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WaveCraft questions & answers

Why are you releasing it for free?

The software is now well over two years old, and two years is a very long time in the fast-moving world of computers and especially software synthesis. We still believe WaveCraft to be the best all-round solution for producing analogue-style sounds, but with some tough competition, we felt it time to - to put it bluntly - maximise the availability of our software, and at the same time hopefully get some valuable feedback to find where we could improve things for any future release.

This software's far too good to go for free!

If you really want to pay money for this downloadable version of WaveCraft then please give generously to a humanitarian charity of your choice.

Is this version of WaveCraft legitimate?

Yes, absolutely. In fact, one of the secondary aims of making this release is to counter the thriving trade in pirated copies of WaveCraft - a trade which is itself testament to the continuing popularity of the software.

Will it run under Windows 98, NT, OS/2 etc?

WaveCraft was developed using Windows 3.1 and was also successfully quality-tested with Windows 95. Its status with respect to other flavours of Windows and Windows-like systems is unknown, but it should work under any such system with 16-bit and DOS support. No harm should be done if your system is incompatible, but we do advise a degree of caution and can take no responsibility for damage done through incompatibility or attempts to resolve compatibility issues.

Is there going to be a Macintosh version?

The Windows-based PC is the most rapidly expanding sector of the computing market, and with almost all the major sequencing and recording systems now available for the platform, it has the brightest musical future of all currently available systems. You should be able to run WaveCraft using PC emulation on a PowerMac or similar, but no native version is planned for the foreseeable future.

Will there be another version?

That depends on a number of things, including the feedback we get from users regarding this release of the software. The software synthesiser marketplace is moving on rapidly, and even a product as strong as WaveCraft will eventually get left behind to the extent that it will be impossible to catch up again.

What other versions of WaveCraft are there?

WaveCraft Lite was the original downloadable demo of the software, fully functional with respect to being able to generate sounds, store settings and so on, but with a reduced number of available modules, still including the acclaimed resonant filter. WaveCraft Bass Edition accompanied the Prentice-Hall book, Cubase Dance Music Secrets by Roger Brown. It offered a fixed configuration of modules and no ability to save settings, but could produce some very solid two-oscillator bass sounds, and again included that filter - unlike some competitors who give their demo users second-rate modules.

What's the newest version number?

The only officially released version number was v1.0. Anything else is a fraud. We are aware that some pirate copies have been claiming higher version numbers, even as "full CD-ROMs". This is just a scam to attract the gullible people who are prepared to pay money for cracked rubbish. Get the latest and only official version of WaveCraft from here, for free, today. Legally.

What is the history behind the software?

The software was originally conceived way back in early 1994, starting out as a set of signal processing routines for the Commodore Amiga, including basic oscillators and filters. From summer 1994 to 1995, the system was ported to the PC and substantially enhanced, adding the graphical design interface and most of the modules seen today. It was still a very technical tool at that time, requiring the user to have their own C compiler; although it was as automatic as it is today, it required some quite fiddly setting up. Then in autumn 1995, a concerted effort began to polish it for commercial release, tidying up the interface, removing the dependence on the C compiler, and adding a few final modules. WaveCraft as we know it was finally released in January 1996.

It's not real-time, so why should I bother?

In an ideal world, all software synthesisers would offer real-time sound generation and dozens of voices of polyphonic, multitimbral sound. The original analogue synthesisers were mainly monophonic, it is true, but the world has moved on since then, and going retro with sounds should not mean having to go retro with flexibility too. Real-time software synthesisers simply do currently not offer the MIDI-response, polyphony, multitimbrality or sound complexity to be truly useful, even with the fastest PCs - especially PCs already burdened with hard disk recording duties etc. WaveCraft strikes a balance, offering efficient generation of even the most complex sounds, and then allowing playback flexibility limited only by the sampler or sound card in use, often up to 64 or more voices with impeccable MIDI response.

Why shouldn't I use one of the newer software synthesisers?

Feel free to try them, but all too many of them feel like "work in progress", with missing features, poor filter implementations and so on. WaveCraft was only ever released as a completed product, and never delivered anything less than it promised. Things may have moved on with flashy Windows 95 interfaces and so on, but it is the sound quality that matters at the end of the day - when your listeners play your music in their own homes and clubs - and WaveCraft has yet to be surpassed in that respect, certainly for analogue simulation. Don't tolerate vague - if grandiose - claims of future functionality whilst shelling out hard-earned money for alpha versions of software; WaveCraft was fit for commercial release right from the start, and now it's free, so why not give it a go?

What sound cards and samplers do you recommend?

We don't specifically endorse any brand or model of sound card or sampler. WaveCraft only demands a sound card with 16-bit 44.1kHz audio capability, but if you intend to use the sounds in musical compositions, you will need a sampler capable of reading WAV files - the AWave utility will transmit industry-standard SDS data to most samplers that will not directly read WAV files - or a wavetable sound card with download memory. Cards shown to have given good results include the Creative Labs AWE32/64 and the Turtle Beach Maui and Pinnacle, and similar performance would be expected from cards such as the Terratec EWS64 and Guillemot ISIS.

Why aren't there any effects-type modules?

Effects are not really necessary in a non real-time software synthesiser, because most modern samplers and sound cards include at least basic reverb and chorus treatments they can apply to WaveCraft's sounds at playback time. We would certainly consider adding effects to any future version, but given its philosophy, we suspect the effort would largely be wasted. For some specific applications, such as sound effect creation, users may want to add effects to the static WAV files, and we heartily recommend Cool Edit as a top-rate budget sound editor with lots of interesting effects algorithms.

Is there a limit to the complexity of sounds?

Patch settings are limited to a maximum of 80 modules, but that still allows some very complex sounds to be created. Although there is no ability to group and collapse modules to get extra design space - like some of our expensive competitors do - you can always do the generation in two or more stages, using the output file from one stage as the input to the next, with no loss of sound quality.

Can I process my own samples through it?

Yes, and with a few added extras not seen on real analogue synthesisers. You can process mono PCM WAV files sampled at 11.025, 22.05 or 44.1kHz, 8- or 16-bit, though all output files from WaveCraft are studio-specification 44.1kHz 16-bit. Input samples can optionally be set to loop and also to be triggered by clock module sources. With these facilities, not only can you use, say, looped sampled strings, but also play a drum beat with individually triggered sample inputs for each drum sound used.

How can I convert to other sample formats?

WaveCraft's default output is a 44.1kHz 16-bit WAV file, though there is also the option to output in a raw format to the same specification. If you need your sound files in some other format, we suggest using the conversion tools in the excellent Cool Edit. For sampler users, AWave will send WAV sample data to SDS-compatible models via MIDI.

Why does it bring up that DOS screen?

Very simply, for performance reasons. WaveCraft was originally developed in the days of Windows 3.1, when there was no such thing as a 32-bit Windows executable file. If we had used an ordinary window, performance would have been two to three times worse than it is, but by launching a DOS session, the sound generation can be accomplished completely in fast 32-bit code. Note that by pressing Alt-Enter, you can switch between full-screen and windowed DOS sessions for very little speed difference.

How are the filters done?

Unlike some of our competitors, WaveCraft has always had good-quality resonant low and high-pass digital filters. They are only 12dB/octave filters, but it is a myth that more dB is always better, with the quality of the design having more impact on the characteristic of the sounds produced. The filters are of the BZT design, offering far more faithful emulation of classic analogue filters than some of the designs used on other software synthesisers.

Are there any known bugs?

As far as we are aware, WaveCraft is very stable indeed, with no crash bugs in normal usage - you might tempt some by feeding it very strange input files etc, but we have had no reports of serious problems from any of our many users. During installation, we gather it can occasionally pop up a few requesters querying things, and these can generally be safely ignored. In Windows 95, the icons do not look too pretty when you drag them, but it is a cosmetic problem only. Users who use a comma instead of a full-stop as their decimal point - continental Europeans for example - may find a few quirks when entering decimal values; such numbers should be typed with a full-stop (e.g. 1.23) although they will be displayed correctly for your locale.

WaveCraft won't install! How can I get it working?

A few users have reported that the WaveCraft installer (setup.exe) fails, giving the message:-

Error - Could not copy file: SETUP1.EX_ -> C:\WINDOWS\setup1.exe

This is not a fault with WaveCraft as such, but the installation software provided by Microsoft - ever wonder why everyone uses InstallShield and Wise these days..? The problem can affect all old-style install systems, and is caused when a previous installation of something failed for any reason. It can be fixed by going into your c:\windows directory, and deleting the file setup1.exe. Be careful not to delete any other file than setup1.exe; if you're not sure and want to take precautions, perhaps rename it or move it elsewhere rather than deleting it. Then try running WaveCraft's setup.exe again.

WAV sample input sometimes doesn't work properly - what am I doing wrong?

WaveCraft is a bit fussy about formats of files on the WAV sample input module. Specifically, files must be linear PCM (i.e. plain ordinary, uncompressed) mono WAV files, at 11.025, 22.05 or 44.1 kHz sampling rates, and 8 or 16 bit resolution. In addition, though, they must contain no extra header information whatsoever; that is to say, WaveCraft expects the bare minimum 44-byte WAV header and nothing more that some software may store. Sample editors such as the popular Cool Edit include a facility not to save additional WAV header information, which works very nicely I am told.

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