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Akai EWIs
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paugui



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PostPosted: Fri May 27, 2011 3:40 pm    Post subject: Akai EWIs Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Hi

I got an Akai EWI3020 with the EWI3030m as sound module.

I have never tried before another wind-synth so my first try was not that good... it seemed I could only produce some drones...

I will only be able to play with it again as I need a voltage converter (I am in Norway and the machine has US voltage - anyone knows if I have to be careful with the converter I pick?), so I was wondering if anyone here has some experience with the equipment and can give me some insight about it.


I noticed there are some tutorial videos on youtube about how to play an EWI so I am going to follow them.
Any other resources I should check to learn how to use it?


I was also wondering how good is this EWI compared with the other models?

I got a bit disappointed when I checked that the EWI3030m seems to be the only digital member of the EWI family, but since it's based on PCM samples, isn't it likely better to emulate acoustic instruments, and given the interface it has, isn't it able to achieve sounds similar to physical modeling?

Also, what do I lose in terms of sound and expressivity by having the PCM module and not an analog one?


Thanks in advance,
Best

Paulo
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EdisonRex
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PostPosted: Fri May 27, 2011 5:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I play a 4000s. Everything on this site I've uploaded in the past 18 months has some EWI on it. Apparently there is much more analogue love for the 3020 (the 4000 is a full digital synth) but I like not having any cables; I have a wireless audio setup for it.

EWIs are great, albeit my own opinion. Take care of it and practice. Smile

Especially practice scales and chromatics, and especially then over the thumb transitions. I find the lack of action isn't a problem for me, I like the finger plates, but I didn't start out as a reed player (played recorders for many years) so I am more used to it.

Your voltage converter is simply a step down transformer. Get a good one, overrated for power and with safe housing.


I can't tell you really about the analogue version, but I run the output of mine through enough effects that I think it works well. There are a lot of expression parameters and you can easily enough edit patches.

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paugui



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PostPosted: Sat May 28, 2011 9:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I think I'd rather have gotten the EWI4000s for those reasons too, as it is much more portable to just have everything in one unit.

But since these old units are not easy to find and I got a good price on it, I couldn't pass this chance Smile


I was searching for a step down converter, but had no luck today...
Hope I can find one this week, cause I really want to start learning how to play it.


One thing I am curious, can all the different EWIs be used with the old EWI modules, or did the interface used to connect the modules changed?
And if that's possible, what's the best EWI to have?

I know I want at least to get the EWI3020m (saw there was one on ebay.it that was sold this month for 150 euros...), but if mine can control others, could likely think about picking others...


I was also wondering, since the EWI3030m is the only one that is based in PCM samples, does it have any special features that make it much better to synthesize acoustic wind instruments than other synths?
Can the result be similar to Physical Modeling?


Thanks

Paulo
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EdisonRex
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PostPosted: Sat May 28, 2011 12:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

You should try to find the Block SAT-100 perhaps. That should do the trick I think.

Regarding control of the module, I think the 3000 series were all compatible, but you should check that from someone who knows them. My experience is only with the 4000s.

And "physical modeling" is not exactly what's happening, really it comes down to modulation capability, mainly through the breath controller and bite pressure being used. As you practice and develop breath control you'll see how it works.

The EWI is a wonderfully playable controller, especially if you already know how to finger it. Make sure you read up on setting the fingering to something you can easily learn, there are different fingering setups for transition from flute/clarinet, sax and recorder, and a brass fingering mode too. Charles Shriner uses his in brass mode, I use mine in EWI native fingering mode. Being a beginner perhaps you'll find the native mode easiest to learn.

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paugui



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PostPosted: Sun May 29, 2011 3:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

That converter seems good, but here in Oslo they only had one that's different...
But I hope I can get some decent converter this week...


I know it doesn't do Physical Modeling, but from my experience with the Fusion, what I noticed is that the sounds I obtain are really "fluid" and hopefully the way the way plays will help me achieve that realism.
Sure Physical Modeling would be better, but if it sounds quite "real", I'm happy with that Smile


I noticed that my EWI3030m is supposedly based on samples, but we can use PW in two of those samples.
Is this possible with samples or are they just digital oscillators instead?


One last thing...
Are there any forum dedicated to EWIs?
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loydb



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PostPosted: Mon May 30, 2011 8:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I've got a 4000s that I don't play nearly enough. I also had no woodwind background, so didn't have to unlearn anything Smile There's a semi-active Yahoo wind controller group, but I haven't found much else as far as forums.

I agree about the scales -- once you really internalize which keys modify (+1 half step, -1 half step, +1 whole step, etc.) the base notes, you can pick up strange key sigs pretty fast...

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paugui



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PostPosted: Tue May 31, 2011 9:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I could find the step down converter yesterday but unfortunately the EWI doesn't seem to be working well...

When I bought it, I clearly saw the previous seller playing different notes out of it, but I can't get any note...

I can make it sound by blowing into it and use the bending plates to change the pitch without any problem, but pressing the keys or the octave rollers isn't doing any change to the sound...

I am not sure if the Vibrato is working either, as I set it to be maximum and don't have an extreme change when bitting the mouthpiece...

The converter I got is 110V and 50Hz, instead of 120V and 60Hz, but I wouldn't expect this change to cause the instrument to malfunction, right?


Anyone has an idea on what the problem might be?
I have never played an EWI before, so I might likely be doing something really stupid, so any idea might be worth checking...


Thanks in advance,
Best

Paulo
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 01, 2011 12:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

50/60 Hz should not affect the ability to play the instrument. At worst you might get some hum, but probably not. I didn't check on their website but have you checked to make sure there is not a voltage select switch integrated with the fuse plate, or a separate one? Does the nameplate on the module indicate 120V only? A picture of the back of the thing might help.

You are holding it correctly? Your left thumb must be on the thumb plate. Use some isopropyl alcohol or a very mild soap and water solution on a paper towel to thoroughly clean all of the contact plates. Make sure you don't get anything wet doing that. If you don't have a neck strap, get one and wear it. The EWI is not easy to play without one.

If you can blow into it and make sound, then it is probably working, but that thumb plate is necessary for the notes to change.

The right hand is for the lower end, left hand for the top end, your right thumb on the touch plate at the lower end of the instrument and the left thumb on the upper rollers/octave switch.

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paugui



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PostPosted: Wed Jun 01, 2011 10:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

It seems I just had to twist the sensitivity screw...
It was a bit out and when I brought it home I guess it was twisted a bit and that caused the whole problem... Sad

There is just one thing I'm not sure is working as good as it should... the Vibrato...
Are there any good examples on youtube of people using Vibrato in their EWIs?
Is that I have mine set to the maximum and I can't really notice a difference... but since I have never played this kind of instruments, I am not sure if there is a difference and I just think it's because of the way I'm breathing into it...

It also detects Glide (there is a LED for that in the EWI3030m), but I'm not sure how to use it...
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 01, 2011 4:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread


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paugui



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PostPosted: Wed Jun 01, 2011 5:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Amazing video... really cool sounds...


I still couldn't get exactly where he used Vibrato...
It seems to me that it's quite similar to changing breath...

I guess I just have to play more and get used to it Smile


And thanks for the amazing video Smile
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 01, 2011 11:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Bite the mouthpiece to get vibrato Wink
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paugui



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PostPosted: Thu Jun 02, 2011 5:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

EdisonRex wrote:
Bite the mouthpiece to get vibrato Wink



That's what I'm trying to do, but when I do that, I feel that my breath changes...
So I'm not sure if the effect is just because of the breathing or because I'm biting the mouthpiece...
That's why I was looking for a clear example of Vibrato, to be as sure as possible...
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 02, 2011 6:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

paugui wrote:
EdisonRex wrote:
Bite the mouthpiece to get vibrato Wink



That's what I'm trying to do, but when I do that, I feel that my breath changes...
So I'm not sure if the effect is just because of the breathing or because I'm biting the mouthpiece...
That's why I was looking for a clear example of Vibrato, to be as sure as possible...


The mouthpiece does wear out, and is replaceable. I was able to get replacement parts for my 4000s in a store in London. You might be able to find parts locally.

Try some other patches too, it might be the patch not mapping bite properly.

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paugui



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PostPosted: Thu Jun 02, 2011 6:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Hi

I could notice some Vibrato for high-pitches.
The thing is, I have the Vibrato knob at the maximum, and I don't get a Vibrato anywhere strong as the one it's obtained on a synth by putting up the mod-wheel, or even the aftertouch.
I think it's there, but it's not too strong at all in the strongest setting...

I think I'll just try different breath settings tonight, so that I can have a better perception...
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paugui



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PostPosted: Fri Jun 03, 2011 3:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Ok, everything is sorted out Smile

It seems to be working really well and sounding pretty good.


I was just wondering, anyone here has some suggestions on which music pieces are good to practice in order to learn the EWI?
If the music sheets are available on the internet, that's even better Smile


Thanks a lot,

Paulo
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 03, 2011 4:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Best way is the traditional way to learn technique, ie pick up a beginner's recorder book, practice scales and breath control, and learn the fingerings. Print out the fingering chart for the EWI (having selected and committed to which fingering system you want) and practice. There's no shortcut to that, especially if you have never played a wind instrument before.

There are tons of beginner recorder books, wander into a music store and select one. I can't really recommend one in particular as they are much the same except some have more interesting tunes to learn.

http://www.musicroom.com/se/ID_No/04996/details.html for an example.

Looking forward to hearing how you get on with it. Smile

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 16, 2012 6:14 am    Post subject: Akai EWI3020 with the EWI3030m no sound Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Hello,

I recently acquired a used Akai EWI3020 with the EWI3030m sound module. For some reason when I blow into the mouth piece I get no sound. I can adjust the module breath ADJ and SEN to get a sound which can be controlled by the 3020, but not by using my breath. It worked when I first got it but now it's completely dead. I'm wondering if I might have changed a parameter or done something to effectively mute the breath. It's frustrating because everything seems to work fantastic except no sound when blowing into the mouth piece. I'm temped to open it up and see if anything might be dirty or blocking the sensor.

Note I also adjusted the small sensor at the bottom on the 3020 and that worked for adjusting everything else. I just can't blow into the 3020 at all. Very strange.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

Jim
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 16, 2012 11:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Is the sensor blocked? You should be able to blow into the mouthpiece and air should escape into the instrument (there is a pathway). It should pass some air, but not as much as say a recorder or other conventional wind instrument, but it should definitely pass some air. If it doesn't you might have a blockage. Be careful. You can damage the sensor by poking at things.

I'll see if I can dig up a proper procedure. Patchman Music has a nice page on wind controllers and typical problems but they're pretty adamant if you clog the tube you must be very careful. You can remove the mouthpiece, and have a good look, but do not remove the sensor itself.

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 16, 2012 5:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Thanks for the replay. Much appreciated.

I am thinking the air passageway might be blocked. I actually have both the 3020M and 3030M modules and although they both seem to work, the EWI 3020 controller doesn't sense my breath. I did remove the mouth piece and quite a bit of water or moisture spilled out. I am not sure where the sensor is but I'm considering opening up the 3020 to inspect things. I often repair keyboards so I'm usually careful and sensitive to these things. It really does seem like no air is passing through the controller for some reason OR it's not getting registered by the controller or module.

One thing I'm used to with MIDI is that when a signal is found an LED light will usually flash. I'm curious if on these EWI modules, the breath light will flash or not when sensing breath. If it does, then I know breath is not getting sensed.

This EWI set I purchased was found at a used music store here in Japan and like most gear I find, it usually has been sitting somewhere in storage for a long time. My thinking is that something has built up over time and perhaps simply needs to be cleaned, unplugged, or reset. Overall the condition of everything is excellent. I did have to replace the battery on the 3020M but everything else is fine. I can't imagine anything would be broken, but of course I don't know the specific history of what I bought.

Thanks very much for the reply and I'll update my progress as I test things out.

Jim
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Ricoche



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PostPosted: Thu Feb 16, 2012 6:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Hello again,

I've seem to have made some progress.

I turned on the EWI this morning and now miraculously I can blow into the controller and see a breath signal light up. So now I know it's working, BUT, I notice that gradually I have to blow harder and harder to get the sound. I did adjust ADJ and SENS initially, but pretty soon I'll have to blow until my head pops to get sound. I don't think I should have to huff and puff so hard so my thinking is that the passageway is still slightly getting blocked or the sensor is not picking up the breath easily.

If correct, you really shouldn't have to blow that hard into the mouth piece should you? I'm starting to get dizzy from blowing into this thing...laugh.

I still may need to open up the controller and investigate. I also notice that there is slight drainage at the bottom of the controller which seems to be normal. I've decided to store the controller in an upright position to drain thing out when not playing. Like I said though, I can't play long without taking a break because it's quite hard to blow into it.

So, I think everything does work, but I think it's still not quite right yet.

Jim

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loydb



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PostPosted: Thu Feb 16, 2012 8:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

This may be a technique issue. You don't want to direct 100% of your breath into the mouthpiece, the airway doesn't allow that much air passage -- and unlike a real wind instrument, you can't really overblow for effect. Once you've pegged the sensor, it isn't going to go any higher.
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 17, 2012 2:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

loydb wrote:
This may be a technique issue. You don't want to direct 100% of your breath into the mouthpiece, the airway doesn't allow that much air passage -- and unlike a real wind instrument, you can't really overblow for effect. Once you've pegged the sensor, it isn't going to go any higher.


This is correct - you should not blow 100% into the instrument, you get better control by using less air - however SOME air should pass through the air tube behind the sensor. It may be that something is swelling with moisture, and subsequently shrinking when drying out. In any case it does sound like something is blocking the sensor.

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