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Subject: MIDI Sequencer for Live PA


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Original Message                 Date: 12-Sep-02  @  07:08 PM   -   MIDI Sequencer for Live PA

Scott Digweed

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I want a hardware MIDI sequencer to perform my material live. My first question is: what is the most reliable choice among these options?

- Yamaha RS7000
- E-mu Proteus 2500
- Roland MC-80
- Akai MPC2000XL

I currently have Logic Audio (PC) running the Virus, Nord, uQ, Machinedrum, and EXS-24.

My live PA configuration would hopefully be a hardware MIDI sequencer driving the synths, and MIDI sync'd to the Machinedrum.

FYI - I've used the RM1x for a few years and while it was OK, I had a big issue with it... when switching patterns ("Styles"), it never switched to the next Style cleanly - there always seemed to be a bit of a delay.

Please comment on my evaluation of these units below.

I checked out the Proteus 2500 and RS7000 at Guitar Center yesterday. The P2500 seemed to switch patterns (i.e. when I initiated the "next pattern" manually) quite cleanly, however, none of the demo sequences were 4/4 and were of different tempos, so I couldn't tell for sure if it was a seamless transition. I believe the P2500 OS on their display model was 1.17.

On the other hand, the display XL-7 had a very noticeable delay/stutter when switching patterns, even when they were of the same tempo. I found this rather disturbing. The XL-7 OS was 1.00, which I have heard was bug-riddled.

Then I tested the RS7000. like the RM1x, it switches from Section to Section flawlessly. But when you switch from Style to Style, there was still a noticeable sonic gap between the two Styles, albeit shorter than the RM1x. Note - I had the quantize pattern setting in Global set to 1 measure.

Now the MC-80. I've never played with an MC-80 and have no clue if it switches from pattern to pattern seamlessly or if it even has the facilities to switch patterns manually. Anyone here have the MC-80? The MC-80 is quite expensive, so it better have some razzle dazzle or I'm going to pass right over it.

And the MPC-2000XL. It has the "Next Sequence" button and everything. It would seem the MPC-2000XL is ready to do switch patterns (and perhaps entire Songs?) live. But I've never been able to try it out... Anyone?


Thanks,

Scott




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Message 11/38             13-Sep-02  @  06:11 PM   -   RE: MIDI Sequencer for Live PA

Mindspawn

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MMT8s are solid, and cheap. The RS7k will glitch when changing styles, but I honestly haven't tried just controlling external gear to see if the problem was only on the RS's internal synth/fx engine.... I will do that as soon as the studio 's back up and running (we're moving into a new space....). I do know that with careful programming of your phrases and setting the "voice setup to TG" to "OFF" the RS (or the RM1x for that matter) don't glitch.

The XL7's latest OS is fine, at least for switching betwixt styles. AND it's very affordable right now (699 new). The MC80 has no problems switching styles/sequences. Same for the MPCs.

Pizza



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Message 12/38             13-Sep-02  @  06:25 PM   -   RE: MIDI Sequencer for Live PA

Scott Digweed

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Gotta love the search function.

I just read the 'Live Sequencing???' thread from 1998... hehehe... I must be behind the sequencing times ... :-) Hey is trance still in style? :@}

I've got a pretty good idea of what the MMT-8 can do now. Seems to be exactly what I want, except the memory limitations scare me... I like to program smooth volume and controller sweeps, so I'd have to get away from that and program that stuff hard into the synth patches as envelopes or LFOs.

What's interesting is that the modern MIDI sequencers can do bits and pieces of what the MMT-8 did (is it now *20* years ago?)...

The MC-505 can Megamix parts in between patterns.

The XP/MC-80 and Proteus 2500 and XL-7 16 track sequencers, but with multiple MIDI channels on each track...

That means with the Proteus 2500, I could run Track #1 as 16 external MIDI channels on MIDI A, Track #2 as 16 external MIDI channels on MIDI B, and Track #'s 3-16 to the internal Proteus synth engine...

I'm really really anxious to go back to the shop and experiment with the Pattern chaining again, this time I'm going to program some simple 4/4 patterns and switch between them... and not rely on the internal preset patterns as a proof of functionality.


Scott



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Message 13/38             13-Sep-02  @  06:29 PM   -   RE: MIDI Sequencer for Live PA

Scott Digweed

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O.S. of the XL-7 and Proteus 2500 is the same, no?



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Message 14/38             13-Sep-02  @  06:43 PM   -   RE: MIDI Sequencer for Live PA

Mindspawn

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Couldn't say. I do know that OS 1.0 for the XL was buggy. The current OS (which I caannna remember off the top of me head) seems mostly fine. At least as far as switching patterns goes, it seems stable enuff.



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Message 15/38             13-Sep-02  @  08:02 PM   -   RE: MIDI Sequencer for Live PA

influx

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kawai Q80EXE...huge not capacity, SMF (reads from floppy) 32 tracks, two outputs, etc...

have a look. theyre VERY cheap



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Message 16/38             13-Sep-02  @  11:09 PM   -   RE: MIDI Sequencer for Live PA

n3

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You could drop out to a machinedrum interlude while you stop the rm1x and switch styles, tap out a little something on a controller keyboard to make it flow for a few seconds and start it back up right?



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Message 17/38             14-Sep-02  @  12:18 AM   -   RE: MIDI Sequencer for Live PA

Pongoid

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The mmt8 will record and broadcast on multiple midi channels in each track. The only time you run into problems with that is when you change channels on the fly for the track (then all note into gets filtered into the selected midi channel), but it does do it on the fly, and if you're writing stuff all on one channel per track, then switching from a drum map to a synth/noise line or another drum map, or whatever is as easy as the press of three buttons. These boxes are so easy to use. The ONLY gripe I have is that they are super finnicky about power. You MUST have good clean power at whatever gig you are playing, or they will glitch out to hell, and you'll probably have to reload your sequences, which can take up to several minutes, depending on the complexity of material and how you reload(it can save sequences as audio as well as sys-ex). It's an option. Certainly throws pretty solid clock.



Ape



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Message 18/38             14-Sep-02  @  12:18 AM   -   RE: MIDI Sequencer for Live PA

Scott Digweed

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Kawai Q80 - I've seen you guys praise this one in the past threads too. Like the idea of the motifs... very cool. My question on the Q80 is if you can switch patterns / songs in realtime without hitches...

As for the Proteus 2500: I've completed my test of O.S. V1.17. The results were disappointing.

What I did was create two sequences from scratch, both at 140BPM. Both sequences had different patch assignments for internal tracks 1-16A and 1-16B. I started with a basic 4/4 drum beat on channel 1 on each pattern, and switched back and forth with no problems or delays. But then, the real test. I recorded between 8 and 16 MIDI channels worth of MIDI note data in each pattern. Then I tried to switch back and forth between the two patterns. There was a very noticeable gap in between, I'd estimate it at around 100MS or so. Not what I was hoping for, with all of E-mu's "lightning fast processor" marketing. Maybe when the thing gets rollin, but what I need is 0-60, baby.

The bottom-line conclusion is that I can't expect to program full-on MIDI sequences in the Proteus 2500 and jump from one to another, DJ-style. Not going to happen, AFAICS.

Now the tough question. If I didn't use the internal synth engine, and instead had MIDI patch changes programmed for my external syths, would the delay/gap still be present. Several of you have said that it is not on other pieces of gear. But I'm not sure about that... because my Virus and uQ (especially) don't change patches instantaneously when I change patches on the front panel. There's usually a bit of loading delay.

So what I am getting at here.. is that with one sequencer and standard synths, and without clever patch changes pre-programmed or manually initiated, it would seem impossible to do a clean fade from song (Style) to song with the full-on MIDI rig.

What I'm sure I COULD DO with any of these units is MIDI up an RM1x or MMT-8 to an Akai sampler, for example, layout samples across the MIDI note range, and arrange tracks based on the sample layouts. In other words, song #1 would address MIDI notes 0-16, song #2 MIDI notes 1 and 17-32 (overlap for basedrum for example), etc. And simply avoid patch changes and all that.

Actually, I just thought of another way of doing it. The idea is to use 1 channel of Virus and 1 channel of uQ for each song. So Song #1 would address MIDI channel 1 on both synths, Song #2 MIDI channel 2 on both synths, etc. This way, there would be no patch changes to contend with.

Also, what n3 says would work too... use the machinedrum underneath while the main seq switches over. If I use the machinedrum as the master MIDI clock source, then absolutely yes. It's a solid plan also because the machinedrum holds mute assignments and FX settings when switching patterns. That's crucial for keeping the sonic transition smooth, without jumps in sound when I want to jump from pattern to pattern.


*phew*

OK, I'm putting MIDI sequencers out of my mind for now and am gonna enjoy what's left of my friday.


Thanks guys.


Scott



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Message 19/38             14-Sep-02  @  12:19 AM   -   RE: MIDI Sequencer for Live PA

Pongoid

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I know I'm using mine when I play out tonight, for whatever that's worth.


Ape



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Message 20/38             14-Sep-02  @  12:26 AM   -   RE: MIDI Sequencer for Live PA

Scott Digweed

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Ape,

So if you have a 4-measure Bassline 'A' on Track 1 Channel 1, can you change Track 1 Channel 1 to play 4-measure Bassline 'B'?

Does it punch right into the new pattern on the fly, or can you quantize the switch to the end of the pattern or next measure?

The power thingie sounds kinda fickle. Do you have the Black MMT-8's? Have you ever tried an alternate power supply? (does it have a wallwart or internal?)


Thanks,

Scott



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