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Re: how to get the best sound quality

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  • Pat Marr
    This question comes up often, and since it really boils down to a sound comparison, here s an idea for anyone who cares to participate: 1) Take a song you have
    Message 1 of 15 , Apr 1 5:21 AM
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      This question comes up often, and since it really boils down to a sound
      comparison, here's an idea for anyone who cares to participate:

      1) Take a song you have recorded that really shows off your preferred sound
      module or soft synth

      2) make an mp3 out of it

      3) post it to the files section under a DEMO directory

      4) write a short description of any special techniques, BIAB styles or
      sound module patches used to achieve the sound

      5) if you want to go the extra mile, post snippets of the song at different
      stages
      ie, raw BIAB output, and again as doctored midi sequence, and maybe again with
      acoustic audio tracks added

      6) you may even consider posting the final midi sequence so others can see
      and examine the use of continuous controllers to enhance the song

      There are lots of techniques & technologies that work together in the music
      production
      arena, and it could be interesting to see how BIAB can lay a solid
      groundwork for
      an end product which many people might not think is possible on a home PC

      The combination of midi, looping and acoustic audio recording works for me.
      I look forward to seeing (hearing, actually) what works for others.

      If it is true that a picture is worth a thousand words, then perhaps it is
      also true
      that a song is worth a thousand HOW-TO posts

      Pat Marr
      who will start working on a demo for the Roland XV-3080
      (or not, depending on time constraints)
    • Bob 'Notes' Norton
      ... I have to agree. Band-in-a-Box has a resolution of 120ppq (pulses per quarter note) and if the style is written with the drum grid the resolution of the
      Message 2 of 15 , Apr 1 8:32 AM
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        At 01:19 PM 3/31/2006, "Chris Laarman" <v.c.laarman@...> wrote:
        ><...>that it is all but useless to use the best-sounding
        >synthesizers with BiaB, and that it is far more rewarding to export songs
        >from BiaB to MIDI, then tweak those files in a sequencer, ultimately use
        >some software synthesizer (or even an array of these) to render your file
        >(to speakers or file).

        I have to agree. Band-in-a-Box has a resolution
        of 120ppq (pulses per quarter note) and if the
        style is written with the drum grid the
        resolution of the drums is 4ppq with a very
        limited special case resolution of 8ppq (note:
        all Norton Music disks starting with disk 8 use
        the "live drum" feature which allows a full GMidi
        drum kit at 120ppq resolution).

        IMHO 240ppq is the minimum amount for truly
        expressive music. To make things worse, some of
        the styles appear to be 100% quantized, no groove
        at all. These are useless to me, unless they are
        one of the few types of music that should be
        quantized (techno, trance, some disco, etc.). YMMV

        Band-in-a-Box also is lacking in continuous
        controller support, many synthesizers support
        different continuous controllers making the use
        of some in BiaB not practical (BiaB doesn't know
        what synth or sound card you are using), and in
        addition, the fact that many patterns in BiaB
        must serve multiple uses, the style writer is
        also limited in the usage of the continuous controllers he/she can use.

        An instrument gets its expression not only from
        the sound it makes, but IMHO, more importantly
        from the way it treats the notes. I'd rather hear
        a lame sound with good emulative expression than
        a great sound played without the proper expression.

        Play a guitar patch or a sax patch like a piano
        (note on and note off), and you won't fool
        anyone. Conversely, play a near-perfect piano
        patch with the scoops, variable vibrato, sustain,
        volume changes while sustaining, and various
        kinds of distortion that a sax player uses, and
        it will definitely not sound like a piano.

        Add to that the fact that a patch of the same
        name will react very differently in two different
        synthesizers and you will find that BiaB or any
        other auto-accompaniment application simply
        cannot create extremely realistic sounding
        instruments, no matter what sound source you are
        using. They have to be more "generic".

        But by exporting your BiaB song into a software
        sequencer (Power Tracks Pro, Sonar, Cubase,
        Master Tracks Pro or whatever) you can refine the
        expressive devices that are in BiaB to your sound
        module plus add the expressive devices that BiaB
        ignores into the parts -- for example, the
        scoops, etc., into sax parts, -- the swells,
        etc,. into brass parts, -- the hammer ons, etc.,
        into guitar parts, -- the glissandos, etc., into trombone parts, and so on.

        Granted, it's not instant gratification, but then
        there are not many worthy art forms that are
        instant gratification. Even the easiest thing we
        can do, sing, takes a lot of practice, a lot of
        learning, and a lot of technique to master. You
        don't come out singing like Mark Murphy, Mariah
        Carey, Luther Vandross or Rene Fleming without
        paying your dues. It takes a lot of practice and
        knowledge to be a Da Vinci, Rembrandt, Hendrix, Dvorak, Elfman, or BT.

        Now I don't want to sound as if I am unhappy with
        BiaB. Nothing could be farther from the truth. I
        think the output of BiaB (especially when using
        the better styles) is perfectly adequate for many
        uses, especially amateur and some part-time
        professional musicians. But if you want to make
        the difference between adequate and excellent,
        you need to export the BiaB file into a sequencer
        and prepare to do some tweaking.

        Each tool has its uses. A crescent wrench makes a
        poor hammer and a hammer makes a worse wrench.
        Use each tool for its strong suit and the proper tool for the proper job.

        But don't get discouraged. Although I studied
        arranging in school, I learned more about
        arranging in a software sequencer that it is
        possible to be taught in school. School and all
        the theory and arranging books are great, they
        give you the "left brain" knowledge that you can
        utilize to make good arrangements, but a
        sequencer and multi-timbral sound module lets you
        experiment with what you learned and instantly
        hear what it sounds like. Sure, it isn't a real
        orchestra, but who can afford a real orchestra to
        be on your payroll just to hear what your
        arrangements are going to sound like.

        So the sequencer becomes a learning tool as well
        as a performance tool. You can never know too much about music.

        My formula:

        1) If there is an appropriate style, I will start
        my sequence in BiaB (if no appropriate style for
        the particular song, I'll skip to step 3)

        2) Refine the song in BiaB and then save and
        export it in one or more different styles (so I can mix and match)

        3) Either start the sequence from scratch, or
        import either an instrument, multiple instruments
        from one or more different BiaB arrangements, or
        an entire BiaB sequence and assign the
        instruments ***. I use either a keyboard, wind
        controller or drum controller to input the parts into the sequencer.

        *** When I assign the instruments, I use my
        sequencer and an array of different sound modules
        and samplers, picking what I think is the most
        appropriate voice for each part and for that particular song.

        4) Add song-specific parts that are usually not
        in the more generic BiaB sequences.

        5) Add the expressive devices to the instrument parts.

        6) Balance, "Master" (get them to sound about the
        same volume of my other sequences) and then record them to a WAV file

        7) Turn the WAV file into a 192kbps mp3 using CDex (LAME encoder).

        8) Put the mp3 file on my laptop and use it on stage

        Once again, that sounds like hard work. It's time
        consuming and brain involving, but it isn't hard,
        in fact, when listening to what has been
        achieved, the work is most enjoyable. I can work
        at the computer with my music and hours go by
        without me looking at the clock. When I'm done, I
        can't believe the time went by that quickly. To
        me, that means I'm involved in life.

        I play in a duo (www.s-cats.com) and I know that
        if I have chosen the song wisely, and if the
        audience reacts the way I hope it will to the
        song, I am going to perform the song thousands of
        times. If I hear something night after night that
        I know that I could have "fixed", it would bug me forever.

        Plus the time I spend gives me other rewards. The
        Sophisticats work steadily and the two of us
        makes as much as some 5 piece groups in the area.

        So don't be afraid of the sequencer. The
        combination of BiaB and a sequencer is very powerful indeed.

        Insights and incites by Notes

        >>>»»»O«««<<<
        Bob "Notes" Norton • owner, Norton Music • http://www.nortonmusic.com
        BiaB user styles with live entered parts for that
        live music groove for musicians who want BiaB to
        sound like real musicians and not robots.
      • Chris Laarman
        Bob Notes Norton (norton@nortonmusic.com), Saturday, April 01, 2006 6:32 PM ... At this point I would like those interested to listen to the demo songs of
        Message 3 of 15 , Apr 1 11:12 AM
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          Bob 'Notes' Norton (norton@...), Saturday, April 01, 2006 6:32
          PM

          > An instrument gets its expression not only from
          > the sound it makes, but IMHO, more importantly
          > from the way it treats the notes. I'd rather hear
          > a lame sound with good emulative expression than
          > a great sound played without the proper expression.

          At this point I would like those interested to listen to the demo songs of
          software synthesizers (sorry, Bob) ;-) like Synful or (Kontakt-based)
          Garritan. However, as these products are limited in scope, I would like to
          remember users of Sonar of the included Style Enhancer Lite (actually part
          of Onyx Arranger).


          > 2) Refine the song in BiaB and then save and
          > export it in one or more different styles (so I can mix and match)

          Great tip! (Why didn't I think of this?)

          (Novices: this way requires a proper sequencer, which BiaB is not, or
          wetting your feet in juggling with StyleMaker inside BiaB - but you'll still
          want to edit things in a sequencer.)

          --
          Chris Laarman
        • NT
          Have you tried the Musica Teoria sound font with your SoundBlaster Live! card? That’s the cheapest and best update you can do for BIAB use. I downloaded
          Message 4 of 15 , Apr 4 6:04 PM
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            Have you tried the "Musica Teoria" sound font with your SoundBlaster Live!
            card? That’s the cheapest and best update you can do for BIAB use. I
            downloaded several different font packages, but this one stood out as the
            best.

            I downloaded it from http://wwww.sf2midi.com/


            -----Original Message-----
            From: Band-in-a-Box@yahoogroups.com [mailto:Band-in-a-Box@yahoogroups.com]
            On Behalf Of Dave Hoskins
            Sent: 31. mars 2006 20:26
            To: Band-in-a-Box@yahoogroups.com
            Subject: [Band-in-a-Box] Re: how to get the best sound quality

            Hi Jason
            Now that 2006 has been implemented with VST there are many options
            that you can use,the only problem with VST modules is the length of
            time to set them up,where audigy with some good soundfonts is my
            favorite at the moment because you load your song and play without to
            much setting up,but vst like Sampletank 2 is tops

            regards Dave Hoskins
          • P.R. Merrill
            ... wrote: ........ you need to export the BiaB file into a sequencer and prepare to do some tweaking.................. Each tool has its uses. A crescent
            Message 5 of 15 , Apr 10 10:48 AM
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              --- In Band-in-a-Box@yahoogroups.com, Bob 'Notes' Norton <norton@...>
              wrote:
              "........ you need to export the BiaB file into a sequencer and
              prepare to do some tweaking..................

              Each tool has its uses. A crescent wrench makes a poor hammer and a
              hammer makes a worse wrench. Use each tool for its strong suit and the
              proper tool for the proper job....................

              When I'm done, I can't believe the time went by that quickly. To me,
              that means I'm involved in life........

              So don't be afraid of the sequencer. The combination of BiaB and a
              sequencer is very powerful indeed."

              I took a few excerpts from Bob's excelent essay. Those of you who
              haven't read it should do so.

              Well done Bob.. That should be posted somewhere for those new to the
              process. It is very much the way I feel, ask my girlfriend who wonders
              how i can stay up til 4:00 am. Thanks.
            • Bob 'Notes' Norton
              ... Thanks so much for the kind words. If you care to post it anywhere, you definitely have my permission. It seems that so many people are into
              Message 6 of 15 , Apr 10 12:47 PM
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                At 01:48 PM 4/10/2006, "P.R. Merrill" <prsings@...> wrote:
                ><...>
                >I took a few excerpts from Bob's excelent essay. Those of you who
                >haven't read it should do so.
                >
                >Well done Bob.. That should be posted somewhere for those new to the
                >process. It is very much the way I feel, ask my girlfriend who wonders
                >how i can stay up til 4:00 am. Thanks.

                Thanks so much for the kind words.

                If you care to post it anywhere, you definitely have my permission.

                <slight rant>
                It seems that so many people are into instant
                gratification these days. For some things instant
                gratification is fine, but for making any kind of
                art, making the art is the process and it
                shouldn't be rushed. If Leo had rushed the Mona
                Lisa, it wouldn't be hanging in Paris this day.
                If Beethoven had rushed his symphonies, we
                wouldn't want to hear them today. Take your time,
                enjoy the process of making the art, enjoy the
                process of learning how to improve your art, and
                I think in the end you will find your art more rewarding.
                </slight rant>

                Insights and incites by Notes

                ---===o0O0o===---
                Bob "Notes" Norton • owner, Norton Music • http://www.nortonmusic.com
                Download your FREE BiaB song file of the week
                (usually from one of my fake disks)
              • Jason Brown
                Thanks for all the replies. I ve been exporting the midi to Cakewalk and can get something that sounds decent. I still have a lot to learn about midi and
                Message 7 of 15 , Apr 11 5:55 AM
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                  Thanks for all the replies. I've been exporting the midi to Cakewalk
                  and can get something that sounds decent. I still have a lot to learn
                  about midi and working with soft synths though. ;-)

                  --- In Band-in-a-Box@yahoogroups.com, "Jason Brown" <JasonB5232@...>
                  wrote:
                  >
                  > Hi, I'm new to the group and new to BIAB.
                  >
                  > Wanted to find out if anyone has any opinions/comments/suggestions on
                  > getting the best midi sound quality? I have tried my SoundBlaster
                  > Live! and a software synth and both are acceptable, but not great.
                  >
                  > Thanks.
                  >
                  > Jason
                  >
                • robert_slattery
                  Hey Bob, I enjoyed you essay and your slight rant , rich sentiments indeed and beautifully expressed in a very true voice. To pervert Billy Shakespeare: If
                  Message 8 of 15 , Apr 18 6:10 AM
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                    Hey Bob, I enjoyed you essay and your "slight rant", rich sentiments
                    indeed and beautifully expressed in a very "true" voice.
                    To pervert Billy Shakespeare: If ranting be the fruit of life rave on…
                    (and I love the way you are on first name terms with "Leo" Davinci).
                    Keep em coming.
                    :0)
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