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.

Digitech GNX4 MIDI Drums Through Your DAW

Have you ever wanted to use your Digitech GNX4 as a MIDI drum machine from your Digital Audio Workstation (DAW)? Recently I was working on a MIDI drum pattern and I wondered if it would be possible to send a MIDI track from my DAW to the GNX4 to perform and record it. Typically I use one of several drum kit VSTs within the DAW to generate my drum audio, but I was looking for some variety in the drum sounds. The good news is that I was able to send the MIDI track from the DAW to the GNX4 and record its playback in the DAW. Follow the steps in this post to generate Digitech GNX4 MIDI drums through your DAW.

29 May 2020 – Written by Michael R. Myers #mykmyrs

Skill Level : Intermediate

Before we begin, I use Tracktion Waveform 11 Free as my DAW. I have not tried this GNX4 configuration in any other DAW. If you used another DAW, and got it to work correctly, please let me know the configuration steps.I will gladly update this post, giving you full credit, so that we can help others get up and running easily on varied software products.

Dealing with Audio Latency

Latency is a factor in this configuration, so playback can and will be affected by the latency you are going to experience. Even at 16ms, the fastest setting I have available to me while working on my Mac, there is a small delay while recording the GNX4’s output. When you record, be sure to set some lead-in space before the start of your drum MIDI and also at the end of the track to pick up any audio trails of the drum instruments.

I initially got this configuration to work on my 2011 iMac running High Sierra. When I wrote this post, I was using my iMac booted into Windows 10. The latency values in Mac went down to 16ms. On the same computer, running Windows 10, my lowest latency was 256ms in Windows Audio (Exclusive Mode). That is a HUGE difference in combating latency while recording.

What You’ll Need to Play Digitech GNX4 MIDI Drums Through Your DAW

  • Tracktion Waveform 11 – while free to use, it does require an account at their web site
  • Digitech GNX4 connected to a PC or Mac via USB
  • GNX4 drivers, if using Windows. Mac users do not need any drivers
  • Ability to configure your DAW software for MIDI and audio inputs/outputs
  • Ability to configure the GNX4 MIDI channel and USB audio sources
  • MIDI files of drum kit instruments

Steps to Configure MIDI Drum Playback

  1. Create a new project in your DAW.
  2. Add a new MIDI track and name it “MIDI Source”. Create a MIDI pattern in the “MIDI Source” track, or insert one you have available.Waveform 11 - Create MIDI Track
  3. Ensure your GNX4 is powered on and connected to your computer via USB so that we can configure it as an input device.
  4. In Settings>Audio Devices, set your Digitech USB 1-2 as your input device. Set your speakers/monitors as your output device. Set your audio buffer as low as possible. 160 ms was the lowest I could set without Waveform telling me I was exceeding capabilities.Waveform11-GNX4_Audio_Input_Properties
  5. In Settings>MIDI Devices, enable anything Digitech USB-related. Waveform gives the devices an alias, which is shown in the screen shot below. We’ll need this alias later, so I point it out for your information.Waveform11-MIDI_Device_Settings
  6. Now we’ll switch to the GNX4 unit and complete the configuration there.
  7. Let’s set the MIDI channel for the GNX4. Press the Utility button to the right of the data wheel until the display shows “MIDICHNL”. Turn the data wheel until it shows “AL”. This sets the GNX4 to Omni mode where it can handle MIDI on any channel.GNX MIDI Config
  8. Now set the USB source option for USB channel 1-2. Before you begin, make a note of what the initial value is so that you can change it back when you’re finished. Press the Shift button under the built-in recorder on the GNX, then press the CF USB 1-2 SRC button. Use the data wheel and change the value to “DRUMS ST”. Press Shift to exit.GNX4_CF1_2_Drums_ST
  9. Return to your DAW now. Configure your MIDI track’s output setting on the far right-hand side of the track. I had to choose “Digitech Mac USB-2” as my default MIDI output. To test, press play on your DAW’s transport. If the GNX4 is receiving the MIDI, its level meter (at the top right-hand side of the built-in recorder) will show flashing lights. You will not hear any sounds in the DAW yet, but you will know that your signal is getting to the GNX4.Waveform11-Setting_MIDI_Source_In_Track
  10. Create a new audio track and name it “GNX4 Drums”. Set its input source as the USB 1 channel and its output to the standard 1+2 output. Turn on your live input monitoring and press play on the DAW. You should be hearing your GNX4 playing the MIDI file.
  11. Arm your “GNX4 Drums” track for recording and record your MIDI file. Your track should display a dynamic waveform of the recorded audio.Waveform11-Drum_Audio_Track_Settings
  12. If you want to try other GNX4 drum kits, feel free to change them and see what sounds the best to you. There are several stock kits available and auditioning them all may prove useful to you in your DAW’s mix.
  13. You may need to experiment with an ideal latency recording setting, and also setting it much higher for playback. In Mac, I needed to record at 16 ms and play back at 256 ms. In Windows 10, changing the latency for playback didn’t seem to be needed.
  14. At this point, the tutorial is complete.

Where To Go From Here

Now that we’ve seen that it’s possible to use your GNX4’s drummer capabilities in a DAW, I’d suggest a few enhancements. First, break the individual kit pieces into their own distinct audio output tracks. This will give you fine-grained control over each piece’s sound and allow for better mixing. Second, record multiple takes of the output audio with different GNX4 kits so that you can blend them together and see if a hybrid of the audio works in your style of music. Finally, experiment with integrating the GNX4 output with the output of other drum VSTs to create something new and unique.

Summary

I hope this tutorial has helped you and that you found it useful to learn how to play Digitech GNX4 MIDI Drums Through Your DAW.

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.

Post References

Anderton, Craig. Digitech GNX4 Guitar Workstation: The Power User’s Guide.  Schirmer Trade Books, 2005.   Digitech. (2004). 

GNX4 Multi-Modeling Recording Guitar Workstation Owner’s Manual. Sandy, UT.

Extract MIDI Audio and Notes in Waveform 11

Have you ever wanted to output a MIDI file as audio and also capture the actual MIDI notes that produced the audio? A practical usage for this process is extracting the MIDI from a file where there are multiple instruments in the file, such as a drum kit’s kick, snare, toms and cymbals. With the extracted MIDI, you have the source data available to help you create new instrument parts, variations or other embellishments without the need to endlessly copy, paste and manually delete instrument parts you don’t need. Follow the steps in this post to learn how to extract MIDI audio and notes in Waveform 11.

27 May 2020 – Written by Michael R. Myers

Skill Level: Advanced

Why Do You Want to Extract the MIDI Notes????!!!!

That is the question I have received numerous times on various Internet forums and other groups while I was trying to figure out how to extract MIDI notes. I’d also get suggestions like “Just record the audio output and be happy with that” or “Nobody needs to capture the MIDI notes while they’re playing” or “Just copy the whole MIDI file to a new track, highlight what you don’t want, and delete it”. I even checked in with Tracktion’s technical support team, got a case number and in the end they said it couldn’t be done easily. I assume the technical support agent was also confused as to why I wanted the playing audio output AND those corresponding source MIDI notes. Fortunately for me, I got more motivated to find the solution, and I did it with some free VSTs and a video tutorial on YouTube by Bill Edstrom.

First, Let Me Explain…

To step back a moment, here’s my motivation to extract MIDI audio and notes in Waveform 11. I made a Waveform project that uses a source MIDI file for performance by a VST drum kit instrument. The VST drum instrument, MT Power Drum Kit 2.0, plays the MIDI file and sends each individual instrument’s audio to its own track so that I can record the drum kit pieces’ audio on distinctly separated tracks (kick drum has its own track, the snare has its own track, etc.). I assume you do something similar to control the output levels of each of your kit’s pieces. If you aren’t separating out your kit components into dedicated tracks in your DAW, you may want to look into that practice sooner than later, especially if someone else mixes your work.

After I have created each instrument’s audio track in the DAW, I then export the audio to files and then import into another DAW for mixing and EQ adjustments. With me so far? Good. Let’s continue.

After a few sessions of recording audio tracks from the MIDI file, I realized that I may want to output the source MIDI notes in addition to the output of the audio. For example, having the kick drum’s audio and source MIDI notes allows me to save small, defined pieces of performances that can easily be copied, re-used or altered easily. If I decide that I am not liking a certain VST’s audio output, I can easily swap the VST drum instrument and re-record from my source MIDI. If I didn’t have the MIDI notes, I would potentially have to chop the audio file and edit it to create variations which could take a lot of time and effort.

But right now, I know you are still asking yourself why I would want to do this. Couldn’t I “just copy the MIDI from the main source track, delete out the instruments I don’t want and continue along my way”? Sure, but that could potentially be a lot of work and re-work if I make one or more errors in my edits/copy-paste.

For my workflow and the way I work, I tend to write my drum parts and guitar riffs in very small sections, generally 1 or 2 bars at a time. When I write in small sections, I can audition the audio and the MIDI to tracks to do A/B comparisons easily. I can edit the captured MIDI and play it back in small sections to create variations and copy them back up to my main source MIDI track as I build the overall song. The best part is that I am using technology to do the repetitive grunt work of capturing audio and MIDI notes with simply arming tracks for record and doing a take.

What You Need To Succeed

Make sure you install all of the prerequisite plug-ins before attempting to continue.

Due to the length of this tutorial, I plan to write continued variations for specific uses of the techniques presented. These include using multiple VSTs to generate different instruments’ outputs for blending, auditioning various drum kits during playback and much more.

This lesson is the just the starting point of the series and shows how to use one drum kit plug-in to capture individual drum kit pieces’ MIDI source notes and the corresponding output audio on separate tracks.

Steps to Extract MIDI Audio and Notes in Waveform 11

  1. Create a new Waveform 11 project. Delete all tracks so we can start fresh.
  2. Create a new track and name it “MIDI Source”. This track will hold our drum pattern file(s) and represent our entire drums for a track.Waveform 11 Add New MIDI Track
  3. Add an empty Rack plug-in to the MIDI Source track. Within the rack, drag the red line (MIDI) from the left-hand side dot straight through to the right-hand side dot. This will simply pass the MIDI data out of the track. Name the Rack “MIDI Through”.Waveform 11 wire MIDI in rack
  4. Place a MIDI file on a track. For this tutorial, use any drum MIDI you want, just be sure it has multiple instrument parts like kick, snare, cymbals and toms so that we can separate them into their own source tracks.
  5. Right-click in the area under MIDI Source and select “Create a new folder track”. We will need to make a group of tracks per instrument. Groups allow for organization and easy enable/disable operations during playback or for recording. Name the folder track “Kick (36) Group”.Waveform 11 - Kick Group Track
  6. Let’s make our first sub-track for the kick drum. Create another new track under the group track. Grab the new track, hold your mouse button and drag it under the folder track until the folder track looks like it lights up a bit. Drop the new track. If you performed this movement successfully, the new track shows a bit indented under the folder track, and the folder track has a small indicator icon on its left-hand side. Clicking the indicator either expands or compresses the view to show/hide the new track. Name the new track “Kick MIDI Filter”.Waveform 11 - Create sub-folder track
  7. Kick MIDI Filter is the track that is going to help us receive the MIDI Source track’s notes and will filter the notes to a specific MIDI key value. Recall that (36) in the group folder track’s name? That 36 is the key value of the General MIDI specification for a bass/kick drum. I like to place the values in the names so that I know where they are mapped visually.
  8. Open the MIDI Through rack on the MIDI Source track. At the lower right-hand side of the dialog window for the rack, click on the box and drag it to the plug-in area of the Kick MIDI Filter track so that it has an instance of the Rack. This instance allows us to receive the MIDI Source track’s MIDI output.Waveform 11 - Drag Rack Instance to Track
  9. Now that we are receiving the MIDI input on the Kick MIDI Filter track, we need to filter for the actual kick drum note value. Add an instance of eaReckon’s MID Polysher plug-in directly after the rack instance you just added. After adding, you will see the Polysher configuration window. Set the two key range values to 36, which is the kick drum’s MIDI note value. Note how all of the piano keys will turn red except for 36. Close Polysher after the configuration is completed.MIDI Polysher Kick Drum Filter
  10. Now that we have a track that is filtering the MIDI source data to only handle the kick drum, let’s make a new sub-track to “print” the kick drum’s source notes. To save the notes, we simply arm the new track for recording and it saves the notes to the track. Follow the previous steps for making a new track and dragging it under the “Kick (36) Group”. It should be under the “Kick MIDI Filter” track. Name the new track “Kick Only MIDI”.Waveform 11 - Create sub track
  11. On the new track, we’re going to add our drum VST instrument so that the MIDI the track receives can be printed. It will also produce the audio output of the filtered kick drum so that we can make a new audio track to capture (“print”) the audio output. Add MT Power Drumkit as a plug-in to the “Kick Only MIDI” track. Be sure to open the drum kit and click the “Skip” button so that the plug-in makes audio output.
  12. Now we’ll add the final sub-track to the group. Create another new track and drag it under “Kick Only MIDI” in the folder group. Name the track “Kick Only Audio”.Waveform 11 - Create sub track
  13. We’re finished creating all of the sub-tracks within the kick drum group. Let’s wire the tracks up so that we get MIDI notes and output audio.
  14. Right-click the empty area under “Kick Only MIDI” and choose MIDI Tracks>Kick MIDI Filter. This sets the source of the track to our MIDI notes from the Rack on the “Kick MIDI Filter” track.Waveform 11 - Configure MIDI Notes' source
  15. Right-click the empty area under “Kick Only Audio” and choose Audio Tracks>Kick Only MIDI. This sets the source of the track to our Power Drumkit audio performance from the “Kick Only MIDI” track.Waveform 11 - Configure audio output  source
  16. We’re finished with all of the kick drum configuration at this point. Now it’s time to test and prove we will get only kick drum MIDI notes on “Kick Only MIDI”, and only the kick drum’s audio output on track “Kick Only Audio”.
  17. Arm the bottom two tracks in the kick drum group for recording and press the R key to record.
  18. Press the spacebar when your play head passes the end of your MIDI file to stop playback. Press the W key to return to the start of your bars. You should now see that “Kick Only MIDI” has only kick drum notes, and that “Kick Only Audio” has the recorded kick drum audio.Waveform 11- Waveform-Captured MIDI and Audio
  19. At this point, you can repeat the steps and make a group for each of the instruments in your drum kit. Be sure to change the MIDI note value in the Polysher plug-in within each group so that you are filtering for the correct instrument.

Summary

We’ve finally reached the end of this tutorial. You now know how to extract MIDI notes and audio in Waveform 11 Free. While it was a long journey, you can save your project so that the configuration is finished and ready for your next project. Leave a comment or send me a message to let me know if you were able to use this, build on it or recommend it to someone.

Rename A Tracktion Waveform Project

Have you ever tried to rename your saved Tracktion or Waveform project‘s name? It’s a multi-step process and not overly obvious how to complete. Follow the steps in this post to learn how to rename a Tracktion Waveform project.

19 May 2020 – Written by Michael R. Myers

Skill Level: Beginner

Contents of a Waveform Project

Before I outline the steps to rename a project, let’s take a quick look at the components of a Waveform project. Knowing these parts should help you to understand what we will change with the rename operation.

When you create a project, Waveform (or Tracktion) makes a folder with the name you specify. Within this folder, it makes several sub-folders and it creates the project file and the project’s edit file.

Steps to Rename the Project

  1. Open your project in Waveform that you want to rename.  I called my project “DumbProjectName” when I created it, but now I want to give it a more meaningful name.
  2. Click the project name in the Projects tab. Waveform Projects screen
  3.   In the properties window at the bottom of the screen, change the name of the project and press Enter.  I have just re-named it to “Song01_Source”.  Notice that the project name in the Active Projects pane automatically shows the new project name, but the Edits file name still shows with the old project name.Waveform Rename project - Step_3
  4. Click on the Edit file name in the Edits pane.  Similarly to changing the project name, provide the desired name in the Edit pane.  Your project name and edits file name will now match. Close Waveform and continue to the next step.Waveform Rename Project - Step_4
  5. Finally, let’s change the folder name that contains the project so that it has the new project’s name.  Open your file explorer and navigate the the folder that contains your project’s folder.  Rename it to be the new project’s name.  The folder, *.tracktionedit file and the *.tracktion file should all show as having the same name.Waveform Rename Project - _Step_6
  6. Congratulations! Your project folder, its project file and edits file are now renamed.

Summary

Now you can rename a Tracktion Waveform project. It probably was not overly obvious how to complete it successfully, but moving forward you can reference this post if needed. What this situation taught me personally was to make sure I name a project properly as one of the first steps I complete when creating something new.

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.

Digitech GNX4 Re-amping With Tracktion Waveform 11

In this post, we’ll look at how to configure Digitech GNX4 re-amping with Tracktion Waveform 11. The steps in this post are not limited to Waveform, and they should work in almost any other DAW if you’re willing to give it a try. Let me know if you have successfully re-amped using this post with a different DAW.

18 May 2020 – Written by Michael R. Myers

Skill Level : Advanced

The Digitech GNX4’s configuration capabilities permit users to re-amp a dry guitar signal (DI) from either the on-board 8-track recorder, or from USB configuration. This post focuses purely on the USB configuration so that a DI track in a DAW can be processed by the GNX4 and recorded as the GNX4 performs the track with the new audio output.

Before we begin, I would like to point out that using the MFX Supermodels that were available for the GNX4 would be preferred over the stock amps and cabinets. Unfortunately, they are no longer available for purchase at this time. If you can find a disc of the MFX Supermodels, your results will sound superior over the stock offerings in the GNX4. Check e-Bay for a disc of MFX Supermodels because people sometimes sell them there.

One final note…re-amping takes time and configuration effort on your part. It’s not as easy as pressing a button or switching effects. The steps need to be followed carefully so that you’ll have success with your new sound. You may want to wait until you are ready to do a batch of re-amps instead of performing them multiple times over your project’s recording sessions.

What You’ll Need to Re-Amp Your DI Tracks

  • Tracktion Waveform 11 – while free to use, it does require an account at their web site
  • Digitech GNX4 connected to a PC or Mac via USB
  • GNX4 drivers, if using Windows. Mac users do not any drivers
  • Ability to configure your DAW software for audio inputs and outputs
  • Ability to configure GNX4 to output an effected signal and a dry signal
  • Ability to configure GNX4 to input a dry signal to be re-amped
  • PATIENCE. The tutorial is lengthy and requires a lot of back-and-forth with configuration/settings.

Re-amping Overview

Re-amping a dry track gives you a lot of creative control over the sound of your guitar in a track. It allows flexibility to audition new amps and cabinets virtually for comparison to help you find “that sound” within your overall mix. Alternatively, you can make copies of your dry track and re-amp them to different amps and cabinets and then blend the results to create a sound that is unique and really stands out. The results are limitless and once you have some of your GNX4’s patches set up to your liking, you’re ready to go for future re-amping sessions. Remember to always capture dry guitar signals while recording so that Digitech GNX4 re-amping is always available for you. Now that you have a dry guitar track explanation, let’s use Digitech GNX4 re-amping with Tracktion Waveform 11.

Steps to Re-amp Using a GNX4

  1. Configure your GNX4’s audio outputs so that you have a dry guitar signal available.  See this post’s procedure for instructions.
  2. In your DAW software, set the Digitech GNX4 as the input audio source while it is powered on and connected with a USB cable to the computer.  In the image below, the GNX4 is set as my input audio source, and the UMC202HD is my computer’s audio interface where my studio monitors are connected.  The Sample Rate only offers 44.1 and the Audio Buffer Size should be configured.  The lower the buffer number, the less latency you’ll experience.  It may take a few tries for you to find the lowest, workable buffer setting to eliminate latency. Shows Waveform11 Audio Device options
  1. In Waveform 11, you will need to set up two audio tracks.  One will be assigned to the USB 1 (USB 1/2 with effects) input channel and the other the USB 2 (USB 3/4 dry) input channel.  For USB 1’s input, I called the track “ENGL 35” for the ENGL amp preset I have at position 35 on my GNX4 patches.  For USB 2’s input, I called the track “Dry DI” to hold the GNX4’s dry guitar output that was configured in Procedure 1.Waveform audio tracksZoomed Waveform 11 track view showing input sources
  2. To record both source tracks simultaneously, arm both tracks for recording and record your audio performance.  After recording, you should see waveforms on both tracks.  You’ll notice that the dry track’s waveforms will look much more dynamic than a track with effects. Recorded audio on tracks showing waveform data
  3. Audition the tracks to verify that the first track is your GNX4’s patch output and the second track is dry guitar output.  Assuming you have a dry guitar track recorded properly, you’re now ready to re-amp it within your DAW.
  4. Now that we’re ready to re-amp the dry signal into a different GNX4 patch’s output, this part of the process requires a temporary change in audio inputs and outputs in the DAW preferences, and a temporary configuration change on the GNX4.
  5. Follow Procedure 2 in this tutorial to set up the GNX4’s USB sources to re-amp audio.  After setting the input to REAMPUSB, make sure you are on the different GNX4 patch that you want to have receive the signal.  For example, I originally recorded my patch 35, but now I want to re-amp the dry recorded signal in my DAW on patch 74.
  6. In your DAW, you have to open your audio device’s preferences and configure the input and output sources again.  This time, you are going to select the USB 1-2 as both the input and the output audio source.  USB 1 will be on the left side of the pair, USB 2 will be on the right side of the pair.Waveform 11 configuration for re-amping
  7. Make a new audio track in the DAW.  Here I named mine “Rectifier 74” for my GNX patch that I have stored in position 74.  Set the new track’s input source as USB 1.  In Waveform, I have to pan this tracks’s audio 100% to the right.  If I leave it center-panned, I will also hear the dry guitar sound in addition to the new patch 74 sound.  Panning it hard right allows me to record only the sound of patch 74. Waveform 11 New track for re-amp
  8. Arm the new track and hit your record button.  The DAW’s transport will play the dry guitar sound and send it to the GNX4 to play on the selected patch, in this case patch 74.  When you see a waveform showing on the track, you’ll have indication that your GNX4 is re-amping the dry sound.  You WILL NOT hear any audio output from the DAW or your computer monitors while you are re-amping.  As you can see, the waveforms on ENGL 35 (red track) and Rectifier 74 (green track)are heavily compressed and look similar, but they are two different sounds.Waveform11 recording new re-amped track
  9. To audition the new track’s audio, you must manually change your DAW’s audio preferences to use an output of your audio interface or the computers speakers.Waveform 11 config audio output to hear re-amped track
  10. Switch back to track view in your DAW and solo the new re-amped track’s audio.  Press Play on the transport to hear the newly re-amped audio output.
  11. At this point, you’re finished with the re-amping of the dry track.  From here, you could try a few things like using the original track (ENGL 35) and blending it with the new track (Rectifier 74).  Or you could choose one track over the other based on how it sounds with other instruments like drums and bass being mixed in.  Or maybe you want to have several options/takes available so you could re-amp the dry track on several different patches to decide which one(s) work best within your mix.
  12. Remember to follow this procedure again to reset your GNX4 back to normal when you are finished your re-amping activities.

Summary

I hope this tutorial has helped you and that you found it useful to learn how to use Digitech GNX4 re-amping with Tracktion Waveform 11.  If you have any constructive feedback, please contact me at the e-mail address listed in the heading of this tutorial.  Thanks for reading and I wish you great luck recording with the GNX4!

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.

Post References

Anderton, Craig. Digitech GNX4 Guitar Workstation: The Power User’s Guide.  Schirmer Trade Books, 2005.   Digitech. (2004). 

GNX4 Multi-Modeling Recording Guitar Workstation Owner’s Manual. Sandy, UT.