VMPC2000XL Specific Settings & Functionality

In this section we will discuss settings and functionality that can’t be found on the real MPC2000XL.

Normalize

Sometimes you want to boost the volume of soft (portions of) sounds.

When you’re in the TRIM, LOOP or ZONE screen, you can normalize the selection to 100% by following these steps:

  1. Press F5 to open the Edit window

  2. Select NORMALIZE

  3. Press F5 to normalize

Direct-to-disk recording a.k.a. bouncing

Warning

This feature is currently experimental. Some options like JAM and Split L/R don’t work yet. The recordings are always stored in the same directory, overwriting any previous ones. Additionally there will always be a set of 5 stereo recordings: L-R.WAV and 1-2.WAV7-8.WAV, even if one of these outputs is 100% silent.

VMPC2000XL allows various ways to record your beats and other projects directly to disk as WAV files. Often this is referred to as bouncing or rendering. This way you can take your VMPC2000XL creations to a DAW or sample editor for further processing.

You might for example want to master your instrumental beats by processing them with EQs, compressors and so on before sending them to someone who will add a vocal track on top. Or maybe you like to make drum tracks with VMPC2000XL, but you want to add synths and other layers in a DAW.

Press Shift + <PLAY START> to access the Direct-to-Disk Recorder screen. On a default US keyboard mapping the exact keyboard shortcut is Shift + \. You can also press and hold Shift on your computer keyboard and click the PLAY START button with the mouse.

The Direct-to-Disk Recorder screen looks like this:

_images/direct_to_disk_recorder.png

In the Record: field you can select what to record: a SEQUENCE, a LOOP (i.e. a part of a sequence as selected in the Loop window that is accessed via the MAIN screen), a CUSTOM RANGE or a SONG. Different settings appear depending on what you have selected, to further configure what to record.

In the Offline: field select YES to enable silent, non-realtime rendering. This allows you to record even a few minutes worth of material in a matter of seconds, depending on the performance of your computer.

When recording has finished the following screen appears:

_images/recording_finished.png

In the specified directory there will always be a set of 5 stereo recordings: L-R.WAV and 1-2.WAV7-8.WAV, even if one of these output pairs is 100% silent. Each recording reflects the output of a given stereo output of VMPC2000XL. If a particular pad is routed only to ASSIGNABLE MIX OUT 1/2 in the MIXER screen, this is respected while recording directly to disk. This allows you to create up to 5 different stereo parts or stems that can be mixed and mastered in a DAW.

Like the Recording Finished prompt indicates, always move potentially valuable recordings out of the Recordings directory! At the moment VMPC2000XL is not very smart about where to store its recordings and what the files are named, so any recording session will overwrite the previous one. This will be addressed in a future release of VMPC2000XL.

The SETNGS tab

Press Shift + 0 to go to the SETNGS tab.

Initial pad mapping

The way all MPCs work is that each pad can be assigned a MIDI note number, and a note number can b assigned a sound, envelope settings and more. For a pad to play a sound, a MIDI note has to be assigned to it. This information is stored in programs and their associated PGM files.

When a new program is created on the MPC2000XL, its default MIDI note mapping is pretty confusing. See https://www.mpc2000xl.com/pads.htm.

There are rumours this mapping stems from General MIDI.

Whatever its origins, it causes confusion the moment you connect a MIDI keyboard or pad controller to the real MPC2000XL. In this scenario, a typical expectation is that adjacent keys or pads on the connected MIDI device trigger adjacent pads on the MPC2000XL. Instead, pad 1 is triggered by note 37, pad 2 by note 36, pad 3 by note 42, pad 4 by note 82, etc.

VMPC2000XL defaults to a chromatic mapping: 37, 38, 39, 40 … 95, 96, 97, 98 for pads 1, 2, 3, 4 … 61, 62, 63, 64. You can verify this is the initial pad mapping in the SETNGS tab. The Initial pad mapping field should be set to VMPC2000XL like below:

_images/initial_pad_mapping.png

To get the original pad mapping, set Initial pad mapping to ORIGINAL.

Note

Changes to this field are only applied to programs created after the change.

16 levels erase mode

When 16 levels is enabled (see the green LED below 16 LEVELS in the top-right), the sequencer is running and the user holds the ERASE button and any of the pads, the real MPC2000XL will erase all recorded note events that match the note that you set in the Assign 16 levels window.

If this is what you want, leave the 16 levels erase mode field at its default setting: All levels.

If you only want to erase note events that match the level of the pad you’re pressing, set this field to Only pressed level like below:

_images/16_levels_erase_mode.png

Auto-convert WAVs

VMPC2000XL has the ability to convert PCM WAV files that are unsupported on the original MPC2000XL to a supported format. Eligible are 24- and 32-bit WAV files, as well as WAVs with a sampling rate over 44100Hz.

By default VMPC2000XL will prompt you with a dialog when you are trying to load an unsupported file that is eligible for conversion. To always skip this prompt, set Auto-convert WAVs to YES.

_images/auto_convert_wavs.png

Configuring the keyboard in the KEYBRD tab

After pressing Shift + 0, press F2 to go to the KEYBRD tab.

If you can’t use the keyboard as expected, you can also click the keyboard icon in the far top-right.

_images/keyboard_tab.png

Once you are in the KEYBRD tab, VMPC2000XL internally switches to a restricted keyboard input mode that ignores any keyboard configuration you may have. The only keys that work in this tab are:

  • Up

  • Down

  • F1 … F6

You can also use the mouse to interact with the Up/Down cursors and F1 … F6 buttons in the UI as usual.

Changing a mapping

Use up and down to scroll through the list of functions. To change one of the mappings, highlight the mapping and press F4. The UI will change to indicate learn mode is active. Some elements start blinking to indicate VMPC2000XL is awaiting your keypress:

_images/keyboard_tab_learn.gif

As long as the elements are blinking and you see CANCEL and ACCEPT, you can press another key that you wish to assign to the selected function.

To accept your new key you have to use the mouse or touchpad and click F4. To cancel the learning process, use the mouse or touchpad and click F3.

Reset mapping to default

To go back to the original mapping that is based on the US keyboard layout, press F5:

_images/reset_keyboard_mapping.png

Saving mapping changes

Press F6 to save your changes. A popup will appear saying “Keyboard mapping saved”. You can return to the Main screen by pressing Esc and continue normal operation.

If your configuration is the same as what it was, a popup will appear saying “Keyboard mapping unchanged”:

_images/keyboard_mapping_unchanged.png

Discard mapping changes

To discard the changes you made in the KEYBRD screen, press Esc or click the MAIN SCREEN button. If you actually have unsaved changes, the following window appears:

_images/discard_mapping_changes.png

Besides discarding your changes, you can choose to stay in the KEYBRD screen and continue making changes, or you can save your changes, after which you’ll go to the Main screen.

Configuring auto-save in the AUTSAV tab

After pressing Shift + 0, press F3 to go to the AUTSAV tab.

Though auto-save also happens when running VMPC2000XL as a plugin, these settings only affect behaviour of the standalone version.

The following aspects are part of the state that is saved and loaded as part of this feature in both standalone and plugin versions of VMPC2000XL:

  • All programs and sounds

  • All sequences

  • Current screen

  • Current focus in that screen

  • Current sound (in TRIM, LOOP, etc.)

  • Current directory (in LOAD and SAVE)

Warning

Since all sounds are stored in your DAW project files, be aware of their combined size. If you have 32MB of sounds in memory, your project file will become 32MB bigger.

You can choose to auto-save upon exit and auto-load upon start. Both operations can be in 3 states:

  • Disabled

  • Ask

  • Enabled

The default configuration is like this:

_images/default_autosave_configuration.png

When Auto-save on exit is set to Ask, you will be asked whether to save your session or don’t save (in which case it will be deleted permanently):

_images/autosave_this_session.png

When it’s set to Disabled, your sessions will never be auto-saved upon exiting VMPC2000XL. Likewise, when it’s set to Enabled your sessions will be silently auto-saved when you exit, overwriting your previous auto-save.

A similar logic applies to the Auto-load on start setting. When it’s set to Ask, the following dialog appears upon startup if an auto-saved session is detected:

_images/continue_previous_session.png

When it’s set to Disabled, your sessions will never be auto-saved when you exit. When it’s set to Enabled your sessions will be silently restored when you open VMPC2000XL.

Configuring (USB) disk devices in the DISKS tab

Warning

Read the instructions carefully to avoid corrupting CF cards and other media. Make backups if you’re working with important data that you have no other copies of.

After pressing Shift + 0, press F4 to go to the DISKS tab. The default configuration is like this:

_images/default_disks_configuration.png

The DEFAULT volume

The DEFAULT volume is the default directory where VMPC2000XL stores user data, including your sounds, programs and sequences. It is located in ~/Documents/VMPC2000XL/Volumes/MPC2000XL. This volume ensures VMPC2000XL is always in a useful state with regard to loading and saving SND, PGM and other files.

This behaviour deviates from the real MPC2000XL, in the sense that if no disk drive, CF reader or other disk device is connected to the real MPC2000XL, you will not be able to load or save anything.

The Mode setting for the DEFAULT volume can’t be changed. It is always set to READ/WRITE.

Warning

Any files placed in the DEFAULT directory will be renamed to names that are compatible with the Akai FAT16 filesystem. For example, Fantastic Bassdrum 14.wav will become FANTASTICBASSDRU.WAV. This is a destructive operation, meaning that the file in this location will be permanently renamed. For this reason it is recommended to always keep a copy of the original files elsewhere. Never assume you can copy files from this directory back into where you copied them from.

Raw USB volumes

Though this is a unique and cool feature of VMPC2000XL, proceed with care when accessing raw USB volumes. At the moment this feature is experimental.

Background

This subsection should be seen as an addendum to Akai’s MPC2000XL manual. It does not discuss anything that is directly related to VMPC2000XL.

The real MPC2000XL uses a hacky implementation of FAT16. In Akai’s implementation, 8 bytes of each FAT directory entry that are ordinarily reserved for relatively trivial attributes like creation and last access date/time, are used to store 8 additional characters for the filename.

It is via this mechanism that the MPC2000XL has 16.3 filenames rather than 8.3 in a single FAT16 entry. The only problem, however, is that this leaves the MPC2000XL user in a kind of limbo state with regard to file exchange. Any Mac, Windows or Linux machine can read an MPC2000XL CF card without complaining, but it will not be able to parse the filenames correctly. It will register the 8 additional bytes as invalid date/time values, since that is what these bytes are expected to mean in a common FAT16 implementation.

For this reason, an MPC2000XL CF card with for example a DRUMKIT.PGM that refers to a FUNKY_SNARE1.SND will not be copied correctly to most computers. Likely you will end up with a file named FUNKY_SN.SND. What’s worse, operating systems have a tendency to rewrite the FAT entries of any directory that is explored, leaving you with a broken DRUMKIT.PGM after exploring your CF card in MacOS Finder or Windows Explorer, since the PGM still contains a reference to FUNKY_SNARE1.SND.

Note

To avoid corrupting MPC2000XL data on a CF card, your options are:

  1. Never insert the CF card in a USB reader connected to your computer

  2. Use up to 8 characters for the names of your sounds

Always keep backups of important work! If you don’t have a hotswappable CF reader or SCSI harddrive connected to your MPC2000XL, your best bet for making backups is probably a Linux computer.

Feature description

Raw USB volume access allows VMPC2000XL to read an MPC2000XL CF card almost like the MPC2000XL itself, meaning you can load and save PGM and APS files that refer to sounds with long names over 8 characters.

This type of access is achieved by performing the following steps:

  1. VMPC2000XL unmounts a USB volume from the operating system (meaning MacOS, Windows or Linux)

  2. VMPC2000XL requests the operating system to provide it with exclusive access to the USB volume

  3. VMPC2000XL can now read from and write to the USB volume at the byte level

  4. VMPC2000XL gives up exclusive access to the USB volume

  5. VMPC2000XL mounts the USB volume back to the operating system

Note that 3) is where all the action takes place that the user is interested in – loading and saving SND, PGM, APS and other files.

Steps 1, 2, 4 and 5 are only performed when necessary, which is typically at application startup and shutdown, and the first time a user configures a particular USB volume in VMPC2000XL.

Also note that step 2 and 4 require elevated permissions, so you need to be a system administrator to make use of this functionality.

Enabling a USB volume

When you first connect a USB pendrive or CF card with a FAT16 volume, the configuration in the DISKS screen will look like this:

_images/default_disks_configuration_usb_disabled.png

Note

A USB volume has to be connected before starting VMPC2000XL. You will be prompted for an administrator password, or on Windows, if your account has administrator rights, to give permission by clicking “Yes”.

Navigate to the volume you want to enable and set its Mode to READ-ONLY or READ/WRITE. If you want to make sure your volume is not altered by VMPC2000XL, set it to READ-ONLY. When you are done configuring your volume(s), press F6 to save the configuration.

Any enabled volumes will now be available in the LOAD screen’s Device: field. The volume name will be used to identify each volume. Where the real MPC2000XL instantly makes SCSI and other connected devices your active disk device as you cycle through them, one additional action is required on VMPC2000XL to make a USB volume active – pressing F5 to APPLY that setting:

_images/load_apply.png

The reason for this deviation from the real MPC2000XL is to allow the user to explore any options before actually changing the active disk device.

If after pressing APPLY no error messages appear, your USB volume is ready for load operations, and for save operations as well, if you configured READ/WRITE earlier in the DISKS screen.

VMPC2000XL remembers configurations for any USB volumes that have been previously connected and enabled, as well as the Device: you used in the last session. In other words, after a restart it is easy to continue using your USB volume (though you may be asked for administrator permissions again).