EXS24 Importing Instruments & Samples

ANTstronomical

New Member
Hi to all and appreciate your feedback. I had a 6yr hiatus from making music traveling for work and just returned home and rebuilt my studio.

Had to update all my software including upgrading to Logic Pro X. I had all my libraries (Logic Folder) on an external drive with alias folders of Apple Loops, Ultrabeat and EXS24 sample folders.

Also in this logic folder I have folders of samples/patches/instruments for keyboards sounds of the Access Virus, Poly Evolver, Prophet 8, Motif, Triton, etc...

These keyboard presets were accessible in the EXS24 but now are not on the instrument list.

Some of these folders contains .wav, .exs. .sf2 files. I saw some videos of how to import only the wave files into EXS24 but its very tedious and time consuming.

All of these folders only have one type of file I mentioned in each folder. For example, the Access Virus has only .wav files, the Poly Evolver has only .sf2 files and the Prophet 8 only has .exs files.

My question is what is the easiest process to import all these samples/patches/instruments back into the EXS24?

Also I keep reading in these forums that it might be easier to import into Ultrabeat?

Please help me with the easiest and most efficient path to follow...
 

charlieclouser

Senior Member
A playable EXS instrument consists of two elements, both of which must be present for everything to work:

1 - Any number of SAMPLES, which can be .wav / .aif / .aiff / .aifc etc. On a modern Mac these can be located in just about any folder on any drive - as long as the MacOS Spotlight has indexed the drives, Logic will probably be able to find them when needed. On a modern MacOS with Spotlight-indexed drives, Logic will NEVER ask where these samples files are (unlike Kontakt!) - if it throws an error dialog it will be because it REALLY can't find the files, meaning they really aren't on any indexed drive. There is another dialog it will throw when it finds multiple copies of the samples it's looking for - this dialog will show the complete path for each of the multiples and ask you to select which to use.

2 - The INSTRUMENT file itself, which has a file suffix of .exs - this file is just the mapping info for the samples, describing how they should be arranged on the keyboard, their tunings and loop points, etc., and may also contain the settings of the front panel settings like ADSR, Filter, etc. These Instrument files should be located in:

[boot drive] > Library > Application Support > Logic > Sampler Instruments

... BUT you can make an alias of the actual folder where they're located and put that alias in the above location. Or, your Instruments folder can be located in the individual Logic Project folder for any given song, but then those Instruments will only be available when that Project is open. This lets you have certain Instruments that are hidden from general use, to avoid cluttering up your "main" Instrument lists with custom one-off Instruments that are only used once. It also lets you make Projects fully portable by including the EXS Instruments and the Samples they need into a Project's folder. Use the checkbox for "Copy EXS instruments and samples into project" under File > Project Settings > Assets to control whether this will happen. If you've done this, then you can copy the Project folder to another Mac and the EXS instruments and samples will be available on that Mac when that Project is loaded, without requiring you to manually copy those files into the Application Support folders, etc.

If at one point in the past you were able to access your samples from within EXS, then there must have been .exs files (aka Instruments) somewhere. Try to find them, collect them, and put their folder (or an alias of it) at the location described above. Re-launch Logic and they should appear in the drop-down Instrument menu in the EXS interface.

They should also be visible in the EXS Instruments Browser pane that appears on the right side of the Main Window when you click the little triangle to the left of the Instrument plug-in slot in the currently visible Channel Strip in the lower left of the Main Window.

- If you have .sf2 files, put these into the same folder as the .exs Instrument files, as described above. Usually, .sf2 files (aka SoundFonts) are "monolithic" files that contain BOTH the samples AND the mapping info for them, and upon loading them EXS will extract the samples and convert the mapping info into a .exs Instrument.

- If you want to, you can just dump the .wav and .aif files into the same folder as the .exs Instruments, but if you do this it will take Logic longer to launch as it will need to scan all of those upon launch or whenever you refresh the EXS Instrument list / browser.

- You can (and should) make liberal use of sub-folders to organize the samples and instruments to reduce the chaos whenever you need to move / copy stuff. Doing so will not slow down Logic or EXS or affect its ability to search "downwards" through multiple nested folders. For each and every .exs Instrument I usually create a single folder, with the same name as the Instrument, and put all of the samples which that Instrument will need inside it. Then I put all of those Samples folders into a master folder called EXS Samples, which I put somewhere that I can easily find it - or optionally you could put it in [boot drive] > Library > Application Support > Logic, right next to the existing folder called EXS Factory Samples, which holds the factory preset samples. Since the Samples are what take up the most space on your drives, I usually store my samples on external drives and rely on Spotlight to find them automatically when needed.

Note that depending on what version of MacOS you're using, some of the exact locations I've described my change somewhat - but you can search your drives for "EXS" and see what exact locations these folders are located at, and then put your folders / aliases there.
 
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ANTstronomical

New Member
Wow thank you charlieclouser, that info was great and gives me a better understanding. I should give more detail so you understand better where I have everything placed and what I did from your advice. Before my hiatus, I remember making aliases and moving all my Native Instruments and Logic folders to an external drive, in 2 folders I created and named it Logic & Native Instruments.

Also having these keyboard folders below that I remember using through the EXS24. I listed the folders and what type of files are in each folder:

Access Virus - .sf2/.exs

Motif es - .sf2 / .exs

Roland x6 - .sf2 / .exs

Triton Extreme - .sf2 / .exs


Dave Smith Prophet 08 - .wav

Moog Little Phatty - .wav / .HO / .HDP

Moog Voyager - .wav / .aif

Motif xs 3.1 - .wav

Poly Evolver Sound Bank - .wav

Waldorf Blofeld - .wav


The first 4 folders (Access Virus/Motif/Roland/Triton) that have only the .exs/.sf2 files I moved back to the Sampler Instruments folder like you advised and that definitely worked. I now see them in the EXS24 and they play all the sounds well. I plan to create aliases and move them back to the external drive because they are large folders ranging from 4gb - 48gb, with most of them 25gb and up. The only issue was with the Access Virus, when I play those instruments they only play on the left speaker... I don’t understand why?

Now as far as the other keyboard folders that only have .wav/.aif/.HO/.HDP files... How can I get those to play in the EXS24? Can I just drag/drop those folders into the Sampler Instruments folder like I did with the .exs/.sf2 folders?

Also as an option will it be easier to install in Ultrabeat vs EXS24?
 

charlieclouser

Senior Member
The samples that are only playing back in the left channel could be a few things:

- The samples are stereo files but only have audio in the left channel. This is unlikely, but could have occurred in some conversion process - if the original samples were in mono, and were converted by some utility (like a WAV > AIFF utility, or during an automatic conversion of .sf2 files or something) then it's possible. To verify, play the original samples in the Finder by just selecting them and hitting the spacebar, import one directly into an audio track in Logic, etc. Just double-check this.

- There could be a modulation routing in the middle row in the EXS ui that is routing some mod source to the designation "Pan". Just check that in case. Sometimes, when instruments are converted from some outside format to EXS format, these modulation routings can get borked or set to garbage / insane values. Just double-check this.

- Inside the EXS Editor, the individual zones and groups have Pan controls. Each sample and each Group can be panned. Click the Edit button at the upper right of the EXS front panel and see if that's the case. Once inside the Editor, you can click the Zones and Groups buttons at the upper left to toggle between viewing Zones settings and Groups settings.

The other folders that only have .wav/.aiff/.HO/.HDP files:

- The .HO extension is something I've never seen. Google says, "The HO file type is primarily associated with Knowledge Explorer Knowledge Representation Hierarchy Outline." So.... don't know what's up with those.

- The .HDP extension seems to be a photo file type. Google says, "The .hdp file extension is most commonly associated with files containing HD photos. ... It is used for the creation of high-resolution photo images. HDP files are similar to JPG files, but the HDP file format uses a higher rate of compression and the compression format is lossless rather than lossy." So... those might just be photos.

For the .wav and .aiff files, just dropping folders of samples into the Sampler Instruments folder won't do anything except slow down Logic whenever it needs to re-scan that folder, like every time it launches. To get them to be playable from the keyboard, you'll need to create EXS Instruments that map these across the keyboard (inside the Editor window) and set up the front panel controls like filter, ADSR, etc. To do this:

1 - Open the EXS Editor from the "edit" button at the upper right of the EXS front panel.

2 - In the Editor window, select "New" from the Instrument menu. This will create a new EXS Instrument, but it is NOT automatically saved. If you just close this window or quit Logic it will go away forever unless you save it to disc from the Editor using the "Save As" selection in that same Instrument menu.

3 - To get the sample into EXS, select "Load Multiple Samples" from the Zone menu. This will bring up a dialog where you can navigate to your samples folders, and the list at the bottom will show what samples will be imported. Double-click them in the list at the top to add them to this list. When you're ready, click "Done" and they will be imported.

4 - In the dialog that follows you can select how the samples will be mapped to the keyboard. "Auto Map" will attempt to find root key and mapping info embedded in the file's metadata, or extracting that info from the file names. This may or may not work as intended. If it does, fantastic - if not, you'll be doing some editing of the resulting Zones. "Drums" will just put each sample on a single key, set to "One Shot" mode with Loop turned off, and is really best for drums or one-shot fx samples. "Contiguous Zones" will let you specify a mapping scheme by setting the Zone Width and Start Note for the resulting map.

5 - Once the samples are mapped, you can manipulate the settings in the Editor to assign root note, key ranges, velocity ranges, etc. etc. etc. This is where the heavy lifting is done. You can select multiple Zones and then double-click a parameter and type in the value to set that parameter for all selected Zones, and you can mouse-scroll any numerical parameter to edit it. Selecting any number or Zones and dragging them to a Group in the list at the left will assign them to that Group, and dragging them to an empty space in the Groups list at the left will create a new Group and assign them to that Group. This is how you can do things like create Groups that are switched by sustain pedal, mod wheel position, etc. Note that you may or may not see all available parameters in either the Zones or Groups editors - the View menu lets you show/hide each parameter to reduce clutter.

6 - When done editing, you MUST save the Instrument from the editor window or it will go away FOREVER, instantly. So from the Instrument menu select "Save As" and specify where you want that Instrument to be stored (somewhere inside your Sampler Instruments folder or the folders that alias to it). Then the newly created Instrument should be visible in Logic's browser, the EXS pull-down on the front panel, and be ready for use.

Regarding Ultrabeat, it can be a little simpler to use when you just want to drop single-sample drum one-shots, but the UI is so fiddly that I rarely use it - but then again I am an EXS Jedi/Ninja so I just build stuff for EXS. Once you get the hang of the EXS Editor, saving Instruments, and knowing where to put them and how to access them, it's not hard at all.

Good luck!
 
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ANTstronomical

New Member
Now I have another question for you. For the other keyboard instrument bank samples I have (non-.exs files). The ones that just have the .wav files, and regarding all your advice on how to get those mapped as said on your last response...

How can I set up the samples so that they appear on the instrument drop down list as a folder with the pre-sets inside that folder?

For example when I clik on the instrument drop down list I have a Roland X6 folder, when I hover my mouse over it sub-folders appear (Bank 1, Bank 2, etc.), after cliking on the subfolder then you see a list of the pre-sets (samples)....

how can I set up those samples to appear on the drop down list in that format?
 

charlieclouser

Senior Member
The drop-down list in the top-center of the front panel of EXS only shows EXS Instruments, and the hierarchy of the pop-out sub-folders exactly mirrors the MacOS folders that those Instruments are stored in. If a folder does not contain any valid EXS Instruments it will not appear there. You can name and organize those folders however you wish, and the will sort in alphabetical order, just as they do when viewed in List View in the Finder.

So if you're seeing items in that drop-down menu, then you've got EXS Instruments. (Those Instruments may or may not be referencing the samples you want them to associate with - that's done inside the EXS Editor.)

So I'm not sure what you're asking.

If you have samples that don't appear in the drop-down menu, that's normal - only EXS Instruments appear in that menu. You may have to create a zillion EXS Instruments that refer to the samples in question, either by manually building Instruments one by one in Logic's EXS Editor window, or using an external app like AudioFinder from IcedAudio. It can batch-create simple EXS Instruments with one click. When viewing a folder full of samples in AudioFinder, select them all and choose "Convert to EXS Instrument" from the File menu. AudioFinder will then create a single EXS Instrument for each selected sample, placing both the Instrument and the sample inside a new folder with the same name as the sample. You'll have to drag files around to put them into the correct directories in order to play them in EXS. The new Instrument just has a single sample mapped across the entire keyboard, with it's root key set to C3, so you'll be going inside the EXS Editor sooner or later to adjust root key, loop points, etc.

AudioFinder's capabilities are very basic in this department - just a single sample mapped across the entire keyboard. If you want to build Instruments from multi-sample sets (like 88 notes worth of piano samples or whatever) then you'll need to jump through more hoops. Either build the instruments in Logic's EXS Editor window and save them out from there, or drop all the samples onto an audio track in Logic, select all of those audio regions, Control-Click on one and choose "Convert>Convert to New Sampler Track" from the pop-up menu. This feature creates a basic EXS Instrument that contains the selected regions, mapped to single keys starting at the lowest key. Either way you'll be fiddling around inside the EXS Editor to get the samples mapped to the right root key and key ranges.
 
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ANTstronomical

New Member
Here's an example of what I'm asking for. From your instructions I was able to import some keyboard pre-sets that I have .exs files and they now show up on the instrument list as shown below, showing first the name of the keyboard (Motif es), then the preset folders (Preset 1, Preset 2, etc), then the actual samples:

Screen Shot 2019-12-23 at 9.39.50 PM.png


Now I'm trying to import some other vintage keyboard presets from the folders saved in a sample folder in an external drive (see below). As you see below they too have the name of the keyboard, the sound bank folders, then the actual preset samples. The only difference is the files are only .wav files and when I tried to import then like you said, only the samples on the far right column gets saved individually on that drop down list. It does not appear inside a folder with the name of the keyboard and their subfolders.

I would like to import them so they can appear like the ones above (Motif es), is this possible?


Screen Shot 2019-12-23 at 9.44.12 PM.png
 

charlieclouser

Senior Member
The hierarchy of the folders that you'll wind up seeing in the EXS drop-down menu is exactly (and only) how you set up the folders in the MacOS. So if you want a folder called Prophet 08, then sub-folders for DVD1, DVD2, etc., and inside DVD1 you want to have EXS Instruments called A001 Wagnerian, A002 Tom Sawyer, etc. - then you just have to make the folders for Prophet 08, DVD1 etc.,... BUT inside the DVD 1 folder you need EXS Instruments for A001 Wagnerian, A002 Tom Sawyer, etc.

I suspect that you don't have any EXS Instruments already created for the Prophet 08 samples.

That's why the Prophet doesn't show up in the EXS drop-down. No Instruments. Samples, yes - but just having the samples in a folder is not enough. You must have the separate .exs Instrument file if you want to play those samples inside EXS, and if that .exs Instrument is stored in the right place it will show up in the drop-down.

Those EXS Instruments need to be created to assign the wav samples in each folder to key ranges, and they need to be stored in a set of folders that replicate the layout of the folders shown in your second pic. If you navigate to where your existing Motif EXS Instruments are stored you'll be able to see how those folders are arranged, and where they are. (If you don't know where they are, do a search for one of the more unique Motif Instrument names and that should let you find the folders where they're stored.) By doing this you can see how the MacOS folders correlate to what you see in the EXS drop-down.

As I said before, if you don't already have EXS Instruments built that would map the Prophet wav files to key ranges, it will need to be done - and that can be quite a chore. It can be done in a variety of ways but there's no way around the tedium of actually doing it, one by one, for each folder of wav files that represent a Prophet 08 preset. Once you get familiar with working inside the EXS Editor, saving EXS Instruments, and creating / naming / rearranging the folders they are stored in, the fog of mystery will lift somewhat but the tedium will remain!

I'm at the tail end of multiple months of doing just that - taking hundreds of thousands of individual wav files, renaming / editing / organizing them into folders, creating EXS Instruments to assign them to key ranges, and tweaking the sample loop points / velocity ranges / front panel settings to get things to sound the way I want. Since the middle of summer I've been just grinding on samples and EXS Instruments.

I have been using the now-discontinued Redmatica KeyMap software to speed up building sample maps, as well as AudioFinder's "Convert To EXS Instrument" to build simple, single-sample EXS Instruments, and Chicken Systems Translator and Constructor to convert and build some of the instruments.

One method I have not tried yet is to use the AutoSampler within Apple's MainStage software to quickly build EXS Instruments - I don't think it allows you to import samples that have already been recorded; I believe it's only for building new EXS Instruments by recording the output of other instruments. But I don't really know.

Another method I haven't really made use of is just importing the audio files into a track in Logic and then using command-click to access "Convert To New Sampler Track". This will create a rough EXS Instrument containing those samples, but you'll have to open the EXS Editor and change the key ranges so that it's a playable instrument. Try it and you'll see why - that function just takes the regions that are on the selected track, maps them to single keys starting at C1 (or something) and then creates a MIDI track with notes that will trigger those samples at the right times to replicate what used to be an audio track. Think of it like you had a track full of individual lines of vocals - once you do that command you'll now have a sampler with each line of vocals on one key and a MIDI track that will trigger them at just the right times.

The reason I don't use that function is because I find it quicker to just open the EXS Editor, select "New Instrument", drag-n-drop the samples onto the keyboard at the bottom of the Editor, manually type the key ranges for each sample, and finally save the Instrument where I want it. Times infinity.
 

charlieclouser

Senior Member
I should add that when importing samples directly into the EXS Editor, there are a few options that look tempting:

- "Auto Map" by reading the root key from the audio file = this is the most tempting, and would appear to do what Redmatica's KeyMap could do - but not quite. It DOES look at the sample file names to see if "C1" or "A#3" or whatever is in the file name, and then it WILL assign the root key for each sample en masse. BUT. It does NOT assign the key ranges so that things don't overlap. It stupidly just maps every sample across the entire keyboard, and it's up to you to assign the high+low key range parameters to get correct multi-sample split points. Aggravating. But at least it grabs the root key, so that's something I guess.

- "Drums" zone without range, root key from audio file = this one might even be more useful than Auto Map since the resulting zones will be only one key wide, but will have the root key correctly assigned as with Auto Map. All samples that have "C1" in their name will be stacked up on C1, but unfortunately it does NOT look for dynamic range information in the sample file names and then create velocity range splits for you. Still, when building standard multi-sample keyboard splits this one is a little easier to use - the resulting zones will be only one key wide, and you can drag their ranges to assign non-overlapping splits. Not perfect, but fairly quick.

- Map to key dropped on and read velocity range from file name = I've never been able to figure out how to encode the velocity range in the file names in such a way that this function works as expected. If I have "pp" and "ff" or "0-63" and "64-127" in the file names it still doesn't work, no matter if I use hyphen, underscore, or spaces to separate the numbers/letters. Maybe this feature is broken, maybe I just don't know how to use it correctly - but I've never had it work.

- Contiguous zones starting at the key the file was dropped on = This one will just simply create zones that are as wide as you've set the "Zone Width" parameter at the bottom to. The root key will be basically in the center of the resulting zones, but not detected from the file names at all.

(Note that newly-created zones may have "1-Shot" turned on if Logic thinks they are drum samples, so you may have to select all zones and toggle that to Off if you don't want the samples to sustain all the way to their end point regardless of the front-panel Amp ADSR settings.)

What we really need is some fifth mode that combines three of the existing modes - when you drop a ton of samples onto the keyboard at the bottom of the EXS Editor, it should:

- Look for root key info in the file names, and use that to assign the root keys for each zone, as it currently does in Auto Map and Drums modes.

- Intelligently split the key ranges of the newly-created zones so that they don't overlap. None of the current modes do this.

- Look for velocity / dynamic range information in the file names, encoded as either pp/mp/mf/ff or pairs of numbers, and then use that to assign hi+lo velocity ranges for each zone. Like the third mode says it's going to do, but make it actually work easily and not fail if the velocity range info is not encoded exactly right.

Then, and only then, would we have a rough equivalent of my most-used feature set in KeyMap, and then we'd be able to absolutely cruise through mass quantities of sample files and build new EXS Instruments quickly - but it would still be a one-at-a-time process.

I'd much rather have a standalone app that could do the above in batch mode, so you'd be able to drag a master folder which contained many sub-folders of samples, and it would create a new EXS Instrument for each of the sub-folders using the auto-mapping features I've outlined. Then we'd really be in business. Hey, a guy can dream, right?

Note that Kontakt has much better auto-map functionality, but there are two caveats: You must tell it precisely how to decode key range, root key, and velocity range information that's encoded into the file names - and then you've got a Kontakt Instrument which you'd have to convert to EXS using Translator, and of course Kontakt v6 Instruments can't be read by Translator (or anything else) at the moment, so getting to EXS would require doing the importing in Kontakt v5, saving each instrument one by one, and then using Translator to convert them. Ugh. No batch-create mode, and it's quite clunky - but it does work.