Power Translators and Other Meaningful K2000 Tips

by Daniel Fisher,
Chief Soundware Engineer

Editor's Note: Last issue we introduced the Sweetwater Power Translator Series disks. Response has been overwhelming, but many people called and sent us e-mail requesting additional information on exactly how the disks add to the K2000's functionality, so this issue we've asked Dan Fisher to fill you in, as well as pass along some useful tips for the care and feeding of your K2000.

There's been a lot of talk lately in synthland about cross-platform sample compatibility. This relates to how well one company's sampler can read another company's samples and programs. The benefits are obvious: Your current instrument will have a much larger sonic palette to draw from if it can read more than one format.

There are two different types of sample users. One group consists of high level sample and program editors. These people are happy just to get samples transferred cleanly. They're also likely to create their own Programs and Keymaps and are less concerned with how closely these parameters match the other brand's. The other group consists of professionals who hardly have the time to load and evaluate samples, much less worry about editing them. These people have to rely on the inherent translation quality of their instrument.

The needs of both these groups have been addressed with the Sweetwater Sound Power Translator Series disks designed to work with the Kurzweil K2000. It will allow you to take a specific CD ROM from another manufacturer, port it over to your K2000 and have access to 100% ready-to-use Programs, Keymaps, Samples and Effects — not just generic Programs that simply lay the sound across the keyboard. Each and every one of the hundreds of Keymaps and thousands of Programs have been hand tuned and tweaked to bring the best out of a particular set of samples.

How is this done? Well, I can't give away all of my secrets, but I'll give you a quick rundown of the process. First, I listen to the generic imported instruments and find any deficiencies like incorrect loops, clicking attacks, out-of-tune samples, inaccurate octave placement, volume imbalances between samples, sample pinning (when a sample can't go any higher in pitch), or anything else that diminishes the musicality of the sample. These are each addressed and the data needed to correct them is stored as part of the Power Translator file.

Once the Keymaps are perfected, solo Programs are created that bring out the best qualities in these samples. This is accomplished by using the extraordinarily powerful tools found in Kurzweil's V.A.S.T., or Variable Architecture Synthesis Technology, including High Pass, Low Pass, Band Pass and Notch Filters, Parametric EQ's, Distortions and Shapers. Combine all of these with the most flexible control routing system in the industry and you can make even seemingly ordinary samples take on a new life.

After the solo Program is polished, this Layer (as it is known in K2000 land) is then combined with many of the outstanding instruments found in the K2000's internal ROM. These sounds are famous for their ability to blend with each other, as well as with RAM-based sampled instruments.

Do you have the Orchestral ROM Option? If you do, get ready for the most musical Programs found in any one keyboard. The Power Translator Series has a separate folder for Orchestral ROM owners. It contains all of the elements of the regular Power Translator files and adds from 20 to 50 additional Programs per file that blend the CD ROM instruments with the stunning 8 megs of Orch ROM Instruments. You may have to be dragged forcibly from your keyboard to eat or sleep — don't say I didn't warn you . . .

In the following section there are short soundfiles you can download and play. You must have a player that supports AIFF files, i.e Sound Machine for the Macintosh or you can even play them in your K2000.

Finally, very large files are compiled that include an Instrument played at several of its dynamic ranges, plus all of its related accessory files. We call these Virtual Instruments. (Once you've played them you'll see why). For example: A 32 Meg Virtual Trumpet Section contains Trumpets playing mezzo piano (mp) that velocity crossfades (or cross switches) to Trumpets playing forte (f). Using your mod wheel, you can switch in a Layer that has the same Trumpets doing a "Shake." Moving the mod wheel a little more changes to a short Trumpet "Fall" effect. The next mod wheel segment gives a Long Fall, (think of the ending to the Pink Panther theme.) If you push the wheel all the way up you get those same Trumpets doing a "Doit" (notes rip upwards).

With Virtual Instruments, you can lay down a sequence track and try as many passes with just the mod wheel until you've created the most realistic section possible.

All of this can happen just by loading a single file off of the Power Translator disk. The MACRO files will then do all of the additional loading and correcting for you. There are also many different sizes for each Sampled Instrument, allowing you to build your own Setup as your K2000 memory dictates.

If all this sounds like the kind of tools you're missing in your compositions, contact your Sweetwater sales engineer today. And tell `em Dan sent you.

This month I thought I'd also share some power tips that I use in my work:

* To make your stock K2000 Effects noticeably cleaner, try the following: Edit a Program (try preset 2 "Stereo Grand"), go to it's Effects Page and EDIT the Effect (Warm Room). If you find that none of the Levels are at 10, adjust them. (Leave the Dry Level at 0.)

If some values are lower than others, raise the highest value to 10 and move the others up proportionately. (For Warm Room try Early Lev 4 and Later Lev 10.) Now save the Effect to a new location. You will notice that the Effect is now much wetter. Simply lower the Wet /Dry Mix until it sounds like the original. (For "Stereo Piano" try 30%.) You can use the Compare button to switch between the Edited Program and the original. Now save this Program.

* Here's a neat Version 3 trick for swapping Keymaps into your Programs. Let's say that you have a bunch of Programs that use RAM Oboe Samples and Keymaps. Now you've come across an even better Oboe Sample and Keymap that you would like to put in place of the old Oboe without editing all of the Programs. Press Master, Object, Move, and scroll to the new Keymap. Press OK. Scroll the ID# to that of the old Keymap and Press Replace. All of the Programs that used the old Keymap now use the new Keymap. This trick will work with any type of Object. and is a very effective tool for experimentation.

* Turbo Hard Reset: If you have a very full K2000, it can often take quite a while to clear using the Delete Everything command. If you want a clean slate right away, try a Turbo Hard Reset. Press Master, Reset, Yes, Yes. Now read all of the words on the screen (Initializing all memory. Please wait . . .etc.) and then immediately press "+/-" "0" and "CLR" at the same time (this is a Soft Reset). It will then give you a clean K2000 within 1 or 2 seconds. This procedure makes the K2000 skip the Effect Initialization. (When Hard Resetting because of an Effects quirk, don't do the Soft Reset and you'll get the full 45 second Reset.)

I'll be back with lots more next issue!