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Audio Engineering 101 with Emphasis in Music   (Read 6722 times)
Old Post September 30, 2008, 12:13:54 am
Blahian *

Posts: 42

Audio Engineering 101 with Emphasis in Music
Ok, we all know that you cannot write music just by pulling it out of your ass and by some osmosis it becomes an midi file on your CPU and it mutates into an mp3. There is a lot more to it, but once you learn how it is done, invest some money, you can make music quickly and painlessly in a mater of days/weeks.

First off, you need a cpu rig that can handle the mp3 creation and midi alteration software (Gigastudio/Pro-Tools). This can be a little pricey due to the fact and on board sound card all the way to the Creative Sound Blaster Fatality Professional Series (a $150 card) is not enough to do the job.

The required audio card to run both of these programs nicely would be http://www.m-audio.com/products/en_us/Delta1010LT.html since it is compatible to ASIO2 (format for Pro-Tools LE) and GSIF1 & 2 (Gigastudio 3-4 Format) with mic inputs for voice recording and live transcriptions. This card, along with a decent video card (I recommend at LEAST an Nvidia 8500 GTS or higher [I use an 8800 Ultra]) to render the sound board menus so they do not lag behind.

But that is just software, 2 gigs of ram and a dual core is enough for speed. You might want to consider 500GB to 1TB of HDD space.

Now, that is the bare minimum (plus some decent CPU speakers) to get started. But there are many other perks for spending some extra dough on some other hardware to make it happen. Things like a Midi Keyboard (299 and up) are great add-ons to help the music process since you can play the keyboard in Finale and notes will write themselves onto the program rather than having to do it note by note through a mouse w/cpu keyboard. Another MASSIVE perk is a midi Mixer. I use this one here with a matching bridge http://www.samash.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/product_DM3200%2032%20Channel%20Digital%20Mixer_-1_10052_10002_-49973631_cmCategorySA181196

The mixer is used during processes through Cakewalk Pro Audio (Midi editor) and then used through Pro-Tools/Gigastudio, but I will touch more onto software in a moment.

As far as hardware goes that is a great start if you get all the hardware. But keep in mind they get more expensive further down the line. Investing in Boom mikes, filters, and a large monitor help a great deal as well. But keep in mind that your creating audio and that the best tools are no better than the best imagination.

Software is always questionable and many people still do not know what software to get. It is not all that hard really. The software is very basic to attain (but very pricey) and you just have to get a system down. For music it is a few easy steps:

1.Notation Program
2.Midi Editorial Program
3.Midi Alteration Program

That is generally it. Sounds easy doesnt it, but not as much as it seems. The programs themselves are all very complicated and dense. They do not come with much instructions on how to use them, but can be bought 1200 pages long at your local bookstore for 100 bucks or more. But once you learn them you will cut your time in such great fragments it will take you almost no time to do steps 2 and 3.

Notation Programs vary from many different manufactures: Makemusic Finale, Sibelius, Voyetra Music Studio, Cakewalk Orchestra 2 to name a few. These programs are 200 dollars as high as 500. Now, the one I recommend the most is Finale 2008. This program has almost no limitations and has almost all the formations you could think of available, problem is, it is the hardest to learn and the most dense. Sibelius is a basic software for full orchestrations but is VERY restrictive on how you can make it. Though Sibelius 4 is very flashy and has MANY subsidiary softwares you can buy for it to help teach you how to compose music, it is still crap compared to Finale 2008. Voyetra and Cakewalk Orchestra are cheap and easy to use, I used Cakewalk Orchestra 2 when I was 8-12 years old, so it is very basic only cost about 100 dollars, Voyetra is just crap. But the sooner you start practicing with Finale 2008 the better you will get at it. You can also get a watered down version of Finale 2008 online, it is called Finale Notepad 2008, it is free and good for you to practice with. Get it, you can thank me later. ^^

Once you have created your work in the Notation software (it takes a level of musician ship to write music in score form), you can save your file as a midi through that same software. Once you have done that you are ready for step two.

Cakewalk Pro Audio is arguably the best software for Midi alteration. It is, hands down, easy to use and very effective. A watered down version is Cakewalk in Concert for those who want to learn. When saving the midi format through the Notation Software be sure you save each Staff to a track, you work alone being 17-25 tracks for orchestra onto one midi pallet. Doing this will open up in Cakewalk Pro Audio into several switches on a board for you to individually alter. Once you have your outputs to where you like it, save it again as a midi and we move on to stage 3.

This stage is the the second hardest, the first being the most time consuming. This stage is altering the midi file with newer and more beautiful sounding midi forms and overhauling the track quality. Midi, in its own nature, is around 20 voices maximum give or take. Through Pro-Tools/Gigastudio it can be as high as 277 or more. This makes things very attractive to sound quality and thus creates a more masterful work.

Now, there are three masterful softwares for this junction: Gigastudio, Pro-Tools, and Sonar 7

Cakewalk Sonar 7 is most likely the dark sheep. It does a mediocre job and a lot of sound fonts are not available for this software, however it is the most compliant to most system specs.

Pro-Tools is the most universally used software in the world for audio generation. It has some decent sounds but it still sounds computer generated, just nicer. (most of the basic stuff I post is in Pro-Tools since it is less time consuming. If I want to make a professional work I move to the next software).

The most dense and highest quality output is, hands down, Gigastudio. Gigastudio gives you the most options and control, including sectioning and revamp like you couldnt imagine. I can take a midi track of a string orchestra (only 5 staves) and make it sound as if a real orchestra was playing it. Taking one sting staff (lets say 1st violins) and making the string synth sound that is a single track and make it 20 single track violin tracks. Thus the imitation of a 1st violin sting section, each track having the full array of volume control. This software, as powerful and as amazing as it is, is obtusely difficult to use and requires a monster rig running XP and nothing else in the background. However, this is what is used in the film field as well as others (Final Fantasy 10 ran Gigastudio 1 or 2 I believe and FF 12 ran Gigastudio 3 with its standard midi selection). The other perk about Gigastudio is that you can purchase many different types of midi sound fonts for it such as The Los Angeles Philharmonic sound font, the Speyer Cathedral Organ font, and so on instead of using the on board sound font package. These fonts are mimics of those ensembles sounds and can make your audio production climax like never before, but they run anywhere form 70 to 200 dollars and the Gigastudio software itself is 600 - 800 dollars. So this can be a turn of for many people.

Anyway, that is a general idea of what is involved and how to go about making it. Hopefully it has helped a bit. There is much more that could be told about this actual process but I dont think it would be to wise to get too technical. ^^

But, besides that, I would be glad to be interviewed and be able to divulge more into the art of sound creation, how to compose, and audio engineering stuffs for everyone to use. ^^

"So, you want to see if the carpet matches the drapes eh? Well, only the luckiest of ladies get to find that out." ^^

New Post September 30, 2008, 12:39:42 am
Blahian *

Posts: 42

Re: Audio Engineering 101 with Emphasis in Music
So you can compare I have prepared some samples of Basic Midi, Pro-Tools, and Gigastudio so you can hear for yourselves the differences.

Gigastudio 2 (using ON-BOARD sound fonts) [just to show you Gigastudio's lowest quality compared to Pro-tools Highest quality] -
The Bamboo Forest - http://www.megaupload.com/?d=FT704ZO9
The Fool - http://www.megaupload.com/?d=6MPAJYMO

Pro-Tools LE (Using available sound fonts)[the following works are from a game project still being made with a private studio]

Jacq's Theme - http://www.megaupload.com/?d=DY89M28T
Dungeon 1 - http://www.megaupload.com/?d=0IBNXLVT

This last link is a midi file made in Finale, again to give you an idea of the many different stages

Romanze for Two Hearts midi version 2 (String orchestra, piano, 2 voices [soprano and tenor]) - http://www.megaupload.com/?d=ZXGCX9UB

"So, you want to see if the carpet matches the drapes eh? Well, only the luckiest of ladies get to find that out." ^^

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