Saturday, December 22, 2012

Converting Sample Libraries to the Kronos

In this tutorial I'll go through the steps I recommend when converting computer-based sample libraries to the Kronos. 


1) If the sample library is in SoundFont2 (SF2) format, you can of course directly import it.  As a side note, there are a lot of funky SF files out there and it’s not unusual to run into issues when converting them.  Just be aware of this, it can be hit and miss.

2) If you have soft synths like Synthogy Ivory, East West Quantum Leap, or products for Kontakt that run in the Kontakt player or show up in the library tab in the full version of Kontakt, you can bring these into the Kronos only if you re-sample them.  Because you don’t have access to the actual WAV samples, you cannot simply convert them into another format like SF2 and bring them into the Kronos.  They need to be re-sampled.  You would use software like Sample Robot or Extreme Sample Converter to accomplish this.  These products, through an automated process, go and re-sample your libraries.  You could also use this approach sample hardware.  In this tutorial I’m not going to be covering re-sampling.

3) What I will be covering are the steps I would recommend when converting standard sample libraries, and specifically Kontakt libraries, into the Kronos.  What I mean by standard libraries are those that don’t have copy protection and give you access to actual WAV samples.  If you have a library which REQUIRES the full version of Kontakt in order to run, then it’s a standard library and doesn’t typically have copy protection.  Some examples include:
  • Cinesamples – Piano in Blue
  • Sampletekk libraries
  • SoundIron – libraries such as Emotional Piano
  • Hollow Sun
  • and lots more
NOTE: There are a few libraries that DO require the full version of Kontakt but where the WAVs were saved using compression (.NCW).  You will need to re-save them without compression to get access to the waves.


One problem with converting these large libraries to the Kronos is that they can be very detailed and include things like release samples, noises, and other layers that add to the sound.   Now I would argue, that while these sounds do add detail, these components are considerably less critical than the overall sustain sound.  So my recommendation is to edit the library to eliminate everything but the base sounds, in order to guarantee a successful conversion to the Kronos. If you want to, you can add detail sounds later.  It’s up to you as to how much detail you think is necessary and how much work you want to put into it.

So one aspect of the clean up of the library is removing everything but the essential sounds and another is to make sure the layers are lined up nicely in order to create multisamples in the Kronos.  

Here are images of two different piano libraries within Kontakt.  The samples are mapped across the keyboard horizontally and shown at rising velocity layers vertically.  Fig. 1 has a very complex mapping.  Essentially, each note has it’s own velocity map.  This is going to be a challenge to convert cleanly into the Kronos.  If you would still like to convert a library like the one shown in Fig.1, I would recommend using the re-sampling process.

Fig. 2
The library shown in Fig. 2 is mapped in a much more straightforward manner.  This is how you want things to look.  Each velocity layer is going to end up being a multisample in the Kronos. Converting the library on the right should be easy.

While I’m going to be using Kontakt, if you have libraries in other formats such as EXS24 in Logic or Halion, you should be able to use their editors to do the same cleanup or prep that I’m going to show you in Kontakt.

Open Kontakt (standalone mode is preferred).  I use version 3 because it’s supported by all of the conversion utilities (Translator, ESC, CDxtract).  Only Translator 6 supports Kontakt 4 and none support Kontakt version 5.

Fig. 3
The example I’m using is Sampletekk’s Black Grand (Fig.3).  It is available at their website for download.  It’s a Steinway D mic’ed at three positions.  You can purchase the close, medium ambient, and ambient versions separately or as a collection.  I will be using the Close Grand.  It comes in EXS for Logic, Halion and Kontakt NKI format.  The programs are numbered.  Programs one through six are progressively mellower.  Programs seven through ten are progressively brighter.  Sampletekk approaches this is a similar way to the Kronos pianos where the dark or more mellow pianos use more the lower velocity layers while the brighter ones use more of the higher velocities. 

Fig. 4
I’m going to choose Close Grand #3 which is a 14-velocity layer piano.  In order to get to the editors in Kontakt you need to click on the wrench icon.  You will be using the Group and Mapping editors.  As you can see in the mapping editor (Fig. 4) there are zones on top of zones.  This is going to create issue if you try to bring it into the Kronos without simplifying the mapping.  

Fig. 5
So use the group editor to delete all groups other than the basic sustain groups.  Select the non-sustain groups (in this example it would be all the pedal down and rel groups) and choose delete selected group(s).  Now you should have a mapping like what you see in fig. 5 that is very clean with only just the sustain level remaining.  Save the file with a new name….   And close out of Kontakt.


In order to convert these libraries into the Kronos, you’re going to have to first convert them to Soundfont 2 (SF2) format, which the Kronos can then directly import.  There are several conversion utilities that can do this: 
I have found these conversions, especially after one has gone through the cleanup process described above, to work very well.  I use Translator 6 (Mac).  The process of conversion is simple.  Open the .nki file, right-click on it and choose "Convert As..."  Then Choose "Soundfont" and select a destination.  After the conversion is done, use FTP or copy the file to a USB stick and bring it into the Kronos.  You should find that the SF2-Kronos conversion creates a single program with a mapping just like the clean version in Kontakt (or other software sampler).


I hope this helps you in converting some of your sample libraries into the Kronos.  The process might seem a bit complicated at first, but once you get the hang of it you'll find it's really not bad.  Spending a little more time up front leads to a better conversion in the end. 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Using Kronos CX-3 with a Ventilator

The Neo Instruments Ventilator is an excellent digital simulation of the Leslie 122 rotary speaker.  Here's an easy what to integrate the Kronos and Ventilator.

In the setup example, we'll keep the Main L/R outputs of the Kronos connected to the mixer or speakers.  Note that on the Kronos there are the Main L/R outputs and then four individual outputs (1 through 4).

First, physically connect the output of the Kronos to the input of the Ventilator.  As both the PRE AMP out and the Ventilator in are both mono, you will only need one cord.  Make note of the Kronos output that you've used to make the connection.

In Program mode select EXi 1 ==> AMP/VC/ROTARY ==> AMP/VC.
In the AMP TYPE box, select PRE AMP.
At the bottom of this page in the MAIN OUTPUT section is OUTPUT LEVEL (use this parameter to control volume level going into the Vent. It is easy to overdrive the Vent using the Kronos).

Now open IFX section and go to the ROUTING page.  At the bottom, BUS SELECT, choose the output that corresponds to the output you're using on the back of the Kronos.

At this point you should be be getting signal into the Ventilator and hearing sound from its outputs.  You can always run it into a mixer or powered speakers.

Another interesting option is to run the Ventilator outputs back into the Kronos.  This allows you to add FXs like reverb, have more consistance control over levels and eliminate the requirement for an external mixer.  To do this, connect the L/R outputs from the Ventilator to the analog inputs #1 and #2 on the Kronos.  Make sure the large switches are pushed in (line level) and adjust the trims knobs closer to min than max.

Click on PLAY and then AUDIO IN/SAMPLING to get to the screen below.  Unselect USE GLOBAL SETTING as we're going to make the changes at the program level vs. globally.  The first two columns correspond to the analog inputs 1 & 2 on the Kronos.  If you don't want to add insert FXs you can select L/R.  But if you do want to add insert FXs, choose IFX1 (as shown below).  If you want to send to the MFX1/2 master FXs, you can also do that via the SEND 1 to MFX1 or SEND 2 to MFX2.  If you see the warning ADC OVERLOAD! you need to turn the physical gain controls on the back of the Kronos for both inputs.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Sonatina Strings

This is a sample-set based on the public domain Sonatina Orchestra.  The strings were recorded in stereo so I brought the WAVs into the Kronos in stereo.  The .KSC is 86MB in size.  It includes sustain, staccato and pizzicato for 1st/2nd violin, viola (sustain and pizz only), cello and bass sections.  There is also a solo violin.

I created multisamples based on each of the articulations listed above.  In addition I created some hybrid ensemble multisamples.  Ensemble1 consists of 1st violins and cellos.  Ensemble 2 includes 2nd violin, violas and basses.  There are sustain, staccato and pizzicato versions of these ensemble multisamples.  This allows you to create larger sounding strings at the program level without the need to create a combi.

All the multisamples play within their normal lower limits.  This allows you to place, for example, violins and violas in the same osc without the issue of violins playing too low.

Download Sonatina-Strings.rar

Here's a link to the Sonatina Symphonic Orchestra:

Program Listing

Sonatina Ensemble 1     : Program U-G000              
Sonatina Ensemble Pizz  : Program U-G001               
Violins + Violas        : Program U-G002             
Violins + Violas + Celli: Program U-G003             
Sonatina Violins + Celli: Program U-G004             
1st + 2nd Violins Dyn   : Program U-G005            
1st + 2nd Violins       : Program U-G006
1st Violins             : Program U-G007
1st Violins Dyn         : Program U-G008            
1st Violins Stacc       : Program U-G009          
1st Violins Pizz        : Program U-G010 
2nd Violins             : Program U-G011           
2nd Violins Dyn         : Program U-G012 
2nd Violins Stacc       : Program U-G013        
2nd Violins Pizz        : Program U-G014          
Sonatina Solo Violin    : Program U-G015         
Violas                  : Program U-G016 
Violas Pizz             : Program U-G017
Cellos                  : Program U-G018          
Cello Dyn               : Program U-G019 
Cello Stacc             : Program U-G020         
Cello Pizz              : Program U-G021         
Basses                  : Program U-G022         
Basses Dyn              : Program U-G023 
Basses Stacc            : Program U-G024           
Basses Pizz             : Program U-G025