---Page 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13
Variations on a Theme
Roland GS. Rolands turbocharged GM superset offers additional sounds (a minimum of 226) that are selected by using MIDI Program Changes along with Bank Select commands. MIDI NRPNs (Non-Registered Parameter Numbers) are harnessed to give users an element of sound-programming control over synthesis parameters, such as filter cutoff frequency and envelope shape. A special SFX (sound effects) set is also offered.
Yamaha XG. Yamahas equivalent format expands slightly on Rolands GS format as well as on GM1. It specifies a minimum 32-note polyphony and three separate effects processors, including some dedicated effects banks. NRPNs are also supported, and XG specifies a minimum of 480 instrumental sounds. An XG instrument may also include a stereo analog-to-digital input that allows for mixing and processing incoming audio signals.
GM2. Ratified late in 1999, General MIDI Level 2 raises the GM1 bar by specifying 32-note polyphony, two simultaneous drum channels (10 and 11), and a host of Control Change (CC) assignments, including filter cutoff, resonance, envelope attack and release, vibrato rate, and a number of Universal System Exclusive Messages (an oxymoron, if ever one was) regarding tuning and chorus/reverb types.
Although the new features laudably take on some of the facilities of Rolands GS and Yamahas XG formats, the very notion of a GM2 is confusing. Its a bit like the trap of naming a file Final and adding a Final2, Final3, and Final4. Still, GM2 represents an important evolutionary step for General MIDI.
With so many software synths and samplers entering the marketplace, do GM sound modules still have a future? Without continued support, we may be seeing the last generation of GM-compliant modules.
Lets take a closer look to see if these relatively unsung heroes can still hold their own in todays music making environment. The following mini reviews focus mainly on the GM characteristics of the instruments. Many units, of course, do much more. Several of the modules in this article are akin to other models from the same manufacturers and offer similar features (see the sidebar Family Ties). Past issues of EM contain more detailed reviews of many of these sound modules.
All of the units were tested using Steinbergs Cubase VST on a Mac, playing an assortment of commercial and noncommercial Standard MIDI File sequences.
Reprinted with permission from Magazine, February, 2001
© 2000, Intertec Publishing, A Primedia Company All Rights Reserved
[an error occurred while processing this directive]