Skip to main content

Topic: Looking for better sound (Read 6530 times) previous topic - next topic

Looking for better sound
I use NWC for a variety of reasons. My wife is in choir (sings alto), and she likes to hear her part. So, I enter the music (for our use only) and play it so that she can learn her part. Me, I play trombone, and occasionally I run in to music that is rather difficult or different. For example, I have played music in tenor clef...yeesh.
Anyway, I have Windows 2003 Server 1gb memory and an old SB sound card. The quality of the music is poor; I got better from Win 3.1, but same sound card. Any hints at how to improve MIDI on Windows 2003 Server?

Re: Looking for better sound
Reply #1
G'day 'bone3,
I guess the first question is which old SB card?  To run in a machine able to run W2k3 server I'm guessing it's a PCI card.  This suggests that it may be recent enough to use soundfonts.

You are likely using the MIDIMapper as your output device for NWC, change this to your sound cards synth as a start.  Then, assuming you can support soundfonts, look for some you like.  A search of this forum will turn up lots of likely prospects, opinions and sources.

If you cannot run soundfonts, there are still possibilities.  Soft synths, VST hosts and the like, but lets not go there yet.  First let us know what sound card you actually have.  For myself, I have an SB Audigy II and a couple of sound fonts I like, but for general use I'm in love with my Yamaha S-YXG50 softsynth.  Unfortunately its no longer available as Yamaha seem to have abandoned it...  I don't know of the XP version would run in 2k3 server but given that 2k3 is really a souped up XP I wouldn't be surprised if it does.

Quote
For example, I have played music in tenor clef...yeesh.

Tenor clef's easy - just think transposed treble and add 2 sharps.  (I play 'bone too.)
I plays 'Bones, crumpets, coronets, floosgals 'n youfonymums - gonna lern tubies next

Re: Looking for better sound
Reply #2
Lawrie, isn't the Yamaha S-YXG50 now available free from a number of sites since Yamaha discontinued it some 5 years ago?  A Google search should turn up a few sites, just avoid the "warez" type of sites that purport to offer pirated and hacked software,...along with spyware and viruses!

Re: Looking for better sound
Reply #3
G'day Milton,
umm, yes, it is around and yes you do need to be careful.  It's also important to make sure it's the rarer XP version and not a 9x version.

However, the thing I'm not sure of is the copyright status - the code belongs to Yamaha and contains their intellectual property.  Given they seem to have abandoned it I doubt they'd try to litigate against anyone choosing to use it, but the principle remains.  I believe it would still, strictly speaking, be piracy.

To make matters worse, as it doesn't port to vista (I've been told of someone who managed to make it work but I don't have details and I haven't succeeded), I will not be downgrading to vista (or vista Mark II AKA Windows 7) on my main systems any time soon.
I plays 'Bones, crumpets, coronets, floosgals 'n youfonymums - gonna lern tubies next

Re: Looking for better sound
Reply #4
   A solution that will negate the effects of any operating system is an external midi engine.  I know I've said it before, but I REALLY love my Roland Super JV-1080 synth module.  A bit pricey (I think I paid $285 on Ebay), but you can also get the JV-1010, which is a stripped down version.  The 1080 allows 4 expansions via their expansion boards.  I use the Orchestral I, Orchestral II, and Vocal expansion boards.  There were 1,000 different patches without the boards, about 1,700 with them.
   The point is that a stand alone box hooks via MIDI to whatever computer you use, as long as you have a MIDI connection.  Some engines use an external USB connection.  I've never regretted going this way.  It allows so much more versatility in what I compose. 
   As a side note, I also have the Yamaha XG software synth (I bought it before it was discontinued).  I use it for my laptop (which doesn't have a MIDI connection).  It works pretty well, but doesn't compare with Roland's sounds.  We use a CVP-900 Clavinova at church (it also has the latest XG, along with a generous array of instruments), but the instruments don't sound as good as the Roland.  Well, the exception would be the guitar.  The CVP-900 has a wonderful classical guitar!
   Years ago, I used an Ensoniq AudioPCI, but these were designed to work under windows 9x, and maybe 2000.  I know that Creative bought the rights and that their standard "Sound Blaster" essentially used the AudioPCI card design and waveset.  I now use an Audigy 2 Platinum in my computer, but I rarely use the internal MIDI engine, opting instead to MIDI out to the Roland.
   Perhaps others can chime in as to another solution or stand alone box they've used.  I'm sure there are others.  I only wanted to share my own perspective about what has worked for me and how it has compared with other things I've been exposed to.

Mark
Nothing ruins a good hobby like doing it for a living...

Re: Looking for better sound
Reply #5
Inspired by this thread, I downloaded the Yamaha synth from "DriversDown"  It is the version for  Win2000/XP and my download manager gave it a pass in a security check. I have installed it but not yet tried it as I have to re-boot first. I am prepa1ring my excuses for the possibility of Ymaha pursuing me.

Tony.

Re: Looking for better sound
Reply #6
The external hardware synth module is, of course, the best solution as it frees computer resources (although the Yam softsynth seems to put far less load on my CPU than NWC's note chase) and eliminates latency issues.  Having said that, I will repeat my comments on other threads here that one may economically kill 2 birds with one stone.  Get both a MIDI controller and a Yamaha synth by getting one of their low-end PSR keyboards either with a MIDI interface to connect to their MIDI IN and OUT jacks or one with a USB interface on the keyboard that requires only a standard USB cable to connect to the computer.  A little reading of the manual to learn how to configure the kbd as both controller and synth module and you are set.  To record your masterpieces and render them to .wav or .mp3, run a stereo audio cable from the kbd headphone out jack to the computer Line In jack.  Open NWC and an audio editor such as Audacity (audacity.sourceforge.net) and record the playback.  After whatever editing you do in Audacity, go to File-Export as WAV or Export as MP3.

Re: Looking for better sound
Reply #7
Thanks all for the replies.

Here is what I know about my sound card:
Yep, it is a SoundBlaster, but I do not have the SB software anymore. When I upgraded to Win 2003 server, that stopped working, and SB doesnt make drivers for Win2003Server for this card. I do not hold out great hopes for this card; it was originally purchased over 10 years ago and was used as a game card then to play Flight Simulator. I would literally have to pull the card out of the machine to find out what type/chipset it is. As it is, this might all be moot, as the jacks on the sound card are messed up; right now, I only have one channel working. When I get the $$$, a new sound card will be coming.
My original concern was the OS. I want to be able to have sound that actually sounds like a trombone, not some sort of clarinet on steroids. I use Windows 2003 Server as I am able to do some of my work from home, and that work requires that OS. When I upgraded to this OS, the OS did not recognize the card as a SB but a generic sound card. Right now, this is what the OS uses:
CMI8738/C3DX PCI Audio Device
The only MIDI playback device available is Microsoft GS Wavetable SW Synth.
Unlike many of you, I do not use NWC to compose but to practice. I just want it to sound better than something out of a video arcade.

Re: Looking for better sound
Reply #8
G'day 'bone3,
Mark's suggestion of an external synth is a good one, but expensive...  And you'd still need an external MIDI interface.

I haven't checked driver availability, but the XP driver for your card should, I think, work in 2k3 server.  Otherwise, perhaps a second hand SB Live! or Audigy card will do.

You could also, as Milton suggested, consider looking for a copy of the Yam...

Another good possibility worth looking into is Synthfont.  This is a software synth that uses soundfonts.  I've never had much success with the standalone version as a "play through" device BUT I've had good results with the VSTi version.  For more details see this thread:
https://forum.noteworthycomposer.com/?topic=6528.0
I plays 'Bones, crumpets, coronets, floosgals 'n youfonymums - gonna lern tubies next

Re: Looking for better sound
Reply #9
Ok, I found out exactly what sound card I have. An OLD one.
A SoundBlaster Pro.
Thats it. Not an Audigy, nothing like that. Got this card way back when...
So it most likely doesnt support sound fonts. The External MIDI sounds
interesting, but 1) expensive and 2) takes up too much room. I dont want
a keyboard; I just would like good sound, namely, when I score for a trombone,
I would really like the result to sound like a bone. Now, when I score for a
piano, that is not a problem. I am not going for orchestral or pipe organ sound
here. Latency is not a problem as I would be reading my sheet music while
the score is playing, not looking at the monitor. If I can get good sound using s/w,
that is fine. It is an old card anyway, and on its last legs.
For that matter, I would be interested in suggestions on a new card...

Re: Looking for better sound
Reply #10
This link may lead to drivers for  Soundblaster Pro, although I have not tried it and do not know if it will work.
http://www.soundcard-drivers.com/drivers/14/14823.htm

Tony

Post script. I have downloaded from this link and the product is apparently a copy  of the original software supplied with SoundBlaster Pro on two CDs   It is applicable to
   Win3.1, Win95, Win98, Win98SE, WinME, WinNT3.51, WinNT4, Win2000, WinXP, Win2003
  • Last Edit: 2008-12-09 04:15 pm by tony smedley

Re: Looking for better sound
Reply #11
Ok, I found out exactly what sound card I have. An OLD one. A SoundBlaster Pro.
If it truly is a SoundBlaster Pro, it does not support soundfonts. It is a long 16bit ISA card with an onboard CD-ROM controller. MIDI-wise, it similar to the old SB16, but even older. I bought one of these new, bundled with a CD-ROM drive, for something north of $600. The lastest date on my driver disk is August 1991.

AFAIK, the soundcard still works, but the CD-ROM drive is long defunct. I still Aldus's PhotoStyler 2.0 that came bundled with it.

  • Last Edit: 2008-12-09 08:35 am by Rick G.
Registered user since 1996

Re: Looking for better sound
Reply #12
A new Creative Audigy SE 7.i soundcard would cost you less than £20 sterling including delivery and would accept sound fonts. I find it to be quite adequate  for use with NWC
Tony

Re: Looking for better sound
Reply #13
This link may lead to drivers for  Soundblaster Pro, although I have not tried it and do not know if it will work.
http://www.soundcard-drivers.com/drivers/14/14823.htm

Tony

Post script. I have downloaded from this link and the product is apparently a copy  of the original software supplied with SoundBlaster Pro on two CDs   It is applicable to
   Win3.1, Win95, Win98, Win98SE, WinME, WinNT3.51, WinNT4, Win2000, WinXP, Win2003
Yep, thats the one. I remember buying and installing the CD-ROM for that one. The link doesnt work, but that is ok.