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How to Simulate a Duophonic Synth on the XW-P1 (and maybe the XW-G1 too!) After decades of defaulting to polyphony, I've finally become fascinated with mono synths and the awesome Solo Synth of my XW-P1. As a result, I've also found myself interested in the duophonic play style of synths like the ARP Odyssey and Moog's Sub 37. It got me to thinking if there was a way to simulate a duophonic synth on the XW-P1 (and the XW-G1) to support that kind of sound. After a week or so of experimenting, I think I came up with a suitable way to pull it off. It won't support the full spectrum of those synths, but it does give me the ability to, for instance, play or hold single notes on one part of the keyboard, and play or hold the Solo Synth on the other. Since you obviously can't have two Solo Synths going on at the same time, the next best thing is to pair up the Solo Synth with a PCM synth tone/tones, split them using Zones, and have them share the same filter. Fortunately others like AlenK, Chas, BradMZ and others have deciphered all the elements I need to do this. The XW-P1 Companion, in particular, was really helpful to me. Also thanks to Clark Denham over on the Facebook Group who said something to me that clicked and kept me from giving up. The XW-P1 Solo Synth app for iPad was also invaluable for the fine tuning I needed to do. Once I accepted that I was going to have to work the Solo Synth and PCM tones, I set out on finding some Solo Synth tones that I liked, ones that were reminiscent of the sound I was going for. I chose a handful of them, then set out to find some PCM tones that sounded similar. I decided that I was going to need a combination of PCM tones to sound right side-by-side with a Solo Synth. In the end, I found a good match between XW LeadSyn 2, and the combination of PCM tones Slow SawLead and Seq.Square. So I put XW LeadSyn 2 in Zone 1 (so that I could later apply its filter to the other Zones), Slow SawLead in Zone 2 and Seq.Square in Zone 3. I assigned Zone 1 keys as the Lower Key Split (C- to B2) and Zones 2 and 3 both (layered) as the Upper Key Split (C3 - G9). The first test was to play Lower and Upper to hear how it sounded, and this is where the first lightbulb went off. What I really wanted to do was play the Solo Synth as the Lead, and let the PCM tones either do bass duty or just be the lower held note. So I switched my key arrangement and that was much better. So Zone 1 as Upper (C3 - G9) and Zones 2 and 3 both as Lower (C- to B2). Much better. So I played B2 and C3 (the split point) to hear how natural the progression was, but found that it sounded like it jumped an octave. So I set Zone 1 with a +1 Octave Shift, and the split matched quite naturally. The tones were close, but it required some fine tuning of the Solo Synth sound and envelope to bring it into line with the layered PCM tones. This is where the iPad app came in really handy, and with a little tweaking, I had a custom Solo Synth tone that sounded pretty much just like Slow SawLead+Seq.Square. (note: I save a lot as I go along, and even save temporary variations in case tweaking goes too far and it becomes difficult to get back. So it really helps to use that Write function on both Performance and Tone so that you can audition variations and finally choose the best combined settings) The next step is some housekeeping to help keep your sanity later on. Basically, you want to normalize the Performance. Go through the Volume/Level settings and match them, match the Reverb settings, do everything you can to get those two sides of the split to match as closely as possible. The goal is a set of keys that sounds like a single tone on a monosynth (on which you can play two notes at a time!). What comes next can be as small or big as you want. Remember that I put the Solo Synth on Zone 1 specifically so that I could apply effects and behavior that was available to the PCM tones as well (see posts like Chas's Filter All and XW surprises). For what I was working on, I wanted an automated LFO Sweep running in a cycle for all the notes. I went back to my SoloSynth tone, set (and saved!) the Cutoff and Resonance of the LPF to where I had a nice medium "growl", went to LFO and set LFO1 and LFO2, made a Virtual Controller for LFO2 routed to the Cutoff of the Filter, and added a Flanger to the DSP. Tweaked as I went along and got the sound I was looking for. Resaved the Tone. Went back to the Performance, into Zone, and set the PCM tones on Zones 2 and 3 to DSP Line "On" so that they could tap into the same effect. Tested it out across the keyboard, probably did some more tweaking and came up with a single sound I really liked. Saved the Performance. The other big lightbulb was serendipitous. I started messing with the Sequencers for the Performance, knowing that I'd probably want to assign Arpeggio to one Zone (only) and Phrase/Key Play to the other. At first I was thinking that Arpeggio would be great for an automated bassline on the Lower Split. But I was messing with the Phrase Recorder and assigned it to the Lower half (again, Zones 2 and 3). I recorded a long single C note on the Phrase Recorder and saved it. When I tried it out, I realized I had just made the Lower half a monosynth! Keep in mind that with the PCM tones in the lower half, I could still play them as poly. I would just have to be careful to play only one note at a time. But with a single note Phrase/Key Play assigned to the Lower Split, I can only play one note at a time. That, combined with the Zone 1 Solo Synth on the Upper Split gives me the "two-note monophonic" synth I was looking for. Essentially, a Pseudo Duo Synth. I saved my custom Key Play sequence, set it to be limited to the Lower Zone keys (C- to B2), set Key Play default as "On", and saved my completed Program (I even named my Program "PseuDual"). I still have some more experimenting I want to do with envelopes, and switching my Upper/Lower assignments to see how that sounds. And since I really have very little hands-on experience with actual Duophonic synths (Sub 37 coming soon), I don't know what I might be missing. Feedback from others here would be welcome and I hope that someone else will find this useful and possibly take it further. I'm not sure if I upload just the Program file if that will include the Tone and other elements, so in the next day or so I'll upload all of the associated files. I'll also try to do a video or audio demo of the results (all of this was for a specific song I've been working on). I just had some time this evening and wanted to make sure I got the basic steps down in writing before they started to drift out of my mind.
I've been trying to program filter sweeps (I think that's what you call it) for months as any modern songs have them (like many Bruno Mars ones). Closest I've gotten is using the reverse cymbal sound (which is part of the uptown funk patch I contributed). Unfortunately I found it very hard to edit that sound, especially for length. I would like to make it longer, make ones that go down instead of up, and really moderate that reverse cymbal sound. I've been searching through downloads, have found some semi-sweeps but they usually have too much of a tone to them, not the semi white noise, so I haven't found or been able to experiment to program anything suitable. Any ideas or knowledge about how to program sweeps? Thanks Doug
After 3.5 weeks away in the USA, I returned to the UK with a bump on Wednesday 16th. Thursday 17th, guess what was one of the first things I did? Yes, of course, fired up my XW's as I'd missed playing around with them whilst I was away from home! And I was surprised again at just what the XW's can do. I've owned my P1 for over 18 months, and my G1 for about 7 months, and STILL I keep finding new things that I can do with them. As I've mentioned in previous posts, I'd struggled to get to grips with the filter for anything other than the monosynth. In the end, I almost wrote it off for anything other than use with the monosynth, and was campaigning for Casio to update the XW's with a genuine analogue filter(s). One of the main reasons for this is that when I tried using the filter with other XW sections (non monosynth) the results were far from pleasant. However, I think I now know why. Firstly, when using the "filter all" function, one zone needs to set to a mono synth sound for the filter to work. The type of sound selected is important, as if it uses a really harsh/ screaming filter, it will affect the sound of any other section going through. I was looking for a nice, pleasant sounding sweep of a lush pad, so I chose a gentle mono synth sound in one zone, and a polysynth PCM sound in another. NOW I could get the sweeping, lush, poly sound that I was after - tweaking the cut off and resonance knobs now sounding great! You lose some of the stereo effect of the sound (I think it resorts to mono), but hey, a Jupiter 8 was mono too (other than the chorus effect I think), so if it's good enough for the Jupiter 8... Then I found further tricks you can do. With one zone set to a monosynth bass and the other zone set to the polysynth sound, I enabled the arpegiator for the bass and had a cool little bass riff running. I stuck in a simple drum pattern in the step sequencer, hit the 'hold' button and let the pattern loop whilst tweaking the cut off and resonance. Now I was getting some great sounds and that classic sweep. And then I was finding that as I lowered the cut off, I was getting a lovely 'choppy' rhythmic effect on the polysynth sound, in sync with the bass and drums. But there's more (!) By adjusting the DSP settings, it's possible to select which sections go through the filter. My first attempt had the filter sweeping EVERYTHING, drums, bass and polysynth. But by adjust various DSP settings to '+/-' (instead of 'On'), I was able to get the filter to only affect the bass and polysynth sound whilst leaving the step sequencer drums unaffected. My experimentation has been a bit hit of miss at the moment as I'm not 100% clear on what exactly I am doing, however, the findings are opening up yet more possibilities and capabilities of the XW's. More importantly, it is sounding GREAT! Last night's experiments were done on my G1, and I'm sure the same could be achieved on the P1 too. I also realised why I was struggling with my first attempts at using the 'filter all' function on my P1. The limitations are that (I believe this to be correct), you cannot 'filter all' the Hex Layers or Drawbar Organ sections. You need to have a monosynth sound selected, and you can only have one of the Monosynth, Hex or Drawbar sounds at anyone time, even with multiple zones. That does mean that all the PCM and samples can be routed through the filter, so there are still many opportunities for new sounds and effects to be created/ filtered! Luckily for me that I have both a P1 and a G1, so I can leave the P1 to give me the excellent Hex Layer sounds, and do all my filter tweaking with PCM/ Sample sounds on the G1. I guess as well you could take the sounds from the P1 and route it through the G1's filter if you really wanted to. For now though, I feel I've discovered yet another dimension to the XW's. Perhaps others will tell me that they knew of these filter effects all along and I've just been a bit dense in working my XW's (ahem!) For now though, I'm having great sonic fun, and that's what the XW's are all about!