Solo Woodwinds
Swam Saxophones - What tweaks/settings can achieve a smoother legato?

Hi - new here, and just got the Swam Saxophones V3.

Played alto sax in my younger days, many many moons ago, but now I use a wind controller (Yamaha WX5 and WX11). I have a vl70m, and the Sample Modeling Mr Sax samples. I tend to use Mr Sax more often than the vl70m. I realise that tone and playability are very subjective, but one thing that I like about Mr Sax on Kontakt is the smoother legato achieved when playing a phrase.

After reading a lot about Swam Sax and watching the youtube videos (and the predominantly positive comments) I decided to buy the new version as it offered more presets, and also the ability to configure the many parameters available.

For the past few hours I have been exploring the various settings available. However I cannot find a way to change the legato. As a comparison, I have been playing Mr Sax (tenor) alongside Swam Sax Tenor. Changing from one note to another, I find the swam sax plays a very distinct "jump" from one note to the next, rather than a smooth transition. Not sure how to explain it, but a bit like a piano/keyboard when you press one key and ascend or descend to another, you can hear the distinct jump of notes. SM's Mr Sax however offers a smoother slur of notes, thus reducing the "digital" aspects of the sound.

This leads me to think that perhaps there is a way to set up Swam Sax to achieve the same as Mr Sax. I've concluded that the problem is not with my Wx5/11 with their limited midi cc settings. The only change I did with Mr Sax was to set the expression cc to 2 for breath control. So it plays the way it does just "out of the box".

I have tried the legato, expression and velocity settings/curve; the attack settings; and other parameters that I thought might remotely be related. But in the end, none of these seem to change the legato (to achieve smoother transition of notes).

I realise that better legato is achieved through playing/blowing techniques - such as reducing velocity/expression whilst playing a phrase. But I play some solos where I might need same breath pressure for a quick phrase - and that's where the "digitalness" of the transition from note to note is most observed.

Apologies for the long post, but hope I have explained it enough, and maybe someone else has found a way to tweak legato on swam sax.

Hi - new here, and just got the Swam Saxophones V3. Played alto sax in my younger days, many many moons ago, but now I use a wind controller (Yamaha WX5 and WX11). I have a vl70m, and the Sample Modeling Mr Sax samples. I tend to use Mr Sax more often than the vl70m. I realise that tone and playability are very subjective, but one thing that I like about Mr Sax on Kontakt is the smoother legato achieved when playing a phrase. After reading a lot about Swam Sax and watching the youtube videos (and the predominantly positive comments) I decided to buy the new version as it offered more presets, and also the ability to configure the many parameters available. For the past few hours I have been exploring the various settings available. However I cannot find a way to change the legato. As a comparison, I have been playing Mr Sax (tenor) alongside Swam Sax Tenor. Changing from one note to another, I find the swam sax plays a very distinct "jump" from one note to the next, rather than a smooth transition. Not sure how to explain it, but a bit like a piano/keyboard when you press one key and ascend or descend to another, you can hear the distinct jump of notes. SM's Mr Sax however offers a smoother slur of notes, thus reducing the "digital" aspects of the sound. This leads me to think that perhaps there is a way to set up Swam Sax to achieve the same as Mr Sax. I've concluded that the problem is not with my Wx5/11 with their limited midi cc settings. The only change I did with Mr Sax was to set the expression cc to 2 for breath control. So it plays the way it does just "out of the box". I have tried the legato, expression and velocity settings/curve; the attack settings; and other parameters that I thought might remotely be related. But in the end, none of these seem to change the legato (to achieve smoother transition of notes). I realise that better legato is achieved through playing/blowing techniques - such as reducing velocity/expression whilst playing a phrase. But I play some solos where I might need same breath pressure for a quick phrase - and that's where the "digitalness" of the transition from note to note is most observed. Apologies for the long post, but hope I have explained it enough, and maybe someone else has found a way to tweak legato on swam sax.

With SWAM (I do have the Flute) using a Breath Controller, a very nice feature is that Legato is controlled by the velocity of the last pressed key. (Same is true with Mr Sax.) And I did watch a video that shows this with SWAM Sax in perfection. Hence the SWAM sound engine can do it. I am not sure how at all control the Legato with a Wind Controller (I do have a WX7 but same is close to unsusably worn out), AFAIK even newer Wind controllers don't feature Velocity sensitivity with their keys, which I find rather odd and distracting. And I don't know with what kind of playing style (Articulation) you are suppose to control the legato in realtime.
-Michael

With SWAM (I do have the Flute) using a Breath Controller, a very nice feature is that Legato is controlled by the velocity of the last pressed key. (Same is true with Mr Sax.) And I did watch a video that shows this with SWAM Sax in perfection. Hence the SWAM sound engine can do it. I am not sure how at all control the Legato with a Wind Controller (I do have a WX7 but same is close to unsusably worn out), AFAIK even newer Wind controllers don't feature Velocity sensitivity with their keys, which I find rather odd and distracting. And I don't know with what kind of playing style (Articulation) you are suppose to control the legato in realtime. -Michael
edited Oct 28 at 3:12 pm

@mschnell Thanks for your comments Michael.

Perhaps it's the design or implementation of the SWAM engine for wind controllers. I say this because the legato on Mr Sax, played with my wx5 is definitely better (smoother). And I have been comparing SWAM and Mr Sax side-by-side for the last couple of days. AM support also provided suggestions on how I may tweak settings, but sadly those did not change anything for improved legato.
Maybe with SWAM, realistic legato is best achieved with a breath controller/keyboard setup and it was designed primarily for keyboard controllers rather than wind controllers. Which has me baffled as Mr Sax was designed by the same guy who eventually made SWAM Sax. A technical limitation on the combination of physical modeling and wind controllers - maybe?
I purchased SWAM Sax V3 thinking it would offer more realism when played with my wx5. And personally, I think legato is a basic, fundamental requirement in the modeling of the instrument to achieve best emulation.

With all that said, I am by no means trying to say negative things about SWAM. I know many people are very happy with it. And the progress made in recent years is indeed impressive. And as with all things about playing music, such things as tone, quality of sound, playability etc etc always boils down to personal choice and taste, and all the personal things that makes us want to pick up an instrument and play.

Cheers,
Wil

@mschnell Thanks for your comments Michael. Perhaps it's the design or implementation of the SWAM engine for wind controllers. I say this because the legato on Mr Sax, played with my wx5 is definitely better (smoother). And I have been comparing SWAM and Mr Sax side-by-side for the last couple of days. AM support also provided suggestions on how I may tweak settings, but sadly those did not change anything for improved legato. Maybe with SWAM, realistic legato is best achieved with a breath controller/keyboard setup and it was designed primarily for keyboard controllers rather than wind controllers. Which has me baffled as Mr Sax was designed by the same guy who eventually made SWAM Sax. A technical limitation on the combination of physical modeling and wind controllers - maybe? I purchased SWAM Sax V3 thinking it would offer more realism when played with my wx5. And personally, I think legato is a basic, fundamental requirement in the modeling of the instrument to achieve best emulation. With all that said, I am by no means trying to say negative things about SWAM. I know many people are very happy with it. And the progress made in recent years is indeed impressive. And as with all things about playing music, such things as tone, quality of sound, playability etc etc always boils down to personal choice and taste, and all the personal things that makes us want to pick up an instrument and play. Cheers, Wil
edited Oct 29 at 2:47 am

This does not answer the question how at all legato speed is to be controlled in realtime with a (specific) Wind controller device.
-Michael

This does not answer the question how at all legato speed is to be controlled in realtime with a (specific) Wind controller device. -Michael

@colabz
What I think might really be helpful for you is messing with the portamento controls under advanced.

The portamento max time and transition velocity can help you tweak your sound somewhere between the awkward note separation signaling MIDI or an extreme glissando. Also, choosing whether you can control Portamento (normally CC 5) with a key/controller sending the CC, or with Velocity. There is a good amount of expressivity which can be achieved this way.

My only thought is that it would be good to have an option for "Both," as there might be mixed use case, for instance, a glissando at "ff," but wanting everything else to be controlled with velocity. Also, setting portamento to velocity mode does make it so I have to be very precise with my tonguing when I swing, which makes it a little tougher at faster tempos, that can also be a practice and technique thing, but I'll probably take time to tweak some curves with my own midi mappers.

@colabz What I think might really be helpful for you is messing with the portamento controls under advanced. The portamento max time and transition velocity can help you tweak your sound somewhere between the awkward note separation signaling MIDI or an extreme glissando. Also, choosing whether you can control Portamento (normally CC 5) with a key/controller sending the CC, or with Velocity. There is a good amount of expressivity which can be achieved this way. My only thought is that it would be good to have an option for "Both," as there might be mixed use case, for instance, a glissando at "ff," but wanting everything else to be controlled with velocity. Also, setting portamento to velocity mode does make it so I have to be very precise with my tonguing when I swing, which makes it a little tougher at faster tempos, that can also be a practice and technique thing, but I'll probably take time to tweak some curves with my own midi mappers.
edited Nov 1 at 10:35 pm
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