Archives June 2020

NP-after-syntax_WM

Text Editor Syntax Highlighting for Sforzando Instrument Files

In this post, we’ll learn how to configure text editor syntax highlighting for Sforzando instrument files with a few different text editor tools. Whether you use Mac, Windows or both, the editors and configurations will help you view your Sforzando instrument files with enhanced clarity. Why feel stuck with a common white background and black text when you can use these enhancements to add color and formatting to your text? Let’s get started!

19 June 2020 – Written by Michael R. Myers #mykmyrs

Skill Level: Intermediate

Choosing a Text Editor for Sforzando File

For the text editor software we’ll discuss, please note that all of the editors are cross-platform, except Notepad++ which is Windows-only. I included Notepad++ primarily because I have used it the most in my work life in an all-Windows environment. It’s well-supported and a preferred choice of other programmers like me while working in Windows.

At home I use mostly Mac for music production work, but there are times I am booted into Windows to use some specific software. While in Windows, I will sometimes work on my music and I need a text editor that supports both Windows and Mac. This post will show some of the recommended text editors that feature syntax highlighting additions regardless of your operating system environment.

The features we need to edit Sforzando instrument files are minimal, so feel free to try any or all of the suggestions I list in this article.

For file storage, I am keeping the text files on a cloud server that allows access from either Mac or Windows. You can use whichever service you like to store on the cloud, or keep your text files on an external drive. Whatever works for your workflow is good, just be sure that you can access the files when and where you need them.

This post is a tribute to the struggles I faced in figuring out how to get syntax highlighting working correctly for multiple editors in two operating systems. It will serve as a reference point for all of us moving forward.

What You’ll Need to Get Started

  • A text editor for your computer
  • A language definition file for your text editor
  • A great sample SFZ file from sfzformat.com to verify your language definition is working properly. Download the sample and save to your computer.

Download Free Text Editors to Highlight Syntax

Choose a text editor from the programs listed below to download and install it to your computer. You’ll also need the sample SFZ file downloaded as well. After you have installed an editor, we will download the language support files since they are different for each text editor.

Windows-Only

Notepad++ can be downloaded here. I used version 7.8.1 in this article.

Mac and Windows

This group of editors is the purpose for this blog post. I needed to find free and capable text editors that could also be extended to support syntax highlighting in both OSes.

  • Geany is available here. The latest version is 1.36.
  • CudaText is available here. The latest version is 1.105.0 (Win) or 1.99.0 (Mac)

Configuring Notepad++

After you download and install Notepad++, you’ll need to add support for a user-defined language. The language file, which is one *.XML file, is available for download here. Download the “sfz-udl.xml” to your computer. Follow the steps below to get NP++ set up.

  1. Open Notepad++ and load the sample SFZ file. By default, it will show the file contents as plain black text.NP-before-syntax_WM
  2. Click Language>User Defined Language>Define Your Language.
  3. Click the Import button. Navigate to your “sfz-udl.xml” file.
  4. Click OK on the Import Successful dialog window,
  5. Close the Define Your Language screen.
  6. Click the Language menu. At the bottom, click the new entry “SFZ”.
  7. Your SFZ file will now show with the language definition syntax in effect.NP-after-syntax_WM

Configuring Geany

Since Geany works in Mac and Windows, its configuration instructions depend on the operating system you’re using. Note that for either OS, you will need to enable the showing of hidden files and folders to find the Geany configuration locations.

Download the syntax highlighting files here. You’ll need two files: filetype_extensions.conf and filetypes.SFZ.conf. After downloading these files, follow the steps below for your OS.

Mac OS

  1. Open Geany and load the sample SFZ file. By default, it will show the file contents as plain black text.Geany-SFZ_before_Syntax
  2. Close Geany and open a new Finder window.
  3. In Finder, go to your user Home folder.
  4. Press Shift+Command+Period Key to enable the showing of hidden files and folders.
  5. Open the folder “.config/geany”. Place a copy of the downloaded file
    filetype_extensions.conf” into this folder.Finder-conf_Geany_folder_WM
  6. Open the folder “.config/geany/filedefs”. Place a copy of the downloaded file “filetypes.SFZ.conf” into this folder.Finder-SFZ_CONF folder_WM
  7. Open Geany and re-load your sample SFZ file.
  8. Click Document>Set Filetype>Miscellaneous. You will see “SFZ” as an available option. Click “SFZ” to select this language.Geany-Filetype_Menus_WM
  9. Geany will apply the syntax highlighting and you will see that the tags within the sample file have changed colors.Geany-SFZ_after_Syntax_WM

Windows 10

Follow the instructions for Mac as written above, substituting Windows Explorer for Finder to browse for files.

For Step 4, tick the checkbox in the Windows Explorer menu bar to show hidden files.

For Step 5, copy “filetype_extensions.conf” to folder C:\Users\{USER_NAME}\AppData\Roaming\geany.

For Step 6, copy “filetypes.SFZ.conf” to C:\Users\{USER_NAME}\AppData\Roaming\geany\filedefs

Configuring CudaText

CudaText works the same in Mac and Windows for importing language support. CudaText’s approach to importing the language definition files is as easy as File>Open and selecting the file to load. There is no need to show/hide folders or manually copy files. Great job on this type of easy implementation, CudaText developers.

  1. Unzip program file to location of your choice
  2. Run CudaText and load your sample SFZ file. As shown, it’s just black text.CudaText-SFZ_before_Syntax_WM
  3. Use File>Open file to open the SFZ Lexer file. When prompted to install it, click OK. Click OK again after the installation completes.
  4. Click View>Lexers and scroll down in the list to select “SFZ”. Your text should automatically show syntax highlighting.CudaText-SFZ_after_Syntax_WM

Summary

Thanks to some great developers, there are several free text editors available that support syntax highlighting of Sforzando instrument files. Adding syntax highlights makes the job of editing text configuration files much easier. With some advanced skills, you can customize the language definitions to your own liking to really make the color schemes work for your own preferences. In addition, these cross-platform editors, along with a centralized storage area, make it much easier to work in Windows and Mac when the need arises.

If you would like to add to this content to help other folks, please contact me and let me know what you have in mind.

Notepad-SFZ_Kick_and_Snare

Create a Custom Sforzando Drum Kit Instrument With Samples

In this post, we’ll learn how to create a custom Sforzando drum kit for use in your DAW projects. Sforzando is an open-source sampler that uses a file-driven configuration to play your audio samples for MIDI files. While it may not be usable for every music producer out there, it can be an invaluable tool in creating virtual instruments with custom audio samples. Let’s get started making a basic, reusable, custom drum kit now in Tracktion Waveform 11 Free.

11 June 2020 – Written by Michael R. Myers #mykmyrs

Skill Level: Advanced

Creating Your Own Inexpensive Drum Kit

You may have asked yourself if it is worth the time and effort to create a drum kit in an open source plug-in. I know I did. Looking at the cost of the big virtual drum plug-in developers’ products, I decided it was better for me and my budget to learn how to use the free Sforzando to make use of the tons of drum kit audio samples I already own. It’s free, well-supported and has a large user base. There are plenty of videos available on YouTube and getting started was easy enough,

As we move forward in this tutorial, please keep in mind that there may be better, faster or smarter ways to work in Sforzando. I am a guitar player, not a drummer, and I need seriously great-sounding drums for my own artistic expressions. The drum samples I have are great quality and I wanted to be able to integrate them into both a Windows and a Mac world due to the computers I compose on. Sforzando seemed like a great choice and hopefully it can work for you too.

I’m using Tracktion Waveform 11 Free as my DAW, so some of this tutorial will be specific to Waveform’s ways and configurations. Other DAWs may require you to figure out your own path. Hopefully at the end of the tutorial, You’ll have a custom Sforzando drum kit that you can use over and over again.

This tutorial is a basic approach to creating a starter Sforzando instrument. There is so much more that can be done within Sforzando, such as simultaneously playing multiple samples, creating groups that play random samples to vary your playback and controlling your output with its knobs and effects. And also be aware that there seems to be many, many different ways to structure your SFZ configuration files and still produce audio output properly. This tutorial is a minimalist’s experience to get up and running quickly.

The key with Sforzando, at least for me, is to be flexible and be willing to do some trial-and-error approaches to see what ends up working. After I get something working the way I want, I can copy/paste as needed to move on knowing things will work. Another benefit to the file configuration model is that you can copy an entire SFZ, rename it and change your samples and be ready to go with a whole new kit with different sample files.

Getting Started with Sforzando

Your SFZ file will contain all of the configuration of your kit’s samples and parameters that control its function. Once you have your kit’s SFZ file saved, you’re able to reuse the kit any time you like. Save your completed SFZ files somewhere safe so you don’t lose your time and efforts.

To begin, you’ll neeed to create a new, basic sfz file. Follow the steps here at sfzformat.com. Save this file on your local machine so that you can use it to start making your instrument. You’ll also need to download the drum kit samples and place them into the same folder that holds your SFZ file. After you learn to configure Sforzando, you can move your files to another location that suits your needs.

What You’ll Need to Get Started

Recommended Reading

Steps to Create Your Custom Sforzando Drum Kit

  1. Create a new project in Waveform.
  2. On an empty track, create an instance of the Sforzando plug-in
  3. Create a new basic SFZ file for a starting point, supposing that you don’t have one already. Follow the steps here at sfzformat.com. When you’ve completed the file, save it to your machine and then drag/drop it onto the Sforzando window. Ignore any errors you may receive.
  4. After Sforzando loads your sfz file, you should see a screen similar to this one. From here you will see your loaded file name at the top of the screen, and you’ll have a button near the bottom of the screen to open your file for edits. I associated Notepad++ to open *.sfz files to make editing easy.Sforzando-Basic_File_Loaded_WM
  5. Download the EasyRider drum kit from the link in the Getting Started section of this tutorial. Place the extracted folders into the same folder that contains your SFZ file.
  6. Open your SFZ file and make two <group> sections. One will define the kick drum. The other will define the snare drum. Refer to this image for the text entries needed in your SFZ file. Set your sample path as required so that Sforzando can find your samples. If the path is not correct, Sforzando will display error details.Notepad-SFZ_Kick_and_Snare
  7. Drop a drum MIDI file onto your Waveform track, or create a new MIDI clip and add some kick and snare MIDI notes.
  8. Press Play on your transport. If all went well, you will hear your kick drum and your snare drum playing the MIDI notes.
  9. Continue creating your <group> sections for each of the pieces of your drum kit and map the samples.

Where To Go From Here

Now that you have a basic kit with a few various hit velocities per instrument, you’ll want to look into implementing a round robin and/or random sample playback approach to really vary your playback audio. In addition, take some time to look into samples that include files for room microphones that open up your sound with real room dynamics.

Summary

Congratulations on making your first custom Sforzando drum kit. Thanks to Michael Kingston for making his EasyRider kit available for free so that we could learn how to play them in Sforzando.

If you would like to add to this content to help other folks, please contact me and let me know what you have in mind.

Use a Digitech GNX4 as an Audio Interface in iOS

In this post, we’ll learn how to use a Digitech GNX4 as an audio interface in iOS. The GNX4 will work as an interface in iOS and iPadOS with just about any audio application using the official Apple USB adapter and a USB cable. The best part of the GNX4 being supported is that there is no need for drivers. You read that correctly. The GNX4 is a compliant device and is supported with plug and play by your iOS devices. Let’s get started!

10 June 2020 – Written by Michael R. Myers #mykmyrs

Skill Level: Beginner

Recently on the Facebook Digitech GNX4 group, a member asked how he could use his GNX4 as an audio interface for recording with an iOS device. In all the time I’ve used a 2011 iMac with my GNX4, which supports the GNX4 without any drivers, I hadn’t considered trying to hook my GNX4 directly into an iOS device as an interface to record. His question prompted me to give it a try on my iPad Air 2 and I can tell you that the GNX4 is supported as an audio interface in iOS.

Before you continue, you must have an official adapter from Apple to use as the connection interface between the GNX4 and a lightning iOS device. This adapter, which costs around $40 USD currently, provides a USB port and an additional lighting port. The additional lightning port allows for powering the iOS device while a USB device is also connected. Do yourself a favor and buy the official adapter because the cheap ones on Amazon and EBay often are not recognized by the iOS device, and if they are, can fail to transmit audio.

Configure Your GNX4’s USB Output Source

You may need to make a configuration parameter change on your GNX4, depending on what you’re going to record in your iOS application. Are you intending to record the actual audio output from your GNX4 patch, meaning the guitar signal, amp, cabinet and all effects? Or are you intending to send a dry guitar signal to the iOS app and use virtual amps, cabinets and effects within the application? You need to make sure you have a clear understanding of “what” you would like to record, otherwise sending a full-effects signal from the GNX4 into iOS may end up being sent through iOS amps and effects.

To change your GNX4 USB audio settings, see my previous post here. For the steps that I list below, I wanted to send the dry guitar signal from the GNX4 to an iOS guitar application to make use of the app’s amp, cabinet and effects. To do the dry signal, I configured USB 1-2 to be “DRYGUITAR” on the GNX4’s configuration settings.

What You’ll Need to Get Started

  • Digitech GNX4 unit with a USB cable
  • Apple iPhone or iPad with Lightning connector and built-in headphone jack
  • Apple iOS version 13 (not tested on any other versions, but may work)
  • Official Apple Lightning to USB 3 Camera Adapter
  • headphones or stereo audio cable to plug into headphone jack
  • IOS guitar application, such as GarageBand – available free in the AppStore

Steps to Connect Your GNX4 to an iOS Device

  1. Connect your USB cable from your GNX4 into the lightning adapter’s USB port.
  2. Connect a lightning cable into the adapter for a constant power source.
  3. Connect the lightning adapter into the iOS device.
  4. Plug your headphones or stereo line out cable into the iOS device
  5. Power on your GNX4.
  6. Open your iOS guitar application. Set its input channel to 1 for the guitar input. Each application’s settings’ options will vary.
  7. Play your guitar and you should immediately see the input and output volume meters show signal. In addition, you should be able to hear the audio playing in the headphones.

Where To Go From Here

After I had signal in the iOS GarageBand application, I used a stereo headphone cable to send the headphone jack to my computer’s digital audio workstation (DAW) to record the iOS application’s audio output. This type of setup could be useful if you need an array of different amps for recording and you’d like to focus your work on the iOS device.

Summary

I didn’t expect the GNX4 to work as an audio interface to iOS devices due to its sheer age. I was pleasantly surprised that it worked with only a small parameter change for the USB audio and an adapter I already owned for my iOS devices. If you haven’t explored iOS applications for guitars, here’s an opportunity for you to give it a shot for a relatively small adapter expenditure. Good luck and make some great sounds!

If you would like to add to this content to help other folks, please contact me and let me know what you have in mind.

TX16Wx_Full_Custom_Kit

Create a TX16Wx Sampler Drum Kit in Tracktion Waveform

In this post, we’ll learn how to use a free sampler plug-in from CWITECH to create a custom drum kit with audio samples. Creating your own drum kit to play MIDI parts allows you to have creative control over your kit’s component sounds and can allow you to develop a reusable signature sound for your productions. Let’s get started to create a TX16Wx sampler drum kit in Tracktion Waveform 11 Free.

09 June 2020 – Written by Michael R. Myers #mykmyrs

Skill Level: Intermediate

What is a Sampler?

At a high level, software audio samplers allow you to define your own virtual instruments. You can assign specific audio sample files to a MIDI keyboard mapping so that the keyboard plays that audio sound when the keyboard key is pressed. Your mappings can be simple, with one audio sample assigned to one key. Or, for the advanced user, multiple samples can be assigned to one key at various velocities or to just blend multiple audio samples together. Samplers are a great tool to create new, unexpected and unique sounds.

Virtual Drum Kits and Samplers

If you have ever used a virtual drum kit, like MT Power Drumkit, you’ll quickly recognize sampling in action. When using the plug-in, your MIDI notes are automatically rendered as drum kit pieces’ audio. Standard MIDI mappings help to ensure that drum kit components are used as expected so your output audio is rendered as expected. Using a virtual drum kit is easy for many people because the mappings are already present and you can just drop it into your project and render your drum parts.

In contrast to drum plug-ins, samplers are very manual by nature and require time to set up and mapping audio samples to keys. Fortunately, most allow you to save your layouts for easy re-use in the future. Be aware that creating your own sampled drum kit can be very satisfying, but there is time spent on building, testing and tweaking until it’s ready for instant re-use. Your rendered audio will be as good as the quality of the audio samples you use.

Multi-velocity Hits Make Sampled Drums Sound Better

Now that we’ve briefly covered what a sampler is used for, and contrasted how it’s similar to a pre-made virtual drum kit plug-in, let’s talk about audio samples. The quality of your audio sample files is extremely important. If you are looking to really make your sampler sound like a convincing acoustic drum kit, you’ll need high-quality samples and samples made available for multi-velocity hits.

MIDI allows for the specification of note hit strength from zero (0) to one-hundred and twenty-seven (127). If you set all of your samples to trigger at the same velocity, say 127, it will be the loudest representation of the sample and it will sound like a machine is playing the part. There will not be any natural variation in the hit strengths and it will sound very tedious to the listener.

By setting variable MIDI velocities, we can tell the sampler to play specific files at a velocity value, or for a range of velocity values. For example, say we have four (4) multi-hit samples for a snare drum. We can tell the sampler for velocity twenty (20) to forty (40) to play “snare_hit_light.wav”. Then for ranges forty-one (41) to sixty-four (64), we tell it to play “snare_hit_medium.wav”. Hopefully. You can see that we are now alternating between two (2) different samples based on the MIDI notes’ hit strength. After we map our remaining four (4) samples, our snare will sound much more varied than using one (1) sample for all velocities.

Some audio sample producers provide a free set of samples, usually with one hit per instrument. In my experience, quality kits that require payment contain multi-hit files, some with eight (8) or more velocities per instrument. Be certain to investigate your drum audio samples before spending money to make sure that there are multi-velocity hit samples and that the files are in a non-lossy format, like WAV or AIFF.

What You’ll Need to Get Started

Disclaimer

I have limited experience with sampler software. This tutorial is the result of me searching, struggling, cursing and finally coming up with a free, working, repeatable solution. If there is anyone who can recommend easier, better or faster, I am proverbially all ears. I welcome any constructive feedback that can help us all get there better and faster.

Finally, the steps in this tutorial will produce a full drum kit, however it will be a stereo (Left and Right) output of all sounds combined. While this will probably work for a majority of people, if you want to split the outputs onto separate channels, you’ll need to do research how to do that on your own. It also does not use multiple velocity groups or any sort of round-robin to randomly select samples from groups.

Steps to Create a TX16Wx Sampler Drum Kit

  1. Install the CWITECH TX16Wx sampler on your computer with its installer.
  2. Create a new Waveform 11 project.
  3. Create a new track and name it “TW16wX_Drum_Sampler”.
  4. Add a drum kit MIDI pattern or file onto the track. It should have multiple kit instruments within the pattern.
  5. Add an instance of the TX16Wx plug-in to the track. Your project should look similar to this image.Waveform11-TX16Wx_Track
  6. Open the sampler plug-in you added to the track. We need to set a few properties and save it. First, change the Midi value to “Omni”. Second, name your program. I called mine “Myersclan_Kit”. Finally, click the Save Program As button and choose a location on your computer. I recommend storing it in your Waveform project folder so it stays with the other project files.Waveform11-TX16Wx_Initial_Config
  7. Let’s create our kick drum trigger in the sampler. Click the Regions button located below the Save Program As button you previously clicked.
  8. The regions view will show a piano keyboard and a screen with grid lines.Waveform11-TX16Wx_Empty_Regions
  9. Click the New Region button. By default, the region fills the entire grid with a green colored fill. Resize the green area to fit on the C2 keyboard key only. You can verify the C2 area by looking at the LO K and Hi K values under the grid.TX16Wx_Create_New_Region
  10. To the right of the Create New Region button, click the button that looks like it has six (6) small squares on it. This enables velocity layers when we drop our audio samples in an upcoming step.
  11. In a separate file explorer (Windows) or Finder (Mac) window, open the folder that contains your kick drum samples. We are going to drag and drop them onto the Regions screen on the C2 key.
  12. Select your kick drum sample(s) and drag them to the Regions window and drop them on the C2 key. You may need to resize and re-order them. For my Manic Metal samples, I have four (4) kick drum samples, named KickV1, KickV2, KickV3 and KickV4.
  13. Under the piano keys, the grid contains rows for each sample and its mapping. Edit/Configure yours similar to mine, but factor in differences like the total number of samples you are using. Since I used four (4) samples, I divided the one-hundred twenty-eight (128) possible velocities by four(4) to get thirty-two (32) hit values per group. Use the Lo V and Hi V values to specify the range starts and ends.TX16Wx_Kick_Samples_Dropped
  14. Test your configuration by using your mouse to click on the C2 piano keyboard key. You should hear your kick drum sound play back. If so, you’re ready to move on.
  15. Optionally, depending on the samples, you may need to adjust the tails of the audio samples so they play fully. Click the Sounds button near the top of your kit. At the bottom of the screen, a blue section will appear. To adjust the tails, click the round markers and drag them to the right-hand side. The longer the blue bar, the longer the sample plays.TX16Wx_Kick_Samples_Tails
  16. Return to the top of the screen and click the Save button to store your changes.
  17. In Waveform, play your track. You should hear only kick drums at this point.
  18. Now for the work involved with sampling – repeat this Key assignment process for each of your kit’s pieces by adding samples for them to their key assignments. Refer to the general MIDI recommendations for drum key assignments to keep your kit standard. Here’s the final kit image of my complete drum kit.TX16Wx_Full_Custom_Kit

Where To Go From Here

With some additional effort, you can modify the configuration of your sampler instrument’s pieces to output audio to dedicated channels instead of the standard combined 1/2 output that was presented here. Some folks want to have fine-grained control of the audio outputs they configure for their projects, and that is a definite possibility with some TX16Wx configuration. Just be aware that the sampler does have a limit on output channel pairs in the free version.

Summary

Setting up a software sampler is a great way to make a drum kit that defines your personal style. You can combine one or more samples to really create new and unusual sounding kits, or you can aim to make a really convincing kit that may sound divine on your final track. Either way, you have the power and choices to drive how your TX16Wx Sampler drum kit will sound.

If you would like to add to this content to help other folks, please contact me and let me know what you have in mind.

GNX4_Track_Recorded

Use a Digitech GNX4 as a USB Audio Interface in Tracktion Waveform

Learn how to record your electric guitars today with the instructions in this post. The Digitech GNX4 audio interface provides an easy and fast way to record your GNX4’s audio output over a USB connection with your Apple Mac running OSX or a PC running Microsoft Windows 7 or 10. We’ll use the free software Tracktion Waveform version 11 to capture our guitar tracks.

04 June 2020 – Written by Michael R. Myers

Skill Level: Beginner

What is a USB Audio Interface?

Without spending too much time here, an audio interface is a piece of equipment that provides a means to record your guitar or microphone as a digital sound into your computer. Audio interfaces come in many price points and offer varying levels of features. A typical interface connects to your computer with a USB cable and sends its audio over that USB connection. Many models will offer two direct inputs for either guitar, microphone or other instrument inputs with 1/4” cables. You can also use a headphone jack on the interface to hear the audio directly, without any latency.

The GNX4 has a USB interface built in, so it is already capable of sending its audio output to your computer easily. For Mac users, there isn’t any need to install drivers because it’s CoreAudio compliant. For Windows 7 and 10, you must install the Digitech drivers, located on the Digitech product page, before you’re able to use the GNX4 as an interface.

The GNX4 offers two channels of USB audio, each having a stereo pair available. Through its configuration options, you can customize which sounds and effects are sent out on the USB channels. A typical configuration I use is to send the full effects out on 1/2 and I send the mono dry guitar signal on 3/4. This setup allows me to hear the full amp, cabinet and effects on channel 1 and I also have the dry, unaltered sound on 3/4 so that I am able to re-amp it in my DAW if desired. See my previous post about configuring your GNX4 to send the dry guitar signal.

What You’ll Need to Get Started

Steps to Record with the Digitech GNX4 Audio Interface

  1. Install the GNX4’s Digitech drivers, if using Windows as your operating system.
  2. Make sure your GNX4 is connected with a USB cable to your computer
  3. Power on your GNX4.
  4. Make sure your guitar cable is plugged into your guitar and the GNX4’s guitar input jack.
  5. Open your digital audio workstation (DAW) software and create a new project. We are using Tracktion Waveform 11 free in these steps.
  6. Open your DAW’s Settings page. Set the Input Audio source as the GNX4 USB 1/2 channel, Set the Output Audio source as your computer’s speakers or studio monitors.Waveform11-GNX4_Input_Setup
  7. Latency is always a factor with external audio devices. Configure yours as low as your operating system will allow. This part may take some time and patience to get correct, so make a note for yourself for future recording sessions.Waveform11-GNX4_Latency_Selection
  8. Switch back to the project window. Create a new track. Set its input source as “Input 1”. To the right of the Input 1 setting, click the red arrow to enable recording. Finally, verify that Live Input Monitoring is enabled so you can hear your guitar playback.GNX4_Record_Track
  9. Press the R key to begin recording your guitar signal.
  10. Press the space bar to stop recording. If you’ve done things correctly, you will see the audio waveform of your signal that was recorded to the track.GNX4_Track_Recorded
  11. Press the W key to rewind to the beginning of the track.
  12. Press the space bar to audition your recording.

Where To Go From Here

As you gain experience recording guitars, you will want to get into the habit of recording a signal with all your effects along with a track of just the dry guitar signal. Having the dry signal is a great safety net and also allows for re-amping and using a copy of the source signal in new and creative ways.

To record the dry signal, see my previous post on the topic.

Summary

Now that you can configure Waveform 11 to record your GNX4, here’s to your success as a home recording artist. Have fun recording, and take the time to make multi-layered parts with different guitars or your guitar using different pickup switch settings. Using your Digitech GNX4 audio interface will be a great way to record your progress and also help with getting all those parts played correctly before you release your tracks.

If you would like to add to this content to help other folks, please contact me and let me know what you have in mind.

Multi-Output MIDI Drum Audio in Tracktion Waveform

If you haven’t been separating your MIDI drums into separate audio files In your DAW, this post will help you get familiar with the concept. As soon as you understand why you’d want to multi-output MIDI drum audio to separate tracks, you’ll wish you’d have started sooner. Follow the steps in this post to learn get better control of your drum kit pieces’ audio in a Tracktion Waveform project.

01 June 2020 – Written by Michael R. Myers

Skill Level: Intermediate

Separate Your Kit Pieces Now!

Separating your drums will require your plug-in of choice to support multiple audio channels. What this means is that you’ll configure the plug-in to send its kick drums on audio channel 1, the snare drum on channel 2, the cymbals on channel 3, etc. Most plug-ins will have a limit of channels available for routing, so you may have to get creative if you have a large kit and many pieces to output.

If you haven’t had your drum kit’s pieces recorded into separate audio tracks within your DAW, you’re about to learn how to get fine-grained control over each instrument. Having each instrument isolated to its own track, your EQ can be applied specifically to one instrument to allow you to get the results that may not be possible when every instrument is stored into a single track.

You can also use a sampler plug-in and configure multi-output MIDI drum audio. Some samplers have more channels available for configuration than others, so you’ll have to research your sampler and its specific output capabilities to determine how many channels there are to output.

Another reason to separate your pieces’ audio is to make mixing easier for you, or the person you hire to mix your tracks. Having the source audio available allows for easier manipulation and also for applying specific types of effects.

Finally, most DAWs support some sort of folder-like grouping so that all related tracks can fit under a main track. This organization helps visually to save space when they are compacted and out-of sight. It also makes it easy to mute or unmute the folder group during playback. So do yourself a favor and make a “drums” folder group and place your kit’s pieces under this group.

What You’ll Need to Get Started

Steps to Separate Drum Kit Pieces’ Audio

  1. Open your project in Waveform and delete all default tracks.
  2. Set your project’s beats-per-minute value, if desired. The default is 120 BPM. Note that it’s preferred to set it at the start of the project versus waiting until all of your tracks are in-place. Setting is located at bottom right-hand side of screen, above the Play transport. Click to change the value.
  3. Create a new track to hold your source MIDI drum pattern file. You can either create a new MIDI file or import an existing one. Name this track “MIDI Source”.Waveform-Create_MIDI_Source_Track
  4. Import or create your MIDI file on the “MIDI Source” track. Be certain it contains several drum kit pieces so that you’ll be able to see the audio separation technique working. Waveform will ask you if you want to retain a tempo if you bring in an existing MIDI file. As shown below, the MIDI I added has several instruments.Waveform-Add_MIDI_file_Multiple_Instruments
  5. Now that the MIDI pattern is in place, we need to define our drum plug-in instrument that will provide the drum kit’s audio output.  In addition, we will need to specify each drum kit component’s output audio channel so that each item has its own audio track.
  6. Add the MT Power Drumkit 2.0 plug-in to the “MIDI Source” track.
  7. While MT Power Drumkit is free, they do ask you for a monetary donation when the plug-in is invoked each time.  To skip this message, click the Skip button.  If you want to permanently  remove the screen, make a donation. Each time you re-open your saved Waveform project, you must open the plug-in and click the “Skip” button to get sound while it is the free version. If you donate, the nag screen goes away permanently.MTPowerDrumKit_Nag_Screen
  8. When the drum kit loads, you can click on the individual pieces and hear how each piece sounds. Note that all kit pieces will produce sound output at this point because they are all assigned to one output channel by default.
  9. Click the Mixer button at the bottom of the MT screen.MTPDK-Main_Window_Mixer_Button
  10. On the Mixer Settings window, you will see the kit pieces presented in vertical strips. At the bottom of each strip, the Out is set to “1”. All kit pieces are using “1”, so we need to change them to use different channels for output. Refer to how I made changes and grouped the toms since we only have eight (8) output channels to work with.MTPDK-Mixer_Window_Settings
  11. On the main PDK window, click on various pieces. They are now silent, except for the kick drum (or whichever piece you assigned to Out 1. You can close the MT Power Drumkit window now.
  12. We need to convert the MT Power Drumkit plug-in into a Waveform Rack so that we can easily re-use the plug-in on all of our separated audio tracks as we build them out. Let’s build the kick drum now, then you’ll be able to repeat the process for the other seven (7) audio channels.
  13. Right-click the PDK plug-in and choose “Wrap this plugin in a new rack plugin”. When the plug-in window shows, close it. We’ll accept all of its default settings for now.
  14. Create a new track in Waveform and call it “Kick Audio”.
  15. Open the rack you just created. At the bottom right-hand side, click the grey button and drag it to the “Kick Audio”. The following screen will display and show you that the rack has automatically wired the kick track.Rack-Adding_New_Instance
  16. We do not want Waveform’s default wiring to the tracks, so click the “Clear Wiring” button at the lower left-hand side of the screen and choose “Clear all output wiring”. Your screen should now look like this image.Rack-Output_Wires_Cleared
  17. Now here’s how we get audio to our kick drum track. Starting with the top output circle, click and drag to the top of the Kick Audio object. This first line will be the left side of the audio channel number one (1). The second circle is the right side of audio channel number one (1). Remember as you wire the remaining tracks that they are really stereo pairs and the top one is always the left side of the pair. Rack-Manual_Wiring_to_Kick_Drum
  18. Now test your work in Waveform. Press play (space bar) and you should only hear the instrument you configured in PDK for Out 1. For me, Out 1 was assigned to the kick drum. Looking at the image below, you can see the green output bars showing that my kick drum track is playing audio. Waveform-Show_Kick_Is_Working
  19. Now, while the audio is correctly routed to the isolated kick drum track, we are not able to record it just yet.
  20. For our “Kick Audio” track, we are able to output kick drum audio. But we’re not able to record it. To record, we need to make a new track named “Kick Print”. Set its input source as “Kick Audio”. Waveform_-_Create_Printed_Audio_Track
  21. Arm “Kick Print” for record, Press R on the keyboard and your “Kick Print” track should show the waveform of the recorded audio.
  22. Finally, be sure to mute your “MIDI Source” and “Kick Audio” tracks after you print your audio. Otherwise all of them will play concurrently which is not needed.

Where To Go From Here

Now you can move forward and repeat the steps for each of the seven (7) remaining output channels of the Power Drumkit. Note that you’ll need to clear the output wires each time you add a new “{name} Audio” track since Waveform automatically, and incorrectly, wires up the new tracks. While this process will take some time, as long as you re-use the project or render your drum tracks, it’ll be worth your time investment in the future.

Before we conclude this tutorial, I’d suggest that you re-organize your project and make use of folder tracks to group the Audio and Print tracks. That way, you can collapse the view when you are finished and no longer need to view the audio files group. You can expand the printed files group and focus your attention there for recording and exporting.

Summary

I hope you can see the benefits of using a project to configure multi-output MIDI drum audio on separate tracks within Waveform. What worked for me was to create Waveform projects for each one of my drum VSTs so that I can just drop the MIDI file in and record it easy with several different kits. At mixing time, I can decide which kit sounds the best and use its output audio files.

If you would like to add to this content to help other folks, please contact me and let me know what you have in mind.