Tag: Akai

Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI) 101

What is MIDI?

For starters, for anyone who isn’t yet “in the know,” MIDI is NOT music.

I know, I know; shocking, right? It is not a digital audio codec like MP3, AAC, FLAC, etc. No actual sound ever passes through MIDI cables, either. There are .mid files, yes, but they’re made up of data that when run through the proper software, one can indeed hear music and/or musical sounds. In fact, anyone who’s ever played Rock Band or Guitar Hero has a bit of experience with MIDI, whether they realize it or not. Let me simplify a bit and say that MIDI is a digital communications language.

What is it used for?

MIDI is a set of instructions that one uses to tell instruments and software what to do. The acronym “MIDI,” stands for “Musical Instrument Digital Interface.” However, MIDI can also be used to control lighting equipment and even animatronics and robotics. As you can most likely guess after reading that, MIDI can do far more than simply tell instruments what notes to play when. Through MIDI, users can turn volume up or down, open filter controls and pan around the stereo spectrum among many other things. Like most any other sync protocol, MIDI is transmitted through a Master/Slave relationship. Master devices ONLY transmit data. Slave devices ONLY receive it. What are some examples of said devices, you ask?

Why is it important? Who uses MIDI?

Master devices are essentially tangible things: keyboards/synthesizers like the Akai Pro LPK25, electronic drum pads and DJ software controllers like the ION Discover DJ (ICUE3) as well as the various buttons, sliders and knobs on the devices themselves. DJs and musicians alike use devices like that to control software on their computers, manipulating the music (like more traditional DJs do when they “scratch” records) and thus achieving their own unique sound. Slave devices can be tangible too, like in the case of daisy chaining keyboards together, but they can also be plug-ins and software instruments like Logic’s EXS24.

What are software instruments and plug-ins? Well, that’s a whole other blog right there (maybe you’ll see that one sometime in the near future!) Anyway, through a little customization, users can assign software functions to knobs to control things like flangers, echoes, etc. so they can affect the music with a vast variety of special effects. Actually, if you’re thinking about getting into DJing, now would be a great time since we’re currently offering 15% off all DJ controllers, and a lot of them come packaged with reputable software like Traktor LE, Serato or Ableton Live to get you started.

In conclusion, I hope you’ve enjoyed this little introduction to MIDI, and I encourage anyone reading this to ask any questions you might have. Believe it or not, we’re all actual people here at Sonic Electronix, and we do pay attention to what our customers and fans have to say. Thanks for reading!

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Signal Processing 102: An Introduction to Time and Modulation Based Effects

Time Based Effects

Also refered to as parallel effects due to the way in wich the processed signal is mixed together with the original signal, time based effects extend the duration of audio signals relative to the original signals. The two main time based effects are reverberation, and delay.

Reverb

Alesis Midiverb4
Reverb is simply a simulation of a natural reverberation of a room. The ambient sound waves that bounce around a room based on the rooms dimensions are reproduces by digital signal processing (DSP) either modeled from a convolution algorithm or a sampled impulse response. Prior to DSP recording studios had to use an actual room to record reverbs by reproducing an audio signal such as a vocal with a loudspeaker and recording it again with a microphone in the desired environment. These resulting track was then mixed back in the original signal. Reverbs are categorized by the way in which they are made. Smaller sounding reverbs are considered room or chamber reverbs while long echoing reverbs are refereed to as halls. Spring and plate reverbs refer to the manner in which the reverb is artificially created.

Delay

Alesis Midiverb4
Delays are echo effects that are mixed back in with the original signal to give space and dimension. Delay parameters include: time, (the actually delay time from the orignal signal to the affected signal), feedback, (the amount of affected signal that is reintroduced into the delay circuit). The individually instances of delay resulting from feedback are refered to as taps.

Modulation Effects

Modulation effects are composed of audio signals that are split into two or more signals, then mixed back together creating an effect based on the relationship between the two or more identical audio signals. The effects are created by phase anomalies resulting from the varying the time and amplitude relationships between the multiple signals. they can be across the entire frequency spectrum or select bands of frequencies. Modulation effects include: flanger, chorus, and phasers. Modulation effects are some of the more spectacular and dramatic processing effects that can be done to an audio signal but they can be reproduced with very simple circuitry and even simpler DSP (digital signal processing). Flanger effects are a very common and popular effect for guitars and basses. The term flanger comes from the original way in which the effect was created. By syncing together two reel to reel tape machines and recording the same signal to both, a flanger effect can be produces by playing back the tape machines in sync and dragging your finger with varying pressure across the flange of one of the tape machines. The resulting varying speed producing a phase anomaly that sounds like a jet fly by.

Imaging

Imaging is an element of audio signals that are in stereo and is simply where in the stereo image the audio signal is placed and how it behaves. For example a tremolo is a popular guitar and organ effect that raises and lowers the amplitude of an audio signal to a set rate and depth. If you were to incorporate an imaging effect such as autopan, the signal will seem to dance back and forth, left to right in the stereo image while seeming to appear and disappear.

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