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Logic 9 Akai EWI 4000s Wind Controller With Logic 9 & Mainstage

Discussion in 'Logic 9' started by Darth Fader, Nov 27, 2010.

  1. Darth Fader

    Darth Fader New Member

    Hi All,

    I've been searching various forums and web sites for detailed information on how to configure software instruments for a wind controller. I have an Akai EWI 4000s and would like to trigger Logic's software instruments using my EWI instead of my keyboard controller. Ideally, I would like to also apply this to MainStage as well. Has this topic been discussed here before?
  3. Peter Ostry

    Peter Ostry Administrator Staff Member

    Welcome to the forum,

    I think here are a couple of people who use wind controllers, mainly EWIs and the WX series. I myself play a WX5 with hardware and software.

    When it comes to virtual instruments, keep in mind that most of them are made with keyboards in mind. Not all of them fit well to a wind controller. But before we talk about details, please tell us which software instruments you want to play and if you have some experience in Logic's environment.
  4. Darth Fader

    Darth Fader New Member

    Thanks for the fast response! Currently, I have the MIDI OUT of my EWI connected to the MIDI IN of my MIDI interface and then sent out to an external sound module (Yamaha VL70-m). I also have the AUDIO OUTs of both my EWI and the VL70-m connected to a Mackie 1202 mixer so I can blend and layer the sounds of both. Ideally, I would love to create a Logic template that allows me to utilize whatever software instruments respond well to wind controller input. My goal is to layer both software and hardware synth sounds within my Logic sessions (and eventually MainStage). I have messed around a little within Logic's environment when I tried to create a patch library for my Roland RS-9 keyboard. After hours of trial and error, however, I gave up. Any advice or experience that you have would be great.
  5. Peter Ostry

    Peter Ostry Administrator Staff Member

    Well, I think you have reasons to use a VL70-m and this reasons are usually sound quality and attack. Regarding the attack, I recommend not to use a MIDI interface in front of the VL70 but rather buy a MIDI merger. This little box has two inputs and one output. One input would be for the EWI and the other one for the computer (via a MIDI interface). The output goes to the VL70. That way you play directly to the synth and avoid the latency of the MIDI interface which can be annoying. You can check this when you select a short sound with a good attack (a dry guitar probably) and try both connections: directly to the VL70 and via the MIDI interface. If you feel a difference, the MIDI merger is a solution for you.

    Here are a couple of setups:

    A) Straight connection:

    This is the obvious setup, fast, does not allow to control the synth from within the computer.


    B) This setup seems to be what you have now:

    If you want the fastest attack possible, this is not the optimal connection for you. You lose some time via the MIDI interface.


    C) This is better:

    In this setup, your MIDI reaches the synth as fast as possible. And you can control the synth by software and hardware controllers.

    This is the setup I work with, and I do about the same you want to do: layering sounds with effects and software instruments.


    Another possibility:

    This last example looks a bit overdone: first splitting, then merging. But it may make sense under certain circumstances.


    In any case, watch that MIDI out from the VL70, it sends you avalanches of SysEx. You may either not connect the cable permanently or filter SysEx out in the Logic environment. Mainstage does not have problems with too much of SysEx so far I've seen. Maybe it filters it out anyway, don't know.


    Talking about audio ...

    I am not sure what your mixer does in this position, right after the VL70 and the EWI. It would make sense if you want an amount of direct signal without processing and almost without latency (which is a good idea). If this is not the reason and you have several inputs on your audio interface available, you rather want to go directly to the interface and keep the VL70 and the EWI apart to process them independently.

    2 interface inputs for the VL70-m
    1 interface input for the EWI
    MIDI from EWI and Mac to the VL70 via a merge box

    I don't know if the EWI has stereo audio, if yes, check if it it makes really sense. Otherwise mono is enough for further processing. The VL70 should play in stereo.

    Layering and software instruments

    Ideally you have all incoming audio signals and the MIDI stream in parallel in Logic or Mainstage. Then you can process and layer them as you like and finally mix them together to two or more output channels. You can control that mix by a a foot controller, pedals etc.

    As we already know, not all software instruments work properly with a wind controller. You control the tone by your breath volume and you got to tell the instrument what this means. Controlling the channel volume often results in a "jerky leaping" sound. You can tame it a little by some processing in the Logic environment. In Mainstage you have the curve adjustments. For me, I don't like different processing depending on the program, therefore I use additional software.

    However, the first step is to choose instruments you like and which respond in a way you like before you start a processing orgy. This requires some testing. Try to map breath to the plugins volume, modulation, filters etc. Sometimes it is a nice experience to map everything to everything ;) and enjoy new dynamic sounds.

    I use mainly the following software instruments (in random order):
    Logic Sculpture
    Sonic Charge Synplant
    u-he Zebra
    QuikQuak Glass Viper
    Cakewalk Rapture

    This is a personal selection for my own music and you may miss the Logic ES2 and EXS which work pretty good with wind controllers. If you want good standard brass and woodwinds, check the Wallander Instruments, people say they respond very quickly but may not be optimal for live playing.

    Remember: The fastest and most dynamic sound comes from the VL70-m, especially when you use the Patchman library. The EWI sounds may not be that good but they are also very accurate when you take them directly from the instrument. If you need this attack, take at least a little of the original sounds by splitting the line signal or via your mixer, because you will never get this attack again once your signals are in the software.

    Effects and software instruments have necessarily some latency because they go through the computer and software and back out. The response is not as good as you would expect it from a wind controller. Recently a musician in another forum called that "walking through honey" and this describes the feeling very well. You can turn this into an advantage: use the direct sounds for the attack and take the effects from the software. Due to the latency of the effects the overall sound becomes automatically deeper. No wonder, because the computer adds some delay.

    If you need some effects as accurate as the wind controller, you have to use hardware effects. I use both, hardware and software.

    Mhmm ... re-reading this, I apologize for my sloppy usage of the word "Attack". The attack of the sound itself does of course not change with the type of connection or in the software. I rather mean the "attack feeling", the time a sound needs to emerge when you blow into the mouthpiece. I want that instantly, with no latency. Effects are allowed come later.
  6. Darth Fader

    Darth Fader New Member

    Wow! Thanks a lot. I know what you mean about the "attack" feel and I haven't felt any latency with my current setup, but your suggestions do make sense. You mentioned assigning breath to everything in Logic. Do I need the environment for this? If not, how do I map breath to a Logic software instrument?

    Thanks again for all your help and advice. Other than basic trial and error (which I know is usually the best way to learn), do you know of any other outlets on the web that offer information about using wind controllers with software instruments? Other than the forum at Patchman Music, I haven't found many wind controller web sites.
  7. Darth Fader

    Darth Fader New Member

    Here's a link to one of the only Logic - EWI specific articles I have found on the internet. It contains a detailed image of Michael Brecker's Logic environment. I have absolutely no understanding of this and I always get a chuckle when I read the last sentence where George Whitty states "we found a way to make it work that's not too hard to look at." Take a look and see if it makes sense to you. Here's the link:

  8. Per Boysen

    Per Boysen Senior member

    Hi Darth,

    I'm using a 4000s successfully in the studio as well as on stage with regular band project. I think some of the Logic synths work well and here are my findings on how to set it up:

    1. In the synth I disable velocity control.
    2. INstead of velocity control I assign Breath (CC#2) to the parameters that "make harder notes stronger and sharper". Usually a cut-off filter, on the EXS24 also Relative Volume. On some patches even the main Volume.
    3. If the patch is intended for "spitting" percussive playing style I might leave a bit of velocity control in. But I really think that the point in using a wind controller is the option to instantly swell notes and chords in and out.
    4. Disable the default vibrato setup that normally uses a LFO targeting pitch. Replace it with the PitcBend from biting the mouthpiece of the EWI and sliding the thumb plates (same CC#). This makes it possible to apply vibrato with some rhythmic variation (playing a musical vibrato rather than applying a mechanical vibrato), another point on choosing a wind controller before a piano style controller. Oh, I just remembered... a great tip - for some, eh actually most, sounds - is to not only use pitch but also filter cut-off as target for your EWI pitchbend data. This is a bit of how reed instruments sound when you apply lip vibrato; both pitch and timbre affected.
    5. Assign CC#5 from your EWI to control either Portamento On or Glide Range (depending on what instrument as the target).

    Instruments that I found easy to set up for the EWI are EXS24, ES2 and ES1. The FM sounding instrument (don't remember its name right now) is quite simple to set up as well but it doesn't offer as much EWI control. I got some cool sounds out of Sculpture but it was a bitch to make Sculpture answer well to the playing CC# streams of the EWI.

    In Logic you program the proper instrument parameter bindings inside each instrument patch. In Mainstage I think it is a lot simpler; you just create a four or five continuous control objects (my choice is the turnable knob) and assigne them to Breath (CC#2). For glide you may not need as many, one or two objects should do. Then you simply assign those objects to run the proper sound creating parameters in the different synths you use for the MS patches: Filter Cutoff, Relative Voyme etc..

    A beautiful option when using an EWI with Mainstage is that you can easily assign the same CC#2 (or other) midi data to many simultaneous control objects and then scale them. This is a bit like making stuff in Max. I typically use this multi assignment technique for stuff like Freeze Reverb effects; the reverb keeps hanging like an alien cloud with the granular fog of the last note you played until you play a second not and this new timbre will then replace the old one in the hovering reverb cloud. My plug-in choice for that is the tape delay simulator EchoBoy from SoundToys. Well, there are many fun options with the EWI in Manistage besides the plain "playing melodies" context.
  9. Peter Ostry

    Peter Ostry Administrator Staff Member

    Not necessarily. First try what Per suggests, he is the best man for that.

    The software instrument must allow this or it does not work that way. You may have to explore the plugins and read the manuals, sometimes the MIDI features are not obvious. Some instruments give you a MIDI learn menu with a right click of the mouse, some have cryptic letters A, B, C, ... and mention MIDI, you need do find out how it works. There is no standard.

    Sorry, no.

    I know the Brecker Environment, it does not make much sense for you. Basically it contains a lot of almost identical parallel processing paths where the transformation of MIDI values was configured. And if I remember right it contains a kind of a looper. But with todays plugins you don't need such a thing, and if you need more it will certainly look different.
  10. Darth Fader

    Darth Fader New Member

    "The software instrument must allow this or it does not work that way. You may have to explore the plugins and read the manuals, sometimes the MIDI features are not obvious. Some instruments give you a MIDI learn menu with a right click of the mouse, some have cryptic letters A, B, C, ... and mention MIDI, you need do find out how it works. There is no standard."

    I think you summed up my frustration with your last sentence. There is no standard! Since so many of these software instruments have different graphic interfaces, they all have their own specific learning curve. Although I love Logic, it has taken some time to move over from Digital Performer and Pro Tools. Many of Per's suggestions make sense and I'm looking forward to rereading his comments and hunting down how to find these settings within Logic's instruments.

    Since the nuts & bolts of synthesis (oscillators, filters, envelopes, etc.) are all still confusing to me, I have difficulty identifying what components I want to edit. Having spent many decades as a trumpeter, I never had to deal with such things electronically. The EWI, however, now allows me to experiment with sounds like keyboardist have been doing for years. I'm just really slow with catching up and am now searching the web to find others who have already found ways of successfully implementing Logic's software instruments with wind controllers.

    Thanks again guys for all your help and suggestions. Keep them coming.
  11. Per Boysen

    Per Boysen Senior member

    As I said above, in Mainstage it is much easier. In Logic you rather rely on the MIDI control implementation of each instrument. But here are some hints:

    EXS24: Use the matrix in the center of the plug-in GUI! Choose the cc# sent in from your EWI and chose a target for it inside the sampler. Use scaling in between when needed (mostly needed).

    ES2: Use the control macro interface!

    ES1: This follows classic (subtractive) synth standard. Easy to set up with the EWI.

    Sculpture: More difficult to set up, but great sounding. For starters, use the performance macro to assign your EWI data to appropriate instrument parameters. Myself I usually create good EWI patches out of pure luck with the Sculpture. "Trial and error" friendly instrument ;-)

    EFM1: This one can sound great for vintage style synth lines but it doesn't have an assignment matrix for external midi control. However you can go through Logic's Controller Assignmnts (cmd K) to set it up. (again, much easier in Mainstage. Recently on a recording project I recorded my EWI parts in Mainstage, snagged the audio and lifted the files into Logic. Just to be able to work faster)

    For all instruments, you typically want to assign a EWI cc# to filter cutoff and volume (Relative Volume in the EXS24) and sometimes also Poratmento On or Glide Time (to cc#5 or whatever #cc your EWI is sending by touching the glide ribbon (if you have not looked into setting up the EWI, start there). Just do it and play around while adjusting the amount of scaling to your playing style and the type of synth sound. Then save all your created patches in a folder named "EWI Compliant" or whatever.

    An important step to make EWI "more musical than a piano style controller" is to take away all LFO controlled vibrato bindings (typically assigned to #cc1 in default patches) and set up the patch so your pitchbend generated by biting the mouthpiece and touching the sliding plates with your right thumb will address both pitch and filter cutoff in the right blend to sound good. When playing the timbre will then behave similar to an acoustic reed instrument.
  12. Ammo

    Ammo New Member

    Instant EWI.

    No kidding, I just discovered that this fine EWI player, Bernie Kenerson, has developed a plug-in for Logic called Instant EWI. Look him up on YouTube or his own website, or google Art of the EWI. It costs $35 and includes an hour lesson via Skype. I'm gonna get it.
  13. dreamyguy

    dreamyguy New Member

    @Ammo, any luck with the Instant EWI thing? Would you like to share your experience with it? I found this guide on YT, but alas, that is a pain to follow...
  14. dreamyguy

    dreamyguy New Member

    I've actually followed the whole tutorial I mentioned earlier and got a macro volume killer switcher on Logic MIDI environment window - which is great.

    However, my EWI is still not as responsive as I believe it could get. I have to blow a LOT of air into it to get output and the output itself is not smooth at all. I'm wondering if the problem is on my EWI settings or if my MIDI interface simply isn't good enough - which I doubt, since it's more robust than many of the popular ones out there... (Edirol UA-25EX).

    Would really appreciate any feedback on this!

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