Fine Tuning

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

Fine Tuning

Postby Zeugitai » Mon Dec 05, 2011 12:53 am

I've been a guitarist for years and have a superficial understanding of MIDI, but I don't know enough. I am trying to play through an i2M in to Reaper using a variety of VST instruments. In some of them, like Safwan Matni's nay, the notes sound exactly as I play them. In others, like the Chinee Kong GuZheng, each note I play seems to trigger a diad or series of two notes. It makes too many of these VSTinstruments unusable. Is there something I can do in terms of editing in the i2M musicport software? Or anything else? I am using the neck pickup, all bass is rolled off it, the strings are new, I'm using a guitar with humbucking pickups, and I am hand-muting to the best of my ability.
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Re: Fine Tuning

Postby james » Wed Dec 07, 2011 9:51 am

You've probably read these FAQs, but just in case here's the link: http://www.sonuus.com/products_i2m_mp_faq.html

To get familiar with playing MIDI, it's best to find an instrument sound that has similar characteristics to a guitar. So, you want: fast attack, fast release, and single notes (so no chord pads, or double-stopped notes, etc). Doing this you get something that will respond quickly to the MIDI from your guitar and in many ways will feel similar to a guitar when you play it. It doesn't matter if it's a patch that sounds "good" you just want something to practice with.

Once you get used to playing with this and you can control it how you want to, start looking at other sounds. Strange sounds can be very disconcerting at times and it's easy to get confused how to get the best from them. Once you are happy with playing MIDI, strange sounds become more fun than hindrance.
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Re: Fine Tuning

Postby Zeugitai » Wed Dec 07, 2011 8:12 pm

james wrote:You've probably read these FAQs, but just in case here's the link: http://www.sonuus.com/products_i2m_mp_faq.html

To get familiar with playing MIDI, it's best to find an instrument sound that has similar characteristics to a guitar. So, you want: fast attack, fast release, and single notes (so no chord pads, or double-stopped notes, etc). Doing this you get something that will respond quickly to the MIDI from your guitar and in many ways will feel similar to a guitar when you play it. It doesn't matter if it's a patch that sounds "good" you just want something to practice with.

Once you get used to playing with this and you can control it how you want to, start looking at other sounds. Strange sounds can be very disconcerting at times and it's easy to get confused how to get the best from them. Once you are happy with playing MIDI, strange sounds become more fun than hindrance.


Thanks, James. I probably didn't make myself clear. I am trying to use VST instruments like the Chinese Gu Cheng, and like the Syntar, a vst sitar. They are also stringed instruments like the guitar, and I'm trying to play them monophonically in single-note melodic ways. The issue is triggering. In spite of my best efforts and having read and followed the faqs I am getting several different notes triggering when I play one note on the guitar(s). Sometimes two notes, sometimes three. Sometimes they sound out almost simultaneously, sometimes sequentially as the string is depressed, picked, and released. I've tried single coil and humbuckers with the same result. What I was wondering was whether, through midi editing, the notes that are sent from the i2m to the vst could be constrained more. Obviously the i2m is sending all kinds of different note messages to the vst when I play one note. And I mentioned that some vsts like safwan matni's nay, don't respond erratically. I play one note and get that one note back from the vst. Some synthesizers are behaving well, too, but, unfortunately, many vsts are responding with multiple wrong notes instead of the one right one.
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Re: Fine Tuning

Postby james » Wed Dec 07, 2011 8:29 pm

Can you check the i2M configuration using the i2M editor? Is it possible that some MIDI zones have been set up that is outputting more than one MIDI note at a time?

If required, you can reset the i2M to factory settings using the editor: go to the "setup" page and select "reset to factory settings" under the "manage" section. You will of course loose any settings you have doing this. If you want to keep these in case you want them again, you can save them to a file before doing a reset by selecting "Save All" in the editor (on the bottom).

Another thing to try is the "latency test mode", which is below the above mentioned reset option in the editor. This will cause the i2M to output a single note periodically, you can check that the VSTis are doing what you think they should be doing: i.e., sounding one note repeatedly.
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Re: Fine Tuning

Postby Zeugitai » Fri Dec 09, 2011 2:46 am

james wrote:Can you check the i2M configuration using the i2M editor? Is it possible that some MIDI zones have been set up that is outputting more than one MIDI note at a time?

If required, you can reset the i2M to factory settings using the editor: go to the "setup" page and select "reset to factory settings" under the "manage" section. You will of course loose any settings you have doing this. If you want to keep these in case you want them again, you can save them to a file before doing a reset by selecting "Save All" in the editor (on the bottom).

Another thing to try is the "latency test mode", which is below the above mentioned reset option in the editor. This will cause the i2M to output a single note periodically, you can check that the VSTis are doing what you think they should be doing: i.e., sounding one note repeatedly.


James:

No midi zones were set up. I reset to factory settings (although I really hadn't changed anything); and I used the latency test mode and it sounds a single note correctly through any of the vsts. I tried an effector with a noise reduction and compression circuit and it made no difference, and that was a disappointment as I had bee pinning my hopes on that. I still get two notes following each other extremely rapidly--sounding like discordant diads at flatted seconds--when I play single notes though vsti string instruments (like chinese ruan and gu zheng). I held the b string on my electric guitar at the b-flat/11th fret. I held it steadily and relatively gently and picked it repeatedly. Sometimes I got a b-flat and sometimes a b-natural although I changed nothing about my fingering, the pressure, or the pick attack. This effect is much worse on the thicker strings--d, a, and e. I'll be hanging onto the i2m for straight audio input, but I am finding the usefulness for MIDI far more limited than I had hoped and been led to believe by some demo videos that are posted on the internet. This is heartbreaking because I bought the device for its MIDI triggering more than anything. How are these people getting stable note triggering from the i2M and why can't I get the same result? What do they know that I have been unable to discover?
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Re: Fine Tuning

Postby james » Fri Dec 09, 2011 10:11 am

Are you using chromatic mode, or pitch-bend mode on the i2M?

In chromatic mode, it can sometimes get the note wrong by a semitone initially, then correct this very quickly by sending a new note. So you get two notes played next to each other. This may be what's happening. This is usually easy to fix, and is caused by slightly off tuning or intonation on the guitar/bass. The reason it happens is that the original note is close to mid-way between two notes so when it converts to MIDI it can't always get the note correct first-time.

In pitch-bend mode, the same can happen, but the note is corrected by a pitch-bend instead of a new note, so in most cases you won't hear it (depending on the MIDI patch). Do the VSTis you are using respond to pitch bend? If so, are they set to have the same pitch-bend range as is set on the i2M? If that's wrong it will throw out the tuning on the synth very badly.
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Re: Fine Tuning

Postby Zeugitai » Sun Dec 11, 2011 3:04 am

james wrote:Are you using chromatic mode, or pitch-bend mode on the i2M?

In chromatic mode, it can sometimes get the note wrong by a semitone initially, then correct this very quickly by sending a new note. So you get two notes played next to each other. This may be what's happening. This is usually easy to fix, and is caused by slightly off tuning or intonation on the guitar/bass. The reason it happens is that the original note is close to mid-way between two notes so when it converts to MIDI it can't always get the note correct first-time.

In pitch-bend mode, the same can happen, but the note is corrected by a pitch-bend instead of a new note, so in most cases you won't hear it (depending on the MIDI patch). Do the VSTis you are using respond to pitch bend? If so, are they set to have the same pitch-bend range as is set on the i2M? If that's wrong it will throw out the tuning on the synth very badly.


Thanks for the good info, James. I will try both approaches. I have been thinking that intonation must be the issue. My telecaster has been put away. That three-part bridge cannot be intonated at all accurately. I have been adjusting another guitar with individual bridge saddles very, very carefully -- more carefully than I have ever adjusted it in my life! And repeatedly. That's not to say it's now very good! Using a tuner, I am seeing how "wild" the attack transient is when strings are fretted and picked. It's a wonder the i2M can do anything with that mess. After about two seconds the string vibration (finally!) stabilizes to a nice stable fundamental. I am thinking that -- and I'm hoping to get your views on this -- heavier strings, or even a set of flat wound jazz guitar strings, would result in a tamer attack transient and stabler fundamental. Have you, or anyone else reading this, tried this approach? I am now using 9 to 42 super slinky strings.
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Re: Fine Tuning

Postby james » Tue Dec 13, 2011 10:58 am

I've not compared heavier strings versus lighter strings with regard to pitch-change on attack. However, with heavier strings it gets harder to damp them to ensure only one string is playing at a time, so in many ways lighter strings are better since they are easier to control.

Usually, with pitch-bend mode enabled, the deviations when a string is struck is handled by using pitch-bend to bring the note back to correct pitch.

Other things that can help: play closer to the neck, rather than the bridge as this excites the fundamental more easily. Also, different picks can give better/worse results. Sometimes softer picks can work better than harder picks. It may be worth experimenting.
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Re: Fine Tuning

Postby Zeugitai » Tue Dec 13, 2011 7:01 pm

james wrote:I've not compared heavier strings versus lighter strings with regard to pitch-change on attack. However, with heavier strings it gets harder to damp them to ensure only one string is playing at a time, so in many ways lighter strings are better since they are easier to control.

Usually, with pitch-bend mode enabled, the deviations when a string is struck is handled by using pitch-bend to bring the note back to correct pitch.

Other things that can help: play closer to the neck, rather than the bridge as this excites the fundamental more easily. Also, different picks can give better/worse results. Sometimes softer picks can work better than harder picks. It may be worth experimenting.


It's definitely worth experimenting. I've gotten marginally better results now by working hard on "perfecting" intonation. I'd love to hear from the people who are getting good or very good results with regard to the specific guitar and strings they are using. I'd even like to know if the good results are coming from metal or bone or locking nuts, etc. I'm finding that my guitars should have been better chosen over the years with regard to their bridges and nuts. I used to play in a bluesy style and I liked tonally primitive sounds. Not anymore! I would consider buying a guitar for stability and near-perfect intonation, if anyone would be so kind as to recommend one. I am using a hard nylon pick: the Dunlop Jazz III picks, both red and black. I've already noticed that the pick angle of attack against the strings makes a difference: the more angled the pick attack, the rougher the attack transient. I've been trying to have the pick flat or parallel to the string and this has actually helped.

Thinking about pickups, it seemed to make sense to me that humbucking pickups would give a more harmonically "domesticated" signal. Unfortunately, the one guitar I have with humbuckers has a bad nut that will have to be replaced before there is any hope of getting good intonation.

Thanks, again!
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