The SL MkIII allows you to split the keyboard into multiple sections, called Zones. The main advantage of doing this is to allow you to play different instruments with different sections of the keyboard at the same time. For example, you could have your bass sound played by one octave on the keyboard and a synth pad played by another octave.
To view and set up your Zones, press the Zones button - this will not turn on the Zones feature, but allows you to see and adjust the Zone settings. To turn on the Zones feature, hold down Shift on your SL MkIII and then press and release the Zones button. The Zones button should be brightly lit in white when it is on.
Once the Zones feature is turned on, it will remain on until you press Shift and Zones again. For example, if you turn on Zones, and then press the Steps button to look at your sequencer steps, the Zones will remain activated.
You can customise your Zone Settings by pressing the Zones button.
Pressing the up/down arrow buttons to the left of the screens will move between Pages 1 and 2 of Zone Settings. Between these two pages, there are 14 adjustable settings for each Zone, however, in this article, we will just focus on the basic setup. Please see the User Guide for more detailed information on the settings not covered in this article: https://downloads.novationmusic.com/novation/sl-mkiii
Select a Zone after entering Zones View by pressing the soft buttons under their names (‘Zone 1’, ’Zone 2’ etc.).
Having selected a Zone, it can be turned On or Off by turning the first rotary knob (directly above the word ‘Active’).
When set to ‘Off' all other Zone parameters will be greyed out. When turned on these parameters will brighten.
Setting the Destination Part for each Zone
In Zones View, the second rotary knob from the left (above ‘Dest. Part’) selects the destination Part for a Zone.
This destination can be set to Parts 1-8, or be set to follow the currently active Part. When you choose a different Part, you will see LED colours change above the keys for the Zone you're applying it to. If you choose the Zone to follow the currently “Selected” Part, the LED colours and Part will change depending on which sequencer Part is active (selected with the soft buttons below the screen when in Sequencer View).
You can select which MIDI channel is assigned to each Part within the Part Settings. To set the MIDI channel for the Part, hold down Shift and then press and release the Sessions button.
After this, select the Part you wish to change the MIDI channel for, using the soft buttons below the screens. The MIDI channel can be changed using the sixth rotary dial (above Channel).
This is important to understand as it will affect which instrument each Part, and therefore Zone, will play.
Let's say you have two synthesisers connected to the SL MkIII with MIDI cables (as shown in the below diagram) and you would like to play synth 1 with the keys in Zone 1 and synth 2 with the keys in Zone 2. If the MIDI channel assigned to the Part used for Zone 1 is not the same as the MIDI channel synth 1 is using, then the keyboard will not play the synth. Similarly, if the MIDI channel assigned to the selected Part for Zone 1 is the same as the MIDI channel both synths are using (and the Part is sent to both DIN ports), then Zone 1 will play both synths at the same time.
In this example, the SL MkIII's MIDI Output 1 is connected to Synth 1 and MIDI Output 2 is connected to synth 2. Then we need to set up the Parts as described above:
- Part 1 is set to output MIDI to the first DIN port (MIDI Output 1) and on MIDI Channel 1
- Part 2 is set to output MIDI to the second DIN port (MIDI Output 2) and on MIDI Channel 2
Then we need to assign these Parts to the Zones we are using:
- Dest. Part for Zone 1 set to Part 1
- Dest. Part for Zone 2 set to Part 2
Now, the keys in Zone 1 will play synth 1 and the keys in Zone 2 will play synth 2.
Setting the Keyboard Range for each Zone
In Zones View, the third and fourth knobs set the range of the Zone from lowest to highest key.
You can also set the range of a Zone using keys. After selecting Zones View, press and hold a Zone button below the screen. You will then be prompted to choose a low-key on the keyboard followed by a high key, thus setting the Zone range.
A coloured LED above each key represents the Zone and destination Part assigned to it. These lights help understand where your Zones lie along the keyboard. The different colours correlate to the destination Parts.
You can overlap different Zones if you wish to. Overlapping is useful if you want to blend sounds, such as a piano with a synth, or an acoustic drum with a synthetic one. When zones overlap, the Zone with the lowest number takes priority in terms of the colour of the LEDs.
For example, Zone 2 takes priority over Zone 3, so Zone 2’s range is shown on the LEDs, overriding the LEDs of Zone 3 where there is an overlap.