ST's Best MIDI Librarian and Editor
GENPatch and DX Heaven
Reviewed By JIM PIERSON-PERRY
A MIDI librarian program lets you fetch and store instrument parimeter data (patches) between computer storage and MIDI equipment. As your collection of equipment and patches for them grows, having an online librarian changes from a luxury to a necessity.
GenPatch ST is the most comprehensive MIDI librarian program for the ST. It can handle all standard librarian functions and quite a bit more. Most importantly, it's open-ended--you can easily teach it to work with new MIDI equipment. I use GenPatch ST as an integral part of my MIDI software arsenal and find it invaluable, particularly for multi-instrument patch setups.
There are three main types of operations in GenPatch ST--system, librarian and MIDI analysis. The system operations include disk formatting, file deletion, customizing screen colors, reporting on memory status and enabling MIDI Thru (useful for systems using a master keyboard to control slave synthesizers).
Over 50 configuration files are included and it's easy to create new ones. Even non-standard MIDI implementations (such as Casio and Roland) are handled easily. Each MIDI data transfer is called a block. After receiving a block,you can Save it or continue to add more data (from other instruments) to build a multi-block file. Thus you can create a single file containing all equipment setup information for a given song -- great for live use! Data files can also be loaded automatically by the Hybrid Arts sequencer programs Synch Track and SMPTE Track ST.
The MIDI analysis operations let you view the data flow between computer and equipment and interpret MIDI data held in memory. The latter is extremely valuable in hacking MIDI programs and patch storage formats. Up to 36 macros can be defined.
$149. Hybrid Arts, Inc., 11920 West Olympic Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90064. (213) 826-3777.
DX Heaven is a MIDI patch editor and librarian program for the widely used original Yamaha DX7 synthesizer and compatibles. It does not support the more recent DX7 II or TX802 models. Like other Dr. T software, DX Heaven is heavily copy-protected and uses a non-standard GEM interface which ignores desk accessories.
Program operations can be split into three areas--system, librarian and patch editor. Options are displayed in a menu and selected with either the mouse or function keys. Screen displays are clear and easy to work with.
System functions include describing how the synthesizer talks to the ST, selecting screen colors, printing disk directories and formatting disks. MIDI setup options allow for input merge and rechannelization (needed for a master keyboard with slave synthesizers), channel selection and synth type (DX or TX). All system parameters can be saved for future use.
The librarian mode can hold eight banks (32 patches per bank) coresident in memory. Voices can be freely copied, moved and swapped between banks, and function data can be copied between patches.
The patch editor is the heart of the program. Obviously a great deal of thought has gone into the user-interface. Three seperate screens are used: numeric parameters, function controllers and graphic editing of envelopes. Numeric parameters can be changed by clicking on the parameter and moving the mouse, using the [+] and [-] keys, using the graphic slider or simply typing the new value. The graphic envelope editor is easy to use--just click on a data point and drag it to the desired new position.
What really sets this program apart from others is its use of the mouse to play notes and give instant feedback on how the patch sounds. Moving the mouse horizontally changes the pitch; moving it vertically changes the loudness (velocity). Holding down the left button and moving the mouse vertically adds in modulation. In the system setup you can assign the mouse to reflect any standard modulation controller. Playing the synthesizer this way quickly becomes intuitive (and fun!), especially if you don't have a keyboard.
In keeping with the current trend, DX Heaven also lets the computer create new patches randomly. You can select which patch parameters to change and by how much. The program comes with 25 banks of patches.
$129. Dr. T's Music Software, 220 Boylston Street, Suite 306, Chestnut Hill, MA 02167. (617) 244-6954.