Steinberg Software Page
Another instalment of our column devoted entirely to Steinberg software, written and compiled exclusively for SOS by Steinberg's experts.
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!
It seems that many Steinberg users are still unaware that there is an on-going updating policy for the software products they own. Note that you only pay for Pro-24 updates, ALL OTHER UPDATES ARE FREE OF CHARGE. All you have to do to qualify is to notify Evenlode Soundworks that you have purchased a Steinberg product, telling them your address and which programs you own. Then you will be sent the latest versions of the software automatically as they are released.
There are updates either here or on the way for: Masterscore (1.1); S900, Prophet 2000, Emax, and Mirage Soundworks; SMP24 (1.5), and MT32 Synthworks. All these products have been updated very recently, if you own one please get in touch! If you own another Steinberg product which is not on the list, please make sure that you sent notification of your purchase off to Evenlode. There is most probably an update for that software waiting in the wings.
Note also: the Pro-24 'product-lifetime' updating scheme costs only £23! In this day and age you would be very hard put to find a greater return on the investment. What other musical tool gets better every six months or so without you having to throw away your old kit?
This price DOES NOT include the new Pro-24 Version III manual, but does include addendums to your manual in order to keep it up to date. To those of you who think you should have been rewarded with this new production for actually reading the "original, badly-translated from the German, manual", please note that this epic work was penned by an Englishman who occasionally writes for this magazine! The new manual, which is highly readable and explains many complex operations quite simply, was written by a Swedish author. Now you know what an Editor does!
Many of you will have noticed that Pro-24 will automatically create a Back-Up file of your Song material, if you so wish. When you select 'Write Back-Up', after having OK'd the saving of a Song for which there is a 'namesake' already on the disk, Pro-24 will automatically change the filename extension of the 'namesake' from XXXXXXXX.SNG to XXXXXXXX.BAK. The Song material you are currently saving will be assigned the '.SNG' extension.
So what is a Filename Extension? This obscurely named object refers to the three characters which appear after the full-stop in the name of your Atari disk files. The system is based on MSDOS, the disk operating system written by Microsoft and used by IBM PCs and their clones.
In the IBM system, you can use these filename extensions to perform all sorts of useful tasks. On the Atari, they can be used to 'mask' (subgroup) the files which get displayed in the Item Selector box - the window you use to Save or Load a file from disk. Which brings us to the reason for all this explanation. How can you access the Back-Up file of the Song you have been working on?
In order to load a Song's Back-Up file, first choose 'Load Song' from the Files menu of Pro-24. This will display the standard Atari Item Selector box. Below these words (towards the top of the window) there is a line of text which will probably read: A:*.SNG. This cryptic message tells you that the list of names below shows the files in the Root directory of the disk in disk drive A which have the filename extension '.SNG'. Read that again if you are unsure. The term 'root' also comes from the MSDOS world and is simply another word for 'main'.
All well and good. If you were loading a Song you could simply double-click its name in the list, or click it and then click the OK box. The Song then loads and you can proceed. However, we are trying to find our Back-Up files, which are currently not displayed in the filename list.
In order to force the files list to show the Back-Up files on our disk, we must first stop the software from showing only those files with the '.SNG' extension. To do this, just click the text line below the words 'Item Selector', now reading A:*.SNG. The text cursor, which normally resides in the Selection box, will jump up to the top line. Backspace over the last three letters of text (the SNG part) but leave the full-stop untouched. Now type in an asterisk (*) so that the text line reads: A:*.*. If you now click anywhere within the filename list you will cause the computer to examine the disk again, but this time it will display all the files on that disk, whatever their filename extension. There should be '.BAK' versions of any of the Songs for which which you OK'd a Back-Up. These are the Back-Up versions of that material, and can be loaded quite simply in the normal way. The asterisk symbol in the text line comes again from the MSDOS world, where it means 'wildcard', or any. That is why it is used in the centre part of the text line, as in A:*.SNG, so that any files labelled '.SNG' will be displayed.
Please note that there is a special switch in the SMPTE control window of Pro-24 for switching the Timelock out of Normal mode and into the special U-Matic mode, which Steinberg have devised to get around noise difficulties with these video machines.
If you are using your Pro-24 in MIDI Sync, you should be careful about sending the program MIDI Note and Controller information when you are using the editing pages. Everything will be fine as long as you are actually sending the Pro-24 MIDI Clock information, as this will keep the input buffer ticking over. If you are not sending MIDI Clock data to the software, and you play a bunch of notes, Pro-24 will assign all of this information to the same point in your song - the beginning of the Pattern you are editing.
This mass of information will then cause your Pro-24 to 'hiccup' when you reach this point in your Song (it is quite easy to accumulate hundreds of MIDI messages onto a single point if you are unaware of this potential error). If this problem occurs, immediately delete all the unnecessary MIDI information from that Pattern.
Some months ago on this page we reported a bug in the Atari's operating system. We now think we were wrong. The real problem is not actually a bug, but a different type of Disk Drive which Atari seems to have fitted to some STs (which pretty much amounts to the same thing!). On some Atari STs you must always insert your disks into the disk drive with their 'write-protect' tab open. This forces the computer to update the part of its memory which stores the details of the files on disk, meaning that the Item Selector window will show the files on your disk accurately. Almost all the Atari ST models which act this way have the green/amber LEDs, and we have now also seen Mega STs with the same difficulty. BEWARE!
If you own an Atari with a 'Blitter chip' installed, switch it off before you start using Pro-24. The Atari's Blitter can interfere with the way in which Pro-24 tracks your mouse movements. The Blitter chip will not improve performance.
Select this option from the Track menu with some current project you are working on already loaded into your Pro-24 sequencer. If you then click on the Start box, Pro-24 will commence playing your song and await any alterations in tempo which you feel are fitting. Change the tempo by moving the ubiquitous data entry slider on the right-hand side of the screen with your mouse. When you have completed your adjustments, just click on the Stop box. Pro-24 will assimilate the tempo changes you have made and place a list of the changes and their relevant song positions into the Mastertrack for detailed editing.
To hear your song played back with the variations in timing, just turn the Mastertrack on. You can very easily make detailed changes to the timing alterations in the Mastertrack listing, where you will also find the facility to erase your changes altogether!
It sounds a bit corny, but try 'pushing' your choruses ahead of the beat. For dramatic effect, dramatically alter that tempo! You can create a really orchestral effect by simply introducing tempo changes of the order of 35 BPM into your music at the correct points. Beware the metronome! If you are looking for that 'dead-on-the-beat' feel, re-read last month's column on MIDI timing messages. When recording your drums to tape, do each one individually on a separate pass - or get yourself an SMP24!
• The MIDI Out socket on Atari ST computers is non-standard. Use only the middle three pin connections of the regular 5-pin MIDI plug, or treat yourself to a good quality Klotz MIDI lead.
• There is no onscreen indication of the Atari keyboard's CAPS LOCK key having been pressed when running Pro-24 or indeed any other Steinberg program. Many software functions change their behaviour when this key has been pressed, so if things don't act as you would expect them to, check this out.
This page has been written and compiled for SOS by Evenlode Soundworks, the UK distributors of Steinberg software.
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