E443 Sounds different when controlled by external midi keyboard

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dreadsynth
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E443 Sounds different when controlled by external midi keyboard

Unread post by dreadsynth » Thu Jun 15, 2017 10:25 pm

Hi all!

I love my E443!

I have it connected to a Focusrite outboard soundcoard, and the USB cable going into my computer.

I also have a small AKAI midi keyboard connected to my computer via USB.

Using Ableton, I send midi from my midi keyboard to my E443, and then record the sound back through my soundcard. All simple so far.

Except, when I hit notes on my midi keyboard, the sound that comes back isn't quite the same as if I'd hit the same key on my E443.

Example:

I choose the 240 Drum preset (Electric Kit!!). I hit the second lowest 'C' key on the E443 and it plays a nice kick sound.

I hit the same 'C' key on my midi keyboard, and the sound is 'kind of' the same, but it's not the same. It's less, if that makes sense.

Except, the whole thing doesn't make sense to me??

HELP!!

Thank you kindly.

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SeaGtGruff
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Re: E443 Sounds different when controlled by external midi keyboard

Unread post by SeaGtGruff » Fri Jun 16, 2017 6:41 pm

It might be due to different settings. When you select a voice-- including a drum kit-- on the keyboard itself, it doesn't just change the Bank Select and Program Change to the requested voice; it also changes a number of other voice-related parameters.

But when you select a voice remotely by sending the desired Bank Select and Program Change values, those other voice-related parameters won't be changed unless you specifically send messages to change them as well.

You can see the parameters that are being changed if you monitor the keyboard's MIDI output as you select a voice, although the keyboard might not output all of the settings; in particular, if a setting already has the value that's used with the selected voice, the keyboard won't output a MIDI event for that setting, just for the settings that are actually changing to different values.

The keyboard also has an "Initial Send" function that outputs the settings of all parameters so they can be captured by external hardware or software. If you're going to record MIDI from the keyboard in a DAW, you should use the "Initial Send" function to record the keyboard's current settings in the DAW and put them at the beginning of the MIDI track(s) in a measure by themselves-- that is, the first measure is reserved for setting things up, and the second measure is when the song actually starts. If you record a User Song in the keyboard's song sequencer, then use the "Save SMF" function to convert it to a MIDI file, and then load that MIDI into your DAW, you'll see how the first measure contains all of the messages that set up the keyboard, and the first Note events don't occur until after the first measure.

However, one thing that could be a problem is that the keyboard uses SysEx for setting certain parameters-- mainly the Reverb Type and Chorus Type, but also more obscure things like the tuning offsets for the notes of the chromatic scale. Ableton Live doesn't support SysEx messages, and filters them out of any MIDI data being streamed into Live or imported from a file. Fortunately, most of the voice-related parameters are set with Control Change events, so the lack of SysEx support shouldn't be too limiting as long as you remember that you can't change Reverb Type and Chorus Type from Live and will need to change them on the keyboard itself-- or using some other external hardware or software that supports SysEx.

Of course, if you're playing the PSR-E443 with a MIDI keyboard controller, I assume you're sending the voice change requests from the controller, not from Live per se, so you should program the controller to send the messages for the various voice-related parameters. You can use the MIDI monitor in Live to see what those parameters are-- minus the SysEx messages that got filtered out-- so you'll know what to set up on the controller. Or you could try recording the settings in Live and saving them to clips that can be triggered as needed.

One more thing that could possibly be at work is that-- if I'm not mistaken-- Yamaha applies an octave shift to the keyboard when you're using a drum kit, such that playing a particular key on the keyboard might not be sending the MIDI Note value that you think it is. The charts that show the individual percussion sounds of the drum kits will have columns on the left to indicate which keys you play to get each sound, as well as which MIDI Note value you use to get that same sound. If you're triggering the percussion sounds with the keys on your controller, be sure to use the octave buttons to shift the controller's keys to the necessary range. And if you're programming any pads on the controller, be sure to use the values from the MIDI Note column of the drum kit chart.
Michael Rideout
Yamaha PSR-E433, PSR-E443, YPT-400

dreadsynth
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Re: E443 Sounds different when controlled by external midi keyboard

Unread post by dreadsynth » Sun Jun 18, 2017 1:20 pm

Hi SeaGtGruff,

Thanks for taking the time out to write such a detailed response! I'm going to follow these instructions and post back about what worked.

Thanks again!

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SeaGtGruff
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Re: E443 Sounds different when controlled by external midi keyboard

Unread post by SeaGtGruff » Sun Jun 18, 2017 2:10 pm

You're welcome! I hope it's an easy fix to find and implement.

As far as being able to monitor the MIDI output of your E443 to see what settings it uses, I'd recommend getting a utility that doesn't filter out SysEx messages as Ableton Live does. If you're on Windows, MIDI-OX is a handy MIDI utility.

One other thing I just thought of-- Yamaha lists Program Change values as 1 through 128, rather than 0 through 127. That means you'll need to subtract 1 from the Program Change values as Yamaha lists them if you're selecting the drum kits and other voices from your controller. But if you're using the Ableton Live to select the voices and kits then you do NOT need to subtract 1 from the Program Changes, because Ableton also uses 1 through 128-- although you WILL need to ADD 1 to the Bank Select MSB and LSB that Yamaha lists, because Ableton uses 1 through 128 for the Bank Select MSB and LSB as well.

And another thing-- if you send MIDI to your E443 from a DAW or controller, be sure to select the voices and kits from the DAW or controller-- either one will do, as long as you aren't trying to select the voices and kits on the E443 itself. That's because the "parts" that you can select and play on the keyboard itself-- i.e., the Main Voice, Dual Voice, Split Voice, and I think the Style Parts as well-- are separate and distinct from the parts associated with the 16 MIDI channels. For instance, if you send MIDI to the E443 on channel 1, it won't use the Main Voice; rather, if you haven't sent any Bank Select or Program Change messages to the E443 yet on channel 1, it will use the GM Acoustic Grand Piano voice (i.e., Bank 0, Program 0). And for drums (channel 10), it will use the GM Standard Drum Kit (Bank MSB 127, Program 0). So that might also be the problem, since the drums in the GM Standard Drum Kit probably sound like "plain vanilla" compared to the drums in the other kits.
Michael Rideout
Yamaha PSR-E433, PSR-E443, YPT-400

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