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KAR
How good is tuning with KAR files ?
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Oliver
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May 21, 2014 - 4:30 pm
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I have never tried KAR for backing.  I think MIDI is usually poor and MP3 less than perfect.  Is KAR worth attention ?

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DanielB
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May 21, 2014 - 5:22 pm
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KAR files don't actually contain audio, if it is the one I am thinking of.  They are karaoke files that contain lyrics and some sort of cuing system.  Proprietary format for some sort of karaoke software I never messed with personally.

MP3s are not perfect, by a longshot.  They're ok for giving a quick idea of how something sounds, though.  But for recording, you're better off with one of the "lossless" compression formats like .ogg or the good old fashioned .wav because the "loss" refers to the compression algorithm discarding audio data that *it* doesn't consider important.  Your ears may not agree with the choices it makes.  Mp3s are smaller and so they're easier/faster to send in email or download or stream.  But the smaller size comes at a cost of lower fidelity than some other formats.  Some of the newer mp3 formats aren't as bad, but still.. Use the format for what it is good for, rather than expecting it to be the best for sound quality.

MIDI doesn't actually sound like *anything*. Midi contains no audio in itself.  It is strictly a set of instructions on how a piece of software or hardware should play notes, so far as pitch, velocity, timing and etc.  It can only sound as good or bad as your software or hardware.  With a good hardware sound module or a sampler or even a soundcard that can do old-style soundfonts, Midi can sound at least not awful.  Even pretty good, so long as you aren't expecting more than what digital instruments can deliver in the first place.  Again, it is useful enough, for what it is the format is made for.

I don't keep up to date on all the latest formats, but I usually work with .ogg or .flac for recording or anyplace where the sound quality is going to matter to me.

Back to the KAR format, I didn't even know it was still in use.  I *do* sometimes use karaoke backing tracks for practising vocal melody lines with instruments, but I usually just play them straight off youtube. 

"This young wine may have a lot of tannins now, but in 5 or 10 years it is going to be spectacular, despite the fact that right now it tastes like crude oil. You know this is how it is supposed to taste at this stage of development." ~ Itzhak Perlman

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May 21, 2014 - 5:40 pm
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Wow, learn something new every day.  Thanks.

 

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Oliver
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May 21, 2014 - 6:34 pm
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@DanielB 

I see  that FM is asking for MP4 files on the Thaxed project.  Is this something new/better ?

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DanielB
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May 21, 2014 - 10:11 pm
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MP4s are an mp3 with video.  Pretty much the same audio quality as mp3, but most likely they work well with Pierre's mixing software or maybe because it's an especially common video format.  It's one of the ones youtube takes.

"This young wine may have a lot of tannins now, but in 5 or 10 years it is going to be spectacular, despite the fact that right now it tastes like crude oil. You know this is how it is supposed to taste at this stage of development." ~ Itzhak Perlman

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Fiddlerman
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May 24, 2014 - 6:00 pm
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Even though I will be using audio from your MP4's the quality will be way better when I have 100 individual tracks to mix down into the funnel so to speak. I will save the master at a much higher rate and much less compression.

MP3's have different bit rate options and if a higher bit rate is choosen from the beginning, the quality may actually be pretty darn close to CD quality. CD quality is not exactly that great in itself. I used to be pretty bummed out that CD players were replacing the far superior system of vinyl records. Fortunately, there are still plenty of Audiophiles that help preserve the production and existence of high resolution and lossless audio.

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BillyG
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DanielB said
....  But for recording, you're better off with one of the "lossless" compression formats like .ogg or the good old fashioned .wav because the "loss" refers to the compression algorithm discarding audio data that *it* doesn't consider important.  Your ears may not agree with the choices it makes.  ....

MIDI doesn't actually sound like *anything*. ....it can only sound as good or bad as your software or hardware.  With a good hardware sound module or a sampler or even a soundcard that can do old-style soundfonts, Midi can sound at least not awful.  Even pretty good, so long as you aren't expecting more than what digital instruments can deliver in the first place.  Again, it is useful enough, for what it is the format is made for.

 

Fiddlerman said
...MP3's have different bit rate options and if a higher bit rate is choosen from the beginning, the quality may actually be pretty darn close to CD quality. CD quality is not exactly that great in itself. I used to be pretty bummed out that CD players were replacing the far superior system of vinyl records. Fortunately, there are still plenty of Audiophiles that help preserve the production and existence of high resolution and lossless audio.

  Couldn't agree more with both of you....  spot-on !

  Digital is but a poor-mans approximation to analog.... [ Ohhhh - what have I said, I await the discussion!  facepalm  LOL ]

 

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Oliver
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May 25, 2014 - 9:46 am
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Save me some "free" downloads .................

There are converters for just about every kind of audio format.

How can I convert a file into another file type when the original file may lack special features of the new file?  For example, if a MIDI has "no music", how can it become something else?  I also think I saw MIDI to Ogg (?)

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BillyG
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May 25, 2014 - 10:02 am
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Yes, MIDI is just a set of instructions to a device (MIDI can also be used to control stage/studio lighting for example)... I do nasty things with MIDI....  I play the midi file, and while it is playing, I concurrently capture it as a .wav ( using Audacity, or the NCH Record Pad, whatever, it matters not - just so long as I get a .wav at the end of the day...)

It (the .wav) sounds, as you would expect, just as horrid as the original MIDI.

But, having it recorded as a 44kHz sampled .wav, then, I know I can play it ( the .wav version) back, and simultaneously play along and record to it - and subsequently - if I want to - mix the captured MIDI with my poor attempts on fiddle, then they are on separate .wav audio tracks and just need to be "aligned" in time...

...In case anyone thinks I am "knocking" MIDI by my disparaging remarks - don't get me wrong - I have heard some incredible MIDI tracks - but - they are "engineered" and although pretty darned impressive, you just know it's not a human, or group of humans playing...  Even when "humanized", there's still the issue of the synthesizer voices...

I seriously recommend not copying my mistakes.  

Please make your own, different mistakes, and help us all learn :-)

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Fiddlerman
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May 25, 2014 - 10:40 am
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Oliver said
...........How can I convert a file into another file type when the original file may lack special features of the new file?  For example, if a MIDI has "no music", how can it become something else?  I also think I saw MIDI to Ogg (?)

You can save a midi file as an audio file of any kind though you would end up with whatever the software chooses for the instruments unless you first make a choice yourself. As Bill said, your midi file contains information, instructions as to tempo, general midi instruments, rhythm, etc. Truth is that if you save that file with two different apps you may get two completely different sounding audio files. Sometimes when saving a Finale file to audio I get a result with piano even though I have chosen stringed instruments in the program. I believe it's because of information being interpreted differently by different apps.

I believe you use Mac and the easiest apps for you to use for this purpose would be Quicktime or Audacity.

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."

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DanielB
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May 25, 2014 - 12:20 pm
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@Oliver:  What I actually said was that midi files "contain no audio".  They are more like the paper roll for a player piano than say a reel to reel recording tape.  How a midi to ogg or whatever converter usually works is it plays back the midi file using sounds your soundcard can generate, and makes a recording of that.

Where midi can shine a lot better is if it is used to run a sampler so the "instrument" it is playing is a set of high quality recordings of notes/sounds that were originally from real acoustic instruments.

Whether midi files contain *music*, well, there could be some debate on that.  LOL  I'd say it depends on who uses them and how well.

 

@BillyG:  Hmm.. Digital as the poor man's approximation to analog?  Well, yeah, that is one of the things it can do.  But where it can get kinda deluxe is when you consider exactly what part of analog we can be approximating.

100_0571.JPGImage Enlarger

This is a pic of my trusty dusty old midi controller/keyboard.  It wasn't very expensive, I paid maybe 150 USD for it back when it was brand new.  It makes no sounds of it's own, all it does is control midi parameters.  

That alone would really be useful enough.  I can hook it up to even my old laptop, load up a "virtual instrument" on the computer, and then play it with the physical keyboard.  Full sized keys, velocity sensitive, and I can use the sliders and knobs to run any sliders or knobs that are on the computer screen, instead of having to mouse and click and drag.  Maybe no perfect, but I've had worse times. LOL

Synthesized voices? Well sure. But no worse than an old DX7 or a Fairlight or a Moog or a Prophet or a combo organ.  Or a zillion other instruments that I would have to save up my violin and guitar string budget a looooong time to afford even one of.  So "poor man's"?  Heck yeah!  

It can definitely be good enough to play on live at a gig.

But there's more.  Say I've recorded several tracks of analog instruments with some digital multitrack software.  See the knobs and sliders and etc on that keyboard?  I can assign them to control the sliders in the software, so I can do my mixdown with real world knobs and sliders, instead of mouse clicks and drags. 

An there is still more.  If I use one or more automation tracks to have the midi record my slider and knob moves?  It can repeat the nuances of me "riding gain" or tweaking eq or effects and be playing those adjustments back while I work on other adjustments.  Poor man's automated mixing console.  Real world, real time control of the DAW or recording/mixdown software.  Mmmm..

Or I can use it with something like digital guitar rack software to control emulations of a whole rack of effects and amp stacks and speaker cabinets.

Lot's of possibilities there which would usually take a big budget to do without midi.  

Now, what you say about even when "humanized", the midi synth voices being easy to tell from real players.. Well, true enough, in it's way.  If you use a simple midi editor to plunk in some notes, yeah, it won't usually sound very convincing.  But use the midi to record the actions of your playing on a midi keyboard, with the assorted knob tweaks and pitch and volume wheel and pedal work you'd use in real playing?  In real time, without "quantizing" it or "humanizing"?  It can be at least pretty darn convincing.  I *think* I could tell the difference between an audio recording of me playing live and an audio recording of my midi setup playing back something I just played.  But I wouldn't want to bet the rent money on it.  LOL

 Midi can be very useful for the things it is good for.  Sounding good all by itself for playing music without any digital instruments to control other then the boops and beeps of a soundcard just doesn't happen to be one of those things it is good for.  LOL

All by itself, it is *maybe* good enough to use as a 'scratchpad" to get down a basic idea or hear how some notes will harmonize or doing a very limited backing track for practice.  But listening to it just "raw" like that, yeah.. Not likely to fool anybody into thinking they're hearing actual musicians/instruments.

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"This young wine may have a lot of tannins now, but in 5 or 10 years it is going to be spectacular, despite the fact that right now it tastes like crude oil. You know this is how it is supposed to taste at this stage of development." ~ Itzhak Perlman

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BillyG
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@DanielB

  Oh, I agree - if you are recording MIDI from a touch/velocity-sensitive kbd, or indeed, pressure sensitive controller maybe from a sax or whatever - that is truly a different thing - and it will replay very very convincingly indeed...  as I said  I wasn't knocking MIDI at all - it sure has its place - I've even been known to use the pitch-bend wheel on my old second-hand ESQ1 kbd ( don't think they make them any more ! )

  I was really getting at the individual limitations of "simple midi files" you can pick up off the internet, and their basic limitations (and, in their simplicity, at the same time - their usefulness, for my needs) - and what you should expect from them.

  I have a huge number of MIDI fiddle tunes - I've even penned a number myself - some (including mine) are truly horrid in their simplicity - but "useful" in that they are "correct" in terms of timing and notation if nothing else - and that's "good" - as a play-by-ear chap - if it's not too fast a piece - a few listens and I've got the general-idea.  If it's a fast piece (well, fast for me), like jigs or hornpipes - adjust the tempo down a bit- get the feel, the rhythm, for a few plays - then wind it back to where it should be and play along.

 Thanks for your discussion there Dan, regarding wider aspects of MIDI - you are quite right of course - it is appreciated - and it should put my "negative sounding" comments regarding MIDI into perspective for the benefit of others.  I just "pick up and use" bits of technology that are useful to me - how do I say this - oh - here's a corollary - to me, my use of MIDI for my violin-learning-process is like only using my smart-phone for voice-calls - I use only a fraction of the capability...  What? I can get the Internet on this thing?  It's got voice recognition - never!  It takes photos - you're kidding!  LOL

I seriously recommend not copying my mistakes.  

Please make your own, different mistakes, and help us all learn :-)

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DanielB
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May 26, 2014 - 2:38 am
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I wouldn't say your remarks are all that negative MadBill.  I went off into a bit much detail perhaps, for folks here who might be less aware of what midi can be good for. 

It keeps getting mentioned like it is an audio format, when it is a control format.  To criticize midi's sound quality is rather like the example I already made, of a player piano roll.  Sound quality would have to come from the piano the roll is put in, not the roll itself.  I think the confusion arises because most computers can "play" a midi file in a limited way, so some folks may think of it as a sound recording rather than a list of instructions.

Ah, the ESQ1?  I spent some time on it's older sister from Ensoniq, the Mirage.  Great sounding gear.

"This young wine may have a lot of tannins now, but in 5 or 10 years it is going to be spectacular, despite the fact that right now it tastes like crude oil. You know this is how it is supposed to taste at this stage of development." ~ Itzhak Perlman

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Oliver
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May 26, 2014 - 7:22 am
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Just a closing note that may be of interest for us newbies. (at your own risk :)

I have decided that one of the "flaws" of midi is that all of the instrument sounds may not be in the same/correct pitch.  I can make things happen if :

I systematically eliminate instruments from the piece.  Harmonies usually become better.

OR

I make all instruments the same.  A trial with all flutes is generally in good tune.

OR

I mess around until I find a "good set" of instruments.  That happens most at the quartet level.

(Incidentally, is there a more modern version of Virtual Sound Canvas (VSC) from my BIAB days?)

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