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Thread: sound card help

  1. #21

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    Hmm... I've been using a midi sequencer run on my laptop with onboard sound card. Now I'm transiting to a desktop with a view to switch to using audio production software and sound card. One problem I've put up earlier was midi playback. The midi sequencer I use doesn't come with it's own sound. So I had preferred a sound card that plays midi, in case I can't transit comfortably to other software, I'll have something to fall back on. I was thinking of getting an onboard sound card since I need to get a new mobo too. And yep, I've read that part about dual booting. I suppose my new problem is connection. If the sound card doesn't have a mic/speaker/headphone jack, I'll need to get preamp mic and headphone right? What about speakers? I'm not too ready to consider additional equipment at the moment. So I'm hoping to settle for a simple decent solution till I understand more.

    P.s. I use SoundFonts ehehhehheh. I could hardly load anything decent using my laptop

  2. #22

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    I think you need to differentiate the sounds/samples vs the way they will be triggered, i.e. midi & a controller. There's a free soundfont player sfz that you can use. But i don't think it comes with a library.

    But personally i think you can try asio4all and the onboard soundcard, and just get a copy of computer music mag. There's a shedload of freebies on it, and samples too. If you can't make any decent headway with them, you're probably best off trying something else.

  3. #23

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    Let's clear up all the confusion about names...

    Guppy, midi (musical instrument device interface) is a "language" used by electronic instruments to "talk" to each other. It has no sound. It's just electronic codes that tells when a note should be played, when it should stop playing, when to add vibrato, how loud it should sound, whether you want to sustain it, whether you want the pitch to bend etc.

    So what you need here is really a sound source. This comes as either hardware (synths, sound modules, and yes... some soundcards) or software (which we call softsynth or softsampler depending on the nature of it - but we can avoid details now).

    For sounds, there are different kinds of "templates". Most people who download midi files use a standard template called General Midi (or GM). This template has the standard 128 sounds - each sound always represent a particular instrument, so if you use the same file in different sound sources (whether a sound module, keyboard or some soundcards), you hear the same instruments playing, although each will have different quality. Eg: Midi instrument 1 is always piano. So you'll hear piano as long as your sound source supports GM - but a good sound module will have a better piano sound than a lousy one. Nowadays, we have many different templates - GM2 (second generation GM), GS and GS2 (Roland), XG (Yamaha) etc.

    So.... if your plan is to transfer midi files and share them, the way to go is a GM template as it is the most universal. But if the end product is a wav or mp3 file and you're not going to share your midi files, then the way is to forget about these templates. You should get a software sound source (softsynth or softsampler) that has their own sounds not in a standard template. These are usually of better quality and are better programmed for flexibility of usage.

    Next question is: what type of music do you intend to arrange/write/compose? The type of softsynth/softsampler will all depend on the answer to that question.

  4. #24

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    Check out this guy...

    Sold more records than anyone around here and recorded using sound blaster live.

  5. #25

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    Speechless. Again, goes to show that gear and tools are secondary.

  6. #26

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    @ac. Yep, will take a look at that.

    I can't deny I'm very confused about sounds, samples, library, SFs, VSTis, etc. Usually I read and speak to pple online and there's the limitation. The real pple I speak to either plays acoustic or happy with Creative or always moody. I've nothing against anything, just want to understand more to get a suitable solution. What I do now is arrange a song using a midi sequencer, then use a software synthesizer to record to wave, then use a wave editor to add effects and save as mp3, then self amuse and go on to something else. The problem I face is firstly sound quality, and secondly, if I decide to change one note, I'll have to repeat steps 2 and 3. So I had wanted to get a decent sound card and a "proper" audio production software that can do all 3 steps. So I was looking at E-mu 1212 cos' it comes with a software bundle. But I'm slow using piano roll so it would be easier for me to use my current midi sequencer to punch in the notes then open the midi file to edit in an audio production software. I was talking about midi cos' if the sound card doesn't play midi, I can't verify while using the midi sequencer, whether I punch in the right note. It's more for ease than any other reasons. So I was considering whether I should get an onboard sound card to supplement. Of cos' I also wondered if I need to spend on a pro sound card in the first place, cos' I won't do voice recording at home. I live by the ever noisy traffic junction. That's just me thinking out loudly...

    @Cheez. Ok clearing up confusion would be good. Thanks

    I understand what you wrote about midi. Now on to sound source. Hardware too chim, ex, space consuming for me. Software, you've mentioned before. I haven't make sense of how it works. Will spend some time to read on it. The different "templates" part, okay got the idea. Based on what I wrote to ac, then you would suggest I should "get a software sound source (softsynth or softsampler)". My heart is sinking cos' I suspect you'll tell me I need more pocket money haha. I "intend" to arrange/write/compose widely, but I have a tendency towards soft rock. I have the common wish: real sounding grand piano and guitar, and warm strings.

  7. #27

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    Guppy, software works in various ways. If you are using a sequencer, the softsynth/softsampler works as a plugin into your sequencer (usually VST). You call up that plugin, choose the patches and create your own template, and you sequence away like how you usually do. The sound will come from the VSTi. Alternatively, softsynths and softsamplers can also function as a standalone (if they support that) - that means you don't run it within a sequencer but runs by itself. That's usually done in a live setting.

    For good quality sounds that doesn't break your budget, Garritan's Personal Orchestra and Jazz & Big Band libraries cover most of what you would use.

    Actually, hardware not too cheem. It's quite fuss free. And doesn't crash. There are cheaper ones like Roland JV1010 if you can still find them. It's half rack, so doesn't consume lots of space.

    But if realism is what you want to go for (like me), then softsamplers is the way to go. Garritan is what I would recommend.

  8. #28

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    Indeed, it can be confusing. It's because older sound chips had onboard hardware MIDI synthesizers; people rarely noticed that .mid was NOT a music file format but a music information file format. In fact, it should still be confusing because as of Windows XP, Microsoft has its Roland-based synthesizer emulator as the default MIDI playback device. I myself use a softsynth with SGM soundfont. I don't need realism for playing back notation files exported to a playable music format.

    When it comes to composing, I'm not a big MIDI/piano guy so I don't bother to use a controller. I go the mouse+keyboard way, and it's the same thing. Just use the virtual keys/seq as MIDI device and let the instrument bank/host know which port the signals are coming from. For standalone software and plug-ins, they'd have internal sequencer and routing so no need for MIDI at all. There are a few ways, including Cheez's example above.

  9. #29

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    I'm a mouser too But I just realised I have a Prodikey tugged in a box somewhere...

    Assuming same midi file recorded to wav using same sound library, will quality of soundcard affect the end product? Trying to understand if a soundcard can directly affect the quality of digital music other than indirectly through influencing individual judgment. I was looking at the few pro soundcards mentioned in this thread, need help to confirm a few things...

    1. I'll most likely need a headphone amplifier and preamp mic, but not for Maya44 right?
    2. How do I connect to speakers?
    3. There's usually only one local dealer?
    4. Pro Tools only work with it's own soundcard?

    Think I need to rework my budget... Didn't cater to cables and adapters.

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