[NOOB] Roland D-50 info on .syx transfer

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[NOOB] Roland D-50 info on .syx transfer

Postby masbass » Sat Feb 10, 2018 9:43 am

Hello all,
a friend resurrected a D-50 and asked me to help him source an expansion card from ebay. I stumbled into this great project here http://forum.vintagesynth.com/viewtopic.php?f=24&t=76886 and we thought why not give a little extra more and get 16 cards worth of size. So he did buy one, downloaded tons of .syx sounds off the net and gave it all to me to transfer it to the card. However no matter how computer literate I might be I have no previous experience of .syx files and synths and I'm trying to find a workflow to do all that (and show it to my friend so he can continue from then on).

Please correct me if I'm wrong on the following:
From what I understood up to now .syx files contain more than one instrument sounds for a specific synth (.syx files for a Roland D-50 will be useless when loaded on a Korg, or most likely won't play even on a different Roland series).
I can repack .syx files and fill them with the instruments I prefer from other .syx files deleting the ones I don't like/use.
How many .syx files fit on a 256 card? I guess seeing that almost all are 36KB, 7 should be the maximum. I'm thinking one can't repack a .syx file to, say 254KB size, right?

If the above is correct then:
How can I preview/audition those .syx files on a pc before loading them on the card? I was given around 45MB of sounds and even though some appear to be duplicates, they are way too many to fit in even that 16x card.
After I preview them how can I edit & repack .syx files on a pc so my friend can go through that collection and make 15 .syx files (+ one with the original sounds) to finally load on the card?
How does it work between onboard synth memory and cards? Synth has X sounds in its memory, card has Y sounds and I want to add Z sounds from my PC. Do I have to copy Z sounds from PC into the onboard memory overwriting the X sounds or can I directly access the card and use the synth as a go-between leaving the X onboard sounds intact? Looking at tutorials like this one here http://www.cyan-music.com/tutorials-roland-d50-sysex-handling.html it's not clear if the PC can directly write .syx files on this synth's card. It seems like I first have to copy them on the onboard memory (Bulk Load) and then from the onboard memory to the card (INT>CRD).

sorry for the noob questions but I haven't found any concrete answers around and you guys here should know best. Thanks in advance. :)
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Re: [NOOB] Roland D-50 info on .syx transfer

Postby baz99 » Sat Feb 10, 2018 12:30 pm

You need a patch librarian program for the D50.

I don't own a D50 so can't help you further but maybe googling 'Roland D50 librarian' will help you find the software you need.
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Re: [NOOB] Roland D-50 info on .syx transfer

Postby desmond » Sat Feb 10, 2018 2:47 pm

masbass wrote:Please correct me if I'm wrong on the following:
From what I understood up to now .syx files contain more than one instrument sounds for a specific synth (.syx files for a Roland D-50 will be useless when loaded on a Korg, or most likely won't play even on a different Roland series).


Yes. A syx file for the D-50 will generally contain 64 patches for the D50 (loadable by any synth with the same engine - ie, the D50, the D550, the V-Synth D50 card, and the D50 plugin)

masbass wrote:I can repack .syx files and fill them with the instruments I prefer from other .syx files deleting the ones I don't like/use.


You can't do this by hacking the syx files directly. You need to do it with a D50 editor software (import the files, rearranged them as you want within the editor, then dump out your rearranged banks.)

masbass wrote:How many .syx files fit on a 256 card? I guess seeing that almost all are 36KB, 7 should be the maximum. I'm thinking one can't repack a .syx file to, say 254KB size, right?


A D50 bank contains one full bank of memory contents of the D50 - 64-patches, and occasionally there may be some extra data such as system or reverb data. Syx files are of a known format (documented in the manual), they can't be arbitrary sizes, the D50 won't import anything it doesn't understand.

masbass wrote:How can I preview/audition those .syx files on a pc before loading them on the card?


The data configures the D50 engine. In order to *hear* the patches, they must be loaded into a D50, either a real one, or the plugin version available at http://www.rolandcloud.com

With a real D50 connected to your computer via MIDI, you can simply click on the sounds on screen in your editor software to send them individually to the synth and play them directly.

masbass wrote:After I preview them how can I edit & repack .syx files on a pc so my friend can go through that collection and make 15 .syx files (+ one with the original sounds) to finally load on the card?


You need an application that can organise and edit D50 patches, such as Soundiver, MIDIQuest, or one of the many standalone D50 editor apps. You import the syx file into the app, organise the patches as you want, and export new syx files containing the patches you want (64 per syx file, as it's just one full bank of patches).

masbass wrote:How does it work between onboard synth memory and cards? Synth has X sounds in its memory, card has Y sounds and I want to add Z sounds from my PC. Do I have to copy Z sounds from PC into the onboard memory overwriting the X sounds or can I directly access the card and use the synth as a go-between leaving the X onboard sounds intact? Looking at tutorials like this one here http://www.cyan-music.com/tutorials-roland-d50-sysex-handling.html it's not clear if the PC can directly write .syx files on this synth's card. It seems like I first have to copy them on the onboard memory (Bulk Load) and then from the onboard memory to the card (INT>CRD).


The D50 does not directly use syx files as such. It stores patches in it's own internal format. The way to import or export patches into the D50 is to use MIDI - basically, the D50 (and most synths) can squidge up it's memory contents and dump them out over the MIDI port, using the MIDI System Exclusive data format (or "Sysex", which is where the "SYX" file extension comes from - a file that contain sysex data). A Syx file is simply a capture of the MIDI data that the D50 squirts out. If you play the syx file back over MIDI *to* the D50, it imports those patches into it's own internal memory, overwriting what was there.

The D50 can only hold 64 patches in memory, with a further 64 load from card. Now, if you have a card with multiple banks of memory, the way it usually works is something along the lines f this (taking an example card that has 8 banks).

- Squirt a syx file containing your 64 patches to the D50, which saves them it's internal memory
- On the D50, select the first card bank, Card Bank 1.
- On the D50, copy the 64 patches in internal memory to the card (which go to card bank 1)

- Squirt a syx file containing your next bank of 64 patches to the D50, which saves them it's internal memory
- On the D50, select the next card bank, Card Bank 2.
- On the D50, copy the 64 patches in internal memory to the card (which go to card bank 1)

Rinse and repeat.

There are some variations (some synths for example let you dump incoming sysex data directly to the card), and I don't know the card you refer to, but it will be something along those lines.

So overall:
- If you want to audition patches, you need a D50 (real, or plugin)
- To organise patches and compile banks of favourite sounds, you need D50 editor software (the plugin will also kind of let you do this, bu you can't export syx files from it, it's import only - for that you'll need to use my tool at http://www.difficultaudio.com/roland.php)
- You use the software to import each bank of 64 patches, pick you favourites, and use whatever tools you have to compile you best list of favourites (for example, in Soundiver which is what I use (but no longer available), you can compile "Libraries" of your favourite sounds)
- Organise your preferred collection of 64-patch banks that you synth/card has - so if you card has 8 banks, then you can have up to 9 banks available "in" the D50
- Import each of your card banks to the D50 and write them to the card
- Import the final bank into the internal memory of the D50

Hope that helps.
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Re: [NOOB] Roland D-50 info on .syx transfer

Postby masbass » Tue Feb 13, 2018 2:07 pm

Sorry for not replying, was away for work. Thanks a lot for the long comprehensive reply, it seems I can't write directly to card on this synth so I'll have to do that workflow you described above. Have to look for an easy enough software solution so that I can show all that to my friend so he can continue from now on filling this card with the patches he prefers the most. Is there a way to see the contents of an expansion card bank and the onboard memory from a PC utility or do I have to scroll through the synth screen and count used instrument slots? Thanks again for your info, will also have a look at roland cloud as well as your tool, maybe that will be easier than hunting down ancient extinct software.
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Re: [NOOB] Roland D-50 info on .syx transfer

Postby desmond » Tue Feb 13, 2018 7:13 pm

masbass wrote:Is there a way to see the contents of an expansion card bank and the onboard memory from a PC utility


Yes, you dump the internal or card bank of the D50 via MIDI sysex to the PC software.
It's exactly the same as importing the data from a SYX file.
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Re: [NOOB] Roland D-50 info on .syx transfer

Postby masbass » Wed Feb 14, 2018 5:02 pm

Ah ok, I was hoping there was a way to somehow peek into those internal/expansion card memory banks via the midi cable however it seems the only way is a straight dump of whatever I want to browse. Oh well, thanks for your tips again!
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Re: [NOOB] Roland D-50 info on .syx transfer

Postby Chris Simmons » Fri Mar 16, 2018 12:17 pm

I used this:
D50Librarian_v1.0.13.0
on PC via midi to download/upload .syx files
http://www.d50librarian.co.uk/
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