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Author Topic: Instrument categorisation  (Read 235 times)

straycodemonkey

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Instrument categorisation
« on: October 22, 2019, 05:53:37 pm »
Am I the only user finding the categorisation of the vast number of instruments in Analog Lab under-developed? It's really time-consuming trying to find a match for the instrument you're looking for in your mind. So here's a few ideas that might make things more helpful.

I think it would be a great idea to allow you to add new user-styles to the software and allow you to modify the existing presets to indicate which of your styles they apply to. Individual users will have their own ideas about the styles of music they'll be creating and which presets apply to each. I know you can add new styles here already which is nice, but you can't modify existing stock presets to point to them. It would be great if you could modify or delete styles here too, as currently you can only create them and that's it.

It would also be great if you could create multiple user banks in the software, and allow you to choose which user bank a preset is assigned to in addition to any stock bank that it might have shipped with. I'd like to be able to do this by overwriting existing stock presets rather than having to save them as a new preset. Without this ability you create a lot of unnecessary duplicates which just makes the problem even worse. I want to be able to categorise the shipped presets before I do anything further with customising them. Many users just want to be able to group presets in their own way without duplicating or customising them further.

That way, if we have these kinds of categorisation features users will be able to trawl through the presets just once upon installing the software and categorise and index them as they see fit. Then when they come to look for a preset for their particular line of work it would be so much easier. At least 50% of the presets any given user will just never use, probably more than that even, and therefore they just drag the user down when having to scrape through them all so repeatedly when working on a new piece or project. In that sense, a Hide feature might actually be a great addition. As in, hide this preset because I'm almost certainly never going to use it. In the menu options you need something to show any hidden presets so you can go back and audition and potentially unhide them again.

Even the favourite system could be expanded to have a number of hearts, perhaps between 1 and 3. 1 meaning I could use this prefix and 3 meaning I really love this one. Little things like this will really help in narrowing things down and sorting the wheat from the chaff.

These are just some ideas to help make it all a bit more usable. I love the software, it's really powerful and the audio reproduction is just awesome. But when you're working with literally thousands of presets we need better ways of digging into them than we have right now. Otherwise it can all seem a bit overwhelming and lead to a real loss of productivity.

You don't need to use my ideas especially, but I would thoroughly recommend you sit down with some fresh users and see how they struggle with this and what they would suggest to make things easier.

But even more important than any of this, we need a way of saving and restoring user data. Right now, I'm not even sure if when I install a new laptop whether all the presets I've lovingly marked as favourites will actually be remembered all not. The thought of having to go through them all again and repeat this process actually sends shivers down my spine.

UPDATE: There's a software solution to this problem presented around 12 replies down from here.
« Last Edit: October 31, 2019, 10:25:34 am by straycodemonkey »

gphantom

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Re: Instrument categorisation
« Reply #1 on: October 22, 2019, 06:56:16 pm »
I do know how you feel.  I had a problem (perceived) when they went from AL3 to version 4 which introduced instrument types like SYNTH, PIANO, ORGAN and MULTI.  I didn't want to have to click on those to select something I had sorted already but, as it turned out, those PIANO, ORGAN and MULTI were new introductions from the new instruments they created so, SYNTH had all the sounds I sorted out in the first place.  Problem solved.

NOW, as far as categorizing, different users here have their own methods.... Here's mine.

I went through every single preset, tried them and did a SAVE AS and created different banks.  I wanted to sort the presets by instrument so that if I wanted a GUITAR instrument, I would create a bank called _GUITAR (The underline guarantees that the name is sorted with the others I create) and when I came across a guitar sound, I'd save it as that newly created bank.  The following are the banks that I created:
_ARPEGIATOR, _BASS, _BEATS, _BELLS, _BRASS, _CELLO, _CLARINET, _CONTRABASS, _DRUM KIT, _DRUMS, _DRUMS (kick), _DRUMS (metal), _PADS, _PADS (evolving), _FLUTES, _GONG, _HARMONICA, _HIGH HAT, _LEADS, _ORGAN, _PERCUSSION, _PIANO, _SEQUENCER, _FX, _SNARES, _STRINGS (bowed), _STRINGS (plucked), _SYNTH, _TRUMPET, _VOICES, _XYLOPHONE

I also added STYLES which are: _1shot (dies down immediately), _Auto (doesn't stop playing), _Mono (one key press only), _Poly (multiple key press at a time)

And, to add to the sorting process, I go to CONCERTS and create a song.  So far I have: TOP ORGANS, TOP SYNTH, TOP BASS
More to come.

I spent a lot of time going through every single preset which comes with Analog Lab 4 (AND THOSE I'VE PURCHASED) in order to sort them into my own bank with styles to sub class.  In many cases, there are still too many SYNTHs and PIANOs etc which is why I sub classified using the CONCERT section and pick the best ones in each bank I created.
I'm sure there are many other ways to sub class those thousands of presets.  You could create your own STYLES to sub sort by other ways.  Example, if you want to assign an instrument by song type, you could add STYLES like:  DISCO, JAZZ, RAP, CONCERT etc.
Of course, it will take time to sort everything but once it's done, it'll be much easier to pick and chose the preset you want.

JUST REMEMBER TO BACK UP EVERYTHING YOU DID

straycodemonkey

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Re: Instrument categorisation
« Reply #2 on: October 22, 2019, 07:25:38 pm »
Some interesting points there, I'll experiment with your suggestions and see how that works out. You know, embarrassingly, I hadn't even picked up that you can create and name new User banks. I had just thought it was an unmodifiable drop-down for some reason. This actually changes things quite a bit.

Yet still, we could really do with being able to overwrite the stock presets with this kind of categorisation, the thought of creating a ton of duplicates for every prefix you're interested in isn't a good one.

But again, thanks for the advice.

LBH

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Re: Instrument categorisation
« Reply #3 on: October 22, 2019, 07:34:09 pm »
Hi and welcome to Arturia forums.

Someone else posted while i wrote. I post this anyway. There are further informations too.

Perhaps it's a good idea to ask how something can be done, before making a feature request.

You can allready create your own Banks, Types and Styles.
And now when you use the search function, you even search words in the Comments.
Arturias preset browser is very powerful.

It's true you can't change a factory preset, unless you use "Save As", so you get a user version of that preset.
It's normal you can't change factory presets. They are part of a install the way they are at any time. If you changed a factory preset, then what should be done, when you reinstall the applications or if Arturia change presets for a update? How to avoid overwriting your changes, when those informations are a part of the preset?

When you save a preset using "Save As"/ or in case you try to Save a factory preset, then a dialog box pop up.
At the top you can set the attributes "Name", "Author", "Bank" and "Type". If you type a new Bank name or Type, then you get them.
At the end of the Styles selectors you find a "+". If you click that, then you can add your own Style.
And you can write extra stuff in the Comments textfield.
If you in the individual full applications simply change any of the above in the Browser page and Save the preset, then it's being changed.
In Analog Lab you can just use "Save As" again and then change attributes and overwrite the preset using the same preset name. This is also possible in the full applications.

There is a file in the preset folder that's named "FactoryEdit". I think that keep informations about if it's marked as a favorite. But i can't tell for sure. I agree Arturia should inform better about that, and how to exchange presets between computers and such. I have asked for that some times.

straycodemonkey

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Re: Instrument categorisation
« Reply #4 on: October 22, 2019, 08:02:56 pm »
Thanks for the info there. Yeah, I think you might be right in perhaps I should have questioned how things are done rather than going straight to a feature request. I guess really I was asking for some more thought to be given to it than has been thus far and making some suggestions towards that.

I think the biggest problem for me is the fact you can't overwrite stock presets with new bank / style data. All those duplicates would I think just make it all the more unmanageable. I reckon around 30% of the presets shipped with the software I might possibly use at one point or another. So that's 2,500 new presets to give new names to and just bloating an already immense list. Yeah, I know adding #2 to the name is no big deal but it does seem to me like an untidy way of doing things, but that's just my own opinion.

As a coder myself I understand that it wouldn't be a big deal to add a lookup table to the presets so that the stock data for the shipped instruments remains untouched even when updated by software updates. With a separate lookup table, only if an entry is found in the lookup table for a particular preset would it override the style / bank data for that preset. That way you can easily restore the shipped data for bank and style by just deleting the user entry in the lookup table. I understand this would might complicate the UI a little in that you'd need another option like Modify Categorisation in addition to Save. But personally I think would be a small price to pay for being able to avoid creating all those duplicates. Because all I really want to do here is make the shipped presets more easily navigable - I'm not particularly interested in making new presets from them.

All that said, Arturia have done a great job with their software and I'm no way complaining, and it might well be the case that I just need to think about things differently. I'm certainly interested in hearing how other users are using the software to make their lives easier in this regard. I'm very new to this and probably need my eyes opening more here. So any advice is gratefully received.
« Last Edit: October 22, 2019, 08:05:00 pm by straycodemonkey »

LBH

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Re: Instrument categorisation
« Reply #5 on: October 22, 2019, 08:36:58 pm »
About Factory Presets.
You can mark a factory preset as Favorite.
Beside that, you can use the powerful browser searching and sort features.
So you can allways select a bank, and then you only see preets in that bank. The same with other attributes. And you can do this together with a search you make in the search text field in the preset browser. And if needed you can sort them too.

That's it for factory preset, unless you resave them. But that's pretty much. You can perhaps come down to see only one or a few presets, if you wan't to.
And then resave factory preset's, when you wan't to have further options.

I don't think i know of a more powerful preset system, even if i understand your wishes in being able to edit Factory presets, just like you can with user presets. It would be great, if it could be done in a way where changing presets won't take even more time, and would rather like it to be faster to change a preset.
Beside that, then Arturia have a system, where i assume the Factory presets need to work in a certain way with their controllers.

artao

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Re: Instrument categorisation
« Reply #6 on: October 22, 2019, 09:20:04 pm »
RE: "I think it would be a great idea to allow you to add new user-styles to the software and allow you to modify the existing presets to indicate which of your styles they apply to."
I agree that it's rather annoying to not be able to simply add new tags to existing presets without saving them as a new preset. I have requested this be changed several times.
Hopefully they do. Cuz that's just silly IMHO.
This space left intentionally blank.

LBH

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Re: Instrument categorisation
« Reply #7 on: October 22, 2019, 10:20:55 pm »
I agree that it's rather annoying to not be able to simply add new tags to existing presets without saving them as a new preset. I have requested this be changed several times.
Hopefully they do. Cuz that's just silly IMHO.
Did you read this?
If you in the individual full applications simply change any of the above in the Browser page and Save the preset, then it's being changed.
In Analog Lab you can just use "Save As" again and then change attributes and overwrite the preset using the same preset name. This is also possible in the full applications.
So it's just Factory presets you have to resave once.

If we look at the work for you, then the difference is you have to use "Save As" instead of "Save" to keep the changes you make. So you don't save work time, if you will be able to overwrite factory presets. Perhaps even the opposite.

The difference in the end is you have a copy of a factory preset, with the changes you add, if you can't overwrite factory presets, and that the fact you can't overwrite the factory presets probably will keep some other user complaints away, and perhaps make user support and other things easier.

BTW: I forgot to tell, that it's possible to select multiple banks. On Windows it's done by holding the computer keyboards Control down while selecting banks.
There are so many possibilities.

Don' misunderstand me. I  just can see, that perhaps there are more downsides that upsides being able to change Factory presets without resaving them. But can it be done, without downsides, then it's fine with me.
I don't think i will put my money on it though, as i can't overwrite factory presets in any other vendors applications i have. Why is it so, if it's just silly?
« Last Edit: October 22, 2019, 10:50:24 pm by LBH »

gphantom

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Re: Instrument categorisation
« Reply #8 on: October 23, 2019, 12:12:38 am »
There is possibly one way to DELETE the factory presets (though I haven't tried it - On the other hand, I did accidentally move the presets to the wrong file)
If you delete the preset in the FACTORY directory, you'll wipe out the preset from the list (just make sure you do this BEFORE you start Analog Lab)
I know there are a few presets that I don't care to have and maybe one day, I'll delete them.

You can also back up all your presets by copying the following folder (Windows at least)
C:\ProgramData\Arturia\Presets

If you want to delete a preset, get into that folder, find the instrument (i.e. DX7 V) and look into FACTORY.  There you should see another FACTORY directory and a USER directory.  In the Factory\Factory directory, you should see all the factory presets.
In fhe Factory directory, if you bought a preset pack (like FLOYD TRIBUTE,) you'll see those listed there and their specific presets if you don't like some of those.

In the Preset directory, you would also see "Analog Lab 4" which contain the presets designed for AL4 and not a specific instrument.

To backup the CONCERTS song files, go to  C:\ProgramData\Arturia\Analog Lab 4\User and there will be the "Playlist" directory containing all the presets you copied to make a sub sort (i.e. TOP PIANOS) like the ones I've done.

If you want to backup quickly, you can write an easy COMMAND LINE scripts like "BackPresets.bat" and call it as needed or, write your own program.

As for wasted space, each preset uses about 28K of memory, not a big problem.

straycodemonkey

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Re: Instrument categorisation
« Reply #9 on: October 23, 2019, 07:07:21 am »
In Analog Lab you can just use "Save As" again and then change attributes and overwrite the preset using the same preset name. This is also possible in the full applications.

This is true only for new presets that you've created, but not for factory presets. I agree with much of what you've said in that once you've created a new preset from a factory one then your ability to manage them is vastly improved, and Arturia have done a great job with that. I still think it's a real shame that we can't just categorise the factory presets without duplicating them first.

There's been some interesting suggestions from the users here though for ameliorating the problem, and big thanks for that. I think for myself, I might just create a bit of code that removes the factory preset from the file system for any duplicates that I create with the same name. I know this won't survive an upgrade and I'll need to do something more before that happens, but it's manageable. But you know, its OK for me to be doing this as I'm a programmer and it's a not a big deal, but I would encourage Arturia to think again on this issue of user categorisation of factory presets simply for everybody else out there that might also be struggling.

straycodemonkey

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Re: Instrument categorisation
« Reply #10 on: October 23, 2019, 01:07:57 pm »
I've just created a command line tool for Windows that will optionally:

1. Synchronise factory vs user preset duplicates by; removing the factory preset if a user preset is present with the same name, and restoring any previously removed factory presets if a same-named user preset no longer exists.

2. Restore any factory presets already removed by the previous feature so that you can see the duplicates again.

3. Remove any factory presets that are currently not marked as a user favourite.

4. Restore any factory presets already removed by the previous feature so that you can see the unfavoured presets again.

You can run the software in a non-destructive mode where it shows you what it would do if it was allowed to. That way you can test the software's logic without it making any changes to the file system. If you're happy with it then you can let it run free and change the file system.

I'm going to modify it shortly to update the db.db3 file also to ensure that it's in sync with file system changes. (that doesn't appear to be important however during the initial tests I performed)

UPDATE: I've dug into the db.db3 file and found a hide_in_browser field so no preset file removal is necessary. A simple DB update is all that is required to hide duplicates in Analog Lab and any of the instruments it uses - I've now modified my software to do this as it's less risky for the user.

I'll also do some work on determining which factory presets have changed since you last duplicated them so that you can determine what you want to do about those presets. This will help when you upgrade your Arturia software to see how you might need to manually intervene in either recategorising or ignoring the newly updated factory presets.

I'm going to leave this post here for a few days at least to see if Arturia are unhappy with this software being on offer or not. If they're OK, then I'll put up a link for where you can download it from for yourselves if it might be of interest to you. I'll also take feature requests at that point too as I fully understand that my way of working won't be the same as for others.

So Arturia, if you're not happy about this, let it be known now.
« Last Edit: October 23, 2019, 04:07:24 pm by straycodemonkey »

straycodemonkey

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Re: Instrument categorisation
« Reply #11 on: October 31, 2019, 10:16:31 am »
So it looks like Arturia have no objection to the software I proposed. If you're interested in being able to deduplicate your categorised presets then take a look the software here; http://www.codemonkey.me.uk/view_blog_entry.php?blog_entry_id=140

The link to the download is close to the bottom of the page - you'll find a complete explanation and rationale preceding it. Hope that helps. If you've any suggestions for improving the software then just contact me.
« Last Edit: October 31, 2019, 10:24:22 am by straycodemonkey »

 

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