The SoundBridge Page

F.A.Q. | Tips & Tricks | Programming Basics | Samples | Utilities

Download the latest version of SoundBridge from the QS Software Page
Interesting SoundBridge Article in Electronic Musician Magazine

SoundBridge FAQ

  1. What is SoundBridge ?
  2. Where can I get it, and how much does it cost ?
  3. What if I need help ?
  4. What else do I need ?
  5. Is my original QuadraSynth / S4 upgradeable for SoundBridge ?
  6. I own a QS6, can I play MIDI files from my card ?
  7. What type of sample files can I use ?
  8. Can multisamples be loaded onto flash cards?
  9. Is there a way to create SampleCell Instrument files without owning SampleCell?
  10. Where can I find free samples ?
  11. Are there any useful utilities downloadable from the Net ?
  12. How to deal with sysex files ?
  13. Once I loaded my samples to the card, how can I find, and play them ?
  14. How can I learn to write programs ?
  15. What should I use to write MIDI files ?


  1. Q: What is SoundBridge ?
    A: Sound Bridge is a utility program, that compiles custom samples from a variety of sources into the QuadraSynth Voice format, and then downloads those Voices to an Alesis - compatible PCMCIA Sound Card via MIDI SysEx to a QS6, QS7, QS8, QuadraSynth Plus Piano or S4 Plus.
    BACK
  2. Q: Where can I get it , and how much does it cost ?
    A: . SoundBridge is freely downloadable from : The QS Software Page
    BACK
  3. Q:What else do I need ?
    A: . All you need is a QuadraSynth or QS synthesizer along with a standard MIDI interface. If your synthesizer has the onboard serial interface, just connect a serial cable from your synthesizer to an available serial port on your PC (make sure you have the Alesis Serial Port Windows MIDI Driver installed). You will also need a PCMCIA Flash RAM or SRAM card. Check the QuadraCards Page for details.
    Sound Bridge does NOT require additional hardware. The files are loaded directly into Sound Bridge from any disk (CD-ROM, floppy disk, hard disk, etc.). Sound Bridge will, however, allow the user to audition samples from the disk through most PC Sound Cards.
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  4. Q:Is my original QuadraSynth / S4 upgradable for SoundBridge ?
    A: . The PLUS upgrade kit is no longer available, so the only way to become a QS Plus Piano or S4 Plus owner, is to sell the old QS or S4, and buy a Plus. It's not as bad as it looks, you'll be able to "upgrade" this way, for about the same cost, since the price difference between the original and the Plus is no more than the cost of the upgrade. If you want to keep the old QS, you can still have some use for SoundBridge, you just need someone with a Plus to load the samples for you. The original Quadrasynth WILL read sample and program data from a compiled Sound Card, but it will NOT compile a card via MIDI nor will it recognize sequence data on a card.
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  5. Q:I own a QS6, can I play MIDI files from my card ?
    A: . Yes, you can play MIDI files, if you have upgraded your QS6 to Softvare Version 2.0. Version 2.00 software is available as an EPROM upgrade kit. This kit is user-installable and comes with all the necessary instructions and tools. The only other tool you will need is a Phillips type screwdriver. The upgrade is available free of charge to registered users who have purchased their units after July 1, 1996. A proof of sale is required to receive this upgrade free of charge. Otherwise, this EPROM upgrade is an enhancement to the original QS6 operating system. All previous QS6 owners must purchase the upgrade through our Parts department at the cost of $39.99 (Plus any applicable sales tax and shipping charges).
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  6. Q: What type of sample files can I use ?
    A: . From the Project Manager, Sound Bridge can load two types of sample files:
    1. Microsoft PCM Type Wave files (*.wav)
    2. Raw PCM Sample Data (*.pcm; *.*)
    These are the two types SoundBridge can complie to your card. You are not limited by this, if you use sample converter utilities. There are very handy programs available, for converting all kinds of samples to the format SoundBridge needs. The possibilities are endless...
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  7. Q: Can multisamples be loaded into flash cards?
    A: . Alesis has plans to add key-mapping of samples to a future version of SoundBridge. In the meantime, the Mac version of SoundBridge accepts SampleCell Instrument files, which are collections of AIFF or .WAV files with key and velocity mapping. One PC user has reported successfully loading these by running the Mac SoundBridge v1.0 under “Executor 2.0/DOS” Mac emulation software.
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  8. Q: Is there a way to create SampleCell Instrument files without owning SampleCell?
    A: . There is, but it is not for the faint-of-heart. Existing SC Instrument files will play any collection of AIFF samples that have the same names as those originally intended for use with the Instrument. By cracking into the Instrument file and changing the text strings (this can be done on a Mac in ResEdit with an extension called “Forker”), one can make any number of multisamples from a single SampleCell “template”. The samples must have the same original pitch as those they replace, and the names must have the same number of characters.
    AWave, a PC shareware program, can create SampleCell instrument files, but these are not readable by SoundBridge. They will, however, open in Digidesign’s SampleCell editor, where they can be saved as bona fide SampleCell files which SoundBridge can open.
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  9. Q: Where can I find (preferably free) samples ?
    A: . There are some valuable resources on the Net, you can find many free, shareware and demo samples, and also places that sell sample CD-s and CD-ROMs. CD-s are less expensive, but they contain only raw audio data, and you will have to create loops, which is not as easy as some think. CD-ROMs cost more, but the samples are already looped, and can be used without too much effort. Most companies offer free demo, so you can try some of the sounds before buying the full CD.
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  10. Q:Are there any useful utilities downloadable from the Net ?
    A: . Yes, there are several digital audio editing and sample converter utilities out there, you'll find a list below with many shareware and commercial demo programs to choose from.
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  11. Q: How to deal with sysex files ?
    A: . Many QS users reported problems with transferring sysex banks to the card. I checked it myself, and noticed, that the sysex bank must be located in the SoundBridge directory, to be succesfully transferred. The bank must to be in standard sysex format, (propietary formats of some editors can not be used) Check the file size, if it's 79,479 bytes, then it's probably a full bank in the correct format. If you use editors, and they don't save the banks in sysex format, you should dump the bank to the QS (save first the current user bank) and send it back using either Cakewalk, or Freeloader to get them in the correct format, and save them into the SoundBridge directory. Don't forget, you can load only one sysex bank to a card. If you want to use your card for storing program and mix data only, use the synth to transfer the banks from the user bank, one by one. In this case you don't need SoundBridge. The Alesis 256kb RAM card is better to be used for this, since it can't hold more than a few seconds of samples, but able to store four full banks of mix and program data.
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  12. Q:Once I loaded my samples to the card, how can I find, and play them ?
    A: . Press the Program button, to enter program mode, then press the EDIT button, and go to ASSIGN VOICE. You will find your samples in the new Sound Groups. Drum samples can be found if you first enter DRUM MODE, and then scroll thru the Drum Sample Groups. To audition your samples, you have to assign them to a program. It's a good idea to reinitialize the synth, (and the program buffer with it) so you can start with a blank program. You may also download an entire bank of initialized patches from the Sounds Page It's very handy, if you want to write a lot of new programs.
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  13. Q: How can I learn to write programs ?
    A: . It's easy, just do it. : -).The best way to find out how programming is done, is to look inside different programs, see what methods the programmer used to enhance the raw sample. Try to adjust different parameters, and check what effect they have on the program. Use an Editor Program, so you will be able to edit on the big screen and get a better idea, what programming options you have. Spend some time experimenting before you give up, and (I hate to say this) read the manual... Take advantage of the free Programming Tutorial, that you'll get, when you purchase the QE Plus Editor/Librarian.
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  14. Q: What should I use to write MIDI files ?
    A: . MIDI files must be in Standard MID File format, to use them with your QS6, QS7 and QS8. Any sequencer, that can save files in this format will do. You can NOT use .WRK or .SNG files for example, but .MID files are fine.
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Tips and Tricks

This section is reserved for your suggestions, please send your tips and tricks to me, so I can post them here.
Mac users are especially encouraged to contribute any useful QS-related information. I use a PC, so I can't test or recommend any software, and can't give any computer specific advice to Mac users. Your comments, suggestions, contributions to this page will be appreciated.


Tips from Rich (http://www.tweakheadz.com) :
  1. Keep those samples as hot as possible without distortion. If your wav editor offers compression it might be useful to maximize gain.
  2. Sound forge works well for preparing samples and loops. Editing loops in SB is really not possible, unless you don't mind clicks and pops.
  3. I find it works well to do all the looping in my sampler, use Forge to get it, then bridge to send it to the qs8.
  4. Many inexperienced folks are bound to be a bit disappointed when they hear there first run of samples. It takes a bit of work to get it right. The samples must be clean, loud, and looped well. You simply have to have something that can do loops right, be it Sound Forge, Alchemy, or a decent PD Wav editor. You can find them in the Utilities Section below.
  5. You should normalize the gain and perhaps even boost it a bit more if you can. (Hint, on some sounds, digital clipping sounds good). All those ROM samples in the QSx were meticulously tweaked to get the best response. Yours will pale in comparision unless you meticulously tweak them to make them as hot and full bodied as possible. Remember! You can always dull a sample in the QS with its filter, but you can't add upper harmonics that are not there to begin with. Its OK to send them in a tad bright.
  6. The biggest problem you will face is a sample with poorly omptimized gain and a lack of upper harmonics. Those tend to be nearly useless. It is wise to patch an eq as you sample.
    Make those suckers HOT!
  7. There is Alot you can do with a properly looped, bright sample, far more than you can do in most samplers. Stack it up X4, assign a different effect to each sound, combine them, pan 'em, detune them, morph them with the tranform generator, use those 12 lfos and envelopes. And don't forget the sliders/quad knobs, velocity and pressure controls. The bottom line is, if you want excellent results, you have to do the work. If you don't want to do the work, get some of the new ROM cards, where the work is done for you.
  8. I would not be shy about sending sounds at 22050 sampling rate. there are actually benefits to doing so.
    1. Memory goes farther
    2. You get extended keyboard range.
    Save 44.1 for samples that really need it, cymbals, bells, anything that needs precise high end. 90% of things I want to play don't need it. Some techno stuff sounds better at a lower rate. Orchestral stuff and acoustic instruments do benefit from 44.1. Synths are a wash.
From Wynne Hexamer :
  • It appears that when you first construct a project file that Soundbridge records the lengths of the samples. If you happen to edit one of the samples (and change the length in the process) and then attempt to compile the project to the flash card, it stops downloading at the file in question with the message "error loading file". The work-around I use in such cases is to construct a new project of the same files in the process recording the new file length.

    Back to the Top



Programming Basics No. 1: Using Copy Functions to Create Complex Programs

by Rich
Especially for new Quadrasynth Programmers

Lets say you want to go beyond tweaking factory patches and doing simple stuff like changing the instruments, octave etc., and want to develop voices all your own.

1. To start, set up a default patch with preferences you nearly always use so you don't have to start from scratch each time. On the QS, I use the following defaults, which are followed by many of the factory patches.

  • FX level is set to a level where you can hear it, but its not in the way.
  • Controller A is routed to Filter Cutoff so the sound fades out as you move the slider up.
  • Controller B is routed to change an FX parameter. Delay 1 level works well.
  • Controller C is routed to amp envelopes--greater release time is a good default.
  • Controller D is routed to boost the FX send about 50
  • Pitch LFO is set to a reasonable level at a speed of 47 and is routed to the mod wheel. AMP and Filter LFOs at level zero at a speed of 47. (if you are doing techno sounds, set all the above to 57)
  • Aftertouch is set at a subtle level.
  • FX config is set to your favorite. Mine is the 2 bus with EQ.

Copy this default program to every location in an empty bank. Of course you change these as you get into editing the patch. You only need to do it for sound 1 as before you get too far you need to learn...

2. Copy functions. You'll grow old or mad or both if you don't learn to copy sound layers, either in your ed lib or on the Qs front panel. On the QS machines, press STORE then PAGE to get to the copy menu. In Unisyn, COPY the patch to the clipboard, then use the PASTE SECTIONS function on the menu.

3. Instant Gratification for the New Programmer: A little tutorial

I will assume you understand what envelopes, LFOs and other basics are. If not, check the manual that came with your synth.

    a. Tweak Sound 1 (whatever sample you find most interesting at the moment). Get the envelopes right. Get the FX right. Get the velocity right. Set the controllers/modulators. Don't forget lfos and AT. Keep in mind anything you neglect to tweak now will have to be done times two or times four after you copy.

    b. Now copy Sound 1 to sound 2

    c. Pan sound 1 left and sound 2 right, detune them a few ticks. You now have a giant “stereo-ized” image.

    d. Now make a few micro-edits to sound 2's envelopes and filter. You might be surprised how just a few differences between the sounds can add depth and dynamism to the sound when you have the L/R thing going. So you got it sounding real cool. Well wait, we're not done yet.

    e. Copy sound 1 to sound 3 and 2 to 4.

    f. Mute Sounds 1 and 2

    g. Choose similar instrument samples (i.e a different horn, string, drum kit and use the same on for both sound 3 and 4. It probably already sounds pretty good, as its panned, detuned, envelopes are tweaked, etc. Do whatever adjustments you have to. So now you have two patches in one program--now we have to blend them. Here's the easy way.

    h. On sounds 3 and 4 go to the filter and give it a negative setting so you cant hear it--that's right till you hear nothing. (Remember sounds 1 and 2 are still muted so you can't hear them either.) Now go to Controller A which is already assigned to filter cutoff but give it a positive value to when you move the fader up, the sounds 3 and 4 become audible.

    i. Unmute sounds 1 and 2. Controller A should fade smoothly from sound 1/2 to 3/4. If it isn't smooth go back and make adjustments to the filter cutoff amounts--you should be relatively close.

    j. Now go back over the program and add things that will really make this patch a standout.

    So now you have made your first complex program. Using the copy functions made this quite painless. You will probably start wondering, "hmm... wonder what it would sound like if I used 4 wildly different instruments in this program". Welcome to programming, friend. There are many paths that may open in your imagination at this point. Every road you take will open up a dozen more roads.

    Note on the QS machine you can also Copy FX. In Unisyn's Paste sections, you have even more flexibility. You can copy envelopes, lfos, modulators, nearly any parameter, from sound to sound. This is an extremely powerful tool--check it out.

    Where do you stop is the better question. You stop when you are having a tremendously great time with your new creation and can't think of anyway to improve it. For me, the keyboard starts feeling "different" when I have a solid program. The hands, without any thought on my part, find things to do with the sound. Go and explore. Its quite a boundless sonic world in a synth as well endowed with samples as the QS machines. As you get into programming, you realize there are really no rules, just habits. (Some philosophers say that its habits that keep our world orderly, not rules and laws.)

    Good Work Habits for Programmers.

    1. Naming and renaming programs. When I am experimenting I always assign a name with a lower case first letter and I add a number at the end of every significant crossroad, so the name will be something like "sonic hell1" or whatever. That way you can always go back in case you really screw things up. As the patch nears completion, it might be named closer to the final name, perhaps Sonic Well9. When the patch is done, I delete the number, so I know anything without a number is the final, definitive, version.

    2. Do I need to tell you to save your bank often and send the bank to the synth at regular intervals? Nah, you know that, and you know what happens when your computer crashes or synth crashes, or both crash at the same time.

    3. Think of practical matters as you program. You create a patch in order to use it in a composition. Keep your sequencer fired up as you make patches and use them in a test sequence. Is the level right? Does the velocity and AT work as it should? Is it named so you will remember what the sound is when you see it in a list of 127 other sounds.

    Of course there are more. I hope this helps a few of you get into the joys of sound creation.

    No one in the world can make THE sounds for your unique musical statement like you can.

    Stay tuned for the next installment!

Did I mention I am available for programming projects? Email me!
My address is: rich@tweakheadz.com. Visit my homepage at : http://www.tweakheadz.com


Resources


Freeware, shareware and demo audio samples and utilities.
Please let me know if you find new resources, so I can list them here.

Samples

Please let me know if you find new resources, so I can list them here.

Akai
Akai samples

Best.com FTP
Kurzweil K2000 samples and patches

CD-ROM.COM Archives
Samples from various synths, Ensoniq, Korg, Roland, Proteus, Yamaha, etc.

Demon.co.uk FTP
Various wav samples.

The Drum Samples Page
44khz 16 bit drum samples (WAV) TR808, TR909, etc.

A HREF="http://midilink.nl/flist/group.htm">Dutch MIDI Association
Samples and synth patches, lots of them.

The Edge City Sound Vault
Samples in WAV and SBK format

FUNET
Roland and Proteus samples, in WAV format.

iMedia Samples
Samples from analog and digital synths in WAV format, free downloads, CD-s, & more...

Kalava Drum Archive
High quality drum samples

Keyboard Magazine's AKAI Library
Samples in AKAI MPC3000 format.

Keyboard Magazine's Patch Library
AIFF samples, and also some demo patches for various synthesizers.

Music Machines
Synth and drum machine samples in WAV format.

Peavey's WAV file Library
All sorts of WAV files, not only musical instruments, but nature sounds, noise from automobiles and tools, etc.

Resrocket ftp site
Various AIFF and WAV files.

Secretfriend Archive
All kinds of samples in WAV format

Soundcentral
Ensoniq samples.

Sound Dimensions
16/44 16/22 samples (WAV)

The Sound Lab
Arp Odyssey, Casio VZ8, Ensoniq ESQ1, Roland Juno 106, Sequential Prophet, etc. samples (WAV) AWE32 soundfont banks

Soundwave's Sample Collection
A collection of high quality samples for trackers and professionals.

Sweetwater's K2000 Library

Samples for the Kurzweil K2000 and K2500.


Utilities

Please let me know if you find new resources, so I can list them here.
QE Plus
Windows Editor-Librarian for all QuadraSynth, S4 and all QS models.
Finding, and downloading samples is just half of the work, you also have to write patches and mixes, using your new samples. Programming the QS can be complicated, unless you use an Editor.
QE Plus. will not only make it easier to visualize the modulation matrix or tracking generator, (among others) but it also comes with a free tutorial, so you can become an expert programmer, and take advantage of all the features the QS has to offer.

D-SoundPRO
A full-featured sample editor for the Mac. Shareware. Fully functional demo.

Freeloader (PC)
MIDI / Sysex Utility for Windows.

Cool Edit
Digital sound editor for Windows.

GoldWave
Another digital audio editor for Windows.

Sound Forge
Digital audio editing tools for Windows NT, Windows 95, and Windows 3.1. Downloadable demo programs.

Akaidisk
Akai sample disk reader for Windows & DOS.
It can read S900, S950, S1000 and S3000 disks, and convert samples to WAV format.

Awave
Audio file-format converter and player for Windows.
A very handy utility, reads more than a hundred audio file format.
If you're into sampling, you probably need it.

SimSynth
SimSynth is a sound synthesizer program for Windows. It allows you to create new sounds, using your PC and soundcard.

WaveCraft
WaveCraft allows you to create analogue-style sound samples, using your PC and soundcard.
If you can't find the analogue sample you need, create your own.

WaveGen
Wave generator for Windows.
Create all sorts of unique waves, at any sample rate.
Comes with a tone sequencer.



Troubleshooting Guide for SoundBridge

This original Alesis help file (sent to me by alert user Doug) should guide you through some tough problems: