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Thread: Entering the world of digital music again. with open source, vst synths, soundfonts

  1. #1
    RETROGRADER prometheus's Avatar
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    Entering the world of digital music again. with open source, vst synths, soundfonts

    Well..
    Suddenly I got some little inspiration out of the blue to ...start rig up some digiial tools for doing som minor tracks, background music and jingles.

    It Was many years ago since I had my creative tools soundblaster card and soundfont editing, and cakewalk rigged..all that setup with the Roland D50 synth (not optimal since it was considered being slow, lagging for midi control..which I also experienced)
    I know there is a VST D50 synth out there as well, would be nice if it could retreive data from my Real D50 synth, havenīt checked how well the D50 performs and costs etc.

    The typical sound of the Eno DX7 synth would be nice to have as vst as well.

    Now, I have yet to look in to the hardware and a potentional new midi keyboard, will do that later..but I was mostly initially wondering what main Midi sequencing software you guys would recommend.
    Initially I will take a look at open source or freware, but it may expand in to getting either the real deal with Cubase, or an alternative that isnīt that costly.

    Right now I am playing around with Cantabile Lite..which is mostly just fun to try out, but has not recording options since it being lite, and no midisequencer as I am aware of, so I checked
    LMMS 1.2...which seem to be rather nice ..at least for me at this stage...works with the vst plugins I got, soundfonts works, export to wav and mp3...a little tricky sometimes to handle the track notes though.

    So if you would recommend another midi sequencer..I would be grateful to hear about it.

    Would also like to get some info on VST plugins for Good instruments, and also good soundfonts, not just instruments ..but also soundeffects in general.
    midikeyboards for a decent price and midi to usb konverters since My Asus G20 Rog wasnīt designed with midi ports in mind.

    Right now I am trying to gather some vst synths ..instruments and soundfonts, so a lot of going through and testing, some is crap, some is really nice, I like the rolend PG-238 very much to have those fat fretty synth sounds.
    Mt powerdrumkit 2 is nice as well.

    As for music inspiration for me, much ambient music, brian eno, roger eno..vangelis, peter gabriel, u2 , kate bush, john carpenter, yazoo, Hans zimmer, John williams, wagner, elliot goldentahl, alexandre desplat. ..and much more.

    Thanks in advance for any input.

  2. #2
    RETROGRADER prometheus's Avatar
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    oh..I think vst dexed is modeled after dX7, and that one I got, there may be a better one though.

  3. #3
    Founding member raymondtrace's Avatar
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    Cakewalk is now free.

    That may also tell you about the current market for this type of software.
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  4. #4
    RETROGRADER prometheus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by raymondtrace View Post
    Cakewalk is now free.

    That may also tell you about the current market for this type of software.
    Yes, I saw it was on a site, though it was ranked way lower than LMMS..

    "
    That may also tell you about the current market for this type of software."

    Ambiguous..

  5. #5
    Founding member raymondtrace's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by prometheus View Post
    ...Ambiguous..
    The effect "B" has had on the 3D app market is not unique. Similar things have happened in the audio market. A lot of expensive DAW, sequencers and notation programs have dropped pricing because of so many free or lower cost options (LMMS, Audacity, Rosegarden, Ardour, Musescore).

    I recall Cakewalk being $250+ USD before it recently went free.
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  6. #6
    RETROGRADER prometheus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by raymondtrace View Post
    The effect "B" has had on the 3D app market is not unique. Similar things have happened in the audio market. A lot of expensive DAW, sequencers and notation programs have dropped pricing because of so many free or lower cost options (LMMS, Audacity, Rosegarden, Ardour, Musescore).

    I recall Cakewalk being $250+ USD before it recently went free.
    Ok..thank you for being more clear.
    No hurry for me, I can take my time testing a lot of the options..will probably stick to the free alternatives until I get a better situation economicly and while also getting back in to mixing the music, that will also
    prepare me for what I then will know I would need better.

    I would need to spend some on a proper midi keyboard first, since my Roland D50 isnīt ideal with itīs know midi lag, to bad though..I had a special expansion card mounted inside the synth for the roland D50, which makes hit have a more fat fuller sound.
    I think it was this M.EX card ..giving more tones and patches to play at the same time.
    http://www.musitronics.org/products/d50_d550_mex_e.html

  7. #7
    RETROGRADER prometheus's Avatar
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    I am Really starting to like the LMMS...

    Getting acustomed to it now, adding itīs built in addons, various vst synths is already there, or use the Vestige host..from where you add other VST plugins.
    Just learnt how to work within the track notes copying and pasting, moving around, setting loops etc.

    I have the free dexed VST, which is an emulated DX7 synth...some nice sounds there, unfortunately when I tweak the settings, I can not use my keyboard to play any tanget to hear the change, I have to click on the visual keyboard..which is a bit destroying the tweaking experience moving away from the setting sliders each little tweak.

    One that is better in that regards is the rolend PG-238..which really has nice controlls for great synth sound, I think tīs even easier to tweak than the dexed, I got vangelis sound clashing echos (ala chariots of fire) quite nicely and easy to work with, and some cool eno style pads (which could be everything) ..but a major issue with saving out the programs, and also switching between the programs..there are no presets in it..so I am making my own, but when reloading..the settings seem to change randomly, not good..so if I think I got a good sound and saving it out, then reloading it makes it (sometimes) sound different..and I took a screenshot of it which showed that sliders arenīt the same, need to check out the community for those using it and see what gives.

    You can export out all your tracks, or selected tracks as one Wav file, or mp3, or you can save them out individually for further volume control per track, or save out as midi tracks.
    Soundfonts can also be loaded through the sfx addon
    A general soundfont library is good to have for loading midifiles in general.

    Works great to save out, drag and drop in to davinci resolve for adding soundtracks to your movies/3D shorts.

    There is a Roland D50 VST synth, which should be able to load patches from the original Roland D50 synth.(which I have) so that may be of interest later, but I need to look at a decent midi keyboard, not too costly though, after that I would need to look in to the VST version..if not too expensive.

    The VST Mt powerkit...nice, I had to locate a vid of someone hacking the grooves, by default you can not drag the grooves in to LMMS and use as midi tracks, there is a workaround where you drag and drop it to MT powerkit composer, (see vid below) then you have to use notepad ++ and drag it from the composer to notepad ++ then save it out as mid file, then you can reload it back.
    Just installed the Audio spitfire, which is a bit messy..and will check how that sounds with some of their recordings.

    Any suggestions are welcome, tip on free vst, or cheap great vst addons, and also soundfonts, and midi keyboards.


  8. #8
    I saw this website recommended recently for free VST plugins:
    https://blog.landr.com/best-free-vst-plugins/

  9. #9

    neat, also > best free vst plugins 2019  [Youtube]

    https://www.youtube.com/results?sear...t+plugins+2019
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  10. #10
    RETROGRADER prometheus's Avatar
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    Yes, thanks for the tips..though I have stumbled upon those before.
    A bit of tedious work when it comes to "free stuff" in the sense you need to look at so much stuff and try before you know what is good enough for you or not,
    as perhaps opposed to purchasing aclaimed/recognized Good pro stuff..which would probaly help you save out time by getting the proper pro instruments needed in a faster way.

    I started to download from the spitfire audio site, as mentioned, you need to create an account, install their software for handling the downloads..
    a bit messy, and the files are large ..around 300-450 mb per set maybe, but thatīs to be expected for high quality sound recordings processed to work within their VST module.

    Once you installed the modules, you have to reload the vst.dll if you have it open in LMMS, then it will be added to the UI of the spitfire lab VST module where you can select the various modules,
    string, choir or whatever you have downloaded and added to that collection, a bit of troublesome that I need to close the spitfire download program before starting a new download,
    cause it will ask for the program and start the download program when accepting download..so that is a little messy.

    These modules are free..so I wonder how good the actual commercial modules will sound like, I think I need to listen to samples of that as well..
    Here is a video demonstration of free spitfire sounds...
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RmN2ea_OSEw


    LMMS is free and seem to be able to handle most things, I currently can think of..and it will do while I start get going with midikeyboard and rig my roland D50 again,
    and making my first soundtrack tunes, eventually I may look in to cubase though, (just because Hans Zimmer does it )
    Oh..and by the way, you can add many sound effect chains to each vst module as you like, adding equalizers, and reverbs on piano or strings in effect chains,
    turning on and off or changing amount of effect.
    That is really crucial to change the overall sound and mood for the instruments.


    Strings are sounding really nice, the choir is also good, not uber awesome..but good, the frozen strings?..
    a bit mediocre I would say, guess it depends on your liking of certain instruments and uses etc, trying out the modular piano which is also decent.
    Would like to get a truly awesome electric piano though(think Peter Gabriel..family snapshot track) which also was modified to be only instrumental in the movie Birdy in the track called "Close up", that soundtrack is a masterpiece in soundcarpetry, just listen to the intro quite and alone.

    fantastic and great work he did with the sampling and synthesizers at that time, he used the fairlight a lot and went to junkyards recording blowing in car pipes I think,
    smashing things, recording swans etc..then feeding it in to the fairlight and changing the waveforms, and repeating some patterns, love that wind in the pipe blow..
    which can be heard a lot in birdy as well.
    I remember having my birdy cd cleaned up, went to a hifi store and their special listening room, turning this birdy soundtrack on..
    and while I have listened to it at home many times, that time it gave me more sound experiences..I heard nuances and seemingly instruments I havenīt noticed before..
    it was an explosion of soundcarpetry never heard before.

    I also enjoy those Brian Eno atmospheres, especially the Apollo Album..with some crazy cow muhhs that are a bit scary.

    To note the electric piano..I think it was the first time Peter Gabriel used the Yamaha CP-70 Electric Grand Piano



    French documentary with Peter Gabriel sampling..
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ON8lVgJxMQA

    And I almost forgot, link to spitfire modules which are free..but you need to create an account there, and install their software for handling the downloads which might not be comfortable for everyone.
    https://www.spitfireaudio.com/labs/

  11. #11

    making music, Awesome, but takes so deaarn long to do.

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    RETROGRADER prometheus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by erikals View Post
    making music, Awesome, but takes so deaarn long to do.

    Thatīs why I kind of had it put to rest for 20 years, and sure..I am questioning my sanity to even begin with it again...if I think 3D is time consuming, well..music may be even worse, If I get in to the mood, time is vaporized as I am playing on the keyboard ..and several hours is gone ..but my perception of time would be that only 30 minutes passed by.

    So yeah, there is a risc that it may be too time consuming, taking time from other things like 3D, or excercise, or socializing.
    Balance and disciplin.

    I could start dispose time a bit better and choosing whatīs important, like shutting down much more of my forum activities.

  13. #13

    I could start dispose time a bit better and choosing whatīs important, like shutting down much more of my forum activities.
    i feel ya'   
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  14. #14
    RETROGRADER prometheus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by erikals View Post

    i feel ya'   
    Here again

    And of course, the vision I have of what my end result will be and to what level? that will probably not take half the time as if I had a vision of reaching competitive pro levels.
    It should only reach a certain kind of level of music artistry, or soundcarpentr.y...that it would be good enough to fill in and color what I want for my own stuff mostly, if it by any chance would have a side effect in the sense it would be acclaimed as good enough for others..who knows?

    So I will try and not spend too much time on it, I reckon itīs more of a start up, warming up thing right now go catch up on some stuff..and with my desired end visions, I may not need to or can justify investing in expensive
    instruments and tools for that, not unless I have some economic buffer allowing for it.

    Anyway, the workflow seem to be able to work decently for hobbywork if you do shorts etc, getting to color your own stuff with your own music and sound, utilizing LMMS, free soundfont stuff and vst plugins..using free image tools like krita, gimp..and video tools like fusion and Davinci resolve...then we got Lightwave sticking out Blender could very well fit the bill cost effeciently and able to meet most hobby needs for creating art, but I still need much more time spent with that.

  15. #15
    Registered User Rayek's Avatar
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    I played keyboard / synth / electric organ until my early twenties, and then lost interest. Similar to you, last November I felt like I wanted to play music again.

    After some exhaustive research I purchased the Alesis VI61, and it's a joy to play! WAY better than the DX21 and Yamaha keyboard I used to have (my fav synth was the DX7 at the time, but its pricing was way out of my league). The Alesis VI61 has 61 keys (88 is too much for me), a nice drumpad, and most importantly the keys are weighted and even have after-touch, which is just absolutely awesome to add more feel to your playing. It is SO much better than what I remember playing on. An outstanding keyboard, in particular for the relatively low price asked.

    Interestingly enough after two or three times of practice, my brain somehow rebooted, and it's as if I never stopped playing. I can still play various Jean Michel Jarre pieces from memory. And my own composed tidbits. It's still all there!

    I did a lot of testing and research to find my "perfect" DAW, and I finally settled on Reaper. Really like it, and it will grow with me. Very inexpensive, and even the shareware version will continue to be fully functional, aside from a nag screen reminding you to register. As RaymondTrace points out, the market for DAWs has experienced some major disruptions throughout the past few years. Reaper is one of those: a professional DAW which can easily compete with the 'big ones'.

    I even found a free DX7 VST: Dexed. With tons of sound libraries - including ones used for various 80s movies. Loads of fun to play around with these, and combining various VSTs with other instruments is just plain fun. Things have really progressed since last time I created my own synth sounds.

    Find the library with links to compatible DX7 VSTs here: https://dxsysex.com/

    Otherwise, keep an eye out for the latest Computer Music Magazine, which still sports the cover DVD with a fine collection of 80 or so VSTs.

    Links where I found other great free VST instruments:
    https://blog.landr.com/best-free-vst-plugins/
    https://www.makeuseof.com/tag/free-vst-plugins/
    https://www.spitfireaudio.com/labs/


    Soundfonts (sforzando is a free soundfonts player):
    https://www.plogue.com/products/sforzando.html
    https://www.flstudiomusic.com/2010/0...oundfonts.html
    https://vis.versilstudios.com/vsco-community.html

    I like playing with orchestral instruments as well, so the sound font links are predisposed towards my preferences.
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