cymbal sound mapping in new 1.5 Library

Hello VD tech support crew.  First let me tell you how much I appreciate the tech support being as incredible as the software.  You guys are a God send.

2 questions:
1) I have a  800 MHz power Mac G4 with 1.19 GB SDRAM and I'm running OSX (10.4.8) I am using VD:2 and have loaded 2 instances of VD:2 into Finale 2006.  I have downloaded the new 1.5 library and I am trying to take advantage of the suspended cymbal sounds on the marimba lite staff.  When I enter the suspended cymbal sounds that are located in the C6 octave, they play back just fine but they are writtien way up in the stratusphere on the score (Where they are in reality).  What am I doing wrong? How can I get them to have suspended cymbal note heads and be on the staff somewhere reasonable?

2) As I said, I have loaded the battery sounds in the first instance of VD:2 loaded in the AU set up and the pit sounds loaded into a second instance of VD:2.  I have opened the acual VD:2 program and turned the Latency all the way up, then closed it back.  I have turned down the polyphony (note Icon) numbers  for each channel in the instrument header.  I have the volume dials turned to half way. 

My issue has always been, and with VD:2 still is, the playback is erratic and sometimes leaves out sounds.  If I make a recording of an arrangement, a kid can't load it into his mp3 player and play along to it, because it is herky jerky.  In the VD:2 window, options window...should I have the settings on high polyphony/medium memory since I am using 2 instances of VD:2? Should I have the buffer size turned down?

I usually wind up with a score of about 15 staves, with about 12 different instruments/sounds.  I don't put my marimbas/vibes on different channels, thinking that I am saving RAM.  I use lite sounds thinking I am saving RAM.  Do you have any suggestions as to how I can smooth out my playback?  How I can make it sound as good as it does on Murray and Jim's computers at PAS/TMEA?  Maybe you can run down a list of settings I should have in place that effect playback with lots of polyphony.  Some different ways to be conservative with RAM?  Or..Anything you can suggest to get my playback smoother  would be greatly appreciated.  Maybe I can just fly Bill Castillo, Jim and Murray to Dallas.  I'll make dinner, buy a few bottles of wine and you can fix my settings! 

Thanks in advance guys. 

JJ
[quote author=jj.pipitone link=topic=1442.msg6604#msg6604 date=1164574390]

My issue has always been, and with VD:2 still is, the playback is erratic and sometimes leaves out sounds.  If I make a recording of an arrangement, a kid can't load it into his mp3 player and play along to it, because it is herky jerky.  In the VD:2 window, options window...should I have the settings on high polyphony/medium memory since I am using 2 instances of VD:2? Should I have the buffer size turned down?

I usually wind up with a score of about 15 staves, with about 12 different instruments/sounds.  I don't put my marimbas/vibes on different channels, thinking that I am saving RAM.  I use lite sounds thinking I am saving RAM.  Do you have any suggestions as to how I can smooth out my playback?  How I can make it sound as good as it does on Murray and Jim's computers at PAS/TMEA?  Maybe you can run down a list of settings I should have in place that effect playback with lots of polyphony.  Some different ways to be conservative with RAM?  Or..Anything you can suggest to get my playback smoother  would be greatly appreciated.  Maybe I can just fly Bill Castillo, Jim and Murray to Dallas.  I'll make dinner, buy a few bottles of wine and you can fix my settings! 

Thanks in advance guys. 

JJ
[/quote]

Hey JJ. Great to see you on here.  Its been quite a long time.

What are you using to create your mp3's? You might have better success with using a different program to create mp3 files. I am a windows/Sibelius user but I use Cakewalk Music Creator to make my mp3's and there is no latency issue with that. Basically I extract the raw midi file from Sibelius and import it into Music Creator. I can then reload my VDL2 sounds as a VST instrument into Music Creator and it creates the wav or mp3 strictly based on the data in the file, not on how it is played back. I never get any skipping in any of the files I create, regardless of how the file plays back on my computer.

Unfortunately, I think Music Creator is only windows compatible but I would believe there has got to be a reasonable program for macs that will accomplish the same task. Music Creator only costs about 30-40 bucks so it doesn't break the bank either.

Greg

Hi JJ! Sounds like you're making some good headway with the dive into VDL2, and hopefully we can help dial some things in for you.

As drumcat mentioned, your machine is probably a bit on the slow side by today's standards, especially with as much polyphony as you're likely trying to crank out. Here are a few suggestions though:

1 - You mentioned reducing the polyphony settings on each instrument. This is something that might differ from instrument to instrument, depending on what you're demanding from it. You said you're running all vibe staves to one vibe instrument in VDL2. If this is the case (which is fine), then you'll likely want to increase the vibe instrument max polyphony since more notes are being actuated at once (multiple staves playing one instrument simultaneously). Start by increasing vibes and marimbas to max polyphony of 64 for starters.

2 - On vibes, chimes, glock, and any other instruments that have a long decay time, you should definitely consider lowering the ";release"; knob on those instruments. This will open more polyphony without decay lasting so long once note is released. This will be of particular help during running lines where there's a lot of 'swirl' happening with vibes for example.

3 - In ";Options"; the settings you are referring to are the DFD settings. DFD can be a little confusing if you're just getting started with it, so you might want to do some reading here on the forum to learn more. As for settings, there's no one 'surefire' set of settings that work best for everyone. For starters though, yes - set to high polyphony/medium memory. But notice when you do that what happens to the ";reserved voices"; field....it may change the number. You should definitely set ";reserved voices"; to 256 if you're wanting to avoid some of the choppy cutouts you may be hearing. Be sure to click ";apply"; before closing this window.

4 - Unfortunately, I don't think there's a way for you to lower latency when hosting VDL2 as an AU plugin within Finale. Hopefully this is a feature they can add in the future (Finale experts, please correct me if I'm wrong). As such, if Finale is trying to execute all those sounds at too low of a latency, it will severely strain your poor 800ghz G4 CPU. One option (while not optimal) would be to run VDL2 in a separate host program (outside of Finale) such as the free [b]AU Lab[/b] (on the Mac OSX ";developer tools"; disk for Mac AU hosting). Doing this would require you connect to AULab (hosting VDL2 instances) by way of a Virtual Midi Cable. Definitely a different workflow than what you're describing, so you may not want to go there. I'd rather upgrade the machine, knowing your current workflow will ultimately be how you want to do things.

5 - Upgrade to the max RAM. If you aren't ready to buy a new machine, it may be worth bumping your current G4 up to at least 2GB RAM. Remember, the 1GB you currently have is also being used to run OSX 10.4 (which is very RAM hungry), as well as Finale and all the ram hungry VDL instruments you have loaded). As such, it's probably resorting to using ";virtual memory"; from the hard drive - which is a general no-no with Audio. Speed is the name of the game. If you beef up your RAM, you can DE-activate DFD in VDL2, which means all instruments will load purely to RAM (rather than streaming from disk). This could certainly help some of the glitches. And RAM is a whole lot cheaper than a new box. If you later decide to sell this box, more ram will add to its value as well. Food for thought.

6 - You may also consider upgrading to Kontakt 2 and loading all your VDL2 sounds within one instance of that (since it's capable of 16 channels per hosted instance. Kontakt 2 would be hosted in Finale just the way you're currently doing it with VDL2, but by having less instances, it could help your ram consumption. Plus K2's DFD architecture is much improved on the VDL2 Kontakt Player. Eventually, the VDL2 Kontakt Player (in a future update) will catch up to this, so perhaps that's something you'd be comfortable waiting for.

These are just some options to consider. Since VDL2 is not yet universal binary compatible (for the new intel macs) it may not quite be the best time to buy a new Mac Pro - but that's where things are headed, so it's probably worth planning for a machine upgrade when the time's right.
J.J.,

In Finale06, write your mallet parts including any suspended cymbal work. Once the cymbal work has been notated, select the staff attributes tool, highlight the cymbal work, from the staff tool menu select ";apply staff styles"; and select ";rhythmic notation";. This will place all suspended cymbal work on the center line of the staff using the percussion font. There will be no change in the playback just the notation. If you have any other problems let us know.


Ted Boliske
J.J.,

I can address the Finale issue with the suspended cymbals. This was something I tried to clear up when the newest templates were created. If you use ";Staff styles"; under the staff attributes tool you will find a percussion notation or rhythmic notation option. I don't remember which off the top of my head. This will create a rhythmic notation for the cymbals on the center line of the staff. Playback will be fine and reading should not be an issue especially if you add a ";sus. cym."; above the measure.

I'll post back in a few with a more detailed answer.

Ted Boliske
Hey JJ, let me toss some ideas out.  If all else fails, maybe I can stop by over xmas; the wife's fam is there.  =)

First, Bill & Jim & Murray aren't playing fair.  They have some good horsepower in their demo boxes.  That said, my 1.2ghz is a doorstop now, so maybe that's something that should be on the christmas list!

The idea with the Marimba staff isn't terribly unusual.  Putting noteheads on the natural space probably looks like an ossia or something.  The way you can fix this is just the same as the concept for the mapping of battery instruments.  You'll create a drum map for the staff, but just the one cymbal note gets mapped.  You can then change it to any way you want to, and maybe a different notehead, too.  I'm no Finale guy; someone else might be able to direct that better.  I think that's your best way of doing that though...

A few things; you are saving a tiny bit of CPU by not assigning individual channels, and generally it sounds like you are maxing out your setup and rig.  It really sounds like you're in need of a DAW application.  Logic/Cubase/etc. - you need something that can render out the audio instead of trying to get your machine to huff and puff, and then on top record a stream of audio on top of all of that.  Making mp3's for the kids is exactly the process I've followed for a long time, and it's hard without the ability to freeze samplers and free up ram.

Essentially, you get the score as good as you will within Finale, then you export the .midi file, open it in a DAW app, and then use that as a host for the samplers, and render out the audio from the midi file.  The concept is a bit weird, but rendering is effectively pasting each sample into an audio file at the precise time it should occur, and it's hyperaccurate and can be done faster-than-real-time.  This as opposed to recording the output live-time.  Finale's midi engine is ok at best...

There are lots of options, but the cruddy part is that scoring and rendering are at the moment mutually exclusive.  Cubase offers some scoring options that are decent, but not really as good as they need to be.  Logic is apparently pretty good, but it's probably a considerably different method to Finale and doesn't offer full import AFAIK.

Others will surely chime in on their favorites, but I think the biggest point is that Finale driving a sampler on an 800m machine is probably not anywhere optimal, and would require a DAW app to get any better.  You sound like you're maxing out your current rig...
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