Creating EXS24 mkII Instruments, Zones, and Groups

You can add zones and groups to loaded instruments, or you can create a new, empty instrument and fill it with zones and groups.

Important: The EXS24 mkII cannot directly record samples, as you would with a hardware sampler. You need to record the samples in a suitable application—Logic Pro being the obvious choice.

To create a new instrument
  • In the Parameter window (only when no sampler instrument is loaded), click the Edit button.

  • In the Instrument Editor window, choose Instrument > New.

For information about loading sampler instruments, see Using the EXS24 mkII Sampler Instruments Pop-Up Menu. For information about saving, renaming and exporting sampler instruments, see Saving, Renaming, and Exporting EXS24 mkII Instruments.

For information about creating zones and groups, see the following sections:

Creating EXS24 mkII Zones

Quickly Creating Multiple Zones in the EXS24 mkII

Creating EXS24 mkII Groups

Creating EXS24 mkII Zones

A zone is a location into which a single sample—or audio file, if you prefer this term—can be loaded. The sample loaded into the zone is memory resident—it uses the RAM of your computer. A zone offers parameters that control sample playback. Each zone enables you to determine the range of notes that the sample spans—Key Range—and the root key—the note at which the sample sounds at its original pitch. In addition, sample start, end, and loop points, volume, and several other parameters can be adjusted for the zone. You can define as many zones as needed.

To first create a zone and then assign a sample to it
  1. Choose Zone > New Zone (or use the New Zone key command).

    A new zone entry appears in the Instrument Editor.

  2. Do one of the following:

    • Click the arrow in the Audio File column, then choose Load Audio Sample from the pop-up menu.

      Figure. Pop-up menu showing Load Audio Sample.
    • Double-click the empty area in the audio file column.

  3. Choose the desired audio file in the file selector.

    • If you activate the “Hide used Audio Files” option, files used in the currently loaded EXS instrument are dimmed.

    • The “Preview audio file in EXS instrument” option temporarily replaces the sample files in the currently selected zone. The zone is not directly triggered by activating this option, but it can be triggered by playing MIDI notes while the file selector is open—and different files are chosen. The selected sample can be heard as part of the zone, inclusive of all synthesizer processing (filters, modulation, and so on).

  4. Click the Play button to loop playback of the currently selected sample file.

    • Click the button a second time to stop playback.

    • You can audition each file—in turn—by pressing the Play button, and then stepping through the files with the Down Arrow key, or by clicking them.

  5. After you find a sample you’d like to use, click the Open button to add it to the zone. When the sample is loaded, the sample’s name is displayed in the Audio File Name field.

To create a zone by dragging an audio file to a key
  • Drag an audio file onto one of the keys of the onscreen keyboard.

The start key, end key, and root key are all set to the note that the file was dropped on. This drag-and-drop functionality works for audio files from the following sources:  Browser, Audio Bin, and the Finder.

To create a zone by dragging an audio file to a range of keys
  • Drag an audio file directly into the zone area to create a new zone.

    Figure. Audio file being dragged.

The root key for the zone is the key at which the sample is played at its recorded pitch. This information is written in the sample header. If no root key is defined in the sample header, the C3 key is used by default.

Note: If you drag an audio file onto an existing zone, the file referenced by that zone is replaced with the new, dropped file. The cursor changes to reflect the replace mode.

Figure. Audio file replacing an existing file.

Dragging a single sample into the empty area below Ungrouped Zones creates a default zone and a default group, with the new default zone placed in the default group.

Quickly Creating Multiple Zones in the EXS24 mkII

You can load multiple samples in one operation. The Instrument Editor automatically creates new zones and places the loaded samples into them.

To create multiple zones in one operation
  1. Choose Zone > Load Multiple Samples in the Instrument Editor (or use the Load Multiple Samples key command).

  2. Browse to the desired location, then use the Add or Add All buttons to select the samples you want to use.

  3. Click the Done button when you are finished.

  4. Choose one of the three automatic mapping modes in the Load Multiple Samples dialog:

    Figure. Load Multiple Samples dialog.
    • “Auto map” by reading the root key from audio file: Uses the root keys stored in the audio file headers, and places the samples, as zones, across the keyboard range. The number of keys that constitute a zone is intelligently determined by the placement of neighboring zones.
    • “Drums” zone without range, root key from audio file: Uses the root keys stored in the audio file headers. Each zone is mapped to a single key on the keyboard—as determined by the root key information.
    • Contiguous zones: Ignores all root key information and maps the samples across the keyboard in chromatic order. The Zone width field allows you to specify the width—the key range—of the newly generated zones. The Start Note field defines the start note of newly generated zones.

You can also load multiple samples by dragging them into the Instrument Editor. Dragging multiple samples into a group folder assigns the samples to the respective group. Dragging multiple samples below the Ungrouped Zones area assigns the audio files to a new default group.

Note: If you drag multiple files onto one of the keyboard keys, the Load Multiple Samples dialog does not include the Start Note field, as the start key, end key, and root key are all set to the note that the file was dropped on.

Creating EXS24 mkII Groups

Imagine that a drum kit has been created, with a number of different samples being used in several zones, mapped across the keyboard. In many musical circumstances, you might want to adjust the parameters of each sample independently—to alter the decay of the snare, or to use a different cutoff setting for the hi-hat samples, for example.

This scenario is where the EXS24 mkII’s groups feature comes into play. Groups allow for very flexible sample organization. You can define as many groups as required and assign each zone to one of these groups. In a drum set, for example, you could assign all kick drums to Group 1, all snares to Group 2, all hi-hats to Group 3, and so on.

Why might you want to do this?

A group makes it possible to define a velocity range for all assigned zones, allowing you to specify a velocity window in which the grouped zones will be triggered, as one example. Each group also features offset parameters for the amplitude envelope and filter settings made in the Parameter window.

It’s also possible to play all zones without defining and assigning any groups—in this situation, changes to parameter settings affect all samples in all zones equally.

To create a new group
  • Choose Group > New Group in the Instrument Editor.

    A new group appears in the Zones column at the left-hand side of the Instrument Editor.

    Figure. Zones column.
To assign a zone to a group
Do one of the following:
  • Select the group in the zone’s Group menu.

  • Select a zone in the EXS Instrument Editor, Finder, Audio Bin, or Browser—and drag it into a group displayed in the Zones column.

  • Drag an ungrouped zone (or multiple selected zones) into the empty area below the Ungrouped Zones icon. This creates a new group, containing the dragged zone, or zones.

  • Drag a zone (or multiple selected zones) out of one group:

    • into another group. This changes the previous group assignment to the new group.

    • onto the Ungrouped Zones icon. This changes the previous group assignment to unassigned (ungrouped).

    • to the empty area below the Ungrouped Zones icon. This creates a new group containing the dragged zone (or zones).

    Tip: Pressing Option while dragging zones to another group will copy, rather than move, the selected zones.

To delete all groups that do not have a zone assignment
  • Choose Group > Delete Unused Groups in the Instrument Editor.