Quickstart guide to accessing Superior Drummer with NVDA

This guide is still a work in progress

In this short guide, I will give you some tips on setting up the Alesis DM-10 studio mesh drum kit, connecting it to Superior, importing my hotspots for use with NVDA and loading my premade Alesis preset. For saving/modifying your own presets, please read my Superior Drummer detailed access guide. I recommend the Alesis DM-10 studio mesh drum kit as that is what I use and really like it. I'll show you how to set the midi mapping to your drum kit in case you may have another brand such as Roland. For now though, you will need to do and acquire the following to gain access to Superior Drummer:

  • Obtain a copy of Superior Drummer 2.4 and an expansion pack of your choice
  • Set your screen resolution to 1280 by 768. Note: I've had luck with other screen resolutions as well.
  • Have a functional accessible Reaper setup
  • Set VST plugin windows to bridged under reaper preferences
  • Download the vMouse addon for NVDA to define and access application hotspots
  • Download the vTurbo addon for NVDA to save and load sets of hotspots
  • Download a copy of my hotspots
  • Have a 64 bit Windows machine with at least the minimum system requirements set by Toon Track
  • Optional download my Alesis preset with working choke

Tips for setting up the Alesis DM-10 studio mesh kit

When setting up your Alesis kit or any kit for that matter, you'll need a midi to USB cable, I'm using one made by M Audio. Be sure that all of your pads and cymbals are connected correctly to the module. One problem I ran into was a "calibration error" when powering on the module. I learned by chance that the chokable crash cymbal wasn't connected to the right quarter inch input and once I switched the cables the choke worked and I did not get the calibration error message anymore. I may put up a wiring guide to show correct connecting of all pads. The Alesis forums were as useless as a chocolate typewriter floating upside down in hot water. Everyone had the same question/problem but no one provided any clear answers, so take this from experience. You will need help connecting all the cables from the pads to the module as they are labeled and they aren't all the same cable and some are different lengths. You will notice there is a chokable ride which is larger than the other 3 cymbals, one crash which is thinner and not chokable and the last 2 cymbals are the high hat and the first crash. You will notice that the ride and the first crash cymbals both have two quarter inch inputs, the high hat only has one quarter inch input so do not get these mixed up. The dual inputs signifies that those cymbals are chokable. Why the ride is chokable and why the high hat has a choke strip is beyond me. From left to right should be the high hat, chokable crash one, then crash two, then the ride. The first important setting that you will need to change is the high hat. You need to change the setting from note only to note CC#4. This stands for constant curve. This is important if you want your pedal to work properly and make the partial open/closed sounds when using the pedal. This setting delivers constant midi messages to Superior so it knows which samples to trigger depending on the openness of the pedal. Not changing this setting will only play the high hat closed sound and open sound, nothing in between, very odd if you are playing live. To change this setting, press the utility button, then press F3 for trig and turn the dial once to the left. You may also wish to select your drum kit under the settings in the module to preload global sensativity presets based on whether you have the mesh kit, or dm-10 X or Pro or whatever. I also want to stress that you absolutely need to be familiar with cross talk, threshold and sensativity because they will be very important when it comes time for adjusting each pad for optimal playability. You should be able to setup your drums to emulate a real drum kit pretty easily if you know what they mean. These are to be setup on a per trigger basis in the drum brain itself and I will discuss how you can do this in another guide.

Configuring Reaper

First, we're going to open Reaper and go to the options menu, then go to preferences at the bottom of the menu. Next, in the tree view, select compatibility under plugin, then tab to VST bridging/firewalling, and select "in separate process from the drop down, then tab to ok. This will launch Superior in it's own window rather than a child window of Reaper and will make navigating the plugin window a little easier and this will also be necessary to use my custom hotspot sets.

Configuring NVDA

To effectively use NVDA with Superior Drummer you'll need to install the vMouse addon followed by the vTurbo addon, then importing my hotspot set file using vTurbo. Again I discuss this in more detail over here in my detailed Superior Drummer access guide.

Connecting the Alesis DM-10 to Superior Drummer

Be sure your drums are powered on and connected to your computer. Open Reaper, go to the insert menu and select the second option down, "insert virtual instrument on new track". A dialog will appear and in my case, Superior Drummer was at the bottom. Press enter on Superior and when the routing confirmation box appears, select no. If you are not immediately placed in the Superior Drummer x64 bridged window press alt tab until you reach it. Using object navigation in NVDA, press either numbpad nine or caps lock down arrow to move by line until you hear the name of your expansion pack followed by load/save. Navigate to the right by word (numbpad six or caps lock shift right arrow) until you land on the word "load" and activate the current navigater object. (caps lock plus enter or numbpad zero plus numbpad enter). This will display a regular context menu. From here arrow into the combined preset submenu, then to the user presets submenu. You should see the alesis dm-10 studio mesh preset. After pressing enter, The plugin window will show a graphical dialog. This dialog appears every time you select a preset you want to load and basically gives you several checkboxes of aspects relevant to the selected preset which you can uncheck if you only want certain parts of the preset loaded. This dialog can only be accessed with the mouse. By default, all of the boxes are checked in this load preset box indicating all aspects of your chosen preset will be loaded. In order to continue loading the preset press control, windows, alt and M to bring up the vMouse context menu. Press the letter A for application hotspots. When the list of hotspots appears, select presets ok button and press enter. The mouse will automatically move to that button and perform a left mouse click. This should map everything correctly including the high hat controler and choke.

Setting up another EDrum kit

If you have an electric drum set from another manufacturer, for example, Roland, you'll need to select it from the midi presets menu. While in the Superior Drummer VST window, press control windows alt M to bring up the vMouse context menu and press the letter A to bring up the hotspot list. Select the second option which is mapping tab and press enter. The mouse will move to the mapping tab and perform a left click. Perform the same commands once again to bring up the hotspot list and then select the mapping presets button. This will bring up a normal context menu with two options, "midi" and "midi nodes". Enter the midi submenu, then into the midi mapping submenu and select your appropriate EDrum map.

This should get you up and running. From here you should refer to the more detailed guide to using Superior Drummer with my hotspot set to create your own custom combined presets. This is important because the Superior Drummer mixer is inaccessible, and until I can work out a solution to gaining access to the mixer page or even the EZ mixer this is the way you're going to be able to create your own presets.

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