Newbie with Yamaha DGX-660 putting out a SOS call!

Discussion in 'MIDI' started by Goose, Jul 8, 2018.

  1. Goose

    Goose

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    Hi,

    I have just got a Yamaha DGX-660 and I want to compose music on my computer. I have a choice of Reaper or Sibelius.
    I want to compose a piece with multiple tracks. My DGX-660 has a fantastic range of instruments but I realise when I use it as a midi keyboard it just records data and not the actual instruments which seems a real shame. Is there anyway I can get around this. I have a usb host as well as midi ports. I can build up several tracks on the keyboard and save it in SMF format or wav audio format, transfer it to my computer and the instruments play in Reaper as they sound on the actual keyboard but when I edit or play over it comes out as a piano and the instruments sounds are lost. I want to create experimental music that sounds part acoustic part electronic. I have a 10 day deadline as it is part of a art project and I am getting no where. Can anyone familiar with a DGX-660 help me at all. Sorry about the primitive use of technological words! Thanks, Lucy
     
    Goose, Jul 8, 2018
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  2. Goose

    SeaGtGruff I meant to play that note! Moderator

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    The problem you're describing with the instrument sounds getting lost and playing back as a piano sound is a common one. Before I discuss solutions, let me explain the problem so you'll understand what's going on.

    MIDI instruments like the DGX-660 have many different voices they can play, and they use a combination of Bank Select and Program Change messages to select each of these voices. The Program Change message can select between only 128 different programs (instrument sounds), which is as many as the original General MIDI (GM or GM1) specifications defined. But the Bank Select messages (there are two of them, Bank Select MSB and Bank Select LSB) let you select between different "banks" of programs. So to get a particular voice from your DGX-660, you need to send it the specific Bank Select MSB, Bank Select LSB, and Program Change values which select the desired voice.

    You can find these values given in the "Voice List" portion of the Owner's Manual, Data List, or other pertinent document for your keyboard. However, be warned that Yamaha uses Bank Select MSB/LSB values that range from 0 to 127 (which is what the computer uses), but uses Program Change values that range from 1 to 128 (which is not what the computer uses). Unfortunately, there is no universal agreement between keyboard makers and MIDI software makers as to how these values should be presented. The values used In the actual MIDI messages always range from 0 to 127; but MIDI hardware and MIDI software can use values which range from 1 to 128. So depending on the software you're using, you might need to adjust the Bank Select MSB/LSB values, and/or the Program Change values, either by adding 1 to convert the 0-127 values into 1-128 values, or by subtracting 1 to convert the 1-128 values into 0-127 values. (I know this sounds hopelessly confusing, but it really isn't confusing once you "get it"-- it's just hopelessly stupid that all of the companies and programmers can't get on the same page and agree to use the actual values which are used inside the MIDI messages.)

    But to get back to your problem, when you use a DAW or other MIDI software-- such as a notation program like Sibelius-- a lot of times you will end up recording the MIDI Note On/Off messages which are coming from your keyboard, along with certain other MIDI messages that are sent while you play (e.g., Pitch Bend), but you won't capture the Bank Select and Program Change messages which select the voice you're using. This is due to the fact that the keyboard normally sends those messages when you select the voice, and you normally select the voice well in advance of starting to record on your computer, hence those messages never get recorded by the DAW or other software. Then, when you play back the recorded MIDI data and send it to your keyboard, the keyboard doesn't receive any Bank Select and Program Change messages that tell it which voices to use, so it defaults to an Acoustic Grand Piano voice (which is Program 0 in Bank 0).

    The solution may vary depending on the software you're using, but in general you just need to include the appropriate Bank Select MSB/LSB and Program Change values on each of the MIDI tracks in the software.

    If you're using a DAW, there are usually two possible ways to do this.

    One way is to start recording the MIDI tracks before you actually begin to play any notes, then use the keyboard's "InitSend" (initial send) function to transmit the Bank Select MSB/LSB, Program Change, and other initial setup values to the DAW so they get recorded. Once you've got those messages recorded by using the "InitSend" function, you can start playing and recording your performance. When you play back the recorded tracks, the DAW should send all of the recorded messages (including the ones that select the voices) to the keyboard so that everything sounds the way it should.

    If you do it that way, you might want to edit the recorded MIDI tracks so that the messages which specify all of the initial settings are contained in the first measure or bar of the tracks, and then the actual notes of your performance don't begin until the second measure or bar. Be aware that the DAW's "piano roll" editor doesn't normally show anything but the Note messages, so to see the other types of messages you usually need to display them in "automation lanes" beneath the MIDI tracks-- so if you're trying to trim off any "blank" space from the beginning of the MIDI tracks, be careful that you look at the automation lanes first to be sure you don't trim off the very "initial settings" data that you just went to so much trouble to record!

    The other way is to just record the MIDI tracks without worrying about capturing the initial settings first. Then you can usually go to each MIDI track's settings and select the specific Bank and Program that you want it to use. This is usually the easier way to do it, but it has one disadvantage-- when you select a voice on your keyboard, the keyboard uses other messages besides just Bank Select and Program Change, such as System Exclusive messages which select a particular Reverb Type, Chorus Type, and DSP Type, and a variety of Control Change messages which set the Reverb Depth, Chorus Depth, DSP Depth, Channel Pan, Channel Volume, Attack Time, Release Time, Filter Cutoff Frequency, Filter Resonance Level, etc., for the voices that you've selected. This means that if you just set the desired Bank Select and Program Change values on each of the MIDI tracks, the recording might sound slightly different than you'd intended due to the fact that those other types of messages didn't get recorded. However, you can always open up the automation lanes under the MIDI tracks and manually enter the desired settings for Reverb, Chorus, DSP, Pan, Volume, etc.-- it just takes a bit more work.

    If you're going to use a notation program like Sibelius, I'm not sure whether you'll have the option to record a "blank bar" at the beginning of each track which contains all of the "initial settings" data, as you can with a DAW. Instead, you might need to use the manual method of selecting the desired Bank and Program for each track, and (if the notation software allows it) the other types of messages which select the various effects settings and voice parameters.
     
    SeaGtGruff, Jul 8, 2018
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  3. Goose

    Goose

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    I have just got a Yamaha DGX-660 and I want to compose music on my computer. I have a choice of Reaper or Sibelius.
    I want to compose a piece with multiple tracks. My DGX-660 has a fantastic range of instruments but I realise when I use it as a midi keyboard it just records data and not the actual instruments which seems a real shame. Is there anyway I can get around this. I have a usb host as well as midi ports. I can build up several tracks on the keyboard and save it in SMF format or wav audio format, transfer it to my computer and the instruments play in Reaper as they sound on the actual keyboard but when I edit or play over it comes out as a piano and the instruments sounds are lost. I want to create experimental music that sounds part acoustic part electronic. I have a 10 day deadline as it is part of a art project and I am getting no where. Can anyone familiar with a DGX-660 help me at all. Sorry about the primitive use of technological words! Thanks, Lucy

    Wow thank you so much @SeaGtGruff . What an amazing and well thought out response. I am very grateful at the length that you went to try and address the problems I am having.. I have read and re read your message several times to try and get a grasp of what you are suggesting is the matter (anything technological is very painful for me!). I feel a glimmer of hope and I will you know how I get on, Thanks,

    Lucy


     
    Goose, Jul 9, 2018
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  4. Goose

    SeaGtGruff I meant to play that note! Moderator

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    I checked the DGX-660 Owner's Manual and the function I was referring to is called "Initial Setup" or something like that. (On my PSR-E models it's displayed as "InitSend" because there's room for only 8 characters.)

    To suggest a third option, the way that people whose keyboards don't have this "InitSend" or "Initial Setup" function usually handle the issue is to use their keyboard's Song Creator feature to select the voices that they want to use for the song, then they record a single note (because nothing actually gets recorded to the song unless you play at least one note). Then they save the song to a MIDI file on a USB flash drive (not an audio file) and load the song file in their DAW. This imports all of the voice and effects setup messages at the beginning of each track. Then they start working on the song in the DAW-- removing the first note that was just to create the song, recording to each track as desired (but being careful not to record over that first "blank" setup bar), and editing as needed.
     
    SeaGtGruff, Jul 9, 2018
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  5. Goose

    Goose

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    Hello many thanks again @SeaGtGruff . I have had mixed success but still not quite there yet.
    So the initial send was successful and I got quite excited that problem was solved. However there is still a problem. I tested by recording a track with trumpet, another with electric piano and another with harp. All was looking good but when I play it back the piece seems to be influenced by the last send ie in this case harp. All the tracks play as harp. If I solo a track it plays as the correct instrument but when I play all the tracks together they all play as harp.

    I am thinking perhaps I am not understanding channels or outputs or something...

    The second problem I have is I notice that although these tracks are recording on Reaper and playing on the computer back through the speaker on the piano they are not actually automatically saving into the project folder as audio files. There is nothing there so of course there is nothing to render and save as a wav file.

    As a test I used a plugin that I had downloaded of a rather bad sounding piano. When I play using my keyboard to record the notes. It saves the files as I record and at the end I can render the piece and all is good.

    But clearly there is something I am missing around using the voices on my keyboard as my prefered midi instruments rather than downloading and using plugins.

    If there is anything obvious that I have not done then I would be most interested to hear but don't go too to much trouble. Perhaps there is a video or article that I can read that will help clarify things.

    Many thanks for your help. I am definitely getting there little by little:)

    Lucy

    Ps I tried importing a note recorded on a track and then saved to USB. Again fine but when I went to play and add more to it again it came out as the last instrument voice that I had sent by initial send!
     
    Goose, Jul 10, 2018
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  6. Goose

    SeaGtGruff I meant to play that note! Moderator

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    I think you are having three issues.

    (1) The idea I mentioned about setting up the song's voices on the keyboard, recording a single note, saving it to a USB flash drive as a MIDI song file, and then importing the MIDI song file into your DAW is really just a workaround that some people use if their keyboard doesn't have an "InitSend" or "Initial Setup" function. Since the DGX-660 has an "Initial Setup" function, and you're able to use it successfully (but see #2), that means you don't need to use this workaround; just use the "Initial Setup" function.

    (2) It sounds like you're recording one track, then recording a second track, then a third, etc., one track at a time. This is a standard procedure when using a DAW, and isn't a problem. However, the DGX-660 transmits the Main Voice (or Right 1, R1, or whatever the given model of keyboard may call it) on MIDI channel 1, and if I'm not mistaken there is no option to select which channel you want to transmit on. That isn't a problem, either, but it does mean you will need to compensate for it in the DAW. Each MIDI track that you add to your project has track settings which let you set the desired MIDI input port and MIDI input channel-- which most DAWs default to "all MIDI devices" and "all MIDI channels"-- as well as the desired MIDI output port and MIDI output channel. It's okay to use the same MIDI input device and MIDI input channel when recording tracks, as long as you record them one at a time; but you will need to go into the track settings and make sure each track has a different MIDI output channel. Assuming they will all be output to the DGX-660, you will be able to set up, record, and send up to 16 different MIDI tracks this way, outputting them on channel 1, channel 2, channel 3, etc. You will still want to use the "Initial Setup" function on each track-- and when recording, you'll need to arm just the specific track you are recording, so it doesn't overwrite any of the other tracks. Each track will record from channel 1-- but when you play them back they will each go to separate channels, such that their voices will remain separate and as you had set them up to be, rather than the last voice selected being used to play all of the tracks.

    (3) The third issue is a question of procedure. As you've seen, recording in MIDI doesn't produce any audio. In order to get audio tracks that you can mix into a final MP3 or other audio file, you will need to record the keyboard's audio output to audio tracks. There are at least three or four different approaches you can take, and you can even mix them together if you like, so I'll briefly describe each one:

    (a) You can bypass MIDI completely, recording each track as an audio track rather than as a MIDI track. To do this you will need to use an audio cable to connect your DGX-660 to your computer. One end should be plugged into the PHONES/OUTPUT jack on the back of the DGX-660, and the other end should be plugged into the AUX IN (or similar) jack on the computer. Since the PHONES/OUTPUT jack on the DGX-660 takes a 1/4" or 6.35mm TRS audio plug, but the AUX IN jack on a computer usually takes a 1/8" or 3.5mm TRS audio plug, you can either special-order an audio cable that has a 6.35mm TRS plug on one end and a 3.5mm TRS plug on the other end, or use a cable that has the same size TRS plugs on both ends but use an adapter on one of the ends to convert it to the other size. Another solution is to buy a USB audio interface, which can be pricey although there are inexpensive ones available. You would then connect the DGX-660 to the interface using a standard 1/4" or 6.35mm TRS cable, and connect the interface to the computer using a USB cable. But regardless of the method you use, this will let you play the keyboard and record its audio output to a stereo audio track in the DAW. Then you can record a second stereo audio track, a third track, a fourth, etc., as desired, mix them together to a master track, and export the final mix to an audio file.

    (b) You can also continue to record MIDI tracks one at a time. After you've finished editing each MIDI track to correct any mistakes (which is an advantage of using MIDI), and have verified that each track is set up to transmit on a different MIDI channel so it keeps the voice you want, you can connect the DGX-660 to the computer via an audio cable as described above (but also keep the USB-MIDI connection), play back a MIDI track by itself (usually called "solo" in a DAW), and record the keyboard's audio to a new stereo audio track. This is very similar to the first approach described above, but instead of recording the audio as you play the keyboard, you are recording the audio as the MIDI track plays the keyboard. After you have done this with the first MIDI track, you would repeat the process for the second MIDI track, then the third, the fourth, etc., recording the keyboard's audio to new stereo audio tracks each time. You should end up with a separate stereo audio track for each MIDI track. Then you can either delete the MIDI tracks and keep just the audio tracks, or just mute the MIDI tracks but leave them in your project in case you want to go back and edit the MIDI tracks again at a later time.

    (c) You can record the MIDI tracks as described above-- but instead of playing them back one by one and recording the keyboard's audio output to several stereo audio tracks, you could instead play them back all at once and record the keyboard's audio output to a single stereo audio track. This has the advantage of being less work and taking less time than the previous approach; but the disadvantage is that you won't have separate audio tracks that you can work on separately before you mix them all down to a master.

    (d) A variation of the third approach would be to export all of the recorded MIDI tracks to a MIDI file, save the MIDI file to a USB flash drive, plug the USB flash drive into your keyboard, play back the MIDI file on the keyboard, and record the audio in your DAW as the MIDI file is being played back. This takes a little bit more work than the third approach-- because you have to export your MIDI tracks to a MIDI file and transfer it to the keyboard-- but a possible advantage is that you now have a MIDI file of the song in case you want it.

    (e) The last approach is to record each track on the keyboard itself as an audio file, save it to a USB flash drive, import it into your project in your DAW as a new stereo audio track, and repeat the process for each track that you want to include in your project. Then you can edit the audio tracks, apply effects as desired, mix them together to a master track, and export the final mix to an audio file.

    You can use which of these approaches, or combination of approaches, is easiest for you to understand or manage-- assuming you aren't required to do it a particular way for a class, such as being required to have a number of separate audio tracks in addition to a final master audio track.
     
    SeaGtGruff, Jul 11, 2018
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  7. Goose

    Goose

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    Many thanks again @SeaGtGruff Really clearly explained and I am very impressed. Apologies for taking a while to read. I have just been working flat out for an art event which is now over so I will now try the various suggestions. Thank you so much for taking the time to write so well on the matter. I am sure it will be invaluable for other people struggling with the same problem as well... Wow what a steep learning curve:) I will probably go for 3b) once I have understood the channel output thing though using a combination of midi and audio tracks is probably a good way to go. Massive thank you again
     
    Goose, Jul 17, 2018
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