Casio VZ samples for Kontakt

Like my other libraries, I created this initially for my own use. I decided the VZ was taking up valuable rackspace in my new streamlined studio, and I could better integrate my sounds in software via Kontakt. I just got tired of waiting around recording several layers of hardware synths.

So for that reason, this is a very good representation of the VZ- which is why I’ve named it “Authentic”.

Click here for demo

The Casio VZ was intended to replace the very successful CZ range. Despite having a better keyboard, more polyphony and better sound quality, it didn’t capture the imagination and was discontinued fairly quickly. The User Interface was rather unpleasant, despite having advanced features such as graphical envelope editing.

It’s a shame, because this is an FM synth with a much bigger sound than the better known Yamaha offerings. It was possible to layer up to 32 oscillators while still retaining useable polyphony. The keyboard had a pleasant action, and there were three very useable modulation wheels.

These samples comprise the best of my own sounds and a good mix of the few commercial libraries that were available. So without buying a VZ you’ll have wrung the best sounds out of this difficult beast. Again I’ve left out the usual “string” and “analogue” sounds, and kept it to the more unique sounds this synth can do. I’ve also stayed at 16 bit/ 44.1kHz because that exceeds the specifications of the VZ and allows for faster loading times.

Details: 30 multisampled patches, Download size= 398MB (Kontakt’s built in data compression used).

So I hope you enjoy the sound of this unusual synthesizer!

Upright Pianos for Kontakt

These sounds have been created to retain the character and atmosphere of domestic upright pianos. They were originally created for the Emu ESI4000 back in 1998. The recordings were made with an MS pair comprising Coles 4038 for the sides and an Audio Technica MB3000L for the middle. The pre amp was an LA Audio MLX20, and the AD was an Echo Layla, the original 20 bit version. Some processing was done in Cubase VST/32 using Waves plugins.

With the limitations of the old Emu sampler removed, you can now enjoy these sounds in 24 bit/ 48kHz, much better than the old Emu. In addition I have reprogrammed the filter settings to achieve a nice timbal dynamic.

Hanson 717 audio demo
Ladbrooke

Details:
Hanson pianoforte- dual layer multisampled upright (pictured) MS miked.
Ladbrooke 717- an out of tune up right recorded with a Sony ECM717 mic.
Hanson 717a, 717b- two different mono and stereo mic pre amps.
Charlie’s piano- a very battered upright recorded in 8 bit.

Download size: 78MB (Kontakt’s built in data compression used).

There are no Steinways here, so you’ll have atmospheric creaky old uprights. The Hansons (pictured) was set up and tuned before sampling, and is multisampled in velocity layers. The Ladbrooke was never tuned-  but it has been used on the Nintendo game “Rubadubdub”! It’s also a favourite of William Coakley’s, creator of the Perfect Piano series of samples.

A new addition is Charlie’s piano. This is a piano that is seriously out of tune, and you will also hear the sounds of domestic activity on some of the notes. Recorded in 8 bit/ 22kHz with a Canon Powershot camera. This is the most atmospheric of all the pianos.

Lovely!

I was going back through some emails and came across this lovely one. I sent an email to info@abbeyroad.com and got a lovely reply. 🙂

On 12 Sep 2009, at 6:36pm, Tomás Mulcahy wrote:

Hi,
Can you please pass this message on to the Beatles remastering team, especially Guy, Steve and Allan? Fantastic job, it’s like rediscovering the Beatles music all over again. Wonderful sound, well done. Beautiful packaging design and presentation of photos.

Thank you all!

Best wishes,
Tomás.

On 18 Sep 2009, at 1:11 pm, Newson, Jackie wrote:

Dear Tomás
On behalf of the team at Abbey Road I would like to thank you for the courtesy you have shown in emailing us with your kind words. When we embarked on this project we realised that it would be impossible to please everybody, particularly in view of the fact that this was The Beatles. However once we had decided on the approach that the team wished to take to satisfy ourselves, we then had to get the approval of Apple and EMI. Once that had been achieved the job was done, we were happy, Apple and EMI were happy and we are gratified that you too are happy.

Thank you.

Allan Rouse
Project coordinator

Casio CZ samples now available

We now have a comprehensive, authentic Casio CZ sample library available for download in our shop. Click here to buy in Native Instruments Kontakt format.

 

 

Click here for audio demo

Briefly:
What you have here is a selection of the best, most unique sounds the CZ has to offer. I think you’ll be surprised at what this synth can do. I’ve been using these synths since 1992, so as you can imagine I’ve built up a big library and explored in depth what these synths can do. I’ve left out typical sounds such as strings, brass etc. that are done better on other synths, or are done to death on other sample libraries. Although there is one very special string sound, created by layering two patches with special pitch modulation in the CZ envelopes and no Kontakt trickery- you won’t believe it’s a CZ.

So I hope these sounds add something unique and useful to your library. 🙂

Read all about the Casio CZ series of synthesizers here.

Furthermore:
I’ve made the sounds as authentic to the original machine as possible. This is not a CZ that’s been made “phatter” or “heavier” or “wider” using effects and Kontakt trickery. However, in some cases I’ve taken the opportunity to improve the sound where appropriate. I feel that what you have here is a CZ with all the character plus a few hot rod enhancements for professional studio use.

I’ve used some of the modulation and effects inside Kontakt to recreate some of the Casio parameters that do not sample well. For example, vibrato in most of the patches comes from Kontakt, not the Casio. I’ve used various settings of either the chorus or flanger to recreate the onboard chorus of the CZ when it is an important part of the sound. I’ve also taken the opportunity to “stereoize” some effects where appropriate. For example some of the sounds have stereo echo, where a mono echo effect would have been done with the envelope in the CZ. The electric piano uses a stereo tremolo effect, whereas on the CZ this would have been a rather limited mono tremolo effect using the envelope.

Many of the sounds use the layering capability of the CZ-1, as well as the velocity modulation. You’ll see that some sounds have up to three levels of velocity sampled. On the CZ-1 this is actually quite a clunky feature, so with some sounds I’ve used a low pass filter to augment or replace the velocity to DCW (CZ filter) modulation. So in many cases the sounds are actually more responsive than they are on a CZ.

Why 16 bit?
The CZ uses a pretty funky 12 bit companded DAC running at 40kHz, so a modern 16 bit/ 44.1kHz audio interface is more than sufficient to capture the full dynamic range. Plus I think it’s a waste of space and resources to use higher sampling rates/ bit depths. So you’ll notice that these sounds load very fast, even where there are lots of samples used. To this end I’ve also not gone overboard on multisampling, but I’ve done enough so that in an A/B test with the real machine, there is no audible difference. So there are only three sounds where it was appropriate to sample every single pitch on the CZ.

The compressed dynamic range of the original DAC is used in some of the sounds. There are a couple where the tone changes randomly with each note played as the internal DAC creates audible glitches. It’s great on some of the bell sounds, and one particular bass sound is very special- check out Chop Bass. I’ve captured this using up to 4 “round robin” samples in some cases.

For the same reason, layering on the CZ often sounds better/ different than layering inside Kontakt. So I’ve avoided any layering in Kontakt because it wouldn’t be authentic to the original CZ sound, and it offers the user greater scope for creativity.

Details: 102 patches, download size 544MB (Kontakt’s built in data compression used).

More old samplers

I’m of fan of old samplers. Well, to be specific, I’m a fan of the sounds. For me it’s no fun at all trying to get old technology to work reliably and to integrate into the studio. There’s nothing worse than battling with a faulty floppy disc when you have a burning idea for a tune.

Some folk like to hear the sound coming from the actual sampler, they say it’s better. Well here’s a pretty good comparision test. It’s the intro to the Pet Shop Boys West End Girls, using the Emu Emulator II Marcato strings. One file is the Emu sound files imported from the original disc into Kontakt using the wonderful EMXP, the other is the sound sampled from the output of an actual Emulator II; analogue, naturally.

Which do you prefer? 🙂

EII strings A
EII strings B

mp3 versions:
EII strings A
EII strings B

The Cyclone is back

This is a great musical toy. It’s the Oberheim Cyclone.  I actually bought it from Davy Spillane. Mine was broken for years- at a gig I hooked up the wrong power supply :(. It can do multiple arpeggios under full keyboard control, allowing you to play things as if you had 30 fingers. It’s a great tool for improvising, and developing ideas. There’s at least one piece on the forthcoming album that started out with the help of this box. Thanks to Alexander Guelfenburg at Virtual Music for his help in bringing this back to life. I now have an optional Oberheim Strummer too.

Carbonisation brings us closer to God

or
Why Toast Tastes So Good

Without the light from the sun all life on earth would cease to exist. From this we can reasonably conclude that the sun is the source of all life.

Since God created all life we can further conclude that the sun is God, or at least an instrument of God. Many ancient civilizations such as the Egyptians, Aztecs and African tribes believed that the Sun was a God.

When things get burned they carbonise. This is what would happen if we moved closer to the sun i.e. closer to God. Fire, the artificial means of carbonisation created by man, replicates the effect of the sun, fooling the object into believing that it is moving closer to God.

This is why Toast Tastes So Good (yum!).

The bread is transformed from an ordinary food source into something that believes it is closer to heaven, which is reflected in its taste.

This is also why the ‘Body of Christ’ in Christian services is represented by a piece of toasted wafer.

Another example of carbonistion bringing us closer to God is the desire to obtain a tan which, like the toast, converts ordinary pale skin into something glowing and God like.

The book of common prayer based on text from Genesis 3:19 shows that in death, returning the body to dust through cremation can bring us back to God:

In sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life through our Lord Jesus Christ, we commend to Almighty God our brother, and we commit his body to the ground; earth to earth; ashes to ashes, dust to dust. The Lord bless him and keep him, the Lord make his face to shine upon him and be gracious unto him and give him peace. Amen.

Peter Gabriel is the second coming

by Ken Hayes

Peter Gabriel is a long established rock musician who’s music has reached people all over the world. We can reveal here for the first time that Peter Gabriel is in fact the Messiah, and that he has left us a number of clues over the years that help to reveal his true identity. Let us examine the evidence:
•Peter shares his name with St. Peter and the angel Gabriel.
•He was a member of the band Genesis, the first book of the bible.
•He often uses religious themes, for example, the song The Blood of Eden; the Passion soundtrack for The Last Temptation of Christ and his CD-Rom Eden.
•Sinead O’Connor who appears on the song The Blood of Eden went from being a wild child to becoming a priest after befriending him.
Does she know something we don’t?

The greatest evidence we have is in the lyrics of his song Solsbury Hill where he describes how he met with God and how he revealed him that he was his son.

Let us examine the lyrics of the song:

He was something to observe
Came in close, I heard a voice
Standing stretching every nerve
Had to listen had no choice
I did not believe the information
[I] just had to trust imagination
My heart going boom boom boom
‘Son’, he said ‘Grab your things,
I’ve come to take you home’.

He is describing how he was told by God who he really was and how he had to come to terms with his status.

Later in the song he sings:

To keep in silence I resigned
My friends would think I was a nut
Turning water into wine
Open doors would soon be shut

He is saying that he has decided not to tell anyone about what he has learned in case he’s branded a lunatic. He also thinks about what new possibilities there are for him because he has miraculous abilities. He contemplates how his life has suddenly changed.

In the last verse he sings about how people are oblivious to his true identity and that at some point in time he will reveal his true self:

When I think that I am free
Watched by empty silhouettes
Who close their eyes but still can see
No one taught them etiquette
I will show another me

Peter clearly feels he had this role thrust upon him against his will. In an interview with Musician magazine in June 1989 he stated:

Christianity is poured deep in my consciousness, whether I choose to or not.

To finish though, If you believe that Peter is the Messiah and that rock’n’roll will save your soul, take heed, because he also gave this warning in the 1972 Genesis song Apocalypse in 9/8:

666 is no longer alone,
He’s getting out the marrow in your back bone,
And the seven trumpets blowing sweet rock and roll,
Gonna blow right down inside your soul.
Pythagorus with the looking glass reflects the full moon,
In blood, he’s writing the lyrics of a brand new tune.