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Author Topic: Newbie Guide for Demoing/Managing Sysex Patches  (Read 7769 times)
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jharris01
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« on: July 20, 2009, 03:43:30 AM »

Not sure if this has been asked before.

What's the easiest most convenient way to sample instrument sounds from Sierra Sysex patches?

I would like to use some of those nice custom sounds for my own compositions. Is there a better way from the usual manual pass through the 127 instrument list? For example, a short midi file made specifically for this purpose. Maybe some special knowledge about tendencies from the music guys at Sierra?

If I do find a custom instrument: How do I use that information on a new Sysex? I feel totally lost when it comes to this topic.

« Last Edit: July 31, 2009, 05:36:21 AM by jharris01 » Logged
jharris01
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« Reply #1 on: July 31, 2009, 05:42:07 AM »

In the spirit of helping future newbies threading these waters:

There are some terms and theory that is necessary to work this problem. The best place to start is by reading Tom's "How to Manage Patch Banks with the MT-32" at the documents section of the MT-32 Resource Center. It will give you a crash course on how the MT-32 works and explain a couple of necessary terms.

+ Patch Bank: A collection of timbres. This is the data saved in a sysex file (among other things).
+ Timbre: MT-32's name for a single instrument sound it produces.
+ Partial: What timbres are made of. MT-32 can use multiple partials (up to 4) to create a timbre.

A sysex librarian is an application that will allow you to manage patch banks. With a librarian you can open sysex files, look at the timbres it contains, audit (demo) them, change their order, copy them over a new patch bank, etc. MT-32 librarians I've seen also double as an editor giving you the ability to create your own timbres either from one already made or from scratch.

Since the MT-32 is so old most of the software made with this module in mind was meant to run on DOS or Windows 3.x systems. This guide talks about the free librarians found here (Dr. T's MT32 Editor/Librarian and LA-Synth). The point of view for running these is from Windows XP, but the advice may work as well for Vista or Windows 7. Windows XP and Vista 32-bit versions can run these two programs in 16-bit compatibility mode. Windows 7 will probably need a PC emulator like DOSBox or Microsoft Virtual PC.

It's a good idea to reset your MT-32 before sending a new sysex.

Need a sysex template? You got four options:
   1. Look for the file "Empty Bank" at the MT-32 Resource Center (Utilities section).
   2. Look for the file "MT-32 Default" in the "Patch Banks" section.
   3. Use an existing Sierra patch.
   4. Use mine http://www.mediafire.com/?xz4edmvuwrr.

Looking for the list of default MT-32 timbres? It's on the manual (pdf link). It's ordered horizontally and takes two pages. You can also try this version which sorts the sounds vertically in one page.
« Last Edit: June 06, 2013, 12:24:02 AM by jharris01 » Logged
jharris01
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« Reply #2 on: July 31, 2009, 05:43:20 AM »

Dr. T's MT-32 Librarian


Dr. T running under DOSBox
(Click for bigger size)


Pro's:

+ Can open multiple sysex files simultaneously.

+ Allows for easy click and drag between patch bank windows.

+ Has a neat randomizer feature that will create a new timbre every time. Nice for fooling around or a starting point for creating your own timbres.



Con's:

+ Graphical interface takes some getting used to.

+ Uses its own file format (M32) for saving/reading sysex. You will need a tool called "mt2syx" to convert a SYX file into a M32 file (link). MT2SYX also works the other way around. You can find it at the MT-32 resource center.

+ It can be difficult to click and drag timbres from different patch bank windows (specially if the patch window takes a big size of the screen).



Tips for working with Dr. T:

+ When looking at title bar the black box (located at the far left of the title bar) closes a window and the white box (far right) minimizes.


(Click for bigger size)


+ F9 saves and quits. F10 quits (no save).

+ To open a sysex file: If you can't see the the "File Librarian" window, then hit F1 and press ENTER. Single click on a sysex file to open "File" window.

+ To audit a timbre: Left click on a timbre name to load it, then right click it again to hear.

+ It runs under a command prompt under Windows XP, but you won't have mouse cursor control. You can fix this problem by running Dr. T under DOSBox.

+ DOSBox has this behavior where once it starts it doesn't refresh its "awareness" of new files or folders created under the directory it is mounted to. If you download a new sysex with Dr. T running then you will have to close and reopen it again to refresh the DOSBox mount.

+ If you can't see the ".SYX" or ".M32" in a filename then you need to configure Windows Explorer to let you see file extensions. Search Google for more information.
« Last Edit: August 02, 2009, 01:58:59 PM by jharris01 » Logged
jharris01
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« Reply #3 on: July 31, 2009, 05:44:19 AM »

L/A Synth Editor/Librarian

   
LA-Synth running in Windows XP (left) and Vista (right) (Click for bigger size)


Pro's:

+ Made for Windows 3.x has a nicer, easier interface.

+ You can download a huge free library of timbres from the program's webpage.

+ Runs fine under Windows XP and Vista x86 (in compatibility mode). You can also install Windows 3.x under DOSBox and run it from there. I've tested it and it works great. Refer to the following link for a guide on how to install Win 3.x (over at the VOGONS forums). Why would you want to do that? Your Vista or Windows 7 version may not have 16-bit support. If under XP then mostly for cosmetic reasons. LA-Synth's window elements are drawn bigger and it is easier to see. The minimized windows show properly as icons (XP shows them as rectangle boxes).


LA-Synth running in Windows 3.x under DOSBox
(Click for bigger size)



Con's:

+ It has trouble communicating directly to the MT-32. You can audit timbres but forget about sending/receiving full patch banks.

+ Opens one sysex file at a time (no click and dragging).

+ Sysex files apparently are not saved correctly (but there is a fix for that). In my experience the sysex is OK if its memory size hovers around 73 blocks. I based this value on what Bome's SendSX tool reports. If this is incorrect then I don't really know, but it has served me as a good indicator.



Tips for working with LA-Synth:

+ Use an external tool to send/receive sysex files (e.g., Bome's SendSX).

+ Run the utility MT2SYX (link) to fix sysex files created by LA-Synth. Load the sysex and save it again with MT2SYX. You may also want to write a cool LCD message to show your friends.

+ On your first run go to the "MIDI Settings" window. Set the MIDI IN and OUT ports to match those of your computer hardware. Make sure the field "MT-32 Device ID" and "MT-32 Model ID" is set to values 16 and 22 respectively. Transmit delay should be set to at least 100ms.

+ Menus in LA-Synth menu toolbar change depending on what child window is active at the time.

+ To open a sysex: Double click on the "Timbre Bank" window then choose "File->Open Sysex File".

+ To save a sysex: same as previous step (File->Save As).

+ To edit a timbre: double click on the sound you want in the "Timbre Bank" (or Database) window. The "Timbre Memory" window will appear. Play with the values.

+ To audit a timbre: Shift + left click on the sound you want in the "Timbre Bank" window. If you can't hear your MT-32 producing the sound then try any of the following:

   * Do a system reset (Master Volume + 1) on your MT-32 and try again.
   * See if the "MIDI MESSAGE" light turns on when you shift click.   
   * Check the MIDI Settings on LA-Synth.

+ Advanced auditing: The Timbre Memory window has an "Audit" button. When you click on it a window called "Audit Sound" appears. Click and drag the mouse cursor on the empty area to hear the sound.





+ To move a timbre from one place to another. There are many ways to do this:
   
   If you are copying from one sysex file to another:
      1. Open the source sysex file.
      2. Double click on the desired timbre to load it onto the "Timbre Memory" window.
      3. Open the new sysex file.
      4. Click on the timbre name you wish to replace then select "Timbre->Save Timbre Memory to Timbre Bank"
      5. Save the sysex file.

   If you are copying from the database to a sysex file:
      1. Open the database window.
      2. Double click on the desired timbre to load it onto the "Timbre Memory" window.
      3. Open the new sysex file.
      4. Click on the timbre name you wish to replace then select "Timbre->Save Timbre Memory to Timbre Bank"
      5. Save the sysex file.

+ To use LA-Synth's humongous timbre database: download it from LA-Synths website. The file is compressed so unzip it to LA-Synth's installation directory. Open LA-Synth and click on the "Database" window. At the menu toolbar select "Database->Open Database". Select the file.

+ If you get the message "Digital Overflow" then it means that LA-Synth can't access the MIDI port. The cause is probably because the port is in use by another program. If you leave the MIDI IN or MIDI OUT options blank in the Settings window then it will also trigger this message.

+ If you are planning to use MT-32's default percussion bank then it is best to tell LA-Synth not to mess with it. When you save a timbre you will see a window entitled "System Exclusive". Uncheck the option that says "Create Rhythm Setup Temp".



+ If your sysex loads fine but the volume is set to zero, then check the "Master Volume" setting in the "System Memory" window.

+ Sometimes you can remove partials while preserving the overall timbre sound. Before proceeding you may want to backup the current timbre to LA-Synth's database. In the "Timbre Memory" window look for the four checkboxes right next to the blue rectangles. Uncheck a few partials from the timbre and audit as necessary. Don't forget to copy the new timbre over the old one.





Well that's about it. If anyone finds anything that needs correcting please let me know.
« Last Edit: August 21, 2009, 12:57:58 AM by jharris01 » Logged
Caliburn
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« Reply #4 on: July 31, 2009, 11:54:20 PM »

Nice.  Let me make this topic sticky so that it will stay easily visible.
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Tom
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« Reply #5 on: August 02, 2009, 12:54:42 PM »

This IS great -- nice job.  I never used the LA Synth/Librarian software so I wasn't aware of its pros and cons.  To this day, I'm still using SpG for all of my bank librarian functions.  The fastest way for me to audition sounds it to play them through my keyboard after loading a bank.  A mouse click or a press on a specific computer key will change the program in most sequencing software for Windows or DOS.
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jharris01
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« Reply #6 on: August 02, 2009, 01:40:22 PM »

Quote
This IS great -- nice job.  I never used the LA Synth/Librarian software so I wasn't aware of its pros and cons. I'm still using SpG for all of my bank librarian functions.

Thanks. I am glad I could help.

Quote
The fastest way for me to audition sounds it to play them through my keyboard after loading a bank.

Yes both programs have quick audit access through the mouse.
« Last Edit: August 02, 2009, 01:54:21 PM by jharris01 » Logged
Tom
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« Reply #7 on: August 02, 2009, 01:57:18 PM »

Most controllers, as well, have at least a "program change" button so that you can change the patch of an attached module right from the controller.
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jharris01
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« Reply #8 on: August 19, 2009, 12:46:29 PM »

I had the chance to test LA-Synth under Vista Home Basic and it runs fine. Compatibility mode for 16-bit programs is still available in x86 versions of the operating system.
« Last Edit: August 20, 2009, 10:14:55 PM by jharris01 » Logged
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« Reply #9 on: March 19, 2010, 04:17:01 PM »

What I find great about the software from Dr. T is the fact that there's also at the very least a version for the Atari ST.  It's available on the site of the late Tim Conrady (may that talented man rest in peace..).  So I'm quite sure the M32 files can transfer to/from easily.  Even better that the Atari version can run on the emulator Steem.

Word of warning for that version: be careful about your MIDI interface.  I've an M-Audio UNO interface and many editors seem to have issue (Dr. T gave an error in receiving patches).
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Mogazi
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« Reply #10 on: November 02, 2013, 06:45:56 PM »

Hi,
I managed to install and run Dr.T's editor under DosBox on OSX Snow Leopard.
It works fine but I can't seem audition any sound other than the default Acoustic Piano; and even that I can't seem to be able to modify... Here is what I've done so far:

- I create a new file form the 'Librarian' window called "test".
- I double click on it and open the File window which doesn't contain any files as it was created blank.
- I click on the timbre "trumpet-window" and start modifying parameters at random just to see if anything changes
- All the while I keep right clicking or using the keyboard window to trigger notes
- In the "Common" window I even go as far as creating new names for my non-working patches just to make sure that they come up next to "audition" on the top left of the screen.

but nothing, just reverbered piano no matter what I do...

What am I doing wrong?  Huh

The only way I can get a non-piano sound is by clicking on "Rhythm" which lets me audition the various drum elements.

Any help would be greatly appreciated! The MT-32 would be such a cool little box if one could understand its patch editing!  Shocked

Thanks
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