EWITool,the “other”EWI 4000s editor

The Akai EWI 4000s comes with 100 presets which,quite frankly,don’t do justice to its internal synt. There are just a handful of patches that are really playable,and none of them vaguely resemble an acoustic instrument,including those that are relatively easy to reproduce with a synt (e.g. clarinet or recorder).

Short of using an external expanders or computer,for us EWiers the choice has always been between these two options:

1) purchase the fantastic Patchman Music EWI4000s collection of sounds by EWI guru Matt Traum
2) create your own sounds with the Vyzex UniQuest Editor that you can download from AKAI website,available for PC and Mac.

(Incidentally,if you don’t have the Patchman collection you are leveraging only a small fraction of the EWI 4000s potential,thus you should order a copy as soon as possible from Matt. At 90$ it’s a bargain.)

However,if you are looking for “that specific sound”and even the Patchman collection doesn’t have anything like it,your only option is to built the patch yourself with the Vyzex editor,which isn’t exactly fun. Or at least,I always found it a bit counterintuitive and unnecessary difficult to use.

Only recently I discovered a third option,in the form of an alternative,open-source EWI 4000s patch editor named EWITool,which you can download from here. Its author Steve Merrony did a great job,and the fact the the documentation is very concise is just another evidence of how simple the software is.

Obviously,to use it at its best you still need to understand how the EWI oscillators and filters work,but in general everyhting seems simpler than with the other editor. By the way,there are two versions,for PC and Debian (but I tested only the former).

EWITools has several neat features,including the ability to load and save all the 100 patches in the EWI,a clipboard where you can store as many patches as you wish (and the clipboard is preserved between sessions!),the creation of multiple libraries,and the ability to work with SYX and BNK files,including single-patch SYX files. Plus a few unique features,such as

  • the ability to create random patches,either from scratch or by randomizing some parameters of an existing patch
  • the ability to “merge”two patches,to create a sound that combines the characteristics of two patches
  • easy acccess to the EWI Patch Exchange.

EWI Patch Exchange was an attempt to create a “marketplace”for EWI players wishing to exchange (for free!) their favorite patches. Unfortunately this attempt should be considered as a failure,because after 3 years there are only about 20 patches in the marketplace,and there haven’t been any new items in the last year. But it’s there and it might resurrected when needed. If nothing else you can find a few new sounds for your EWI.

It seems that –like the EWI Patch Exchange –EWITool is a “dead”project that hasn’t been updated since 2008,which is a real pity because it was a very interesting project. At any rate,the source code is available and maybe not all is lost,because some other developer might pick it from there. Regardless,even in its “current”version 0.6,EWITool is an editor that all EWI players should have at hand.

 

 

8 comments to EWITool,the “other”EWI 4000s editor

  • Very cool! I wasn’t aware of EWITool or the patch exchange. Looking forward to digging into these resources.

  • Kev Kvisle

    There must be an easy way to delete some of the preset factory sounds and add in their place sounds from other sources [such as Patchman’s sound banks] when using the Vyzex Editor.

    I am able to make the connections and load complete sound banks,I am just not clear on adding a few. The Vyzex instructions seem to be saying something about “collections”to do that?

    Thanks from a techno-phobe.

  • I am using EWI-USB with external modules,such as Ketron and Yamaha. What is really needed is the ability to change banks and programs easily. Neither Akai nor Ketron provides such software. Unfortunately EWI USB does not send control information to select voices directly. EWI 4000s/5000 can select 100 voices from the first bank,but will not change banks or go beyond voices 0-99.

    It should be fairly simple to add such function to EWItool or create separate program,including creation of libraries grouped by the type of voices,now different wind instruments are spread around banks and patches. Why to use Cakewalk or Cubase just to switch voices?

    Best regards,
    Duch

    • Francesco

      I am inclined to think that what you describe is an intrinsic EWI limitation and goes beyond what an external editor could offer. For what I know,the only simple way to change bank+program is using a foot controller such as Behringer FCB1010 or any controller that can send CC#0 messages.

    • Kev

      Good point about switching sounds –but building one’s own set of 99 sounds and then just using those on stage or in the studio should be good enough.

      Gee,I sound grumpy…sorry,no offense meant Duch.

      What I REALLY wanted to say is that no synth has ever produced a decent SAX tone –perhaps it is just too complex of a tone? As a student of classical saxophony [alto] I was required to spend about 300 hours per year on tone exersizes alone,and the resulting tone was rich-but-clean and consistent across 2.5 octaves. Then came jazz and rock tenor sax,and I would betcha that synth programmers will be chasing THAT tone for decades to come.

      • Francesco

        I agree that 99 sounds are more than enough for most musicians,on the other hand they sell synths with thousands different sounds,so I can imagine that some never have enough. I personally don’t use more than a dozen different sounds.

        I abandoned my quest for a decent sax timbre years ago,it seems that the saxophone is just too complex for any synth,including those using physical modeling such as the VL70-m. However,if you turn to samplers the result can be remarkably better.

        I am currently testing Samplemodeling’s The Saxophones,and for the first time I found a satisfying saxophone tone. I plan to write a detailed review soon,but you might want to check what they offer here:http://www.samplemodeling.com/en/demos_saxophones.php

        • Kev

          I might et be convinced that a sax tone can come from a synth! –I briefly thought I heard a “classical alto sax”coming out of my speakers when playing the new Ewi 5000s. A few notes in the right octave are closer than I have ever heard to a sax tone,and I have not even done much tweaking.

          However,there is the Rock’n’roll Tenor sax [i.e. Baker Street solo,or Clarence Clemons] that would be the hardest to replicate,and I believe we are a ways from that yet.

  • Riccardo

    The new link to EWITool is:

    https://github.com/SMerrony/EWItool

    The links in the article above are dead.

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