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Chapter 10. Software Synthesis > Using DX and VST Instruments

Using DX and VST Instruments

Using a DXi or VSTi to generate music is just like using a hardware-based synth, except that because a DXi or VSTi is software-based, it is run on your computer as an application from within SONAR. You control the settings of a DXi or VSTi by tweaking onscreen parameters. You can generate sound with a DXi or VSTi either in real time, as you perform on your MIDI keyboard, or by using data from a pre-existing MIDI track. To use a DXi or VSTi in your SONAR project, follow these steps:

  1. Create a new project or open a pre-existing project.

  2. Right-click in the Track pane of the Track view and choose Insert Audio Track to create a new audio track. Then widen the track to display its parameters.

  3. Set the Input parameter to None, and set the Output parameter to one of your sound card outputs.

  4. Right-click in the Fx bin of the audio track and choose DXi Synth > [name of the DXi or VSTi you want to use] to set up a DXi or VSTi for that track (see Figure 10.1). If you ever want to remove a DXi or VSTi, just right-click on its name in the Fx bin and choose Delete from the drop-down menu.

    Figure 10.1. To use a DXi or VSTi, add it to the Fx bin of an audio track.


    NOTE

    GENERATE SOUND

    Even though DXis and VSTis are software-based, they still need to use a sound card output (which is hardware) to generate sound. Adding a DXi or VSTi to an audio track allows the synth to use the output of the track to generate sound. You can also add DXis to the audio bus Fx bins. For more information about buses, read Chapter 12, “Mixing It Down.”

  5. After you add a DXi or VSTi to the Fx bin of the audio track, the window for that DXi will appear, showing the Property page (or control interface) of the DXi (see Figure 10.2). Using those controls, you can set up the DXi’s parameters, such as the sounds it will produce, and so on. After you’ve finished setting the DXi’s parameters, you can close the window to get it out of the way. If you need to access the DXi’s controls again, just double-click on the name of the DXi in the Fx bin of the audio track.

    Figure 10.2. When a DXi is added to the Fx bin, a window appears, showing all the controls available for the DXi that you chose.


  6. If you opened a pre-existing project that already contains MIDI tracks, you can skip this step. Otherwise, right-click in the Track pane of the Track view and choose Insert MIDI Track to create a new MIDI track. Then widen the track to display its parameters.

  7. Set the Input parameter to the MIDI port and channel being used to receive data from your MIDI keyboard. Then click on the Output parameter to display a list of available outputs. In addition to your MIDI interface outputs, the list will also show any DXis you previously set up (see Figure 10.3). Choose the DXi you want to use.

    Figure 10.3. After you set up a DXi, it will be displayed in the Output parameter list of your MIDI track.


  8. Set the Channel, Bank, and Patch parameters for the MIDI track. The settings you choose for these parameters will depend on the DXi you are using. For the Channel parameter, choose the same channel to which the DXi is set. The Bank and Patch parameters automatically display different settings depending on the DXi. The parameters will show the sound presets available for the DXi. Choose the bank and patch that correspond to the sound you want to use.

  9. Either start performing some music on your MIDI keyboard or start playback of the project. Whichever action you choose, you should hear sound coming from the DXi.


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