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.

2 thoughts on “For the Very Best Virtual Instrument (not synth) Sounds Go External”

  1. I think there are two “schools of thought” about wind controllers. There are those who want to “emulate” other instruments, and then there are those who don’t. You seem to fall into the former category.

    I really don’t see the point in trying to make a wind controller be a trumpet, or oboe, or some other instrument that already exists. If you are using it to say play that part in to a DAW for a project, then sure. Use it for that. But taking it on a gig and trying to be a trumpet seems……a waste to me. No one remembers Michael Brecker’s awesome trumpet EWI solo. Cause he never did one. Nor has Masado Honda.

    As for Akai vs Roland in the EWI arena. I still think there are things I really like about the Akai way of doing things, and there are things I like about the Roland way. I think the roller octaves are better than Roland’s octave key system. I like the response of Akai’s touch keys better than the craptastic, noisy Aerophone AE-30 keys (absolutely terrible). But…..the Aerophone synth engine is just way cool. I like the mouthpiece system, it “feels” like a wind instrument, and it’s a lot easier to do expressions with it (pitch bending, dynamics, etc).

    I still love the synth sounds the 4000s can do, but the more time I spend with the Aerophone Pro…..it’s looking like the gig spot might go Roland this year…..

  2. Eric,

    I appreciate your comments, especially because, unlike some people, you can see the merits of more than type/ brand/model of windcontroller. Too many people tend to see things in black or white only.

    I agree with all of your preferences such as the feel of the EWI key feel and quality, and the roller type octave keys which work far better for me also.

    Your comment that you do not see the point of why some people like me consider the the realistic virtual instrument sounds to be really important is fairly common, so let me try to explain so you will better understand.

    The reason is because having learned to play the flute and the saxophone, I would also like to play the trumpet, trombone, french horn, bassoon, tuba, violin etc. But I have neither the talent, or the time to learn to play them all reasonable well. Then of course there is also the cost of purchasing a better than student version of these instruments.
    I don’t play gigs, but play solely in my home studio, for the pure pleasure of making music, rather than only listening to others play. Nor would I wish, to compete with musicians for jobs -life is difficult enough for those musicians who do this for a living.

    Still I am well aware that a windcontroller cannot fully substitute for almost any acoustic instrument simply because the current technology simply does not allow, due to design limitations, the full expressiveness of the acoustic instrument.

    The most dramatic example would be playing a violin on a windcontroller. Using a keyboard with a TEC breath controller/or the LEAP controller, and a footpedal, allows far more expressiveness because you simply have more controls to emulate the countless variables (up or down bow, using the tip or low end of the bow etc, easily moving closer or farther from the bridge etc. This does not mean I don’t have fun playing a violin on my windcontroller, but I can’t do as good a job as playing a flute on the windcontroller.

    But there may be some other issues also. For example even with the excellent ability to control the sound timbre, I have not been able to get a really satisfactory breathy tenor sound using AudioModeling’s SWAM engine, nor a really good Classical Saxophone tone. These timbre issues may no doubt be solved in the near future if enough people are interested, but the control issues relevant to allow the to full expressiveness of the acoustic instruments using a windcontroller cannot be easily solved.

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