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A few beginner questions...


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I've worked with the basic MIDI soundbank that came with my computer for about a year now, but I've gotten tired of having such low sound. Trying to fix this, I went and bought myself a Soundblaster Audigy 2 ZS. While it's quite an improvement over what I had before, and the fact that I can use soundfonts now, I still have a ways to go before I can get any QUALITY music done...

Anyways, I had just a few questions to ask...

1. Is there any free software out there that will let me load multiple soundfonts, or for that matter, is it even possible to load more than 1 soundfont at a time?

2. Is MIDI the way to go about doing my music?

3. How much memory is there on the Audigy 2 ZS anyways? I can't load any soundfonts larger than a couple MB... And most of the soundfonts I download are in the 11-30MB range...

4. Is there anyway I could go about getting more room for my current soundcard, or do you suggest a completely different soundcard?

5. My MIDI program is pretty limited. It won't take any audio (wav) longer than a minute. Do you suggest any programs for MIDI/just general composing?

Thanks for taking the time to help me. I've been wanting to get something that sounds better than just plain MIDI sounds for a while now, but I wasn't sure what to do.

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3. How much memory is there on the Audigy 2 ZS anyways? I can't load any soundfonts larger than a couple MB... And most of the soundfonts I download are in the 11-30MB range...

It's not the soundcard, look at your RAM. 128mb may have problems, 256mb will be okay for soundfonts, and more, like 512-1gb, will be hassle free. But I don't see why soundfonts would cause any issues with RAM. Yes you can load multiple soundfonts, but it'd help to know what programs you're using.

4. Is there anyway I could go about getting more room for my current soundcard, or do you suggest a completely different soundcard?

If you mean for loading soundfonts or VSTs, look above.

5. My MIDI program is pretty limited. It won't take any audio (wav) longer than a minute. Do you suggest any programs for MIDI/just general composing?

Depends on how high your budget can go.

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Either you're using an extremely ancient computer, or you're using the Soundblaster's built in soundfont support. I'm guessing it's the latter. Don't do that. Get a real sampler. This way it won't be limited by your sound card, but by your actual physical memory.

To answer question number 1, and solve problems 3 and 4, go get sfz. It's a free VSTi sampler that can load soundfonts up to.. well theoretically unlimited sizes (depending on CPU and RAM). If you don't already have a VST host or sequencer, I suggest you get one.

I wish you would have asked these questions before you went out and wasted your money on a Soundblaster.

Now to answer question 2: some people may disagree with me, but no. sure it's fine as a portable format, or for sketching out your arrangement (and of course for your keyboard interface) but beyond that it's become EXTREMELY obsolete. Like I said before, I suggest getting a real VST host/sequencer. FLStudio is a good place to start. Also Cubase if you got the dough, etc. Reason is another alternative, though it unfortunately is not VST capable (but it does have a built in soundfont sampler).

I'm curious as to what software you're using currently.

And once again I cannot stress enough for future references, plz people, do not buy Soundblaster cards for music production.

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Hmm. I'm pretty sure it was just the program I'm using. I bought FL Studio and everything seems to be working alright as far as soundfonts go.

As for software, the only program I really used up until just recently had been Anvil Studio. Unregistered at that!

And you say that Soundblasters aren't good for music production? What would you reccomend then? Preferably something in the $100-200 range, but not too much higher, I don't exactly make all that much money.

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Alright... I don't sing, and I'm not sure if I want to do any recording. I'm doing all my of my music... production, sequencing, MAKING, in just a small room, far from my piano, so I don't have much use for a mic atm...

A small question about FLStudio. While I was trying out the demo (Still haven't gotten the full thing yet, it should be here pretty soon though), I set it so that my keyboard was hooked up with a MIDI In/Out cable, and enabled it in FLStudio. For some reason though, if I hit a note of my keyboard, it will "press" a note and play the audio in FL, but it doesn't want to be marked down in the piano roll. Or anything else for that matter. Any info would help, thank you!

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Or anything else for that matter. Any info would help, thank you!

Did you hit the record button? :P

Also, you do have a piano. Whenever you decide to seriously start recording audio, is the day you dropkick your Audigy into the neighbor's yard and get something much more high-end.

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I might have.... "forgotten", let's say... to hit it. Ha, silly me.

And yes, I have a piano, but it's downstairs in it's own sort of room, and my computer is way upstairs. I really don't know a lot about recording anyways. I'm guessing I'd need a pretty good quality mic? And even if I did, I really don't know how I'd get any recordings onto my computer.

Anyways, that aside, would you have any suggestions as to what exactly is "much more high-end". I'm sorry if I'm sounding like a real beginner (which I guess I am...to composing for the computer anyways), but I really appreciate all the help.

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Well, anything created specifically for clean audio recordings or midi, like an Emu 0404 or an Audiophile 2496, those are both good entry-level production cards, and this entire forum just can't shut up about them :P

I have like, a 25 foot mic cable, and some good mics. I have a Hammond M100 directly below me. I entertained the idea of using the vents in my house to shorten the trip the audio takes.

The problem is I'd have to hit record, go through a room, go down stairs, go through my kitchen, then through my dining room, then into my living room where the Hammond is and start playing T_T

Or you could just, you know, set the computer up closeby to your piano instead ;)

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Heh, I've heard a bit about the E-Mu stuff. Just one last question for now...how much did your mic cost? And yeah, I'd most likely have to route it through an old laundry chute and through a couple vents to get it down to my piano. It's a shame, I've got such a nice sounding piano.

And again, thanks for the help.

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All of my 10 or so mics and all my hardware and instruments [barring the computer itself and my MidiSport 2x2], unbelievably enough, were free. And these are like, AKGs and Shures. You wouldn't believe the stuff people throw away sometimes :)

Oh, and I bought my ESQ-1 for $40 at a garage sale. It needs to be fixed though T_T and needs a new battery.

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Lucky. I wish people would chuck some good mics out every now and again... hehe. Do you have any idea, or guesses as to what it would cost for me to get even just half of those mics? I don't plan on doing any recording right away, but it wouldn't hurt to know.

And judging from that, you'd need quite a few mics to get good enough quality out of a piano? My piano is located in just the perfect spot right now, it has just the right amount of an "echo" when you play it, would that affect which mics I use?

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from what i've seen, as far as mics go, you can't get anything worth anything (this is what i've been told at guitar shops) for less than 50 or 70 dollars, at least. And even then, your mic is going to have that funky microphone jack on it instead of the standard 1/4th inch instrument/audio jack, i think its something to do with the fidelity or something (i don't really sing so bleh).

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I might have.... "forgotten", let's say... to hit it. Ha, silly me.

And yes, I have a piano, but it's downstairs in it's own sort of room, and my computer is way upstairs. I really don't know a lot about recording anyways. I'm guessing I'd need a pretty good quality mic? And even if I did, I really don't know how I'd get any recordings onto my computer.

Anyways, that aside, would you have any suggestions as to what exactly is "much more high-end". I'm sorry if I'm sounding like a real beginner (which I guess I am...to composing for the computer anyways), but I really appreciate all the help.

Okay, about your recording of pianos.

First, is your piano an actual piano, or is it an electric keyboard? If it's the latter, just pick up a guitar cable or something and a 1/4"-1/8" adapter and plug that baby right into your line-in jack. Then, of course, plug the other end into one of your line-out/headphone jacks.

If it's the former, you will need a mic, obviously. Don't talk to me about this one, since OverCoat's got the best idea.

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I have both a keyboard as well as a real piano, so I'd probably record the real one, if I wanted to do any recording.

I also have another question... I have my keyboard, and it's hooked into my computer through a In/Out USB Midi 1x1 cord. Is there any way I could have the things I play on the keyboard go into the piano roll, or something, of FL Studio? I'm really not sure what to do about that.

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I'm not really sure how to go about this, since I haven't done it before. In theory, though, I guess you could if you press record inside FLStudio.

I've got a Rolan EP-1 electric piano (it's a keyboard with piano, e.piano, vibes, organ, and strings). You can record and then replay the last thing you recorded on it, so if I tried the theory in question, I wouldn't have to play it on the spot.

My Roland's with a MIDI-out jack and a MIDI-in jack, but I have no MIDI input on my computer, so I guess I'd have to get one of those USB MIDI 1x1's to test it, then, wouldn't I?

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It's not the soundcard, look at your RAM. 128mb may have problems, 256mb will be okay for soundfonts, and more, like 512-1gb, will be hassle free.

Hmmmm, I wonder if this is why I've been having some issues getting Kontakt 2 to work seamlessly.

Enlighten a computer illiterate, and tell me where exactly I can find how much my RAM my computer has?

Is it under "Total Physical Memory" in System Information?

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Got an onboard graphics card slurping memory? Or maybe mismatched memory? Multiple sticks with different sizes? 448 MB is 256 + 128 + 64 and it's really better to either have 2 x 256 or 1 x 512.

lol I have no idea how to go about establishing any of the questions you just asked.

Damn.

These days you gotta be a composer, arranger, musician, producer AND a techie. lol

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