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  • wind controller for VSL

    Hello, is there any one out there using the wind controller Akai EWI or similar to play VSL Special Edition sounds? Is it any good? What beneficies can you obtain by playing samples from this controller type before a keyboard? Some years ago I used to play oboe, saxophon and clarinet and I am familiar with the tecnique for these instruments, for this reason, I am wondering what's the benefit of it apart from pure enjoyment. Thanks and look forward to your responses.

  • It's a bit tricky, as VSL doesn't have quite enough control available in the presets or the user assignable area.

    Nevertheless, I still prefer using a wind controller for brass and most winds. Flute is a glaring exception (for that, I specifically use a quality synth-action keyboard, and scale the velocity).

    Generally, using the Yamaha WX5, I like using BC vs. EXP, so I double BC to EXP. Turn off VOL as that will mess things up, and make sure you reset all controllers (or at least set EXP to 127) at the start of playing/recording.

    There are other breath-related controls that I cannot map to VSL currently. For parts requiring more expression (especially jazz/reggae/etc.), I am now using Sample Modeling products for this reason. But for orchestral context without heavy soloing, you can't beat the timbre of VSL.

    One thing unique to VSL (but not for much longer, as other vendors are starting to adopt it) is speed control. This was very clever of them, and goes a long ways towards alleviating the need for splitting tracks and doing lots of keyswitches mid-phrase. Read up on it in your manual.

    Speed control is natural and intuitive and doesn't require you to do anything special other than to just use your ears and your intuition.

    As for embouchre, much of that gets lost in translation currently, so I save the MIDI as is and hope for improvements later. Different controllers issue different MIDI anyway, so there's no standard as their is for breath.

    My biggest struggle is often with pitch-bending, which is interpreted different by VSL than by Yamaha (especially in terms of upward vs. downward bend range, which is separately assignable with Yamaha). I sometimes have to delete pitch bends, scale them, or otherwise massage them.

    I have been thinking of buying the new Akai EWI-USB stripped-down controller to compare to the WX5, as it is so cheap. I suspect I won't like it due to the mouthpiece being oboe-like and also as there is little tactile feedback (you play it recorder-style vs. flute/clarinet/sax/oboe style).


  • I'm madly in love with the EWI, but I find playing sample libraries with it to be incredibly frustrating. My EWI is hardwired to a Yamaha VL1 and more recently also the brass from Wallander WIVI.

    To me sample libraries are all set up for MIDI programming, even if you're using the V.I. player. When you play with a wind controller you want to be in control of the performance; VSL and all modern sample libraries are intended for you to stitch together the performance. It's just two incompatible mediums as far as I'm concerned.

    But I want to emphasize that this is just my completely subjective opinion. Other people like mhschmeider feel differently, and I don't pretend to be righter than he is.

  • BTW the reason I'm able to play the EWI is precisely that it is very similar to playing a recorder - only easier, because you can set it up for much less finnicky breath control. It doesn't have keys and you don't need to use Boehm fingering, and above all there's no special embouchure (in fact in that respect I don't think I'd really compare it to an oboe).