Steinberg Software Page
The start of an 'experimental' column devoted entirely to Steinberg software. Written and compiled exclusively for SOS by Steinberg's experts, it will contain hot news of current and forthcoming software revisions, 'in-house' tips and tricks on its use, and will discuss computer-based MIDI sequencing systems in general. Read on and respond!
Welcome to a new experiment: the Steinberg Software Page. Each month in Sound On Sound we will bring you the latest news of current and forthcoming versions of your software, some 'in-house' tips and tricks on its use, and will discuss computer-based MIDI sequencing systems in general. It is our hope that everyone using a computer to assist them with their musical productions will find our subjects of interest, whatever software they use. Read on and respond!
Back in December Evenlode Soundworks, on the strength of a message from Steinberg in Germany, proudly announced that Version 3.0 was to be released "imminently". Several months later I'm working on the fifth revision, making sure that as many bugs as possible are eradicated before its release. I think we are finally nearing the crest of this hill and the new software should be in the process of being distributed to all update subscribers as you read this. We have had so many calls on this topic that I felt a brief explanation of 'bug eradication' was in order, so that our customers may fully understand the delay.
I know many of you will have some incident in your mind which exemplifies this terrifying creature - lost studio time, baldness induced by frustration, even computers damaged through physical abuse following close encounters. Identifying software bugs is a difficult and serious task, for without their identification eradication is virtually impossible.
There are several species of bug. The most deadly of these you have probably never encountered, unless you are in the business of developing computer software products. These bugs attack the 'vital organs' of computer software and allow it to be stable for only a few minutes at a time. They make the product completely unusable.
The next most deadly species of bug, and those which arouse our immediate concern, are 'operational conflict' problems. These can be split into several sub-groups, each group defined by how many layers deep the bug lies. The first group, on the upper layer, are those little nasties which make themselves apparent with a single option selection on the 'top page' of the software, perhaps in its 'default' condition. There may be one or two readers who will have encountered this type of bug, as very occasionally they can slip through the net.
The majority of bugs found by users are the operational conflict type, which only occur if they are used in conjunction with another specific operator or function, and/or when accessing functions nonsensically. It is these bugs which I myself spend the most time trying to discover, and which can be the most elusive when attempting identification. A good example of this was the problem some users encountered with Pro-24 Version 2.0 (I think), when they attempted to Quantise an Event which had not been recorded. If the software didn't lock-up immediately, they would find that the main screen had scrambled when they returned to it. The scrambling wasn't so bad, as the user could just select 'About...' from the menu and the screen would be redrawn properly, but the lock-up is against our principles and was fixed forthwith.
It is the search for this family of bugs which has held up the release of Pro-24 Version 3.0, and my confidence as to their clearance encourages me to predict the software's arrival.
The third category of bug is quite large, relatively harmless, and contains lots of different sub-species ranging from really nonsensical option selection to the things users want the software to do which it simply does not. If we were talking about cars, I'd liken these to attempting emergency braking at 200 mph five metres from a brick wall, and attempting to go that fast in the first place!
Into this category also fall the things which most users phone me about: namely, the way in which the software has differed from their expectations. These reports are fertile fields for future features, for they represent the intuitive impressions of functions conceptualised by the musicians actually working with the software; intuitive because they so rarely read the owner's manual! We genuinely welcome users' ideas and discussions about software behaviour, but on paper please, because that will focus your ideas better, as software options can be difficult to explain verbally. The Steinberg Hotline exists to help those in immediate MIDI distress, so please respect your fellow users.
Finally, as a fellow user, let me assure you that Version 3.0 is entirely worth waiting for. Update subscribers should once again feel like they've got an entirely enhanced machine. I won't blather on with any advertising spiel, as the software speaks for itself.
On Pro-24, sometimes a 'quick fill' is all that's required from an instrument. Try setting the Range to the relevant section, in Grid or Score Edit, and then 'Fill' that range with the required note values. You can specify the Pitch and Velocity from your MIDI keyboard, either a note at a time or with Fixed Note and Dynamic Velocity. It's a great route towards 'poppy' bass lines and realistic 'clock' rimshots.
When you record a Tempo Table from an external clock into the SMP-24 unit, in preparation for some SMPTE synchronised MIDI sequencing, you can use the following trick to obtain the Start Time automatically. Make sure that the Pro-24's SMPTE window is open before you record the Tempo Table, then 'Get Cue' before you 'Get Song'. The Start Time will be transferred to the Start Cue by the software.
People can be confused because the Pro-24 will transmit the Start Cue to the SMP-24 unit every time you open the SMPTE page. This means that your SMP-24's automatically noted Start Time is overwritten by whatever the current Pro-24 cue is. That's the tricky bit, and the reason why you must open the SMPTE window before you record the tempo!
You can use Pro-24's default DEF.SNG file for storing more than just 'Set-up' information like Track/Channel assignments and Modes. Try arranging your favourite drum rhythms and bass lines as short linear patterns on a particular track. When the arrangement is 'Saved', you will create a library of lines which are loaded into your Pro-24 automatically when you boot the software. This strategy is particularly useful if you prefer to play to an 'unusual' click-track, or always work 'four-on-the-floor'.
For me, the addition of Logical Edit to Pro-24's editing functions marked the program's first moves into creative algorithmic editing. I cheered. Yet many users are bewildered by this feature, unsure about how they can apply it to their own work. As a simple exercise, try this:
Write a kick and snare beat into a short pattern and then proceed to either Score or Grid Edit. Highlight one of your snare hits and then select Logical Edit from the Options menu. We are going to expand the velocities of just the snare hits (to make them louder). To do so, set as our 'Condition' all the notes 'Equal' in Pitch to our snare. Then select velocities to be 'Multiplied' and set the numerical indicator to 001.17. If you then select 'Transform' at the bottom of the page, you will expand all the velocities of the snare hits by 17%. If you 'Divide' by the same amount, you will compress the velocities.
You can also create some great chordal accompaniment for a simple synth line by Multiplying the Pitch and selecting 'Insert'. If you start experimenting from a simple base, you can soon build up a huge variety of unique 'production tricks' to add spice and style to your work. Version 3.0 includes transformations in real-time and the addition of Position In The Bar to the qualifiers (so you could expand only the snare velocities which occur on the fourth beat).
Yes, the rumours are true, Steinberg have finally acknowledged that the Pro-24 manual required a total rewrite to take account of the vast amount of product development which has occurred over the last two years. The new manual is currently being thoroughly scrutinised by people who are completely ignorant of computer-based MIDI sequencing and will be published, with their comments accounted for, in April. For those update subscribers unwilling to fork out a little extra for this new tome there will, of course, be the usual 'addendum' for their original manual.
Gear in this article: