Matt's EVI Gig Rig - April
page shows one of my first major wind controller gig rigs. This
rig is from April 2002. I have since had several permutations
of wind controller rigs. The link below will take you to the
master gig rig page where you can see my other previous and current
wind controller gig rigs...
Wind Controller Gig Rigs
Matt's EVI Gig Rig - April 2002
Since I am always being asked by my wind controller customers
what my own rig consists of, I decided to create a page with
some quality photos of my live "EVI Gig Rig" along
with some notes as to how I came to choosing the components of
my rig. I recently put together a "Gig Rig" for my
EVI to play out with my group. Money wasn't so much an issue
as the size and sound quality. The top criteria were that the
rig needed to be small yet uncompromising in the sound and playability.
I want to be able to load into a gig in one easy trip. Using
a dolly, it is possible with this system. Fortunately, the components
I chose are not necessarily the most expensive though some are
hard to find. Often these items are available on the Patchman
Music Used Gear page. After a lot of thought about every
possible permutation, I arrived at my current rig as described
on this page.
As you may know, I have extensive personal experience with
wind controllers since I program all the wind
controller soundbanks for Patchman Music. My first hand experience
programming and using so many sound modules with a wind controller
has helped me to focus on what is possible with the current crop
of synths with regards to a wind controller. I have learned what
works best (for me at least) with a wind controller and what
to look for and avoid when deciding on wind controller gear.
Hopefully, this page will help you in your quest for your own
"Ultimate Wind Controller Gig Rig".
My wind controller of choice is the MIDI EVI (as shown at
right). Since I am originally a trumpet player, the EVI feels
most comfortable since it uses a fingering system similar to
a valved brass instrument. Nyle
Steiner makes the MIDI EVI by hand and it is an absolutely
wonderful controller to play. You can read all about the Nyle Steiner
MIDI EVI here. Learning this instrument, or any other wind
controller, takes time. It took me several months to get comfortable
enough with the fingering to be able to play it in public. It
also takes time to get used to the mouthpiece and other controls
on the instrument but the effort is well worth it. Playing a
wind controller takes very little embouchure so I can sound great
even after several weeks away from the instrument. Try that with
a trumpet! Also, a wind controller gives a single instrumentalist
the ability to emulate many different instruments. In fact, you
can even sound like multiple instruments at once with the proper
layered synthesizer patches. Because if this, a wind controller
can open up vast possibilities for a musician who is looking to
work professionally. Such versatility is a very valuable commodity.
Plus, it's just a lot of fun to play!
Please note that the actual wind controller you use isn't
terribly critical since most wind controllers transmit basically
the same MIDI data. I use the MIDI EVI because it is currently
the only choice trumpet and brass players have. There are a few
other options for brass players which are detailed in the Wind
Controller FAQ. There are several choices available to sax
and reed players such as the Yamaha
WX5, WX11, WX7, the Akai EWI series including the current
model Akai EWI4000s,
and the Softwind Synthophone.
Patchman Music sells and supports new wind controllers and also
sells a lot of used wind controllers and wind controller related
synths and gear on the Patchman
Music Used Gear Page.
Below is a front shot of the Matt Traum April 2002 wind controller
gig rig. This rack consists of the following components: An Alesis
QSR loaded with the Patchman
Music QSR Volume 1 wind controller soundbank and two 8 meg
Pretec Flash RAM cards, a Yamaha
VL70-m Physical Modeling Sound Module with the Patchman
Music VL70-m TURBO VL chip, a Boss MX-10 Ten Channel Stereo
Mixer, a Boss SE-70 Super Effects Processor, and a Boss EH-50
Stereo Enhancer. Wired in the back is also a Midi
Solutions Router. Below are the details on each component.
Please note that the synthesizer you use and the patches loaded
in the synth are really 50% of the rig. It is critical that you
choose a synth that is capable of responding properly and quickly
to the MIDI data a wind controller transmits and then programming
it (or buying sounds) that are specially designed for wind controller
use. Some synths simply cannot be made to work well with a wind
controller due to limitations in their internal patch programming
capabilities and synthesis structures and processor limitations.
Fortunately, a large library of professional commercial soundbanks
is available from Patchman Music. Click
here for a list of synthesizers that is supported by Patchman
Music quality wind controller patch soundbanks.
Alesis QSR Sample Playback Sound Module
The Alesis is great for several reasons. It is small- only
1 rack space. It has a great legato mode which almost no other
sample playback type synth has. When programmed to play in legato,
it does not retrigger the entire sample. Instead, it starts legato
(slurred) notes at the sample loop point. This method works great
with a wind controller. Some modules always start legato notes
at the sample start point which sounds like you are tonguing
each note even when you are not. Other modules smoothly stretch
a sample for legato notes. But this has the problem of sounding
unnatural while playing long legato melodies due to over-stretching
and "munchkinization". Plus this "super-stretch
method" can cause very unrealistic sound if a fingering
glitch accidentally sneaks in and "super-transposes"
a sample many octaves. And fingering glitches are very commonplace
with every wind controller. So I have concluded that the "retrigger
at the loop point" method of legato is the best. By the
way, another unit that is capable of this preferred form of legato
is the Kurzweil K2000 / 2500 / 2600/R series. These are superb
samplers/synths and I love my K2500, but they are too bulky for
my needs with this rig. In the size needed for just one K2500R
I managed to fit so much more that gave me much greater versatility.
It turns out that just about all the Alesis synths use the
"retrigger at the loop point" method of legato so the
older single rack space Alesis S4+ is also an excellent option.
In fact in some ways it may be better than the QSR. The S4+ has
4 knobs which can be programmed to do a lot of different things.
Also the S4+ has a different sample ROM and some of the wind
instrument samples are perhaps better. This isn't a big deal
since you can use custom samples off the Flash RAM card. Of course,
this is very subjective. You can compare the QSR and S4+ at the
Patchman Music site. Listen to the Patchman Music QSR
wind controller soundbank demo here. Listen to the Patchman
wind controller soundbank demo here. The DISadvantage of
the older S4+ module is that it has only one card slot and it
has no headphone jack on the front.
My QSR has two 8 meg Pretec Flash RAM cards. (Specifically
these are Linear Flash memory cards FAD008-P "8MB AMD Series
D Flash" from www.pretec.com)
These cards each can hold up to 8 megs of data. The data can
be samples (in SampleCell format), Program banks, and Standard
Midifiles. Data is loaded onto them via the free Alesis
Soundbridge software. The cards are non-volatile- they have
no back-up battery to go dead on you in the middle of the gig.
I expect they will prove to be reliable. So far they have. And
since they can store everything, you could travel light. Just
take your card with you and plug it into any QSR.
Also, the Alesis is one of the few synths that can have each
element in a single patch set to either mono or poly independently
of each other! This is great for adding note to note transients
such as pad or valve clicks that re-attack for each note while
the main sound plays smoothly in mono legato. Or you might add
a non-transposing picking click or body resonance to a guitar
sound for added realism. Being able to add these little quirky
noises and resonances in the Alesis patches allows a form of
"physical modeling sample playback" if you will.
The QSR can also play back Standard Midifiles into its own
synth engine so you could use this feature to play sequences
within the QSR and jam over them on the VL70-m. Great fun!
Yamaha VL70-m Physical Modeling Sound Module
There is nothing like playing a VL Physical Modeling synth
with quality patches with a wind controller. The VL is just a
monophonic module (more precisely, stereo but with one note of
polyphony), but when layered with the QSR it adds a great deal
of reality to the sound. Of course it sounds great solo as well.
One limitation of the VL70-m is its small Custom bank size- just
6 fully user editable Voices. But this is overcome by installing
Music TURBO VL upgrade chip which has 256 high quality wind
controller patches ready to play.
Boss MX-10 10 Channel Mixer
The Boss MX-10 is the smallest rack mount mixer I know of.
Unfortunately it is no longer in production and is quite hard
to find. It handles 10 inputs (4 stereo line inputs, and 2 mono
line or Mic inputs). It has an effects send which is wired to
feed the Boss SE-70. I use one of the Mic inputs to plug my AKG
C419 Clip On Trumpet Mic into. Then I can use the SE-70 for acoustic
trumpet and flugelhorn as well. The output of the MX-10 goes
directly into the Boss EH-50.
Boss SE-70 Super Effects Processor
The Boss SE-70 is an amazing device. Aside from great sounding
reverbs, delays, etc..., it has several effects that are not
commonly found on other effects processors. It has 2 vocoders,
a guitar synth, bass synth, (these synths can track any mono
acoustic instrument complete with a dynamic enveloped filter
and amp envelope!), a tuner, a 60 cycle hum remover, a vocal
remover, TRUE stereo reverbs (stereo in and out), great sounding
distortions and pitch shifters, a 20(!) tap delay, 16 stage chorus,
40 stage phaser, a sampler, and on and on. It can chain a large
amount of effects for massive processing. It can respond to MIDI
controllers and up to 3 pedals. It's a pretty cool device. It
is capable of doing all sorts of things to your sounds. The guitar
and bass synths algorithms can be used with the acoustic trumpet
or flugelhorn as pitch-tracking synthesizers! That's right, this
thing will track your horn and synthesize it (internally only-
it doesn't do pitch to MIDI conversion). It sounds great!
Boss EH-50 Stereo Enhancer
The Boss EH-50 Stereo Enhancer adds that extra sizzle to your
sound without resorting to strident, ear-fatiguing eq. It responds
dynamically to the audio signal. I don't use an EQ. I prefer
the enhancer over EQ because it kicks in dynamically whereas
an EQ is "in" fully all the time which can get tiring
on the old lobes after a while. It's interesting that after working
with it on for a while how dull everything sounds when you bypass
it. In a way, with wind controllers, a dynamic enhancer is very
similar in function to what is happening in the wind controller
patches anyway. That is, the louder you play the brighter the
sound. It's pretty natural and it's just adding to what is already
supposed to happen with an acoustic horn anyway. The combination
of the two (quality wind controller patches and the EH-50) just
gives that extra dynamic punch. BTW, The Boss EH-50 is the only
half rack enhancer I know of. Yes BBE makes the small unit but
it isn't totally rack friendly and Alesis makes the 1/3 rack-sized
Micro Enhancer which also works very well.
Anvil 3 Space "Forge II" Rack
A super heavy duty 3 space rack case. This one is about as
small as you can get for 3 rack spaces yet it is built like a
On-Stage Stands Rack Stand Model OSS RS7000B
This is my solution to getting the rack up high enough for
easy access while playing. I believe this stand was designed
for holding a small guitar amp. But I turned the two rails 180
degrees and use it as a rack stand. It's a great way to go. Since
I can easily get to the rack without having to stoop down, I
am eliminating the need to have a foot controller. A foot controller
is still an option, but for the sake of size, I am trying to
live without one for the time being.
Below is a rear shot of Matt
Traum's April 2002 EVI Gig Rig. You will notice it looks
pretty clean. This is partially due to the fact that I used three
brand MIDI cables and all the audio cables are only as long
as they need to be. Most are only about a foot long.
Midi Solutions Router
Wired in the back is also a Midi
Solutions Router. The Midi Solutions Router is used for two
First, I programmed it to filter out (block) Program Changes
from getting to the VL70-m. I like to use Program Changes to
select sounds on the QSR only. I select VL70-m sounds by hand
as needed. Unlike most other synths, there is no Program Change
reception filter on the VL70-m.
Also I programmed the Router to block MIDI Controller #65
(Portamento Switch / Pedal) from getting to the VL70-m. The MIDI
EVI, Akai EWI3000 and EWI3020, as well as an EVI from EWI conversion
by Nyle Steiner all send MIDI Controller #65. If the VL70-m
receives a 0 value of MIDI Controller #65 it switches to Poly
retriggering even if the patch was programmed to be mono-triggering.
This causes the VL70-m to play very "choppy". Once
this happens, the only way to regain a smooth legato is to re-select
the Voice or re-edit the VL70-m Voice from the front panel (set
the "Porta Sw" parameter to "on") EACH TIME
after you access your Portamento sensor. Obviously these two
options are impractical so I opted for using the Router to filter
the offending data. BTW, the Akai EVI1000, EWI1000, EWI4000s,
and all Yamaha WX wind controllers do not cause this problem
with the VL70-m. Also the VL1 and VL1-m are devoid of this problem
is a Midifile that you can play into your Midi Solutions
Router to set it up to do the things mentioned above. It is best
to use a MIDI sequencer to play this file.
The Router is also great because it needs no batteries. It
just hangs in there and does its job.
My MIDI EVI's MIDI OUT connects to the QSR MIDI IN, the QSR
MIDI OUT (not THRU) is connected to the ROUTER IN. The Router
MIDI OUT 1 is connected to the VL70-m MIDI IN, and the Router
MIDI OUT 2 is connected to the SE-70 MIDI IN. I have since added
Jet Pro Wireless MIDI System.
Pretty standard here. Stereo outs from the QSR and VL70-m
go to the MX-10. The MX-10 Effects Send goes to the Left/Mono
input of the SE-70. SE-70 Stereo outs go to the Stereo Returns
on the MX-10. My AKG C419 Clip On Trumpet / Flugelhorn Mic goes
into one of the MX-10 Mic Inputs. The Stereo Outs from the MX-10
go to the Stereo Ins on the EH-50. The Stereo Outs from the EH-50
go to the main band PA. I can use the Headphone jack on the front
of the MX-10 as the feed to my Yamaha MS60 personal monitor.
The Headphone level knob on the MX-10 controls the volume only
to my monitor.
Yamaha MS60S Powered Monitor
This is a great, small amp for use with a wind controller-
though it is no longer in production. It has a powerful full
range sound yet it is small. I have two for stereo if the situation
calls for it. It's been seriously used on a number of gigs as
you can see.
Custom Dual MIDI EVI Hard Case
I modified this camera case to hold two MIDI EVI's plus cords
etc... I can also pull out the lower foam section and put a half-rack
module such as the VL70-m in it in addition to the two MIDI EVIs.
The case is labelled "Travel Master by Southern Case".
I pulled the original lining out and glued in foam pieces I cut.
Yamaha Dual Hard Case
This is a stock Yamaha dual hard case that holds my Trumpet
and Flugelhorn, mutes and accessories. Nothing special here except
that everything is in it including stands for the two horns.
K & M Flugelhorn and Trumpet Stands
These stands are great because they fit inside the bell of
their respective horns. No extra baggage here.
Compact Mic Stand
I'm not sure who makes this mic stand. It was purchased at
Guitar Center. It is super small yet extends to the size of a
standard mic stand.
On-Stage Stands Conductor's Music Stand
This is a compact music stand that is small yet able to hold
the large music books that bands often use. Much better than
a flimsy wire stand.
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