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Topic: Some basic answers for newbies

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  1. #1

    Some basic answers for newbies

    I really would like to see this forum thrive.

    In my opinion the Strad is the next generation, all orchestral VST's must now follow this trail.


    So I am going to start a thread for newbies. Its basic information and my first impressions after having taken the plunge.

    Its all IMO. I try to be honest .

    Ideal set up:

    The ideal set up for the Strad is a keyboard with pitch and mod wheels, touch sensitivity, midi out, aftertouch, and an input for a sustain and expression pedal - both of which will be used. You also need Kontakt 2 obviously.

    Can you get by without all this?

    Answer: Minimally, you must have Kontakt2 and a sequencer that allows you to alter various cc controllers, you can program the Strad 100% this way. You dont actually need a keyboard.


    [B]Live performance or programming a sequencer?[/B]

    Gary emphasises using the instrument in a live way. In my view it can be used either way 100% effectively. It depends if your skills are sequencer based or musical keyboard perfomance based. Personally I am currently using it in program rather than performance mode. My results are fine - very expressive. Obviously using the keyboard even in a simple way, helps get the feel right.

    Cash situation:


    It's a lot of money for a new keyboard, and its also a lot of money to shell out for Kontakt if you havent got it already - plus there is the cost of the the strad, perhaps the cost of a new keyboard, and maybe even pedals too. In my view, having done this, it's been well worth the effort. Read on....


    Stagger the purchase?

    I started by buying Kontakt and the Strad, which was a fully functional solution, but I was soon yearning for a better keyboard.

    Keyboard

    I found the CME UF8 at digital village in the uk this retails for £340 UK . I bought it at a real rock bottom price, its a quality instrument and its working fine. See my other post if you want a run down, here:

    http://www.northernsounds.com/forum/...ad.php?t=43637

    KONTAKT 2 - a run down

    Kontakt two's forum is currently a very negative vibe. Users have been waiting for an update since early december which still hasn't materialised. Apparently there a lot of bugs.
    I can only say, Kontakt is working fine except two things:

    Firstly, I can't see a change in the colours of keyswitch defined notes on the virtual keyboard - though they are there.
    Secondly, I can't get the import working for foreign formats.

    This does not make a difference to the Strad which is 'native' (if you forgive the dreadful pun).

    Others users of K2 are not as lucky as I, I understand, but in my guesstimate, the update is only a couple of weeks away and ought to be comprehensive judging by hints from the moderator.

    So, purchase of the instrument can be staggered in three stages.

    First the instrument and Kontakt, for your sequencer.
    Next a decent keyboard with the correct functionality.
    Third expression and/or other pedals.

    How much to learn?

    On the learning front, honestly speaking, I found a bit of a curve. Assuming you have set up all your equipment, first base, you have to learn Kontakt to a functional degree. You dont have to be able to program in Kontakt, or even use more than a couple of screens. You just have to load the instrument and understand the main panel. This can be done in an evening if you don't get way laid in the seductions of the 200 page manual.

    A quick asideabout Kontakt for those that are tempted:.

    I had Halion 3, and I did not need Kontakt at all, but I am glad I took the plunge fro the saake of the violin.

    Firstly the samples packaged with Kontakt are superb, well worth the ticket price even if Kontakt could only whistle dixy.

    There is a whole VSL orchestra for a start, plus many high quality instruments and syth sounds.

    Secondly, Kontakt 2 has a scripting editor - let me explain: A scripting editor means that software companies can create basic interfaces for any kind of instrument, with custom knobs and dials. These 'scripts' function just like VST, DXI, RTAS, etc.. instruments in their own right. There interfaces are dull grey and they are displayed, and used, right there in Kontakt.

    The Strad is an example of this scipting power. Additionally, on the bundled disk there are other instruments such as a 'rib cracking' cathedral organ which is absolutely stunning!!!. There are also virtual 'strumming' guitars, trance like step editors, a whole lot of synth and percussion sounds much of which is sensitively tweakable to a high degree - easily. There are gigs and gigs of this stuff!

    Warning:
    Its very easy to get way laid by the seductions of Kontakt 2 believe me here. Its a wonderful set of sounds.



    Do I need to learn how to program in Kontakt?:


    No. Absolutely not. You don't need to know a jot about scripting, you just need to be able to load programs that have been scripted already by someone else. You can script yourself if you want to also, but you can also just go ahead and use the Strad and or other instruments, more or less immediately.



    Using the actual violin instrument:

    You have to learn how to program the Strad. How much work is involved? Well, the manual is 44 pages long and a lot of it is not mission critical - i.e. stuff about the life of Stradivarius.

    Knowledge of real violins

    You have to know something at least about the various articulations and bowings of the violin. There is a section in the manual which is a very useful start.

    Putting it all together

    You need to work out a game plan about how to use these tools to formulate and achieve a musical goal. In my view time making small sketches using the articulations and settings is the only way to go here.


    Is it worth it?


    Absolutely!



    The result is SO MUCH MORE realism. At last a REAL virtual instrument one that can be played as well as programmed. It's worth the effort, this is no virtual blind alley, the learing curve may be long for you, depending on your skills, but learning the strad is going to equip yyou with the right skills for the future of sampling IMO.

    At the end of the road when is all is set up and learning assimulated, the Strad is EASY to use, and you simply won't hear anything better.

    Dont believe me?


    Well, use your ears yourself:

    Check out Stafano's song here:

    http://www.garritan.com/stradivari.html
    Core i7 920, Win 7 RC 64, Cubase 5 64, Omnisphere, Trilogy, RMX, EWQLSO Plat EW Choirs, GPO, Stradivari, Gofrilla, Absynth 4, Halion 3, Kontakt3, BFD2, VSL Strings, JBridge running all 32 bit apps well.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Styxx's Avatar
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    Re: Some basic answers for newbies

    The ideal set up for the Strad is a keyboard with pitch and mod wheels, touch sensitivity, midi out, aftertouch, and an input for a sustain and expression pedal - both of which will be used. You also need Kontakt 2 obviously.
    Also, does it not state at least a prerequisite for octave size?

    The ideal set up for the Strad is a keyboard with pitch and mod wheels, touch sensitivity, midi out, aftertouch, and an input for a sustain and expression pedal
    Ticks me off that expression pedal and any pedal should be an option!


    Keyboard

    I found the CME UF8 at digital village in the uk this retails for £340 UK . I bought it at a real rock bottom price, its a quality instrument and its working fine. See my other post if you want a run down, here:
    Yes, yes, yes, the only problem is I wish I would have realized more before I purchased a new keyboard. Edirol PCR-50 is not the keyboard controller for the strad! Not enough octaves.

    This is a nice post and I certainly do not want to sound as if I am belittling your assessments. I do have my reservations on some so features of k 2 so far. As for the manual, like all manuals ... huh.
    Styxx

  3. #3

    Wink Re: Some basic answers for newbies

    Styxx you react whatever way you like its all fine to me. Its a privilege to have such a dedicated GPO'er to join in.

    Its a steep learning curve and I am not at the end of the curve myself, but I this is the most powerful tool ever created for virtual strings. It IS worth it.. pm me if you want and we can share a little.

    Here is a tip that I found useful. Label up your keyboard with a few stickers (the type you CAN get off later!). It helped me visually see the geography of the Strad.

    In my K2 I cant see the keyswitches as different colors, so it was always keep the manual open at the same page or get out the stickers or rely on my lame brain memory.
    I am also developing a list of functions in word, its not finished but you can have a peak at it.

    here's to the K2 update

    Dont DO NOT give up

    Zero
    Core i7 920, Win 7 RC 64, Cubase 5 64, Omnisphere, Trilogy, RMX, EWQLSO Plat EW Choirs, GPO, Stradivari, Gofrilla, Absynth 4, Halion 3, Kontakt3, BFD2, VSL Strings, JBridge running all 32 bit apps well.

  4. #4

    Re: Some basic answers for newbies

    For anyone reading my post above: Don't take my word as Gospel - its all IMO and I am a new user of the Strad - bear this in mind.
    I still think the post is substantially valid, I am trying to get a dialogue going amongst users = feel free to jump in and correct
    Core i7 920, Win 7 RC 64, Cubase 5 64, Omnisphere, Trilogy, RMX, EWQLSO Plat EW Choirs, GPO, Stradivari, Gofrilla, Absynth 4, Halion 3, Kontakt3, BFD2, VSL Strings, JBridge running all 32 bit apps well.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Styxx's Avatar
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    Re: Some basic answers for newbies

    Zero,
    Hey, I really do appreciate your help! That's what keeps a slow learner as myself here. My problem is I expect when I install and open something such as these two programs that it will work just fine and dandy right out of the box. I will spend more time with it tonight if I can.
    Thanks and don't appologize about this post. It's one excellent idea!
    Styxx

  6. #6
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    Re: Some basic answers for newbies

    Styxx,

    Soft-samplers are a different animal than the players like the one included in GPO. They all seem to take some tweaking to get working. I've never really had any problem with Kontakt though unlike the issues I've had with GigaStudio.

    What kind of system are you using Kontakt on? Are you using it as a VST? You mentioned something about viewing issues and something about 15" monitor. What resolution are you working in?

    You still should be able to use the strad on a smaller keyboard although a 5 octave keyboard is recommended as the keyswitches take about an octave and the rest of the instrument covers around 3-1/2 octaves. The strad normally defaults to the most usable keyswitch which can be used for 80-90 percent of general playing.

    An expression pedal is not needed as long as you program a slider to CC11. I beta tested the Strad without an expression pedal. Just make sure you program one slider for CC11 and another one next to it for CC1 to control the vibrato so you can do both with one hand.

    Hang in there, once you get Kontakt and the Strad going it is worth it.

    Jim

  7. #7

    Re: Some basic answers for newbies

    Learning curve for the Strad should not reallybe too bad, assuming oyou're conmfortable with the whole controller/knob/slider/pedal/wheels thing. If you're not, it will be a long row to hoe.

    I'm waiting for the controller of my choice - the brand new (not yet shipped as of last week) M-Audio Axiom 61. Bend and mod wheels, aftertouch, sus and expressionpedals, nine drawbar-capable sliders, 8 drum/touch pads(!) and presets! $379 list See it here: http://www.m-audio.com/products/en_us/Axiom61-main.html

    There are others that have this feature set, but they are either a lot more money, a lot heavier of both.

    In the meanwhile, just playing with what I have available, I find it a difficult instrument to use well, but I have played typical synth controls for a long time. For me, what is hard is the volume on the mod wheel vs pedal and velocity. Playing the part is easy, playing it live properly expressively is not.

    But I know (and have already seen) that once I have become acclimated to the controlsurface, it is one hell of instrument; definitely one of the most expressive electronic instruments yet made.

    This is just the beginning of this technology. i recommend learning it well, because there are likely to be a whole lot more coming down the pike as the processes are applied to the rest of the orchestra.
    Dasher
    -------
    It's all about the music - really. I keep telling myself that...

  8. #8

    Re: Some basic answers for newbies

    Have you checked out the UF8. Im really pleased with mine. I might have an issue with the sustain pedal being an on/off rather than continious controller, havent had time to check this out, but overall I am delighted with the keyboard - see my other post. Its got 88 keys and is well built.
    Just a thought Soundsmith.
    Core i7 920, Win 7 RC 64, Cubase 5 64, Omnisphere, Trilogy, RMX, EWQLSO Plat EW Choirs, GPO, Stradivari, Gofrilla, Absynth 4, Halion 3, Kontakt3, BFD2, VSL Strings, JBridge running all 32 bit apps well.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Styxx's Avatar
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    Re: Some basic answers for newbies

    I'm waiting for the controller of my choice - the brand new (not yet shipped as of last week) M-Audio Axiom 61. Bend and mod wheels, aftertouch, sus and expressionpedals, nine drawbar-capable sliders, 8 drum/touch pads(!) and presets! $379 list See it here:
    I've had one on hold at Sweetwater for a month not priced at $299. The Edirol was given to me by a friend who didn't like it as well so I decided to give it a whirl. I waited too long and money ran out. So, the Axiom 61 is out of reach at present.

    Have you checked out the UF8.
    Some unsupported reports of shorting out under the metal hood of these boards. Hard to believe! I haven't found any articles to support this claim. I tried one out at Guitar Center and although very impressive I just do not have the funds. Besides, as a drummer I like the Axiom drum pads, assignable after touch and lighter weight.
    Styxx

  10. #10

    Re: Some basic answers for newbies

    Styxx, I played this at NAMM, it feels good. The UFE has had a LOT of issues, if you go to their forum. It also doesn't feel that great, IMHO - the keys feel fine, but I do not feel comfortable using their sliders as drawbars. But the new one has motorized faders - adds weight, expense, lower reliability even more - but the cool factor is amazing!

    If you can, I'd wait for the Axiom.
    Dasher
    -------
    It's all about the music - really. I keep telling myself that...

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