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Bad news on the Key Audio BK9 feature...
2 months 4 weeks ago
Diki
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Bad news on the Key Audio BK9 feature... #398
Well, I finally got around to trying something I always wanted to do...

I use a lot of audio backing tracks these days rather than MIDI ones. They sound great, you can get them as multitracks rather than stereo mixes, which allows you to do a lot of remixing, restructuring and generally making them better than the original (or better for you, anyway!). But they have one serious weakness compared to MIDI sequences...

You can't use Markers, and jump around inside the structure, add an extra chorus, repeat a solo a couple of times, jump back earlier if your dancers take their time getting on the floor, etc.. The BK9 (sadly, not the BK5/3, for some unknown reason, as the feature was on earlier E50/60 arrangers) and the E-A7 both have a feature called 'Mark/Jump', which allows you to embed up to four Markers in an SMF, and then freely jump around within the song on the fly. It's incredibly useful if you use sequences, giving you almost arranger-like ability to change things up instead of always playing the song from beginning to end the same way, every time.

But MP3/WAV backing tracks, you are back to always following the preset structure. Or are you..?

It occurred to me to try using the Key Audio feature in the BK9, split my audio tracks into chunks of verse, chorus, solos etc., and then use the sequencer to trigger them (yes, you can do that!). But, it turns out, there's a weakness in the audio player. Sure, it'll loop drum rhythms nicely, but it turns out there's a small (around 200ms, more on this later) delay when an audio file is first played, and it tends to fade in (a fast fade, but a fade nonetheless) rather than come straight in. So, this means that one file with say the verse, followed by the chorus, will have a small but quite noticeable 'hiccup' in it. At 110bpm, 200ms is over a 1/16th note, so quite groove destroying...

Now, yes, there is a bit of a workaround. No, you can't get rid of the 200ms gap, but you can start the audio file 200ms into the chunk, so it ends up back in time. But there is no way to get rid of the gap.

Damn! :(

The final icing on the cake was, I tried doing this on a fairly well used stick (my gig stick backup, with thousands of styles, SMF's and audio backing tracks and break music on). Then I thought, maybe it's an issue with how much data is on the stick. So I got a small 4GB stick, freshly formatted it and copied ONLY the one song's data to is. Yep... The gap went down. This time it was about 60ms smaller. :unsure:

So there really isn't any way to compensate accurately because it will depend on your stick's data, which changes over time. But, bottom line, that gap kills the idea anyway. For me, at least, it's nowhere near as good as SMF Mark/Jump... I know I could do all this easily with a laptop or an iPad, but I was really hoping to be able to do it in the keyboard and not have to tote around anything but my BK9 (which is doing a great job all by itself!).

Oh well... :dry:

However, anyone with an E-A7 might be able to do the same thing by using the sampler, depending on how long it takes to load about 40-70MB of .WAV data (that's about how much the average song uses, at 16bit/44.1kHz). I know the playback of samples from the sampler has to be pretty much instantaneous. So the same idea would work in one of those. If anybody has already tried this, let me know (I really need to know how fast the sampler loads from the stick).

Rats! Now I'm thinking of getting an E-A7! Or maybe I should just go laptop and do it with Ableton Live or something like that..?

BK-9 BK-7m G70. Kurzweil K2500S, Korg Triton. Samick upright piano. iMac 27", HR824 monitors.

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