Archive for April, 2011

Fairlight 1.0.1 update

Posted: April 21, 2011 in Audio
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A 1.0.1 update to Fairlight application for iPhone and iPad is available at the AppStore. It brings the following new features and bug fixes :
– Player App without Pro upgrade can now edit loop settings of Fairlight voices and edit the default instrument (as intended – this was a bug)
– Improvement in Page R note drawing speed
– Some minor improvements to MIDI status display
– New option to disable sleeping
– Extra, more obvious, “All voices” button on Page 2
– “Player” added to the icon
– (Pro only) Able to export personal voices as .VCX (CMI extended) voice files
– (Pro only) Able to import .VC and .VCX CMI voice files

– MIDI pitch bend fixed in instrument page and Page R
– In-app feature matrix MIDI fixed
– iPad occasional green-dot-on-black-screen fixed
– corrections to some voice info
– Fix playback stopping mid-note when using Page R onscreen keyboard

Portal 2 is available (50$ on Steam – 7,5 Gb).
We can also find Beyond Ynth for free at the AppStore for a limited time.

A step by step video about replacing mac mini 2010’s hard disk is available. We can also find a comparative review of most recent SSD.

Kawai MP10 available

Posted: April 20, 2011 in Audio
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The Kawai MP10 is available (at Thomann and announced on most other sites). We can listen to demos (also audio examples here).
From first reviews and an article, the touch (RM3 Grand) may be at least as good as on the FP-7F, and the piano might sound better (Ultra Progressive Harmonic Imaging technology), despite not being obvious from the demos (brillant and expressive tone, however not so rounded attack, and in someway reminding Yamaha AWM’s piano samples).

It doesn’t onboard speakers (however it weighs far more) and is priced more (2199 euros) than the FP-7F. We can also find the MP6 (priced 1444 euros), that some like more than the MP10.

Many demo videos of Jupiter 80 from the MusikMesse are available at Youtube. Pads are really original and interesting, some sounds remind the D50 or V-Synth (also Omnishpere) – more than the Jupiter as many comments reported -, and acoustic SN sounds are very expressive.

Roland FP-7F review

Posted: April 7, 2011 in Audio
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The Roland FP-7F, very heavy however also very strong (nice white metal case for the WH model, and wood below), provides a very convincing touch that leads to play as on a real piano (thanks to the rebounce that allows fast playing, and the two steps key-down course that allows very low velocities/soft playing).

Sensitivity settings provide 100 sensitivity curves (5 base curves with -10 to 10 fine values settings each).  The default one (Medium) allows mainly 1 to 102 velocities range, and can very hardly reach 108 value. Using Light or Very Light curves allow higher velocities, however lacking precision (larger velocity level changes for same pressure change, leading mainly to less realistic soft playing).

Sympathetic resonance is great and release time is very long, without audible looping point.

Listening through headphones sounds as if it came from the board’s speakers (about these they are really noisy – whatever volume is -, however it isn’t a problem while not close or playing, and they can be disabled).

Audio inputs are also at max level (the gain has to be lowered on the source device – for example through a mixing console) and can add another hiss to the speakers in case of ground loop (for example when audio from a mac mini – Audiofire interface – is connected to a Mackie VLZ mixing console whose tape outputs are then connected to the FP-7F’s inputs – no problem with other devices connected to the console or with an iPhone).

Playing the Complete Piano (SRX10) sound from the XV5050 from the FP-7F keyboard was far more better than with an old A30 : the base brillant preset was then usable due to restricted velocity range (the fourth/highest samples layer sounded more convincing limited to 108 velocity value, and the first/lowest nice samples layer was easily playable, with more progressive layers switchs). The sound seemed at first better on the lower range than with the Super Natural one, however it ended being less wide (as if tighter stereo width) and less living in release/resonance area.

Most piano samples libraries also sounded great from the FP-7F : Kontakt 2’s August Forester (lite patch with aditionnal reverb – M3o or Independence’s Origami), Synthogy Italian Grand. Eastwest Pianos was even better when mixing player and close perspectives (with parts level setted a little higher) for Bechstein (playable on a 8 Gb mac mini using Firewire 400 only connection and 256 kbits buffer size – some slight audio cuts only).

The DP-10 damper pedal (offers a continuous mode, that allows progressive sustain/half pedaling) also helped a lot (less static release/resonance).
Beside piano sound we find some interesting ones : harpsichord (that some think being a Super Natural one), fingered bass, some organs, sax/flute.

The included 80 session partner presets are great (and include a variation and many alternate chords progressions) and allow quick ideas with a few notes only. The looper provides more basic accompaniments (and are not of arranger type), however it allows to add parts to these / define chords progressions.  Roland also provides at download an utility to create Audio Key sets (samples or full songs to be assigned to lower octaves keys), that includes some audio phrases  (for personal use exclusively).

Finally the Vocal Harmony (duet, trio or quarter mode) work as an harmonizer and chorus when playing chords (seems to fix pitch and adds unison back voices). The mic input gain little knob on the rear panel (pre-amp) allows far more greater gain than with on a Mackie VLZ mixing console, and with far more less noise (in fact not present except on the highest levels – that aren’t required).

Beside factory demos with find 74 famous classical midifiles in the sequencer (that use up to 4 parts), that sound far more impressive.

The FP-4F, only 200-300$ cheaper, is then less interesting (less realistic touch/response, no vocal designer, etc.).

UPDATE :  my unit sometimes produces strong vibrating noise (far more louder than the keys) on the left side of the keyboard, due to unperfect match of the plastic part (that holds the power button) and the lower metallic case (below the keys). The space between the two parts is in fact slightly thinner on that side than on the left side. Playing strong velocities (and chords on the lower octaves) seem more likely to trigger it. It can last for a few minutes to hours, and can disapear (or came back) without obvious reason (temperature may have some effect.

It is using the Roland KS-18Z stand with 80 cm space between legs (max 94 cm). It may not happen with the dedicated stand. Putting the FP-7F on the floor (on its 4 feets).

Roland Jupiter-80

Posted: April 7, 2011 in Audio
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Roland also presented the Jupiter-80, based ont the SuperNatural technology. Beside previous SuperNatural pianos and electric pianos (and tonewheel organs modeling), it brings new instruments family to this technology : bass, strings, brass, woodwinds and ethnic instruments. For example it manages guitar strums, strings legato, trills.

The sound engine provides 4 parts (Upper Live Set, Lower Live Set, Solo et Percussion) and (256 notes polyphony max (depending on the audio engine load).
Live Set (2560 presets) consists in a 4 tones layer, and each tone is made of either 3 oscillators (VA waveform or PCM – among 350 available) or a SuperNatural instruments. The Solo part is a single tone. Using VA synthesis for all tones we can then layer 27 oscillators. The sound engine is indeed 9 tones multitimbral, however it does not seem to allow using a different Midi channel for the tones that comprise a Live Set.

The Tone Blender features allows modifying of a parameters set accros the 4 tones of a Live Set.

The keyboard is of synth type (76 notes) and it weights 16,6 kg. The price hasn’t been unveiled yet, however an article at createdigitalmusic hints it will be 3999$ max (we can suppose 3500$).

Roland FP-4F

Posted: April 7, 2011 in Audio
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During the Musikmesse Roland presented the FP-4F, that brings SuperNatural technology and an Ivory Feel-G keyboard (the same as on the RD-300NX).
Contrary to the FP-7F it didn’t feature PHAIII, and the specifications page states only 5 sensitivity levels (100 on the FP-7F).

Piano modeling features are also more limited : Damper Resonance, String Resonance and Key Off Resonance, however no Open/Close Lid setting, Cabinet Resonance, Hammer Noise, Damper Noise, nor Duplex Scale.
We can also expect not so good converters.
It remains however very convenient (1/3 of weight less compared with the FP-7F). The back pannel (see video) includes some un-elegant holes.

UPDATE : it is now priced 1599 euros. As action may only be slightly better than on the new RD-300NX (that isn’t really better than with old RD-300GX  – except ivory feeling), the FP-7F remains a better choice (only 200 euros more).

Apogee Duet 2

Posted: April 2, 2011 in Audio
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Apogee presents the Duet 2 : new 24/192Khz converters (96 khz previously), USB2 (however lower latency than with the original Firewire Duet), color OLED display, new breakout cable (more reliable, 2 combination XLR/1/4” inputs, 2 balanced 1/4” outputs), beakout box option (XLR outputs and 2 meters cable), new Maestro 2 settings console, soft limit.

Volume control is independant for headphones and 1/4” output. It is priced 595$, that is the same as with the previous Duet.