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Viewing topic "XGworks, SQ01, etc."

Posted on: March 27, 2018 @ 08:10 AM
- Henry -
Total Posts:  206
Joined  10-30-2011
status: Enthusiast


Having gotten involved with the XGworks Yahoo groups lately, I’ve realized that the old XGworks sequencers (V2, V3 or even the Japan-only 4th version) still have their fans. If you have a Yamaha instrument or two, and need a sequencer for your old Win95 computer, it’s probably a very satisfying solution. On a slightly more modern PC, there are better alternatives.

Yamaha SQ01 is old too, but will install and run on more recent Windows systems, both 32 and 64 bits, with a couple of tweaks. When it comes to MIDI in general, SQ01 acts very much like XGworks: MIDI controllers and SysEx strings are being presented in plain terms, which is very helpful. It won’t replace XGworks, though, since the basic install has no XG Editor, no Styles, no Staff view, etc. to help you on the MIDI side. OPT editor plug-in support, VST 2.0 host capabilities and highly improved audio capabilities are worthwhile improvements, though.

For a taste, have a look at this video:
You’ll notice the lower toolbar with buttons to open different sub-windows or “views”. From left to right, there’s the Piano Roll, Audio Mixer, Data List, MIDI Mixer, Master Track, Soft Synth Rack, and the Tiny Wave Editor (TWE).

SQ01 installation:
To install SQ01 on Windows Vista or later, you need to run the installers with Administrator privileges, and with compatibility flags for Windows XP (if you don’t, SQ01 typically won’t see your MIDI or Audio devices). Here’s how:

- Right-click the setup.exe file, and select “Properties”.
- Click the “Compatibility” tab.
- Check the “Run this program in compatibility mode for:” box.
- Select “Windows XP (Service Pack 3)” from the drop-down list.
- Check the Privilege Level box ("Run this program as an administrator")
- Click [Apply].
- Run the installer.

Repeat this procedure for each installer, including the updates!

I haven’t gotten SQ01’s included DMO audio plugins (a plugin format based on the old DirectX 8 foundation) working on Windows 7. The effects are applied, but the GUIs won’t load, so there’s no way to change the effect settings.

While SQ01 may still be available on CD as a spare part for some instruments, it’s a “freebie” version of the full-sized SOL2 and XGworks ST sequencers. A lot of the software components are removed, and therefore, SQ01 may feel nowhere near as complete as XGworks. Some modules can be found and installed separately, but sourcing them is not straightforward, since they were bundled with different equipment:

XG Editor (S08 CD-ROM):
Looks and works just like the one found in XGworks. An obvious choice if you have XG-compatible instruments!

AutoArrange (S90 CD-ROM):
Nice if you prefer to work with styles.

Audio Mixer (Motif ES and 01X CD-ROM):
This mixer processes your audio tracks directly, and also hosts VST plugins and instruments. It allows for very flexible audio routing, and can be automated.

Optional Chord and Pitch Bend editors were released as a free download in Japan. Other components - such as the Staff and Drum views - are only included on the retail SOL2 or XGworks ST installation CDs.

SOL2 and XGworks ST:
The high-end SOL/SOL2 sequencer was developed from scratch on a new modular platform, improving on the earlier XGworks sequencers (V1-V4) in most areas, particularly on the audio side. While able to open and work with older XGworks projects (.XWS files), the earlier XGworks plugins are no longer compatible.

XGworks ST ("SOL Technology") and SQ01 were both scaled-down builds based on the SOL/SOL2 platform. On the surface, all three look identical, but differ in terms of the included software modules: While SOL2 has all the bells and whistles, and XGworks ST is sort-of a middle child, SQ01 is the least capable version.

XGworks ST, like the name implies, has pretty much everything we used to see in XGworks. Apart from the vastly improved audio framework, it also includes the S-YXG50 VST software synthesizer. It misses the Motif-derived TimeStretch/TimeSlice modules and some of the effect plugins you find in SOL2, but is otherwise complete.

SQ01, on the other hand, is a reduced-functionality version of SOL2, that was shipped with various Yamaha hardware for free in the years before the Steinberg buyout. Here, you’ll find that most of the software modules are actually left out. The three sequencers shared the exact same update cadence, though, and because they are so closely related, both SQ01 and XGworks ST will in fact “pick up” the extra modules of their higher-end siblings when installed on the same system.

To sum things up...
If you’re looking for an XGworks replacement, SQ01 can get you there if you can source the additional software components that are needed. If your workflow depends strongly on the unique XGworks tools, SOL2 and XGworks ST are better alternatives as-is.

The catch here is that SQ01 was the only version available worldwide, while SOL/SOL2 and XGworks ST were only marketed in Japan. To find legal copies of SOL2 or XGworks ST, your best shot is therefore Japanese auction/classifieds sites (in my case, proved to be invaluable). If you go to this length, be aware that although the actual software GUI is in English, you’ll have to make your way through Japanese-language installation wizards (walkthroughs do exist). The included documentation is also in Japanese, but most of the Help files have been translated so that you can replace them after installation! :-)

Best regards,

- H -

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