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When I decided on the architecture of the piece I'm working on right now, I thought I was doing so to minimize any sort of MIDI issues. But they've managed to bite me anyway. Here's what I've got going on, and  hopefully you can tell me what to look for.

The piece of music is actually several different versions of a single piece that I've arrived at over the past couple years. Each version has five instrumental parts, except the first, which has three. The first version has a MIDI melody and two accompanying audio tracks. All of the other versions are straight MIDI. In order to maintain as much separation between MIDI instruments as I possibly could I've loaded five instances of TTS-1, each for one of the instruments: melody, keys, guitar (or something else), strings (or something else), and drums.

The way I've laid it out is I've stacked each version on its own set of tracks. So I've wound up with a lot of tracks -- and a lot of measures, but there is only the briefest overlap between the tracks -- typically the last two measures of the earlier version overlap with the first two measures of the later version.

Many of the tracks have the same instrument in common. If the Melody track has, let's say, piano for example, with more than one version of the tune, I'd keep the same channel number. If the melody has a different instrument, I'd select a different channel number. Same with the other tracks -- if they were the same exact instrument, I'd use the same channel, else each instrument got its own channel.

Setting things up this way resulted in none of the incidences of TTS-1 having more than three channels in use in total, and none of the incidences of TTS-1 had more than one instrument being used at the same time, except for the brief two-measure overlaps. And even in these cases, the instruments are on different channels.

What's happening now is a few different things. Some tracks will get stuck on a previous track's instrument within the same TTS-1, even though they're on separate channels, and these tracks are not always consecutive, that is, a track may get stuck on an instrument that was being used in an earlier version than the previous one. Some tracks lock on Piano 1 and are stuck there, but they don't show Piano 1 in the Console View -- they show the instrument that's supposed to be playing. If I reclick on that instrument it doesn't get off Piano 1. If I click on another instrument, it doesn't get off Piano 1. The only way I've been able to get it unstuck was to change the channel number. But this doesn't work permanently. Typically if I stop then start the music, it's reverted back to Piano 1. And with other instances, sometimes a track will begin to play an instrument at random that hasn't been used at all before on any track.

I've checked to make sure, when there's instances where overlap occurs, that the same channel number is not being used on overlapping tracks. Other than this, I don't know what else to do. There is complete separation. I've checked several tracks' Event Lists and none of them contain any patch data.

Right now, if I can't figure out why it's behaving like this, I'll have to employ the brute force method and call up the Event List for every track, and indicate its patch at the beginning of the list. That should take care of things. I hope.

So, any ideas? Suggestions?

If you like, I can post a copy of the CW file, but be warned. It's long. 26 minutes and 52 seconds long. Oh, and without the accompanying audio, the first version will be melody only. As  I mentioned above, all subsequent versions are MIDI.

 

Edited by Michael McBroom
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When you say use the "brute force method" you are using a program change to select the right program to play back.  Is this correct? if so that is the way it should be done. 

Unless you tell the synth or synth module what patch to use it will default to the first patch.  This can be done by inserting a patch change at the proper point in the MIDI track. TTS-1 is a software version of the Roland Sound Canvas and follows the General MIDI protocol as well as some of the Roland GS protocol.  I would invest in better soft synths and samplers. Try Kontakt for example and notice how much better the sound is. 

TTS-1 is OK for auditioning MIDI  or composing but not so good for its sound quality.  Nor is it a substitute for a real hardware Sound Canvas.  You have a massive amount of software VSTi virtual sound modules available that will run rings around the TTS-1.  

 

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1 hour ago, bdickens said:

This all sounds unnecessarily complicated.

+1 to that. 

Michael I think you need to review your workflow. No wonder that is causing issues! 

It's very simple to just have a track for each instrument. It doesn't matter how many and it doesn't matter if it only plays for one measure or the whole song. 

And it doesn't matter which VST instrument you assign that track to it will always work. And if you get away from the TTS=1 and use individual VST instruments that are designed for the different sound, example a Piano, drum or bass VST then there's absolutely no need for even using channels or patch changes. You set the VST to the best sound you like and leave it alone forever. Not many people here would choose the TTs-1 for a finished product. Sample based VST instruments are the way to go. 

And they don't even cost anything if you know where to look. I'm just building a 3rd workstation just for fun where I'm only using CbB and free VST's.  I just installed the XLN demo's. 

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At  last count, Cakewalk sez I have over 460 VSTs, but of all those VSTs, some of which I bought, by the way, I find only a very small handful to be useful. And even those are seldom better than the sound quality I can eke out of TTS-1. I find many of TTS-1's patches to be very realistic sounding, especially when a judicious amount of quantization  and EQ is applied.

 Recently I bought an entire package of symphonic instruments. Quite disappointed. Their features don't work as described and they are CPU intensive, so I can't use many of them, or as many as I would like. I can't afford Kontact.  Or at least I won't. I'm not going into debt for a software package.

I did use the "brute force approach," namely I set the instrument I wanted for that track at the beginning of each track's Event List. The way I still see it, though, the way I laid  out the tracks, these problems shouldn't have occurred because there were no conflicts. The way I normally assign a patch to a track, that is using the menu selection in the console view, which is how I do it, should have been enough -- and usually is with almost every other piece of music I've written.

This piece has eight different versions. The first version has a melody track, a guitar track, a bass track, and a drum track. Only the melody is MIDI in this first version. In all other versions, all tracks are MIDI. They have melody, bass, piano, guitar, and drums. I assigned five instances of TTS-1 to the versions, each instance of TTS-1 being dedicated to one of the previously mentioned instruments. In some versions I substituted other instruments for the piano and guitar. Shouldn't matter. Each version was located consecutive to the others along the track  view. That is, version one runs from, let's say just for the sake of using even numbers so it's easy to count, it runs from measure 1 to 102. Version 2 runs from 100 to 202, version three from 200 to 302, and so on. So except for the two measure overlap, there are no points where any instance of TTS-1 has more than one instrument playing. And in every case, I made it a point where the same instrument was not being used by the two voices that were overlapping, with two exceptions -- bass and drums, which by the way, did not have their voices switched, interestingly enough. Although, in a few instances, I had set them for different instruments. E.g. fretless bass to replace acoustic , or analog drums to replace the standard set. So I don't know how I could have set things up any cleaner. Yet TTS-1 decided to do what it wanted to with the MIDI voicing, which is what I don't understand. Especially reverting to Piano 1 for every single version's melody, and refusing to budge from it.

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The only thing I use TTS-1 for is to preview a GM MIDI file. Other than that I avoid it like the plague.

Many folks have reported horror stories while using it for production. I'm really not that surprised, as ancient as it is.

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Michael I believe you are satisfied with what you get with the TTS-1. It may be that you have not heard what can be done with MIDI in the modern era. With samples for a single instrument running into multi GB size files for samples the ability to create a fantastic sound is practically unlimited. There are completely free samples and sampler players that are very good indeed.  Heck, Sonar came with Dimension Pro which was a very good sampler. Cakewalk doesn't come with a bunch of  instruments Sonar did. Without having tried what is out there you can't know what you are missing.    

Also the method you outline of creating MIDI with a sound module is unusually difficult. There are simpler ways to get a really good sound from MIDI. 

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The thing with finding the right VST's is you need to try the expensive ones first. Out of the hundreds of freebies I have downloaded I have only kept a few. Most are buggy or just plain sound like POOOH . 

There are tones of recommendations on this forum and a lot of us agree on a lot of our favourites. 

Most of mine came with older Sonars. 

But included with CbB is the studio intrument collection. This to me is a huge step up from TTS-1. If you only made one change it would be to swap out your Bass, Drums, strings and even electric piano to the SI instruments. Export a file with TTS_1. Then swap ot for the SI collection and export that. If it doesn't sound better to you then that I will stop bugging you :) 

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On 1/21/2021 at 11:24 AM, Michael McBroom said:

Recently I bought an entire package of symphonic instruments. Quite disappointed. Their features don't work as described

 

 You can't just slap a bunch of orchestral samples on a MIDI file and expect it to sound like anything.

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You guys are making a lot of unwarranted assumptions and have managed to stray from the topic, which was how to get TTS-1 to do what I want. Well, I've solved that to my satisfaction by specifying instruments in Event Lists.

Using VSts is not some rodeo I've never been to before. Maybe you missed where I mentioned having over 460 installed, a lot of which I paid good money for? Still, I find that most VST synths are hugely bloated with patch sounds that I can only describe as stupid.  And sadly the synths I bought haven't fared much better.

The problem I've found with using individual VSTs is they can overload the CPU when configuring larger music files. Especially if I want to add any effects like reverb. This is where multi-timbral synths begin to shine.

What I would really like would be to find a good multi-timbral synth that can do as good a job as TTS-1 in terms of low CPU overhead, but a  better job in terms of instrument selection and quality. So far, I haven't found any. But to be honest, I haven't looked that hard either. The ones I've tried so far were free and were mostly crap.

 

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Maybe if you try both John's suggestions and adopt a sensible workflow instead of the convoluted nonsense you've got going on?

No one else is having issues like this.

No one else is driving all the way around the block to get next door, either.

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I've run into a similar problem with TTS-1 before -- with tunes with much fewer tracks. And it was for this reason that I chose such a convoluted approach. Yeah, I wound up with a tune with like 50 tracks (including the TTS-1 tracks), but the overhead was about the same as if I'd had maybe 10 or so -- mostly because only five of the tracks were being used at any one time. But in the end I still couldn't dodge the bullet, so oh well.

Maybe I'll try combining them, see if the song behaves any differently. Because of the overlap, though, this is still gonna require a bit of massaging. Cuz I don't know how to get a single MIDI track to play more than one MIDI patch concurrently.

Also John (Vere) discussed swapping out TTS-1 patches for Cakewalk SI instruments. I do use them on occasion. Especially the strings and the drums. I don't like SI piano -- to me, the selections sound old and tired, especially the Rhodes-like ones. SI Bass just hasn't shown a real advantage over TTS-1 to me. As I mentioned earlier, with a bit of judicious quantizing and especially EQ, you can get some patches to sound pretty nice, and a few of TTS-1's bass patches fall into this category. I haven't figured out yet how to get SI drums to play anything but drums yet. If I have a drum track that has percussion instruments (like congas), SI Drums locks up. Too bad, cuz I do like it. And I'll state once more, just for the record, with the VSTs I've tried, including some cool ones like Serum, the overhead is higher than TTS-1, so I can only employ relatively few in the mix with my current hardware. That will be changing soon, though.

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Just to sort of show you why I'm bugging you to change I thought it would be fun to compare the difference between TTS-1 tracks and upgraded tracks.    Below is the original midi file straight from my download folder. I opened it in Cakewalk which uses TTS-1 to play the file. I had to move the snare track from B2 to where it belongs in D2 but otherwise didn't touch nothing and exported it. 

I found my version and amazingly enough I hadn't really done much other than swap instruments , Tempo and key were the same. 

I opened a blank project and put mine version in Track 1 and the TTS-1 version in Track 2. I put the Youlean meter on the Master and adjusted so both were exact same level.  

I then automated crossfades between the 2 tracks at random.

The MP3 file posted below starts with the TTS-1 . My track comes across as louder but honest, they were both showing same LUFs and close to clipping the track meters. The TTS-1 hit the red a few times.  It's one of the reasons to use good instruments. They cut through a mix better. 

I used the following instruments;

Bass - SI Bass Jazz patch with a few minor tweaks. 

SI Drums default but I add a little compression using only the GUI effects. 

Guitar is Strum Session shiny electric.  I don't really like it and in my version I originally had muted it. 

The organ is a free download the Combo V and one of my favorites as it really captures that 60's combo sound.   https://vst4free.com/plugin/1004/ 

I killed the vocal piano track too. 

 

So if anyone wants to try a shoot out grab the midi file and try your own upgrades. I'd  like to hear what others come up with and what    @Michael McBroom   can do using the TTS_1 I'm sure you can make it better than the version I used. 

Beleiever shootout.mp3 The_Monkees_-_I'm_A_Believer.mid

Edited by John Vere

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20 hours ago, John Vere said:

So if anyone wants to try a shoot out grab the midi file and try your own upgrades. I'd  like to hear what others come up with

I grabbed John's .mid file and opened it in Cakewalk with TTS-1. I left the MIDI as is, and replaced all of the TTS-1 instruments with other instrument selections.

For piano, bass, and drums, I used  Addictive Keys Grand, Ample P-Bass Lite, and MT Power Kit.

I cheated a bit and used SampleTank 4 for the guitar and combo organ, and threw Amplitube 5 on the guitar and bass.

Then ran it though a mastering console plugin on the master bus to level it up before exporting directly to MP3.

Quick and dirty result:

Believer.mp3

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@abacab  something happened to your MP3 it's playing garbled. I tried a few ways of playback.  

I've heard of issues with exporting MP 3 in Cakewalk. I always convert in Gold Wave. 

Edited by John Vere

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1 hour ago, John Vere said:

@abacab  something happened to your MP3 it's playing garbled. I tried a few ways of playback.  

I've heard of issues with exporting MP 3 in Cakewalk. I always convert in Gold Wave. 

That's weird! I downloaded it from the forum to test and it plays back ok on both Windows Music, and on Android.

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Here's a re mix using AD 2, Ample P Bass, Added TH3 to guitar track , Changed OOOs to a weird synth.    Tried a new organ freebie Colla B3 1

OK I just tried again and it's working now cool 

 

 

Believer Johns.mp3

Edited by John Vere
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15 hours ago, John Vere said:

@abacab  something happened to your MP3 it's playing garbled. I tried a few ways of playback.  

I've heard of issues with exporting MP 3 in Cakewalk. I always convert in Gold Wave. 

 

After MP3.jpg

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i added a couple of extras things to help. 🙂 AD2 for drums, Combo F (it's the real deal 🙂 ) + SpinBag (VST leslie). GS-2 Strum (acoustic) + Saturation (plugin). SI-Bass, Lounge Lizard EP (vocal). AAS Ultra Analog Session (synth vox @ outro).

I'm A Believer-MASTER.mp3

Edited by Glenn Stanton
edit of leslie vst and updated mp3
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