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  1. Michael
  2. MIDI Hardware
  3. Friday, 29 June 2018
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Hello, this is my first post to the forum. I'm here for two reasons -- I'm very rusty on the ins and outs of MIDI, so I can really use a comprehensive refresher, but my most immediate need is to get my Roland GR-33 guitar synth working again.

I bought my GR-33 years ago -- back in about 2001, I guess it was, and I used it back then on several pieces of music I wrote -- with great effect. Back then I was running my Digital Audio Workstation on a Win98 platform and was using Cakewalk's Pro Audio 9 as my DAW software. I had the direct round MIDI ports in my system as well as a joystick/MIDI port. All were being used because I had several pieces of MIDI hardware connected to my system. After using it for recording thos pieces, I let the system idle -- for entirely too long.

Nowadays, I have no MIDI ports on my system, so I'm having to use USB instead. I have two Midiman Midisport 2x2 MIDI-to-USB converters that I bought years ago, one of which is in use right now. Its drivers have been successfully installed. And I'm running my GR-33's MIDI out into the system using this one Midisport 2x2. The DAW software is still Cakewalk -- Sonar Platinum, which is the direct descendant from Pro Audio 9. Sonar doesn't "see" the GR-33. Instead, it sees the Midisport 2x2. But I have an instrument definition file for the GR-33 loaded and I've associated the Midisport's 16 channels to the GR-33. So now, when I load an instrument in Sonar, it sees the GR-33 instruments.

When I first hooked my GR-33 up to this system, everything behaved normally. Because I had an instrument file installed in Sonar for the GR-33, Sonar was able to access its instrument patches and was successfully playing them in a few pieces I tried it out with. Then suddenly, it stopped working. This was a few weeks ago and I've been struggling to get it back working ever since. I'm not 100% sure, but I think what might have caused it was, one day, I was playing around with the GR-33's buttons, and I punched the "Write" button, which loaded the first patch, A11 and its name. I don't recall what I did after that, but I do know I messed up that patch and a couple of others, so fearing I'd really messed things up, I went ahead and did a system reset -- which resulted in my losing about a half-dozen custom patches I'd made. Unfortunately doing this reset did not solve the issue.

I've gone through the manual, step by step, with anything having to do with MIDI and it hasn't done any good. Now, I suspect the problem might lie with Sonar and my having something set wrong, but then again, I'm not at all sure. And since Sonar loads a fresh page with each new song, it doesn't seem like there would be any carry-over if I had something set wrong in a previous tune. So if I have something set wrong in Sonar regarding the GR-33, it would have to be something in its set-up area, but as near as I can tell, everything is correct.

When I play a piece of music, if I select the Roland in a track, Sonar responds, showing volume in the track's console slider, but the GR-33 is completely silent and unresponsive. If I change instruments, the GR-33 doesn't show the new instrument selected. It stays on the default voice, A11.

I've checked all the physical connections -- the USB cable and the MIDI cables. I swapped USB ports and even changed out the USB cable -- but I didn't change out either of the MIIDI cables because I doubt seriously one or both would have just suddenly stopped working without being so much as touched.

Sorry about the length of this post, but I had a lot of "'splainin' to do."

So, any ideas?
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Well, it is fixed -- for now. I'm not really sure what did it. One of the things I did -- even though I'd done it to most just a few days ago -- I took apart every connection, cleaned them best I could, then put them back together. I also went back over the GR-33's internal settings. When I fired up Sonar, the GR-33's channel let out a sharp chirp, which surprised me. It settled down to chirping at the beginning of each note played. I had no idea where that sound was coming from -- or rather, I had no idea what patch was making that sound. I had selected a voice patch. It was as if the GR-33 was waking up after a long period of downtime. I kept trying to coax the right sound out of it by repeatedly opening the menu and selecting the voice patch, and by deselecting and reselecting the GR-33 as the synth. This seemed to help. Slowly and quietly at first, the voice appeared. And then I was dealing with sudden spikes in volume and random patches briefly sounding off. But I kept at it. I ended up having to configure the GR-33 a bit differently than I usually do for a synth and MIDI patches, but it was at last working reliably.

So I wish I could state exactly what it was that was causing the problem -- I wouldn't be surprised if there were more than one issue causing it. But I'm so relieved I found it. The GR-33 is a very capable tool, with a set of voices that can be very convincing. And this synth -- or one very like it -- is essential for the work I'm doing right now.

I had become so discouraged with the lack of progress with my GR-33 that I was on the verge of writing it off. At one point I was at GC's website and I came within a single click of buying a clean used GR-55. The only thing that eventually stopped me was that it didn't come with the GK-3 pickup, which would have added enough to the price such that it would no longer have been a good deal at all. And then I started giving the Fishman Triple Play a hard look. Its price was attractive, plus new ones come with a large bundle of useful software. Two of the main software items were superfluous for me, however, since I already owned versions from those publishers that were very close to what was being included in the FTP bundle. Actually, I still find the FTP to be very attractive and I might still at a later date pull the trigger on one.

Okay, well, unfortunately I can't say that my experiences were particularly useful for anyone who might be having the same problems -- except maybe refusing to give up. I guess that accounts for something.
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  1. more than a month ago
  2. MIDI Hardware
  3. # 1
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Well, as it turns out, I fixed things so my GR-33 would work with one tune. As soon as I tried it out on another -- same thing all over again, except this time, not a peep. As I delved into things further, I found another tune where it would work, another where it wouldn't, and yet another that had two GR-33 parts. One worked and one wouldn't. Even if I muted the working track, I couldn't get the non-working track to respond, no matter what I tried.

So this odd situation still exists. If you have anything to suggest, I'd be happy to "hear" from you.
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  1. more than a month ago
  2. MIDI Hardware
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Can you check if generating sounds with the guitar pickup works?

What is the difference between the tunes that work and those that don't? Are they using different patches, or effects?
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  1. more than a month ago
  2. MIDI Hardware
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Thanks for your response, Clemens. Sorry it's taken so long to reply.

Yes, the GR-33 works just fine through my audio interface, so I'm playing it through the computer with no problem. It's just getting its MIDI to sync via USB with the software that's the problem. The way I have it set up right now, I have stereo audio outs from the GR-33 going to audio ins in my interface, while the MIDI is being sent to the computer via my Midisport MIDI to USB converter (my interface doesn't have any MIDI ports). When it's working the software responds the way it's supposed to. When it isn't, there is no response from the software.

There are few, if any, differences between the way the tunes are set up and any others I compose and arrange. All tunes are straight-up MIDI with no audio tracks. Except for the GR-33, most patches are assigned to Cakewalk's TTS-1 soft synth. But by its nature, the GR-33 is using different patches with each piece: B3 organ sound on one, 12-string guitar on another, synth sweep on another, and flute on yet another. Those are the only one that occur to me at the moment.

The Midisport 2x2 has two MID in/out/thru channels. I own two of these and I've tried both channels on one and one channel on the other. No difference in results between any of them.
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  1. more than a month ago
  2. MIDI Hardware
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I'm not clear on how you're connecting the GR-33 and the Midisport. It sounds like you're using one cable, but to get two way communication you need two MIDI cables. Please confirm that you are connecting the MIDI Out from the GR-33 to the MIDI In on the Midisport and the Midi Out from the Midisport to the MIDI In on the GR-33.

Cheers
Eddie
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  1. more than a month ago
  2. MIDI Hardware
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Hey Eddie, thanks for your reply.

I am indeed running two MIDI cables between the GR-33 and the Midisport. Sorry for not making that clear above.

One of the nice things about Cakewalk's Sonar is it has the ability to assign a port's channels to instruments. It uses instrument definition files for this. The Midisport shows up as In and Out ports in Sonar, but then you have a page where you can assign all 16 channels to an instrument definition file. I found one on the net for the GR-33 (actually I found more than one, but went with the one that most closely resembled the actual patches that the GR-33 has.). You load the instrument definition file into Sonar then assign it to each of the Midisport's channels.

From the tracks view in Sonar, I select the Midisport as the port I want to use, assign it to a channel, then I can access and select its banks and patches in the track. This has worked in the past -- and still sporadically works, but with no consistency. I bought my GR-33 new in 2001. It hasn't gotten much use -- all of it connected to my DAW and no stage use, but still, it's 17 years old now, and I'm wondering if something has gone intermittent internally. As much as I don't like to admit it, nothing else makes as much sense as this analysis. But I have remained hopeful, which is why I've come here to ask you MIDI experts if there is something I might have overlooked. I don't think I have, but it never hurts to ask.
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  1. more than a month ago
  2. MIDI Hardware
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Okay, so the connections are correct.

The patch selection in the track view should select the desired instrument for that track, unless you have more than one track using the same MIDI channel on your Midisport/GR-33. In that case the tracks would interfere with each other.

If you start a new project, with only one MIDI track, can you consistently select the desired patch using the track view?

Cheers
Eddie
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  1. more than a month ago
  2. MIDI Hardware
  3. # 7
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I tried your suggestion and loaded a MIDI file with only a single voice, then configured the track for the GR-33, then selected a patch from Sonar. At first, it was no go on sound and the patch setting (it remained on the default patch and I'd selected a different one).

Then, as I was trying different settings, the GR-33 changed patch settings to the one I'd selected. Still, no sound, though. So I selected a different patch from within Sonar, but the GR-33 wouldn't change. I went back over all the settings changes I'd made above, in all possible combinations, but I haven't been able to get it to change patch settings again. And, of course, there's still no sound.

Upon closer examination, I noticed that, while Sonar is seeing the GR-33 (the track's volume trace is responding to the voice's input), there is no corresponding volume trace in the output channel. In this case, it is the channel set to my sound card's Outs. So it does in fact appear that, for some reason, there's a breakdown in communication within Sonar.

I'm gonna query the folks over at the Cakewalk forum about this -- see what they have to say.
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  1. more than a month ago
  2. MIDI Hardware
  3. # 8
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