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One more time, after the ASIO drivers, the Rewire, the VST plug-ins, Steinberg succeeded in making one of its technologies as a standard. The concept of the VST Instruments is recent, but already, many plug-ins called virtual synthetizers were born. If you don't know very well what are the VST Instruments, read the page of presentation of version 3.7.

Approximately, the VST Instruments are software synthetizers (sounds calculated by the processor), they are managed as some plug-ins, controlled per Midi, and their outputs are directed towards the mixing table in order to profit from all that VST offers about possibilities of processing. That makes dreaming, no ?

LM-4 is in fact a very bad example to illustrate the VST Instruments ! Ah yes, it's not a software synthetiser, it's a drumbox that works like a player of samples. The samples are charged in memory from the hard disk and are started by one or several Midi tracks. It couldn't be simpler.

It looks like this :

The thing is easy : the drum samples (or any type of samples, after all...) are on the hard disk. There are also text files, scripts, that define the soundbanks and their presets. We'll see later. To summarize, the script precises that the pad 1 is affected to the file thing.wav, to a Midi note, with such a range of velocity, etc... When a preset is selected, the samples are charged in memory. And then, the potential use of LM-4 will depend from the power of your computer. Some banks delivered on the CD-Rom weigh 96 Mo even 128 !!! Thus, below 128 Mo, you will be restricted at small banks. On the other hand, the occupation of the processor is negligible. 3 % on a Pentium III 500.

Thus, the interface. Pleasant like often at Steinberg. And simple. The handbook is not essential. Each pad has two pull knobs, one for the pitch, the other one for the volume. There is also a main volume, an adjustment of velocity and to finish, the adjustment of the outputs. And yes, LM-4 offers 6 outputs, one stereo pair and four mono. That also, it's rather well seen. Because, for example, you could direct the snare towards a mono output to inflict it some different processing, compared to the other drum elements (see lower for a MP3 example).

By clicking on a pad or playing keyboard, you start the reading of the samples. And there, paf, latency ! And shit :-o(. Don't lose sight that it's your audio card that will play the sound and not your MIDI card. So, latency. If your audio card has only one Windows driver, the latency is about 500 / 750 milliseconds. With an ASIO driver first generation, it falls to 40 / 80. With an ASIO driver version 2, it could pass very closed to the zero hoped so much ! In the event of high latency, there's only one solution : recording the tracks like you usually do, via the Midi card, and then directing the MIDI output of the track towards LM-4. Honestly, it's irritating, but it's completely manageable. In reading, you shouldn't have any problem of latency, neither of synchro... Normally... Because I had from LM-4 some different behaviors according to if I started from a new song (shift Midi / Audio) or from an already existing song (perfect synchronisation). I didn't find any explanation. In the event of problem of synchro, it's enough to play with the delay of the MIDI track to compensate. - 30 at home...

Once this regulated, it's like paradise. I pass on the basic banks, the small ones. They sound "small", General Midi for any statement ! On the other hand, the WiZoo banks, yeah, that's really funny ! They weigh heavy but we understand why when looking at the script files. The snares receive 8 samples, that will be played according to the velocity. As much to say that the nuance of the play is at the meeting. The Crash cymbals make ziiiiiiing or splaasshh according to the striking, unthinkable with an unspecified expander. And then, we can of course direct all that via the Eqs, the effects. And then, during the mixdown, the VST Instruments are taken in care ! Like any audio track. That changes really the way of working. It's more flexible, simpler and that sounds better than pure MIDI.

While searching a little, we can say that the selector knobs of the presets suck a little : while clicking above, it happens that LM-4 stays on the same preset. In the same way, we can say that it's painful to have to make ravel the name of 9 presets to reach the tenth. But the reproaches stop there, really.

What are the advantages, will you ask to me, compared to a MIDI card ? I see a lot of :

  • Finished the painful management of the MIDI banks of the Crack Blaster soundcards and other Guillemot ones, with loss of quality while converting from a wave to the SoundFont format.
  • Finished the conversion from MIDI to Audio !
  • A MIDI track by drum element, could either, thanks to the 6 outputs. Only one track is enough.
  • Total integration in VST, effects, eq, automation etc
  • Take into account when mixdown.
  • Of the blow, also finished the heavy drum tracks containing Audio track !

It's not all ! You can rather easily building your own presets and soundbanks. Two solutions, either the notepad, or the little freeware LM4DKE that makes it possible to conceive all that more simply.

Not the sorrow to seek LM4DKE elsewhere, you can download it from our webpages ! Be careful, this little program is capricious, it doesn't like the programs turning in background task, the guy. If that crashes while launching, make Ctrl + Alt + Supp and delete all that is not used (thanks to Gilles RAFFELSBAUER for the file and the trick !).

hen I would be able to use it correctly, I will make you a page about this subject.

In summary, LM-4 is a super trick, that will become one of my daily tools. I had never heard a numerical tool approaching so close subtleties of the play of a drummer. At the price of the bar of 64 Mo of memory, we can't reproach him its greediness, so much the quality of the sounds depends on it. Other good point, on the CD-Rom, the update 3.7 is present. One less to download, niarf !

Steinberg-France indicates me that the CD-Roms for LM-4 will come or came out with very full with goods presets, miam !

Let's go, I offer a small part of LM-4 to you ! It's just 4 measurements of music without claim, just for the need of the cause, do not shout at me if it is bad ,-o). For this example, I have separated the snare from the other instruments to give it a little more reverb than the remainder, but didn't add any other correction, no other effect. According to my taste, the bassdrums are a little deaf, too much bass. But Eqs are not made for the Game-Boy's, aren't they ? Click on the button PLAY of WinAmp to download the example of 167 KB size :

Exemple LM-4 - © FeedBack
Clic on PLAY !

There will remain two mysteries nevertheless :

  1. CIs it a boy or a girl ?
  2. What does LM-4 mean ?

Pascal VALENTIN, on the 29-02-2000

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