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Sounds, samples, & software upgrades for the modern studio

Article from The Mix, April 1995

New software, updates, sounds and samples

cpu transplant

Even though the ST's processing speed of eight megahertz is a zillion times faster than the human brain could ever manage, in computing terms this sort of speed is tantamount to senility. But owing to a clever piece of engineering by System Solutions, the STe can now run at a far more respectable 28MHz, allowing it to pop its teeth back in and do a few more laps around the computer circuit (sic) before retiring.

During its lifetime, the layout of the main circuit board on the STe was revised a number of times. The T28STe is compatible with most of the designs, unless yours is the very rare revision where the 68000 CPU chip is surface-mounted. If its legs have been soldered onto the board, then you're scuppered, because the T28STe won't fit. Another potential problem is that the T28STe doesn't work with the blitter chip. Ours was the model of STe in which the blitter chip combines with the GST MCU chip (the bit responsible for handling control signals for other chips, and for storing and retrieving data in RAM), and so it wasn't possible to remove it. In such cases, it is imperative that the desktop is saved with the blitter disabled, before starting anything. There is another version which has a socket-mounted blitter chip, and this can be physically removed. The reason for turning off the blitter chip is to do with some minor defects that aren't noticeable when running at 8MHz, but which are greatly exaggerated at 28MHz, and cause the ST to crash.

The T28STe fits in place of the existing 68000 processor, and so this must be prized from its socket. If you don't have the appropriate tool you can use two precision screwdrivers; one of each is slotted in the two holes, and then alternately levered until the chip pops out. It isn't easy to put the T28STe in the wrong way. There isn't a great deal of space inside the ST anyway, but it is still wise to check that the dot on the board corresponds to pin 1 in the socket.

In order to ensure complete compatibility with all ST software the T28STe has three modes; 8MHz, 28MHz, and the fastest, 28MHz with a 64K cache. For this, the board has to be fitted with external switches (time to warm up the soldering iron). Using lengths of wire, which aren't supplied, each of the two switches are soldered on to the pads. Before this though, the switches must first be fitted onto the back panel of the ST's case. This requires deft use of a Black & Decker, drilling two holes in the plastic, and the magnetic shielding. If this prospect fills you with terror, then you can improvise by feeding the cables out through the gap in the cartridge port, but it's messy and not recommended.

And that's it. The only problem that's likely to occur is if the ST has the C025913-38 DMA chip. This feisty little customer will apparently cause some horrific mishaps with the hard disk, although this chip is replaceable. Either way, you are more than welcome to telephone System Solutions for a bit of friendly advice, and in the case of the former, some form of counselling.

Switching the ST on afterwards, you will immediately notice the difference, as the GEM desktop becomes even swifter than when using NVDI. Not only does any application that's processor-intensive run more than three times faster, but disk accesses (particularly hard disk) are faster, making it ideal for sampling to disk. There are obvious advantages for anyone foraging around with DTP, raytracing and animation. For the musician the benefits of a 28MHz computer are just as enticing. For starters, the ST can handle more than a sizeable wedge of system exclusives, which might otherwise have bunged up the MIDI ports. In fact, the whole foray of MIDI sequencing is made far less painful. Flicking between pages in Cubase or Breakthru is almost transparent; new windows open and close without the usual redrawing delays, as does scrolling around screens, even when MIDI is being transmitted and received.

Doesn't it go fast?

Another application which benefits from this extra speed is in sample processing. Editing large samples (like adding filters or effects) used to mean a fag/tea break, but with the T28STe installed it takes no time at all. Even applying a band pass filter across a twenty second 16-bit mono sample took just a few seconds. The GEM Bench results expose just how much faster everything is, even with the blitter chip disabled.

Compatibility is astounding, considering the ST was never meant to zip around this quickly. The only programs that are likely to have you reaching for the switches are some games which just can't stand the pace, and Spectrum 512 (because it uses a fast screen updating technique to display more than 16 colours at once, and the T28STe messes up the timing). Games like Vroom, Grand Prix, Kick Off 2, and Hard Drivin' zip around at a rate of knots.

The whole job can take as little as an hour, depending on the expertise of the installer, which includes the time to dismantle and reassemble the computer (all half a million screws). It certainly isn't a job to be undertaken if you're at all squeamish about the insides of the STe, or if your hand is as wobbly as jelly in high wind. Add to this a manual that is hardly adequate for the difficult electronic twidlings needed, and you may not think that it is worth the effort. Despite this, I couldn't recommend anything more to add to your ST than this board; it'll be your friend for life if you get one. If you can't manage it, System Solutions will fit it for you. The T28STe costs £199 (excluding fitting costs), whilst a version for the STfm/Mega ST costs £179. Also available is an optional FPU (maths co-processor); telephone for details.

Peering inside the STe

Warning: Whipping off the lid invalidates your warranty, so be careful!

1) With this revision of the STe there is no separate blitter chip, just a gap. The other main revision has a blitter chip in a socket, which has to be lopped out.

2) The T28STe board fits in the socket where the 68000 chip was. But what do you do with this redundant block afterwards? Good question.

3) This is your DMA chip. Check the type before you do anything, because you may have a dodgy version.

4) The GST MCU chip, incorporating the blitter.

5) Here are the SIMMs chips. If they are any slower than 100nS (which is unlikely as most are either 70 or 80nS), you may experience some problems.

6) The wires for the switches are soldered on to the pads on the T28STe board here.

More from: System Solutions, (Contact Details).

No Score Draw

From time to time a really good program emerges from the rabble in the public domain libraries. For those of us who enjoy dabbling with dots, Score Perfect ought to be looked at before you spend a fortune.

The program is, apparently, a working PD demo version of a commercial program, but its limitations are almost transparent. The screen is set out much like the score editors in Steinberg's Pro24, with a selection of notes and rests (with extra buttons for dotted and triplet times) along the bottom of the stave. Clicking to the left of a note introduces another set of notational scribbles: Sharps, flats, naturals, and double-flats (ad infinitum) can be added to accidentals. Notes aren't glued to the staff once they've been inputted. Clicking on top of the note allows you to drag it all over the place until it finds a suitable home.

The stave is automatically updated, and keeps the page very tidy indeed. Stems all point in the right direction, and bars replace single 'tails' on sets of quavers when the phrasing demands it. In addition to all these doodling functions, Score Perfect also allows the inputting of notes via MIDI. Whilst the full version supposedly offers a real-time record option, the 'demo' version uses step input to gather its data. You can also play back tracks via MIDI, in order to hear whether or not you've written something properly.

Score Perfect is quite an amicable program, with some useful bits and pieces for cobbling together a written piece of music. In fact, the only minor shortcomings befalling this program are the lack of text options, a minor incompatibility with NVDI (which is fixable), and the fact that it's German. Fortunately, the manual has been concisely translated, so there's no need to dash out and enrol in a 'Learn German Quickly' evening class or anything.

The second score package is also another of those indecipherable German programs. 1st Note is not dissimilar to Final Score (reviewed last December) in the way that notes are inputted onto a stave in an almost freehand drawing manner. It too boasts a large array of musical notation marks, but unlike Final Score, it does actually automatically put ledger lines on notes above and below the stave. Inputting notes is achieved by grabbing one of the tadpoles from the palette, and squashing it down with the left button. The right button disables a function (switching the mouse back to a pointer), whilst erratic scripting can be undone with the eraser tool.

All the functions are represented graphically (which is a blessing considering the language!) along the top panel; these include the file options, loading and saving in its proprietary *.INT format as well as Degas *.PI3 images. There is also the option of adding guitar chords and text to the music. 1st Note isn't the most comprehensive score editor I've used, but then again, it isn't the hardest either. And creating a score with erratic bar lengths is always an absolute joy.

In addition to the score writing programs there's a useful program called MIDI Help. It can be run either as a GEM program, or as a desk accessory, the latter being useful for anyone not using some form of multi-tasking software. It is basically a means of controlling various parameters on a MIDI synth or module using the computer. There are five configurable data sliders, each of which can be set to transmit any of the 128 program changes: A particularly useful accessory if you're completely lazy and can't reach the front panel of the sound module to change the voice over. The program also has a 'play using the mouse' mode, which is helpful for testing out MIDI connections.

Also on the disk is Sebra, a mono emulator for those not fortunate enough to have a high resolution monitor. It is perhaps one of the fastest shareware emulators (although the screen updates aren't too snappy) for the ST; the only other that is comparatively fast is the MONO_EMU.PRG (also shareware) by Mick West. Like all the disks in the library, this one costs just £1.25; a not-to-be-missed bargain.

The above relates to disk ref. MUM063. More from: Tumblevane PDL, (Contact Details).

Installing your software

It's that time again, when you find yourself with a CD-ROM full of oddly titled files, and not the slightest inclination what to do with them. This month for the PC there are three commercial demos, some shareware, samples, plus a reader's contribution. In order to use the software, you'll need Windows 3.1, DOS 5.0 or later, plus a 16-bit sound card and MIDI interface (for Procyon Pro).

The first program is a demo version of Evolution's Procyon Pro, reviewed elsewhere in this magazine. To install the program on to the hard disk, type: D:\PC\PROCYON\SETUP.EXE in the Program Manager, or double-click on the setup.exe program residing in the Procyon folder, using the File Manager. The other program that needs to be installed to run is the shareware MIDI book from MIDI For Humans. The program runs under DOS or with the DOS prompt in Windows, and is useful for relieving tense headaches brought on by infernal MIDI equipment going bananas. To install it, run the MIDIBOOK.EXE program in the MFH folder in DOS.

Scope is a small utility that you can use to monitor and adjust recording levels, when using a sound card to sample. It automatically detects when the signal clips (an indicator flashes.) and makes the perfect add-on accessory to any sampling package. The program, written by Alistair Brown, can be run straight from the CD, or you can copy it to the hard disk. To load it, type: D:\PC\SCOPE\SCOPE.EXE from the Program Manager, or double-click on the relevant icon in the File Manager.

Just because we all like you so much here, there are two versions of PG Music's Pianist software demo on this month's Re:Mix, to mess around with; the jazz version, and the New Orleans version. Either can be run directly from the CD-ROM, or copied on to the hard disk. To run the Jazz Pianist, type: D:\PC\PIANIST\JAZZ\JAZZPIAN.EXE or double-click on the icon in the File Manager. To run the New Orleans pianist type: D:\PC\PIANIST\NEWORL\NEWORL.EXE.

There are also nine samples in WAV format from the Time & Space Datafile CD-ROMs to try out. Your sound card must be able to support 16-bit 44.1KHz samples in order for them to work. Samples include percussion, basses, synth sounds, and vocal ad-libs.

Consult your Windows manual if you're unsure about how to use the File Manager and the Program Manager. The WAV samples can be used in any multimedia application, auditioned using the Media Player, or used as system sounds. Have fun, then.

Pianist software available from: Arbiter Pro MIDI, (Contact Details).

On the RE:MIX CD

For the PC this month, there's a wealth of demo programs, plus samples from Time& Space's Datafile CD-ROM. Read this guide if you get stuck installing any of the software. For a list of the Mac and Atari software, see the Re:Mix guide starting on page six.

Sound Bits

There are quite a few excellent sound utilities out now for the Falcon, and a new compilation disk from Floppyshop has a bunch of these fine candidates lined up for inspection. First up is an FM-type synthesiser program that uses the Falcon's DSP chip to produce some remarkably cheesey synth noises. The synthesiser program allows you to draw (with a mouse), amplitude and modulation envelopes of incredible complexity. Underneath the waveform grid is a one-octave 'virtual keyboard", which is used to replay the sounds. In the absence of an English translation, the five preprogrammed examples serve as a reasonably adequate guide, although it does take some experimentation before you can obtain good results. It doesn't support any exporting sample formats, but you can just as easily take an audio output from the computer and sample it this way.

MOD2SMP is quite a useful tool, allowing you to analyse and filch sounds from any MOD file, and export them as individual samples. The program is written in German, but is incredibly easy to follow, in spite of the language differences. Actually, after a while of clicking on 'sichem' rather than 'save', it all seems completely normal. The disk contains a few MOD players too, in both accessory and executable program versions; the best of which is one called ACP MOD player. It's specifically written to use with MultiTOS, and so behaves quite admirably when multi-tasking. Other programs on the disk include Playit!; an AVR and Win Rec direct-from-disk sample playing utility which is somewhat top-heavy with gizmos, and a plug-in for Win Rec, which allows you to process signals in surround-sound.

All the Falcon disks in the catalogue cost just £2.50 each, so you get a lot of mileage for your money. When ordering, remember to quote the disk reference number.

The above relates to disk ref. F4866. More from: Floppyshop, (Contact Details).

Money for old rope

The Zero-G Datafiles started quite a trend when they were first released. The ease with which a huge library of sounds could be created was a revelation. Since then, every one and his pet hamster has climbed aboard the wagon, and it is now at bursting point. Avoiding the squash, Time & Space have seized upon the popular new medium of CD-ROM, to re-release their first pioneering CDs in PC format. Each CD-ROM is arranged into 100 folders, and each WAV format sample has a unique number that tallies with the sleeve listings.

The first Datafile opens with a number of drum loops, some of which are of a questionable origin. More useful is the giant-sized selection of single-hit percussion samples that follow; complete TR808 and 909 kits are featured, as well as 76 other snares and 44 bass drums. Indeed, rifling through this volume of noises might drive you insane, but the effort is worth it. Amongst the copious amounts of vocal snippets, ad-libs and effects (some of which have been on more tracks than an Intercity), are some absolutely wonderful sounds like the rumbling sub-basses guaranteed to cause your speakers some distress, and some much-needed cheesy flutes.

Datafile Two starts in much the same way, but has more loops (some ten folders' worth) than the first. There are guest appearances from the Roland R8, and the instantly recognisable but equally loveable Alesis HR16B in the miscellaneous percussion section, plus a huge helping of off-the-wall sci-fi sound effects.

The best sounds on this CD-ROM appear in the form of some Juno 6 basses, both of the resonant attack pop-type, and the rolling sub bass variety. Also, the multisampled 'Italo House' piano, and the blurping SH101 will undoubtedly bring a smile to those with aspirations of club fame. In 'folder 73' resides a motley crew of guitar twangs, grating chords and rhythmical riffs. The CD-ROM closes with some interesting (and some rather silly) atmospheric effects and pads; the best being the searing Moodsynth One.

The third in the series is much the same, only different. This time there are over twenty folders' worth of drum loops, including breaks and intros, and some live percussion. The strength of the whole drum bit is largely down to some excellent Roland CR78 sounds; the predecessor to the omnipotent TR-series. It's much fresher and brilliantly blippy.

After another mass of vocal samples, arrives the Zero-G equivalent of a BBC sound effects CD, with everything from elephant wails to UFO swishes. A strings section adds to the myriad options, and contains some enigmatic ensemble sounds, as well as samples from the U110 and the Kurzweil. Also noteworthy are the various squidges from the TB303; and samples are always less expensive and less hassle than owning one.

Putting samples on an 1809660 format CD-ROM as opposed to a sampler-specific format, is possibly the most sensible idea since the Green Cross Code. Not only PCs can read them, but Atari and Amiga computers too. Samples can be used in any application, from the 'tracker'-type, to MIDI and sample sequencers (like Breakthru). There's also the possibility of dumping the samples via MIDI to a compatible sampler or synthesiser. The best thing about it is that it makes it a whole lot easier to get creative, and that's what's fundamentally important. Each volume costs £19.95, including postage and packaging.

More from: Time & Space, (Contact Details).

Omni-medium for multimedia

Even if it's been hyped to hyperspace, multimedia is an area many people are keen to explore for themselves. And 'Multimedia on the PC', is a new book which aims to give people a shove in the right direction.

It begins with some of that theoretical stuff about the workings of CD technology; how it's made, played, plus a whole lot of binary. With so much interest in CDs and CD-ROMs of late, it is quite interesting to actually read about its creation. This alternately whets the appetite and completely baffles the reader, in time for the ensuing chapter on how to install a CD-ROM drive in the PC. As there are infinite permutations to the possible set-up (different sound cards, computers, and drives), the guide is quite general, but with a bias towards the most popular setup, of a Sound Blaster card and Panasonic drive. It explains the hardware, the connections (even the differences between IDE and SCSI drives), and the software. The writer makes a rather astute observation on how impossible CD-ROM driver software can be at times: Something to which I can relate wholeheartedly.

Chapters four and five start to rifle through audio/visual material, beginning with text and moving on to still imagery. Being a PC book, the graphics chapter barely touches on any format, except for PCX and BMP, which is a bit disappointing, but not tragic. After this bout of visual material follows the inevitable sound chapters. They open much like the CD-ROM section, with theoretical background information, including fundamentals of sound synthesis, digital sampling, and D/A, A/D conversion.

Sound card installation is explained in depth in chapter seven, with particular reference to all the most esoteric problems like IRQs, DMAs, and just what those jumpers are (not the furry variety knitted by Auntie). The last few chapters further investigate multimedia applications including video, and the free Hypercard-type software to accompany the book, 'picture book' (available once registered).

The book is littered with all manner of useful tricks and tips, one of which concerns the caching of CD-ROMs. For example, by putting the MSCDEX line before the SMART DRV line in the AUTOEXEC.BAT file (only applicable for DOS 6.2), it enables the PC to cache the CD-ROM too, making the access times faster.

Don't be mistaken; the book offers no hard and fast rules for the exploration of media on the PC, or indeed how to go about creating a CD-ROM of one's own. But if multimedia, in all its unnecessary complexity, has you more confused than cajoled, then this book might just push a door or two open.

Available from bookshops, or from PC Publishing direct, priced £11.95: (Contact Details).

Please, Mr Maestro, will you play...

Choosing a new sound card for the PC is a bit like trying to choose a new wallpaper. There is an absolute myriad of colours and schemes, and a wrong choice could very well set you in bad stead with the neighbours. A wrong sound card may not bring with it the same social pitfalls, (not unless you've got turbo-powered PC speakers) but it is something that it's worth chewing over.

Most cards now have a number of emulation modes, ensuring compatibility with a wide variety of games, as well as multimedia and MIDI programs running under Windows. The Maestro 32 sound card by Terratec is no exception; featuring GM, FM, Ad-Lib and SoundBlaster modes. Switching between the different modes is achieved with the programs supplied in DOS; you can actually write these in to the autoexec.bat file, so that a certain mode can be set up when the PC loads.

Installing the card requires a free expansion slot, and a couple of megabytes of hard disk space for the accompanying programs. The soundcard's IRQ and DMA settings are completely software-configurable, which is far easier than muddling around on the board itself with a series of fiddly DIP switches. Once you have chosen the new settings the card tests itself, and if all is well (there are no conflicts with anything else in the system) a sample plays.

Bundled with the Maestro card is a cut-down version of the sequencer Procyon (reviewed in this issue), various utilities including CD players and mixers (for both DOS and Windows), and the usual Voyetra paraphernalia including the WinDAT sampler. You also get a pair of speakers to connect to the audio outputs for instant gratification.

The panel on the reverse of the sound card has three stereo minijack connectors (mic/line input, CD/aux input, and audio output), a 13-pin joystick/MIDI plug and a volume control. In addition to these external connections, the Maestro has spaces on its board for a daughter-board (more later), and both data and audio connections for Sony, Matsushita, and Mitsumi-type internal CD-ROM drives. As yet, there isn't an IDE interface on the board, but there is some speculation that the new version of the sound card will feature one.

The Maestro has a maximum polyphony of thirty-two notes over its sixteen part multi-timbral set up. It uses a Yamaha OPL3 chip to create some excellent sounding FM synth patches, all laid out in accordance with the GM specification. The drum kit is quite superb; created wholly from synthesised sounds it has a uniqueness, yet some similarity between the TR808 sounds. The drums and hi-hats are contrived by means of an overdose of feedback, whilst the bongos and bass drums are cleverly pitched vanilla sine waves.

Not only the drum sounds are good though. The Maestro has an admirable collection of swishing pads and classic FM bass noises, not to mention a characteristically soft and artificial sounding piano patch. Despite using a dated mode of synthesis, the Maestro sound card has an interesting set of voices to choose from, and compliments the crispier sample-based sounds of the Wave Systems add-on daughter board.


This daughter board features a vast collection (4Mbytes worth) of sampled PCM sounds from the Roland SC55 MkII; featuring the usual 128 GM voices plus all of the 'variations' too, like on the actual model. It fits on to any 16-bit sound card endowed with the necessary connector, so you can use it to upgrade the existing card both in terms of polyphony and multi-timbrality, and (in the case of the Ad-Lib cards) some far nicer sounds. The card conforms to the GM specifications, and as such offers the obligatory 16 parts and 24 note polyphony, as well as responding to things like chorus and reverb, and many of the Roland-specific system exclusives and controller changes.

You can even set the card to emulate the MT32, which was often a popular model for using with PC games (particularly those written by Sierra). This is achieved in the same manner as the main board; via a small software switching program.

Because the board is essentially a sample playback module, the sounds are a little familiar; predictable, but by no means plain. There are some pleasant choirs and choral-type pads, and the ethnic percussive and tonal instruments are also quite usable. Oddly, some of the variation patches on the piano sounds seem to sound far better than the default. As ever, the brass sounds were about as authentic as a holiday at EuroDisney; there must be a clause in the GM specifications that stipulates that brass ensembles must sound like a herd of rampaging elephants.

Anyway, like the sound canvas, the wave system board has eleven different kits, including standard, jazz, and the infinitely amusing sound effects set. The thing that's so frustrating about GM is that it is impossible to use two discrete kits at the same time. Never mind. Largely, the sounds are all quite agreeable and easy to work with.

For the extra sounds, the 'professional' version is worth the extra few pounds, although if cash is in short supply, the regular version is still quite handsomely equipped (with 2Mb of samples and eight drum kits). The Maestro 32 sound card costs £277.29, and the Wave System Professional add-on board costs £187.99.

More from: Evolution electronics, (Contact Details).

MIDI's Bogas Journey

You don't need MIDI to make music, and US company Bogas Productions have set out to prove that with two Mac programs aimed at the relative beginner, with little music experience and no music hardware. Jam Session and Super Studio Session both use 8-bit samples (you get 168 in Jam and 90 in Studio) which play directly through the Mac's speaker.

Jam Session plays a song, and as the name suggests, you jam along with it by pressing keys on the Mac's keyboard. Don't worry if you can't type or play! Each key plays a short scale, a melodic riff or a percussion sound, and the whole thing is cleverly programmed, so it's always in tune with the music. Certain keys raise or lower the pitch. You can also queue riffs, so they play one after the other, or you can sync the riffs so each one starts at the beginning of a bar.

The pack contains twenty songs, which include 'Black Magic Woman', 'The Devil Went Down To Georgia', 'Crocodile Rock', 'La Bamba', and 'Roxanne'. Bogas is also currently throwing in an extra pack containing another ten songs including 'Wipe Out', 'Born To Be Wild', 'Louie Louie' and 'Wild Thing', but check if this is also available through MacLine.

While the music plays, you can display one of six animated screens to accompany the music. They're pretty tame, but better than looking at a blank screen. It's altogether a bit of a fun program, and even hardened musicians might derive some short-lived entertainment from it; from pressing keys and making an instant jam. If you feel adventurous, you can substitute one instrument for another and edit the riffs, but you have to do this on the stave, so a degree of music knowledge is required here.

Super Studio Session is an eight-track sequencer based around the Jam Session engine. There are eight tracks, because the Mac can only play eight sounds at once and editing is on the stave. The editors in both programs are similar, and they can use the same instrument samples. Oddly, the track window in Studio automatically expands to fill your monitor, and you can't resize it.

You can only see one track at a time, which can make the creation of arrangements a bit tricky. More so if you use the repeat options, which save programming time. It will help if you can work out the arrangements beforehand. However, entering notes is easy. You simply select a duration and click the note into the score. As each track is monophonic, to change a note you simply put a new one in place of the old one. There's an eraser in case you make a mistake, and bar lines can be added automatically.

It is possible to assign any instrument to any of the tracks, and even change instrument in the middle of a track. There is also a swing quantise function, with which to modify notes' durations and pitch.

A useful feature is the ability to load and save phrases. The program comes with one hundred phrases which you can assemble to produce your own songs. Well, they'll be sort-of your own. This is certainly a very easy way to assemble a rhythm track at any rate. Print options let you print the whole score or individual tracks, and you can save the entire song to disk in SoundEdit format which can then be loaded into programs such as HyperCard.

You can add limited MIDI support to Super Studio Session with the Studio Session MIDI Utility (around $100 in the US), which gives you control over five MIDI parameters: Pan, modulation, note length, pedal on and pedal off. Useful perhaps, if you upgrade to a proper MIDI sequencer and want to take your work with you, but otherwise not really worth it.

Finally, you can play Studio Session songs in Jara Session, and jam along with them if you create the arrangements in a certain way. You can also export Jam Session songs to Studio Session. The quality of the samples is really very good, considering they are only 8-bit. The arrangements are very good, too. Both programs are easy to use, although you do need some musical ability to get the best from them. Super Studio Session is £81.08, Jam Session is £37.60.

More from: MacLine (Contact Details) or Bogas Productions (Contact Details).

Now, that's MagiC!

There now seems little hope of ever seeing the once promised 040 version of the Falcon, particularly as Atari have channelled all their resources into the Jaguar, and so you may very well be forgiven for abandoning the ST for a faster Mac computer. But you needn't go and reformat all those ST disks, or worse still use them as tea coasters, because now you can transform the Mac into an ST, and revel in the wonderfulness of all those Atari applications you had long since forgotten about.

The new MagiC Mac software, which was previewed at the Atari show in Germany at the end of last year, is a 32bit multi-tasking system for 030/040 Macintosh computers, capable of running Atari software. It isn't an emulator, but a GEM and TOS system completely re-written for the Motorola 680x0 series. Compatibility is apparently quite good, with the ability to run programs like Papyrus, Imagecopy, and Calamus SL at four times the speed of a standard Falcon, on an LC475.

Creating a partition on the Mac hard disk for the Atari software is just a matter of creating a new folder. More impressive though, is the ability to plug in and read an Atari-formatted SCSI drive, and the sharing of a CD-ROM drive. Interaction between Mac and ST programs extends to the use of the clipboard for pasting between applications, and file swapping. MagiC happily co-exists with System 7, allowing up to twenty programs can be run at once, memory permitting of course.

MagiC Mac, packaged with Ease costs £149. Also available is Powerprint; a serial to parallel interface for PC compatible printers and driver software, priced £149. The complete bundle costs £259.

More from: System Solutions, (Contact Details).

MIDI at the Movies

How would you like a GM sound module for nothing? Thought so! Well, if you have a Mac, you can have one. It comes with QuickTime 2, and it's an extension called QuickTime Musical Instruments. It's freely available from Bulletin Boards and Shareware vendors, and both are included with Apple's new System 7.5.

QuickTime Musical Instruments contains samples from a GM sound set supplied by Roland. It's quite compact at just over 430K, and as you might imagine, a few corners have been cut in order to squeeze 128 sounds into so small a space.

Actually, there aren't 128 sounds, so that explains how they've done it. Several samples are used more than once, such as some of the strings, guitars, the Applause and the Seashore effects, and there are only two drum kits. Still, there is enough here to get by, and most MIDI files sound quite convincing.

So how do you use it with a MIDI file? There is very little documentation about the new QuickTime features — Apple has virtually no documentation on the subject — but there are a couple of docs floating around the Boards and there are some shareware utilities which use QT.

All MIDI, for example, will convert a General MIDI file into a sound-only QuickTime movie. Simply drop a GM file onto the application, and it will produce a Moov file which you can play using a QuickTime movie player.

All MIDI reads the file data, and selects suitable sounds from the QuickTime instrument set. It doesn't always get it right, but you can step in and select the instruments yourself, by holding down the Option key while dropping the MIDI file.

You can play the resulting Moov file with any application which supports QuickTime movies, and embed them on documents. The most common QuickTime player is probably MoviePlayer, but there are lots of others including another shareware program called QuickMovie. This has several additional features such as allowing you to change the speed of playback, but more importantly, it lets you change the instrument assignments in a converted MIDI file.

If you have QuickMovie installed, and double-click on a converted All MIDI file, it will launch into QuickMovie.

Both All MIDI and QuickMovie come with a readme file, but operation is pretty straightforward anyway. When you're selecting instruments for the MIDI channels, the ones which use another sound appear in italics. You can test the sounds on a little on-screen keyboard, too. The sound is output through the Mac's speaker.

And that's all there is to it! As the file is a QuickTime movie, you can send it to friends who have no GM gear, and use it with any application which reads QT files. The author of QuickMovie is developing other QT utilities including:

DeskTopTV: a QuickTime Video monitor/digitizer/subtitle maker, for AV Macs. DeskTopMovie: a Multispeed QuickTime Movie player and converter. DeskTopText: a multiwindow, styled coloured text editor that can create text movie track. ScreenMovie: a QuickTime monitor screen recorder which can record MIDI and audio at the same time.

Coming soon to a cyberspace area near you. All MIDI and QuickMovie are on this month's cover-mount CD. They are shareware and were obtained from Electronic Courier, a most excellent Mac-based Bulletin Board. You can log on by dialling (Contact Details), or talk to SysOp David Barr on (Contact Details). Electronic Courier has umpteen gigabytes of Mac goodies including lots of new QuickTime utilities.

Special Offers

If you're thinking of pledging your allegience to the Amiga (or any other Commodore computers for that matter), then now is the best time to do it. The Independent Commodore Products Users Group is currently offering a special cut price subscription for the remaining eight months of the year for just £16.50 (£20.50 for Europe, and £27.50 elsewhere).

The club, which was featured in the February issue of Toolbox, offers a friendly forum for help and advice for all Commodore computers, as well as the PC. The membership includes four issues of the ICPUG journal, free PD for the Amiga (including music software) and access to a library of DOS and Windows programs for the PC.

For more information, or to enrol contact: Tim Arnot, (Contact Details) (after 8pm). e-mail: (Contact Details)

Look who's been busy

Always working ever so hard to provide the planet with samples, AMG have just released a set of new titles. The first, Groove Activator by Gota Yashiki features over seventy minutes of essential grooves (both programmed and live), plus a selection of single hits. Loop Soup is a 'best of', double CD compilation, consisting of the finer moments from the earlier dance sample CDs by Norman Cook, Pascal Gabriel, and Coldcut.

A sequel to The Rhythm of Life by the Groove Gurus has finally made an appearance, featuring all the necessary loops and hits to be a fitting follow-up. Amongst the drum samples are some interesting timbres like log drum, water phone, talking drum, and that classic of the radio programmes, the thunder sheet.

Meanwhile, David Ruffy's drum samples have made their way on to a Roland S700-series format CD-ROM, featuring specially recorded single hits and loops. The sample CDs cost £54.95 each (inclusive), whilst the Roland CD-ROM is priced £149.

More from: AMG, (Contact Details). e-mail: (Contact Details)

Also available from: Time & Space, (Contact Details).

PD/Shareware suppliers

Floppyshop (Contact Details).
Goodmans (Contact Details).
Merlin PD (Contact Details).
New Age PDL (Contact Details).
Tumblevane (Contact Details).

Omicron (Contact Details).

Valley PD (Contact Details).
16/32 Systems (Contact Details).

Premium PD (Contact Details).

Previous Article in this issue

Soul Farmers

Next article in this issue

Mixed media

Publisher: The Mix - Music Maker Publications (UK), Future Publishing.

The current copyright owner/s of this content may differ from the originally published copyright notice.
More details on copyright ownership...


The Mix - Apr 1995

Donated by: Colin Potter

Coverdisc: Chris Needham

News by Ian Waugh

Previous article in this issue:

> Soul Farmers

Next article in this issue:

> Mixed media

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