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The Help File

Where everything clicks

Article from The Mix, January 1995

Your questions answered

Digital diagnostics, techno troubles, glitches in your Gizmos; they're all in a day's work for The Mix medical department. Send your queries to: The Help File, The Mix, (Contact Details)

Map it out

QOne of the best things about my old Juno 106 (apart from the nice analogue sounds) is the splendid array of knobs and sliders that allow me to tweak the sound to perfection, and/or twist it into something different over the course of the song. If the release is too long, or the LFO too fast, I have only to nudge a slider to find that ideal setting.

I recently added a Korg Wavestation SR to my setup, and while it has some great sounds and impressive features (wave sequencing, wave mix modulation and so on), I did find it incredibly frustrating having to wade through menus, pages and parameters to vary the sounds. I have looked at trying to control the Wavestation's parameters using the Cubase mixer page (since all the parameters are controllable via MIDI), but even if I succeed, I'd still be unable to access the all-important Arrange window at the same time. I recently heard about external MIDI controllers with programmable sliders; can you tell me if they are as good as they sound? Are there any reviews, and if not, what about a feature?

I particularly enjoy writing several parts into a four or eight bar cycle, and then dropping sounds in and out with the mutes, transposing, fading, delaying and so on; generally mixing 'on the fly' within the cycle. Is there any way of recording these events without having to connect it up to another sequencer? I would like to be able to go back and chop out parts that don't work, repeat bars that do, and write a couple of extra tracks over the top. I use Cubase v3.2, a drum machine, three keyboards, and a module. Can I do it?
Julius Aitken, London.

Use the Tile Windows command in the windoes menu, and you'll see both the Arrange and Mixermap pages simultaneously

AOf course you can access Cubase's Arrange page while using the MIDI Manager! Simply position your mouse cursor in the bottom right hand corner of either window, and resize it until you can clearly see the other page (or simply choose Tile Windows on the windows menu). With this method, you simply click on a window to activate it. This enables you to change the MIDI channel by changing track, which also means you can access the various mixermaps Cubase provides for different tracks. I too enjoy live mixing from Cubase, but I am afraid you are going to have to buy a second computer to record all of your changes and mixing. With second-hand Ataris available for around £100, this is a relatively inexpensive route and will increase your sequencing flexibility no end. RB

On the net

QPlease could you print your Internet address in the magazine. Also, is there any help around on the internet for using and getting to grips with music technology?
J.Ballmer, Leeds.

Look in the front section of this very issue, where you will not only find our Internet address, but a page of news and addresses from the net. There are loads of pages on the net about music technology and related subjects. One of the best sites for accessing some of them is Go! Discs homepage on Go! Discs offer a link to other music sites, and it is entirely possible you may find what you are after there. Failing that, watch our Internet pages for news of new and interesting sites as we uncover them, THE MIX will imminently be offering a series of pages which will feature the information you, the readers have requested, so e-mail us today and let us know exactly what you'd like to find in the mix on the net! RB

Two in one

QI am an enthusiastic, but relatively new, PC music user. I have a 486sx25, with a basic Soundblaster 16 soundcard, and am totally confused by the system sampling and playback capabilities. I am used to dedicated samplers with Cubase on the Atari, and have been trying to set up my PC, as either just a sampler, sequencing from the ST, or as an all-in-one machine, with Cubase or Cakewalk doing the sequencing.

There seem to be two options if I want multi-timbrality and polyphony. Either the Turtle Beach Maui add on card, which doesn't give you much in the way of editing or looping etc., or something that costs a fortune like Samplecell. Nothing in between! Please could you tell me the pros and cons of these packages, or any possible alternative set-ups (possibly including the Atari). Despite numerous calls to music shops, I can't find any two options that fit together. Please can you help me out before I forget it entirely and just play games instead.
Aaron Trinder, London.

AThe problem with shops is that music stores know very little about computing applications, and computer stores run a mile whenever you mention MIDI. I had one such kerfuffle just recently when I visited a local shop.

Anyway, one option is to replace your soundcard with one of the Turtle Beach cards. For MIDI and sampling applications they are so much better than your common-or-garden soundblaster types. The Monterey board has an option of installing a SIPP memory module on board, and with this you can assign sampled WAV files to any of the 128 GM patch locations on the board. Also, all the Turtle Beach cards come complete with Wave SE (usually, anyway... ) which is an excellent sample editor, and you can use them as multi-timbral sound modules with a sequencing program on the PC. Et Cetera are the best people to talk to about PC soundcards for MIDI and sampling applications. Telephone them on (Contact Details). DM

Sugar, sugar...

QWould it be possible through you, or one of your readers to obtain a manual for the Amstrad Studio 100, as I have recently accquired one of these units? I have written to Amstrad and they cheerfully informed me that they no longer keep a manual as this model is now out of date.
P.J.Wells, Kings Lynn, Norfolk.

ANo joy locating a manual here at the mix, I'm afraid. Our predecessor, Home & Studio Recording, reviewed this unit in June of 1988 but, sadly for you, the manual was returned along with the Studio 100. Perhaps one of our readers may be able to help, if anyone out there has a manual, please contact us and we will pass the message on to Mr Wells. RB

Big bottom

QI need some information on how to set up a reasonable headphone monitoring system for about half a dozen sets of cans. Can you suggest any written material on the subject, and/or offer any advice that might be of help.

Also, I have great difficulty getting a good DI bass sound. Can you suggest any reasonably priced ways around this. I have an old Fender precision, and am using a Seck desk at present. If the only way is miking up my old gear, what would be a good mic to use?
P.Mitchell, Hullbridge, Essex.

ALook no further than my very own review of Blue Systems Canamp in our November issue. This is a dedicated amplifier for headphones, which enables you to patch in up to six headphones from a switchable set of up to three stereo sources. The Canamp comes in at a very reasonable £249.00, and sounds like it may be just what you are looking for.

With regard to your problems DI'ing a bass, have you tried running through a pre-amp before DI'ing into the desk? Something like the TLA valve pre-amp/compressor as reviewed elsewhere in these pages, would fit the bill nicely and offer some facilities for adding warmth and punch to your bass riffs. Alternatively, you could try running a line out from your normal stage or practice amp to bring some of that 'live' quality out.

As far as mics go, an AKG D112, miked up close to, and just off-centre of your speaker cone would be our recommendation, with perhaps a condenser or decent dynamic mic such as a Shure SM57 placed a little further away, for capturing some room ambience. The key to all of this is experimentation, essential with mic placement, but also when running the signal through a pre-amp with regard to EQ and level settings. RB

Get connected

QPerhaps you could help me with the MIDI wiring of my fairly newly accquired (and growing) studio set up. I probably need some combination of MIDI Thru/Merge switch boxes. Apart from the Analogue bits I have a Roland JV80, Yamaha TG100, Roland MC50 MkII, Yamaha FX500, and Yamaha MSS1 SMPTE unit.

At the moment, I have this configuration:
MC50 out 1 in JV80
MC50 out 2 in FX500
JV80 thru in TG100
TG100 thru in MC50

This works for the MC50 driving both synths, and also program change information to the FX500, but if I need to program the MC50 from the JV80, I must take the lead out of the JV80's MIDI Thru, and plug it into its MIDI out. I seem to need to do this a lot, and it must be weakening the sockets.

Another repatching scenario is when the MC50 needs to be driven by external Timecode. Then I must remove the MC50's MIDI in (from the TG500's thru) and replace it with a lead from the MSS1's MIDI out. Also, if I want to bulk dump from either the JV80 or TG100 to the MC50, I need to disconnect the MC50 MIDI out, in order to avoid what might be deemed 'handshaking feedback'.

In the future I may get a sampler, and/or more MIDI effects processors, so what configuration of little boxes, or what versatile, larger box would give me the flexibility I need while avoiding all this repatching? I hope you can help.
H.Maitland, Tiverton, Devon.

AThe answer to all your problems is a MIDI patchbay. Look out for models by Anatek, Mark Of The Unicorn, Roland and Peavey — expect to pay a couple of hundred quid. CJK


QWith reference to my letter dated 11/10/94, I have subsequently been able to get hold of another K4r for a comparison test. Shit brains here should have put the 'system receive' parameters for volume and program change to 'sect'. Does my brain ever hurt! Oh well, live and learn. Does anybody know any good jokes...?
Rory Gargill, Balham, London.

A Wally!.. and I typed in all that stuff last month for nothing! DM

Previous Article in this issue

Monitor Mix

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Readership Survey & Competition 1995

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

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The Mix - Jan 1995

Donated by: Colin Potter, Chris Moore

Coverdisc: Mike Gorman

Previous article in this issue:

> Monitor Mix

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