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Topic: Good (inexpensive) GM/GS/XG Synth or Library for Educational Purposes?

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  1. #1

    Good (inexpensive) GM/GS/XG Synth or Library for Educational Purposes?

    I'm looking to improve my General MIDI soundset. Mainly for creating quick-and-dirty backing tracks in rock and jazz styles for high school musicians to play along with.

    I would like it to respond to GM Bank/Patch Changes from my sequencer so that I can throw at it various MIDI files (and Band-in-a-Box Styles) without having to manually load and reload each individual instrument.

    Right now I'm using Cakewalk's TTS-1 and my hardware JV1010. These do the trick but they are decidedly cheesy, and the JV1010 requires me to record the input, which slows down the process. If I could find a set that is at least a bit more interesting and inspiring, it would be helpful. Inexpensive. Free libraries or Soundfont sets might work too. Any thoughts?

    I have already ruled out Collossus and the upcoming Garritan (Gem?) library for now, so no need to suggest those! The former is too expensive and the latter won't exist in time for the current project.

    Thanks,
    chris.

  2. #2

    Re: Good (inexpensive) GM/GS/XG Synth or Library for Educational Purposes?

    Edirol Hyper Canvas was okay, but seems to be gone forever.

    There's some decent GM sets available for download (moderately priced) at Sonic Implants website (Sonivox?)

    And you can always download SFZ for free to play any soundfont library you happen upon.

    There's some decent freely availabe GM sets out there.

    Do a search on KVR's forum for soundfonts.

  3. #3

    Re: Good (inexpensive) GM/GS/XG Synth or Library for Educational Purposes?

    http://www.sonivoxmi.com/ProductList...ts=GeneralMidi

    Just noticed the 250 MB GM set. I currently have the 24 MB one, and its 'okay.' Can't comment on what the 250 MB one sounds like.

  4. #4

    Re: Good (inexpensive) GM/GS/XG Synth or Library for Educational Purposes?

    If you can find a Yamaha SW1000XG card, they were great. I sold mine to buy NI Komplete, and have regretted it ever since. Not only did it have 1000+ sounds, most of which were variations on the GM palette, but also a bunch of onboard effects, and synth-editing capability. If you can find one it ought to be reasonably inexpensive by now. It did have XP drivers, but if you're moving to VISTA soon then maybe it wouldn't be such as good idea.

  5. #5

    Re: Good (inexpensive) GM/GS/XG Synth or Library for Educational Purposes?

    No synth will sound good if you are just creating "quick and dirty" sequences, just as no orchestra or band will sound good with "quick and dirty" arrangements and playing.

    I've got Colossus and I wasn't all that impressed. One of the major issues in a GM soundset is tonal and volume balance. The GM creator is not only providing the sounds but in a sense, defining them. So, for example, since the basic soundset set contains only one tenor sax, it is up to GM creator to come up with a definitive tenor sax that can be used in "Tequila", "Harlem Nocturne", and "In The Mood". As far as I'm concerned, that's black magic. Creating definitive sounds means understanding tonal cliché's and knowing that the best sax sound, i.e., the most realistic one, will have a too identifiable timbre to work in ensemble - no different from a stylistic soloist doing the same thing.

    For the money, any of the Roland / Yamaha modules from the Sound Canvas and XG series on will do the job with good programming and give you more useful sounds for the buck than a softsynth. The Virtual Sound Canvas has a problem with weird guitar sounds. The TTS is better but the basses don't match the hardware. I haven't tried the XG softsynth or hardware but I've heard good things about them. I have the 250 mb Sonivox soundfont and I wasn't impressed. Same with all the free soundfonts and M-Audio's Key Rig. I didn't bother with Bandstand because the reviews were so bad.

    The problem you will get into is the better and more specific sounds are not part of a typical module's GM soundset. They are also not as well supported. The GM bank on my XV-5050 doesn't even match the volume of the rest of the patches. The Motif rack doesn't include a true GM soundset and is more of a patch mapping to internal sounds that approximate a GM soundset though overall, it sounds pretty good. You may want to look for a used sc8820 or sc8850. There's a guy in Japan with good feedback that sells them regularly on Ebay. They have the advantage that commercial sequences which have been mixed down on an SC55 or SC88 will sound good on them "out of the box" so you can use them without a lot of editing. I've heard incredible, admittedly tricked out, sequences on them. Here's a page I cobbed together with some WMA demo files - I think they were from the supplied CD. I'll leave it up for a week:

    www.ohernie.com/sc8850

    Good luck

    Ernie

  6. #6

    Re: Good (inexpensive) GM/GS/XG Synth or Library for Educational Purposes?

    Quote Originally Posted by Joseph Burrell
    http://www.sonivoxmi.com/ProductList...ts=GeneralMidi

    Just noticed the 250 MB GM set. I currently have the 24 MB one, and its 'okay.' Can't comment on what the 250 MB one sounds like.
    Well, i upgraded to the 250 Mb one a while ago, and, IMO, it's still just "okay"...
    I mean, yes, it's better than the smaller one, which was a bit .... small.
    My main criticism about this 250Mb set the is that it seems to have been made hastily or without a lot of convicition, because there are a lot of gaps in the levels of the various instruments : some play very loud, others too low.... Be prepared to tweak volumes a lot with this one.
    More generally, I'm still waiting for a GM library which will do a good job at playing midifiles in a more convincing manner without too much time consuming tweakings.

  7. #7

    Re: Good (inexpensive) GM/GS/XG Synth or Library for Educational Purposes?

    Omnisynth is pretty decent - over 600 MB and costs $99. Don't expect it to match Colossus though. There's been rumours that a version 2 is on the way, but I wouldn't hold my breath.
    http://www.sampletank.com/Main.html?sound_OmniSynth

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