View Full Version : Stupid MIDI questions

22-01-2010, 05:19 PM
Post yours here. I never had the chance to go to far with MIDI so I'm a bit clueless now.

Question #1. Should it be possible to make a knob on my newish M-Audio controller keyboard perform the same tasks as the data slider on an old rack mount synth module? If so, what's involved?

Scenario: I recently bought a 25 year old rack mount synth module, which I adore, but the original data slider was broken. The shop took 2 weeks to 'fix' it, and then it broke after mere seconds of use when I brought it home. It's been back at the shop for a week and I don't have a lot of faith in them (guitar people). It's one of these devices that has -/+ buttons for fine adjustments (patches/parametres), and a data slider for coarse adjustments. (e.g. use the slider to scroll through a hundred patches and then use the buttons to select the precise one you want). The slider isn't crucial but not having it would slow things down and mean more wear on the buttons.

My controller has a bunch of assignable rotary knobs. So... MIDI gurus: does it stand to reason that, if they can't fix the slider, I should be able to make one of those knobs do the exact same job?

22-01-2010, 05:40 PM
Alright nomos.

The answer, of course, is it depends. Firstly on whether the synth allows external control of that slider parameter. The second issue is that there are a few different kinds of MIDI control messages - the simplest kind is Continuous Controller messages, or MIDI CCs. Then there are things called NRPNs (non registered parameter numbers) which allow for more precise control and are a little more involved to program. And then there's SYSEX (system exclusive) which is kind of an open format and can be a bit tricky to set up, some controllers won't do it at all.

What you'll need to do is check in the back pages of the manual for your synth to find out if there's a way of externally controlling that slider parameter and then what kind of controller messages it accepts. Then see if your controller can do that. Then get programming. There is a good chance that there's a SYSEX control for it, then it's down to whether your controller can deal with that. I know the Novation ones can, but even then they have limitations. Funny enough the Behringer BCR2000 controllers are very good with SYSEX, if it turns out that's what you need.

22-01-2010, 06:08 PM
Thanks very much massrock. I'm just having look through the back of the manual now (PDF here (http://memi.de/~buchty/esq1/files/ESQm.pdf)). It's a bit bewildering at the moment. I should have learned this stuff years ago.

I forgot to mention that while I was messing around, during the few hours I had it at home, I did accidentally manage to start scrolling through patches from buttons on the controller. No idea how though, and I lost audio shortly afterward. (Fixed that with a restart)

Anyway, I think this might be the relevant info...



22-01-2010, 06:21 PM

haven't got time to look at it properly just now but if it's the data slider you want to emulate it looks like MIDI CC 6 does it, which would be very easy to set up.

also, found a link to the latest firmware here if you don't have it.


nice synth!

22-01-2010, 06:22 PM
Much appreciated massrock. Thanks. Hopefully I'll have it my hands again soon and I can follow up on your suggestion.

Just found this too.


22-01-2010, 06:33 PM

you don't need to do that bit above though - that's just if you wanted to add an extra controller for modulating a sound. all you need to do is set one of the knobs on your controller for CC 6, I think.

22-01-2010, 06:40 PM
ah ok, good to know.

i should probably get a book too so i can get the most out of this thing (and my long neglected drum machine). MIDI For People With a Mental Block Against It, or something.

22-01-2010, 07:36 PM
Well.. so much for that.

The repair guy just called. It started smoking while he was working on it. So money back, no synth :(

27-02-2010, 08:11 PM
So in the end, something better worked out :) but I'm left with...

Stupid Question #2: Old gear with No MIDI Thrus

I plan to use Ableton as the sequencer for a synth and drum machine (i.e. sending MIDI data to them). I also want to be able to input notes from both devices into the sequencer (i.e. receiving MIDI data). The problem is that neither device has MIDI Thru and my MIDI interface only has 1 IN and 1 OUT. So I can only connect one device at a time. I don't want to be continually switching cables and reconfiguring things.

What is the best way to deal with this?

a) A pair of MIDI Thru boxes (like this (http://www.philrees.co.uk/products/thruunit.htm) or this (http://www.midisolutions.com/prodthr.htm))?
One to share the MIDI OUT from the interface between the synth and sampler. The other leading from both devices to the interface's MIDI IN.

b) A MIDI patch bay?
These seem a bit complicated for my needs.

c) Something else?

27-02-2010, 09:36 PM

personally in this situation i would think to go with an additional MIDI interface for the computer - for one thing you should get better timing there as you're not squeezing so much through one connection as you would be with a thru box.

something like this - http://www.emu.com/products/product.asp?category=610&subcategory=611&product=15187

2 ins and 2 outs, about $50US.

should be no problem having that run alongside your existing audio / midi interface.

28-02-2010, 12:53 AM
i don't know what i'd do without you, massrock ;)

that looks good, and no less expensive than two thru boxes. the only problem is that my usb ports are already both in use (macbook) with my existing interface and a controller keyboard (also no thru). i could add a usb hub i suppose.

just so i know, was my logic correct with the thru boxes? i see they also have split and merge boxes.

28-02-2010, 02:33 PM
Yeah I thought USB ports might be an issue. A hub would work.

Going the other route I think what you'd need is one 1>2 thru box and one 2>1 merge box - the merge box for merging the outputs of the two modules into one IN on the pooter. One thing that might be worth being aware of is that with line-powered boxes the MIDI device going in to the IN (or the first IN on a merge box) needs to provide power correctly, that's not necessarily a given but should be OK in most cases.

Philip Rees seem to have discontinued their MIDI accessories.

Kate Mossad
28-02-2010, 07:46 PM
This is why I stopped 'making' music on computer and rediscovered 'playing' music :D

28-02-2010, 08:14 PM
Once you've got things set up so they work nicely you should be able to flick a switch and start playing. All the mucking about is preparation.

I've got my stuff set up at the moment so I can do most things with the computer off which is lovely. I can sync it up if I want but it mainly gets used for recording, mixing and patch editing.

Kate Mossad
28-02-2010, 10:26 PM
Understood, and wasn't having a go BTW. Personally speaking find it such a hassle :mad: that in the end decided it wasn't worth it.

28-02-2010, 11:46 PM
I've got my stuff set up at the moment so I can do most things with the computer off which is lovely.
Yeah this is my aim. I want to be able to play with sounds on the synth or drum machine without turning anything else on, but then have it all ready to go when I want to sequence and record without having to switch cables or change preferences.

23-04-2010, 09:37 PM
So my no Thrus problem actually sorted itself out, after much brow furrowing on my part. It was embarrassingly simple: It turns out that my M-Audio controller keyboard can be used as a regular MIDI interface via its 'MIDI Out' function which disables the controller and allows whatever device is connected to it to speak with the computer. That frees up the ports on my audio+midi i/o box for the drum machine. So it's all hooked up and ready to go now.

I also picked up Paul White's Basic MIDI (http://www.amazon.ca/Basic-MIDI-Paul-White/dp/1860742629) which is indeed, basic, but quite useful for someone like me.