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MOX6/MOX8 Recording Tips from Bad Mister

Here are some things that can help you with becoming a MO-X “recording engineer” (the person responsible for capturing proper record levels when recording audio signals). Built-in to your MOX6/MOX8 is the ability to communicate with a computer, both MIDI data and AUDIO data (bi-directionally) via a single USB cable. As an example, you can record to the MO-X internal sequencer (MIDI data), taking advantage of the many features like direct PERFORMANCE RECORD and the thousands of arpeggio types. With its powerful editing and remixing tools, the sequencer of the MO-X can be very useful for music composing. Once you are happy with your tracks you can embark on recording your composition to your DAW as audio. After all, audio is the finished product. It finalizes your work in a format that can be played by and distributed to the general public (your friends and fans around the world). The world of MIDI sequencing has one set of rules and the world of AUDIO recording has another. That is what we will be dealing with here.

Recording data as MIDI does not involve you monitoring any kind of metered levels, however, when recording audio you will be concerned with record level as indicated on a meter. Knowing how and, more specifically *where* to address output levels of your MOX Parts is what this article will address. Understanding what LOUD is versus what GAIN is, is where we will start our discussion. We will use an analogy of the recording studio MIXER with faders, the MO-X PARTS are your musicians. - the musicians, are actually the VOICEs within the PART 1-16. Each VOICE outputs signal at a particular volume - the signal arrives at the MO-X mixer where you have another control over the volume (the mixer’s fader) before you send the signal to the audio output. We will learn how to adjust the volume of the VOICE in the PART, and learn not just to use the (PART VOLUME) channel fader.

If you think you have turned up the PART VOLUME and are still not getting enough output - this article is FOR YOU!!! 

First, let’s define the word “LOUD” as an analog word expressing mucho volume. It has nothing to do with record LEVEL (record level, we’ll refer to as “GAIN"). The main VOLUME slider is an analog control and has no bearing on your audio’s RECORD GAIN. You can set the main VOLUME slider to 0 (minimum) and audio will still be sent to the USB1/2 and/or USB3/4 digital audio outputs. The digital (volume) equivalent for the main output is found as follows:

Press [UTILITY] > [F1] GENERAL > [SF1] TG (Tone Generator) > VOLUME = 127

(127 is the default setting) and this should be left here. While we are talking about the digital output:
Press [SF2] OUTPUT

Make sure the USB1/2 and USB3/4 are set to +6dB… (Also the default).

Second, we will need to grasp “velocity” – or how strongly you are striking the keys. Velocity has an influence on the resulting audio signal - Of course, I’m not telling you anything new here. Depending on the sound that you are recording and depending on how many signals are being recorded - all these things affect the results you get.

For example, if you are sequencing 16 PARTS simultaneously, they will have a cumulative output that is greater than any single PART. To fully understand how sound level increases requires an understanding of logarithms. (In other words, 1 sound playing is not doubled in level by adding a second sound playing the same thing - it would basically take 10 sounds playing the same thing to double the perceived volume) basically and simply put: it is not linear.

If you have recorded your tracks as MIDI you can view your Velocity output on the TRACK “Event List” - Velocity is 0-127. If your music tends to be in the 40-60 range, well, anticipate low levels. This is also pretty obvious. And on the other hand if you have too many 127’s you probably are not going to enjoy your mix either. You want to be able to play your keyboard and have a fair idea of what MIDI velocity you are sending.

Third thing, we recommend and this is the critical step that most new MOX “recording engineers” will miss:
When you are in a recording studio (real world now) the engineer has several tasks to perform - among them:
1) Ensure that the recording device is properly calibrated for incoming signal
2) Ensure that the musician’s signal is arriving at the mixing console with enough output so that it can be recorded properly
3) Know what to do when it is not.
4) Make sure the drummer knows where the bathroom is located!
:-)

How then, on the MOX, can you ensure that the individual musician’s output level (this would be the individual “PART” in your MOX setup) is enough to be recorded?
Before we answer the question, let’s define why this step is vital. When the recording engineer in the real world studio puts a microphone or connects a direct signal to their console, one of the most important tests that the engineer does is the “run through” - they ask the musician to play what they are going to be performing - the engineer’s ears are glued to the sound quality, the engineer’s eyes are glued to their meters. What they are looking for is an indication of the DYNAMIC RANGE of the performance. That is, they are listening/looking for the average level, the lowest level and the highest level that this performance reaches. Checking the lowest-and-highest level points will allow the engineer to ensure that the highest level does not distort, and then they can determine if this makes the lowest level too low to be heard in the context of the particular composition.

But during record, typically, it is the highest gain that is of MOST CONCERN. DISTORTION is not allowed, period.

If they adjust the input GAIN, and they are not getting enough LEVEL (GAIN) from the channel, they will ask the musician to increase the OUTPUT at the SOURCE. Picture this situation in a real studio, if you are not getting enough signal you would ask the musician to increase the output gain at their instrument.

Here is how you do the equivalent in the MOX (and this is important to learn how to do when recording audio with your MOX):

To increase Audio Output at the Source
From the SONG or PATTERN mode
Press [MIXING]
Press [F1] VOL/PAN (Volume/Pan)

image

Here you can see the PART’s channel Fader (this is the equivalent to the studio’s mixing console channel fader) Notice all channels initially are set to 100 on a scale of 0-127. Faders here as on a real console are for artisitc changes in the mix, during record they simply pass signal.

However, if we are to change the volume of the instrument at the source we must go into EDIT on the Voice data itself. Here’s how:

Using the TRACK SELECT buttons, [1]-[16], select the VOICE (instrument) you want to edit
Press [F5] VCE ED > (VOICE EDIT)

This is a shortcut that can be used on any NORMAL (non-Drum Kit) VOICE to edit the original VOICE. Editing the actual voice will allow us to ‘turn the signal up at the source’. If we asked the guitar player for more output signal they would simply turn the knob on their guitar or increase the output on their amplifier. This is exactly the same thing. We are going to edit the instrument.

Press [COMMON] if not already selected
Press [F2] OUTPUT

image

This OUTPUT parameter is the Volume of the source. In many (most) cases Yamaha has left this level at a conservative output on the scale of 1-127. So in most cases you have plenty of room to increase the output level of the VOICE (at the source). And this is the first place you should increase the individual signal. (Do not use the input gain of your computer program (that is about as noisy a gain as you can imagine and would be poor choice in increasing gain).

SIGNAL FLOW - if you follow the signal from source to destination you can follow the rule: Send sufficient signal at each stage so that the next (receiving) stage is ‘happy’ with the signal’s level. The less ‘work’ each stage has to do, the better. So send enough from the source so that you can effectively mix it with other signals.

When you have increased the VOLUME of this VOICE, press [STORE]
You will be offered a MIXING VOICE location to store your newly edited VOICE.
Press [ENTER] and store the MIXING VOICE. The new VOICE will be added.
You will be returned to your MIXING setup - Remember to also [STORE] the entire MIX as well, as now this new MIXING VOICE has been added to your current SONG or PATTERN.

Anticipated question: Why did Yamaha program most voices with such conservative levels? This is purposeful. The ‘noise floor’ is so very far down now in the digital domain, it is no longer an issue. If all sounds were stored at 127 it would make combining 16 sounds initially impossible.

We have big confidence that musicians understand how to TURN things UP, but little that they understand that FADERS (they are called FADERS because they) are used to turn things down!!!
:-D

I’m kiddin’ - but that’s funny/and too true! It is proper to adjust the gain (GAIN is to increase) at the source, and then turn down at the mixer. The theory is: send in enough clean gain so that you can use just enough of it to make the recording work

If you are attempting to record a MOX sequence that is a string quartet (four parts: violin, violin, viola, cello) by knowing how to turn the instruments UP at the source, you can get plenty of GAIN without having to increase velocity or use external gain control devices or anything unusual. Simply increase the audio output at the instrument (Source)

Hope that helps. (Yes the compressor is a great tool (leveling amplifier) and can be used to increase overall mix output, but that would/should be choice only after you have properly gain staged your PARTS!



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