February 24, 2004

ns_kit 7 And EXS Conversion  [ Edit ] 

The fine folks at Natural Studio released the latest incarnation of their free sampled drum kit, ns_kit 7. There are versions available for Battery, Giga, EXS, Soundfont, and unadorned WAV files. Your sampler will be able to use at least one of them.

Unfortunately, it’s done so well in the few days since it was announced that they have been slammed with downloads (40 GB by the time it was turned off — holy cow!), and their ISP shut down the download site.

Computer Music magazine has an FTP site which is being used to host the raw WAV file version of the kit for now. Douglas is working on what to do about the downloads, and I hope he figures it out, because it is a mighty fine drumset. It’s not perfect — I don’t necessarily agree that the drums and cymbals sampled are the best ones for the job, but it’s free for crying out loud, and what they sampled, they’ve recorded well.

I downloaded ns_kit 7 before the EXS version was available, choosing Giga, which the EXS can convert. I discovered that the bass drum was really quiet, no matter how loud I played it. Read on for an explanation.

Apparently it’s a conversion problem. Giga and SoundFont files are actual samples (WAV or AIFF recordings of sound) wrapped in a single file that describes how they should be played by the sampler. Logic’s EXS24 uses a slightly different system, where samples and meta-data (how to play them) are stored separately, not in a single file. It seems like a pretty sensible system — there are more total files this way, but you can keep your sound files on external drives, and multiple EXS instruments can share the same samples without duplication. It gives you more control, which seems to be what Logic is all about.

To make the EXS24 convert a Giga file or SoundFont for you, you stick it in your Sampler Instruments folder with your other EXS files. Refresh the sampler instrument menu in Logic (if Logic is already running), and the file will show up in the menu. Select it, and Logic will convert it for you.

When Logic converts these files, it unwraps the WAV files from the Giga file, and creates its own .exs file that describes, in the EXS’s native language, how the samples should be played. I learned in the ns_kit forums the following: if any of the samples in the Giga file has a filename longer than 31 characters, it will not be carried through. ns_kit has some hi-hat samples, and bass drum samples, that exceed that limit, so they don’t come through correctly.

I’ve had to do two things to fix this: one, download the WAV files from CM so I can get the missing samples (I can’t open the Giga file), and two, go through those zones in the instrument editor and remap the samples. It’s a pain, but not a huge sacrifice given the quality.

Posted by Joe | TrackBack

This was very helpful to me in terms of giving me an overview as to how the EXS stores and retrieves its sounds, but I have a great series of drum hits that are in WAV format and I wish to use my EXS24 to play them. I can't figure out how to import them so they show up in the menu, and even further, so that several hits can be played by one Audio Instrument (like a kit).

Any insights or can you point me in the right direction?

Nicholas Porter
The Feeling United

Posted by: Nicholas Porter at May 9, 2007 1:02 AM


I'm glad to be of service. You say EXS24, so I assume you must be using Logic Pro. The EXS24 Editor is the internal tool for creating new sampler instrument files. Look in the Logic Pro Plugins Reference documentation for more information on that. I've been living in Express lately, so I don't have command on these tools right now.

If you're on Express like me, your only option I know of is to get Redmatica's Keymap application.


It's not cheap, but it's supposed to be a real pleasure to use, MUCH better than the built-in EXS editor.

Posted by: Joe Chellman at May 9, 2007 1:21 AM

hey does anyone know how to convert exs files back to wav? i dont have a exs sampler, i just recieved a dvd of .exs samples and would like to convert them to wav so i can load them into my yamaha es6 keyboard

Posted by: Tim at November 22, 2007 11:04 AM


You already have the .wav files. The .exs files are what the EXS24 sampler loads to find and playback the .wav files. Where to find the .wav files depends on what and where your DVD installed, but you definitely already have the data you need, no conversion necessary.

Posted by: Joe Chellman at November 22, 2007 11:20 AM

thanx for your reply but you said this, Where to find the .wav files depends on what and where your DVD installed, im not sure what u meant by that, i downloaded the dvd with them to my pc (windows xp pro) opened them and the are all .exs and windows cant play them , so im confused on how to get them played on my pc lol

Posted by: Tim at November 22, 2007 3:40 PM

.exs files are not audio files. They are files that the EXS sampler reads to determine how to play back and use samples. When you get a sample DVD, you're getting the WAV files (or maybe AIFF files) that are the actual samples, and in addition you get .exs files. So if you got this DVD from a legitimate sample source, you have both file types already on the DVD, and you just need to find where they are. You can ask the maker of the disc for more information.

Posted by: Joe Chellman at November 22, 2007 10:18 PM

I'm still looking for the answer to the question "How do I convert a .wav or .aif sample for playback in the EXS24. I've tried dropping the .aif file dirctly into the Sample Instrument library and then refreshing the EXS menu. It still doesn't recognize the .aif file and does not automatically convert it as it does .gig and Akai sample files. Does anyone know how to do this inside Logic without having to purchase Chicken Systems or other conversion software?

Posted by: Eddie at February 23, 2008 12:15 AM


You can't just drop a sample onto the EXS24. You have to create a new sampler instrument in the EXS24 Editor and load the samples into that. Read the manual on the sample editor -- that's the Logic Studio Instruments and Effects manual you want -- and in the EXS24 chapter, there's a section on the editor. Read that, and you'll be in business.

In short: AIFF and WAVE files can be used as samples, and they can be played back in the EXS24 if you create a sampler instrument. Akai and Giga files are not audio files -- they collections of samples that are converted into EXS instrument files and associated WAV or AIFF files.

Posted by: Joe Chellman at February 23, 2008 12:25 AM

Thanks Joe for the response. I re-read the instrument editor section again so I know how to load the sample into the instrument. I've got no problem doing that now. However, I can see the sample and even pull up the editor window. But I can't get the note selected inside the zone to actually "start" playing the sample!! I can hear it in the sample editor so I know it is there. I just can't get it to execute.

Posted by: Eddie at February 23, 2008 11:23 AM


I haven't created a sampler instrument in a while, so I'm not sure what the gotchas might be there. All I can think of is resetting all the settings in the EXS24, making sure your new instrument is loaded, and making sure that the key you're hitting on your keyboard matches the one you placed the sample on (you can see what note you're playing in Logic's transport). If you have a small keyboard like mine, check that the octave you're playing in is the right one. That gets me sometimes.

Posted by: Joe Chellman at February 23, 2008 4:36 PM

Thanks Joe.

I'll keep at it and let you know if I find the solution.

Cheers Mate!

Posted by: Eddie at February 24, 2008 10:21 AM
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