MIDI controller that could work with my Mac?
October 13, 2004 2:03 PM   Subscribe

MIDIFilter: I recently had the good fortune to acquire four MIDI instruments: a Roland Juno 106 and three "modules" (synths w/o keyboards). I want to be able to control the three modules with either the Juno 106 or a MIDI controller (keyboard w/o a synth) or maybe even my Mac. (I use Ableton Live and Reason).

So, firstly, how do I chain the four MIDI instruments together? I'm confused about the difference between MIDI Out and Thru.
Secondly, is there some kind of MIDI router/hub/switcher device into which I can plug all of my controller devices and my "slave" devices and switch back and forth as needed? I want to avoid having to change MIDI connections during a performance.
posted by eustacescrubb to Technology (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
MIDI out is where notes you play are transmitted.

MIDI in is where notes get into an instrument.

MIDI thru echoes the MIDI in to the next instrument in the chain.

So basically, you're intended to hook up your keyboard's MIDI out to the MIDI in of the first module, then that module's MIDI thru to the next one's MIDI in, etc.

When you throw a computer or sequencer into the mix, things begin to get complicated. (For simplicity I will simply refer to this as a sequencer, which can either be a hardware MIDI sequencer or a computer running MIDI sequencer software.) You want to be able to record what you play on the keyboard into your sequencer, so the keyboard's MIDI out must be connected to the sequencer's MIDI in. But you want the sequencer to be able to play sounds on the keyboard (assuiming it's not a controller), so the sequencer's MIDI out must be connected to the keyboard's MIDI in. This leaves the keyboard's MIDI thru to be chained to the first module as above. However, now you must 1) enable the sequencer's "thru" or "echo" feature (so what you play on your keyboard is transmitted to the modules) and 2) disable your keyboard's "local" function, i.e. so it doesn't make any sounds when you play it. Don't worry, you'll still play it -- when you want to play sounds on the keyboard, the notes will go out the MIDI, to the sequencer, then back to your keyboard.
posted by kindall at 2:55 PM on October 13, 2004

What's a good entry-level MIDI controller for recording and/or live performance? What price range should I look into? What features are most important?

(I apologize for the derail, but feel that this isn't worthy of it's own FPP.)
posted by Eamon at 3:43 PM on October 13, 2004

M-Audio makes one that runs about $99. 49 keys. That's what I use with my Mac.
posted by eustacescrubb at 4:36 PM on October 13, 2004

whoa. If you've got a M-Audio controller, you don't want to use the Juno 106 as a controller, except maybe in a live situation where it'd be a pain in the ass to bring two boards.

this is because -- if I recall correctly -- the Juno 106 midi implementation (being one of the first keyboards to have midi) only sends on one channel -- this makes it considerably less fun to control three modules with.

The easiest setup for you would be to set each module to run on a different midi channel -- 1, 2, or 3 would be easiest (but it's entirely arbitrary). Daisy chain the modules -- meaning, hook up the Midi Out of the controller to the Midi In of the first module, then from the Midi Thru of the first module to the Midi In of the second module, etc. You'll select which synth your controller is, well, controlling, by switching the midi output channel on your M-Audio keyboard (which it *should* be able to do). Whenever you record into a sequencer make sure that the *output* channel matches the synth you want to play. There's several different ways to hook up a setup. Midi splitters/patch bays are DEFINITELY useful, as they give you some flexibility, but with only four units you shouldn't have a ton of trouble (a 2x2 midi input to your computer should suffice -- in and out to the Juno and in from your controller, out to your rack of modules).

There's occasionally a good reason to use Midi Out, but they depend on your gear (usually you'll need data from the Midi Out of a synth to work with patch editing software).

My guess is that you're going to be using the Juno about a million times more than any of the modules (unless you want "real" type sounds). That thing is so incredibly lovely, and still a trillion times more responsive than any software synth control surface i've ever used.

I'm jealous.
posted by fishfucker at 8:43 PM on October 13, 2004

I have nothing useful to add, except to say that I also am jealous about you getting a Juno. Possibly one of the best syths ever made.
posted by thatwhichfalls at 1:25 AM on October 14, 2004

« Older Are people who are from countries in the British...   |   How hard is mounting and framing a poster? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.