OAX / VST – System Performance Part 1

There are two parts to our discussion of using the internal PC that ships with your OAX Sonic instrument. The first one relates to “Does it work”? The short answer to that question is YES, it does. The second half of that discussion will be does the PC, that is buried inside you Sonic, have enough “muscle” to support all of the various “OAX Functions” and also allow you to add in whatever VST you desire?

The answer to that is “we will see”. At this point, we are basing everything of off running only the Kontakt 5 player inside of OAX with the default sample libraries. So far, we are able to run the Native Instruments “Factory Library” and it works 100% as expected. Don’t forget that you may want to run other VST’s. You will need to consider that as you follow along with us.

Over the next few months we will be adding in additional sample libraries and we will share what we learn as we go. We can say that the opportunity of mixing in the samples we have up and running (via Kontakt) on a PC, not connected to our Sonic, into what sounds are available in OAX AND controlling all of that from our Sonic – well, EXCITING!

*** Disclaimer ***  As part of this we 100% plan to upgrade our Sonic to the 32 GB RAM max and we will also be adding a second SSD as we take this journey, If you plan to go down the “VST Path” with us,  we would strongly encourage you to the same.

At this point – our current configuration is working great and we expect the same as we add in additional samples, RAM and storage into our configuration.”

7 thoughts on “OAX / VST – System Performance Part 1

  • 08/16/2017 at 07:31
    Permalink

    Hi Bill, Curt

    Thanks for the clarification Bill on accompaniments. I was thinking that you were referring to a Kontakt sound used as an accompaniment on a manual , but I see you mean a sound in a style, MIDI sequence etc. Yes, these should be on a different set of MIDI channels.

    I like the idea of being able to edit/modify a Kontakt sound from the OAX. Can I suggest to Curt that you put this on your ‘To Do’ list for further investigation. It’s highly likely that users will want to adjust these sounds to their own particular preferences, so I think a ‘How To’ procedure for doing this would be very useful.

    Jeff

    Reply
    • 08/16/2017 at 07:57
      Permalink

      LOVE this conversation and ask that others rolling their eyes hang in there with us. Don’t let all of the techie mumbo-jumbo scare you off. Actually, that’s the FUN part! 🙂

      Valid discussion points all around. Don’t know if you saw yesterday’s video but I plan on doing another one today to show how we can use a Kontakt Instrument Bank to work with OAX Dynamic MIDI channel assignment.

      After that we will get into some of the deeper topics brought up in this discussion thread. I think step one is to get folks up to the point that they can install Kontakt and play a few sounds.

      At first glance I’m thinking we only have “Port A” in Kontakt in support of OAX MIDI connections. Very well might be some parameters we can change somewhere to help with that. I’m hopeful that the upcoming manual, mentioned on the Wersi Facebook page recently, will give us more insight along with the rumored OAX 1.5x update allowing for more flexibility in this whole area.

      Reply
  • 08/15/2017 at 14:25
    Permalink

    Hi Curt and Bill,

    I’m afraid there’s more at play here guys than just the nature of the Kontakt samples, although this is certainly a factor. The real power of these type of libraries is the ability to accurately reproduce composite instrumental sounds such as ensembles, orchestral sections and even complete orchestras. The sample profile for these is considerable.

    The real issue though is the way that Kontakt handles its instrument banks. Each of these is a completely separately entity in its own right. So even though the contents of these might be identical, each bank contains a unique block of data. I was astonished to discover this as all other software that I’ve used that supports instantiation provides a master copy to which all instances are linked. In the Kontakt context this would mean that the instrument bank entries would be LINKS to the master, not actual data. So changing anything in the master would automatically effect the change in all its instances. This is not how the Native Instruments guys have chosen to do it however. You can certainly create a master instrument bank and instantiate this as many times as you like in a multi, but any changes to the master will affect only the master, all the instances remain as they were. This means that if we wish to add an instrument to an instrument bank, we have to do this for each instance. And if we make even the smallest change to an instrument’s characteristics using the editor, we have to replace its corresponding entry in each instance with the new version. It’s a right pain in the butt, and it’s easy to lose track of what you’ve got where. The advantage of this approach however is that each instance of the instrument bank can now have its own set of data, and as I said in my previous post, we can utilise this feature on OAS instruments. I’m of the opinion however that this is more by luck than design !

    I’m not sure what Bill means by adding more than 16 channels to a multi. 16 is the maximum because that’s the number of MIDI channels we have for the manuals and pedals. And any additional instances of Kontakt would also need to have all 16 channels present as we don’t know what MIDI channels the OAX would assign.

    I guess by now prospective users of this software will be realising that although this is wondrous stuff, it’s not what you might call a “Sit down and play feature !”

    Jeff

    Reply
    • 08/15/2017 at 17:29
      Permalink

      Hi Jeff, Curt

      As you say most VSTs are multi-timbre, whereas Kontakt is not, unless it is done by the DAW, (Some do some don’t)
      All the parameters in Kontakt can be assigned control codes (CC) which means the sounds can be edited via the OAS/OAX instrument itself, (Without needing to touch the VST) thus there is no need to change the sound in each bank after editing as OAS/OAX will do it for you, (Adding sounds can be a pain though) and best to think of it as user assignable sound controls.
      In OAS you can assign theses control codes by touching VST Edit button in the settings page, which will bring up the CC panel. In OAX this is all done in 1 window and much easier to setup, plus (If I read the manual correctly) these assigned control controls automatically come up in place of the sound controls when you double click the VST sound on-screen in pro mode, which means any changes can also be stored in a total pre-set.
      Another advantage of OAX is that these controls are also available on the Midi outs, (Rather than just basic Midi control that is fitted to OAS) which means you can have full control of any external instrument (Computer or expander) as if it was an internal voice. (If using a computer it means you can forget the mouse and keyboard once you have set everything up)

      You can load up to 64 instrument banks at one time with Kontakt, split up in to 16 midi channels x 4, with each 16 channels having its own port which can be accessed in most DAWs. (Not sure if that is possible in OAX though)
      The above is the reason I said it is better to have a separate instance of Kontakt for accompaniment, as it means it can be independent of the manuals. (Remember if you are using 16 channels in one instance of Kontakt for the manuals, if you try and use an additional sound in the accompaniment it has to use one of the existing manual channels thus causing many problems) In OAS everything is fixed (VST Slots, channels etc.) which means you have to think about 3 steps in front of where you want to be to get the best out of it, whereas in OAX everything is freely assignable so that you can do what you want. (As you can see OAX leaves OAS in the dust when it comes to flexibility and controlling everything)

      NOTE: Most of these large library’s use Kontakt scripts (Program sequence or edit etc.) to achieve a lot of what they do, rather needing a separate sample for everything.

      One thing I cannot stress enough when working with VSTs or Midi is to make sure you have plenty of Real Ale available, as it makes things a lot easier.

      Bill

      Reply
  • 08/15/2017 at 10:01
    Permalink

    Hi Curt

    With Kontakt not the entire sample is loaded into Ram (Unlike Hauptwerk) as most of it will be streamed off the SSD (Hence an USB3 External SSD (To store the sample data) is a worthwhile option) when you play the notes.
    As all the samples are not loaded into Ram at start-up (The amount loaded into Ram will be determined by the voice (A piano needs a lot loaded into Ram, a trumpet doesn’t) so you will not have a linier loading time) You will be able to load multiple voices into Kontakt in the time it takes to load one Hauptwerk instrument because of this.
    If you are going to use Kontakt for accompaniment, load a 2nd instance of Kontakt into the host rather than adding more than 16 channels into 1 instance of Kontakt, as you will find this is much more efficient.

    Have fun and keep plenty of Real Ale handy.

    Bill

    Reply
  • 08/15/2017 at 07:01
    Permalink

    Hi Curt,

    Something for you to try as you continue with your performance trials. I’ve found from my experience using Kontakt that the load time for a Kontakt multi is directly proportional to the number of instrument banks it contains and the degree to which each instrument bank is populated. Since we are using dynamic MIDI channel allocation and the OAX can assign anyone of the 16 MIDI channels to a Kontakt sound, we need all 16 instrument banks in the Kontakt multi. So try instantiating 16 instrument banks in the multi and populate each with say a dozen entries. The load time for this will give us an idea of how long it would take if all 128 entries were filled. If it’s a linear interpolation then we would expect say a 1 minute load time for 12 entries to result in 10 x 1 minutes for all 128 entries. If its non-linear there may be time to have a shave, pop out for a morning paper and have breakfast! If we are using a default Kontakt multi loaded as a VST preset at start up, then it’s a serial process, first Windows 10 then the OAX then the VSTs. And just as a guide, other VSTs like Hauptwerk using the larger instruments can take over a minute to load.

    Note to OAS users. On OAS we only have 9 possible MIDI channels available (4 on the upper manual, 3 on the lower manual and 2 on the pedals) so we only need a maximum of 9 instrument banks. Additionally, since we know the MIDI channel for each layer (selector) we can if we wish limit the placing of Kontakt sounds to designated selectors thus reducing the number of instrument banks further. We can also customise each instrument bank to its intended application, for example mostly solo sounds on the upper manual instrument banks, mostly accompaniment sounds on the lower instrument banks and mostly pedal sounds on the pedal instrument banks. So our instrument banks become more sparsely populated. All of this helps to achieve a more efficient implementation and faster load times.

    Jeff

    Reply
    • 08/15/2017 at 09:24
      Permalink

      Jeff – Going to start working on creating all 16 banks today. For starters I’m only going to load each bank with the “Band” instruments that are part of the Factory Selection from Native Instruments. The whole idea is to show folks the basic concept of the MIDI assignments. At this point I have not tried the “16 Bank load”. We should have that configuration setup and able to show it to everyone in the coming days.

      I will add in that we are also using Kontakt completely outside of our “Sonic Experiment” on both a MAC and another Win10 PC. In both of those cases we do have a couple of sample libraries setup there that are much larger and as you mentioned, the load / startup does take a bit of time. The Mac has 24 GB of RAM and a single disk drive. The Win10 machine has 32 GB and two SSD drives. In that config, the Win10 machine is notably faster. As most folks know the SSD’s make a huge difference. I would expect the Mac to catch up if we added in a SSD and moved all of the sample over to that drive.

      As funding allows I’ll get those same samples (and others) loaded on the Sonic. We need a couple of things… Enough licenses to support loading of all the samples on three machines and the Sonic will be getting additional RAM and a second SSD. Now where did I leave my piggy bank! 🙂

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *