By Daniel Fisher, Chief Soundware Engineer

If you've ever used a CD ROM with your computer, you might be wondering exactly what the big deal is. While there's a lot of information available on the CD, it may not be as convenient as you hoped it would be. CD ROMs for sampling keyboards, on the other hand, are something to get excited about. They're a fantastic way to keep huge amounts of instrument data handy in a secure, compact, archival format. Handled with a reasonable amount of care, CD ROMs will provide years (if not decades) of reliable service. There's just one catch: You have to like the data exactly the way it is on the CD or the convenience factor is lost.

This was the most important consideration during the Sweetwater Sound Series II Sample Library Project for the Kurzweil K2000 and K2500. Our goal was to create instruments that utilized all the available power of the V.A.S.T. synthesis engine, and responded naturally and musically to your playing style, plus flexible controller data so you always get exactly the sound you need without having to reprogram.

Each and every sample on the the Series II CD ROMs was carefully examined and tweaked for the best musical delivery possible. These samples were then put into new Keymaps and digitally tuned and volume adjusted to bring out the best in these high quality instruments. Then, for each file, all new cleaner and quieter Effects were created to highlight the Programs. Each of these Effects are controlled by the Data Slider, which not only changes the Wet/Dry Mix, but also modifies the Reverb Decay Time and High Frequency Damping. Many of the Series II files now include stereo versions which add new life and reality to your performances. The net result is incredible!

There are five CD ROMs in the Series II Collection: Classical Instruments, American Standard Collection, Exotic Instruments and Synths, the Grand Piano Collection (which includes the new, totally reworked 16 Meg Triple Strike Young Chang Grand Piano), and the RSI Sample Library. Each carries a special limited-time price of just $329 (regularly $399).

All of the instruments found on the CD ROMs are also available separately on floppy disks. These are listed and described in our new K2000 / K2500 Support Products and Peripherals Catalog. What? You say you don't have one of these? Well, get on the phone and ask for your free copy of this comprehensive catalog. It lists and describes every option currently available for all K2000s and K2500s, including hard drives and sample memory.

TECH TIP 1: Digital Audio Sample Tracks For K2500S

Here's a great way to make use of the Kurzweil K2500S Sample-While-Play feature. It will allow you to record digital audio tracks directly into your Song sequences — a very cool (and useful) feature.

Create a Song on the K2500. Leave some tracks free. Find the lowest unused Program number in the 200s bank (257 for example). Go to Song Mode. Go to an empty Track. Hit Record, set Program to 257. Hit Stop. Edit that Track. Go to Step Record. Record, press C4. Press Stop. Press Done. Now go to Event List. Move that note from 1:1.000 to 1:1.001. Make Velocity 127 and Duration 999999. Now Exit. Save Song. Stay on that Track.

Go to Master Sample Page. Set Sample to "None". Select longest Sample Length. Set Thresh to "Key." Press Record. (Do not touch any keys at this point!) Go to Program Mode. Double press Left+Right cursors together to Start the Song and begin recording the sample. Double press Left+Right cursors together to Stop Song (and recording). Go to Master Sample Page and Stop Sampling. Press Preview button and choose the 200s Bank. The new sample will be made into Program 257. And it will play along with your Song because of the C4 note that you recorded in that Track.

If you wish to do more Tracks (and you have more Sample RAM left), simply copy that Track to another empty Track and edit its Program change to be the next highest unused Program in the 200s Bank. Now start the sampling process again. Try it a few times and you'll quickly get the hang of it and will be able to use this great feature in all sorts of useful ways.

TECH TIP 2: K2000 V3.16 and K2500 Wind and Guitar Controller Mode

The K2000 and K2500 are fantastic machines when it comes to having control of your sounds. But, if you've tried to control them with a Wind Controller (like the Yamaha WX7), you may not have been satisfied with the results. The reason is that these types of controllers send MIDI Note Starts before they send the Breath or Volume data. This results in the loss of those very critical attack transients that define an instument's character.

Now, with K2000 Version 3.16 (or higher) or K2500 Version 1.0 (or higher — isn't it great when manufacturers upgrade their products exactly as originally promised?), you can reclaim those all-important transients. How? Simply go to the Master Page and double press the CHAN / BANK buttons to the right of the screen. It will ask: "Enable Guitar/Wind Controller Mode?" Answer "Yes" and you will now get the Note Starts and the Breath or Volume data in the right order. Answer "No" and your controller will be vaporized by a blinding beam of light emanating directly from the synth's V.A.S.T. chip — nah, just kidding, of course.This also works well for Guitar Controllers for those instances when you bend the string before you pluck the note.

See you again soon with more info and tips from Sweetwater's Soundware Development Facility.