So what gear should I add to have a sampler without a DAW?

Forum for Roland FA-06/08

So what gear should I add to have a sampler without a DAW?

Postby tidalwaveten » 13:09, 11 May 2017

No gear is perfect. And the FA-06 seems like it would meet most of my needs. However, like many before me, I'm disappointed that the on-board sampler is limited; that it can't load a sample set spread across keys (e.g. cannot access sample libraries), and cannot pitch and time-shift one sample across keys. Fine. But without having to connect to a DAW--I'm an IT guy by profession, so I'm looking at monitors all day long and want a break from that--what are some affordable options (new or used; preferably used) for adding the sampling capability many of us wanted in the FA-06 but didn't receive. Love hardware sequencers. Hopefully the FA-06's sequencer isn't just an idea scratchpad.

I don't care about any of the live sampling capabilities. But if I want access to a gamelan orchestra multi-sample set, I want to be able to play it from the FA-06, connected however. Seems the the free axial expansion packs actually do contain new wav files. So color me confused.

My budget for a hardware sampler is in the $500 area, new or used.

Also, I'm curious. Why is a keyboard released in 2014 sold for the same street price in 2017? I save older gear catalogs and see that the FA-06 went for $1200 in 2014, and is still being sold new for the same price. Can I get a new FA-06 for less? Would help with purchasing a hardware sampler that would complement the FA-06. I could buy used, but not seeing great deals. $1,000 used... how low will a vendor discount a new FA-06?

Am I missing something? For, say, $1200 + $500 = $1,700, would I find anything like the FA-06 but with the ability to access multi-sample libraries?

Finally, when will a new "version" of the FA-06 be released, e.g. something in the same price range but newly released gear? How many years does Roland typically take to cycle to releasing new gear that replaces the old?
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Re: So what gear should I add to have a sampler without a DA

Postby tidalwaveten » 00:40, 12 May 2017

Well, I'll shortly be the proud owner of a used FA-06. Bought one off eBay. My questions still stand if anyone wants to comment.

tidalwaveten wrote:No gear is perfect. And the FA-06 seems like it would meet most of my needs. However, like many before me, I'm disappointed that the on-board sampler is limited; that it can't load a sample set spread across keys (e.g. cannot access sample libraries), and cannot pitch and time-shift one sample across keys. Fine. But without having to connect to a DAW--I'm an IT guy by profession, so I'm looking at monitors all day long and want a break from that--what are some affordable options (new or used; preferably used) for adding the sampling capability many of us wanted in the FA-06 but didn't receive. Love hardware sequencers. Hopefully the FA-06's sequencer isn't just an idea scratchpad.

I don't care about any of the live sampling capabilities. But if I want access to a gamelan orchestra multi-sample set, I want to be able to play it from the FA-06, connected however. Seems the the free axial expansion packs actually do contain new wav files. So color me confused.

My budget for a hardware sampler is in the $500 area, new or used.

Also, I'm curious. Why is a keyboard released in 2014 sold for the same street price in 2017? I save older gear catalogs and see that the FA-06 went for $1200 in 2014, and is still being sold new for the same price. Can I get a new FA-06 for less? Would help with purchasing a hardware sampler that would complement the FA-06. I could buy used, but not seeing great deals. $1,000 used... how low will a vendor discount a new FA-06?

Am I missing something? For, say, $1200 + $500 = $1,700, would I find anything like the FA-06 but with the ability to access multi-sample libraries?

Finally, when will a new "version" of the FA-06 be released, e.g. something in the same price range but newly released gear? How many years does Roland typically take to cycle to releasing new gear that replaces the old?
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Re: So what gear should I add to have a sampler without a DA

Postby Skijumptoes » 02:21, 12 May 2017

Sure you'll love it, personally in terms of additional sampler - some of the old EMU Esi-xxxx gear is great, and is really affordable. If you can find one with an internal HDD, or zip drive you can load up tons of old sample libraries and they still sound super good.

You could also look into using an iPad via camera connection kit as a sampler (If there's any out there that suit), or of course a win 8/10 tablet that you can use to load up virtual samplers. Computers based samplers are just so good it's pretty much killed the hardware sampler market.

And yes, some of the axial expansions (EXP's) are digital/virtual versions of an actual physical card you could put into older Roland gear (Fantoms/Juno G etc.) and it would add additional waveforms to the system memory plus new presets that would make use of them.

If anyone worked out how to backwards engineer the format then we would be able to create our own sample libraries. However, don't think that's ever gonnna happen. :(
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Re: So what gear should I add to have a sampler without a DA

Postby tidalwaveten » 14:08, 12 May 2017

Thanks, some great options! I inherited an old iPad from my wife (I'm a PC guy due to cost)--don't know if it's the iPad 3 and/or "the new iPad". Believe it was weirdly named when first released. I don't at all mind looking at tablet screens after work. But somehow a monitor and QWERTY keyboard makes me think of work.

Interesting on the virtual expansion packs. We shouldn't have to reverse engineer it--Roland should free it, thus extending the useful New Sale price of the FA 06/FA 08 boards. But it would be terrific if someone out there did reverse engineer it. Crippling a keyboard that way seems wrong to me. Oh well, I feel much better about my FA-06 purchase now though with your mention of software samplers, so thanks for your response! :-)

What's the deal with being able to load Integra 7 patches? Is that the real deal? If so, then there's at least one cool hack. Sounds like someone discovered the FA-06 had the same virtual analog Integra 7 engine as more expensive Roland boards--the Fantoms? Wish the mods would keep coming, allowing loading-up your own multi-samples. I doubt I'll ever use the FA-06's "sample" pads except to control actual functions of the keyboard not related to single audio part triggers.

Skijumptoes wrote:Sure you'll love it, personally in terms of additional sampler - some of the old EMU Esi-xxxx gear is great, and is really affordable. If you can find one with an internal HDD, or zip drive you can load up tons of old sample libraries and they still sound super good.

You could also look into using an iPad via camera connection kit as a sampler (If there's any out there that suit), or of course a win 8/10 tablet that you can use to load up virtual samplers. Computers based samplers are just so good it's pretty much killed the hardware sampler market.

And yes, some of the axial expansions (EXP's) are digital/virtual versions of an actual physical card you could put into older Roland gear (Fantoms/Juno G etc.) and it would add additional waveforms to the system memory plus new presets that would make use of them.

If anyone worked out how to backwards engineer the format then we would be able to create our own sample libraries. However, don't think that's ever gonnna happen. :(
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Re: So what gear should I add to have a sampler without a DA

Postby Skijumptoes » 15:26, 12 May 2017

Oh i know the iPad you mean, we still use one at home as a general coffee table thing if we need to check anything, and yes it wasn't numbered, they just called it the iPad retina when it came out, but is now classed as a 3 i believe. You can definitely run some great sample apps on there, you only need a midi connection kit to give you a usb connection and then class compliant (cheapy) usb-to-midi cable to the FA-06.

On the FA you can adjust which parts/tracks/channels go out to external gear too, so it will fully comply with the FA's sequencer, or indeed multi/studio set modes for playing dual/triple etc. voices.

The whole EXP expansions thing (Previously sold as SRX expansion cards), i'm sure will have some kind of intellectual property protecting their engineering/formatting, and that's why nothing has become available. Roland have been through some quite considerable changes since SRX was first launched, so i expect it was near 20 years ago when the white papers/development for those started.

I'm a software developer and i have a few projects i'd like to get stuck into on a hobby/personal level, and i must admit attempting to get into the EXP expansions would be one of the most rewarding and something i'd get a lot from.

Integra-7 patches, yeah, i mean the FA is the same engine... or rather set of engines as the integra, but the integra has additional Supernatural core sounds, so not *All* of them will work, but anything using SN-S (Supernatural synth engine) sure will. It's the more acoustic/natural instruments which were left out in the FA.

The FA really is like a 'best of' from Roland over the past couple of decades, it still retains the engines used in workstations like the fantoms 4 partial PCM sounds, and the newer Supernatural sounds from the integra. Just as a preset machine they're fantastic, but when you open up to your own sound design, it's mental how much can be done.

...Until you want to get your own samples in there of course!! :)

And i know exactly what you mean with the screen issue, I have an old hardware sampler from the early 90's, it has a few mb's of storage and i have to load samples up on a 1.44mb floppy still. But i love it so much more than using a keyboard and mouse on a computer, i need a connection with musical instruments, and i find the keyboard, mouse and monitor thing to be a disconnection.

In fact, i use Logic as my DAW and control it entirely through a Mackie MCU controller so a lot of the time i don't need to even look at the screen, i have it on a laptop stand with wheels and roll it around next to me, so whether it's guitar, vocals, or keyboards it's sat beside me. I can set volumes, change tracks, adjust plugin parameters, record, undo, play, scrub etc. it's old school, but i love it! :)
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Re: So what gear should I add to have a sampler without a DA

Postby AnalogHero » 17:12, 12 May 2017

Hi,

reverse engineering the exp files wont be that hard if i need to guess. Sure, i cant do it because im no software developer. What i think is a problem is testing a homebrew exp. What if it crashes the fa? A bsod or a total brick?

I really think roland should focus more on the software side of thinks.

Look, i also own a korg x50 keyboard and thought about upgrading to a krome. I decided to buy a roland FA06 instead, and i really DONT regret it. Roland did a lot things right with the FA. But on the other hand they could have done better.

My personal list of things they could have done better:

1. A vst plugin (my korgx50 already has this)
2. Better presets (again korg has shown much love to their products alone with their combinations)
3. Sample to keyboard or exp editor
4. Sample pad effect routing
5. Sample pad usage as transport button in seq
6. Mouse usb support
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Re: So what gear should I add to have a sampler without a DA

Postby tidalwaveten » 15:50, 13 May 2017

Wow, thanks so much! :-) The iPad has been collecting dust. No more. Will check out the kit you described. I hear you on the IP. Excellent info on the Integra patches, thanks for that. I'd be looking for 70's / 80's / 90's electronic music patches specifically and not natural instruments. Was a big fan of german techno / industrial / house music in the late to mid 90's. Also ambient "noise" music / experimental stuff (college radio artists who most have never heard of). Everything I mentioned, I'd like to play around at with composing my own similar tracks--just for fun. Of course I'm also a fan of Kraftwerk, etc. Some of the bands I liked back then were Orbital, LFO, Quadrophonia, Ministry, KLF, The Orb, Meat Beat Manifesto, Consolidated, and the sub-bass projects put out by a label named Contagious Records; strangely, there seems to be another Contagious Records having nothing to do with the one I know. It was a UK operation. Wish I'd kept my playlists as I have no recollection of any of the albums except Eurphoria and NRG+3. But I can't find these on eBay, Amazon, etc.

Wish I had a Wavestation--heard that was the most versatile synth of its kind for that purpose. Also a huge Rush fan; and no, I don't need a Tom Sawyer patch. :-) Enjoyed their music since the 70's. Would be fabulous to have patches similar to whatever Ged's used over the years, especially on their first 5 albums or so. Moogs, Oberheims, taurus pedals (controllers only or did they produce their own sounds?), etc.

Seeing the R40 and Clockwork Angels tour got me thinking about Roland again. Think Ged had a new mini Moog of some kind and a Fantom workstation, IIRC. And god knows what else behind the scenes. Would love to see Ged's gear rundown for those tours, like some video narrative about it.

Anyway, thanks again! I'm so jazzed to be getting the FA-06 and being able to repurpose the iPad. Now all I need is to buy a new, cheap laptop for a DAW. I do like the idea of having it out of sight. Wonder how cheap is cheap. Since I won't be running a bunch of VMs simultaneously, could I merely get a typical sub-$400 Windows PC and done with it? HP, Dell, Lenovo are obvious candidates in that space.

Life is good. I remember back in the day when I had an Amiga 500, some sort of sampling peripheral for the Amiga, One Whopping Megabyte of RAM, and access to a large college radio station's record and CD library where I had a show. Wrote a lot of my own songs using a 4 channel tracker named MED. It had the most intuitive (to me) sequencer I've ever used. Wish I could use that to write music again--I was most productive with it, due to its layout. Never really inspected the FA-06's sequencer. Just happy it had one.

Also a fan of Shoegazer / Dreampop music like Slowdive, Kitchens of Distinction, The Chameleons, etc. Bands that used large arrays of guitar pedals to create gorgeous washes / walls of sound. That's the type of non-synth music I might try to write and record.

Skijumptoes wrote:Oh i know the iPad you mean, we still use one at home as a general coffee table thing if we need to check anything, and yes it wasn't numbered, they just called it the iPad retina when it came out, but is now classed as a 3 i believe. You can definitely run some great sample apps on there, you only need a midi connection kit to give you a usb connection and then class compliant (cheapy) usb-to-midi cable to the FA-06.

On the FA you can adjust which parts/tracks/channels go out to external gear too, so it will fully comply with the FA's sequencer, or indeed multi/studio set modes for playing dual/triple etc. voices.

The whole EXP expansions thing (Previously sold as SRX expansion cards), i'm sure will have some kind of intellectual property protecting their engineering/formatting, and that's why nothing has become available. Roland have been through some quite considerable changes since SRX was first launched, so i expect it was near 20 years ago when the white papers/development for those started.

I'm a software developer and i have a few projects i'd like to get stuck into on a hobby/personal level, and i must admit attempting to get into the EXP expansions would be one of the most rewarding and something i'd get a lot from.

Integra-7 patches, yeah, i mean the FA is the same engine... or rather set of engines as the integra, but the integra has additional Supernatural core sounds, so not *All* of them will work, but anything using SN-S (Supernatural synth engine) sure will. It's the more acoustic/natural instruments which were left out in the FA.

The FA really is like a 'best of' from Roland over the past couple of decades, it still retains the engines used in workstations like the fantoms 4 partial PCM sounds, and the newer Supernatural sounds from the integra. Just as a preset machine they're fantastic, but when you open up to your own sound design, it's mental how much can be done.

...Until you want to get your own samples in there of course!! :)

And i know exactly what you mean with the screen issue, I have an old hardware sampler from the early 90's, it has a few mb's of storage and i have to load samples up on a 1.44mb floppy still. But i love it so much more than using a keyboard and mouse on a computer, i need a connection with musical instruments, and i find the keyboard, mouse and monitor thing to be a disconnection.

In fact, i use Logic as my DAW and control it entirely through a Mackie MCU controller so a lot of the time i don't need to even look at the screen, i have it on a laptop stand with wheels and roll it around next to me, so whether it's guitar, vocals, or keyboards it's sat beside me. I can set volumes, change tracks, adjust plugin parameters, record, undo, play, scrub etc. it's old school, but i love it! :)
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Re: So what gear should I add to have a sampler without a DA

Postby Skijumptoes » 02:21, 15 May 2017

Haha good to hear! You have a similar past as me, jumping through genre's and hitting the lesser known acts out there while retaining a core love for the classics! :), plus the whole Amiga/MED/OctaMED thing - that's pretty much were i started doing my own music, trackers like MED really blew my mind at the time, and living in the UK with the rave scene and huge drug culture that broke out, it was such a crazy time spent waking up on farmers fields freezing cold in October wondering if the previous night actually happened or not!

MED/OctaMED holds a lot of those memories, so to see someone mention it like you have brought a massive smile to my face, and a ton of memories flooding back just reading those three letters again, so thanks for that!! :)

You can still get trackers by the way, that operate in the same core fundamentals as MED did back in the day!

Honestly, i think the biggest issue you'll have with the FA is that it's very clinical and clean, but that's not a bad thing as the cleaner the source, the more control you've got if you want to get it low down and dirty. But if you like 80's sounds it ticks so many boxes for me, i remember hitting a few presets on the FA when i first got mine and i got chills hearing D-50 like sounds, Juno like sounds, and even DX7/FM sounding patches.

If the whole sampling thing does concern you and hardware samplers appeal, honestly, check out some of the oldish EMU Samplers, models like the ESI 2000/4000 can be had for about 30-50 quid nowadays, so probably even cheaper if you're stateside? They're tricky because of the small screens (The Ultra's are better in that respect, but hold value better), and limited storage (Most just load from a floppy still lol)

But for me they're absolute gems, real warm/solid sound that (In my opinion) beats mosts soft samplers even today, the filters on those EMU are really fantastic too. General ease of use, of course soft samplers have the market tied down.

I can happily spend hours sampling loops from old vinyl records that i pick up on the cheap, straight into the EMU and chop it up, and then record the output of that into an audio track into Logic - usually i don't even save what i've done on the EMU as i've got the loops i wanted out of it and into Logic within the one session.

There's something very special about doing that all on the fly, and not worrying about time signatures, click tracks and all this other nonsense! :)

As for a DAW system, yeah you don't need much of a system but obviously some plugins can roast a machine quickly.

I'm a mac/firewire user so not sure on better pc brands for audio etc but HP, DELL, Lenovo etc. do like to install a bit of bloat on their machines (Who doesn't nowadays!?). So i'd probably just build my own, or get a cheap one off ebay that needs to be finished off/installed.

Anything over i5 2.5ghz be alright, and SSD is a must with audio, that alone is like a CPU boost in itself!

One thing that may excite you is Ableton Live, if you're not aware of it? Check it out on youtube when used in conjunction with a Push (That i have) controller. Or the newer Push 2 controller (expensive, but very nice lol).

See here:- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0CdMvkBOUgs

Like the Mackie and Logic, Push really does truly take you away from the computer screen, you can use it in conjunction with the 16 parts on the Roland FA, plus Push 2 has hardware-like sampling functions (Waveform views whilst sampling, beat chopping/mangling etc.) AND it has step sequencer functions, so it's almost giving the old-school tracker/MED vibe.

If it wasn't so damn good and easy to produce music with it, i would be using Ableton over Logic 100%.. But, man, it's too insane for me longterm - I could create 3-4 songs with Ableton and a push controller within a night, it's that good. But that's almost part of it's trouble for me, it's too good!

See, my dilemma is that i want to come out of the grid and be a bit more free spirited and record more guitar based compositions (As that's what i enjoy most), so that's what Logic gives me, plus a more traditional environment to mix within helps with my mixing skills, i'm at the age now where i want to be a bit more deeper with the post production side of things, and learn that. (I probably read/watch more about music creation that doing it myself nowadays!).

The big problem i have though is strange, i like to MAKE different (Electronic based) music, than what i actually chose to LISTEN to for pleasure (Which can be anything from The Beatles, King Crimson 70s prog rock etc., to 90s indies.). I think my perfect setup would be to use Ableton and Push as it's own instrument that i'm then directly recording into Logic, but i think my CPU would probably catch fire! :)

Luckily family life takes so much time up, that it's no longer a concern to be fighting it, and i tend to love every minute i get to make music and do my best to just go with the flow, whatever and whenever it takes me! :)))))

One things for sure though, The FA will remain at the heart of my setup for a long time, because i can integrate it with my DAW, or i can run it standalone, it can control other synths, or i can just use it as basic piano, i can plug other instruments through it and even use it for basic songwriting with a mic and touch of reverb, or i can use it as a basic sampler/sequencer. All at the click of a power button, bliss! :)
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Re: So what gear should I add to have a sampler without a DA

Postby tidalwaveten » 15:38, 17 May 2017

* What a blast! Really enjoying our discussion. And my used FA-06 just arrived. :-) I'm making space in my home library / home theatre room (used projector off eBay, USD $100...). Don't want to unbox and touch the FA-06 until I'm closer to having a basic set-up, e.g. also what to use for monitors. I don't want to use "real" monitors--too damn expensive. I have an old thrift store boombox with detachable speakers, and multiple inputs, that I may use. Purists would poo-poo the idea, but hey, I can always use a good pair of phones as well. I've got a half-broken set of ~USD $150 passive noise reducing headphones; can't even find them--think they were Sennheisers or Audio Technica. Is there a sub USD $100 pair of phones you'd recommend using with the FA-06 (so the wife won't be bothered)?

* Thinking of other bands I liked: Eon, Messiah, 808 State, Lords of Acid, Gary Numan and Numan remixes, 1st NiN album (didn't Resnor use ultra cheap samplers on Pretty Hate Machine, maybe an Ensoniq? I once owned a non-sampling keyboard, the ESQ-1), Chris and Cosey / TG / Psychick TV, Psychick Warriors ov Gaia (they stayed at my apartment once while on tour), *early* Moby like what you'd find on the CD "Early Underground"--a DJ friend of mine when to high school with Moby--I asked and he favored Yamaha gear at that time), etc. Listened to a *lot* of Dark Ambient and had a specialty show--learned to like it accidentally. Too many bands to name, but Non, Nurse With Wound, Organum, Zoviet France, etc. With all the dark ambient stuff, I believe they probably used a lot of multi-effects units and/or tape loops and pedals. I'm tempted to buy something like an Alesis Quadraverb (?) or ART unit that can do 4 to 6 simultaneous effects at once. Played with an ART once and was amazed at what one could create simply by playing an LP through it! Or, anything of more recent vintage I could buy, sub USD $200, new or used, that would satisfy the need for real-time twiddling to create dark ambient noise?

* Glad you had the same start as me. I missed out on OctaMed and did was limited to the 4 tracks that MED had. Really did make you think, though--to be economical, so to speak, with tracks. It kills me that neither do I have my old MED module compositions and sample sets; I don't even have cassettes (which I would have digitized by now) of my old music. :-( I used to have my songs put on "carts"--those endless loop tapes radio stations had) and would let DJs choose mine, when they wanted to play local music, if they chose. Tried not to play my own stuff while On Air. :-)

* So, Apple or PC for a laptop? I'm inclined to a PC; not because I think the OS is anything but sh*t (I was a Unix/Linux sysadmin for some time); rather, because the cost of entry is so low. Again, I'm thinking USD $500 or less for a quad core, 8G to 12G HP, Lenovo, or Dell. Probably an AMD a10 as those are cheaper, and less confusing, than the Intel series of iX processors.

* Hmmm, know of any good trackers for the PC? Though I know you're a Mac user. Maybe someone out there will know. Or the Mac if I must. Also, any good soft samplers I could run on the iPad 3. My wife has a recent vintage MacBook, and I could always borrow it to mess around. But not for long as she brings it to work with her. Then uses her iPad Pro and iPhone at night. I recently inherited her iPhone 6s--she just had to get the 7. That iPhone 6s must have many multiples of power and RAM than the Amiga 500. Wonder if it could be deployed for sampling, etc... But damn, I do need a new phone. I have a crappy off-brand Android that is ready to bite the dust. A friend at work suggested I simply get one of those sub $500 Apple "box" computers, then plug a KVM into it. If the productivity level is through the roof on MacOS vs. Windows, then I might be able to cost-justify one.

* D50/DX-7, and various Junos? *high five*--I'm so looking forward to hearing. I hear the D50 in so many bands I liked. Growing up in high school, I recall frothing over Korg M1s due to the onboard sequencer, effects, etc, but not being able to afford one. How would you succinctly compare the M1 with the FA-60 if you've ever played one? I think the Psychick Warriors ov Gaia gigged with nothing more than an M1 and a sampler--probably an Akai.

* Will have to think about an older hardware sampler. Might be fun! Again, I recall drooling over Akais, EMUs, etc. And being in awe of Fairlights. I think Ministry owned one, and they cost around USD 20K at the time. Again, life is good and I've been away from making music for too long.

* I'll have to look more into your setup; Logic (and free or cheap "lite" versions of it you'd recommend?), your mixer, etc.

* Finally, if I had only USD $1,000 to purchase kit--including a new computer--what would you advise? I love used gear, so that would help with price, given what I've mentioned? At least for a fabulous start!

It's been a pleasure chatting with you about all this stuff. Love it! Keep it going. :-) Surprised no one else has chimed in.

Skijumptoes wrote:Haha good to hear! You have a similar past as me, jumping through genre's and hitting the lesser known acts out there while retaining a core love for the classics! :), plus the whole Amiga/MED/OctaMED thing - that's pretty much were i started doing my own music, trackers like MED really blew my mind at the time, and living in the UK with the rave scene and huge drug culture that broke out, it was such a crazy time spent waking up on farmers fields freezing cold in October wondering if the previous night actually happened or not!

MED/OctaMED holds a lot of those memories, so to see someone mention it like you have brought a massive smile to my face, and a ton of memories flooding back just reading those three letters again, so thanks for that!! :)

You can still get trackers by the way, that operate in the same core fundamentals as MED did back in the day!

Honestly, i think the biggest issue you'll have with the FA is that it's very clinical and clean, but that's not a bad thing as the cleaner the source, the more control you've got if you want to get it low down and dirty. But if you like 80's sounds it ticks so many boxes for me, i remember hitting a few presets on the FA when i first got mine and i got chills hearing D-50 like sounds, Juno like sounds, and even DX7/FM sounding patches.

If the whole sampling thing does concern you and hardware samplers appeal, honestly, check out some of the oldish EMU Samplers, models like the ESI 2000/4000 can be had for about 30-50 quid nowadays, so probably even cheaper if you're stateside? They're tricky because of the small screens (The Ultra's are better in that respect, but hold value better), and limited storage (Most just load from a floppy still lol)

But for me they're absolute gems, real warm/solid sound that (In my opinion) beats mosts soft samplers even today, the filters on those EMU are really fantastic too. General ease of use, of course soft samplers have the market tied down.

I can happily spend hours sampling loops from old vinyl records that i pick up on the cheap, straight into the EMU and chop it up, and then record the output of that into an audio track into Logic - usually i don't even save what i've done on the EMU as i've got the loops i wanted out of it and into Logic within the one session.

There's something very special about doing that all on the fly, and not worrying about time signatures, click tracks and all this other nonsense! :)

As for a DAW system, yeah you don't need much of a system but obviously some plugins can roast a machine quickly.

I'm a mac/firewire user so not sure on better pc brands for audio etc but HP, DELL, Lenovo etc. do like to install a bit of bloat on their machines (Who doesn't nowadays!?). So i'd probably just build my own, or get a cheap one off ebay that needs to be finished off/installed.

Anything over i5 2.5ghz be alright, and SSD is a must with audio, that alone is like a CPU boost in itself!

One thing that may excite you is Ableton Live, if you're not aware of it? Check it out on youtube when used in conjunction with a Push (That i have) controller. Or the newer Push 2 controller (expensive, but very nice lol).

See here:- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0CdMvkBOUgs

Like the Mackie and Logic, Push really does truly take you away from the computer screen, you can use it in conjunction with the 16 parts on the Roland FA, plus Push 2 has hardware-like sampling functions (Waveform views whilst sampling, beat chopping/mangling etc.) AND it has step sequencer functions, so it's almost giving the old-school tracker/MED vibe.

If it wasn't so damn good and easy to produce music with it, i would be using Ableton over Logic 100%.. But, man, it's too insane for me longterm - I could create 3-4 songs with Ableton and a push controller within a night, it's that good. But that's almost part of it's trouble for me, it's too good!

See, my dilemma is that i want to come out of the grid and be a bit more free spirited and record more guitar based compositions (As that's what i enjoy most), so that's what Logic gives me, plus a more traditional environment to mix within helps with my mixing skills, i'm at the age now where i want to be a bit more deeper with the post production side of things, and learn that. (I probably read/watch more about music creation that doing it myself nowadays!).

The big problem i have though is strange, i like to MAKE different (Electronic based) music, than what i actually chose to LISTEN to for pleasure (Which can be anything from The Beatles, King Crimson 70s prog rock etc., to 90s indies.). I think my perfect setup would be to use Ableton and Push as it's own instrument that i'm then directly recording into Logic, but i think my CPU would probably catch fire! :)

Luckily family life takes so much time up, that it's no longer a concern to be fighting it, and i tend to love every minute i get to make music and do my best to just go with the flow, whatever and whenever it takes me! :)))))

One things for sure though, The FA will remain at the heart of my setup for a long time, because i can integrate it with my DAW, or i can run it standalone, it can control other synths, or i can just use it as basic piano, i can plug other instruments through it and even use it for basic songwriting with a mic and touch of reverb, or i can use it as a basic sampler/sequencer. All at the click of a power button, bliss! :)
tidalwaveten
 
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Re: So what gear should I add to have a sampler without a DA

Postby Skijumptoes » 17:07, 17 May 2017

tidalwaveten wrote:I've got a half-broken set of ~USD $150 passive noise reducing headphones; can't even find them--think they were Sennheisers or Audio Technica. Is there a sub USD $100 pair of phones you'd recommend using with the FA-06 (so the wife won't be bothered)?


ATH-M40x's are really good for the money, not sure if they're under the $100 mark in the states (presuming that's where you are?). But they would be my go to.

However, saving more money, i got myself a pair of Superlux after reading/hearing great reports of them as a budget phone. And i gotta say, super impressed. I went for the superlux hd681 evo - probably about $40, if that. Came with different cable lengths and additional 'comfortable' pads, sound superb for the money, and as they're cheap i generally use them for any headphone work i do now, as i don't hugely care so much if they get snagged/pulled off my head etc.

Monitors, you can get some really good sounding budget ones. I've recently seen the Behringer B2031A's (Active, amp built in, compensation settings etc) for really good prices secondhand, and they're a pretty decent speak monitor - yes, it's behringer, but when on a budget you can't turn your nose up.

tidalwaveten wrote:With all the dark ambient stuff, I believe they probably used a lot of multi-effects units and/or tape loops and pedals. I'm tempted to buy something like an Alesis Quadraverb (?) or ART unit that can do 4 to 6 simultaneous effects at once. Played with an ART once and was amazed at what one could create simply by playing an LP through it! Or, anything of more recent vintage I could buy, sub USD $200, new or used, that would satisfy the need for real-time twiddling to create dark ambient noise?


Used to have an ART rack mount, and it was really good, but then i went through a period of being really OTT with having everything being within the DAW and software plugins was the way to go, sold loads of my hardware at low prices (Wasn't fashionable!) and replaced them with fancy midi controllers, that honestly, were quite soul-less. Wish i never went through that phase, because as time went on i realised that changing OS's or plugin revisions etc. you can literally lose your 'virtual'/software setup overnight.

There's something truly enchanting with hardware, it's like when you hear a synth playing through styrmon, it always sounds fantastic, regardless!! :)

tidalwaveten wrote:Glad you had the same start as me. I missed out on OctaMed and did was limited to the 4 tracks that MED had. Really did make you think, though--to be economical, so to speak, with tracks. It kills me that neither do I have my old MED module compositions and sample sets; I don't even have cassettes (which I would have digitized by now) of my old music. :-( I used to have my songs put on "carts"--those endless loop tapes radio stations had) and would let DJs choose mine, when they wanted to play local music, if they chose. Tried not to play my own stuff while On Air. :-)


Cool, knew a guy who had his own pirate radio and i created a load of jingles for him, it kinda exploded locally (10 mile radius max lol), and he was quite the star. Played out a few tracks and got some really good feedback from them, was a proper buzz and quite exciting. Nowadays, the internet should be a great vehicle for that, but it's just so vast it almost hurts my head to think of the amount of people out there doing stuff nowadays.

When you think back to 90's most of the commercial acts would make it big purely as they had enough support, or budget to get themselves a decent run of vinyl/cd/cassette pressings. And i loved that true bedroom producer mentality that would explode out occasionally, it would nearly always set new boundaries/ideas alight.

And yes, the whole 4 track thing was good too, i remember re-sampling bass drums with snares, and bass drum with hats etc. so i could use multisample within the one track, trouble was it would always dull the sound each time you resampled, so you would then have to apply some kind of EQ or gain to raise it up again. The offshoot of that is that you've subsconciously creating a new sound, and it gave beats a certain character.

tidalwaveten wrote:So, Apple or PC for a laptop? I'm inclined to a PC; not because I think the OS is anything but sh*t (I was a Unix/Linux sysadmin for some time); rather, because the cost of entry is so low. Again, I'm thinking USD $500 or less for a quad core, 8G to 12G HP, Lenovo, or Dell. Probably an AMD a10 as those are cheaper, and less confusing, than the Intel series of iX processors.


If you haven't got the baggage of being an Apple user i would go PC probably, as you definitely get more bang for your money. It's just that i can't physically use a windows machine anymore. My workflow is good on Mac, i've had no machine failures in 10+ years, Time machine keeps me backed up without hassle, and i can just get on with doing what i've gotta do.

It is tough though, when you look at the range of Apple machines and how they've deliberately held the specs back in order to milk Apple users. But there's something that happens to you once you've stepped into this safe, Apple eco-system, that just makes you feel comfortable.

tidalwaveten wrote:know of any good trackers for the PC? Though I know you're a Mac user. Maybe someone out there will know.


Last one i used was on Win XP, and i think it was Modplug, but there was also MED running on PC's still around that time. But no, i'm not sure what the best ones are now. An Amiga emulator running MED would be funny to revisit, i bet it's hugely cumbersome now!! :)

tidalwaveten wrote:Also, any good soft samplers I could run on the iPad 3


Beatmaker 2 and the MPC emulator 'iMPC Pro' are both pretty good, depends on what you want to do really, but they both have plenty of functionality. However, on IOS you can use an app called audiobus that allows you to link several apps together, and record them into something like GarageBand. So most of the time, i think people use specific apps for specific sounds for orchestral stuff etc. But then, typical Apple, you're limited to storage space on the iPad. bah![/quote]

tidalwaveten wrote:A friend at work suggested I simply get one of those sub $500 Apple "box" computers, then plug a KVM into it. If the productivity level is through the roof on MacOS vs. Windows, then I might be able to cost-justify one.


The mac mini's? Yeah, they're great, but of course you need the monitor, and if your a heavy PC user, you may find that you just don't gel with MacOS of course. Must admit, took me a good 6 months, and even then i didn't realise i had gelled with it until i went back to windows and somehow that suddenly felt odd! lol

tidalwaveten wrote:ow would you succinctly compare the M1 with the FA-60 if you've ever played one? I think the Psychick Warriors ov Gaia gigged with nothing more than an M1 and a sampler--probably an Akai.


Well, this is the thing, when you combine a synth with a sampler, particularly if there's additional filters or effects going through, then you can produce incredible stuff if you put the time in.

To compare M1 and FA-06, wow. I don't know if i can. I've only used an M1 with external processing, and it always sounded great, beyond that my lasting memories are more with the plugin version. But that M1 piano does something crazy to me, there are attempts on the FA at recreating that piano, but they don't sound very good on their own - however, they sit well in a mix. I don't know if that was Roland's intended plan when coming up with a lot of the FA's presets or not, but i've found with many of the presets that they blend well together.

tidalwaveten wrote:Will have to think about an older hardware sampler. Might be fun! Again, I recall drooling over Akais, EMUs, etc. And being in awe of Fairlights. I think Ministry owned one, and they cost around USD 20K at the time. Again, life is good and I've been away from making music for too long.


For me, i think you can get much of the Akai sound quite easily, but the EMU sound. I've never heard anything quite like it in a soft synth/sampler, there's something about the DAC on those units, and the filters it had. A Pain to use though! lol

tidalwaveten wrote:Finally, if I had only USD $1,000 to purchase kit--including a new computer--what would you advise? I love used gear, so that would help with price, given what I've mentioned? At least for a fabulous start!


That's a hard question, i love pre-owned gear too, so i tend to have a core setup and then keep other bits cycled around that. And there's just so many options available now, i mean, i have a friend who loses himself in Korg Volca's scattered around his desk - all synced together. He never really records anything, he just enjoys stepping in to that world. So, sometimes i see him and i yearn for that kinda setup.

But then, other times, i have a mate who owns his own studio, and everything is very specific and done for a reason, track by track, and manipulated to be 'perfect', so i sit there for a few hours and i learn a load of cool stuff, and i feel like that's what i want to do.

Then other times, i'm quite happy sat by a traditional piano, or acoustic guitar.

Trouble is, they're very unique setups, and it's very hard to say what i would get if starting fresh.

For me though, i'm quite settled on a mixer that has sub outputs, which means that i can play live, mix and bus out to an FX rack. I don't need a computer for that to happen, and my mixer has built in effects also. So that's great.

Then, comes the DAW side of things, something like the Focusrite Audio interfaces are good, affordable and you get decent pre-amps in them. The sub outputs from my mixer can then be used to route specific channels of the mixer direct into the interface for recording. So my 'live' setup then can be placed into Logic on a track by track basis, but i can specifically pick out the bits i want to record.

But yeah, if i didn't have what i did, i would be all over the pre-owned market with a $1000 in my pocket, and trying to get back to this kind of setup again, as it works well for me, and is expandable because everything can be routed anywhere via the mixer.

tidalwaveten wrote:It's been a pleasure chatting with you about all this stuff. Love it! Keep it going. :-) Surprised no one else has chimed in.

I had to do fancy quoting to reply this time, and yes, if anyone else has recommendations please chip in!

And may i just add, that if you're fan of old synths etc. check this guy out on youtube, i could watch him for hours:-
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC27jRF ... u9T5GkPH_g

In his playlist are some great Roland FA videos, but he's since just been on the look out for older stuff that he used to play when he was in a band in the 80's and it's really intriguing to see his reactions when playing through patches on original D-50's, DX7's etc.
Skijumptoes
 
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Re: So what gear should I add to have a sampler without a DA

Postby tidalwaveten » 02:16, 22 May 2017

* Wow, just wow! :-) Thanks for all the detailed assistance. I'm writing down every piece of kit you recommended, going to watch YouTube videos on them, then check the pre-owned market. Hope I can keep things under budget. Maybe USD $1,500 or less. Yes, I'm U.S.-based. With Logic and Ableton Live, I'm hoping there are free or cheap "lite" versions to get started with. Fully-fledged software, I imagine, can eat up a budget fast. And possibly derail me from my purpose--just getting up and running.

* Re: Apple, I'll strongly consider a Mac Mini or MacBook. Is there a minimum older model of MacBook you'd recommend? A colleague of mine uses nothing but Macs. While he's not into music production, he always buys his Macs as refurbs. And there's a company he swears by that he's been using for years. So I'll check prices there. It's Colorado Computers or something similarly named. Don't think the older MacBooks are going to have SSDs though, would they?

* Or, if anyone recommends just going Windows, please let me know and why. It may be interesting to get into the Mac Universe--an alternate one from work, where Windows Server predominates (unfortunately; I prefer Linux for uptime, reliability, etc). Windows has gotten to be such a stressor that it may be worthwhile re-training myself to use a Mac.

* Re: Behringer, I'm not a snob. If it performs well enough at a bargain price, I'm in.

* Headphones: Could probably start out with the cheap phones, getting the more expensive ones as a Phase II; if you could advise on the bare minimum amount of kit you'd recommend for getting started, what would those individual items be?

* Mixer: so would the Mackie MCU be a budget-buster? If so, what's a good alternative for a Phase I home studio roll-out?

* The Push 2 looks very cool; it I can do any step sequencing that feels like MED, that would make me super productive (relative to myself, of course). Will watch some videos on Push 2. But I don't even know what Ableton Live is; I have heard of Logic and Cubase. A guy at work advised me to get a Mac and just use GarageBand to get started. But he's not a synth-head like I am. He's more of a guitar guy.

* I'm a little confused on getting the iPad 3 connected up. But I'll google on the terms you mentioned--the Camera Connection Kit, Midi Connection Kit, etc. Plus the sampling software and bus software you recommended.

* Will take a look at FocusRite for an Audio interface. Presuming this is a Must Have for recording. Correct? Or can I hold off. Really just looking forward to live diddling around at first--triggering an external sampler, etc. Having a mixer and monitors.

* Getting back to Mac, a dear friend, who doesn't do music production but is a person I trust, advised to Go Mac. He's got several vintages of Macs that have never let him down. One of the older one he uses as a FLAC audio server. He said don't think Price, think value: reliability, quality, productivity, etc. He's into the same Electronica as I am, is an audiophile listener, as well as an IT guy who must support Windows too.

* Will check out the YouTube guy you mentioned; esp. his FA series.

Thanks again for all the advice, info, and encouragement. The home studio floor is clear. Waiting for some tables to come in. The FA remains unopened. I'd rather unbox when I have the basics in place--monitors, mixer, and iPad interface at least. Or even just headphones vs. monitors. But I do enjoy open air, non-headphone composing / listening. That jazzes me the most. And inspiration is priceless. :-)
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Re: So what gear should I add to have a sampler without a DA

Postby Skijumptoes » 11:28, 22 May 2017

tidalwaveten wrote:* Wow, just wow! :-) Thanks for all the detailed assistance. I'm writing down every piece of kit you recommended, going to watch YouTube videos on them, then check the pre-owned market. Hope I can keep things under budget. Maybe USD $1,500 or less. Yes, I'm U.S.-based. With Logic and Ableton Live, I'm hoping there are free or cheap "lite" versions to get started with. Fully-fledged software, I imagine, can eat up a budget fast. And possibly derail me from my purpose--just getting up and running.


In my mind, Logic is one of the biggest steal in the DAW world, you basically get everything with it, and as there's a bit of a paywall when you buy a mac, so they do offset the apps to be 'affordable', you get everything you need and a ton of supporting content, presets, loops, plugins etc. Although Logic is a bit 'unique' in how it operates, so not everyone's cup of tea, sometimes it really frustrates me, but on the whole i love it - it's an absolute bargain.

Ableton is great, but it's typical pricing model where you have multiple levels of options when buying leaves me a bit cold.

The suite version really does get pricey, when i got my Push i upgraded to standard when on offer, then upgraded again when suite was on offer. But it was always annoying when i was on standard version, as someone i knew had a dodgy version of suite and it would really piss me off to think they had it for free, yet i was paying a load just for standard version, and that doesn't even come with the sampler plugin!! It's nuts really, and while the underlying point is piracy vs paying - it's still a kick in the teeth to think that you've bought the hardware, you've upgraded, but even then you don't get a the sampler instrument unless you upgrade again!

Personally, if you're on a budget i would start with Reaper ( http://www.reaper.fm ), you can use it fully functional for free for as long as you need to evaluate it, and it's a mix of great DAW's like Pro Tools, Logic, Cubase etc. And it runs on pretty much all platforms which is good.

On top of that, you could pretty much just pick up some free plugins to flesh it out, as required, or buy something like Computer Magazine one month, which comes complete with a download code for a stack of plugins that they've assembled for their readers, some are exclusive versions of paid software too, but i know that pack definitely has a few samplers and sample packs included.

tidalwaveten wrote:* Re: Apple, I'll strongly consider a Mac Mini or MacBook. Is there a minimum older model of MacBook you'd recommend? A colleague of mine uses nothing but Macs. While he's not into music production, he always buys his Macs as refurbs. And there's a company he swears by that he's been using for years. So I'll check prices there. It's Colorado Computers or something similarly named. Don't think the older MacBooks are going to have SSDs though, would they?


SSD is easy to put in a MacBook (Particularly the older 2012/2013 like models as you can swap out the CD drive and run dual HDD), but spec wise it's hard to know what to aim for, as to what your needs may be.

However, i think this applies to Mac/PC as they're same architecture really if you're intel, and i'd say you want at least an i5 2.5ghz, and at least 8GB of memory, but definitely an SSD, for audio an SSD is a game changer.

Also, with mac's you can use the firewire audio interfaces reliably, which rely less on CPU time than a USB device, generally have lower latency, and also provide more power to the interface for better headphone amplification with the built in headphone ports.

tidalwaveten wrote:If you could advise on the bare minimum amount of kit you'd recommend for getting started, what would those individual items be?


Mixer:
Something that's good, flexible and can be picked up pre-owned, i would say the older blue Yamaha MG12/4's come up for really good prices if you watch the market for a week or two. I've seen them for 50-60 quid in the past (80-90$?). These have the sub output which gives you some great flexibility, basically you have a main output that goes out to your speakers/amp, but the sub output can go out to an audio interface, and each channel on the mixer has a 'sub' button so you can pick which channels are going to the DAW.

If you only have the FA, and don't plan on any other outboard gear then you can get away with not having a mixer of course.

Don't ever get fooled into buying a Behringer mixer though, honestly, they're nothing but trouble in my experience. Even as a cheap option, the pre-amps are noisy, some of the channels are noisy, and lights/knobs do fail on them.

Audio Interface:
Something like the Focusrite scarlett 2i2 (2 inputs at once), or 2i4 (4 inputs at once) are simple, great, affordable USB interfaces. These are pretty much the go to's for most people starting out.

Firewire wise the Focusrite Saffire's are great, The saffire pro 14, particularly can be had super price pre-owned. Don't know how well these work on a windows setup, but they're great on mac. Although, they've got to be close to reaching their supported (by focusrite) life. But you can say that about many devices.

Cabling:
Make sure you're using 'balanced' cables where possible between your gear and mixer, cost a little bit more than standard cabling, but it does make a difference.

Speakers/Monitors:
I'd stick with what you've got, fried of mine mixes on hifi separates and his stuff always sounds super good, you just get to know what you have, and there's a lot of snobbery in the audio world where people flock towards (And pay loads for!) 'neutrality', when in truth, if you're a creator/songwriter/producer, a speaker/monitor that encourages you to enjoy your writing/performing is most important in my mind. So hi-fi speakers, even if they're a little emphasised, can be a good thing.

Add a computer in to that mix, and your phase 1 could be done super cheap, Audio interface maybe be around $80-120, balanced cables probably $30, disregard a mixer unless you have other outboard gear, and using your current speakers. Reaper as the DAW. And you're practically there for the basics of recording and having something running.

In fact, with the FA, you have an audio interface built in, so you could even drop out the audio interface lol, using the buil-in audio interface, the DAW will re-route back through to the FA for example, plus you can use the FA's inputs to capture other sources (mics etc.).

Spending a bit of money in the room you chose to do your recording in also helps, i.e. getting a nice desk in, and keeping everything clean, putting some bits up on the walls which inspire you - classic albums, music concepts etc.. Brackets/holders for headphones/cables that you use, cable management to keep everything clean etc.

I have some chord theories and EQ charts on my wall, and i'm forever referring to them.

tidalwaveten wrote:The Push 2 looks very cool; it I can do any step sequencing that feels like MED, that would make me super productive (relative to myself, of course). Will watch some videos on Push 2. But I don't even know what Ableton Live is; I have heard of Logic and Cubase. A guy at work advised me to get a Mac and just use GarageBand to get started. But he's not a synth-head like I am. He's more of a guitar guy.


Ableton (+push) is literally a world of it's own lol, you can't really explain it without actually using it. If you're into EDM etc. then it's pretty much the go to DAW, well, that and reason. Trouble with reason is it's a very closed eco system.

Logic, Cubase, Pro-Tools, Reaper, Studio One etc. are very much traditional DAW's, you need know where you're going and read a fair bit of each manual to learn them, and even then after years of use there's much that can still be learnt, they're much more suited if you have a compete vision of what you want to achieve.

Ableton, you can dive in pretty quick, it's all about creating patterns, and then assembling those patterns like lego bricks to create a song, it's incredibly quick for creating ideas. Unlike Logic/Cubase etc. you don't really need to know where you're going to come out with something that's great, because it encourages you to make bite sized segments, and mix them in to see how they sound, but to get stuff in tune, it's ridiculously easy to pitch/stretch - as Ableton has a 'warp' engine at the heart of everything.

If you could pick up a cheap Ableton Push 1 with a Ableton License, you would absolutely love it. It's probably the most fun i've ever had making music, honestly, it's incredible, see here how the step sequencer works:-
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vQofWz9uiLo

Push 1 is pretty much identical to Push 2 in terms of this type of functionality, it just lacks the nicer full colour display, and a few advanced features.

tidalwaveten wrote:I'm a little confused on getting the iPad 3 connected up. But I'll google on the terms you mentioned--the Camera Connection Kit, Midi Connection Kit, etc. Plus the sampling software and bus software you recommended.


1. Basically, you buy the camera connection kit (doesn't have to be official, but check reviews are good), this gives you normal USB port on your iPad.
Something like this: https://www.amazon.com/Lightning-to-USB ... B014VGHG0U

2. *May not need this* You then buy a generic USB-Midi cable, which turns the usb port into a midi connection.
https://www.amazon.com/VicTsing-Cable-C ... B00ACGMOA6

However, i'm thinking that you may not even need the USB-Midi cable, as the FA can be set to class-compliant (i.e. driverless) mode and may work fine direct into usb port of the camera connection kit - i'll try later and let you know if this works.

3. Just get some sample/audio apps on the iPad - whatever appeals to you, just check they are midi capable.

4. Buy/Connect a 3.5mm stereo audio jack cable from the iPad headphone out into the line input on the back of the FA (This will let you hear the iPad mixed through with the FA's own internal sounds), set the input levels to suit. like this:-
https://www.amazon.com/AmazonBasics-3-5 ... B00NO73MUQ

5. Within the iPad apps, you can set the midi channel to what the sample players will respond to, i.e. you could pick channel 15 or something high up. Then on the FA's own internal sequencer you can use those channels (15), and set it to 'EXT' (External midi) to play the iPad sampler, Channel 16 would be the FA's own sample pads, Channel 10 will be the FA's own drum sounds, and then you have 1-9 and 11-14 for the FA's synth engine sounds to live in. As you scroll up/down through the parts/channels on your FA you can pick what you control at any one time.

You can even sample from the iPad direct into a sample pad on your FA doing things this way.

AudioBus you will only want to take advantage of if you wanted to run multiple iPad audio apps at once. So disregard that for now.

tidalwaveten wrote:Will take a look at FocusRite for an Audio interface. Presuming this is a Must Have for recording. Correct? Or can I hold off. Really just looking forward to live diddling around at first--triggering an external sampler, etc. Having a mixer and monitors.


It's more critical if you had another external device, or required vocal/microphone work - particularly if using a condenser mic as these requite phantom power that an audio interface provides, otherwise no, it's fine for starters as the FA has an audio interface built in which is pretty good, particularly as you can record the external sources going in to it also.

If you'e connected as above, you're pretty much self-effient with the iPad and FA, just go out to speakers or headphones and you're away, using the FA's built in sequencer as a DAW replacement.

tidalwaveten wrote:Getting back to Mac, a dear friend, who doesn't do music production but is a person I trust, advised to Go Mac. He's got several vintages of Macs that have never let him down. One of the older one he uses as a FLAC audio server. He said don't think Price, think value: reliability, quality, productivity, etc. He's into the same Electronica as I am, is an audiophile listener, as well as an IT guy who must support Windows too.


Well, i'm a software developer, and used to be Sys Admin for Windows Server deployments, Workstations, Linux driven SQL backends for small businesses etc. So i'm totally split across multiple OS's, which is why i'm quite happy to use whatever is available, i'm not religious when it comes to OS's, if it works, and i get paid - i'm good! :)

I have friends who are blind faith mac lovers, and i argue with them everytime we speak - shit like when Apple decide to solder the RAM to the motherboard in the Mac Mini's a few years back - that kind of behaviour makes me really angry. Or when they deliberately try to stop you from putting an aftermarket drive in a machine you own, i.e. breaking that upgrade path.

However, i have a little 13" MacBook pro that is an absolute workhorse, and i compare it to a builders van that i can stick in a small bag and take with me anywhere - i have such love for that little machine, it's bulletproof, i can shut the lid and open it as many times as i want and it will sleep/awake instantly, when i'm in a meeting that's really nice to know i can open it up and using it in seconds.

I sometimes look at it, and laugh, and as above, compare it to a builders van, stacked with hammers, chisels, fixings, saws, power drills etc. But that's my tool! That's all i really need, for that to exist i really consider myself to be lucky! :)

And, i have such faith in my previous mac's that i'm not too put off by price, yes they are expensive, but, i have an old white Core2Duo MacBook that i used to use for live playing, i shudder to think how old that is, i used to use it for logic, i then used it with Traktor for live DJ'ing/sound processing. And now, my other half uses it for boring stuff like excel etc.

Despite being rattled by LOUD bass for live stuff, and cooked to death with virtual instruments, it's still brilliant, a little slow of course, but totally useable. I have friend who has been through about 4-5 laptops in the time i've had that, and his has probably only ever been used for Facebook etc. So yes, that's the comparison i make. It's very rare that you see someone open up a MacBook and it's got keys missing, for example.

At the time i probably paid around $900 for it, and my mates laptop was around $400, and i remember thinking "Is this really worth double?". Well, there's your answer.

However, the gap is definitely a lot smaller nowadays, and i think a lot of the pro-mac stuff you hear was developed in most Mac users minds from many years ago, and doesn't hold so strong today. There's days where i consider swapping over to Studio One, or Reaper to make it easier if i ever needed to swap to windows. And i've tried to swap (Purely because i get more brute power from a windows machine), but it's never ever worked out for me and i've gone running back to my mac.

Only you know what will work for you, of course. :)
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Re: So what gear should I add to have a sampler without a DA

Postby tidalwaveten » 14:20, 23 May 2017

In my mind, Logic is one of the biggest steal in the DAW world, you basically get everything with it, and as there's a bit of a paywall when you buy a mac, so they do offset the apps to be 'affordable', you get everything you need and a ton of supporting content, presets, loops, plugins etc. Although Logic is a bit 'unique' in how it operates, so not everyone's cup of tea, sometimes it really frustrates me, but on the whole i love it - it's an absolute bargain.

Personally, if you're on a budget i would start with Reaper ( http://www.reaper.fm ), you can use it fully functional for free for as long as you need to evaluate it, and it's a mix of great DAW's like Pro Tools, Logic, Cubase etc. And it runs on pretty much all platforms which is good.

On top of that, you could pretty much just pick up some free plugins to flesh it out, as required, or buy something like Computer Magazine one month, which comes complete with a download code for a stack of plugins that they've assembled for their readers, some are exclusive versions of paid software too, but i know that pack definitely has a few samplers and sample packs included.


Thanks once again. Getting closer to Roll Out. :-) Nice about Logic pricing. I'll certainly take a look at Reaper as well. Also, great idea about getting an issue of Computer Musician (?). Is that the title for sure? And do they offer the same free stuff in each issue? I'll look for it at my local Barnes & Nobles. Or would you recommend investing in a subscription simply due to the free stuff I'd get? Assuming they release different sample packs.

A friend who uses GarageBank exclusively says he thinks its a super-lite version of Logic that allows for only one simultaneous stereo track to be recorded. Or at least that it is like what a Logic lite might be. Does that sound right?

SSD is easy to put in a MacBook (Particularly the older 2012/2013 like models as you can swap out the CD drive and run dual HDD), but spec wise it's hard to know what to aim for, as to what your needs may be.

However, i think this applies to Mac/PC as they're same architecture really if you're intel, and i'd say you want at least an i5 2.5ghz, and at least 8GB of memory, but definitely an SSD, for audio an SSD is a game changer.

Also, with mac's you can use the firewire audio interfaces reliably, which rely less on CPU time than a USB device, generally have lower latency, and also provide more power to the interface for better headphone amplification with the built in headphone ports.


Haven't been able to find used 2012/2013 models. Also, the newer MacBooks within my price range (sub $1000) seem to have lower clock speeds; definitely not 2.5 ghz or higher; they are i5s but typically 1.3 or 1.5 ghz--don't recall exactly). Should I reconsider a fully loaded Mac Mini? Would that be better value? I actually don't mind providing a monitor (have spares), keyboard, and mouse. I could arrange it in a way that's out of my view since I have a good amount of space to work with. For my home office, I could then cost-justify getting another $300 to $400 Windows laptop.

My friend also said to consider that, even with slower clock speeds, Macs will generally outperform better spec'ed boxes running Windows. Because MacOS is, of course, a Linux variant. :-) Would you agree?

Mixer:
Something that's good, flexible and can be picked up pre-owned, i would say the older blue Yamaha MG12/4's come up for really good prices if you watch the market for a week or two. I've seen them for 50-60 quid in the past (80-90$?). These have the sub output which gives you some great flexibility, basically you have a main output that goes out to your speakers/amp, but the sub output can go out to an audio interface, and each channel on the mixer has a 'sub' button so you can pick which channels are going to the DAW.

If you only have the FA, and don't plan on any other outboard gear then you can get away with not having a mixer of course.

Don't ever get fooled into buying a Behringer mixer though, honestly, they're nothing but trouble in my experience. Even as a cheap option, the pre-amps are noisy, some of the channels are noisy, and lights/knobs do fail on them.


I'll keep looking for sub USD $100 Yamaha MG12/4s. The ones I've seen on eBay at that price seem to have one or more of the following characteristics:

1) Have no power supply
2) Are being sold for parts
3) Look really rough

$150 for the better looking ones with power supplies.

Know anything about the newer MG12/4 "C" models? IIRC, those are being sold for around USD $200, but have built-in effects. Of course the effects could be complete shite and, with effects sends, I could be using my own outboard multi-effects unit.

My friend has a Behringer mixer, but admits it's low quality and limited. Though it's sufficient for his needs. May not be for mine. I think I'll hold out for a Yamaha like you suggest. He had no experience with Yamaha. But after looking at that online, I may have actually owned this model years ago! :-) Or had been researching and identified it for potential purchase. That would have been circa 2005 though.

Audio Interface:
Something like the Focusrite scarlett 2i2 (2 inputs at once), or 2i4 (4 inputs at once) are simple, great, affordable USB interfaces. These are pretty much the go to's for most people starting out.

Firewire wise the Focusrite Saffire's are great, The saffire pro 14, particularly can be had super price pre-owned. Don't know how well these work on a windows setup, but they're great on mac. Although, they've got to be close to reaching their supported (by focusrite) life. But you can say that about many devices.


How do you feel about purchasing refurbed Focusrite Scarletts? I see a lot of those. They come warrantied. And evidently with usable software codes. As well, not sure if I should go for 2i2 or 2i4. Would hate to have less inputs than I might need if and when I grow my gear collection (since I'm getting ramped up, I likely will add more kit). Just don't know how many simultaneous recording inputs I'd need if it's just me and my synths. And/or recording a vocal, bass, electric guitar, or acoustic guitars as overdubbed tracks vs. live.

Cabling:
Make sure you're using 'balanced' cables where possible between your gear and mixer, cost a little bit more than standard cabling, but it does make a difference.


Any Good Enough brands you'd recommend for balanced cables? I've been told to steer clear of Monster Cables--seems to be a bit of a scam, possibly. Or perhaps I'm thinking of digital cables like HDMI, etc.

Speakers/Monitors:
I'd stick with what you've got, fried of mine mixes on hifi separates and his stuff always sounds super good, you just get to know what you have, and there's a lot of snobbery in the audio world where people flock towards (And pay loads for!) 'neutrality', when in truth, if you're a creator/songwriter/producer, a speaker/monitor that encourages you to enjoy your writing/performing is most important in my mind. So hi-fi speakers, even if they're a little emphasised, can be a good thing.


Nice, thanks! Helps to get external permission on that. I'll consider proper monitors if I feel the need in Phase 2.

Add a computer in to that mix, and your phase 1 could be done super cheap, Audio interface maybe be around $80-120, balanced cables probably $30, disregard a mixer unless you have other outboard gear, and using your current speakers. Reaper as the DAW. And you're practically there for the basics of recording and having something running.

In fact, with the FA, you have an audio interface built in, so you could even drop out the audio interface lol, using the buil-in audio interface, the DAW will re-route back through to the FA for example, plus you can use the FA's inputs to capture other sources (mics etc.).

Spending a bit of money in the room you chose to do your recording in also helps, i.e. getting a nice desk in, and keeping everything clean, putting some bits up on the walls which inspire you - classic albums, music concepts etc.. Brackets/holders for headphones/cables that you use, cable management to keep everything clean etc.

I have some chord theories and EQ charts on my wall, and i'm forever referring to them.



Nice summary / suggestions, thanks! For me, I get inspiration from my Disney Haunted Mansion collectibles. I have two life-sized reproductions of the Haunted Mansion entry plaques; those will flank both sides of my work space. :-) Need to purchase a stud finder because the suckers are damn heavy.

Ableton (+push) is literally a world of it's own lol, you can't really explain it without actually using it. If you're into EDM etc. then it's pretty much the go to DAW, well, that and reason. Trouble with reason is it's a very closed eco system.

Logic, Cubase, Pro-Tools, Reaper, Studio One etc. are very much traditional DAW's, you need know where you're going and read a fair bit of each manual to learn them, and even then after years of use there's much that can still be learnt, they're much more suited if you have a compete vision of what you want to achieve.

Ableton, you can dive in pretty quick, it's all about creating patterns, and then assembling those patterns like lego bricks to create a song, it's incredibly quick for creating ideas. Unlike Logic/Cubase etc. you don't really need to know where you're going to come out with something that's great, because it encourages you to make bite sized segments, and mix them in to see how they sound, but to get stuff in tune, it's ridiculously easy to pitch/stretch - as Ableton has a 'warp' engine at the heart of everything.

If you could pick up a cheap Ableton Push 1 with a Ableton License, you would absolutely love it. It's probably the most fun i've ever had making music, honestly, it's incredible, see here how the step sequencer works:-
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vQofWz9uiLo

Push 1 is pretty much identical to Push 2 in terms of this type of functionality, it just lacks the nicer full colour display, and a few advanced features.


Thanks, I'll take a look. Hope I don't torpedo myself with sidebars though. That may be a good Phase 2 option. Still, it won't (shouldn't) hurt to take a look. Possibly demo one in a local shop. I've got the good fortune of having both a Sam Ash and a Guitar Center within a 20 minute drive of me; and both are on the same street. Believe I first demoed the FA-06 at Guitar Center. Didn't like the price, and they wouldn't budge. So I went for "smoke free studio, excellent condition" used from an eBay seller with great ratings.

1. Basically, you buy the camera connection kit (doesn't have to be official, but check reviews are good), this gives you normal USB port on your iPad.
Something like this: https://www.amazon.com/Lightning-to-USB ... B014VGHG0U

2. *May not need this* You then buy a generic USB-Midi cable, which turns the usb port into a midi connection.
https://www.amazon.com/VicTsing-Cable-C ... B00ACGMOA6

However, i'm thinking that you may not even need the USB-Midi cable, as the FA can be set to class-compliant (i.e. driverless) mode and may work fine direct into usb port of the camera connection kit - i'll try later and let you know if this works.


Thanks, will add the Lightning to USB connector to my Amazon shopping cart today. Did you get a chance to test without the USB-Midi cable?

3. Just get some sample/audio apps on the iPad - whatever appeals to you, just check they are midi capable.

4. Buy/Connect a 3.5mm stereo audio jack cable from the iPad headphone out into the line input on the back of the FA (This will let you hear the iPad mixed through with the FA's own internal sounds), set the input levels to suit. like this:-
https://www.amazon.com/AmazonBasics-3-5 ... B00NO73MUQ


Check on item 4. I've got about 3 spares of these already.

Only you know what will work for you, of course. :)


I'm getting a great idea what will, thanks to you Cheers!
tidalwaveten
 
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Re: So what gear should I add to have a sampler without a DA

Postby Skijumptoes » 17:23, 23 May 2017

tidalwaveten wrote:Thanks once again. Getting closer to Roll Out. :-) Nice about Logic pricing. I'll certainly take a look at Reaper as well. Also, great idea about getting an issue of Computer Musician (?). Is that the title for sure? And do they offer the same free stuff in each issue?

Computer Music it's called, Yup, each month you get a free disk which has free software - that changes month to month, but each magazine features an unlock their free back catalog of plugins too, most are free elsewhere, but there's some exclusive to them which is worth getting. You basically go on to their site, confirm the issue that you have, the website asks you randomly whats on different pages of the magazine you own to confirm you have it, and then the download unlocks.

Maybe it's only in the UK though, no i think about it! lol, sorry if so. But there is an online/digital edition. http://www.musicradar.com/computermusic

This month has a really great drum machine/sequencer.

tidalwaveten wrote:A friend who uses GarageBank exclusively says he thinks its a super-lite version of Logic that allows for only one simultaneous stereo track to be recorded. Or at least that it is like what a Logic lite might be. Does that sound right?


GarageBand is a great app, and it comes with loops etc. to get you going, and is fun. But when it comes to synth automation for hardware (Cutoff/Resonance control etc.) i think you'll find it lacking, if it can even do it at all. Last thing i knew Garageband couldn't even control external instruments, like the FA.

Reaper on the other hand, is a serious DAW, and compares to the top dog which is Pro Tools, GarageBand, while great at what it does, is extremely limiting. If you're putting time into music i'd learn a proper DAW that will apply to the rest, steeper learning curve but far more rewarding long term.

tidalwaveten wrote:Haven't been able to find used 2012/2013 models. Also, the newer MacBooks within my price range (sub $1000) seem to have lower clock speeds; definitely not 2.5 ghz or higher; they are i5s but typically 1.3 or 1.5 ghz--don't recall exactly). Should I reconsider a fully loaded Mac Mini? Would that be better value? I actually don't mind providing a monitor (have spares), keyboard, and mouse. I could arrange it in a way that's out of my view since I have a good amount of space to work with. For my home office, I could then cost-justify getting another $300 to $400 Windows laptop.

My friend also said to consider that, even with slower clock speeds, Macs will generally outperform better spec'ed boxes running Windows. Because MacOS is, of course, a Linux variant. :-) Would you agree?


Hmm, i would've agreed several years ago, but MacOS is a much heavier beast now than it ever was, there's much more going on, and it's generally more graphic intensive too. I would say that performance wise an i5 2.5ghz (for example) would run just as similar on Windows as it would a Mac.

Years ago, honestly i would experience zero problems on a mac, but, in the past 2-3 years i've had more problems than ever before. Nothing major, but one particular issue was spinning beachballs (equivalent of the egg timer), and waiting for things to happen, ultimately lead me to doing a clean install of MacOS. Since then it's been great, so may have just upgraded OS too many times and my machine was just due a clean OS install.

Most people who say that you get more performance out of MacOS/OSX really don't use windows enough and are referring back to the PowerPC CPU days, and using specifically written Mac apps, nowadays it's the same CPU range, and even the apps are cross platform, based on the same development framework too.

The gains are most definitely in stability however, and the OS generally flies even when under load, much like Linux really, and when it does fall over it doesn't completely crumble like Windows does. Also you don't have registry, need for constant restarts, and a generally untidy OS throwing files here, there and everywhere. For example, An .app file is totally contained (Almost like a zip file), which is the equivalent of an .exe and the whole 32/64 bit thing seems to have been well managed by Apple.

One thing on the MacBook specs is that even though some of the core speeds have dropped, the CPU is a more modern design so it can process as much, or even more tasks than the older CPU's, for example the 2.0ghgz i5 MacBook Pro (2016) has a better benchmark than 2012 i5 2.5ghz, even though on paper it appears slower. You know what CPU technology is like, it's a dark art! :)

I wouldn't go into 1.2/1.5ghz territory though, if it can be helped.

There was a Mac Mini, designed for server software (Mac Mini Server it was called), it was an i7 processor and you could expand the memory easily yourself, probably about 4-5 years ago now, it was released at a great price and was incredibly good for audio. Wouldn't surprise me if they're going for a premium now though, as with most little gems like that.

tidalwaveten wrote:I'll keep looking for sub USD $100 Yamaha MG12/4s. The ones I've seen on eBay at that price seem to have one or more of the following characteristics:


Ok, US market differs there then, i only put the Yamaha one out there as an example, and it has the sub outputs should you want to upgrade hardware at a later date, it gives you plenty of options.

tidalwaveten wrote:My friend has a Behringer mixer, but admits it's low quality and limited. Though it's sufficient for his needs. May not be for mine. I think I'll hold out for a Yamaha like you suggest. He had no experience with Yamaha.


Many people don't realise how poor a behringer mixer is until they try something else, i owned two in the past and used them for synths, guitars, mics etc. and then i eventually got a decent Audio Interface with focusrite pre-amps, and honestly, i was absolutely astounded that i could turn the mic up to a decent level and it wasn't hissing at me.

It blew my mind if i'm honest, because i had become so ingrained with the belief that turning gain up on a mic beyond halfway was a no no, yet i'm reading articles online about setting gain etc. and it's not correlating with my experience. And it all clicked into place at that point.

I know what sounds good, or at least i thought i did, and i had no complaints with behringer mixers, up until that realisation. I then put some synths straight through to my audio interface (bypassed the behringer mixer) and again, they came to life. So, yeah, they're good cheap mixers that do a job, but i personally wouldn't even waste money on them for recording/studio setup, i'd get something a bit cleaner and reliable, even if it was older/pre-owned.

tidalwaveten wrote:How do you feel about purchasing refurbed Focusrite Scarletts? I see a lot of those. They come warrantied. And evidently with usable software codes. As well, not sure if I should go for 2i2 or 2i4. Would hate to have less inputs than I might need if and when I grow my gear collection (since I'm getting ramped up, I likely will add more kit). Just don't know how many simultaneous recording inputs I'd need if it's just me and my synths. And/or recording a vocal, bass, electric guitar, or acoustic guitars as overdubbed tracks vs. live.


They're pretty solid units, if they work they work, really. I'd have no concerns buying pre-owned or refurbished. If you're planning on going the mixer route you will get away with 2i2 as you can switch what you want to record via the sub outputs, if you plan on bypassing a mixer then get more inputs on an audio interface, as these double up as mixers too. Many people record synths in mono anyway, so a 4 input is basically 2x stereo sources, or 4x mono's.

I'd go for 2i4, if it was me, and not too much extra money as you can keep connected to the 2 inputs at the back, and then use the two at the front for mics/guitars etc.

tidalwaveten wrote:Any Good Enough brands you'd recommend for balanced cables? I've been told to steer clear of Monster Cables--seems to be a bit of a scam, possibly. Or perhaps I'm thinking of digital cables like HDMI, etc.


Not sure as i'm UK and things may differ in the states (You probably got a ton more selection), but i generally go for cables that have Neutrik connectors, and there's a company called Van Damme that sell the ready assembled cables, and they're always very good for the money, not silly price at all.

And yes, i've had some monster guitar cables in the past that would almost pull my guitar jack socket out as they had odd connectors, they were weird things, i stay clear of them. Many others swear by them though!

tidalwaveten wrote:Thanks, will add the Lightning to USB connector to my Amazon shopping cart today. Did you get a chance to test without the USB-Midi cable?


Sorry, i didn't, but i notice on the Roland website that they specifically say that the FA can be used with the Camera connection kit (Lightning->USB) so it should work.
Skijumptoes
 
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Re: So what gear should I add to have a sampler without a DA

Postby tidalwaveten » 20:53, 23 May 2017

Thanks for all the info I clipped from my reply. Whittling down to get purchases ready.

You know what CPU technology is like, it's a dark art! :)


Indeed! But spec.org is a good place to have some basis for comparison.

Ok, US market differs there then, i only put the Yamaha one out there as an example, and it has the sub outputs should you want to upgrade hardware at a later date, it gives you plenty of options.


Based on the U.S. market, for USD $200 new on Amazon (less on eBay new), I'm tempted to buy a Yamaha MG10XU:

https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dmi&field-keywords=yamaha+mg10xu

Any great differences / impediments between it and the MG 12/4 aside from the # of inputs? Some differences I see:

Cons:

* All knobs vs. faders. I've DJed at a radio station using both "pot" boards (all dials) and faders. While I prefer faders, I *believe* I could live with knobs.
* No mid EQ for... the final output?
* Not sure it is as capable for sub-outs
* No button for silencing a channel; not sure if the other one has it
* Less inputs, obviously.

Pros:

* Evidently has quite good built-in effects (only 24, but evidently ones practical to use)
* Has a sound card in it / USB connection to DAW; also to iPad 2 and later using the same cable you advised
* Could probably get it down to USD $170 new on eBay with free shipping
* Would be new vs. mucking with some sad looking used MG 12/4s

... refurbished. If you're planning on going the mixer route you will get away with 2i2 as you can switch what you want to record via the sub outputs, if you plan on bypassing a mixer then get more inputs on an audio interface, as these double up as mixers too. Many people record synths in mono anyway, so a 4 input is basically 2x stereo sources, or 4x mono's.

I'd go for 2i4, if it was me, and not too much extra money as you can keep connected to the 2 inputs at the back, and then use the two at the front for mics/guitars etc.


How would this gel / interface with the Yamaha MG10XU vs. the MG 12/4? I'll strongly consider the 2i4. Just want to be sure I can utilize it if I got for the new mixer. But the MGxxXU next series model with more inputs than the MG10XU starts at ~USD $350--too rich for my blood.
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