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  1. Bruno Gaeta
  2. MIDI Connections
  3. Sunday, 13 March 2016
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I'd like to hear people's experiences in managing very large MIDI setups. As a bit of a collector who can never manage to sell gear, I have something like 40 MIDI synths, controllers and processors that I want connected so I can easily play any synth from any controller as well as playing them from my DAW running on a Windows PC.

At the moment I am relying on antique technology to do that as nothing else seems to have the capabilities: everything is connected to 3 networked Opcode Studio 5LX interfaces/patchbays, which are themselves hooked into an antique Power Mac G3 running OMS on MacOS 8.6. For those unfamiliar with these beasts, the Studio 5's each have 15 pairs of MIDI ins/outs but only antique Mac serial ports for connection with a computer. The Opcode software running on the PowerMac gives me total flexibility with regard to connecting anything with anything as well as allowing some quite complex MIDI processing (channel filtering, velocity tweaking, controller re-mapping etc). I am unaware of any modern hardware that offers these capabilities and number of MIDI ports. What's really nice is that the Studio 5's still work as standalone patchbays/processors without the Power Mac. I need to turn the Power Mac on only when I want to reconfigure the connections

In order to connect this rig to my modern DAW/PC I am using an iConnectMIDI4+ with its 4 DIN outputs plugged into the Studio 5's. That works but it's quite cumbersome to do any kind of recording: I have to turn both the PC and the Power Mac on, use the Power Mac to patch the synth I want to use to one of the iConnectMIDI4+ MIDI ports, then choose that port in my DAW etc. Not a good setup for spontaneous recording of impromtu synth jams, especially when I compare it to what was available back in the days of classic Macs and Studio Vision etc where the DAW could interface directly with the synths through OMS.

I am very aware that both the Studio 5's and the Power Mac are already way past their expected lifetime and are likely to expire any day, and am trying to think of something to replace them with that will work both with a computer but also as a standalone patchbay so that I can play the synths without having to turn the computer on. What are other maniac synth collectors using these days for something like this?
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Franck Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
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Hi. You can also check this site https://github.com/TheKikGen/USBMidiKliK4x4https://github.com/TheKikGen/USBMidiKliK4x4. It is a hack based on the Midiplus / Miditech 4x4 midi interface. That firmware solves the "Same productid/vendor id" issue, and add multi-routing features. More, you can rename the USB device with SYSEX...
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Denis Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
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I have seen what the visual production screen looks like so that you can get an idea, Norton Support but it is not certain that it will work. Hope you will be able to see it.
  Minneapolis, MN 55455, USA
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nazim Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
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The best thing about this router is you can get a USB dongle with a data sim card and plugged into the router, and if ever your fiber link is down, it will auto switch and connect using the USB dongle, and will seamlessly switch over when your fiber is back online. It also support VPN connection back to your home network, USB harddisk are just plug and play. Just plug and play router, simple to use, not much of advance settings can be done, but I will need to boot up my unit tonight to see if it has any firmware updates. And of course, AC1900, speed will be a bit slower than those AC2400/3600. ShowBox VidMate Mobdro
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Carl Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
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Hey Hans-Peter,

Hey Carl,

Carl wrote:

Please contact me via this site if you want to know more about it. I would love to see what you can do with it.

Carl


... I really like your idea, sounds interesting. A few years ago I used one of these "hire a developer" platforms to start a project for something similar. I am probably one of the longest time user of MIDITEMP MIDI matrix systems. Bought my fist one in my hometown where they started after leaving the university.

On what platform are you working? What hardware will you support?

Don't know if it is possible to writ a PN on this board, would like to hear from you ...

Bests,

hp


The product is already released, so you can get your own free 30-day trial copy that is fully functional and try it out. Just go to muckuper.com, register and download it.

It currently runs on any PC with Windows 7 and above. I even tried it on an inexpensive (<$180) Windows 10 tablet and it ran great. Working on a Mac version next. It comes with a file to integrate with SONAR, instructions on how to integrate with Ableton Live, and a Lemur template to remote control your performance from your iPhone or iPad. If you have a touch-screen PC or tablet then you probably will not need the iPhone control because the performance mode buttons were designed for a touch screen.

You can use any MIDI hardware, MIDI bridge like LoobBe30, and connect to anything that can send or receive MIDI. You can use it with as many physical synths and virtual synths as you want, (in case of virtuals, as many as your computer will handle), And you can layer and split any of those synths onto the same keyboards or pads, make chords out of notes, make intervals, transpose, convert control messages, and lots of such goodies. You can even merge MIDI from different sources to the same device (for example a separate pad controller and keyboard). In the end, it lets you organize all these layers, splits, etc.as scenes that you assign to songs. You then assign songs to a setlist, launch performance mode, and the program will step you through each scene like you have a new gear setup for every song. And it does it smoothly with no glitches, so long as you are mindful of the limitations of the synths you are using.

If you follow the YouTube link on the site you can view demo videos. My playing is mediocre, but you will get the idea of what can be done. Let me know what you think!

Carl
References
  1. http://www.muckuper.com
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  1. more than a month ago
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Carl Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
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Midi~Kuper allows you to connect anything to anything MIDI and create scenes of these connections. You can use all your synths and route any controller to any synth at the touch of a button. The scenes can be assigned to songs that can be organized into set lists. When you perform live, Midi~Kuper walks you through each song in its scenes at the touch of a button on a tablet or phone, and smoothly switches between synths. And it does it seamlessly with smart transition features.

You can create massive layers with many synths on a single keyboard, create splits, transpositions, do control filtering and more. You can also merge MIDI sources onto the same MIDI output. Check the website mdikuper.com. They have video tutorials on YouTube too. This is software. You have to have the hardware with enough MIDI ports for all your instruments of course.
References
  1. http://www.midikuper.com
  2. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCCjbYzoy5e-vdGt6kGr8u4w
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  1. more than a month ago
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Bruno Gaeta Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
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Thank you for the info about MIDI over LAN products. I am a big fan of the Copperlan spec but I've never used it as it seems not to have gained traction in the industry sadly. There are very few products that use it, and out of these only the Alyseum AL-88c seems to be not outrageously expensive (but still pricey given I'd have to buy 4). But more importantly Alyseum has now ceased supporting Copperlan and has ditched the AL-88c. I don't know of any other product that supports it now.

I have a mio 10 but haven't played with rtp-MIDI. The limitation is that you can only access 4 MIDI ports over rtp-MIDI, compared to 16 over USB. So I've stuck with USB MIDI at the moment
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zxc Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
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Forget USB MIDI interfaces, even the best interface will not be able to manage this amount of gear with a correct timming.

Your problem has two sides, each one of equal importance:

1) The new computers that relay in a PCIe architechture (it doesent matter if they are PC or Mac)
2) The MIDI interface itself.

With the first problem there is not a satisfactory repply, the newer computers will give you a noticeable worst timming than your Mac G3, so dont replace the computer until it would be strictly necessary.

For the second problem, the replacement interface, there are new solutions that are not widly tested but the look that would be possible solutions.
This interfaces are generally called LAN interfaces an are connected to the computer via the Ethernet port, (RJ45 connector).

The Ethernet base protocol is widly more efficient than the USB and supports better asynchronic comunication of MIDI.

There is a condition that´s necessary to consider: The Ethernet bus can be connected, in general, directly to the south bridge of the chipset, that´s the best option, or it is usually connected to a PCIe bus, many times sharing the bus with other peripherials of the motherboard.

In any of both cases for a stable and gapless comunication it is very important that the LAN Ethernet connection DO NOT SHARE its direct connector with other device (like USB or SATA, etc) and/or not have its PCIe bus shared with other devices (like USB or SATA, etc). So you will need to search a motherboard that acomplish this requirements

This is the only way to be sure that the hardware will have a REAL IRQ (not a virtual a REAL like in the old machines) only for its own usage not shared with anything else.

The advantage of LAN Ethernet interfaces is that you can reduce the ASIO or Audio Units buffers to really very small sizes, which implies low latencies and better MIDI timestamp.

The two marks of LAN interfaces that I know run under different and uncompatible enviroments and both support Mac and PC and 64bit drivers.

One works with Copperlan (http://www.copperlan.org) that is free, is the one I use and works incredibly well. It is used by the Alyseum AL-88 and AL-88c http://www.alyseum.com

The other works with rtpMIDI from Tobias Erichsen, it is easy to find it in the web, and it is used by the iConnectivity interfaces Mio 4 and Mio 10.
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fredscal Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
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Hi.

This may not be what you'd like to hear, but it looks to me as if it would be much simpler for you to manually connect the synth you want to use when you want to use it, rather than using a patch. That would probably be the quickest way to start recording when you feel inspired. It's the solution that worked for me finally anyway, after havung tried more complex setups.

Just my 2 cents.
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Bruno Gaeta Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
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Frederic PARISET wrote:

You should look at the new iConnectivity MIDI interface MIO10
I also have a collection of vintage synths I could not manage easily I first bougt a iconnectMIDI4+ and I will order soon a MIO 10 MOI10 able to manage 56 user-configurable 16-channel MIDI ports connect PC and Mac together and have MIDI over Ethernet it also provide a USB Host Port supports a USB MIDI Class-Compliant device (add your powered USB hub and connect up to ten devices such as Controlers and Master Keyboards)
They also have power to Route, Filter, remap MIDI signal ... and can bu used with iPad, iPhone easily
Hope i helps


I have replaced the two iConnectMIDIs with one MIO 10 and it does work great. Still not enough i/o for my setup so I still have to use the old Opcode Studio 5lx's as MIDI THRU boxes and routers.
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Frederic PARISET Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
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You should look at the new iConnectivity MIDI interface MIO10
I also have a collection of vintage synths I could not manage easily I first bougt a iconnectMIDI4+ and I will order soon a MIO 10 MOI10 able to manage 56 user-configurable 16-channel MIDI ports connect PC and Mac together and have MIDI over Ethernet it also provide a USB Host Port supports a USB MIDI Class-Compliant device (add your powered USB hub and connect up to ten devices such as Controlers and Master Keyboards)
They also have power to Route, Filter, remap MIDI signal ... and can bu used with iPad, iPhone easily
Hope i helps
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Hans-Peter Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
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Hey Carl,

Carl wrote:

Please contact me via this site if you want to know more about it. I would love to see what you can do with it.

Carl


... I really like your idea, sounds interesting. A few years ago I used one of these "hire a developer" platforms to start a project for something similar. I am probably one of the longest time user of MIDITEMP MIDI matrix systems. Bought my fist one in my hometown where they started after leaving the university.

On what platform are you working? What hardware will you support?

Don't know if it is possible to writ a PN on this board, would like to hear from you ...

Bests,

hp
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Bruno Gaeta Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
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Sorry for the multiple posts - the attachment kept on being rejected and I didn't realise the comment was still being posted!
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Bruno Gaeta Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
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This is what my setup looks like now
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Bruno Gaeta Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
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This is what my setup looks like now
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Bruno Gaeta Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
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This is what my setup looks like now
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Bruno Gaeta Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
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This is what my setup looks like now
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Bruno Gaeta Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
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I finally set myself up with 2 iConnectMIDI4+, each connected to a 8 port USB hub, and 2 of the Studio 5LX. The iCM4+'s are both connected to the computer by USB but it turns out they cannot be networked together through rtpMIDI. Each iCM4+ therefore gives me 12 MIDI ports (4 DIN 8 USB, 16 channels each) for a total of 24 ports. I use the Studio 5's as glorified MIDI THRU/MERGE boxes and re-channelers. As you suggest I don't use all the parts available for each multi-timbral synth. 4 parts max per synth is plenty. I then set up External Instruments in Ableton Live which allow me to automatically set the MIDI port and channel for each of the synths.

It works well. The only downer is that the USB MIDI connections on the iCM4+'s hang sometimes. I think it's because I'm using cheapo USB hubs. I'm going to change the hubs and see. Having multiple iConnectMIDI4+'s on one computer is also a pain. Whenever I want to edit the routing through the iConfig app it can take a couple of minutes for the computer to detect the iCM4+'s, and if there is any MIDI traffic at the same time it will fail to recognise one or both of them.

However the new iConnectivity mio 10 looks very promising. 10 ports of DIN MIDI plus 10 USB MIDI ports, and 16 channels each! So a total of 320 channels, would allow up to 8 parts per synth if they were all multitimbral (which they are not). Coupled with the Studio 5's which make excellent MIDI THRU/MERGE boxes so I can feed 14 different channels to 14 different synths, I think it could run my entire rig with no hassle.
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Philip M Lodge Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
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Cubase midi handling is amazing, the way it sets up external instruments etc.
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Philip M Lodge Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
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This can be done easily and with out any fancy, expensive equipment. If I lived near you, you'd not get rid of me helping to set this up, I'd stay for days.

First of all, don't add up total amount of synths. Add up total amount of parts. Even a standard 4x4 usb midi device will get you 64 channels/parts and you only ever really need 2 midi ins, the rest is done via a home made switch. If every synth was 1 channel only, we could end there.

1 midi in is for the 'Keyboards' another is for purely 'Knob Twister' synths. Every midi out of a 'Keyboard' synth is connected to a HM switch, every midi out of a 'Knob Twister' is connected to another HM switch. Connect all the 'Menu Divers', no realtime controls to another HM switch on the 4th input, for the sake of dumping to the PC. Save the 1st midi in for your 'Master Keyboard'. Now you can select which keyboard you want to play via your lil switch and this, through the usb, through the PC, will control the midi device (coming later) of any synth, 'Keyboard, Knob Twister, Menu Diver'. You'll also be able to record the data from the 'Knob Twister' you're playing with by selecting it on your 2nd HM switch at the same time as playing on a 'Keyboard'. Jump to another synth, flick the switch.

One could also split the Knob Twisters over 2 switches and have the Master Keyboard simply on the Keyboards.

Now for the midi device... Any 1 layer synth that is 16 part count this as 4 part, as this can be mapped as a 4 layer, 4 part synths. Most the synths I have are 4 parts with 4 layers. The ones that are 16 part with multiple osc/layers, like the Virus TI, soon run out of polyphony, no need to give them all 16 midi. For example, the Yamaha CS2x with its performance channel set as midi 1, this keyboard uses part, 2,3,4 to make up the other layers of that channel. The other 12 midi channels are single layer. If we make midi 5,6,7,8 be midi ch 5; 9,10,11,12 be midi ch 6; 13,14,15,16 be midi ch 7, turns this synth into a 4 performance level synth instead of 1, simply set the layers voices with init. Midi 2,3,4 can also be reutilised via the through, as well as 8-16 you've now freed up.

With other synths it's a lot simpler. If you have a lot of JV1080/2080's, Emu 1u rack style romplayers, you'll run out of channels quickly but if it's more, Virus A,B,C, Novation Stations, KS rack, Nord Racks, 101's, Junos, Waldorf, Moog, it can easily be done, with each only taking 4 channels max. Many of the older synths being only 1.

i'll just add... It's very likely that i spend more time setting things up than making music, lol.
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Carl Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
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Hey Bruno. This won't help you today, but maybe in a couple of months. I am working on an application that will allow you to configure as many MIDI ins and outs as you want, and then create scenes that tell the program how to route the MIDI data from any of your input devices (keyboard controllers, DAW controllers, etc.) to any MIDI output. It also has the ability to transpose keys, scale velocities, block, scale, invert or translate control messages (for example change 07-Volume to 11-Swell). It also has MIDI processors to translate single notes to chords, pick out the top or bottom note, put chords from one hand or another player to create harmonies based on the chord for a melody on another MIDI track. More of these toys to come...

You can create massive layers of sounds, keyboard splits at multiple points, and do things like route data from a controller with sliders (for drawbars) to a B3 emulator like a VST that does not have physical controls.

The scenes can then be assigned to Songs, and the Songs can be assigned to Sets. So if you do live gigs, you can change your whole sound from song to song (or song section to section) at the click or tap of a button.

I used the original version of this program when I was playing in a live band and did not want the sound of every song to be the same boring sound. Every song had its own sound, and I could configure my sets for the night before the gig (or during breaks) and have all the songs lined up with their own sounds ready to go in sequence. I even had our guitar and bass players going through Guitar Rig 4, and their sound changed dramatically and automatically from song to song. One song the guitar sounded like a jazz player, another like a clear and twangy rhythm guitar and the next like a heavy metal shredder. And he did not have to do anything; not even tap a single pedal, unless he wanted to, which of course could be done with any MIDI-enabled switch.

The original program was great to use, but difficult to configure and manage because I did it quickly for my own use. Now I am working on the Beta version that resolves all the issues with the first version (which was really a proof of concept) and allows you to configure scenes on the fly and does a much better job in the transition from one scene to the next where the sounds change seamlessly. You can hold a chord from the previous scene even after switching to the next scene, and it will properly release the notes once you let go of the keys or release your sustain. It is really doing great.

I tried to attach a pic of what the scene construction screen looks like so you could get an idea, but not sure if it will work. Hopefully you will be able to see it. Otherwise, I will have a website for the product soon. Before it is released, I will be looking for people to do beta testing on it and you might want to participate. I anticipate that it will be 2 months before the program is ready, and 3 months before it is properly packaged and actually put on sale, but my beta testers and supporters of the project will get Version 1 free.

By the way. I have been involved with MIDI and creating incredible sounds on a live stage for many, many years. In addition to being a musician, my formal profession is software development engineer. So now I am finally combining my two passions to create this MIDI router program for all musicians to be able to master their MIDI instruments on stage like never before. If you are in a studio, this will also give you important capabilities, especially with all the gear you have.

Please contact me via this site if you want to know more about it. I would love to see what you can do with it.

Carl
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