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I can’t hear Finale through my Digidesign hardware (MBox/002/etc.).

The reason for this is somewhat complex. Finale, by itself, does not make any sound. It is purely a MIDI generator. Recent editions of Finale have included special version of the Garritan Personal Orchestra. This edition, however, has no separate application that launches; it is contained within Finale.

Digidesign hardware does not synthesize MIDI. It will only output audio that has already been synthesized from MIDI events. It is also designed to be proprietary, meaning that it is intended to work with Pro Tools only. Recent releases of a Digidesign ASIO driver, and a third-party utility called the MMe Helper (get more info by searching “MMe Helper”), can be used to get around this. However, since the Finale GPO is contained within a MIDI-based application, the ASIO driver will not be recognized, and the MMe Helper cannot create a bridge to it. So, Finale will not play out of Digidesign hardware.

But the question still remains: How do I hear Finale out of my Digidesign hardware?

The answer lies in virtual MIDI ports. A virtual MIDI port is a software-based emulation of a MIDI hardware device. In short, it creates MIDI input and output choices that can be used/selected to route MIDI from one software application to another. Since it is software-based, the MIDI stays within the computer the entire time. In our current problem, we will use virtual MIDI ports to send MIDI from Finale to Pro Tools.

There are several virtual MIDI ports you can get. Two recommended ones are the “Maple Virtual MIDI Cable” (available at www.marblesound.com), and the “MIDI Yoke” (available at www.midiox.com). Other options include Musiclab’s MidiOverLan and Hubi’s MIDI Driver. Regardless of which one you choose, follow the instuctions for downloading and installing it on your computer.

Once your virtual MIDI port is installed, you will need to configure Finale to send MIDI to it. Follow these instructions:

1. Launch Finale. Go to the MIDI menu and choose MIDI Setup. Set the MIDI Out Device to your chosen virtual MIDI port. Press OK.
2. Go to File > New > Document With Setup Wizard. Set up a document as normal, except on Page 2, make sure you select “SmartMusic SoftSynth” as the Instrument Set, and NOT “Garritan Personal Orchestra Finale Edition.”
3. Go to Windows > Instrument List to edit which instrument will play on which channel.

Now, you will need to configure Pro Tools to accept the MIDI from Finale. To do this:

1. Create a MIDI track in Pro Tools for each instrument in your Finale score.
2. Set the input of each MIDI track to your vitual MIDI port. Make sure to choose the correct channel!

When you record-enable your MIDI tracks in Pro Tools and press “Play” in Finale, Pro Tools will receive the MIDI generated by Finale! But, you still won’t hear anything….yet. You still need to define some instruments for your MIDI tracks in Pro Tools.

All new Pro Tools systems come with several free, bundled virtual instruments. The two most relevant ones will be Reason Adapted and SampleTank SE. Both of these contain orchestral-based sounds. While not on the level of the Final GPO in terms or symphonic realism, they nevertheless emulate authentic instruments with high-quality synthesis. These, or some other virtual instrument, will be ideal for generating sound from our MIDI streams. To set this up:

1. Create a Stereo Instrument track in Pro Tools.
2. Insert your virtual instrument on the Instrument track. Load whatever sounds you wish to use.
3. Set the outputs of your MIDI tracks to the virtual instrument you just created. Make sure you keep the channels straight!

NOW, when you press “Play” in Finale, the MIDI will go through your virtual port, in to Pro Tools, and over to your virtual instrument, which will then create sound. And you can now hear Finale through your Digidesign hardware.

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