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Sound distortion when using Scala files

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Sound distortion when using Scala files

Postby Subhraag » Sat Feb 28, 2015 4:39 am

Hello,

I recently purchased the Jazz and Big Band samples, specifically because of the Aria's ability to load Scala files. However, when I load a scale that has more than 12 notes per octave, the sounds become muddy and soft as they go up in range and bright and loud as they go down. The reverse is true for scales with less than 12 notes. I was in touch with customer support, and they have told me this is normal. But other programs I know can interpret samples with scala files without this distortion. Do any of you have any advice on how to fix this?

Thanks!
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Re: Sound distortion when using Scala files

Postby SysExJohn » Sat Feb 28, 2015 6:02 am

My suggestion would be to ask the question over at the Plogue forum here: http://www.plogue.com/phpBB2/viewforum.php?f=34.

You may or may not know that Plogue is the creator of the ARIA engine for Garritan.
I suspect that their product is specifically made for 12 tone systems.
But ask there, they're generally extremely helpful and very quick to answer unless they have to do some research into the subject.

John.
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Re: Sound distortion when using Scala files

Postby Subhraag » Wed Mar 04, 2015 8:44 am

Thank you, John! I posted the question at Plogue. They told me the system is made for 12 tones. I am quite disappointed, because the reason I bought the Garritan samples in the first place was because the documentation specifically states: "The scala file import feature enables the use of thousands of other tunings, if desired." Only a small percentage of the over 4000 published scala files are actually 12 tone.
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Re: Sound distortion when using Scala files

Postby Credo » Wed Mar 04, 2015 10:41 am

Seems to me like having 'more' than 12 tones with a monophonic patch would lead to 'less' sample stretching than scales that have fewer than 12 tones (it's when stretching pitch more than a third that stretching gets terribly obvious). Of course a polyphonic patch might grab samples from further out than a 3rd to avoid phasing issues.........but for monophonic patches...I just wonder what's up? I think it's more about the way a particular instrument (sfz file) is designed than it is in what is 'possible' to do with the Aria Engine.

Useless logic aside (since I'm clueless on how Aria does the tuning when a scala file is introduced), there might be some things worth trying to get some usable results. Based on your description of things getting 'loud/soft' and 'muddy'....I'm wondering.........

If you're using any sort of sequencer that makes it easy to enter controller data, adjusting the note velocity, cutoff, and resonance filters, along with the expression levels/volume in real time might help some. You can work with these parameters as follows:

Note Velocity......how fast keys are struck. If your sequencer allows it...try going back and playing with these values to see if you can clean up passages. Variation of velocity can often make a pretty big impact on the over-all tonal quality of a note....particularly in instruments that have several velocity triggered 'dynamic' layers. I.E. It's not uncommon for a brass patch to have at least 3 layers....p, mf, and ff......with softer-mellower samples at the p side (with lighter-slower key strikes), and louder-brighter samples towards the ff end (with harder-faster key strikes). Even with single layer instruments....velocity can have a pretty big impact on how 'filters' that can alter tonal-timber and pitch-tuning are applied to the ultimate note signal.

Mod wheel or CC#1 (as well as others like CC#11, or the foot controller) can be used to adjust the amp levels of the tone generators for a patch in real time. I've yet to come across a sample library that doesn't need rather liberal adjustments here for clean and realistic sounding passages.

Also, check out the controls tab of Aria for a problem instrument.
CC#22, CC#23, CC#26, and CC#27 might be of interest, as these can tweak various sorts of detuning mechanisms and filters which might also be hooked to envelopes that are relative to keyboard mapping BIAS and note velocity. Tweaking these throughout a musical phrase 'might' allow you to clean up passages to something more useful and tasteful?

The good ole pitch bend controller can be used to tune up a note that's really close, but not quite what you'd hoped for.

I don't know of a way to remotely control the EQ parameters of an instrument in Aria, but with many DAW systems it is quite possible to insert the graphic or parametric EQ of your choice into the audio path, and automate every nuance of their controls in real time in order to clean up signals throughout a phrase.

Other types of effects can be automated or side-chained to correct issues as well. If you're working with a DAW...you might also set up some controller lanes to tweak channel EQ settings throughout a phrase. You might also find that bypassing Aria's internal reverb and convulation effects, and using the multi-output version of Aria to isolate more of the instruments allows you to dig into the DAW toolbox and apply effects that can be automated enough to clean things up a good deal.

Also...back on velocity....if you don't mind working with copies of your libraries' SFZ files and learning a little about them...simply changing some of the 'velocity curves' might help some when it comes to evening out the way scales with more or less than 12 notes respond (sounds to me like some may be over or under-compensated due to velocity and key-mapping BIAS). The same can be said for keyboard mapping bias (slight detunings based on which key is struck and its relative distance from a set midi key number (I.E. Middle C). Such programming is meant to emulate the way that a natural player (I.e. for Brass) might tend to drift slightly sharp or flat when playing louder or higher. Since the patches were designed to emulate conventional instruments (many of which are nearly impossible to play something like a quarter tone scale)...the velocity curves and bias settings were set up for optimum performance in the 12 tone system; however, that doesn't mean that they can't be 'adjusted' by a user to act better with a given scala design.

Good Luck,
Credo
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Re: Sound distortion when using Scala files

Postby Derrek » Wed Mar 04, 2015 11:34 am

I find that for some reason, even when I am using a standard tuning, playing the (screen) keyboard in Aria creates distortion that obliterates the sound, whereas the same notes/instrument sounds played through Aria by Finale sound fine. Am not sure what is causing my problem or Subhraag's, but he might check out whether the Scala problems exist when sequencing the MIDI numbers rather than auditioning them directly in the Aria player (w/ or w/o a MIDI keyboard).
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Re: Sound distortion when using Scala files

Postby Credo » Wed Mar 04, 2015 11:47 am

Derrek wrote:I find that for some reason, even when I am using a standard tuning, playing the (screen) keyboard in Aria creates distortion that obliterates the sound, whereas the same notes/instrument sounds played through Aria by Finale sound fine. Am not sure what is causing my problem or Subhraag's, but he might check out whether the Scala problems exist when sequencing the MIDI numbers rather than auditioning them directly in the Aria player (w/ or w/o a MIDI keyboard).


Great points!

I'm pretty sure that a good deal of time and research has gone into making expression maps for the leading scoring packages. They're pretty good about sending a lot of 'controller data' along with the note messages themselves. It's pretty evident if you play a Finale score and watch all those wheels and key switches in Aria bounce around. Those of us working with linear editors and controller tracks in a DAW have to drop that stuff in by hand (or make our own expression maps to translate the score symbols the way we want them translated).
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Re: Sound distortion when using Scala files

Postby SysExJohn » Sat Mar 07, 2015 4:23 am

Subhraag wrote:Thank you, John! I posted the question at Plogue. They told me the system is made for 12 tones. I am quite disappointed, because the reason I bought the Garritan samples in the first place was because the documentation specifically states: "The scala file import feature enables the use of thousands of other tunings, if desired." Only a small percentage of the over 4000 published scala files are actually 12 tone.


Well, I have to say I'm not surprised.
When I read the marketing blurb about "any Scala file" I didn't believe it, but it wasn't on my requirement list to be able to work outside the twelve tone system, just alternate temperaments like 1/6th comma meantone.
Too old and cynical by half I suppose, and been tricked by marketing hype too often.

There ya go!
John.
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Re: Sound distortion when using Scala files

Postby SysExJohn » Sat Mar 07, 2015 4:33 am

Derrek wrote:I find that for some reason, even when I am using a standard tuning, playing the (screen) keyboard in Aria creates distortion that obliterates the sound, whereas the same notes/instrument sounds played through Aria by Finale sound fine. Am not sure what is causing my problem or Subhraag's, but he might check out whether the Scala problems exist when sequencing the MIDI numbers rather than auditioning them directly in the Aria player (w/ or w/o a MIDI keyboard).

How strange, Derrek?

On my rather ancient laptop running XP it all works okay, whether from stand alone inbuilt on screen keyboard, via a MIDI controller, or from a software sequencer or Finale.

My only complaint is the rather slow sample load times, but that, I know is fixable.
The same on my Win 7 laptop, with slightly quicker load times.

Subhraag's problems, I suspect, are created by the notes being 'bent' (for want of a better word) outside their intended range. David Vien's answer on the Plogue forum states that the Scala data is applied after all the other MIDI and sfz note processing is complete.

John.
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Re: Sound distortion when using Scala files

Postby Elissar » Wed May 18, 2016 11:49 am

Hello All,

Does anyone know if this issue has been resolved in Finale 2014.5? I would like to play back quarter tones in a 24-tone scale if possible, with orchestral instruments. I also loaded a scala file for 24-tones and found that the orchestral thinned out and still wasn't playing quarter tones.

Also, I've pasted the Aria page that comes up for the first channel. Does the little white box that's illuminated beside Piccolo mean that when I'm adjusting settings, it only applies to the Piccolo? I'm not sure why only the right half of the piano is illuminated, which is also the case when I go into the second channel where Double Basses are.

Thanks!

Elissar
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Re: Sound distortion when using Scala files

Postby Derrek » Wed May 18, 2016 4:04 pm

The settings screen appears to affect all the instruments, which suggests that if you only want some instruments to play specific scala scales, then you will likely want to use multiple instances of Aria in Finale or your DAW.
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