Other Alternatives Tried

In the process of developing the KeyMusician Keyboard, we evaluated a lot of software components and applications. Not all of these are the ones specifically recommended, yet some of them are useful, or even very useful.

Some worked, but are hard to use, and others are lacking in some respect, causing us not to recommend them. And some are just not suitable for use.

We are presenting this information so that you don't need to spend time (and money) trying to make something work, that we already tried and couldn't get to work acceptably.

Of course, if deficiencies are eliminated in the future, or if any of you find a way to make them work, please do let us know, and we will update this list, and tell people how to use it, based on what you tell us.

The items in the list appear in alphabetical order, by the name of the component. Components that are already recommended do not appear in this table.

Component or Application Name

Use

Useful

Comments

OK Win

OK Mac

OK Linux

Ableton Live 9

Software Instruments, VST Host, and Sequence Editor

Yes

Has a lot of features, and a lot of really outstanding sampled instrument sounds. Its down-side, is its considerable cost, and that to use different instruments (even with the BS-16, that responds to MIDI program-change messages), you have to set each instrument listening to a separate MIDI channel.

Yes

Yes

No

BASSMIDI

Software synthesizer for Win, low-latency.

Only on Win XP

Works with Java only on Win XP (crashes java on Win 7, 8, & Vista).

Yes if XP

No

No

Bismark BS-0 & BS-1

VST Instrument Soundfont-Player

Maybe

Not enough polyphony to allow playing chords. Use the BS-16 instead.

Maybe

Maybe

No

Cubase

VST Host, Sequence Editor, and Music Production Software

Yes

A viable option for improving your Windows system, without purchasing BS-16

Yes

Yes

No

DimensionPro, from Cakewalk/Sonar

VST Instrument Synthesizer

Yes

Good synthesizer with large number of very good sounds. Will run on less-capable machines than Ableton Live. Needs at least a 2-gigahertz speed machine. Works on 32-bit Mac OS X as well.

Yes

Yes (32-bit only)

No

Fantasize Soundfont Player

VST Instrument Soundfont-Player

Maybe

Can't change instrument sounds via MIDI program-change message, so you must setup one plug-in per MIDI channel. Lacks flexibility. It doesn't work with the version of the FluidR3_GM soundfont we have permission to distribute.

Maybe

No

No

Garage Band

VST Host and Sequence Editor

Yes

Inexpensive, with a lot of good features, and good VST instruments, and it's easy to learn to use. The down-side, is that except with the BS-16 soundfont player (which responds separately to each MIDI channel), both chords and melody must use the same instrument sound, and the instruments can't be changed using program-change MIDI messages (except with the BS-16).

No

Yes

No

Live Professor

VST Host

Yes

Not as easy to learn as Cantabile

Yes

No

No

M-Audio M-Track

2-Channel USB Audio / MIDI Interface. Provides a hardware MIDI interface, and extra audio capability beyond that provided by a sound card. Has Mic and Guitar input jacks. Includes Ableton Lite 8 (for Win & Mac), and Ignite (Win only), which has 275 instruments.

Yes

Hardware works on Win, Mac, and Linux. Ableton Lite has restricted capabilities (only 8 tracks, only 4 synths), and works on Win & Mac. Ignite is Win only, and is only useful for playing one instrument sound at a time. It cost me about $100.

Yes

Yes

Yes hard- ware only

Component or Application Name

Use

Useful

Comments

OK Win

OK Mac

OK Linux

Magnus Choir

VST Instrument of synthesized choir sounds

Yes

Wonderful choir sounds, at a reasonable price. You need to reduce the 'Attack' and 'Decay' sliders on most sounds, or they respond too slowly to play most music.

Yes

Yes

No

Mainstage

VST Host, with a lot of quality instruments

Yes

Mac only. Many good instrument sounds, and you can change them via MIDI program-change message. Same sound must be used for chords and melody, though.

No

Yes

No

Microsoft GS Wavetable SW Synth

Software Synthesizer For Win only

Yes

It has a more than optimal amount of latency, but a little less than the Java Sound Synthesizer, and doesn't have the possibility of sound cutting out during storage consolidation. But it can't load soundfonts – it only uses the standard Windows soundfont.

Yes

No

No

Sonar X2 Essential

VST Host, and Sequence Editor, with a lot of good instrument sounds (especially the 64-bit version). Some instruments are Direct-X Sound devices (rather than VST Instruments), and therefore can't be played on VST hosts. Also, some instruments are licensed only to be played using Sonar.

Yes

This one was VERY hard to learn and use, and the standard sound-card handling has problems that took much trial-and-error configuration to overcome. It works better with an ASIO sound-card driver, but is still hard to use. It requires a fast machine (Intel Core 2 Duo 2.67 GHz/AMD Phenom Quad Core 9750 2.4 GHz or higher, 2GB of RAM). Its saving grace, is that it supplies a lot of good VST instruments, some of which can be played using Cantabile, which is MUCH easier to learn. The full version is expensive, but has more good instruments, some of which (again) can be played using the Cantabile VST host. Its Cakewalk TTS-1 VST instrument can work with the KMK, but program-changes are effective only during recording. That causes problems for using the MIDI player also. Can't get the VST instrument of more than one track to sound simultaneously.

Yes

No

No

Timidity

MIDI Software Synthesizer

No

Too much latency.

No

No

No

Vsthost

VST Host Software

Maybe

It works, but it appears to be unable to save the configuration for VSTi plugins.

Maybe

No

No

ZynAddSubFX

Software Synthesizer (low latency), and/or VST Instrument

Yes

Great on Linux. VST version doesn't seem to have its parameters saved properly. On next load, sounds out-of-tune. The Windows version has an installer, and works (though it is an older version). The Mac version didn't install successfully on my test machines.

Yes

Maybe

Yes



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