Getting going with Specimen is quite easy. After you start the program, you will be presented with a window and a whole bunch of grayed out controls. By default, Specimen will attempt to use the ALSA audio interface, but you can change it to use JACK by clicking on Settings->Audio. I highly recommend JACK, since the ALSA driver is very primitive. That and because JACK is the One True Path to Enlightenment. In time, it will be the only audio option that Specimen employs
Once you are satisfied with your audio configuraion, you will need to create some Patches if you hope to make any noise. A Patch is simply a Sample and the parameters associated with it, such as what MIDI channel to listen on and how it is panned. Click on the Action button, then select Add Patch. After choosing a name, all of the controls will become active. You can now press the Load Sample button and select a sound file to use. If all goes well, pressing the Play button at this point should have the expected result.
The Waveform display can be clicked on to bring up the Sample Editor. From here, you can adjust the Play and Loop Start/Stop points. Left clicking will set the Start Loop point, and any other mouse click will set the Stop Loop point. Hold down control while clicking to set up Play points.
Once you have created a few patches, you can make music by firing up a MIDI sequencer that uses the ALSA Sequencer interface and connecting it to Specimen. If you would like to use this particular set of patches at a later date, you can save them to a Bank by selecting File->Save Bank As. The proper extension for these files is .beef, but that isn't enforced by the user interface at this time.
That's really all there is to it. If you care for a more in depth treatment of the various aspects of Specimen, read on.
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