TriplePlay Tracking Mystery

In my review of the TriplePlay pickup, I mentioned there were real problems with the included SampleTank software. As I continued playing with the pickup I noticed that where some synths and patches seemed to track perfectly, others had similar problems with tracking. For example, the Garritan Upright Jazz bass from the Finale sound set tracked beautifully and nailed the bends and slides, but the Logic Upright jazz bass patch on the EXS sampler, missed all of the bends and slides and was also played out of tune. Looking at it and listening more closely, I realized that when the pickup was set to either of the pitchbend modes, smooth or auto, the tracking became a problem on some patches, but not on others. Changing it to trigger or stepped solved the problem. So obviously it was a pitch bend

So I looked into the pitch bend settings of the patches and found that all of the ones with problems had a pitch bend range of 2 half steps, while the ones that worked were set to 12 half steps. Light bulb time. In order for a guitar pickup to sound realistic, pitch bend has to be very smooth and be able to translate the subtle bends and slides. So a slight bend of the string will send a very small number. I set up an Environment patch in Logic to confirm this. environmentWhen bending the string a half step the Triple play sends pitch bend messages of 69. With a pitch bend range of 2 half steps on the synth, this meant that it was receiving a message to change pitch by only 1/6 of a half step or about 16 cents. Apparently, slides are also handled like pitch bend, so a similar problem occurs. Setting the pitch bend range to 12 steps means that a pitch bend message of +5 should be should be around a half step. Pitch bend is theoretically a double precision MIDI message (16384 values), so I suspect that the Tripleplay is using this to ensure a smooth guitar like bend and  more accurate pitch tracking.

So with that solved back to playing with my new toy.

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