Remember MIDI?

I’m old enough to remember when MIDI was steam powered, well practically! My first MIDI experiences were using Studio Vision Pro with my trusty Mac Quadra 700 and a Juno 106… While digital audio has made quantum leaps in fidelity, methodology, UI and processing, it feels not that much has changed with MIDI. Recording and editing MIDI in ableton LIVE or ProTools doesn’t feel different enough to warrant the decades since I was doing the same in StudioVision but at last I feel a bit like the hardware has made a development worth mentioning…

MIDI4

Someone mentioned this on MW Forum a few months back and after being on a waiting list with the Australian distributor for 2 months (who couldn’t give me an actual ship date but required prepay for product + freight!?!) I finally requested a refund & bought one off eBay & had it here a week later! So what exactly is it – another MIDI interface? Well yes and no… It is an iConnect MIDI4+ and it expands MIDI connectivity in a number of unique ways – unique enough that it made me order one!

First of all, it is a multi-host interface. So for example I have a Mac Pro Tower running alongside a MacBookPro and I use both Macs all the time. Both have ProTools, ableton LIVE, Numerology and a bunch of other apps installed, but ideally I want to share all my controllers and keyboards between both computers and this new interface can handle not only that, but it also connects to my ethernet network and can wrangle MIDI over ethernet from/to any device from/to either Mac. Excellent! But wait, theres more!

MIDI4plus

It also has a dedicated iPad USB port so I can incorporate my iPad as a controller… It also does some things I am not sure I need eg “Audio passThru™ technology which routes audio between devices, simply appearing as an audio interface to the operating systems.”

Expansion-wise if 4×4 isn’t enough MIDI/USB connections, you can also hang a powered USB hub off it and add another 8 MIDI devices..

So I am sold on the idea of what it represents, what I remain to be sold on (and will soon find out) is how its all configured. But over the next few days I am going to find out… So I’ll post a few screenshots once I have my studio set up and functioning…. here is what I am juggling:

Controllers/MIDI sources
Korg SV1 88 key
Yamaha SK1XG mini keyboard
ableton PUSH
novation LaunchPad x2
iPad

Modules/MIDI destinations:
Korg SV1 88 key
Doepfer A190 MIDI to CV
Analogue Solutions MT16 MIDI to Trigger
Sequential Circuits SixTrak
Oberheim Matrix 6
Roland Juno 106
Akai Z8 Sampler
BassBot TT303
Mutronics Mutator
Drawmer DS301
& no doubt some other stuff I’ve forgotten…

the iConnect MIDI 4 plus costs US$249 which actually seems a fair price, presuming it all works & I don’t lose days of my life configuring it all 😉

9 Responses to Remember MIDI?

  1. Martin Wheeler says:

    Thanks for posting this. I’ll be interested to see how it works out for you. I’m a bit surprised that you aren’t interested in the audio side though, as, ( if you’ve already got it connected and set up for MIDI anyway) to be able to pump audio from ipad apps directly into Ableton etc just by plugging in the USB cable avtually seems pretty hip to me.

    • tim says:

      I am open to trying it, but here’s the thing: I see my iPad as a (sometimes) interesting controller, but when it comes to creating audio does it really compare to what my MacPro or MacBook can do? I haven’t yet used an app on my iPad that made me want to record it… And if I am in my studio (which is where this device is) that iPad is also competing with a modular synth.
      What is the killer app, that warrants piping audio from my iPad, given the alternatives I have at hand?

  2. Martin Wheeler says:

    Hi Tim, well i’m not really sure that there is anything that can quite be called _the_ killer app yet, but Borderlands probably come closest for me, as it allows you to manipulate realtime granular synthesis in ways that nothing on any computer can do, and the interface is just wonderful … but … it cries out for a touchscreen way bigger than an iPad. In fact it actually cries out for a Minority Report style interface. But if you don’t know it, then I would seriously urge you to check it out (especially as it is _very_ adapted to, ahem, “creative sound design”)

    Gestrument is also a very intriguing app with a very interesting interface, but unfortunately the actual sound of it is a bit wack ( though if you were to pump it through your modular, a bit of metasonix or korgasmatron spice might help there 😉 )

    But in general I would say that the real interest of the iPad isn’t trying to use it instead of a DAW ( and certainly not instead of a modular – I have a eurorack setup similar to yours, so we can agree on that 😉 ) but more like just playing around with ‘toys’ when you aren’t in the studio, finding little bits of good stuff here and there, that you can come back to later when you are back in the studio – and being able to inject them ( more) painlessly into Ableton would be a big plus for me.

    So, maybe not ‘killer apps’ but more ‘killer fun toys to play with on the train’ :

    * there are many, many toy drum/rhythm machines, with some combination of sound and swing that sets them apart. my current favorites are Korg’s Gadget and the stoopid fun Loopseque.
    * lots of touchscreen specific sound toys like : Auraflux ( turn off the boring ambient drone background and it becomes some sort of very kawai minimal semi-aleatoric max/msp thang. Soundythingie (insane) Soundrop ( an arcade game that accidentally composes the collected works of Steve Reich. For all ages from 6 weeks up)
    * lots of very limited, but still interesting-for-that-one-sound type synths. eg Drom ( a very limited but surprisingly good sounding drone synth)
    * almost anything granular synthesis related ( touchscreens and granular were made for each other IMNSHO) once again, Borderlands ( of course), Csgrain, Curtis, and all the densitygs stuff (iDensity, iPulsalet, Stria etc)

    there, that should keep you busy for today 😉
    many thanks for your always stimulating posts
    best
    martin

  3. Martin Wheeler says:

    ps ( just in case that wasn’t clear yet, yes, i really, like Borderlands 😉 ). http://vimeo.com/49586854

  4. tim says:

    agree, Borderlands is great – another of my favourites which is rarely mentioned anywhere is GlitchBreaks…

    And I don’t mean to denigrate the work of iPad app developers, each tool has its place & time

  5. DEFINITELY keep us posted on the installation and configuration. My fingers are poised over the buy button on a more traditional MIDI interface, but the multi-host concept is pretty amazing, as I’m in a similar configuration boat as you are. (BTW, on iPad, the only iPad app I’d ever use to drive MIDI clock and sick beats is Sector. Highly recommended!)

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