Managing sound preset selection?

I’m curious, what methods are people using for managing and selecting synth presets with the Pyramid?

For a bit of background, I got three synths across almost as many decades, two of them romplers with vast number of presets. There’s certain old-school charm in looking up MSB/LSB/PC from paper printouts and entering them on the Pyramid manually, but it grow tedious pretty fast. Now that I finally have a two-way connection for all the synths, I noticed the newest synth (Roland Gaia) can transmit MSB/LSB/PC when you select presets from the synth itself, which seems like a nice and natural way to do it. But the Gaia is the one least in need of preset management, its the two romplers that are the problem. The XV-3080 has relatively nice patch selection facilities on board but doesn’t transmit the bank/pc selection. It can transmit SysEx messages of preset changes though, which could be translated to MSB/LSB/PC by writing a little piece of software for the purpose. But the JV-1080 (whose patch management is by far the most convoluted to begin with) doesn’t do even that. So to cover them all, I’d need some external piece (of software, likely) that could host the instrument definition patch lists and send bank/pc selection messages to the Pyramid. I know many DAW’s have such facilities but I really don’t want to drag a DAW into the picture just for instrument selection.

I know there are DAW’less folks on the forum, how are you managing this? Short of “roll your own”, are the other options I’m just not aware of?

I think this might be another reason I’m eventually going to invest in a BomeBox and Bomes MIDI Translator. I know @CreepyPants currently has one and does a lot with it… I believe that through MTP It would likely be possible t write a script which includes the sysex, pc, or MSB/LSB changes one would need to automate switching songs in a set.

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i’m boring - I use PC messages, the synths that don’t support them, which are like two I do by hand (luckily they are kinda simple synths). When I make a set, I’ll make a chart of what I need to do for the manual settings if they’re complicated enough I can’t remember. For a while I had a juno 6 and I’d write down all the faders and their respective setting I’d need (the original manual shipped with an image of the synth for you to photocopy and then draw on).

The harder part, or maybe more annoying part, is managing the presets on the synths. Now that I’ve got 30 songs I kinda care about, I had to devise a way for me to make new sounds and not overwrite a sound I really like. Sometimes if the synth is fancy I use librarian tools - but usually what I do is setup one bank or range of patches for the tracks i’m playing, then i experiment and write in the other banks and copy them over when they’re ‘ready’ or i really wanna make sure they don’t get nuked.

The other thing i do, to manage this, is try not to use ‘all the sounds all the time’ - and since I like to write albums with some consistency, this kinda works well for me. So i’ll use one sound in several songs, and just use it different ways - when all those songs are done, i’ll usually find and make some new sounds and get to know those for a while.

Also - in the case of my drums, I use analog rytm - i don’t use pcs for this at all - but rather, I do banking and each bank will be drums using the same kit for two or three songs. Then, in my set list, along with my notes about manual synth settings, I’ll just write something like “Drums B” for the B bank - but i don’t like to memorize things too much beyond “the drums are somewhere in here”

I guess I should add - if it doesn’t support PC but supports CC, i’m not necessarily against programming the CC values for the sound I want. But I usually try to avoid this, I just don’t love using CC’s if I don’t have to, I’d almost rather go for the knobs. It’s all a matter of complexity and what I can manage live. In a set I can give myself filler to dial in a synth so, for the most part I haven’t done this.

Thanks for the responses! But it seems my actual question is getting a bit lost in the technical details :sweat_smile:

Maybe I should explain the “workflow” in practise: I go looking for a certain kind of sound in the rompler preset swamp, and when I find something that’ll pass for the time being, I look the bank+pc numbers up from a printout chart and dial them in the Pyramid track settings. If I remember. And then at some point I realize the sound isn’t quite the right one and go looking for a better one, or tweak it to my liking and switch to that, and sooner or later in this process I forget to dial it in the Pyramid itself. Repeat for a number of tracks. All of which means I need to look up a bunch of sound(s) again in the next session, which can be really time consuming and not to mention annoying if its been a while.

I’m an old-school guy at heart, but in this time and age, this seems absolutely nuts :joy: so what I’m really asking is, how are other people handling this?

Generally I forget to note the correct Bank/Patch also, so when searching I try to select patches via Pyramid. Saves me a lot of hassle.

Right :grin:
I do that as well when I know the sound I want, but at least on the Rolands MSB/LSB are scattered in ways that makes casual browsing quite impossible. Which loops us back to the problem…

If the Pyramid instrument definitions supported defining banks, life would be so much better.

Right, I can trial/error through the banks on the JV-1080: MSB is somewhere around 80-84 and LSB 0-7 (IIRC), the others I have to look up as they’re too far spread around. I dislike the trial/error part though.

Having something translate the values is an interesting idea that would certainly be helpful in some situations. There’s a cost of course in adding another layer to get mixed up in because then you might need to look up those values from some place else and the whole works is no longer usable without that translator thing.

I keep dreaming of something that eats Cakewalk definition files and has browse + search functions. That would’ve seemed like the cats pajamas until encountering the XV patch finder which supports browsing by group (strings, horns, pads etc) after which the idea of not having that seems kinda insufferable. But if it’d save me from manually dialing up the numbers on Pyramid…

Somebody somewhere has been thinking along the same lines, but of course that’s Windows or OSX software so it doesn’t help me at all (this is what keeps me away from BomeBox too). There’s always the option of writing my own but I got too many projects as it is, I’d rather be making music. Hence this thread: fishing for ideas that would save me from that.

I think the file format of the BomeBox is human readable so it doesn’t matter what platform you edit the MTP files on… Unless I’m missing something… I mean to use MTP files on windows you need Bomes midi loopback but I’m pretty sure there isn’t even a working MTP for Macos.

hmm, I wonder if this is something the guys at Electra One might be interested in doing?

they already have features to encode/decode/route - though currently I dont think you can translate that into another format … that said I know they considering some ideas for allow more ‘custom processing’.

Electra One is a really interesting combo with Pyramid, since it similarly centralises control of ‘stuff’ but in the UI dimension (rather than sequencing).

as I say, translation is not currently a thing it does, but the developer is extremely responsive so might be interested if he sees ‘in scope’ of the project…
(note: he is not trying to turn it into a generic box, so how this integrates would need to be considered)

@Ezmyrelda, unless things have changed, yes the file format is plain-text but the gotcha is that for the BomeBox to accept it, it needs to be signed. And for that, you need the MTPro. So yeah it’s tantalizingly close, but no cigar.

@thetechnobear, interesting, that looks basically like an elaborate hardware version of Ctrlr, to which patch browsing and selection could quite nicely fit conceptually. It’s fairly expensive, but that’s by now a familiar story in going DAWless :sweat_smile:

I suppose that could be a gotcha… To me the hardware and the software are both required purchases for it… Hardware is hardware… and the guy has spent years writing a software that would work with the hardware that was designed… So, for me… It was already readily apparent that one needs both…

It’s not the cost, it’s the platform. Reliance on Windows-only software is just not an option for me.

maybe… I just don’t see how using a key signer emulated is relying on windows software… then again… I don’t use linux… because Macos is enough of a compromise that I can have my cake and eat it too.

yeah, unfortunately these things are never cheap.
in fairness, E1 is a very solid quality build, nice screen, nice encoders - and of course, lots of dev work has gone both into its firmware, and also the ‘editor’.

funny enough, its similar size to the pyramid, they are really nice side by side… the Pyramid for sequencing, the E1 to bring control to your fingers - by having centralised control for all your synths.
(of course, using pyramid you can also add controls for the pyramid… though Ive not felt the need for that)

yeah, I think synth preset selection could be an interesting addition to it…

You’re assuming emulation works, and works reliably. In my experience, it doesn’t.
Mind you, I haven’t tried this particular software, but in general running on emulation is such a quicksand that I would never ever bet money or my setup on it.

I’m pretty sure my experience of software and hardware gives me enough context that I know emulating a simple program so that it can sign a plain text preset with a users license key is pretty within the realm of easily doable… You aren’t using the software to pass any live information… You’re just using it to apply your user key to a plaintext file…

For me… I don’t need to know that it will work reliably… I have already just used wine to “do something” to the windows installer and it “installed” the program and ran the subsequent application without a hitch. This tells me it’s a stupidly simple program.

I understand what you mean about emulation… but that really only holds true for exceeding complex software… You aren’t running anything emulated on the endpoint hardware… it’s just running a simple text file that has an embedded user key in it. [which as CreepyPants pointed out is just a specialized linux box anyway.]

To each to their own. I will not rely on it for anything at all because even the simplest stupid thing can use some dark corner that doesn’t happen to be emulated (been there all too many times). But this is wildly off-topic, I didn’t come here to argue about emulation.

Granted… but short of rolling your own… The options are limited… and pretty well documented on what they are… how they work… and what platform they are actually natively running on… As you said though… to each their own. Good luck in your search.

Note that despite the initial posting perhaps misleadingly mumbled about the translation option, I’m not looking for a piece that can translate X to Y, I already have that in a form of a Teensy board that I can program to my liking.

I’m primarily interested in how others are handling this aspect (regardless of the platform and all), there’s always something you can learn and get ideas from.