I've been sharing my learnings thus far over at Future Guitar Now, in this thread:http://www.futureguitarnow.com/forum/index.php?topic=1957.0
Since there are so many questions here, I'll pull all the key points here. Minimal Install:
I was able to successfully install the FTP controller software by itself. It did not force me to install any NI or IK software. Once the controller was paired and connected, the firmware update was applied. I had a fully-functional FTP in about 5 minutes of installation & configuration.
I've been playing & learning a lot within my DAW (SONAR X2)! Tomorrow I'll start to load NI & IK software. Hosting VSTs within the FTP App
Of course, there were no NI or IK patches to use within FTP. So, using the FTP application, I scanned my existing VST folders for VSTs. Most of my existing VSTs were either bundled within SONAR X2 Producer Edition or were purchased from Cakewalk (SONAR's manufacturer), when they were on sale within another bundle. Trying to use these VSTs within the FTP app, I learned a few lessons:
- The FTP software will not load 64-bit VSTs, it only loads 32-bit VSTs. This is true for Cakewalk & non-Cakewalk VSTs.
- Some 32-bit VSTs that were bundled with SONAR will ONLY work within SONAR. They tell you so when you try to use them within FTP... This is a SONAR issue.
- Of the VSTs that load with no warnings, FTP creates its own window with FTP parameters as well as the VST's UI. Two apps within one window... I'm able to load voices and get them to partially work, however, the VST's GUI does not fully work. (I suspect this is simply because FTP cannot find all of the Cakewalk binaries; this can likely be fixed with a little more work...) This is a SONAR issue
- The 32-bit VSTs for Cakewalk Sound Center, Square I, and Beatscape appear to work perfectly within the FTP app easily with no heroics.
So... I've gotten very few VSTs that I own to host properly within the FTP app. This is partly due to some FTP limitations (all my favorites are 64-bit), and partly due to Cakewalk hobbling their bundled/discounted VSTs.
HOWEVER!!! Everything works quite well within my DAW! I can choose the FTP as a midi input device for a soft-synth track, and it works BEAUTIFULLY! I'm still learning how to get the FTP's configs to work exactly as I want them to; I'm still learning about their various mono vs poly modes. GK3 & FTP side-by-side
I installed a GK3 and an FTP on a guitar side-by-side, a few mm apart. Thus far, neither has appeared to affect the other in any way. (I had installed the GK3 first, tested it, then installed the FTP.) This is still early, however, using headphones in my home. I have not played at volume thru a PA.
I can play a passage, and record both the GR-55's output and the FTP's output side-by-side from the same performance. More on that later! Why Would You Want to Host the FTP App as a VST in your DAW?
I wondered myself, and now I think I get it... It all boils down to the difference between the controller on its own vs. the controller with the FTP software. The controller on its own spits out MIDI data, including notes & velocities.
Great... But what if you wanted to have different velocity curves per different voices? One size does not fit all. For example, on the GR-55, you can set VELOCITY DYNAMICS and PLAY FEEL at the SYSTEM level, but you can ALSO fine tune this at the PATCH level using parameters like LEVEL VELOCITY SENSE, LEGATO and VELOCITY CURVE TYPE.
The FTP app on your PC/Mac provides this additional "patch level" processing for you, including setting mono/poly mode, different velocity curves, sensitivities, and (what I'm pretty sure is) a couple flavors of legato processing. You do this by pairing some FTP parameters with each synth voice. It allows you to save these configurations on your PC for future use.
If you want this additional "patch level" processing done when you are using the FTP within your DAW, you need to load the FTP app as a VST. This way, it can do the velocity processing described above as it feeds the VST instrument. Hosting the FTP app as a VST within SONAR (or other DAW)
Once I added the TriplePlay folder to SONAR's list of VST folders and did a re-scan for VSTs, TriplePlay showed up as a VST within SONAR. Once I did so, things got much better using SONAR's 32-bit plugins. A couple of lessons here:
Bottom line is that you have two main options using FTP within your DAW:
- Oddly, the SONAR plugins that wouldn't work in the FTP app, that gave an "only for use within SONAR" message, still did so. Even though they were within SONAR. Actually, they are executing within the FTP app within SONAR... So unfortunately, I could not get some VSTs to work in this mode, including True Piano.
- Above, I noted that the GUIs for several of Cakewalks VSTs didn't work properly when hosted by the FTP app. ALL OF THESE WORK PERFECTLY when hosted by the FTP app within SONAR. The additional "patch level" FTP processing options appear alongside the VSTi when it is opened.
- You can host the FTP app as a VST within your DAW. This, in turn, invokes your other 32-bit VSTi's. In this mode, you get the full value of the FTP app, including it's "patch level" additional processing.
- You can simply use the FTP controller as a MIDI input source. This gets around ALL limitations listed above, namely, you can feed 64-bit VSTs and within SONAR you can of course use the "SONAR only" VSTs, as they are running in SONAR. What you lose in this mode is the additional "patch level" processing. There are two FTP modes for doing this. In "Normal" mode, all these notes share the same channel, and the FTP operates in Chromatic mode. No wheel events are sent. In "Hardware" mode (power up the controller holding the D-pad UP button), the strings have discreet channels and the FTP is no longer in Chromatic mode - wheel events are sent. FTP's "hardware" mode corresponds to Roland's "Mono" mode, and is clearly preferred for this type of processing.
Synth2 - Synth4 don't work at all within the FTP app. I had earlier thought that a bunch of VSTs didn't work, but it turns out they work fine under Synth1. (I believe Elantric pointed out this bug elsewhere & noted that the Fishman folks are working on it???) (5/26 Edit: I now know this is not an issue - follow the color coding....) On occasion the controller seems to go haywire and spits out gazillions of MIDI Control messages. This usually stops once ANY other message is sent, e.g., a note. There is no impact on performance. You would never notice this unless you were recording MIDI automation - OR - monitoring the stream via a tool like MIDI OX. (I now think this is normal behavior-communication with FTP app...)
Fishman support confirmed the lack of 64-bit vst vspport. Probable future upgrade.
I have reported the other two "bugs" listed above as well. No response yet on those. So far, for me, this has been very smooth and everything seems to be working very well thus far.
I'm still learning this thing... As I learn more, I'll share.
In the meanwhile, here's a picture of the Borg invasion: