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The MIDI Forum

  Thursday, 22 December 2022
  13 Replies
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Hi all, 2nd time typing this because clicking on something erased my post. I'll try to keep it as short as I can, again.

I purchased a Synthaxe a month ago from someone who also didn't quite know how to use it. When I tested it, everything seemed to work. The Synthaxe can only produce sound when connected to a synth VIA midi. I don't have any synths so I tested it with my laptop (Roland Edirol UA-25 MIDI IN into Sonar via USB). Seemed to work great.

The way the Synthaxe works is the controller is connected to the floor unit/power supply, which has a midi out for testing purposes I believe. A console that stores certain parameters/tunings/patch changes is also connected to the floor unit.

The console has 8 midi outs, as well as a midi thru and a midi in. This is where you're supposed to connect a synth to. It has 2 modes, Poly and Mono. In mono, you can do a variety of things, like assign a midi output and midi channel to each string, and use 6 synths. I use poly mode.

The issue I'm having is, it ONLY seems to work from the midi output on the floor unit, NOT the console. All 8 ports do not output info, no matter the channel. This isn't a huge deal, but I can't tell if its some incompatibility, or theres an issue from the console. None of the ports look bad, and any time I change information on the console, it outputs correctly on the floor unit.

Here are two things I tested. I heard back in the mid 80s when this was released, because of all the information it outputs, it would crash most DAWs, except Cubase. I downloaded an Atari ST emulator, got Cubase 2 and same issue. I could record and playback data from the floor units midi, but still wont receive data from the console.

The other thing was I used MidiOx. When the floor unit is connected, and I change a patch, I get a SysEx message. Once I use one of the ports on the console, it DOES output something but it isn't the same. I get a midi instrument change. For example, on the floor unit, I change the patch to "01" and it sends a SysEx message, as it should. But with the console (Activating port 1, channel 1) and I do a patch change, it just changes the Midi patch to 01 (Electric Piano, I think?). Its sending it to channel 1, but even on the Synthaxe console, if I set Port 1, Channel 2, and patch change to 01, it does the same thing, and says its coming from Channel 1.

I should also note that the Synthaxe does have a way of reading midi information from the floorboard. I can hook up a midi cable from the floor unit (the one that works) to the MIDI IN of the console. That also works and I can view hex data, probably similar to MidiOx.

Sorry for the long post but its a lot of information. Its baffling to me and i've been hacking away at different things for about a week now. Again I don't have a synth to hook up the console ports to, as it was supposed to be intended for, but it does work
with Cubase 2/3. I only can't tell if theres some Midi data being filtered out because of a modern DAW/OS or because its coming thru USB? I also can't tell if the console is bad, but I get no errors, and everything I do does work (Change tunings, pitch bend sensitivity). It has to do with how the console outputs the midi and how the interface/VST receives it.

If further MidiOx data is needed or need pics of something I can provide it.
John set the type of the post as  Technical Question — 1 month ago
1 month ago
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#17034
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I also failed to mention, a Synthaxe is incredibly rare. The company sold less than 100 and apparently less than 50 may still work. So there isn't a lot of information/documentation out there of how to use it, and issues or things that are incompatible etc. This is also leading to my unsure if the data being sent isn't being read properly because of tech advancement/changes.
1 month ago
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#17042
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Don't know if it'll be helpful, but a guy just posted a breakdown and repair video of a Synthaxe a week ago. Maybe it'll give you an A-Ha! moment.

Pretty cool looking device.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=bF8CNlROOS4
1 month ago
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#17047
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Haha, thats actually me.
1 month ago
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#17050
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:D Did watching you help you? :D :D

You said that the 8x MIDI outs are at least sending program changes. Using a laptop as a synth should not be any different than using a hardware synth theoretically. Perhaps those outs are purposely restricted and just meant for mono mode outs? Do they do anything differently if you use mono vs poly?

I wonder if there might be some info buried on archive.org. I'll try looking later.
1 month ago
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#17052
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Sorry, no luck on the archive.org front, and you seem to be everywhere on the internet that I can find any info :p I found a Facebook user group, and there you are! I did find a website for Alec Stansfield. He had a lot of experience with it, and had one for sale for a while, and had all of the documentation to go with it, so I've contacted him to see if he might still have a copy of the manual. I'll post if I hear back.
1 month ago
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#17053
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Haha, I appreciate all the help but I've done all that too! Ive been in contact with Alec as well as someone else who worked for the company. They're both a bit stumped. Mall suggested I should try with a real synth which I will eventually. I also already have the manual.

All those inputs on the top can be used for Poly OR Mono. But the more I'm playing around with it, the more I think that those MIDI inputs are actually more restricted and simplistic to actually be attached to a real synth. It says on there how to communicate with a DX7 or Oberheim Xpander.

You can also dump or load data from the console. In each instance, it never says anything about hooking up the MIDI cable to the floor unit in the manual, except when wanting to capture and filter MIDI data (Using a program within the console). The old Atari STs had MIDI ports directly on it. So thats the 2 things I'm thinking of. Its how it converts the signal thru USB (Even though the floor unit works?) OR its sending simpler messages as its intended for a real synth.

Its a real head scratcher.
1 month ago
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#17086
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An update. Tried it with a real synth and same issues. So its not some weird midi thing. It must be something not properly connected inside of the console.
1 month ago
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#17092
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Bummer. You did have it all apart, so you are familiar with the insides, but from checking the video it doesn't look like there's much in there in terms of wiring. So there's not really much in there that could be hooked up incorrectly as far as I can tell. It's more likely to either be a software glitch, or the way it was designed.

Using MidiOX, can you compare the data coming from all 8 ports in both mono and poly mode, and test a few different variations of program and channel changes?
3 weeks ago
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#17216
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Bummer. You did have it all apart, so you are familiar with the insides, but from checking the video it doesn't look like there's much in there in terms of wiring. So there's not really much in there that could be hooked up incorrectly as far as I can tell. It's more likely to either be a software glitch, or the way it was designed.

Using MidiOX, can you compare the data coming from all 8 ports in both mono and poly mode, and test a few different variations of program and channel changes?


I could sure try that again. I can't remember exactly what I was getting, but IIRC it was always giving me patch changes on the same channel, no matter if it was Mono or Poly, or even if I changed the channel inside. IE set Port 1 to channel 2. As mentioned, the console ports were only giving me patch change info and nothing else, where the foot pedal, was not only giving me output, but sysex messages for patch changes etc.

I tested all the continuity on the inside as much as I could. All the input wires, the wires coming from the Synthaxe, the wires coming out of the foot controller etc. Now I know what they all do and where they go. All the midi ports inside were connected, and I found nothing seemingly wrong. It MAY be possible one of those chips is bad, as I haven't tested them.


Yknow, the more I'm thinking of it, maybe the issue is I haven't 'connected' the synthaxe properly to the laptop or keyboards channel. So with out that connection, it cant send out information, where as the footunit, just sends out the midi information regardless of channel (the midi channel on the foot controller can not be set).

As you mentioned, the inside does look pretty clean. I thought perhaps just one of the cables wasn't connected, but everything looks good and clean. Back to the drawing board. Ill fiddle around with it tomorrow or Wed and post some messages I get from MidiOx.
3 weeks ago
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#17218
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I know this is a stretch, but my thinking was perhaps each one of those outputs is always mapped to a specific channel. Like ouput 1 = channel 1, output 2 = channel 2, etc. Likely not, but you never know ;)
3 weeks ago
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#17236
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I know this is a stretch, but my thinking was perhaps each one of those outputs is always mapped to a specific channel. Like ouput 1 = channel 1, output 2 = channel 2, etc. Likely not, but you never know ;)


Trying to respond but it keeps saying its detecting my reply as spam?

If this works, quickly I tested everything thru the floor unit and it worked as it should, but still didn't thru the console with MidiOx. I may need the footswitch attached as I'm getting that soon to be fully operational. Either that or one of the chips that directs the midi data in the console is bad and needs to be replaced.
3 weeks ago
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#17239
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Trying to respond but it keeps saying its detecting my reply as spam?


It's been doing that a lot lately. Not sure why.

Anywho, keep us posted! I'd love to hear that you got it fully working. It's a cool device.
2 weeks ago
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#17250
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Trying to respond but it keeps saying its detecting my reply as spam?


It's been doing that a lot lately. Not sure why.

Anywho, keep us posted! I'd love to hear that you got it fully working. It's a cool device.


Thanks! Im talking to someone who's fixed them before and he's gonna look at his schematics. If something is bad, I'm guessing its one of two IC chips I located on the board.
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