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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I know next to nothing about these. Can someone give me a brief overview of what these are like. They look real interesting to me.

Do they use regular sax fingerings?
What are the most popular models? I've seen the Akai EWI-4000, but i hear there's a yamaha one, am i right?
Can they be used in a live setting well?
Possible dumb question: Do i need a computer?
Do i need an external midi something-or-other? (i dont know much about midi)
Anything else i should know? I really want to get one.

First post, BTW.
 

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Do they use regular sax fingerings?

I don't know about the akai, but the yamaha uses regular fingerings except for the very highest(palm keys) and lowest(C#, and Bb) notes which are slightly different. you don't really need these keys though, because the octave key can switch between 7 octaves(though this itself takes some getting used to). the other thing that's slightly different is the side keys, instead of having one for A# and one for side c, etc... you just have two keys: one that raises the note a half step, and one that raises it a whole step. this way, you can use the same key for A# and side C.

What are the most popular models? I've seen the Akai EWI-4000, but i hear there's a yamaha one, am i right?

yamaha makes the WX5.

Can they be used in a live setting well?

yes

Possible dumb question: Do i need a computer?

no. but you can use a computer as a midi sound module if you want. i do.

Do i need an external midi something-or-other? (i dont know much about midi)
Anything else i should know? I really want to get one.

the newest akai has its own sound module built in, so you can plug it right into an amp. i don't know how good it is, but if you used it, you'd probably be pretty limited in the sounds you could create. both the akai and wx5 have midi output. midi doesn't have any sound of its own. it's basically just messages that say what note to play, and how loud and other such performance related information. so yes, if you want to use midi(and in the case of the WX5 you have no choice) you do need an external sound module. but this is really where things get fun... you can decide if you want your instrument to control an analog synth, or a sampler, or an FM synth or whatever other kind of midi sound generating devices are out there. I use my computer, because there's really no limit to the different kinds of sounds i can create... i can make my own patches using samples, or use any of the thousands of software synths out there.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
thanks alot, that helps.

I have a really nice midi keyboard synth thing that has midi out, midi in, and midi thru connectors. Can i use the voices on this thing with the yamaha midi controller?
 

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Specialsauce said:
thanks alot, that helps.

I have a really nice midi keyboard synth thing that has midi out, midi in, and midi thru connectors. Can i use the voices on this thing with the yamaha midi controller?
yeah, you should be able to use it w/ the midi in.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
two more questions:

Can this be used with a linux computer, or does the computer have to be windows or mac?

whats a 'sequencer'?

EDIT: The WX5, i mean.
 

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i don't know what software is available on linux, but yes i'm sure you could use it. keep in mind you'll need a sound card with midi in (many cards have a cable that coverts the gameport to a midi port) or a usb midi interface (which are relatively inexpensive.)

a sequencer is a device that allows data(usually midi) to be either recorded or programed, and then played back. with a software midi sequencer you could record your wx5 performances, and then go back and change the sound, use a different synth entirely, or actually edit the data... fix mistakes, transpose to a different key, etc... the simplest example of a sequencer is probably a drum machine.
 

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There are also devices that take the midi from the instrument and put it into the computer through the USB port so that there is no need for a midi compatible sound card.
juan
 

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juan47 said:
There are also devices that take the midi from the instrument and put it into the computer through the USB port so that there is no need for a midi compatible sound card.
juan
yep, i did mention that.
 

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Specialsauce said:
two more questions:

Can this be used with a linux computer, or does the computer have to be windows or mac?

whats a 'sequencer'?

EDIT: The WX5, i mean.
The computer one chooses to use is simply a matter of what software/hardware is desired or needed, and what's available on that particular platform. The wind controller (WX5) doesn't care what it's talking to, it's simply going to send or receive information using the MIDI protocol.

Linux is a difficult choice for music for a bunch of reasons (please....I DO NOT want to engage in a religious war here. I LIKE linux...I'm typing this on a linux computer....)

To do a MIDI-based setup you need to have the following for your computer:

- a MIDI interface - these come in all shapes/sizes/cost ranges/form factors. However, I don't think there are many available for Linux. Since it's a hardware device it needs proper drivers to work on a particular hardware/software platform. You might be able to find a basic midi interface (probably USB) that works under linux. There certainly aren't lot of choices though.

- audio interface - a way to get sound in and out of your computer, these boxes have D/A and A/D converters to convert audio to digital and vice versa. I'm not sure what kind of choice is available for linux here.

- software - depending on what you want to do, you need software to support it - sequencing, audio recording (DAW), scoring, special DSP processing, you name it. There is some stuff available for Linux, but again, compared to the commercial offerings for Mac or PC, it's pretty minimal -- and a lot of what's out there is pretty buggy.

Hope this helps,

bigtiny
 
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