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Topic: Unity Session again

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  1. #1

    Unity Session again

    Now that Unity Session has been around for a bit and people have had a fair amount of use of it, would anyone like to comment on how well it performs?

  2. #2

    Re: Unity Session again

    Hey, this post\'s got my name written all over!

    Session\'s latest update (3.0.3) is fairly stable (minus a couple of easy to deal with issues in the editor). Apparently 3.0.4 is coming soon (in a week or so) and hopefully will be able to address any additional issues.

    I find the program very stable and it integrates with DP like a charm. DP 3.1 is supposed to have some additional improvements over how it deals with Session (such as very large banks etc.) so that\'s something to look forward to (if MOTU ever releases it).

    Gigasampler import is fairly well implemented, unfortunately don\'t expect much programming aside from the basics to be imported. Some tweaking is always necessary so it helps if you are familiar with the editor. Akai import is also well implemented but lacks the same programming bells and whistles.

    A fast computer and lotsa RAM are (as always) a necessity for Session. If you keep things RAM based then your performance with DP will be a lot better than if you rely on the disk streaming function.

    Disk streaming appears to work fairly well, but just like anything else, it\'s a resource hog and won\'t play too nice with other stuff running. Of course a 7200rpm or better hard drive helps, ideally something separate from your audio tracks and system drive.

    Session is a bit easier to set up and configure than Unity, however it still requires careful attention to Extensions and such.

    Session\'s lack of third party support is a bit puzzling, the application is capable of quite a bit including some very intricate filters and modulation routings coupled with a solid polyphony and processor efficiency, however it\'s not really catching on with developers. Ilio/Spectrasonic is pretty much the only supporter out there (with some titles available from EastWest)

    Overall Session is a good work in progress, right now it\'s stable enough to allow me to produce music without a hitch, however it could benefit from some added functionality and additional optimization. As computers become faster Session will become that much more powerful.

    As a side by side comparison to Gigastudio I\'ll outline some of the pro\'s and cons:

    Pros: 256 voices polyphony (1 voice = 2 stereo oscillators!!! Essentially 1 Session voice = 4 Gigastudio Voices)

    Excellent modulator and control routings assignable to just about any button, lever or knob that you can get your hands on, with the added advantage of customized curves for all the parameters.

    Great filters, fairly decent built-in effects.

    Your sequencer will display the patch names in the appropriate column so that you can select your sounds without leaving the sequencer.

    Great double processor support and full OS X compatibility for the adventurous few.

    Good importing features of the main formats out there.

    Built-in physical modeling (somewhat rudimentary but useful) and built-in analog synth module for interesting layering.

    Very fast loading times.

    Cons:

    No keyswitching (yet) but a good workaround is available.

    No continuous mod. wheel xfading over more than 2 layers.

    No alternate triggering between 2 zones (like the Maestro Tool up/down bowing function).

    Severe lack of third party native libraries. If you\'re looking for a out of the box plug and play useability with commercial libraries, this is not for you!

    Modest implementation of disk streaming, works well in stand alone mode but if you try to do too much on the same machine it will crash!

    I hope this answers a few questions. If you guys go out and download the demo, make sure to get the latest updates and BE PATIENT!!!

    [img]images/icons/grin.gif[/img]

  3. #3

    Re: Unity Session again

    Originally posted by midphase:
    Session\'s latest update (3.0.3) is fairly stable (minus a couple of easy to deal with issues in the editor). Apparently 3.0.4 is coming soon (in a week or so) and hopefully will be able to address any additional issues.
    <font size=\"2\" face=\"Verdana, Arial\">
    One of the reasons I\'m interested in Unity Session is that Bitheadz seem to be keen to update their stuff, unlike Steinberg who seem to be more intent on bringing out something new than supporting what is already in existence. [img]images/icons/frown.gif[/img]

    I find the program very stable and it integrates with DP like a charm.
    <font size=\"2\" face=\"Verdana, Arial\">When I tried 3.0.1 it was far from stable and I had to delete every trace of it just to get anything else to work, never mind Unity itself! I\'ll have to try the updated demo. [img]images/icons/smile.gif[/img]

    Gigasampler import is fairly well implemented, unfortunately don\'t expect much programming aside from the basics to be imported. Some tweaking is always necessary so it helps if you are familiar with the editor. Akai import is also well implemented but lacks the same programming bells and whistles.
    <font size=\"2\" face=\"Verdana, Arial\">

    As a HALion user inporting Giga libaries I\'m well used to tweaking stuff for use. [img]images/icons/smile.gif[/img]

    A fast computer and lotsa RAM are (as always) a necessity for Session. If you keep things RAM based then your performance with DP will be a lot better than if you rely on the disk streaming function.
    <font size=\"2\" face=\"Verdana, Arial\">

    I have a G4 500 with 768MB RAM, do you think that will get a good result with Unity Session?


    Session is a bit easier to set up and configure than Unity, however it still requires careful attention to Extensions and such.
    <font size=\"2\" face=\"Verdana, Arial\">

    Any tips for Extensions to disable/enable? I\'ve fiddled around with extensions on and off and never found that much of an improvement in performance. Or perhaps this is required to get Session running stable?

    As a side by side comparison to Gigastudio I\'ll outline some of the pro\'s and cons:
    Pros: 256 voices polyphony (1 voice = 2 stereo oscillators!!! Essentially 1 Session voice = 4 Gigastudio Voices)
    <font size=\"2\" face=\"Verdana, Arial\">

    Yeah I heard that. I don\'t know what HALion counts as one voice. How many voices can you get on your machine on average? Is it usual to have just one instance of Session like Gigastudio or would you load multiple instances like with HALion if you needed more instruments/articulaions? How many instruments can you have loaded in one instance of Session?

    Very fast loading times.
    <font size=\"2\" face=\"Verdana, Arial\">

    HALion doesn\'t seem too quick on loading times. Is it faster than Giga at loading?

    Cons:
    No keyswitching (yet) but a good workaround is available.
    No continuous mod. wheel xfading over more than 2 layers.
    <font size=\"2\" face=\"Verdana, Arial\">

    Neither does HALion and xfading doesn\'t seem to work at all. There is a workaround for that but you have to program it yourself.

    Modest implementation of disk streaming, works well in stand alone mode but if you try to do too much on the same machine it will crash!
    <font size=\"2\" face=\"Verdana, Arial\">

    Crash?? Wow, HALion has never crashed on me...

    Thanks for all the info Midphase! [img]images/icons/smile.gif[/img]

  4. #4

    Re: Unity Session again

    Just to add some more pro Session views, this comes from another Session user (I\'m really not trying to be propagandistic):

    Unity Session is a great Application.

    I would absolutely recommend it to anyone who wants seriously \"great\"
    sounds.

    It takes a little work to get to know it - but, not much - it\'s not
    programming or anything. And, if you read the pdf manual, posts and archives
    of the list, all your questions will be answered.

    PLUS - Bitheadz is a really good tech support company. They really do try to
    figure out what\'s wrong.

    I\'ve been using Bitheadz software since Version One, and although I love
    Native Instruments and Propellerheads (and buy all of their mac products), I
    think Bitheadz Unity Session is still the BEST sampler for the mac.

    Also, as an aside, you NEVER hear complaints about Unity as a Stand alone
    Soft Synth. The thing is rock solid.

    So, I do recommend UNITY SESSION whole-heartedly.

    Now, back to the complaints and gripes ;-) . . . . .
    <font size=\"2\" face=\"Verdana, Arial\">

  5. #5

    Re: Unity Session again

    Well Hasen, on a 500mhz G4 you should get a fairly decent performance. It\'s realy not necessarily how much you can get out of Unity as much as \"what else have you got going?\"

    Here are a couple of speed improvement tips:

    Disable Unity effects, they\'re average anyhow, it\'s better if you send Aux\'s from the sequencer to plug-in reverbs and such, they will sound much better!

    Set your max polyphony well below the limit for starters. Most of the time I have mine set at 64 voices and I have yet to run out of voices even in thick sequences!

    Play with the processor usage %, if you\'re getting erratic behaviour you might need to raise it to 60% or such.

    Keep your audio card buffer in check, too little buffer will eat up processor cycles. My MOTU 2408 is set up at 256 and my latency is pretty good for the type of music that I do (mostly scores and some commercials)

    Unity supports up to 128 MIDI channels, but start out with 16 or 32, add more if you need them but don\'t start out with 128 just because you can. I can generally get a decent full orchestral sound with about 18-20 MIDI channels.

    Disable any unnecessary Extension, graphic 3d accelleration and quickdraw, file sharing, even quicktime VR and quicktime musical instruments, if you want to be really anal, disable your menu bar clock!

    Give Unity a good amount of RAM but don\'t forget the rest of your applications, with your RAM configuration I wouldn\'t exceed 500megs to Unity.

    Don\'t load your entire sample collection into the banks folder, use aliases to build \"sets\" for your sequencing needs, that way your patch list won\'t be enourmous.

    Don\'t \"load individual instruments\" from Unity \'cause it\'s buggy. Don\'t expand the samples \'cause it\'s a waste of RAM.

    I use Unity with DP so I can\'t really speak for Cubase users, my understanding is that the bugs surrounding the VST plug-in have been dealt with.

    That\'s all I can think of right now, I would say be patient and play with Session, before you install it I would read the manual so you\'re not caught by surprise. If you need help just e-mail me:

    midphase@hotmail.com

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