For the Very Best Virtual Instrument (not synth) Sounds Go External

I have played EWI’s from way back when you still needed a rackmounted processor for your EWI, to EWI USB, and EWI-4000s, but unsatisfied with the built in sounds I searched and was disappointed until I found samplemodeling.com They had not only the best woodwind and brass sounds, but their software had specific settings for Windcontrollers. More recently one part of this incredibly creative group split off to form audiomodeling (using their own SWAM engine). Go to their web sites and check it out with your own ears.
You can also check out my soundcloud page here:

https://soundcloud.com/dstong

I’ve recently bought a Roland Aerophone AE-10 and the built trumpet, violin, harmonica, clarinet, bassoon etc. are far superior to anything I have ever heard built in to any other wind controller. However, I have major problems with the octave key. I thought it was only because I am so used to the octave rollers on the EWI instruments, but some reviews I read recently written by people who have never played an EWI have the same complaints. I have gotten better with some practdice, but it is very frustrating to put it mildly. The pricey Aerophone AE-30 is supposed to have improved the octave keys as well as all of the other keys as well and the synth sounds, which don’t interest me that much, are also said to be improved.

Review – Koldot Digital Wind Instrument Holder

Having a stand for your EWI is a good thing. For a while, I had a modified guitar stand for my EWI4000s I was using. I even had a little basket thing I 3D printed for it affixed to the stand. It was hacky, and not very portable.

Fast forward to post COVID in California, and me having a Aerophone Pro AE-30 now as my primary controller. I need a stand for it if I’m going on a gig, or just playing it. So, I found this one on Amazon. Koldot Digital Wind Instrument Holder.

This stand works great. It’s small, folds out easily, and more importantly, FITS INSIDE THE AEROPHONE PRO CASE.

Win, win, and win. Oh, and it’s cheap. $30 on Amazon.

It also works with Akai EWIs and probably other Aerophones as well.

If you are looking for a stand, check this one out.

Aerophone Pro Editor (iOS)

As of today, 4/27/21, Roland updated their editor app for iOS to include a “librarian” section where you can import “Scenes” (ie patches) from an Aerophone, a File, or the “Cloud”. The “Cloud” option brings you to the Files app on iOS, where you can go to iCloud Drive, Dropbox, Google, or other “Cloud” storage. I’m not exactly sure right now what “File” does. I think if you save it to the memory of your iOS device, you can recall it (sorta like doing a backup), or maybe if you drag some “Scenes” into the App using iTunes (Windows) or on your Mac?

Anyhow, this is a good step forward by Roland. It also removes a HUGE gripe I had with the AE-30. Bravo.

Who wants to maybe start a trading thing for patches? Perhaps set up a GitHub URL or I can open a file’s section here? Ideas?

Aerophone Pro AE-30 Second Impressions

Ok, I have had the Aerophone Pro for about two months now. And there are some things it does well, and some……..that need work. Let’s start with the stuff it does well.

First, I really like the mouthpiece/reed thing. It feels more “sax like”. Pitch bending, while it can be done with this weird little thumb lever thing, can be done with the mouthpiece. Like a sax would. The Akai EWI’s, you have to do it with your thumb (hitting a touch area above or below).

Second, the “palm keys”, the forked F, and the pinky keys are great. Again, it feels more like playing a sax.

Third, it is really responsive while playing it. Responsive as in I didn’t need to tweak anything to get it it where I wanted. My EWI 4000 I had to really tweak a bunch of settings until the sound delay was to my liking.

Ok……….so the stuff that needs work……

Obviously…..the key noise. I still is a problem. Slightly better as it gets “broken in” but………..it’s loud. And still feels sorta “cheap”.

The editing of sounds. There needs to be some sort of computer editor or something. While you can do editing, sorta, on the iPad or iPhone, it’s not great. And you can’t save them other than to your app. This is a HUGE stupid oversight by Roland. No ability to SHARE patches. I mean…….what? There isn’t even a SYSEX dump as far as I can tell. I did dig into the MIDI that it does, and I think you could, in theory, maybe create a program to edit sounds, but……why Roland hasn’t done this, I am clueless. This hobbles the instrument. One of the great things about the Akai EWI 4000s was the creating custom sounds (Patchman, and others).

The default sounds…..need work. Like, almost all of them are just so heavy with effects…….delays and reverbs……….it’s just too much. The Guitar/Bass section……not sure why anyone would want to attempt to use a folk guitar with this. On the flip side, the synths are great…..after some tweaking……and the ethnic section is fun. But a lot of these require work, and the editor app is just not really that great to do the work in. And if you tweak a bunch of these, are they going to survive when Roland issues another OS update to the device? Is there a way to BACK UP all the stuff? I don’t see any way to do that………

Conclusion……

I’m still torn on this. While I see a huge potential, the instrument is crippled by Roland. The inability to share patches, or just SAVE THEM off the device to a file, limits the true potential of this instrument. Why give us an instrument that is “ZEN-Core Synthesis System” but a POS editor for it. Dumb. Really dumb.

Aerophone Pro AE-30 First Impressions

Ok, so I bought a late Christmas present for myself. An Aerophone AE-30. Finally received it this week.

So, first impressions. Good things first.

  1. I LOVE that they included a case. As a Akai EWI 4000 owner, it was a PAIN IN THE ASS to find a case for it. I did find a case made by Ritter-bags (soprano bag) that I love. But the AE-30 comes with a bag. Points scored.
  2. Mouthpiece. It actually sort is like a saxophone. A reed, and you can lip things up and down. Very nice.
  3. The sounds are great. The synth sounds really are top notch. Even the “trumpet” and other sampled/emulated sounds are very good.
  4. Playing response is great. Articulation, etc. Top notch.
  5. iOS app is nice. They don’t have a computer editor key as far as I can see. And no apparent way to share your patches or save them for backups or future reference. Not sure if it does a SysEx dump.
  6. Bluetooth Midi.

Now the things so far I do not like.

  1. It feels cheap. For a $1500 instrument, it feels cheap and plastic. Like, it feels like a toy. I know the Akai 4000 has plastic, but it feels WAY more solid and “PRO” than the AE-30. I’d fear taking the AE-30 out on a gig…..it might break.
  2. The keys are terrible. I complained on a couple of YouTube videos about the key noise. It is real. They keys are also rather….meh. I mean, they seem to be sluggish. I think the noise and the sluggishness are tied together. With some use perhaps it will go away? Or maybe some like silicone lube perhaps? Not sure. Not a fan at all of the keys.
  3. Speakers are lame. Still not sure why they have them on it. Perhaps if they got rid of it they could have slimed it down some.

Those are the impressions so far. A little disappointed by the build quality. More to come…..

Petition To Akai to Re-Continue The EWI4000s

The Akai Professional EWI 4000s was discontinued in June of 2019, after 14 years of its release, but it is still in very high demand. Many consider the 4000s to be the best EWI (after 16 years of its release in 2005) for its sounds that are not compatible with newer EWI models. It is very hard to get a hold of one these days because of the discontinuation, because there are so many people looking to get this instrument, and almost every existing unit being sold out. It is unlikely that this petition will do anything, but it’s worth a shot to get this legendary instrument back into production.

Sometimes, you just need a good OLD fashioned petition to fix a problem.

the BEST EWI Youtube Channel?

If you were going to list the “who’s who” of EWI, names like Michael Brecker, and Masato Honda come to mind. Yet, there is a new name that should come up. Eddie EWI.

Seriously, this guy RIPS on EWI. His channel is a pure delight to watch/listen to. He has really mastered the Akai EWI, and sounds f-ing great on it. Check him out!

EWI5000 and Presonus One 5 Pro

Does anyone have experience setting up an EWI5000 in Presonus Studio One to work with Aria Player or any of the VST instrument group included with PS1? I have everything working with one exception… There is no ability to crescendo/decrescendo by blowing harder or softer into the EWI. There is the ability to create a louder or softer note based on the air pressure at the the attack of the note (like key velocity on a keyboard instrument, but once that musical dynamic is set it cannot be changed with the breath controller. I’m assuming this has something to do with midi “expression”(?) but am at a loss as to what to do. So far the support team at Presonus is “stumped”. To date, the folks at MakeMusic (the Aria Player and associated Garriton instruments are part of Finale) – have not replied to my inquiries.

Any suggestions are appreciated.