare that a manual is read cover to cover, but that is exactly what I would recommend you do, at least once. More often it is resorted to when a function stubbornly refuses to co-operate with your frenzied clicking. The new structure helps by partially assuming that you you will be approaching the manual to answer a specific question as opposed to approaching the program once you have a query in the manual.

This means, of course, that there are many redundant v2 manuals, and you would have had to been up to your ears in porridge last year not to have noticed the number of hacked copies of Cubase v2 floating around. What we would like you to do is keep you old manual to yourself, if you are sentimentally attached to it, or better still recycle it at your local paper bank. We don't really want to see people selling them on to a 'receiver' of a dongle-less version of Cubase. It doesn't really hurt Steinberg, and it doesn't mean that there are any more or less hacked Cubases out there. However, it is in contravention of the licensing agreement, and more importantly it is eroding the value of your investment by passing on the advantage of full documentation to those who haven't actually invested their hard-earned cash in the first place.


All sequencers quantise all of the time — shock-horror! One of the main enhancements to Cubase is that the fundamental resolution has been doubled to 384ppqn, or 1536 ppb (pulses per bar, assuming 4/4) if big numbers impress you more.

They way some people talk you would think that their sequencers never quantised data at all. But at any particular tempo there are a number of time divisions to which any event has to be moved (effectively, quantised). The higher the resolution of the system recording your data, the finer the divisions, and the more faithful the recording will be... in an ideal world.

So why doesn't every software manufacturer just keep on doubling the resolution on every software release. It all comes back to your computer. It has finite processing power, and there is a fixed upper limit to the number of operations it can carry out per second. If you double the resolution, theoretically the proportion of the computer's time that is used simply to deal with the job of getting the data out of the MIDI Out socket will be also be doubled.

The upshot of this is that there is less time available for the computer to do anything else, like redraw screens, and look where the mouse has moved to. I don't want you to get the idea that Cubase v3 graphically grinds to a halt when set to 384ppqn, because it doesn't. Version 3 has been rewritten from the ground up optimising all the drawing routines and animations for which we are famous, but those routines go faster when the sequencer is set to 192ppqn, and faster still when set to 96 ppqn.

A distinction must be made when talking of Cubase's variable-resolution — it always records at the 384p. resolution, and it is merely the playback resolution that is variable. Playing back at a lower setting doesn't affect at all the data you recorded or are recording. You can have the playback resolution set to 96ppqn, but any recordings you make are always at full resolution.

The obvious thing to do is make your primary recording with the playback resolution set to 384, if you wish, then use a lower setting while you zip around the editors cleaning up all those little notes that always seem to be clustered around the real music, and also when structuring your song. Return to full resolution when the final version is committed to tape.

It all looks fine on paper, and indeed I am pleased that Steinberg have given Cubase users the benefits of increased recording resolution, but there is still a trap for the unwary. Many times have I heard people complaining that whatever they do, recording data into a MIDI sequencer results in a change in 'feel' on playback. What they are doing is comparing the sensation of hitting the keys in the first place with the final output of the sequencer. If they think there is an appreciable difference they look accusingly at the computer and bemoan the recording resolution of the sequencer. In times past (only five years ago) when 96ppqn was seen as more than adequate, this criticism might have been valid, but in these high resolution days other factors come into play.

You may think at when you press a key on your keyboard that a MIDI event immediately springs forth from the MIDI Out. Unfortunately it doesn't quite work like that. Most keyboards (maybe all) don't have such a causal relationship between keyboard depressions and MIDI output. Normally all keys are 'scanned' in turn to see if each is depressed or not, starting at one end of the keyboard and working up to the other. During any one scan, a key may be raised or lowered, and a change in key status won't be recognised until the next scan.

This keyboard scan rate is not a figure you are likely to find in even a detailed specification. I personally think it should be, along with MIDI input response time of MIDI sound generators — you might be surprised at the wild variance in such specs. I believe that the average keyboard scanning rate is likely to be about 2 or 3ms, so depending on when you press a key there is a potential delay ranging from 0ms, if you happen to press a key just as its status is about to be checked, to the full 2-3ms if you just miss being scanned on that pass. That gives us an average delay of about 1.5ms.

Interesting stuff, when the people with the golden ears can hear delays of 1 or 2ms, for example, and a 384 ppqn sequencer running at a tempo of 120bpm has a quantisation factor of about 1.3ms (this is the time between successive ticks). So if your recordings don't sound as precise as you think they should, try casting your glances over to the keyboard that generated the data. As a hint, some of the all-singing all-dancing keyboards are so busy processing their every sound, in order that it sounds like you hired the Grand Canyon as a venue, that they have less time to deal with the basics of detecting which of the plasticy bits you have lent on.



Now that OMS has been updated, Galaxy and Galaxy Plus Editors owners will need to upgrade. (Upgrading Vision or Studio Vision to the current v1.32 automatically updates OMS).

The Galaxy Plus Editors upgrade to 1.2 now comes complete with editor modules for the Yamaha SY77/TG77 (with DX/TX to SY77/TG77 patch conversion), Matrix 6/1000 editor, streamlined automatic publishing of patch names for use with Opcode's professional sequencing software, Vision, the current version of OMS, and many more advanced features. The Galaxy Plus Editors upgrade costs £77.55, from MCM. The Galaxy v1.2 upgrade (with OMS) is £30.55, and the Vision/Studio Vision upgrade to v1.32A, from v1.2x, is £41.13. In all cases users must be registered, and MCM need your original serial number.

PLEASE NOTE: Product information contained within these pages is supplied directly by the software manufacturers, or their UK distributors or agents. The intention is to provide a 'bulletin board' service for SOS readers who own or use software for any type of computer. Although we may occasionally publish new product information, the idea is to publicise update/upgrade news, bug fixes, and hints and tips about software and computer peripherals. It is therefore up to all software companies to keep us posted.

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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.

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Sound On Sound - Apr 1992


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