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The Help File

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Article from The Mix, December 1994

If it doesn’t work, it’s in the help file

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)

Affordable channels: Spirit Folio range of mixers pack in a lot for the money.

Mind how you go

QI have recently got a small home studio up and running, and would like to start sending demo tapes out, but I'm worried about getting ripped off. Could you please give me some advice on the basic copyright laws?

Also, I need a new mixing desk but I'm limited to approximately £400, or maybe a little more. Should I buy second hand, and if so, what should I look for?
Ian Nicholls, Hornchurch, Essex.

AIf you're worried about someone ripping off your original work, the simplest and cheapest method of copyrighting your work is to post a copy to yourself registered mail. When the packet arrives, don't open it! Then if anyone should try to pass your work off as their own, you have a dated copy with which to bash them over the head. Its legality is normally sufficient to stand up in court.

Full details on further copyright are best dealt with by a lawyer qualified in the music business, and this is a something you must get once you have a publishing deal. Until then, the method outlined above provides the necessary protection. A new mixing desk under £400 is a tall order, and you fail to specify what size (32:8:2, 16:8:16) you require. But the new Spirit Folio Lite (as reviewed in the mix October 1994) is a 12:2 desk which comes in at around the price you mention. So too does the Mackie 12:2, or maybe a secondhand Seck 12:2. For more channels, something like a second hand Boss BX16 would come in under your budget, or check out Studiomaster's Gold Plus. RB

Courses for horses

QI am writing to you in the hope that you can help me in my search for a degree (or other course) in music production and sound engineering. I would appreciate it if you could send me a list of the ones that you know of.
Igor Jocic, London.

AThere isn't space to go into detail, but these are the degree courses: Herts, Keele, Leeds Metropolitan, London Guildhall, Salford, Surrey, Wales and York Universities.

Diploma, HNC and other short courses: Barnsley, East Birmingham, London Central School, North Glasgow, Jewel & Esk (Edinburgh), Liverpool Community, Manchester City, Newcastle, Preston, Rose Bruford (Sidcup), Stow, Warrington and City Of Westminster colleges.

Private and non-academic courses: All London except where indicated. Alchemea, Campus AV (Cambs), The Cutting Rooms (Manchester), Gateway School (Surrey), Hurricane Studios, Islington Workshop, London College Of Music, Media Audio Visual, The Recording Workshop, Right Track (Hereford) and The School Of Audio Engineering.

Danny himself is an alumni of Newcastle, whereas Chris our illustrious editor graduated from Salford, "and wouldn't hesitate to recommend it".

Elka master keyboard should keep things under control, but someone's having trouble - can Roger Brown come to the rescue...

MIDI mayhem

QFor a couple of years now, my MIDI system has been causing me problems. My original set up consisted of an Elka MK76 master control keyboard, a Yamaha TG55 tone generator, and an Atari STe running a sequencer called 'Big Boss Piano'. All this worked fine for about a month, until the sequencer started to add sustain randomly to recorded material. I put this down to primitive software or a bug somewhere.

The problem seemed to disappear when I bought Cubase v3.01, but about a month later, strange things started to happen again. On switching all the equipment on, the Cubase transport window would register incoming MIDI data when nothing was being sent. More frustrating still, was the fact that on pressing notes on the keyboard, the MIDI channels on the tone generator would randomly change, and as before, sustain would also be added at random. After leaving all the equipment on for about ten minutes, the problem usually sorted itself out. However, after being left on for two or three hours, a thick, black, vertical line would appear just above the transport box on the left hand side of the arrange window.

When the keyboard was linked directly to the tone generator, no problems occurred. I also tried using a different computer with my software, and again the problem did not occur. This brought me to the conclusion that the problem was with the computer.

As the Atari was still under the warranty at this time, I had an engineer come out to fix it. He replaced the entire CPU on the spot but it made no difference. I was advised that the problem must be with the power transformer (the only remaining original component in the computer). This was duly replaced, but still the problem persisted. Shortly after all this I lost the dongle for Cubase and was informed that it could not be replaced without purchasing a new copy of the program. With no money to replace it, I was left without a sequencer for the next year or so.

In June this year, I purchased a Macintosh Quadra 650 and I now use Emagic Logic with it. As with the previous two sequencers, the program worked perfectly for about a month and then started to go wrong.

This time there was no effect on the MIDI channels, but as before, sustain seemed to be added to the notes at random. I notice that usually, during recording these 'false sustains' are not actually recorded, but it does make performance rather difficult, especially on sounds which do not decay immediately after attack. As before, the problem seems to rectify itself after about 10-15 minutes, but now the problem never fully goes away as it used to before. All this leads me to believe that the problem lies with my keyboard, but for the fact that it behaves perfectly normally when attached directly to the tone generator. Why would it behave normally for the first month? The keyboard and tone generator worked fine when I used them with a different computer (but my version of Cubase).

As you can imagine, I am just a little perplexed. I do not have much money (the Mac was bought on a grant!) and I don't like the idea of sending the keyboard away for repair just to find that it wasn't causing the trouble in the first place. Can you advise?
David Prior, Bangor, Gwynedd.

AGet some new MIDI cables and make sure you're not playing in a room with fluorescent strips... DM.

Serious Answer: It sounds as 'though MIDI Note Off information isn't getting through to your module. Try checking Cubase's MIDI setup page, and ticking the box marked All Notes Off. In common with many new sequencers Cubase doesn't send Note Off commands, but instead sends out a Note On byte with a value of 0. Some older synths fail to recognise this, leading to stuck notes which may be the cause of your random sustain. RB

Kawai K4r's giving Rory Gargill serious problems - if you're not getting the service you deserve, let us know.

Clapped out Kawai

QI'm having problems getting my Kawai K4r module to work properly. I bought it secondhand through a classified ad in April. By the end of May it had developed a fault in which the module acts as if it's run out of polyphony, and starts note-stealing even when it's only playing one note. The module works fine when I play it from another keyboard, and only misfires when it's run from my computer and sequencer. This makes it unreliable for recording, so I decided to get it mended.

13/06/94 - I wrote to the UK service centre for Kawai synths in Bournemouth. No reply.

23/06/94 - I wrote to their distributors in Germany outlining the faults and asking for their comments/conclusions/advice.

25/07/94 - I wrote a similar letter to the Kawai factory in Japan.

25/08/94 - I received a reply from the distributors in Germany. Their reply helped me to set right a minor fault, but not the main one.

30/08/94 - I took my synth module to the Synthesiser Centre in Chalk Farm for repairs. I was told their turnaround time was about two weeks. Great!

23/09/94 - I receive a reply from Kawai in Japan with a replacement operating system chip. Unfortunately, it didn't get my synth module back on its feet.

Late September and my module still isn't working. I went up to SSC (by bicycle from Balham) with news that it might be mended, but no, the engineer was only trying to pull a fast one by pretending he'd mended the fault when in fact he'd done absolutely nothing. He said I could take it back unrepaired for their basic rate of £35 + VAT! I told him to hang on until he got it fixed. I then sent replies to Germany and Japan thanking them for their help and explaining the current circumstances.

07/10/94 - I gave up hope with getting my module repaired by SSC and collected it. It was returned unrepaired and free of charge. Back to square one!

Have any other K4r owners experienced a similar fault, or know how to set it right? The engineer at SSC was of the opinion that the fault was inherent in all K4r modules, due to a possible software or hardware glitch. If this is the case, then surely more people have experienced the same fault, and Kawai should surely have issued the appropriate upgrades.

I doubt that it is a design flaw because the K4r was designed to be a multi-timbral instrument for sequencing. They'd be shooting themselves in the foot putting gear out on the market that won't function for the job it's designed for. And besides the K4 keyboard I'd traded in for the K4r had worked under all conditions.

I feel like I've been stuck with a lemon in that Kawai gear isn't very well supported. For instance the repair centre in Surbiton hasn't even any spare parts. When I outlined the fault with my module and the run-around I've had, Mr Andrews replied that he'd send a disk with the factory presets on to SSC. As if preset patches are going to change anything! Heck, my module was totally blank when I got it and I've programmed all the sounds in it myself. What would I want a set of factory presets for? Comedy hour?!

It is frustrating to have to shelve several months' work just because one of my modules has developed a seemingly irreparable fault. Life in the fast lane? Life in a lay-by more like.
Rory Gargill, Balham, London.

ASorry to hear about your travails. Wonderful as technology is, every so often some irritating little glitch crops up and blights your life until you trace the cause of the fault. Until that elusive moment it's usually a story of fruitless phone calls, letters and visits to service centres.

Not having a Kawai in the mix studio, the best I can offer are some MIDI tips. Have you tried checking the soft MIDI connections on your sequencer? As you say, as the K4r works fine connected to a master keyboard, it's possible the unit is receiving doubled note information from your sequencer. It may seem obvious, but are your MIDI leads connected correctly, with 'MIDI out' of the sequencer running into the 'MIDI in' of the Kawai, either directly or through a MIDI thru. And is 'Local' off on the Kawai? If any readers have experienced similar problems with a Kawai K4r and have any advice to offer, please drop us a line here at the mix and we'll pass your tips on to Rory. RB

Previous Article in this issue

Monitor Mix

Next article in this issue

Win GS-1

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 - Dec 1994

Donated by: Colin Potter

Coverdisc: Mike Gorman

Feedback by Roger Brown

Previous article in this issue:

> Monitor Mix

Next article in this issue:

> Win GS-1

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