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Synth Tricks: Powerful MIDI Tricks

In these modern times of USB and bluetooth connections, the power of the 30-year old 5-pin MIDI connecter may have faded from your idea factory.

But there are still many powerful tricks that only MIDI can offer. One of the great guardians of MIDI is a company called MIDI Solutions, a name that perfectly describes its mission statement. They make little black boxes and single-space rack units that are the perfect solution to countless MIDI quandaries.

For example, if you’re into groove making, you may have lots of drum machines, table-top synths, and sequencers that have MIDI ins and outs, but no thru jacks. This is a problem if you want all your groove boxes to play in sync by following a single MIDI clock. The solution? Thru, Quadra Thru, and T8, which allow you to split your MIDI signal to two, four, or eight outputs respectively. Now, all your gear can get the MIDI clock at the same time instead of being slightly staggered by daisy-chaining from unit to unit.

If you own a powerful keyboard or rack synth that is multitimbral (can respond to multiple MIDI channels) you may have wondered if multiple musicians could all play the same synth by combining all their controllers (using different MIDI channels) which makes it very easy to call up everyone’s sound at once. The solution? Merger, Quadra Merge, and M8, will combine two, four, or up to eight (respectively) MIDI souces and safely send them down a single MIDI cable to your synth.

Another MIDI solution for ideas you’ve only dreamed about comes from the Footswitch Controller and F8, which allow you to plug in an ordinary sustain-type footswitch (eight footswitches on the F8) and use it to send any MIDI message of your choice including: any MIDI note, start/stop, tap tempo, any controller, and more. Think of it as a way to add any kind of pedal you wish your equipment came with (but didn’t) such as: Leslie speed, portamento on, mono/poly mode, sostenuto, loop start… pretty much anything. As a bonus, it can also be used to transpose your notes or change their MIDI channels on the fly.

Conversely, the Relay and R8 can receive a specified MIDI message and turn it into a contact closure on a 1/4″ jack (eight jacks on the R8). Now you’ll have a way to use MIDI to activate footswitch jacks on your amps, effects pedals, lighting relays, stage props; almost anything that responds to a switch closure.

All of the above MIDI Solutions pedals are easy to use and easy to program (in the case of the Relay and Footswitch Controller).

The last MIDI Solutions boxes I’ll talk about are the Event Processor and the Event Processor Plus. These are Swiss-Army-knife dream tools for ultra-geek musicians who get wild ideas for their equipment. These two boxes will take any kind of MIDI message and convert it into any other kind of MIDI message. Or they can scale the values of specific MIDI messages. They can even generate a preset sysex message when you send it a specific note or controller. The Event Processor can store up to 10 settings and the Plus can store up to 32 settings at once, allowing you to map, filter, scale, trigger, toggle, crossfade, and transpose MIDI events.

Clearly, the MIDI Solutions boxes empower you with the ability to redesign the functions of your keyboards, pads, controllers, pedals, and sequencers to meet your exact needs. And they all get their power directly from the MIDI cable.

Contact your Sweetwater Sales Engineer to learn more about these staggeringly convenient tools.

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