Simple hardware MIDI router?
February 26, 2017 2:14 PM   Subscribe

Hi all, I'm a musician with a live project, and I'm having trouble finding a simple technical solution. Does anyone know of a hardware box I could get with one MIDI output and multiple MIDI inputs, with a simple knob to switch the connections? The "5S" here is a perfect example, but it's not currently being made anymore. Thanks!

In my project, there are three performers, each playing their own MIDI keyboard controller. We have about 5 MIDI controllable synthesizers. Some are desktop modules that can be mounted next to the person playing them, and other are rackmount and are less easily accessible.

We've been trying to work around a one-person/one-synth setup, but because certain parts are best suited to certain synths, the arrangements of the pieces means that it's seeming more and more like we need a way to direct the input of a given synth to one of our keyboard controllers quickly, in the middle of a piece, without plugging/unplugging cables.

What I had in mind was a router per person, so that, for a given performer, you can choose which piece you're sending MIDI to. Or it could be the other way, where the person nearest a synth module is "handing off" its input to someone at the right time. I guess the outputs of the box would have to be merged on the other side as they're coming into the synth in question, but I think MIDI Solutions has cheap boxes like the Quadra Merge for that.
posted by dmalashock to Media & Arts (2 answers total)
Best answer: Are you sure you need physical switching hardware for this? Each MIDI cable can carry up to 16 different channels of notes, so it seems like you can do this in software.

If your keyboard controllers can easily change which MIDI channel they send output to, it would be a lot easier to:

1. Connect all the controllers' MIDI outs, and the synthesizers' MIDI ins, into a single interface (e.g. a 5x5 or 8x8 MIDI interface) which is set up to send all INs to all OUTs.
2. Assign each synth a MIDI channel from 1-5
3. Set each controller to send MIDI to only the channel that you want at any given time

No switches, no extra interfaces for each person.

(Even better: if your MIDI interface allows you to set up filters, you could make sure that only notes for channel 1 would go to synthesizer #1, and so on. That way you would not be sending unnecessary data to all of the synthesizers. Should only be necessary if your 3 performers are playing a lot of simultaneous notes, though.)
posted by xil at 3:27 PM on February 26, 2017 [1 favorite]

Yep, channels are the way to do this. If you don't want to or can't, then it'd be a lot easier to just send the MIDI to all the synths at the same time, and just use a mixer to control which one is heard, as needed.
posted by destructive cactus at 7:21 PM on February 26, 2017 [1 favorite]

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