Being a Midi kinda guy in a soft synth world

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Being a Midi kinda guy in a soft synth world

Postby harry » Mon May 26, 2008 10:45 pm

Hello everybody,

I figure that Midi is more or less 'Vintage' technology so hopefully it's appropriate to post here,

i have noticed that a fair few users here are full on real synth / programming power users?


Does anybody here still use hardware samplers?

I have 3 emulator ultra samplers.... wondering if anybody has delved past the CCs into SYSEX programming of the units.
Specifically, i want to control the samplers with a control surface (In my case a Mackie C4 that is f#$@n useless with cubase)

So is there any hardcore SCSI, MIDI, SYSEX, etc knowledge out there

Also what are we using as far as midi interfaces?, specifically multi channel ones?

I use to use my first e64 back in 1998 (cost me a whopping $3500 - and that was second hand) with a then new computer (which was my first - purchased in my 2nd year at uni... kids laugh at me when i say that) and my copy of Logic 4 Gold - and a midiman biport - all on windows 98.

it all worked very well and the timing was tight...
SCSI actually allowed me to send samples back and forth between the EMU and Wavelab! YAY


Fast forward 10 years....


None of my old midi interfaces (serial ones) work under Windows XP, and fast forward some more.... dosen't matter how much tweaking i do, i just cant seem to get midi working with tight timing, and SCSI transfers just don't work at all...


I suspect that XP service pack 2 is where SCSI went to hell. I'm this close to setting up a legacy windows 98SE system to run this stuff..

What i really want to do is use my EMU samplers - sample transfers, control surface, and archive patches and banks, and a few particularly nice analogue synths... with a multi channel interface with good timing (have edirol UM880 - cant seem to get it working right)...

Does anybody here have a system that WORKS as well as mine did in 1998 using modern computer operating systems and sequencing packages?


p.s you will make me smile if your answer is = atari st 1040 with a whopping 2mb ram + Unitor 2 interface..... one of those used to live in the music room when i was in high school but as usual the music teacher who looked 103 and ranted exclusively about stravinsky for a solid semester didn't know what midi local on off was... he also never let me use it for more than 5 minutes....


Rachel, i noticed a few of your threads over at GS.... how are the emagic interfaces in your experience? I have one at a school i teach at (usb one) but it grinds to a halt timing wise as soon as you turn a rotary encoded....
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Postby rachelp » Tue May 27, 2008 2:27 am

I'm on a Mac, so the drivers work real well for me. I have 2 Emagic AMT's and a Unitor. The first one cost me a lot and the other two
I got very cheaply so I got a lot of MIDI power for not much money. I am fairly happy with the setup and got many of the timing problems
sorted out. On the downside, you cannot buy these anymore so if you cannot run the control panel software, you cannot utilise the MIDI
filtering, which I use a lot, since a lot of my quirky old gear does weird things if you feed them the wrong MIDI message.

I suspect your own AMT problem (the one at your school) is because you're feeding back the MIDI message to itself.
You probably need to run the Unitor control panel and set it so that it is filtered on either the in or out port.

I am not sure with Windows, but on the Mac, if you mix MIDI drivers, you get eventual problems with lag, bad clock messages and weird problems.
I have stripped out all the MIDI drivers installed by other hardware attached to the computer and just rely on the AMT chain only. I am not an expert,
but I have had this setup for a few years and it's working pretty well. I suspect when I get rid of this 7 year old Mac and get a new
one, everything will fall to pieces and it won't work so well anymore ;)


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Postby NYMo » Tue May 27, 2008 8:51 am

Hi there,

Go real retro !

Something like my Roland MC 4b and an Innerclock Sync Shift !

Cheers

NY

M
O
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Postby Futureman » Tue May 27, 2008 5:11 pm

Yea, I use my Emu 6400Ultra every now and again.. It's a damn good sounding hardware sampler.

I was going to investigate the SCSI sample transfer in wavelab (I use Wavelab a fair bit) but I got bogged down with other things..

This might make you laugh, but I just got a vintage mac running Sound Designer to talk to me Emulator II with sample transfer and all..

How bad are your timing woes? Is it a feel thing (5-20ms) or a down right sloppy / crashing issue?

Regards
Mike
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Postby harry » Tue May 27, 2008 6:03 pm

keep them replies coming,

Rachel, are you really using 3! midi interfaces for 24 midi cables? your setup must be huge?

are you actually running that many synths?

Can you tell me more about the unitor interface panel? is this an extra bit of software seperate to the driver?

the drivers for the unit are almost impossible to find for the PC now.


Hey Nymo, the irony is that thing probably has better timing than a new computer running shonky (joking) software like Cubase 4 or Logic 8


Glad you like your Emu's Mike - they are simply awesome.


Now as far as timing - ive had problems for ages - gotten to the point where i dont sequence any more - just chop up my drum samples and cut and paste every single hit as audio. This is good in terms of being able to shift things around with sample accuracy, and it is very easy to adjust the sample length of each individual hit, but it is not as easy to automate velocity as you would with midi.


i have 3 emulators (Esynth ULTRA, E6400 Ultra (adat option), e64 (older version)
between them i have 4 sets of midi i/o and dozens of individual analogue outs as well as adat outs (16)

i figure that if every midi cable is channeling less data back and forth (i.e maybe 3-4 sound per machine) there is less chance of the serial nature of the interface making notes flam when they all hit on the beat?


is this a good way to approach it?


my interface is an edirol UM880 - i cant seem to get it working right?, before this i had a midiman biport - this works really badly under XP.
I cant put my finger on it but, when i sequence these days it does not sound tight - like when i do the same thing with samples in audio.

I'll take it on board that Emagic Unitors + Mac + Logic work really well?

how about any PC users out there?

btw Mike, I used to use wavelab to transfer samples all the time - i cant get it to work now, the issue is either XP2, my scsi card drivers playing up under XP2, wavelab 5 not working well with scsi (version 3? or 4.0 was the one i used to use back in the day) my SCSI chain is properly terminated (i hope) - cd roms, zip drives, hard drives all work, even multiple emus on a scsi bus are ok.
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Postby Thirteen » Tue May 27, 2008 6:53 pm

All you sampler guys (and, yes, I have 2 EIII's, an E6400 and a Kurzweil K2000) may find this site interesting:

http://www.scsiforsamplers.com/all_products.asp?MCDISK

http://www.scsiforsamplers.com/all_prod ... p?MCDISK-2

http://www.scsiforsamplers.com/storage.asp
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Postby electrofetish » Tue May 27, 2008 8:12 pm

Thirteen wrote:All you sampler guys (and, yes, I have 2 EIII's, an E6400 and a Kurzweil K2000) may find this site interesting:

http://www.scsiforsamplers.com/all_products.asp?MCDISK

http://www.scsiforsamplers.com/all_prod ... p?MCDISK-2

http://www.scsiforsamplers.com/storage.asp


and MPC users, i am going to go for one of the scsi meory card readers
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Postby rachelp » Tue May 27, 2008 8:30 pm

harry wrote:keep them replies coming,

Rachel, are you really using 3! midi interfaces for 24 midi cables? your setup must be huge?

are you actually running that many synths?

Can you tell me more about the unitor interface panel? is this an extra bit of software seperate to the driver?

the drivers for the unit are almost impossible to find for the PC now.


You need two things - the Unitor/AMT driver and the Unitor Control Panel. I have done a Google and cannot find a PC version
of Unitor Control Panel anywhere. It is a special "sounddiver" applet that lets you control routing and filtering of MIDI data,
such as program change, SyseX, Clock and so on. I would be dead without it as I have gear that does stupid things
with MIDI and I have to selectively filter and drop certain messages.

Yeah -I am a synth-addict, accidentally, as I started out with a System 100 and few basic bits and ended
up collecting a bunch of stuff that has become a mad hobby. Since I work on computers all day,
I like to be creative when I am not working, but using the computer less and the synths more.
I almost sold all my gear to go completely computer and use nothing but plugins, but I hate 'em.
It just isn't fun for me. So I just use Logic as a crude multitrak and have never used any plugs,
except perhaps for FX which is better if I am finishing off a track.

I have 3 of the Emagic interfaces because they work well together in a chain. But I don't use all the ports
(yet). 2 AMT's are full and one is the "spill" so I have space to fit in other instruments if I want.


i figure that if every midi cable is channeling less data back and forth (i.e maybe 3-4 sound per machine) there is less chance of the serial nature of the interface making notes flam when they all hit on the beat?

is this a good way to approach it?


Yep - if you chain more than 3 MIDI devices together, they will start to lag. Using lots of parallel ports with a single device on each one
will encourage better timing. Another reason why I got the AMT's - it's just too easy!


my interface is an edirol UM880 - i cant seem to get it working right?, before this i had a midiman biport - this works really badly under XP.
I cant put my finger on it but, when i sequence these days it does not sound tight - like when i do the same thing with samples in audio.

I'll take it on board that Emagic Unitors + Mac + Logic work really well?


From my perspective the AMT's work great. But my setup can still be flaky. My old Mac creaks a bit and for some reason when I boot
it, I have to make sure the AMT chain is powered off until the Mac finishes booting or the CoreMIDI driver hangs and I get no device
errors, then I have to go into the MIDI config and calbe all the instruments up again. But this is fixed in later OSX versions.

The Edirol is a great replacment for the AMT. I am surprised you are having trouble. I think once again, there is a Control Panel
for it as the UM 880 is also a MIDI filter. I bet you have a brain dead bit of gear that is transmitting through the UM-880 unfiltered
and then sending the signal back to itself. My OSCar does that, so I have to set it up so that it can read MIDI clock but it still
wants to send it back, even though it is a slave. So because it has no setting for this, I do it in the Control Panel and filter System Realtime
on the IN port so that only clock is received, not transmitted. Another nasty instrument that does this is the Doepfer MAQ-16/3 which is truly
a pain - it will slave to MIDI clock and resend it until the MIDI interfaces lock up and crash. I suspect a similar scenario in your case.

I will dig through my CD collection and see if I cannot find the PC version of the Unitor Control Panel, but it may take a few days....

[edit]
One more thing - make sure you only have MIDI Drivers installed and configured for the specific MIDI interface you actually use.
If you have another device with a MIDI port attached, don't configure or install it's MIDI driver, as this can lead you to synch problems.
I had 2 different brands of interface at one stage and the M-Audio one was always a problem as it didn't filter Clock or
transmit properly. In the end, I sold it and uninstalled the driver. If you have some other thing like an audio interface that also has
a MIDI IO, don't install or setup the MIDI IO on it. Stick the Edirol, or an AMT or whatever, but there can only be one in charge!


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Postby harry » Tue May 27, 2008 10:14 pm

Thanks Rachel - your idea about the filtering is a good point. I had soundiver files for my kawai k5000 and emu sampler - dont remember them working really well. The unitor thing might be hard to find - hopefully there is a way to filter data in cubase - the unitor at my school is connected to a planet phatt module (emu) - i have a be!@#$%^& bcf rotary encoder connected - its when i adjust a CC that it all grinds to a halt - ive done this with heaps of different kit and never had a problem - maybe the be!@#$%^& is not set up right

I never daisy chain midi units as such - what i meant was that seeming as i have 3 emulator samplers - i just run a couple sounds on each machine (on its own midi port) rather than say 16 midi channels (on one port) so that each midi cable is carrying less data.


Hey Thirteen - those card readers look very interesting! - Actually one thing i would like is a central hard disk for my 3 samplers that could be accessed by any of the machines at the same time - would this work in a scsi chain?

Also - my scsi hard drives are really noisy - ive been looking for a way around this for a while - a CF card would be silent right?

looks very interesting


lets keep this old school hardware knowledge flowing

thanks
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Postby Thirteen » Wed May 28, 2008 1:31 am

harry wrote:
Hey Thirteen - those card readers look very interesting! - Actually one thing i would like is a central hard disk for my 3 samplers that could be accessed by any of the machines at the same time - would this work in a scsi chain?

Also - my scsi hard drives are really noisy - ive been looking for a way around this for a while - a CF card would be silent right?

looks very interesting


lets keep this old school hardware knowledge flowing

thanks


You can have up to 7 devices on a SCSI chain, but a lot of machines want to be master, so you would get into bother if there was more than one CPU involved. From memory E-mu E series samplers can be on the same SCSI chain as a Macintosh, but SCSI is a black art feared by sane humans.
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Postby beatmad » Wed May 28, 2008 9:58 am

Futureman wrote:How bad are your timing woes? Is it a feel thing (5-20ms) or a down right sloppy / crashing issue?

Regards
Mike


I don't want to start an endless debate about timing I just find it interesting that what you call a "feel thing" others would say are in the area of slop. I was looking at the clockwatch page on innerclock site and it's staggering to look at the difference between good hardware timing masters; mpc, machinedrum or friendchip src as opposed to a DAW. I'd be interested to hear what sort of latencies people are getting with super-tuned ultra-fast computers these days. I spoke to someone the other night and they mentioned 2ms latencies running hardware off ableton which sounds like dream territory for most DAW's.

On another note, I really enjoyed your gig at Hermanns the other night. It sounded huge compared to some of the gigs I've seen where all the sound is coming out of one laptop. Great to see the prophet V and 600 up on a stage and all combined it sounded great!

On yet another note, Harry, the cf cards are silent. I've seen one in operation on an MPC3000 and it's great! no noise at all, it's a little bit slower than zip for transfers.
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Postby Futureman » Wed May 28, 2008 1:59 pm

beatmad wrote:I don't want to start an endless debate about timing I just find it interesting that what you call a "feel thing" others would say are in the area of slop..



True, it's all relative... One persons 'feel' might have kraftwerk calling for their drum machine to get repaired.

As for the gig, Thanks!
Yea, we had fun.. it's been a while since we played live... and we were a little rusty / nervous but truly enjoyed ourselves...

I get a few raised eyebrows about bringing a P5 to gigs, but it's a monster sonically.. & it's a joy to play..
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