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AIPL SpinCycle; XG Wizard

Anyone with a penchant for Leslie speaker simulations should take a look at AIPL's website ( SpinCycle (patent pending) is one of several shareware DirectShow compatible plug‑ins available for download.Anyone with a penchant for Leslie speaker simulations should take a look at AIPL's website ( SpinCycle (patent pending) is one of several shareware DirectShow compatible plug‑ins available for download.

This month sees Martin Walker bemoaning certain schemes of copy protection, as well as investigating various downloads for Yamaha SW1000XG owners.

I truly sympathise with the huge loss in revenue caused to software developers by piracy, but their continuing efforts to protect their investment of time and money mean that the legitimate user is still suffering. I was recently sent Steinberg's Mastering Edition plug‑in collection for possible review, which certainly looks impressive, containing three of the company's existing plug‑ins and three new ones specially chosen for mastering purposes. I hope to review the collection in a future issue of SOS, but have not yet been able to install it at all — my Yamaha CRW4416S drive showed the filenames, but refused to read any of the files themselves. Instead it locked itself into a loop of speeding up and slowing down, requiring a complete reboot of my PC. Apparently there is 720Mb of data on the CD‑ROM (rather than the normal maximum of 650Mb) as part of an over‑zealous protection method, and despite extensive pre‑testing with lots of drives, some Yamaha ones simply can't cope with this. You have been warned!

Native Instruments, developers of the excellent Reaktor, Transformator and Generator software synths now use a 100Mb enigma file, which scrambles and unscrambles data during loads and saves as part of their protection system. While you can use the enigma file on the CD‑ROM, this slows down every load and save considerably, and I'm sure that most users will just install the 100Mb file without question. It's a clever way to dissuade people from downloading pirate copies over the Internet, but imagine what would happen if every developer used this method; you could quickly end up with gigabytes of your hard drive consumed by anti‑piracy files.

Mind you, at least NI offer users the option of installing the enigma file and running direct from their hard drive. Propellerhead's Rebirth demands that you insert its CD‑ROM every single time you attempt to run the application. Still, while extremely tedious, at least this is reliable. Currently at least three of my plug‑ins need re‑installing, since when trying to run them I clicked on Cancel when asked to insert the CD‑ROM, rather than launching the plug‑in. I now get an Authorisation Failure message that says the plug‑ins concerned are 'not properly installed', and that I must run Setup again. There must be better copy protection methods than these. Aaargh!

Taking On More Clients

XG Wizard makes choosing from the hundreds of available XG patches even easier, thanks to the large Voice Selector display shown here. This is the 'Small' 800 x 600 screen option (see last month's PC Notes for a shot of the 'Big' 1024 x 768 version).XG Wizard makes choosing from the hundreds of available XG patches even easier, thanks to the large Voice Selector display shown here. This is the 'Small' 800 x 600 screen option (see last month's PC Notes for a shot of the 'Big' 1024 x 768 version).

Event soundcard owners (like me), who were concerned about Event dropping the cards from their range and leaving support to Echo (the original designers), will be reassured to know that Echo have already pledged continued support and further development of their driver range. To show that they mean business, they have already released a new set of version 5.00.0 drivers for Windows 95/98. You can download these from They provide multi‑client audio capability, DirectSound and ASIO 2.0 support. You can now also switch off S/PDIF input dithering when desired, to allow bit‑for‑bit copying of 16‑bit files (previously a 16‑bit digital transfer used the 24‑bit internal path, and then dithered this down to 16 bits before saving it to disk). In addition, a 3000‑word Q&A file is included, containing more detailed information than I've ever seen before on Event cards, including data on how to get the Darla, Gina, and Layla cards working with Steinberg Cubase VST and with Seer Systems' Reality and/or Nemesys Gigasampler software. Good news indeed! The only sad note is that while most applications work very well with these new drivers, I've so far found two that crash when using them — NI's Reaktor and Sonic Foundry's Vegas Pro.

Still on the subject of drivers, Yamaha have recently released NT 4.0 drivers for the SW1000XG soundcard, which can be downloaded from However, even better news is that the new Windows version 2.1.2 drivers offer multi‑client MIDI support for both outputs. This certainly makes life far easier for those of us using XGedit or XG Wizard. The most interesting new feature of the drivers is the addition of another MIDI port, increasing the total number of available MIDI channels from 48 to 64. This feature is to support the new PLG150‑series daughterboards, which provide an additional 16 MIDI channels.

Also on the horizon are SW1k multi‑client DirectSound audio drivers. I've been able to try a Beta version of these and finally managed to run both Reality and Reaktor with low latency through the SW1k DSP effects (25mS so far, with promises of lower settings in the final release version). Wonderful! Finally, of those who want to know even more about their SW1k soundcard, Yamaha's Nick Howes has written The SW1000X Advanced Guidebook. This is available in pdf format for free download (from, and covers using the SW1k with the Cakewalk, Logic, and Cubase VST sequencers, multi‑client overlays such as Hubi's Loopback, and linking up to Yamaha's DSP Factory card. The guide also has sections on Windows NT and Mac, using hardware controllers such as the Kenton Control Freak and Keyfax Phat Boy, and troubleshooting. Even as an experienced SW1000XG user I still learned a lot from its 150 pages.

Getting Wizzy With It

After my brief mention of XG Wizard version 1.03 last month, I've been able to spend more time with it, and am certainly impressed, especially since I've already received two more updates. Version 1.04 cured a couple of small bugs, and XG Wizard is now up to version 1.2, with several new features. Written by Achim Stulgies (author of the previous XG Gold, whose main focus was the DB50XG, SW60XG and their 'hidden' QS300 voices), XG Wizard is an editor/librarian program for the complete range of Yamaha XG synths and soundcards, which now includes the DB50XG, SW60XG, MU10, MU50, MU80, MU90, MU100, MU128, QY70, QY700, QS300, CS1x, CS2x, PSR keyboard series, and CVP series. However, it's been primarily written for the SW1000XG soundcard, with special consideration for its plug‑in boards. The PLG100 Vharmony board is already supported, and the VL and DX editing options will be added as free updates later on.

Its list of features is roughly similar to that of Gary Gregson's XGedit95, but with a rather different approach. The individual controls are smaller than those provided by XGedit, but this means that the main controls for all 32 MIDI channels can be displayed simultaneously, laid out in the main section of the window in a similar way to a multitrack hardware mixing console. Beneath these are the controls for the five effect busses, arranged as horizontal strips, with the Vocal Harmony controls as the sixth effect buss (if you have this expansion board). A further small section hosts master EQ, a set of launch buttons for additional windows, and controls for an inbuilt MIDI file player.

The Part Table shows the voices currently allocated to each MIDI channel, as well as FX Routing buttons, while the Part Editor provides click‑and‑drag graphic envelopes for the amplitude envelope, pitch envelope, filter response, and vibrato, with a further bank of smaller controls for tuning and modulation options.

One improvement over XGedit is Wizard's option of a much larger screen display. Two choices are available, but they both use similarly sized controls. The 'Big' 1024 x 768 version displays the Part Table to the right‑hand side of the mixer and the Part Editor beneath the effect controls, while the 'Small' 800 x 600 version overlays the Part table on top of the mixer and the Part Editor over the effect section when requested. You can still get at everything fairly quickly, but for those with 17‑inch or larger screens the Big option is quicker and easier to use.

Further windows overlay parts of the display when they're required. The Audio Parts window (12 audio channels, two audio inputs and the master channel) covers MIDI mixing channels 19 to 32 when you press either the Audio launch button or the F6 key (most functions have keyboard equivalents). The Range Editor lets you restrict which notes are played by each MIDI channel; the Drum Editor lets you alter individual drum instrument settings — filter, envelope, and EQ — on MIDI channel 10; and the Voice Selector shows all the available voices arranged in instrumental groups.

A pop‑up virtual keyboard is also available, which can play both single notes and major or minor chords using the mouse, and the XG mapper lets you convert controller messages into SysEx strings to directly control parameters such as Reverb Depth from the modulation wheel. A Remote Control facility lets you assign an octave's worth of notes on your MIDI keyboard to act as remote editing keys, and you can access this facility even when running a sequencer! Alternative colour schemes can be selected and, by popular demand from XG Gold users, it's possible to create your own scheme. Version 1.2 adds the ability to load a MIDI file and ignore any XG‑specific data, or to merge the XG data with that already loaded. You can also use an XG Reset command, delete loaded MIDI data, and resend all data or just the drum buffers to the attached XG synth.

XG Wizard obviously draws heavily from Gary Gregson's XGedit. However, each has an overall bias, and whether you choose one or the other will depend on how you prefer to work. XG Wizard is ideal if you want an overview of all 32 MIDI channels and six effect busses simultaneously when working on a complex song, but are happy with fairly small controls and no value readouts. XGedit, on the other hand, is more suitable for those who primarily want a sound editor, since although it provides a smaller overall screen display with complete readout of a single channel and a single effect, the individual controls are larger and easier to see, with a readout of every parameter value. The choice is yours.

A save‑disabled XG Wizard demo can be downloaded from‑on‑‑, and the full registered version of the program costs $25 (£15.50).

Tiny Tip

If you have an Adaptec SCSI card with BIOS inside your PC and have been getting fed up waiting for your PC to finish booting up as far as the desktop, here are a couple of tips that may shave a considerable amount off the total boot‑up time.

  • First, enter the SCSI BIOS normally by pressing Ctrl‑A when the relevant message appears on screen during boot‑up.
  • Then, if you have a SCSI CD drive, make sure that 'BIOS Support for bootable CD‑ROM' is disabled in the Advanced Configuration page, since otherwise the computer may waste a lot of time trying to find a non‑existent CD.
  • The main improvement comes with disabling 'Include in BIOS scan' for each non‑existent SCSI device. I currently have a Fujitsu SCSI hard drive and Yamaha 4416S CD‑R drive, along with the 2940UW Host adaptor. By removing the remaining 13 devices from the BIOS scan I cut a good 30 seconds off my boot‑up time!

Windows 98 Support

More and more manufacturers and developers are openly 'coming out' in favour of Windows 98 over Windows 95. The first time I spotted a direct reference to this was in the information with RME's Hammerfall 9652 soundcard, which stated that "Windows 95 can't handle the memory requirements the Hammerfall has". Then Terratec recommended using Windows 98 rather than Windows 95 for their new EWS88MT card, due to "better timing and a higher overall performance". When I got the latest 4.0 update for Logic Audio, this even showed a warning message when I attempted to run it in Windows 95, as follows: "Logic Audio does run on Windows 95. However, this is not recommended because under certain conditions the MIDI timing can be affected. Windows 98 solves this problem". Looks like it's time for Windows 95 users to seriously consider upgrading.