Adjusting EXS24 mkII Global Parameters

These parameters affect the overall behavior of the EXS24 mkII. You can find the global parameters at the top left of the interface.

Figure. Global parameters.
  • Keyboard mode buttons: Switch the EXS24 mkII between polyphonic, monophonic, and legato behaviors. See Choosing the EXS24 mkII Keyboard Mode.
  • Unison button: Enables or disables unison mode. See Using Unison Mode in the EXS24 mkII.
  • Voices/Used fields: The “voices” field determines the maximum number of notes that can be played simultaneously. The “used” field is a real-time monitor that indicates the number of voices that are actually used when you play the keyboard. See Setting the EXS24 mkII Voices Parameter.
  • Vel Offset field: Increases or decreases the incoming MIDI note velocity value by ±127, expanding or limiting the dynamic response of the EXS24 mkII to incoming MIDI note events.
  • Hold via field: Determines the modulation source used to trigger the sustain pedal function (hold all currently played notes, and ignore note-off messages until the modulation source value falls below 64). The default is MIDI controller number CC 64 (the standard MIDI “Hold/Sustain” controller number).
  • Crossfade parameters: Allow you to crossfade between layered samples (zones)—with adjacent velocity ranges. See Using the EXS24 mkII Crossfade (Xfade) Parameters.

Choosing the EXS24 mkII Keyboard Mode

A polyphonic instrument allows several notes to be played simultaneously—for example, an organ or piano. Brass or reed instruments are monophonic, which means that only one note can be played at a time. The EXS24 mkII allows you to choose an appropriate keyboard mode for the type of instrument that is loaded. You are free to use a monophonic mode for polyphonic instruments, which allows playing styles that are not possible with polyphonic instruments.

Figure. Legato, Mono, and Poly buttons.
  • If you choose Mono mode, staccato playing will retrigger the envelope generators every time a new note is played. If you play in a legato style (play a new key while holding another), the envelope generators are triggered only for the first note you play legato and then continue their curve until you release the last legato played key.

  • The Legato mode is also monophonic, but with one difference—the envelope generators are only retriggered if you play staccato (release each key before playing a new key).

Glide Behavior in Different Keyboard Modes

In Legato mode, Glide is active only on tied notes. Envelopes are not retriggered when tied notes are played—in other words, playing a series of tied notes results in only a single envelope trigger. For more information on the Glide function, see Using the EXS24 mkII Pitch Parameters.

In Mono mode, Glide is always active, and the envelopes are retriggered by every note played.

Using Unison Mode in the EXS24 mkII

In Unison mode, multiple EXS24 mkII voices are played when a key is struck. This enables a richer sound, achieved by slightly detuning each voice. This is ideal when emulating classic analog synthesizers.

Figure. Unison button.
To enable monophonic unison mode
  • Activate either Mono or Legato mode and also turn on the Unison button:

    • The intensity of the unison effect depends on the number chosen in the Voices parameter field. Increase the Voices value for a fatter sound.

    • The intensity of detuning (voice deviation) is set with the Random parameter (see Using the EXS24 mkII Pitch Parameters).

To use the EXS24 mkII in polyphonic unison mode
  • Activate the Poly and Unison buttons.

    • In Poly/Unison mode, each played note is effectively doubled—or, more correctly, the polyphony value of the Voices parameter is halved. These two voices are then heard when you trigger the note. Activating Poly/Unison has the same effect as setting the EXS24 mkII to Mono/Unison (Voices = 2), but you can play polyphonically.

Voices are equally distributed in the panorama field and are evenly detuned. The Random knob value determines the amount of tuning deviation between voices.

Note: The number of voices actually used per note increases with the number of layered sample zones.

Setting the EXS24 mkII Voices Parameter

This parameter determines the maximum number of voices (polyphony) that the EXS24 mkII can play. The “used” field is a real-time monitor that indicates the number of voices that are actually used when you play the keyboard. If both fields tend to show the same value most of the time (probably causing a noticeable number of voices to drop out), you should set a higher voices value.

Figure. EXS24 mkII Voices field.

Using the EXS24 mkII Crossfade (Xfade) Parameters

The Xfade parameters allow you to crossfade between layered samples—known as zones in the EXS24 mkII—with adjacent velocity ranges. If you are unfamiliar with the concept of layering samples, see Layering EXS24 mkII Zones.

Figure. Crossfade parameters.
  • Amount field: Expands the velocity range of all zones by applying an identical value to each layered zone. The crossfade takes place in the extended velocity range area. When the Amount parameter is set to 0, the EXS24 mkII will simply switch from one zone to another.

    Note: You can also set other modulation sources, such as the modulation wheel of your MIDI keyboard, to modulate the Amount parameter. If you do this, the Amount parameter still functions in the same way, but the crossfade will be triggered by the modulation wheel rather than by velocity.

Layering EXS24 mkII Zones

When assigning a sample to a zone, you can set the lowest and highest MIDI note velocity that will trigger that zone. The area between these values is known as the zone’s velocity range. You can layer zones—different samples—on the same keyboard note, and trigger them individually by playing at different velocities.

For example:  Imagine you have layered two samples (zone 1 and zone 2) on MIDI note A#2.

  • Zone 1 is a sample of a snare drum hit lightly, and a little off-center. It has a MIDI note velocity range of 24 to 90.

  • Zone 2 is a sample of a snare drum, hit hard in the center of the drum head. It has a velocity range of 91 to 127.

As you can see, the maximum velocity range value of zone 1 and the minimum velocity range value of zone 2 are adjacent. If you were to play note A#2 at velocities above or below a value of 90, you would clearly hear each sample being triggered. To make this transition less abrupt, you can use the crossfade parameters to smoothly fade between each zone. Where you have distinctly different audio samples in adjacent zones, you will find crossfading very helpful in creating realistic-sounding sampler instruments.