Two down

I’ve had two of these goddamn USB2 sockets break on bits of gear. One was relatively easy to fix: an iConnect MIDI 4+ interface where it seems the front two pins broke on the USB socket broke and it was wobbling around, causing a completely unreliable connection. I took the thing apart, desoldered the broken one & replaced it. But the other one was a major PITA!

The USB2 socket on my Korg SV1 88 weighted keyboard broke ages ago and I ignored it, using the normal MIDI DIN in & out. But it limited me in two ways. First I couldn’t backup or replace/update any of the presets on the SV1 (which requires app access from Mac via USB) and while I could cope with that as I already had all my favourites loaded, there is another very handy aspect of devices with USB and it is this:

When I am working on music I alternate between sequencing in my Mac (using ProTools, ableton LIVE, Numerology, Nodal) and using my Cirklon. Now the Cirklon can sequence via USB (eg VIs, plugins) so I could access the SV1 via my Mac, but one of the joys of Ciklon is working WITHOUT a computer. But through this process I have discovered that a great advantage of a synth having both USB and MIDI via DIN connectors: I can have it connected to both! So my Korg SV1 can be sequenced from computer via USB and from Cirklon via DIN MIDI. Not sure what happens if the SV1 receives MIDI data from both at the same time, but I’ll do a test sometime & find out.

So why not just fix the USB connector on my SV1? Well, that was my intent, so I downloaded a service manual for the SV1 to see how to access the PCB with the USB connector on it and guess what? It requires complete disassembly of the entire fckng synth, including removing the weighted keybed, and all PCBs!! Nope. Fck that!! It’s an expensive heavy keyboard that (a) I don’t want to be without and (b) don’t trust myself to disassemble, fix and re-assemble, and end up with a working keyboard. If I mess it up I won’t just not have USB, I also won’t have a functioning SV1 and that would truly suck! And it weighs a ton, which makes it a PITA to safely transport to an actual tech. So what other option is there?

Well, the shitty USB2 socket on the SV1 broke in an interesting way: the centre prong which sticks out had broken off, but the wires that a USB plug connects to, were still intact. So I proceeded to make a heinous but functional hack/solution! I cut a USB cable in half, and directly soldered wires to the two data connectors! (the SV1 does not need power via USB, so the other two connections are not needed)
It ain’t pretty, and it involves gaffer tape in places no one will ever see… but it works!!
I’m never moving my SV1 again!

But it’s really made me aware how handy it is, for a synth to have both USB and MIDI sockets (& CV/gate)
More is good, but please not USB2




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