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Topic: GigaSamper/GM500

  1. #1


    I am new to the world of Software based synths, sounds and arrangers. Some of the first questions I have may already be answered. So forgive me for that.

    Is it possible to set up GigaSampler and GM500 to operate in JukeBox fashion, i.e., to load the proper instruments and play a predetermined list of midi files? In my quick test today using WinAmp, it plays the list of songs without changing to the appropriate instruments. A solution to this is better than going back to the computer and closing the sequences each time and dragging a new midi file onto GigaSampler.

    In a similar vane, I have not been able to successfully send program changes from my Roland A70 Controller Keyboard to change the GM500 sounds directly. Must this be done in performance mode only? Futhermore, I would like to use arranger software like Jammer Live in real time. It too is unable to send program changes to the GM500. Must the sounds be loaded in manually from a performance say, prior to playing a style with Jammer Live. If this is the case then GigaSampler/GM500 becomes unsuitable for live performance (to slow to get started with each new song, to much mouse fiddling and so on). GigaSampler/GM500 in this instance would be more useful in a studio.

    Is anybody aware of good quality Roland GS compatabile Drum Sets that could be added to GM500? This would be helpful to play midi files given many of them are based on the Roland GS Standard. It would be nice if NemeSys/Conexant would setup WaveTables that met these standards and maybe even Yamaha\'s XG Standard.

    Will GigaStudio solve some of my issues?

    Finally, the GM500 instrument sounds to me are significantly better than those I have listen to and played on regular synths and arranger keyboards. This is even without the addition of effects.

    Thank you

    Frank L. Rosenthal

    [This message has been edited by Frank L. Rosenthal (edited 03-16-2000).]

  2. #2

    Re: GigaSamper/GM500

    GM500 - First Impressions

    The Bottom Line: The Conexant GM500 is by far the best sounding GM wavetable set that I have ever heard. Virtually every one of the 128 instruments is solo quality. More importantly for the intended purpose of reproducing General MIDI songs, the voices work well in ensembles. Unlike memory-starved ROM GM sets with tiny, sterile sounding loops, the voices in the GM500 have nice long loops and have plenty of acoustic motion. For the first time, well arranged sequences (eg., Ron Fry\'s GM arrangements) sound like studio CD productions. The Standard drumkit is absolutely OUTSTANDING! It is very punchy and live sounding. The cymbals decay naturally. The only small negative is the absence of exclussive triggers (so that the Open HH cuts off when the Closed HH is played).

    There are a number of issues which Frank has pointed out. A rather important problem is that program change messages are ignored unless the programs are pre-loaded into Giga (not very practical). Nor does there appear to be any way to play a chain of songs without user intervention. For some unknown reason, the \"Conexant Player\" promoted by Nemesys as being included with GM500 is not. Would the Conexant player provide any missing capabilities?

    On the positive side, the drag and drop facility in GS makes playing GM songs relatively painless. Also, GS is smart enough so that if an instrument is already loaded on the right channel it does not get reloaded.

    The following comments relate to my impressions of some of the individual instruments. I will focus on the best and worst. The ones I don\'t mention are \"very good\".

    Starting of course with Grand Piano...for a small (in GS terms) sample file, the Grand Piano is remarkably good. It stands out very well in a mix and sounds like a real piano in all registers. No, it won\'t replace Gigapiano, the Steinway or the Bos for solo work, but it is sure nice for the intended purpose.

    Rhodes: has a nice velocity cross-switch and some ambiance.

    Harpsichord: very realistic but could benefit from the addition of the plectrum release sound at note-off.

    Rock Organ: sampled with Leslie, but too few multi-samples.

    Jazz Guitar: nice timbre, but I would prefer no vibrato.

    Acoustic Bass: Top notch!

    Violin, Viola: Very well done, not too much vibrato.

    Cello: a lot of work went into this one. It is decidedly \"different\" from other celli you will find out there. Some will love it, others will hate it.

    String ensembles: both the attack and legato strings are very lush and playable. Really excellent for a GM wavetable.

    Orchestral Harp: Ok above G#2, really bad below.

    Choir Aahs: utterly fantastic!!! Breathy highs, great sound top to bottom.

    Synth Voice: MUCH more useful the the usual \"doooo - doooo\" sound.

    Trombone: well recorded, but the tone of the bone player - well let\'s say he\'s no Tommy Dorsey.

    Tuba: since the standard GM kit does not include a Flugel horn, a neat trick is to use the upper range of the Tuba to cheat. Unfortunately, the GM500 does not do this.

    Muted Trumpet: sounds like TWO trumpets with two styles of mutes. This sounds great in ensembles but is not so good for your Miles solos.

    French Horn: STUNNING horn ensemble!!!

    Soprano Sax: I\'m picky about this one and the verdict on GM500 is thumbs down. Interestingly, soprano sax and the trombone are the ONLY two instruments that I like in the 24 Meg Sonic Implants GM Soundfont set.

    Alto: good for mixes but you will need to go elsewhere to immitate Paul Desmond.

    English Horn: very noticeable timbre shift between the samples split at E4-F4. Of course, lesser GM kits use very few multi-sample splits, so a few audible timbre changes is a forgivable trade-off.

    Clarinet: excellent and playable.

    Bassoon: another pet peave of mine is trying to transpose the bassoon up too much. The upper register of the bassoon has a gorgeous singing quality. Unfortunately, the GM500 does not do it justice.

    Piccolo: yuk.

    Flute: is transposed too far below D4. The sampled vibrato and chiff slow down unnaturally. Sounds excellent in the upper range.

    Pan Flute: virtual Zamfir!

    Halo & Brightness: wonderful shimmery pads.

    Echos: has a nice key-off release effect.

    Sitar, Koto: incredibly real sounding!

    Fiddle: very nice stereo sample - swing your partner!

    Agogo - too short.

    Melodic Tom: far more realistic than in other GM kits.

    While I have a few quibbles, my overall satisfaction with the GM500 set is very high. It is a bargain for $149. The one thing that would be a great addition would be to add more drum kits (a la Roland GS).

    Congratulations and thanks to Dave Govett and North Star Productions for a wonderful new library for Giga.

    Joe Hardy

    [This message has been edited by jphardy (edited 03-16-2000).]

  3. #3

    Re: GigaSamper/GM500

    Thx Joe for taking the effrot in writing up this extensive review.

  4. #4

    Re: GigaSamper/GM500

    thanks joe!


  5. #5

    Re: GigaSamper/GM500

    I have now had my system setup for a few days (Roland A70, GigaSampler, GM500 and Jammer Live) and make these general observations:


    It is very good in concept. It is open architecture (software based, etc.) that let\'s the user grow with the changing needs, e.g., Arranger software, sounds, etc.

    There are some very good sounds in the GM500, e.g., accoustic and electric pianos, bass, organs, drums, etc.

    The GigaSampler is suited primarily for work in a studio.


    The system that I have setup is not suitable for playing live. There is to much time required to manually load instruments between songs, and a general mousing around, etc.

    You cannot play a series of songs. You need to go and close the sequencer and then drag a song across the face of GigaSampler to play a midi file. This is required for each song.

    Jammer Live cannot use the sounds in GigaSampler/GM500. This means I have to use sounds from a sound card or other sources to play Jammer Live. I can however play the melody using GigaSampler.

    Setting up the system to operate without the \'Blue Screens\' is a challenge to say the least. It is not for the faint of heart.

    The solo brass, guitars, banjo, etc. are equal to or of lesser quality to an ordinary 4 MB sound card, eg. Roland SCD 15 daughter board. The GM500 does not accommodate the Roland GS industry standard (Microsoft, Apple) sound set especially drums. I tested the sound on very high quality studio speakers, mixer and amp.

    Because of the crash on the General Arranger Keyboard Forum, I have not been able to get back on it as yet. Some of you will note that I identified a number of deal breakers and one of them was being able to send program changes from the Controler Keyboard to Jammer Live and GigaSampler. I was assured by all parties and others that this is possible. Well it isn\'t.

    I guess like always, buyer beware!!! Had I been properly informed I would not have invested in this alternative and continued with my purchase of the Yamaha PSR 9000.

    This was an expensive experiment given the cost of the software and equipment noted above and a new computer to accommodate the memory, HD and speed.

    Very disappointed

    Frank L. Rosenthal

    [This message has been edited by Frank L. Rosenthal (edited 03-17-2000).]

  6. #6

    Re: GigaSamper/GM500


    Could you elaborate a bit on ...
    \"Jammer Live cannot use the sounds in GigaSampler/GM500. This means I have to use sounds from a sound card or other sources to play Jammer Live.\"....

    I would agree that the setup you mention does - as it is now - NOT compete in live gigging as a one-man-band with hadware arrangers. However this discussion is ment to identify the features that are missiing to get there. I mentioned this earlier to Nemesys in the sense that there is a market out there for Gigasampler if they would fill in some missing gaps. Maybe the \'open architecture\' (to be ckecked :-) of gigastudio will provide the means to add these functionalities.

    Tha being said, we could start with the LiveJammer not being able to trigger GM500.

    Hang in there and don\'t give up yet ...


  7. #7

    Re: GigaSamper/GM500


    Thanks for your optimism and response.

    You cannot attach Jammer Live like a sequencer, e.g., Cakewalk, to GigaSampler. You get the error message that the device is in use select another. Using Hubi Cables (virtual cable) will not work since you need to attach a program like a sequencer to GigaSampler. Now what this means is that you have to let Jammer Live play the sounds of your sound card and play the melody or other real time parts on GigaSampler - a significant potential drop in quality. Although, I would quickly add that the Yamaha SW1000XG has many better quality sounds than the GM500. Even my Roland SCD 15 Daughter Board has many better instrument sounds. This is not the fault of GigaSampler but rather a shortcoming of the sampling process used for the GM500.

    Also, I might add that Jammer Live does not accept Program Change messages from the controller keyboard. I have another arranger software, Music Companion, which allows program changes which appropriately change the voices. The problem with Music Companion is that it will not accept aftertouch messages. This to me while important is of lesser consequence. Furthermore, Music Companion will let you play the GigaSampler - if you strike it lucky. It is hit and miss.

    I will carry on over the weekend. If I cannot make further progress which I doubt that I will, I will start dismantling the system and acquire the PSR9000 - and suffer the loss.

    I really feel like I have been misled. I asked very specific questions and got very specific answers that indicated that things will work. Well they don\'t!!!

    Frank L. Rosenthal

  8. #8

    Re: GigaSamper/GM500

    <BLOCKQUOTE><font size=\"1\" face=\"Verdana, Arial\">quote:</font><HR>Minus:

    The system that I have setup is not suitable for playing live. There is to much time required to manually load instruments between songs, and a general mousing around, etc.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    You can save everything as a Performance, and then access your sounds with one or two mouse clicks.


  9. #9

    Re: GigaSamper/GM500


    Yes, I am aware of the Performance mode. This is still slow and awkward in a live situation. The only way you could work live is with 3 or more keyboards with one loading as you are using the others. Sounds & effects should be instantly available and ideally with one button push.

    If you are in a studio composing one instrument at a time, these become none issues.

    In my case, I have mentioned using dedicated sound modules and Jammer Live. This will work ok. In the end none of this comes close to arranger keyboards in speed and overall quality. Certainly the GigaPiano is absolutely fantastic quality but you can go for lunch and come back before it is loaded - to slow!!!!!!! This is the case even with a very fast PC and 256MB of RAM.

    Thank you

    Frank L. Rosenthal

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