Welcome to PercX. This quick start should get you acquainted with its most important functions. We'll cover these topics:
- How to load kits with the KIT Browser
- How to trigger loop playback and combine kits
- How to play the instruments "by hand"
- How to control the dynamics of a loop with the modwheel (and how to modulate parameters in general)
Quick tip: if you're reading through this documentation and in between get carried away with trying things out in PercX, you can easily come back to this documentation (or any other visited page) by using the back arrow in the top left (or pressing [Backspace]).
Load up the first kits
If you load up PercX for the first time, you'll see the Mix A section of Player A (blue) with the Kit Browser underneath.
A kit is a multitrack percussion arrangement with up to 8 instrument tracks with predefined rhythm-patterns and tempo. You can use these patterns as inspiration and source material to create your own rhythm variations or discard the rhythms and play/record new patterns like with a traditional sample library.
The first thing we'll do is to load one of the kits into Player A and find out what we can do with it: Press one of the LOAD buttons in the middle column of the KIT browser to load a kit. You can see the waveforms of each instrument track appearing after a short time.
Play the kit
PercX gives you two options of playing a kit:
Loop mode, that plays the instruments as loops. Individually, in groups or all together.
Manual mode, that lets you play each instrument manually as a multi-dynamics one-shot instrument.
The Loop mode is the default mode. Each of the 8 instrument tracks can be triggered individually with the keys E-B. In addition, there are the "multi" keys which either play the top or bottom four tracks [D and Db] or one key to play the whole kit [C].
As soon as you press down any key, the engine will start playing until you release the last pressed key. Anything in PercX (both Players, the sequencer and timed FX) are synced to this playback position. If you're using a sustain pedal, pressing it will keep the playback going.
Take a moment to get familiar with the keyboard arrangement and get a feeling for the playback engine and the capability of playing each track individually or in groups. You can change the tempo by dragging the tempo slider in the middle of the top bar (if you're running PercX inside a DAW, you might have to right click and deselect Sync to Host before you can change the tempo).
Hint: You can double-click on the tempo display to automatically reset the tempo to the original tempo of the currently loaded kit.
The second mode is the Manual Mode. If you like a certain sound, but the supplied rhythm doesn't match your taste, you can simply switch to Manual Mode to play the instrument like a traditional sample library. Press the Manual Mode button on the left of the track to enable this mode:
The waveform will switch place with a bunch of drum pads, each representing one of the instruments multi-velocity layers.
Click on each pad to play a single sample. They ascend in their velocity from left to the right. To play the samples with the keyboard, you can use the same keys that trigger the loop playback. PercX indicates the Manual Mode on the keyboard with a little Manual mode icon.
As you can see the trigger functionality is copied and transposed one octave down for Player A and one octave up for Player B. You can use this additional key to play the instrument with two hands to create quick flams and fast rolls, which would be hard to realize with a single key.
Although its already nice to listen to the different kits, the full power of PercX comes to the fore in recombining and shuffling around instruments to make the music your own.
Take a look at the right end of the Kit Browser to see a list of all individual instruments of the currently selected kit. You can drag & drop each individual instrument into the MIX tracks and in this way create creative rhythmic combinations.
You can prelisten to single instruments with [CTRL + click]
To help you to locate a specific instrument there's also a dedicated search mode which sorts the instrument by categories. Deselect the currently selected kit in the Kit Browser or click the little grid icon on the top-right of the Kit Browser to show the instrument categories.
After clicking on an icon, PercX will show you a list of all instruments that fall into this category. You can sort them by the five characteristics: SUSTAIN, PITCH, TRANSIENT, ORGANIC and AMBIENCE.
In addition to the kit in Player A you can load up another kit into Player B to get access to up to 16 tracks. Switch to the Mix B page to load up another kit. Now that there are two different kits loaded into Player A and B, you can start playing different parts of these kits together in loop- or manual mode. As you might have noticed the keys from Player B (pink) are one octave above the Player A keys.
The MIX pages feature (like the name suggest) a full blown mixer that you can use to shape the sound of each kit. Most of these controls are kind of obvious (like pan & the volume knob). For the others please take a look at their detailed explanation in the Mix chapter .
There's a concept that's good to know early, though. It's the concept of selection.
You can select/deselect a stem by clicking either on the instrument icon on the left or on its waveform:
Selecting a single track will swap the Kit Browser with the Modifier Tab .
But you can also select multiple instruments at once ([Ctrl-click] or the ALL Button). If you change an element of the multi-selected tracks the others will adapt accordingly. This is especially helpful if you want to change the volume of all tracks at once. When you click on a selected track again, it will deselect the track and show the KIT browser again.
Control the Dynamics
One of the most powerful features in PercX is the Dynamics Slider. With its help you can scale down the dynamics of the instrument while playing. It plays the same rhythms but with lower dynamic samples of the same instrument. (Feels like a conductor telling his orchestra to play softer).
Let's use PercX Modulation (CTRL) system to control the Dynamics slider with the modwheel.
1. Introducing the Dynamics Slider
Click on a waveform on the Mix Page to show the Mod Tab and reveal the Dynamics Slider (along with the AHDSR knobs and a parametric Equaliser). If you play the track and turn down the slider it will apply said effect. However, it will only control the one track that you've selected. Press the ALL button to select all tracks (automatically opens the Master Mod Tab) and apply the effect of the Dynamics Slider to the whole kit.
2. Adding a CTRL Connection
This is nice on its own, but in order to play this while jamming we want to control this knob with the modwheel. This is where the CTRL system comes in, which is a complex and powerful modulation architecture. Right click on the knob and select Add Connection to CTRL1 which will create a connection for all selected tracks (because we selected ALL). This will display a popup on which you can define the range of the effect of the CTRL. We don't need to change anything here right now. You can click somewhere on the dark overlay surrounding the popup to close it.
You can see that a small ctrl knob left of the keyboard lights up. This is a miniature version of the CTRL knobs that you can find on the CTRL page. If you turn this knob you'll see that the Dynamics slider moves.
3. Setup the modwheel
Now we'll head over to the CTRL page to hook up the modwheel to the 8 Dynamics Sliders connections that we have created right now.
By default the CTRL knobs are plain "macro knobs" that you can turn up and down with the mouse. Additionally three signal generators can be used to drive these knobs. The CC
, the Envelope
and the Sequencer
. We'll use the CC mode, so please click the CC button on the left, click on Learn and move the modwheel to automatically connect your MIDI keyboards modwheel to the control CTRL 1 that drives the Dynamics Slider connections.
Thats it. We're done. Now you can turn up/down the CTRL1 to scale through the dynamics of all tracks while playing.
Save your custom kits
You can save your current kit independently of your DAW-project in the Preset Browser. Click on the black tooltip bar to open the Preset menu where you have a few options:
- Click New to clear the Players and create an empty preset.
- Import and Export the Preset to the clipboard to share it
- The Browse Button to open the Preset Browser. Here you can create a new Preset category and save, load and rename your current preset state.
Where to go from here
This concludes our quick start guide and you should have acquired a basic knowledge of the main principles of PercX by now. There is a lot of unchartered territory though, so if you want to know more about:
- mixing, combining instruments and routing, take a look at the Mix page
- editing the (MIDI) loops, or record your own rhythms please take a look at the Edit Page
- digging deeper into the CTRL System and learn how to create complex modulation arrangements:
- adding effects and change their routing take a look at the FX Chapter