Author Topic: Pro/cons of vArranger ?  (Read 3996 times)

Offline GM

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Pro/cons of vArranger ?
« on: August 04, 2020, 12:24:42 PM »
I'm thinking of buying an arranger - either a keyboard (Korg Pa1000?) or vArranger.  I use Cubase and other DAWs so I'm not new to midi and my issue, especially as I have no experience with arrangers, is that it's almost impossible to understand the pro/cons of vA.  And I don't want to spend a substantial amount on a product that I'm unsure of.

There are many videos, how-tos, evaluations, reviews, comparisons etc of the major arranger keyboards, so I am confident I have a good feel for their quirks and limitations.  But there is very little out there about vArranger that I can use to compare my options - eg how does vA functionality compare to the various keyboards?  The vArranger youtube channel is mostly demos of the Ketron SD1000 and there is no way to trial vA.  Are there any resources (aside from the manual - I am not prepared to try to decode vA this way) that can give me a deeper understanding of vA and its specifics compared to the keyboards?

Although vA is a cheaper option I just don't think I can buy it "sight-unseen".

Thanks,
Geoff

Offline Dan

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Re: Pro/cons of vArranger ?
« Reply #1 on: August 04, 2020, 12:33:19 PM »
Hello Geoff,

You can see the Online Manual here : https://www.varranger.com/wiki

Why do you want to buy an arranger, what do you want to do with it?
Maybe this will help us to give you a more precise answer

Regards,

Dan

Offline GM

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Re: Pro/cons of vArranger ?
« Reply #2 on: August 04, 2020, 10:58:59 PM »
Thanks Dan, but I'm not sure you understood my post. 

If you did there would be videos or walkthroughs showing capabilities of the software on the vA website.  Yes there is a list of "features" at varranger.com/features but without seeing them being demonstrated I find it difficult/impossible to evaluate vA.

And I have read the manual but my questions remain.  I'm trying to imagine wanting information on a keyboard arranger and being referred to its manual by Yamaha or Korg, or Steinberg telling me to read the Cubase manual before I buy.  While trying to research vA I saw other people say similar things - ie they'd like to try/buy vArranger but there is not enough information available to feel confident enough to purchase.

vArranger has been around for many years and, as a prospective customer, not having an easy way to understand the product is a real concern.

Thanks,
Geoff




Offline Dan

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Re: Pro/cons of vArranger ?
« Reply #3 on: August 05, 2020, 12:30:51 AM »
Basically with an arranger, you can play some chords with the left hand, and the arranger will produce an accompaniment that follow your chords in real time, while in the same time, you can play a melody line with your right hand.
But there is also more way to use it
Basically, the main features are the same between hardware and software arrangers.
I am sorry we don't have many good quality videos on Youtube
You can ask any more precise questions here, and we will try to answer

Offline GM

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Re: Pro/cons of vArranger ?
« Reply #4 on: August 05, 2020, 01:27:25 AM »
Dan, I understand what an arranger is.  That's not the problem.  And I'm not just talking about youtube videos.

I think I have explained my position fairly clearly?

All the best,
Geoff

Offline Dan

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Re: Pro/cons of vArranger ?
« Reply #5 on: August 05, 2020, 07:04:10 AM »
I am sorry, I am not sure I understand what you mean.
This forum is full of information about vArranger, and if it is not enough, just tell me what information you need more.

Basically, you plug a midi keyboard in the computer to play.
For the midi output, you have choice of using an external midi synth or our software synthesizer, that can load SF2/SFZ instruments, or VSTi
You can also use many inputs and outputs together
We also support midi controllers, to trigger functions like START/STOP, etc....
The features list is almost self explained
Let me know what you need more ...


Offline GM

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Re: Pro/cons of vArranger ?
« Reply #6 on: August 05, 2020, 01:12:43 PM »
Dan, please don't patronise me.







Offline GM

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Re: Pro/cons of vArranger ?
« Reply #7 on: August 05, 2020, 01:13:52 PM »
Frankly this conversation has only confirmed my hesitation to spend my money on vA.

You refused to address my questions and replied with condescension.

I am more than happy with a well-known hardware solution.
« Last Edit: August 05, 2020, 01:17:57 PM by GM »

Offline BjayG

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Re: Pro/cons of vArranger ?
« Reply #8 on: August 05, 2020, 02:56:43 PM »
Hi,

This may help you decide.  vA is very good but in my humble opinion its a bit of a fiddle in comparison to a hardware arranger.  Its main strength is its abiliy to read styles from multiple keyboard manufacturere directly - but you will still need to do a bit of work to make them sound the same as they might do on the styles manuafacturers keyboard.   But I always ask what is the point of having 100,000 syles if you still cannot find the one you want.  As you say the cost it quite high for the original vA program and the issue then becomes that you have to add something to create sounds.    It comes wth basic sound creation. - but most people seem to want something better.   There are multiple ways: you can use sound modules (such as the Ketron SD 1000, Roland Intregra 7 etc.  note: vA supposts INS files); you can use VSTs or you can buy sound banks from Dan that work directly with vA.   I don't have the latter but the general view seems to be positive - although it seems that each style type needs its own sound bank - and they seem expensive.  So if you add the program + keyboards + computer + sound creator - then the cost begins to grow.    In my opinion the biggest stumbling block for me is lack or registration memory as you would normally find on even the most basic keyboard (I have been asking for it for 7 years) and this makes it difficult (for me) to use.

There are lots of people on this forum who seem to get great results with vA and seem very happy - then, as you would expect, there are others who want it to work more like a hardware arranger keyboard and get frustrated with missing features.   My biggest surprise is that a number of people seem to have forgotten that vA is designed as a real time arranger for live playing and seem to want it to work like a backing track creator (so use Band in a Box)....

If you decide to buy it then Dan will provide a refund if you are not happy - but my advice is to make sure you REALLY try it out and not just superficially toy with it.

I hope this helps

Barry


Offline v.muller

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Re: Pro/cons of vArranger ?
« Reply #9 on: August 05, 2020, 10:04:06 PM »
Quote
...there are others who want it to work more like a hardware arranger keyboard and get frustrated with missing features...
-and frustrated by the lack of communication: https://www.varranger.com/vforum/index.php/topic,578.msg31973.html#msg31973

Offline balmusette

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Re: Pro/cons of vArranger ?
« Reply #10 on: August 06, 2020, 07:44:39 AM »
To simplify the debate, see rather Va like the chassis of a car in kit: You can put on the engine which you want, little power or on the contrary a formula 1 (computer on which Va is installed) you can put on the body that suits you (the control keypads, one or more) and finally the coupled trailers which are the sound modules (external: Ketron 1000 or others; internal: SF or VST) It is obvious that the cost will vary according to the elements that you will put around Va. Sincerely, 350 € for a "professional" software ... allow me to say that it is almost given !!! given the work behind creation. Dan is a craftsman not an industrialist who could sell his machine 10 times cheaper by selling thousands! Compared to the 4000 or 5000 € of Ketron, Korg or other hardwares which are certainly finished products but frozen in time without any possible evolution ... everything is said! Try Va on a configuration data may not reflect what you expect from it. It seems to me that Dan is ready to refund you if the product does not suit you. So give it a shot. But I tell you again, it is the basis of a kit. It's up to you to know what you want in the end. For my part I am an accordionist, I use Va from my accordion, I output the Ketron SD 1000 which is perfect on a multitude of styles from different brands, it sounds great, and I use Cantabile with Halion Sonic for the right hand solo sounds. In conclusion, think of Va as the central and centerpiece of a construction, it is you who will decide what elements you will hang on it and the budget you will devote to it. It all depends of course also on what you want to do with it, which doesn't seem very obvious from reading your post. Hoping to have enlightened you ...

Offline Dan

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Re: Pro/cons of vArranger ?
« Reply #11 on: August 06, 2020, 09:33:53 AM »
It seems I have not understood your questions, as you have not understood my answers. I am really not answering with condescension. We have many kind of users. Some are advanced, some are beginners. We have a lot of different needs and setups, so I was asking questions to know more about your need and see if vArranger can be an answer for your need or not
By the way, I have many hardware arrangers too and they are great. Plug and play with good sounds and styles

Offline ElTyros

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Re: Pro/cons of vArranger ?
« Reply #12 on: August 06, 2020, 10:04:10 AM »
+ 1 Balmusette
Hi,

In my opinion the biggest stumbling block for me is lack or registration memory as you would normally find on even the most basic keyboard

????

Registration memories are unlimited (they are called song in vA), just have one folder per song and add whatever you want, you name them 1,2,3, ...... and with a foot controller or keyboard shortcuts before or after scrolling through them. like any arranger

Offline garciarob

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Re: Pro/cons of vArranger ?
« Reply #13 on: August 06, 2020, 10:31:18 AM »
I use vArranger with soundbanks, soundfonts and vst. The best results are not "plug & play" but at the moment I wouldn't exchange it for any other arranger.

* Having a powerful computer you can use the best sounds around for the solo parts (better than arranger ones) using vst's with midi program/control changes
* Dan's soundbanks emulate the top of the range in terms of rhythm and you can import thousands of styles, for the most part perfectly functional.
* it does not suffer from obsolescence being an "open" system
* You can connect up to 4 midi controller, virtual midi controllers like touchosc, or physical ones like keyboards, launchpads or whatever
* You can save an unlimited number of configurations each consisting of style, 20 sounds, effects, etc ...
* You can enhance effects and master output with vst
* Using multiple screens you can link pdf to each song

In my case, the only limit is the lack of time; had I had such a powerful tool 20 years ago, I would have enjoyed it as hell.

Then, of course, some things can be improved, but once a year Dan pulls out some interesting news from his hat (at a fair price), considering the absence of obsolescence.

Dan's fault is probably that he's not a flimflam man, if he hired a "marketing and communication manager" the software would be much more widespread and there would be "glossy" videos on youtube.

Just my 5 cents.

Offline BjayG

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Re: Pro/cons of vArranger ?
« Reply #14 on: August 06, 2020, 01:12:42 PM »
> Registration memories are unlimited (they are called song in vA), just have one folder per song and add whatever you want, you name them 1,2,3, ...... and with a foot controller or keyboard shortcuts before or after scrolling through them. like any arranger

No its not.  Song mode is a means of using multiple songs one after the other.      As I was an advocate of this way of working - I actually wrote instructions in a forum thread several years ago on how to use song mode as a type of  registration memory because of the lack of real registration memory.    But in the end I gave up using it because it really didn't work when you change in the middle of a song - which is what registration memory is really for.   I found that that there was an audible delay as vA brought in new styles and voices and it really was not satisfactory.  There were other problems that I have, unfortunately, long since forgotten.   Its possible that things have been improved - but frankly I find it very clunky.    The other issue is the way that voices are selected and having to go to the flog of creating specific user voices whenever you want to layer 2 or more sounds which adds to the complexity - and this I REALLY hate..

> * it does not suffer from obsolescence being an "open" system

This is not the definition of an open system - I haven't seen copies of the source code recently - so can I have a copy please  ;).    If, heaven forbid, Dan gets run over by a bus  or decides to pack it because of the whingeing from his customers then vA users are stuck.   Under those circumstances  if Microsoft decides to change the operating system and it makea vA unusable - then you are really stuck.  A hardware arranger would still work even if the maufacturer goes bust.   Note: I am not saying here that one soilution is better than any other.

Barry

Offline Dan

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Re: Pro/cons of vArranger ?
« Reply #15 on: August 06, 2020, 01:17:08 PM »
If you have an audible delay, please send me the 2 styles files (and sty2), so I can check it

Offline claudio

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Re: Pro/cons of vArranger ?
« Reply #16 on: August 06, 2020, 02:59:08 PM »
Dan some time ago it was about restructuring the forum but I realize that nothing has changed ! apart from the additions in the Features section.

If you have time, consider adding a FAQ section (frequently asked questions) I think it becomes incomprehensible to future users.

 Claudio :D

Offline Dan

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Offline MusicMan

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Re: Pro/cons of vArranger ?
« Reply #18 on: August 06, 2020, 06:22:33 PM »
As a potential subscriber, I am also anxiously waiting release of the long awaited new vArranger2020 software.

Despite Dan's repeated unfulfilled promises over the past 6 to 8 months of having this available, I will "take my chances" 
subscribe the latest version (probably) v1.19.12  and be upgraded to 2020 version available at end of this month as Dan PM promised.   
 
I also share BjayG's sentiment.  Dan being a one man company, I was concerned about vArranger's future operations in event of any unfortunate situation.

My PM to Dan suggests he consider constructive succession planning to maintain continuity and reliable service to users. 

Looking forward to be part of vArranger's community.

Offline v.muller

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Re: Pro/cons of vArranger ?
« Reply #19 on: August 06, 2020, 06:45:41 PM »
In any case - vArranger is the best software arranger in the world.
Its price does not seem to be low, but it corresponds to its value.
If you prefer a finished and closed system, then you should buy a normal keyboard.
But if you would like to experiment with your own sounds, use any VST instrument or play with styles using any midi controller, then vArranger is the ideal choice for you.

Offline ElTyros

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Re: Pro/cons of vArranger ?
« Reply #20 on: August 06, 2020, 08:24:29 PM »
If you have an audible delay, please send me the 2 styles files (and sty2), so I can check it

Je pense que BjayG veut dire que si dans la song suivante un autre son ou un fill/Main est enregistré,il faut attendre le début de la mesure suivante pour que la transition soit prise en compte c'est pas glop
« Last Edit: August 07, 2020, 10:15:29 AM by ElTyros »

Offline musicmaker84

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Re: Pro/cons of vArranger ?
« Reply #21 on: August 06, 2020, 10:10:13 PM »
Probably the original poster isn't reading along any longer, but for what's worth: a well known company, still in business, pulled the plug under me thrice in my lifetime losing significant investment in consumer hard- and software.

Dan's business might not be as polished, but vA, in my opinion, doesn't need much polish: it is rock stable, can be "modded" in many ways.

I built an instrument to my liking (home organ) at the fraction of the cost I would have to pay for if everything was hardware.

Drawbacks: it can be a pita to have it run with more than one midi controller without issues, hence I use Cantabile two control two more manuals.

registration memory: I agree, that vA could do with non song specific registration banks in addition to song specific ones.

harmony: still missing from vA the way it is supposed to work

Probably some other little things here and there that need some fiddling with from time to time, but overall I find vA easier to operate and be creative with than hardware arrangers I know.

Just the fact that you can have 5 (velocity) layers in the right hand, unmatched by the best arrangers to my knowledge, and an abundance of great sounding styles, is worth the fee of admission imho.









« Last Edit: August 06, 2020, 10:48:24 PM by musicmaker84 »

Offline Bachus

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Re: Pro/cons of vArranger ?
« Reply #22 on: August 07, 2020, 11:44:49 AM »
Frankly this conversation has only confirmed my hesitation to spend my money on vA.

You refused to address my questions and replied with condescension.

I am more than happy with a well-known hardware solution.

I am sorry, but i think its you and not Dann..

As an outstander, i have no opinion on the topic.
But when i reread the discussion, i can only see Dann is trying to answer you..
But you stubornly refuse to give more information about what you really want to know

Afer reading your initial question, its totally unclear what you are asking?
Yet you finish with a statement (you can not buy witouth trying first)
Before even giving Dann a chance to answer..

When i reread your comments, they give me the idea that you are a presumptuous person..
Maybe i am wrong, but thats the feeling i get when reading this.

Offline Deane

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Re: Pro/cons of vArranger ?
« Reply #23 on: August 08, 2020, 02:58:49 PM »
Bachus,
I totally agree with your post.  If I were Dan I would pass this guy by.  All he will do is gripe and complain.

Dan,
I hope you know how much all of us appreciate you and the on-going support you have provided for years without charging for what you do. 

Deane

Offline Dan

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Re: Pro/cons of vArranger ?
« Reply #24 on: August 08, 2020, 10:52:03 PM »
Thank you for your kind words. I try to do my best to create quality software and offer support to my users.

There are many kind of setup but also many kind of people :)

Offline agaton

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Re: Pro/cons of vArranger ?
« Reply #25 on: August 09, 2020, 12:27:35 AM »
I am more than happy with a well-known hardware solution.
Very well, than stay by your hardware solutions. All here try to explain to you that this software has so much functions and it is so complex, powerful and better than most of the best "hardware solutions". If you don't trust in us, simply don't ask.

Offline bluebeat

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Re: Pro/cons of vArranger ?
« Reply #26 on: August 10, 2020, 11:06:38 PM »
Ideally it would be a good idea to have a demo... so people can test drive it.

To me, 2 biggest weaknesses are:

1) Lack of style maker > To be able assemble new styles from parts of others. As available with most hardware arrangers.

2) which in my opinion is fairly easy to accomplish are drum maps. For example one style would sound ok, another would have drums totally messed up. Instead  of tweaking SoundFont or VST, which is doable, but really is annoying and time consuming, (especially if you are browsing a large catalog!) to have 3-5 popular drum maps within VA, so it is possible to change drum map on the fly on MIDI level within VA, without pocking at different external places to make drums sound right.

-----------------

Having said that, VA is probably the best software arranger for wide variety of keyboard styles.
 

Offline BjayG

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Re: Pro/cons of vArranger ?
« Reply #27 on: August 12, 2020, 10:56:57 AM »
I agree with Bluebeat - that a demo version is very desirable - but appreciate that a demo version is at risk of being 'hacked'.   I have been thinking about how this may be achieved without a great deal of work on Dan's part (I was a programmer after all) and I would like to make a practical suggestion.   

The idea is to obviously create 2 versions:

- Version 1) - the normal full version that is distributed as now
- Version 2) - a demo crippleware version which even if it were hacked would not result in a usuable full version.   

So what I suggest is that the demo version should come with (say) 2 styles already pre-installed.    That the LOAD and SAVE style reading code is not actually present inside the program (i.e. I don't just mean disabled - I mean not physically there) and that the TEMPO code is similarly also not present (i.e. so that vA can only run at speed of the preset demo styles.

Programmer speak:  How can this be achieved easily?   The answer is I do not know the vA code so there may be some problem with this - but I would have thought that both versions could use the same code (so Dan only has to maintain one version) but use some sort of conditional compilation switches which most compilers allow.   Switching ON the 'demo mode' compile switch when Dan compiles it produces the demo version by effectively bypassing (i.e. not compiling) the LOAD/SAVE and TEMPO code - switching the demo mode compile switch OFF generates the full version.

I think this would allow a demo version which is usable enough to allow people to decide whether they wanted to buy - but is safe from abuse.   It doesn't even need to be time limited as if somebody only ever plays withe one style (i.e. the demo one) - then good luck to them - enjoy it.

Anyway - just a thought for debate.

Offline BjayG

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Re: Pro/cons of vArranger ?
« Reply #28 on: August 16, 2020, 11:04:09 AM »
No response as usual ...

This was a practical and positive suggestion.   So I actually don't know why I am surprised - given the pevious track record of ignoring people on this forum.

Offline Dan

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Re: Pro/cons of vArranger ?
« Reply #29 on: August 16, 2020, 01:59:15 PM »
Every one will want to test something else in vArranger, and the limited demo will not really change anything

Offline Gunnar J

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Re: Pro/cons of vArranger ?
« Reply #30 on: August 17, 2020, 08:05:24 PM »
Every one will want to test something else in vArranger, and the limited demo will not really change anything

A limited demo would sure give a feeling about how it works in realtime.
Tousands YT videos may give a picture, but when 'handle the wheel' in person, it give much more info to deside if buy or not.
I'm aware of the danger of piracy, but if all the save functions disabled and limited to load a few styles and and be able to liveplay or steprecorded would certainly be a good advert for the software.
At least I think so..... 😊

Offline BjayG

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Re: Pro/cons of vArranger ?
« Reply #31 on: August 18, 2020, 12:46:54 PM »
> Every one will want to test something else in vArranger, and the limited demo will not really change anything

With my suggestion they would be able to have access to all the availble facilities of vA (including VSTs) - what they would not be able to do is load or save any new styles or change the tempo - just have one or two basic pre-built in styles at a fixed tempo.  Its got to be a 1,000,000% better than what is present at the moment.   The point was that it should be easy to implement and not require having to maintain separate code for a full and demo version.

And just to clarrify gunnar's comments - I am not saying disable save/load (as that can be hacked and re-enabled) - I am suggesting removing all related code completely from the demo version.

Barry

Offline Gunnar J

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Re: Pro/cons of vArranger ?
« Reply #32 on: August 18, 2020, 08:34:32 PM »
And just to clarrify gunnar's comments - I am not saying disable save/load (as that can be hacked and re-enabled) - I am suggesting removing all related code completely from the demo version.

Sorry for my poor expresion and bad english language..... 😳
Disable can of course be remove, and that's what I ment to say.

Offline Lylo

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Re: Pro/cons of vArranger ?
« Reply #33 on: August 18, 2020, 08:45:34 PM »
Frankly this conversation has only confirmed my hesitation to spend my money on vA.

You refused to address my questions and replied with condescension.

I am more than happy with a well-known hardware solution.

And for us you confirm you are a stupid troll, vArranger community haven't need you, bye !

Offline lakere

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Re: Pro/cons of vArranger ?
« Reply #34 on: August 28, 2020, 11:14:10 PM »
The troll was never interested in buying vArranger in the first place.   It was his deceptive efforts to get Dan to supply him a "demo" version. 

Offline rikkisbears

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Re: Pro/cons of vArranger ?
« Reply #35 on: August 30, 2020, 10:37:27 PM »


1) Lack of style maker > To be able assemble new styles from parts of others. As available with most hardware arrangers.

-----------------

Having said that, VA is probably the best software arranger for wide variety of keyboard styles.

Hi,
I edit my Yamaha styles for my sx900 using Split n Splice  and my old xg works sequencer.

Also have a program called Style Magic, but it’s not a free one. Haven’t quite gotten round to using it yet.

Won’t help with the other style formats that VArranger can play, but, at least I can edit Yamaha styles.

Offline bluebeat

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Re: Pro/cons of vArranger ?
« Reply #36 on: September 06, 2021, 01:52:03 PM »
The 3 core issues with vArranger for me is:
1)You can not assign parts like breaks / fills to pre-made arrangement (Song Chords) to a particular beat of the bar. ONLY on first beat, not like you would play live, where you can trigger it at any place. This is a serious downside for me.
2)Drum maps. Drums in MANY cases would sound wrong. If you are using internal VA synth it is nearly impossible to re-map. If you use external drums (VST or hardware) it is possible to remap, but extra work. To fix this is simple. Dan must include 5-6 most popular drum maps, as most drum VSTs do, to see what works better. Otherwise many styles will sound bad (drums / percussion) because of that.
3) No true style mixer. Means you can not combine parts of different styles to make your own. Most (if not all) hardware arrangers have that option.