M8X - Case study in how leftover 'garbage' in presets can knock you on your *#%)#

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Douglas Ireland
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M8X - Case study in how leftover 'garbage' in presets can knock you on your *#%)#

Unread post by Douglas »

In the thread 'APortamento of string sounds in Montage' the issue of poor sounding Portamento was raised and discussed in reference to the 'Solo 1stViolin AF1' performance.

One of the points I tried to make was about the problems you can encounter if you try to use a preset performance as a baseline without actually analyzing it to determine just what it is doing: what controls, sequences, arpeggios, etc are being used.

That performance has embeded a PERFECT example of just how bad it can get. I'm putting the root cause summary here in quotes to make it stand out.
Preset performances can, and do, have leftover garbage parts and elements that are NOT part of the performance itself. In other words you can NOT rely on an unused part/element to have a 'default' configuration or to even have a known configuration. The INIT performances are NOT an exception.
To see the issue at the part level do the following:

1. load INIT Multi / GM - a 16 part performance
2. load INIT NORMAL (AWM2) - it only has one part
3. Edit part 1 - 'General / Pitch -> Part Settings'
4. Notice the parameters - and the category, sub category and part name
5. Select part 2 - this is NOT part of the performance and on the home screen would show a '+' sign
6. But on the edit screen you can see the parms from part 2 of the INIT GM performance.
7. What you see on the edit screen for part 2 will be the part 2 from whatever the last performance was
that actually had a part 2.
8. Not so much of a problem since there is no 'Part Switch' you can turn ON using the touchscreen or keyboard. There actually IS a part switch and you CAN use SysEx to turn it ON. This part, in all its glory, will now be part of the performance.

Elements (all 128 of them) DO have an element switch you can turn ON. But if you do turn one on to add it to your part it, too, will bring along its previous configuration and the following is an example of what can happen.

1. Load the Solo 1stViolin AF1' performance fresh
2. Mute part 2
3. Mute elements 1 and 2 of part 1
4. Play ANY note and you will get no sound since both elements are muted

Now, let's say you want to add element 3 to this part

1. Edit part 1 and select element 3
2. On the Osc / Tune screen notice that the element switch is OFF so this element is NOT part of the performance yet
3. Notice also the waveform is 'Viola2 St Offset' - so you think this might be a good one to use
4. turn the element switch ON
5. Now the problems begin - what problems you say?
6. Play middle C (C3) - sounds good
7. Play F3 (the F above middle C
8. Huh? what happened to the volume?
9. Play G3 - or ANY higher note - no sound at all - what happened?
10. Play F2 (the F below middle C - sounds ok
11. Play C2 - or ANY lower note - no sound at all - what happened?

The explanation is all there - but if you don't know what to look for you may NEVER find it or understand what is going on. It's called 'steep learning curve'.

The problem is that the contents of element 3 are NOT part of this performance because the element switch is OFF. BUT element 3 (and elements 4 - 128) will have whatever contents they had when this performance was last saved by whoever designed/created this performance.

Here is what is going on.

1. Look at the Elem Note Limit parms at the bottom of the screen
2. C2 is the lowest note - G3 is the highest note
3. no note lower than C2 or higher than G3 will sound for this element - you would need to change those settings as needed to add this element to your performance
4. Select 'Amplitude' from the left side and then 'Scale' from the second column
5. Whoever last worked with element 3 has configured amplitude scaling.
6. Breakpoint #1 - that -128 for C2 means offset the volume by -128 which will basically mean 0
Even if you change the Elem Note limit to include the lower part of the keyboard this element won't
sound because of the -128 offset to the volume.
7. Breakpoint #4 - same as #1 except it applies to G3 and above so no higher notes will sound either even
if you change the note limit.
8. Breakpoint #2 - G2 value is 0 - breakpoints 1 and 2 define a note range from C2 to G2 (G2,Gb2,F2,E2,Eb2,D2,Db2,C) and a volume offset range from 0 to -128.
So for each of those 8 notes the volume will drop by -16 for every key you play down the keyboard
9. Breakpoint #3 - C3 (middle C) is 0 - breakpoints 2 and 3 define a note range from G2 to C3 with
a volume offset of 0 for the entire range - so the volume stays the same for keys in that range
10. Breakpoing #4 - G3 value is -128 so you can guess what happens to the volume as you play from
middle C up to G3 - the volume drops dramatically with each key. Then at G3 and higher volume is 0.

Morale of story - EVERY parameter in element 3 may have leftover settings that need to be cleaned out or adjusted if you decide to include the elment in your own performance.

If all you do is set the element 3 switch to ON you never know what parm settings you might be starting with.
Even worse - there is no such thing as 'RESET' to restore the element settings to some basic/normal set of values.

The above applies to ALL elements up to 128. You need to copy an element from the INIT NORMAL (AWM2) performance by first adding the part from that performance to the performance you are building and then using 'Shift Edit' to copy a minimal element from the INIT part to the new element you want to add.

Then you can alter that new 'default' element to your liking (e.g. selecting the waveform to use).

Hmmm - did I mention that there is a STEEP learning curve simply learn how to clean up the mess someone else left behind to avoid problems like the above. And then you can start up the STEEP learning curve of how to actually do your own things.

Sorry for the length but since adding elements to existing parts of presets is a fundamental part of creating your own performances I felt this type of thing needed a full description and explanation.


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StuartR United States of America
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Re: M8X - Case study in how leftover 'garbage' in presets can knock you on your *#%)#

Unread post by StuartR »

Excellent analysis of the steep learning curve for the Montage family of synths. I've encountered some of these problems myself and in one recent case where a part just "magically" stopped playing when editing a modified preset performance. In my case I was unable to figure out what actually caused the issue so I just decided to start from scratch.

There's no easy answer to this situation because it's a side-effect of programming a very complex (and capable) instrument.

On the other hand, I was able to successfully recreate over 40 performances on my Montage M7 that I had been using on a Nord Stage 4. All of these were created using existing preset performances.
Douglas Ireland
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Re: M8X - Case study in how leftover 'garbage' in presets can knock you on your *#%)#

Unread post by Douglas »

There's no easy answer to this situation because it's a side-effect of programming a very complex (and capable) instrument.
I agree that for 'element issues' like the one I mentioned any fix would first require a pretty thorough analysis of all the possible impacts to other areas and that probably raises the risk/benefit ratio too high to warrant spending resources on.

But there are at least two changes that would help address the issue WITHOUT the risk of side effects:

1. Add an option to reset an element to 'DEFAULT' - that would be the same state that is currently provided in the INIT NORMAL (AWM2) performance for the one element it uses.

2. For 'element related' controller destinations change the default to OFF for the element switches. Currently all 8 element switches default to ON. Using ON seems harmless since it won't have any effect if you haven't enabled the actual element switch. The problem is that changing the element switch to ON to use that element AUTOMATICALLY includes that element in the controller destination without the user actually making that decision themselves.

The whole reason that the control assign screen has switches for the first 8 elements (you can't include elements 9-128 as destinations at all!) is to give the user the option to include/exclude any of those elements. So I don't want the system automatically including them behind my back just because I turn an element switch ON.

I don't see how changing those 8 defaults to OFF can cause any side effects since the defaults would only be used when you first choose an element-related destination - meaning that particular destination did NOT exist before so it couldn't possibly have any 'user made' settings that might get lost by using a default.

You definitely raised a very valid point that can't be taken lightly. Ergo I don't expect any 'fix' for this one.
Last edited by Douglas on Sat Jan 06, 2024 5:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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MyAssembly United States of America
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Re: M8X - Case study in how leftover 'garbage' in presets can knock you on your *#%)#

Unread post by MyAssembly »

Wow, I'm new to the forum and this post convinced me to sign on!
I'm quite impressed with the depth of knowledge being shared - it's truly invaluable. Hopefully I can contribute in some small way in the future. Cheers
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ToddBMarshall United States of America
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Re: M8X - Case study in how leftover 'garbage' in presets can knock you on your *#%)#

Unread post by ToddBMarshall »

Refreshing comment Douglas.

It's this kind of "logical" thinking that seems to be lacking at Yamaha. They have lots of great functionality and great sounds. But it seems when they "market" it together into an instrument they just kind of put it in a blender. The instruments are highly "overloaded" (i.e. virtually every control is contextual and parametric). Yet they don't give you a quick way to visualize the state.

And your recommended RESET to DEFAULT with a logical (fail safe) default would be a huge improvement. Many times I've tried to dissect and document a preset. And many times I've given up.

It would also be helpful to have a little cheat sheet (that Yamaha itself must have and use) that tells how their nomenclature works. In time I kind of decode it... and then I quickly forget how bewildered and disoriented I was when I started my forensics.

And one last point. They are obviously marketing oriented. For every documentation instance of "you can" there should be a "here's how". But actually "you cans" outnumber "here's hows" 10 to 1 (note: 96.327% of statistics are made up on the fly).
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Rara Scotland
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Re: M8X - Case study in how leftover 'garbage' in presets can knock you on your *#%)#

Unread post by Rara »

ToddBMarshall wrote: Thu Jun 20, 2024 6:32 pm It's this kind of "logical" thinking that seems to be lacking at Yamaha. They have lots of great functionality and great sounds. But it seems when they "market" it together into an instrument they just kind of put it in a blender. The instruments are highly "overloaded" (i.e. virtually every control is contextual and parametric). Yet they don't give you a quick way to visualize the state.

It would also be helpful to have a little cheat sheet (that Yamaha itself must have and use) that tells how their nomenclature works.
This is an old example, Yamaha could learn a thing from Casio, and there user manuals.
The manuals for the 'xZ' series for example, I know they're old, they're a good example of the comment above.
These explain the synthesis, the how and the why and, in layman's terms. They take the user through step
by step making sounds, making it easier to understand.
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Saul Ukraine
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Re: M8X - Case study in how leftover 'garbage' in presets can knock you on your *#%)#

Unread post by Saul »

Just a personal observation over the years but Yamaha, out of all the main brands seems to be dominated by engineers and technicians and they often create user manuals that these people understand but the general public are left confounded by.

The user interface until they switched to a touch screen have always been clunky and difficult to navigate. Even to the experienced "Yamaha" user things can often seem illogical and unintuitive.

Yamaha makes some great instruments but the company sill does not seem to "connnect" with the end users in the way that they should. :/:
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Re: M8X - Case study in how leftover 'garbage' in presets can knock you on your *#%)#

Unread post by Kier »

In the absence of an element reset function, you can always save a copy of the init AWM performance, load it into your current performance, select the first element and then shift+edit to copy that element to the part and element you want to reset.
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anotherscott United States of America
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Re: M8X - Case study in how leftover 'garbage' in presets can knock you on your *#%)#

Unread post by anotherscott »

From what you describe, this part seems like normal behavior to me:
Douglas wrote: Fri Jan 05, 2024 5:22 am To see the issue at the part level do the following:

1. load INIT Multi / GM - a 16 part performance
Being a 16-part performance, it sounds like this loads some data into all 16 parts.
Douglas wrote: Fri Jan 05, 2024 5:22 am 2. load INIT NORMAL (AWM2) - it only has one part
As a single-part performance, I would expect loading it to affect a single part, and leave the other 15 parts unchanged.

It sounds like this is what is happening, but you think it should work some other way?
Douglas wrote: Fri Jan 05, 2024 5:22 am The problem is that the contents of element 3 are NOT part of this performance because the element switch is OFF. BUT element 3 (and elements 4 - 128) will have whatever contents they had when this performance was last saved by whoever designed/created this performance.
Out of curiosity, are you sure that these unused elements "have whatever contents they had when this performance was last saved by whoever designed/created this performance" and not whatever contents they had in the previously loaded performance?
Rara wrote: Fri Jun 21, 2024 7:24 am This is an old example, Yamaha could learn a thing from Casio, and there user manuals.
The manuals for the 'xZ' series for example, I know they're old, they're a good example of the comment above.
These explain the synthesis, the how and the why and, in layman's terms. They take the user through step
by step making sounds, making it easier to understand.
Yamaha generally does have something like this, it's in a separate downloadable manual. For example, if you look at the page for MODX manuals at https://usa.yamaha.com/products/music_p ... loads.html
you'll see that the fifth manual listed is the "Synthesizer Parameter Manual". I'm surprised there's nothing on the Montage M manual page, but from a programming aspect, the boards are largely the same, so you can download that one and reference it. There will be some differences (e.g. it has nothing specific to AN-X), but most of it will apply, e.g. all the AWM2 and FM parameters are the same, AFAIK.
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Re: M8X - Case study in how leftover 'garbage' in presets can knock you on your *#%)#

Unread post by mx49 »

anotherscott wrote: Sat Jul 06, 2024 3:05 pm Out of curiosity, are you sure that these unused elements "have whatever contents they had when this performance was last saved by whoever designed/created this performance" and not whatever contents they had in the previously loaded performance?
I am not the OP, and I do not own a Montage M. However, I am fairly sure that the description is accurate. You can find similuar issues on previous models, and on voices and performances that have been migrated forward from these models.

For me, the most noticeable change happened with the Motif XF. The 128 additional voices were not created with the same diligence as the 1024 voices that were coming from the Motif XS. For example, the 5 voices Clavi Bril Treble, Clavi Amped, Clavi Phaser, Clavi Touch Wah and Clavi PedalWahFC2&MW all have 1 additional disabled element, and these 5 voices are basically identical except for the effects. To me this looks like a shift from quality to quantity.

I don't care so much about this aspect. I think that I have a fairly good understanding of the parameters that are part of a performance, and how they interact with each other.

However, many Montage/MODX owners do not go into these details. And without doing that, I understand that the experience can be frustrating. I think for some Montage/MODX owners, the CK/YC keyboards would be better options, because they would be able to get more out of these simpler keyboards. I also expect that Yamaha will shift investments into these simpler keyboards.
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