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Converting Songs with PSRUTI
Monday, 18 May 2020
We learn how to optimize MIDI files with PSRUTI for YAMAHA keyboards Controller Events

Converting Songs with PSRUTI

1. Introduction

Usual MIDI files that have not been specially programmed for our YAMAHA keyboards or other XG sound generators can be considerably improved in terms of sound if we edit them specifically for our own device. Most of the songs that can be obtained as freeware from the Internet, mainly from US-American homepages, are intended to be played on common PC sound cards: They exclusively use voices and drum instruments of General MIDI (GM) and use only very sparse effect settings in the form of GM controllers. On our keyboards you can play these songs very well, but the sound quality can be improved considerably with the YAMAHA format XG.

In this article I will explain what you need to do to convert MIDI files to XG format and how to set the high-quality panel voices of our keyboards instead of the original ones. Our goal is to achieve optimal sound results.

We use the program PSRUTI, which is specialized in XG and whose functions have been programmed especially for these tasks. The described adaptations can also be carried out with a common sequencer such as Cubase, Cakewalk, Logic or XGWorks, but the effort is considerably greater.

I recommend that you first practice the possibilities offered by PSRUTI using examples. After each change, check the result with Play; if possible, also for each channel separately. With time you will recognize what is important. This article only gives hints on the most important functions that you will use when editing foreign MIDI files. In the PSRUTI manual these functions and those not mentioned here are described in detail.

One more hint: Many MIDI files that seem to be offered for free are copyright protected. This is not only about the MIDI files as such but also about song titles to which music publishers have their rights. Nobody will mind if you edit these MIDI files and use them for your own private use, but be careful if you pass them on, even free of charge.

2. Setting up the PSRUTI program on the PC

Connect your PC to the keyboard via USB or MIDI cable. Install PSRUTI and use the MIDI key to connect the MIDI port to the USB port of the keyboard or to MIDI-Out to the keyboard, often called MPU401. Link PSRUTI with a suitable cakewalk instrument definition and, if possible, with a copy of the keyboard's voice files. All measures are described in the PSRUTI manual.

3. Improve the sound of MIDI files with PSRUTI

It makes no sense to edit MIDI files that are of inferior quality when playing. Load a MIDI file into PSRUTI, perform the XG optimization and then decide during playback if editing might be worthwhile.

XG optimization is the first step you take. This cleans the file of errors and unnecessary events and structures it in the best possible way for further processing with PSRUTI and also sequencer programs. The sound of the MIDI file will hardly change, but there are MIDI files that are muted before the XG optimization and only sound afterwards.

3.1 Revoicen on Panel-Voices

Panel-Voices are in contrast to the GM and Basic-XG-Voices much more elaborately sampled and only then use the excellent sound characteristics of your keyboard. If your keyboard offers the possibility to revoice with voice files, then you should use this revoicing method; otherwise use the "Standard Revoicing". Both methods are described in detail in the PSRUTI manual. Already with the "Standard Revoicen" the sound improves; with the "Voicefile Revoicen" subtle effects are added to further improve the sound quality.

The original MIDI file will probably mostly use the GM voices of bank 0. You will at least replace the supporting melody voices with panel voices of banks 112 to 126. The drum channel is identified by bank 16256. Your keyboard has not only the GM bank StandardKit1 but some more drum voices. You should not use more than three effect blocks for voicefile revoicing. The sound of GM voices will also improve with the Voicefile Revoicen if you revoice them again.

You can strengthen or weaken the effects if you then change the "Reverb Send Level", "Chorus Send Level", "Variation Send Level" and "Insertion" controllers. Be careful with this, however, because too high values quickly produce an obtrusive sound. Check the result by playing "Play" and correct the controllers if necessary.

3.2 Check velocity (velocity)

With "Velocity Compressor", PSRUTI shows you the distribution of the velocity of the MIDI file channel by channel. Notes with too low values (below 25) are almost inaudible, so they can generally be deleted. Too high values produce shrill sounds with some voices, especially live voices and wind instruments. With the exception of drums, set the velocity intervals to 50 (min) to 110 (max). Check the sound result and change if necessary.

3.3 Check volume levels

As the velocity changes, the volume of individual channels will also have changed. Check the volume of each channel and adjust it with Controller 7 (Main Volume).

3.4 Panorama

To get a spatial sound, you should set the Controller 10 separately for each channel. With a value of 64, you can create a central sound; with lower values the left speakers dominate, with higher values the right speakers. Carrying melody voices should be set in the middle. Distribute the other instruments evenly from left to right. Orientate yourself to the seating arrangement of bands.

4. Further improvements with PSRUTI

The following changes with PSRUTI do not improve the sound quality any more, but they are still part of a revision and bring some advantages when playing the MIDI file on the keyboard.

4.1 Song title, composer, lyricist and copyright

Under extras, song name... enter the correct song title and, if known, the composer and lyricist. These entries will be displayed in the lyric window of your keyboard. If the MIDI file already contains a copyright notice, you should not remove it. But you can also note that the MIDI file has been adapted to your specific keyboard.

4.2 Insert lyrics

With PSRUTI you can insert a song text prepared in a text file via the Play window. Follow the description in the manual carefully.

4.3 Insert chords and fill lyrics

PSRUTI can calculate and insert chords from the notes of the MIDI file. Please refer to the description in the manual. If possible, enter the correct key in the Transpose window, because this controls the enharmonic representation of the chords. Afterwards I recommend the insertion of fill lyrics. If the MIDI file already contains the lyrics, it is useful to enter "not on bars with lyrics"; otherwise you can leave the default setting. Chords and fill lyrics are displayed in the lyric window when playing on the keyboard. The chords can be used to control the vocal harmony.


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