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Cubase Lite Update & Gravis Ultrasound

PC Notes
Published February 1994

This month Brian Heywood delivers news of an update to Cubase Lite, a way of downloading sounds to your Gravis Ultrasound card, and more...

An Australian Prime Minister once said 'Life wasn't meant to be easy' and I'm beginning to know what he means. Mind you, he did say this as he was stepping into his Porsche to drive off to his palatial country retreat — I wish I had his problems! As I write this month's column, there's a jack‑hammer operating about 10 feet away from my desk as Gary the builder (he also plays drums in the band) removes the old concrete floor from the area that's going to be my new studio. Oh well, at least I'll be able to use the soundproofing ideas that Paul White has been writing about recently in his 'Practical Studio Design' series. Down to business...

Patch Maker Lite

One of the big advantages of the Advanced Gravis Ultrasound MPC sound card is that it stores its voice data in RAM rather than ROM; this means that you should be able to create your own sound patches and download them to the card. I've been playing with a Windows application called Patch Maker Lite, also from Gravis, which lets you do just this.

Since the Ultrasound is a wavetable synthesizer, its patches are made up of a sampled sound (or sounds) along with loop, envelope, and modulation information which are stored in a *.PAT file. Patch Maker Lite lets you use one or more standard Windows .WAV files as your starting point and then lets you alter various playing parameters such as the looping characteristics, pan position, envelope and modulation characteristics. The program is available for download from CIX (from 'gus/files') or from the Gravis area on Compuserve; failing that you should contact your local Gravis stockist.

Cubase Lite News

Steinberg have released an update to their Cubase Lite program to improve its performance on slower PCs and under Windows enhanced mode. Cubase Lite users who received the software bundled with the Yamaha Hello! Music! system and duly sent in their registration card should be automatically sent the new copy, otherwise contact Naji on the Cubase help line (081 207 1792). This line operates between 2pm and 5pm on weekdays — at other times it is connected to a fax machine, so you can fax your enquiries if you prefer.

Soundscape News

Soundscape Technology have announced yet another software upgrade to their PC‑based hard disk recorder. This time they've added the ability to record and play eight tracks of digital audio on each (formerly) 4‑track module. The modules still only have four physical outputs but the software has the ability to mix the digital audio data streams in real time, allowing you to perform a stereo mixdown in the digital domain.

Another interesting feature is the ability to add an external stereo signal to the mix using Soundscape's analogue or digital inputs. You could, for instance, use this to add the outputs of your MIDI modules without the necessity of an external mixer, or to cascade a number of Soundscape modules. For more information contact Nick Owen or Chris Wright on 0222 811512.


A nifty Windows utility I've come across recently is Don Strenczewilk's generic SysEx control panel — WinSysEx. The application lets you create Windows controls — such as scroll bars, list boxes — that send MIDI System Exclusive messages when they are tweaked. The MIDI data can be sent to either a MIDI device or to the Windows clipboard (so that it can be imported into a sequencer). The panels are created using a simple scripting language which allows you to design a group of controls for editing a particular aspect of a MIDI device, such as selecting a voice or defining a pitch envelope. I was slightly disappointed that you can't make the program send non‑SysEx messages, such as MIDI volume or pan position. Even so, WinSysEx looks useful for remotely controlling sound modules from your PC. The software is available for download from CIX ('route66/progs') and from Compuserve. It costs $39 to register and the author can be contacted at 72 Knapp Avenue, Rochester, NY 14609‑1127, USA or via Compuserve using 72617,132 (InterNet:

Yamaha TG300

Yamaha have just released a new tone module called the TG300, which is designed to fill the gap between the TG100 and the TG500 modules. Like the TG100 and CBX‑T3 modules, it comes fitted with a computer interface that allows you to connect it directly to your PC's serial port. To use the TG300 with Windows you need to have the serial port driver (version 1.3 or later), which is available from Yamaha‑Kemble UK in Milton Keynes. The sound module retails at £649 (inc VAT) and looks rather like a black house brick. For more information ring the Yamaha Action Line on 0908 249194 (not forgetting to mention Sound On Sound, of course).

Roland ATW‑10

I still haven't seen any sign of the new Roland MPC sound card despite numerous calls to the lads down at Roland HQ in Fleet. The card, which must take the record for the number of name changes it has undergone before release, still looks to be one of the better sound cards to hit the market (if it ever does). Let's hope that I'll be able to get my hands on one before too long.

VDU Filters

On a different subject, if you spend a lot of time in front of a VDU, as I do, you may have pondered over buying a VDU filter. There are actually a number of different types of filter available, ranging from a simple nylon mesh (to cut down reflections) to an all‑singing, all‑dancing coated optical glass version with an anti‑static conductive coating. The thing that has always put me off is the feeling that I'm buying a 'pig in a poke', the idea of spending good money on something that would later prove to be a waste of time being too much to endure.

So I was interested to see an advert from Computing Plus in Oxford offering a 30‑day free trial (ie. sale‑or‑return) of an anti‑static VDU filter, which rather whet my appetite to give it a try. So I called them up and after a brief discussion of the most suitable type, arranged for the delivery of a Profile Maximum Plus filter for evaluation. I've also often wondered whether the conductive coating might reduce the electrical interference that the VDU screen causes on my Squier Stratocaster guitar, but unfortunately this doesn't seem to be the case.

Despite this I find that I want to keep the thing, so I guess there may be something in this VDU filter business. The filter I chose has a list price of £135 (including carriage) but there are a number of different versions. To make up your own mind give Tony Tebby a call at Computing Plus on 0992 881912 to arrange for a free trial.

In the meantime, I'm still looking for a way of shielding my studio VDUs from passing single‑coil guitar pickups. Any suggestions? I'll keep you informed of any developments...