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  • Lack of Mod. Wheel a problem for working with VSL?

    Hi, I'm just getting started with VSL and am deciding between two keyboards (Yamaha CP50 vs. Yamaha CP300) to use for my project studio. As some of you may know, the CP50 lacks a mod. wheel. I'm wondering how much of a disadvantage this would be for manipulating data within VSL's software? The CP50 does have a jack for an expression pedal but from my experience in the past, I've always felt more fine control and quick response with a hand (vs. a foot). Is there another alternative (other than a keyboard with a mod. wheel) worth considering? As you can probably figure out, I really like the CP50 but will go with another keyboard that serves as a better "controller" for working with VSL and other third party software.

    I'd greatly appreciate any feedback from anyone knowledgeable in the VSL community.   



  • I really don't want to rain on your parade but honestly, there is no way I could use my instruments without a MODWheel (or controller - keep reading).  There is simply no comparison between modwheel dynamics and expression dynamics on the larger ensembles.  It is much harder to use the modwheel for solo instruments as I find it's not as natural (I manually enter velocity for solo instruments).  But the medium to larger ensembles (especially things like appassionata strings, or epic horns, Orchestral strings), I personally feel driving the modwheel for your main dynamics are a must (becuase if you don't drive it, you will be drawing it manually).  Expression is to be used after to lower or raise the volume, it won't actually change the dynamic layers of the patches which is where most of the realism comes from (you can do both modwheel and expression at the same time, I have been known to just record the part live for timing and then go back and do modwheel velocity crossfade, with expression at the same time).

    I wish I could recommend you something but feel etc is such a personal taste.  I myself am looking for a full size one (possibly a Doepfer LMK4+ or LMK2).  There are many others with amazing feel and control but they come with to much crap built in such as synths etc and I just don't want all that stuff.

    The other option is to get your beloved yamaha, and then get an add-on controller to map CC1 (modwheel) to that fader or knob.  With two clicks of my DAW (studio one) I can assign whatever parameter I want temporarily to my master fader.  Hit play and use that fader as my controller for that CC value for automation recording.  So yes, to me modwheel control is not an option to go without, but maybe you can do a setup like mine if your DAW will let you map that CC to another slider etc on your controller you're good to go.  I personally also have a modwheel on my little axiom 25 which I use during live playback, and then simply run an automation lane for the expression to fine tune the volume.

    Hope that helps!


  • I think cgernaey's idea of getting a separate controller or using a quick 'n dirty mapping to emulate the CC control is a perfect compromise in your case.

    Needing a mod wheel depends on your personal style of working.  For my personal style of working, the "post-correction process" is the most expensive, regardless of how much I tried to make it sound expressive with real-time control.  To make something high quality I still have to spend a significant amount of time re-orchestrating, adjusting articulations, carefully layering extra articulations for more realism, adjusting the exact details of CC mod wheel automation, and iteratively adjusting the automation when I change the articulation.  That time spent for perfecting the automation is so costly (and its not something that can be achieved in real-time without Jordan Rudess skills) that its generally not worthwhile for me to use CC or keyswitches while recording the initial skeleton.

  • Hello cgernaey and suon,

    Thanks to both of you for taking the time to address my concern. And sorry, cgernaey, for not getting back sooner - I really do appreciate your suggestions! After thinking things over, I decided to go with the keyboard that will offer me more flexibility as a controller and that has a mod wheel (the CP300). While I've been playing for many years, I'm a lot newer to the intricacies of recording. Your mention of the differences between mod wheel and expression dynamics - as embarrassed as I am to admit it - is something I had no clue about. Your further mention of the techniques you use to accomplish your arrangements/orchestrations was, in part, interesting but also intimidating. It made me realize that I have some serious schooling to do (with regard to MIDI recording techniques anyway). 

    I had a couple other questions for you guys if you're still around to comment. Other than reading manuals related to the VSL software and hands-on experimenting, do you have suggestions about how I can learn the ins and outs of this process? It would be nice to trim my learning curve time. 

    The other question has to do with using a breath controller and/or wind controller to record string, wind and brass instruments. I saw some YouTube videos featuring musicians playing EWI's and was blown away by the level of expressiveness that's possible with this instrument. Being that I'm a former horn player, I was curious to know if this (seeming) advantage can be applied to VSL instruments when recording? Do the VSL patches/sounds respond in the same way as a CC?

    Any feedback from the VSL community is most welcome!


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    @SPS said:

    I decided to go with the keyboard that will offer me more flexibility as a controller and that has a mod wheel (the CP300). While I've been playing for many years, I'm a lot newer to the intricacies of recording. Your mention of the differences between mod wheel and expression dynamics - as embarrassed as I am to admit it - is something I had no clue about.

    My main controlled is a Yamaha Motif ES8. I use the second switch pedal to switch velocity xfading on and off.  For strings I usually use the mod wheel as the velocity controller.  For brass I use a Yamaha breath controller.  I'm currently using only one continuous pedal and have it set for expression (controller 11 is just volume on the MIDI channel but technically not the same thing as MIDI volume, which is controller 7).  For long notes I try to perform with both the expression pedal and velocity cross fade as I record MIDI into Logic.  I almost always end up editing both of the continuous controllers in Logic.   

    There are two demos on YouTube if you Google "vienna instruments velocity crossfade  video demo".

    This video shows how to set up velocity xfade at around 3:50.

    Kaufmann has some excellent tutorials. There is some info here on velocity xfade.

    It takes practice but the result is worth the effort.  In your case, i would highly recommend a breath controller to shape the intensity of the sound (velocity layers) while using a foot controller for MIDI "expression" (i.e., loudness). So to summarize, I would get a keyboard with sustain pedal + extra foot switch input, one or two continuous controller pedals (one for expression), both pitch and mod wheels and input for a breath controller.