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Yamaha GX-1 VST
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> Music Software Goto page 1, 2, 3, 4  Next [all]
Author Yamaha GX-1 VST
robotmakers
Here's a Kontakt instrument I put together that models the Yamaha GX-1, with its quirky interface and idiosyncratic features. The instrument is based on a set of sampled analog waveforms processed through the filter and modulation engine of Kontakt 5.0. This latest version of Kontakt includes a variety of greatly improved filters, including a 12db per octave set of HP, BP and LP filters that sound surprisingly close to the GX-1's (I used MOTM-485s to compare). There are 25 pages (!) of Kontakt KSP code behind this thing, and two interface levels, portaying the unique GX-1 Programmer and a selection of other controls (e.g. LFO labeled oddly as Sub-Oscillator). This is work-in-progress, and currently uses samples of a Moog 921B VCO rather than a more representative oscillator. The next step will be modeling the VCOs more closely, among other things.

Here's an MP3 comparing ELP's Peter Gunn bit with a version recorded with this VST (ELP first, then VST). I think the model captures SOME of the mojo, but there are obvious differences. Good fun nonetheless. Thanks go to Scott Rider aka oldcrow for all his forensic work on the GX-1.

Peter Gunn Comparison MP3




I hope this is of interest,
Roger
chamomileshark
sounds interesting so far - good luck!
lombrose
applause
vassili
thumbs up
stephenphillips
Hello from Brisbane.

I'm a violinist in the Queensland Symphony Orchestra but my first instrument (and love) is the Yamaha Electone of which, arguably, the GX-1 might be considered "King".

I was most impressed to see your work on this virtual instrument. Is it likely to become something you would consider 'releasing'?

I have not updated my Kontakt since version 2 but this single thing gives me a very good reason to do so.

I have a collection of older Yamaha Electones including a couple of CSY models which include some of the same circuits as the GX-1 (and date from the same period). If you would like 'another pair of ears' as you continue development, I would be excited to make whatever contribution I might be capable of.

All the best, meanwhile!

Cheers,

Stephen.
robotmakers
Sorry - I never saw Stephen's post. Glad to share my VST with anyone who wants a copy.

By the way, I recently discovered an additional source of mojo in the GX-1. It's part of its organ DNA, and it's in the way that the frequencies for the VCOs are selected. To make a long story short, the keyboard could have as many as 4 VCO-VCF-VCA chains under each keypress (while maintaining 8 voice polyphony). Each of these synths could be separately tuned, in a way reminiscent of a Hammond organ, to harmonics of the fundamental. So, you could think of the GX-1 as having a synth under each drawbar of an organ. You're limited to pulling out four drawbars, but this is where a lot of the GX-1 magic comes from. It's from having synths on the fundamental, an octave above and, say, a fifth above that, like the first three drawbars on a Hammond, for example. Of course, you can sort of do something like this with a lot of synths, but it's promoted by the way the GX-1 controls are laid out and the underlying voice structure.

Unfortunately, you'd need a lot of CPU power to cleanly run 4 copies of my VST in polyphony, but you get the idea.

Best regards,
Roger
stephenphillips
Hi Robotmakers,

Thank you so much for your detailed reply. How can I acquire the current VST instrument? What is the file size?

I'm familiar with the operational structure of the GX-1 though I have never played one (though I did sit at the GX-1 in the Tom Lee Kowloon store many years ago; at the time I had no clue how it worked, but it sure looked magnificent). With the inter-manual coupler facility, you can get even more than the 4 synths layered. And there is an wide and unique range of harmonics choices, as well as the unique identifier system for each (modeled correctly in your VST).

A question you may be able/willing to answer: although I know the filter layout is different on the CS-80 synthesizer, and therefore on the Arturia virtual software instrument based on it, what is your view of the success with which that company has approached the recreation of that synth's sound and behaviour? It also has the harmonic 'feet' selectors (less of them) and of course only a two-voice x 8 structure, but several instances can be initiated (given adequate computer resources) and there is the Multi Mode which allows different voices to be piled up in layered arrangements.

Looking forward to running the VST in Kontakt and learning more about the sound characteristics of the GX-1 tone generators. I gather from what has been said that each VST instrument 'depicts' just one of the voice chains, two chains being the structure for the voice cartridges (3 for pedals...)

Cheers,

Stephen.
Drumdrumdrumdrum
I am a big fan of the GX-1 sound but, till now, never thought I would have access to it.

Im assuming the installation is just a mater of "add library" to the Kontakt Player? No Service Centre needed?
Yoa01
WANT. Where/when can I get one? And how much (I know it's mean, but please say free smile?
robotmakers
Glad for the interest!

I actually haven't been working on the VST at all for the last year (!), so its installation and the details of what files to copy and where to put them have blurred in my memory. Let me take a look at it over the coming days and try to piece it all together again, and I'll get back to you. I'd very much like this to be of use to others! Let me add that there are some major limitations:

(1) All alone it doesn't create a particularly "big" sound, and the filters don't sound exactly like MOTM GX-1 filters, but unless you've got 64 of them lying around, this is the only way to get the polyphony!
(2) The way Kontakt instruments are laid out (or at least as I have laid them out), each WAVEFORM (and therefore sample set) in the GX-1 is in a sense its own instrument in the system and has its own set of filters, etc. This means that after loading two or three instances of the VST and playing big chords you will likely run out of CPU, especially if you turn on multiple waveforms per VST instance.
(3) To create those big GX-1 sounds, you really need multiple instances of the VST, but CPU power will severely limit this, as described above.

So, there are a LOT of compromises, but it's good fun. And yes, if possible, I will give it away for free.

Best regards,
Roger
Yoa01
If it sounds good to begin with, any good producer can make it sound BIG. And polyphony shouldn't be an issue: if you can't make it poly, we can always layer. Most of us use monosynths/modulars and are quite adept at layering monophonic sounds smile I can't wait! I've never even used a GX-1 and am liking this!
robotmakers
stephenphillips wrote:
How can I acquire the current VST instrument? What is the file size?

If I get my act together, I'll post the files on my website for free download. The file size should be modest, by sample standards. Note that the VST would be usable with the free Kontakt player, but only for something like 10 minutes at a time. For owners of recent Kontakt sampler software, use would be unlimited.

stephenphillips wrote:
A question you may be able/willing to answer: although I know the filter layout is different on the CS-80 synthesizer, and therefore on the Arturia virtual software instrument based on it, what is your view of the success with which that company has approached the recreation of that synth's sound and behaviour?

Sorry, I've never used any of Arturia's products. I imagine they're excellent.

I think this is quite a good article on the GX-1, and provides some insight into many of its quirks:
Sound-on-sound GX-1 article part 2

stephenphillips wrote:
I gather from what has been said that each VST instrument 'depicts' just one of the voice chains, two chains being the structure for the voice cartridges (3 for pedals...)

Yes, the VST depicts a single voice chain, so in real life the main GX-1 keyboards would always be playing at least two of these simultaneously, or four if the upper/lower manuals were coupled - with eight note polyphony. The little uppermost "solo" keyboard would play just one - monophonically.

Best regards,
Roger
mckenic
Its got a REALLY nice interface! thumbs up

Hopefully it wont need the latest version of Kontakt to open (Im stuck on K4 because of Kore2 compatibility)!

Nicely done thumbs up
Yoa01
Arturia's CS-80 and Moog Modular instruments are top-notch. The CS-80 is incredibly realistic (including the not-so-awesome parts), and the Moog sounds like a Moog (thanks to Rob Moog's help with it), though the interfacing is less than par. Their Minibrute, though totally not related, is also killer. Incredible variant of the Steiner-Parker filter, too: the resonance curve is divine.
lombrose
hyper hyper hyper
robotmakers
Hello all,

I've finally uploaded the GX-1-like VST to my website, and will send a link to anyone who'd like to download it. Again, it's for purely educational purposes, and not intended for sale, re-sale or any commercial uses. Send me a PM and I'll return a link to the single 640MB .nki file. Note that this requires Kontakt 5.0 or above to use without limitation. Otherwise, the latest Kontakt player can be downloaded for free and the VST used for 15 minutes at a time.

If you like the VST, you might consider a token donation to Muff's in support of all the good work he does on our behalf.

Best wishes,
Roger
Rex Coil 7
I have always loved the GX-1, more specifically what Emerson did with it. When I first heard the GX-1 on the "Works" album (my 2nd least favorite ELP album, second only to that pile of crap known as "Love Beach") I ~kinda~ liked it.

But then, one night in 1977 I was listening to a "King Biscuit Flower Hour" transmission on our local FM album rock station in Tucson. They played the 1977 ELP concert that did not have the orchestra, Emerson nearly exclusively played the GX-1 on every song. I had recorded that show to an 8-track tape. That 8 track (which I actually still have!) followed me around for 20+ years. I bounced it over to cassette I don't know how many times to preserve the original 8-track as much as possible.

The sound of that GX-1, especially in "Pirates" and "Fanfare for the common man" was amazing. HUGE HUGE tone ... and that helicopter-like modulation that he could speed up to near audio range was insanely cool.

One day I located that exact same show on a CD released by Rhino. I couldn't believe it! I still can't! I mean song for song it is precisely the same show I heard broadcast on KWFM in 1977 and hauled around for 20+ years on a decaying 8-track tape. I even kept a working 8-track player around just to be able to use it to record more backup copies of that tape onto CD. I no longer need it, but I still have both the tape and the player ... just cuz, I suppose.

The very first "rock concert" I ever saw was ELP, in 1978. It was just the three of them, no orchestra. As you may well imagine I was quite mind-blown by the whole thing. I was 17. I actually sold my racing dirt bike (MX racing was my whole world ... that is until I went to that concert .. it changed my entire life). So I sold the race bike and bought a Hammond M100 and an ARP Axxe.

Of course, I was going to become the next Keith Emerson. I was bent on becoming this fantastic keyboard player/synthesist, the like off which had never been known. Haahaa. The dreams of youth, right?

Anyhow, the GX-1 and especially what Emerson did with it in those two shows (King Biscuit Flower Hour and the live show I saw). When I saw Arturia's CS-80v come out I immediately bought it ... hoping I could emulate both KE on the GX-1 and some sounds that Eddie Jobson made with the CS80 in a little known 3-piece prog band called "UK" and their kicking ass album known as "Danger Money".

Well .... hmmm .... not so much. But they're close.

I know that converting Yamaha E70 organs to GX-1 ~like~ use is a somewhat cult-ish thing that goes on. E-70s can be had for less than $100 if you look around and are patient. They use the exact same basic engines that the CS80 and GX-1 used, so with some diligent DIY and patience I've heard some pretty killer sounds from those efforts.

Anyhow, I'm just blabbing here. This thread dragged up some old memories.

Hasta mangs ... smile
Rex Coil 7
BTW, Robotmakers that mp3 sound REALLY good. Maybe a little less "hifi" might make it sound more 70's-like, but that is really easy to produce especially since your effort provides more than enough richness to work with. A little more fattage in the midrange, but again ... easy-peasy to do.

I LOVE what you have done.

So, to usee that, what must I do, do I need to purchase the host program and then load this ~model~ you're created in the host program? I'm not super "up" on what Kontact is.

Totally thanks for providing your efforts for FREE. You aw~right ... smile
jasjasjas
Very cool of you to share this Robotmakers! Many thanks!
robotmakers
Thanks very much for the kind words. Kontakt is a VST software sampler, which also happens to have fantastic filters, envelopes, etc and a powerful scripting language. So what I've done is combine some basic waveform samples (from a Moog 921B VCO) and a bunch of filters ala GX-1. Then, I drew up a GUI to emulate the GX-1 Tone Board, and scripts to make it all run.

To use the file, you'd have to have the Kontakt 5.0 program or download the FREE Kontakt player software from Native Instruments. With the the free program, you're interrupted every 15 minutes or so as penalty for not buying the software and for my not having had the GX-1 officially licensed by Native instruments. Either the full software or the free player will work outside of a DAW, so you don't need any other software to make it work.

Best wishes,
Roger
robotmakers
Double post
Rex Coil 7
robotmakers wrote:
Here's a Kontakt instrument I put together that models the Yamaha GX-1, with its quirky interface and idiosyncratic features. The instrument is based on a set of sampled analog waveforms processed through the filter and modulation engine of Kontakt 5.0. This latest version of Kontakt includes a variety of greatly improved filters, including a 12db per octave set of HP, BP and LP filters that sound surprisingly close to the GX-1's (I used MOTM-485s to compare). There are 25 pages (!) of Kontakt KSP code behind this thing, and two interface levels, portaying the unique GX-1 Programmer and a selection of other controls (e.g. LFO labeled oddly as Sub-Oscillator). This is work-in-progress, and currently uses samples of a Moog 921B VCO rather than a more representative oscillator. The next step will be modeling the VCOs more closely, among other things.

Here's an MP3 comparing ELP's Peter Gunn bit with a version recorded with this VST (ELP first, then VST). I think the model captures SOME of the mojo, but there are obvious differences. Good fun nonetheless. Thanks go to Scott Rider aka oldcrow for all his forensic work on the GX-1.

Peter Gunn Comparison MP3




I hope this is of interest,
Roger
Y'know, the more I study these images the more I see the detailed routings. There's quite a bit of parallel signal routing going on, as well as combinations of series and parallel filtering happening.

I've been told that part of how Yamaha kept the "beefiness" of the sound was running a sine wave through the filters (which is only slightly affected by the filters due to it's sine-waveyness) which helped to retain low end and girth after all of that BPF and HPF going on. I see you've adopted that same basic practice in your model.

What seems to be missing is some pitch envelope. However I'm sure there is more to this program than is displayed here. Emerson employed a good deal of pitch EG in most of his GX-1 sounds, didn't he? I could be wrong about all of this, of that there is no doubt.

Damned nice Robot Man! This had to take you quite a while to get as far as you have.

thumbs up
Rex Coil 7
Also, I think one of the hardest things to emulate has always been the variable speed modulation that he used quite a bit. The sound always reminds me of a spinning manhole cover, how when it wobbles as it is spinning it makes that same sort of sound as it speeds up faster and faster before it lays flat on the ground. I worked with the CS80v (Arturia) for a number of hours to get close to that effect. Never really got it quite right. Whatever the heck that was. Any chance you might work that up in an upcoming version?
robotmakers
So glad for the interest in this. In fact, the two things you mention in your note are on that "second page" of the VST interface, and their labeling and general appearance mimics the actual GX-1 controls.

That whole section labeled "Pitch Bend" is actually my simplified implementation of the pitch envelope. I agree that setting this right is a key to the ELP GX-1 sound. The amount of bend, as well as the speed, are adjustable here. I think my VST only bends up into the note, whereas the GX-1 had controls for initial pitch, decay 1 and 2 and final pitch. Not knowing exactly how that worked, I opted for a simplification.

As for the variable speed modulation, that section labeled "Sub Oscillator" is just a variable waveform LFO that can be routed to VCA, VCF or VCO. The speed control is right there, so monkeying with that should give the ELP manhole cover effect.

A picture below shows part of the actual GX-1, and you can see the Sub Oscillator sections for each keyboard if you squint. Also visible is the pitch envelope section located above the low C on the middle keyboard.

Best wishes,
Roger

robotmakers
And just for completeness, here's a view of 2 actual GX-1 toneboards. Not sure why anyone would need two, but there you go.

My implementation doesn't have a PWM control, as I think that's incompatible with the sampled VCO approach I used to create the VST. Otherwise, a significant amount of care was taken to mimic the original interface.

Best wishes,
Roger

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