Mirage Key Concepts
- Layer: One of the three sound-generating parts that can be controlled and modulated. The effects rack is applied to the mix of these three layers.
- Library: A collection of sampled instruments that are bundled together into a pack. Libraries can only be created by FrozenPlain – there currently are no capabilities for users to make libraries. Wraith is an example of a library.
- Instrument: A sample-based playable instrument – meaning the sound is generated from audio files rather than algorithms or wavetables. An instrument can be selected for each layer. Instruments are either multi-sampled or just a single sample.
- Preset: A saved Mirage configuration. Mirage can load any .mirage-something preset. The filename ending will be different depending on what library the preset uses.
- Preset Folder: This is the folder that Mirage keeps track of. Preset files within this folder (and its subfolders) can be browsed via Mirage’s preset browser.
- Settings Menu: The popup menu found by clicking on the three-dots icon at the top of the Mirage GUI.
- MDATA: The proprietary file format that Mirage libraries are stored in. An MDATA file contains all of the audio files that make up the sample library, as well as various other pieces of configuration data. These files can be over a GB in size.
Mirage is an engine that can load MDATA sample libraries (FrozenPlain’s custom format). At the moment, these libraries can only be created by FrozenPlain.
Mirage can only load one library at a time. When you first open a new instance of Mirage, no library will be loaded; choosing a library will be your first step. Simply click on the library in the side panel. This side panel can be opened and closed with the three-lines icon at the top-left of Mirage’s GUI.
Mirage uses the same preset format regardless of what library is loaded. However, the preset file name will end differently depending on what library the preset refers to. For example, a Mirage preset which uses Wraith might be called preset.mirage-wraith. Mirage can load any preset file that ends with .mirage-something.
The Preset Folder
Mirage keeps track of a single dedicated presets folder. Mirage scans this folder (and its subfolders) for .mirage-something files. These are then displayed in the preset browser GUI, and can be conveniently loaded in various ways.
Your Preset Folder is most likely C:/Users/name/FrozenPlain/Mirage/Presets on Windows or /Library/Application Support/FrozenPlain/Mirage Presets on Mac.
You can manually organise this folder in any way you like. By default, presets are grouped into which library they are from and whether they are factory or user presets.
You can select an alternate folder by clicking on the preset text at the top of the GUI and then clicking on the folder that is shown at the top of the shown window. On Mac, it is recommended to not change your preset folder. DAWs such as GarageBand are strict regarding which folders a plugin is allowed to access.
Mirage features a browser for conveniently navigating and loading presets from your Preset Folder. This browser has two panels. The panel on the left is used to select the folder to browse. The panel on the right is used to load presets from within the selected folder and its subfolders. You can use the arrow keys on your keyboard to move to different presets on the right panel.
You can also search for folders or files by typing into the search bar on this panel. Your search term is compared against each filepath of every preset in the currently shown folder.
Mirage has a multi-mode ‘randomise preset’ button. This button can be found in the top panel of Mirage’s GUI. To the left of this button is a downwards arrow icon. By clicking on this arrow you can select the mode of the randomise button. These are the options:
- Randomise Any: Loads any Mirage preset in the presets folder (included any presets in subfolders). The preset could be for any library.
- Randomise Library: Loads any Mirage preset that is for the same library that is currently loaded. For example, if you have the Wraith library loaded, this button will load another Wraith preset.
- Randomise Folder: Loads any Mirage preset that is in the same folder as the current one. For example, if your current loaded preset is in a folder called ‘Pads’, another preset from ‘Pads’ will be loaded.
- Randomise based on filter text: Loads a folder that matches the filtered folders and search text that you have typed into the preset browser. This button works the same as the randomise button that is adjacent to the search bar on the preset browser panel.
Installing New Presets
When you install a new library, its presets will be placed into your Preset Folder. This will most likely be C:/Users/name/FrozenPlain/Mirage/Presets on Windows, and /Library/Application Support/FrozenPlain/Mirage Presets on Mac.
If you have manually set an alternate Preset Folder (using the Set Presets Folder button on Mirage), it will be that location instead.
You can manually add new presets to your Preset Folder or rearrange the directories. Mirage will update to reflect any change you make.
Presets can also exist elsewhere on your computer. However, these will not automatically appear in the preset browser menus. These must be loaded by clicking on the file icon on the presets browser panel and then navigating to the individual file.
Making Your Own Preset Packs
You can save presets by clicking on the floppy disk icon at the top of Mirage’s GUI. To make these into a pack for distribution online, bundle the presets files together (the ZIP format is common for this), and point whoever is installing them to this manual. You are allowed to share or sell Mirage presets, but you may not share or sell any other type of Mirage file.
The Three Layers
Mirage is built around an architecture of three layers. These are displayed in three columns starting from the left of the main panel. Each layer is identical. Mirage’s layers are the first things in the processing chain; each layer is processed in parallel, and then the three streams of audio are mixed together and fed through the effects rack, from top to bottom.
The topmost control of each layer is perhaps the most important: the instrument picker menu. These are often multi-sampled instruments, but also sometimes just a single sample that is playable across the keyboard. What instruments are available for you to pick is determined by which library is loaded.
Depending on which instrument is loaded, you might notice minor differences in what controls are available; this is normal.
Mirage has a selection of simple effects that can be applied to the audio. These effects are applied to the mix of the three layers. The effects are shown in a list on the right-hand side of the main panel. You can change the ordering of the effects by dragging and dropping.
All automatable parameters in Mirage can be easily assigned to a MIDI CC. Perhaps the most common MIDI CC used is the mod-wheel, which is CC number 1.
Any CC number can be used to control any parameter of Mirage. This is done by right-clicking on a parameter on the GUI and then selecting MIDI learn from the menu that pops up. Next, move the knob/slider on your physical MIDI controller – Mirage will detect this movement and bind the CC number to the parameter in Mirage. The mapping is now set: whenever you move that knob, the parameter in Mirage will move too. This binding can be undone by right-clicking the parameter and selecting Remove MIDI Learn.
This relationship lasts for as long Mirage exists in your DAW – if you remove and then re-add Mirage, this MIDI CC relationship will be lost. However, this relationship is preserved when you save or load your DAW project.
Always set a MIDI CC to a parameter
Alongside the MIDI learn functionality, you can set up a more permanent relationship between parameters in Mirage and sliders/knobs on your MIDI controller. To do this, MIDI Learn a parameter, as explained above. Once completed, when you right-click the parameter, you will see a new toggleable option for Always set MIDI CC to this. You can toggle this option to set the permanent relationship. If enabled, whenever you load up a new instance of Mirage, the CC number will be bound to the parameter.
By default, MIDI CC1 (AKA the mod-wheel) is set up to control the Dynamics slider in Mirage in this semi-permanent fashion.
It’s worth clarifying that these settings are stored in different places. MIDI CC-to-parameters are stored/loaded when you save/load your DAW project; they are not saved/loaded when saving/loading presets. The option for permanent MIDI CC-to-parameter mapping is neither saved in preset files nor in your DAW project. Instead, it’s saved in a preferences-file on your computer.
Mirage can be controlled with a sustain pedal. A sustain pedal is a special kind of MIDI controller that sends MIDI CC-64 messages. These messages represent an on or off state.
When Mirage receives a sustain pedal on message, all notes that are currently held will sustain until a corresponding sustain pedal off message is received. The notes will persist even if the notes are released from the keyboard. Only releasing the sustain pedal will trigger them to stop. This is a common behaviour for synths and samplers alike. It roughly simulates the behaviour of a real piano sustain pedal.
Sustain Pedal Retrigger Mode
Each layer in Mirage has a switch that changes the behaviour when pressing the same note multiple times while the sustain pedal is held down. This parameter can be found in the MIDI tab of each layer and is called ‘CC64 Retrig’.
When ‘CC64 Retrig’ is turned off, and you are holding the sustain pedal down, nothing happens if you press the same key multiple times – the new up and down is ignored – the sound continues to sustain just as it did before.
However, when ‘CC64 Retrig’ is on, the note is retriggered (the sound ends and a new one starts); this behaviour tends to be the more intuitive option. Note that this switch is per-layer, not global. This allows for more powerful customisation of a preset.