Volume tracking

The i2M musicport™ MIDI Converter & Hi-Z USB Audio Interface

Volume tracking

Postby strashilol » Fri Nov 05, 2010 5:22 pm

Hi everyone,

I just have a quick question regarding the new product. I already have a G2M, and it does pitch tracking - whenever I bend or play legato, the pitch of the current MIDI-note is adjusted correspondingly; unfortunately, the same doesn't happen with velocity - during the whole pitch bend run I'm stuck with the volume of the initial attack.

Does i2m address this problem by doing proper velocity tracking?

Thank you in advance!
Last edited by strashilol on Wed Dec 01, 2010 12:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Velocity tracking

Postby james » Fri Nov 05, 2010 5:32 pm

All our products do "proper" velocity tracking. By definition, the note-on velocity is to do with how fast you hit the note on. Obviously, this doesn't change during the note duration (it's only a feature of the start of the note, after all).

I think you are referring to envelope tracking, where a controller (e.g., MIDI volume) is set to follow the level of the input signal. Our guitar-focussed products don't do this mainly because it's of limited use because the guitar level falls quickly, and uniformly after the note is played.

However, the i2M musisport has a new "Voice/Wind" mode that does include envelope tracking. This uses the MIDI breath controller to send data which represents how loud the input signal is and how it changes during the note. Using this, you can let your "breath" (voice, wind instrument etc) control other aspects of the synthesized sound.
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Re: Velocity tracking

Postby strashilol » Sat Nov 06, 2010 11:46 am

First of all, thank you for the ever-quick response, james... I really appreciate the support you sonuus guys are giving us!

I think you are referring to envelope tracking

Thank you for correcting me! I'm new to the MIDI-world, so to speak...

guitar level falls quickly, and uniformly after the note is played

With all due respect, this is true only if you're not using a sustainer (or an E-Bow, in my case), which many guitarists do today. The problem becomes more evident if you hit a sustained note and then begin legato-ing from it; g2m, for example, will determine the volume of the initial attack and leave it there, and since good legato notes are transformed not into new MIDI-notes but into pitch bends, you're effectively stuck with the same volume for the whole run (which sounds really ridiculous, trust me).

Things get even worse if by mistake you hit the initial note too faintly/too strongly. In "normal" playing, you would correct yourself immediately, but g2m wouldn't allow you to do so because for it the volume tracking is over.

Using an E-Bow complicates things even further... E-Bow is like a breath controller for guitar: for example, I like to start a note faintly, then give it more volume, then add vibrato to it, then take some volume off, and end it in with a really strong vibrato/volume. What you get as a result is so-called "note shaping", which is not unlike some stuff you can do on a wind/bowed instrument.

Of course, this is all pretty "artsy/progressive", but then again, I thought your main customers ARE "artsy/progressive" types? Granted, you come across E-Bow players quite rarely, but don't underestimate the wide spread of Fernandez sustainers...

However, the i2M musisport has a new "Voice/Wind" mode that does include envelope tracking. This uses the MIDI breath controller to send data which represents how loud the input signal is and how it changes during the note. Using this, you can let your "breath" (voice, wind instrument etc) control other aspects of the synthesized sound.

Hmm, can I use this "wind" mode with my guitar?
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Re: Velocity tracking

Postby james » Sat Nov 06, 2010 2:26 pm

I do agree that with an E-Bow it makes sense to allow envelope tracking, but that sort of things wasn't our focus for the G2M.

On the i2M musicport, voice/wind mode can be used for guitar. However, it's optimised for truly monophonic instruments, so it's not as robust if two notes are played at the same time as can happen on a guitar, but can't on a flute for example.

Saying that, the firmware on the i2M musicport is upgradeable, so we can add this into guitar/bass modes if there is demand for it.
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Re: Velocity tracking

Postby strashilol » Sat Nov 06, 2010 4:51 pm

Thank you for your response, james! Btw, when is i2m coming to Austrian shops?

However, it's optimised for truly monophonic instruments, so it's not as robust if two notes are played at the same time as can happen on a guitar

But I thought that i2m was monophonic even in the guitar mode?.. Anyway, it's physically impossible to play 2 notes with an E-Bow since it "sits" on the strings adjacent to the one being played at the moment, effectively muting them.

Saying that, the firmware on the i2M musicport is upgradeable, so we can add this into guitar/bass modes if there is demand for it

I'm sure there would be a great demand for that if more people knew about this forum!
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Re: Velocity tracking

Postby james » Sat Nov 06, 2010 5:12 pm

Thank you for your response, james! Btw, when is i2m coming to Austrian shops?

We expect this around early December.

But I thought that i2m was monophonic even in the guitar mode?.. Anyway, it's physically impossible to play 2 notes with an E-Bow since it "sits" on the strings adjacent to the one being played at the moment, effectively muting them.


Yes, the i2M is monophonic, but our pitch-detection technology allows for multiple notes being played and tries to track the main, dominant note. That's what makes it "robust", so even if you're a bit sloppy it can often track without problems.

I forgot about that E-Bow feature. That means it should work really nicely.

I'm sure there would be a great demand for that if more people knew about this forum!


Yes. For some reason, users either shy away from the forum, or can't find it -- but it's clear enough on the web site and mentioned in the user manual! Any thoughts you have to get more users here would be very welcome.
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Re: Velocity tracking

Postby strashilol » Sun Nov 07, 2010 4:49 pm

We expect this around early December

Thank you for the info, james!

Yes, the i2M is monophonic, but our pitch-detection technology allows for multiple notes being played and tries to track the main, dominant note. That's what makes it "robust", so even if you're a bit sloppy it can often track without problems

Understood! I think I saw some Japanese guitarist on youtube playing several notes at the same time with i2m, but since I don't speak Japanese I didn't quite get it :)

Yes. For some reason, users either shy away from the forum, or can't find it -- but it's clear enough on the web site and mentioned in the user manual! Any thoughts you have to get more users here would be very welcome.

I think there are 3 main problems with your products in overall:

- for reasons completely obscure to me, they seem to be getting a lot of bad hype on the net. Before coming to this forum and asking you questions directly, I did a small survey; the general consensus for g2m seems to be "yeah, ya' know, this is, of course, just a toy, but may serve as a good introduction to the world of MIDI". And someone always adds: "But you must understand, for 100 bucks it's quite good". Well, my opinion is that for 100 bucks it is not "quite good", it's f**king unbelievable. I've been using g2m for, let's see, almost 2 months now, and my sole complaint is the lack of envelope tracking, which shouldn't even be a problem if you're not using an E-Bow or a sustainer.

- now, the people who are actually praising the products are simultaneously spreading a whole lot of misinformation. The perfect example would be the SweetwaterSound guy on youtube, who says (quoting): "You can never play more than one note on this particular device. And that just doesn't mean single lines (sic!), it means that each of your notes can't bleed (sic!) into the previous note, so you have to play it in a (sic!) slightly detached manner." Exactly this statement prompted me to come to this forum and ask if I can only play staccato with g2m, which is, of course, untrue and ridiculous. Another example would be "use the neck pick-up, this is gonna help the g2m convert your guitar to midi" from EtCeteraDistribution, who, as I understand it, is a prominent guitarist.

- so why are people saying this stuff? Here we come to the 3rd problem: your device is too good, meaning it's too intuitive. No bundled software, no buttons, just input and output :) I can understand where the "detached manner" statement comes from: when I first plugged in g2m, I tried a few VST sax plugins, and all of them sounded out of tune when playing legato; this was, of course, due to the fact that pitch bend settings for the plugins and for g2m were different. Once I got myself a good MIDI sampler (Kontakt), I was able to adjust the pitch bend of the instruments to 2 semitones, and viola! the whole thing worked flawlessly from that point on. Now, if g2m had a big sign on it (remember, people refer to the manual only as a last resort) saying "you'd better adjust your pitch bend settings"... ;)

Regarding the neck pick-ups thing, I play bridge pick-ups almost exclusively, and have never had any problems with g2m tracking the notes.

What I think you could do to remedy the situation:

- first of all, as I've mentioned already, it had been my experience both as a programmer and a guitarist that people rarely read the documentation, instead relying on their own observation skills. What people really like to read/watch though are tutorials and video lessons :) The E-Bow guys pulled a clever trick: they include some lessons on a bundled CD, which has a link to their website with more tutorials. Although your devices are really intuitive, the sheer amount of misunderstanding that I referred to before warrants a possibility of creating 3-4 such "lessons".

- second, the pairing "E-Bow + i2m", although I haven't tried it yet, really seems to be, I don't know, like a new way of playing guitar? Both devices are monophonic in nature, and E-Bow solves most of the problems people may encounter while playing g2m/i2m - for example, as I've said before, it mutes the adjacent strings. Consequently, Axon/Roland devices are an overkill for E-Bow players since you can't play more than one string at a time with it. Maybe you could develop some kind of a partnership with E-Bow folks, promoting the products of each other, or maybe even creating combined "E-Bow/i2m" sets at a reduced price?
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Re: Velocity tracking

Postby james » Tue Nov 09, 2010 9:53 pm

I couldn't agree more about videos and tutorials. It is something we have identified as being crucial to our marketing.

We've started with some basic text FAQs, but are going to expand this with more text, step-by-step guides, and videos.

It seems that one of the key things we need to do is to educate users into what's possible but also what's not possible. A lot of our customers can just pickup the products and do amazing things, others need a bit more help to guide them. In particular realising that the G2M/B2M/i2M musicport are valuable tools, rather than another effects pedal is the major step. With a fuzz box, you can plug-in and sound amazing (to yourself, others will often disagree), but with MIDI conversion, everyone hears the same thing: good or bad playing is reproduced faithfully!
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Re: Velocity tracking

Postby strashilol » Sat Nov 13, 2010 4:09 am

james, PLEASE NOTE that another guy, BertAnt, has also requested volume tracking for the guitar mode! Please see viewtopic.php?f=10&t=31 , the last post.

It seems that one of the key things we need to do is to educate users into what's possible but also what's not possible

I'd say guitarists often don't understand even what they themselves want from MIDI; in my opinion, that's exactly the reason behind the well-known quick dissatisfaction with MIDI many people experience just a few weeks after mounting the GK pickups and buying some Roland/Axon equipment. Maybe they think it would automatically turn them into a one-man symphonic orchestra, I don't know...

To me, there's little value in imitating an organ, a piano or even a string section on a guitar. If you play more than one string at a time, you immediately lose some of the most important expressing capabilites the instrument has to offer - namely, vibrato, glissando and bending. And without them, you end up sounding exactly like a synth player would sound, though it would take more effort to do so, since it's easier to play chords on a keyboard (even if you're not a pro).

I've always wanted to imitate brass or wind instruments, which are inherently monophonic; bowed instruments like cello are semi-monophonic, since because of the bridge's curvature you're limited to playing 2 strings at a time (I think they call it "double stops"). The only truly polyphonic instruments that I know of are guitar itself and the keyboard family - piano, organ, harpsichord etc., which again can be easily (and better!) simulated on a synth.
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Re: Velocity tracking

Postby james » Sat Nov 13, 2010 11:50 am

james, PLEASE NOTE that another guy, BertAnt, has also requested volume tracking for the guitar mode! Please see viewtopic.php?f=10&t=31 , the last post.


It has been added to the list of future features.

Another reason for not having this by default is we didn't want the additional data to annoy users that don't want it. So we will look at making this as option that can be enabled when required.
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