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If you'd like to instantly triple your available MIDI channels read on as Paul Austin explores the interface the Amiga world's been waiting for...

As far as plug-in bits of plastic are concerned, the new Triple Play Plus doesn't exactly leave you gasping for breath — at least not on an aesthetic level. However, beneath the bland exterior lurks a real innovation that's set to transform the Amiga music scene forever.


On the face of it, this unassuming black box simply provides the usual selection of three MIDI Outs, one MIDI In and a singular Thru port, all connected to the machine via the black box and a generous length of cable. If used with packages other than those in the Blue Ribbon stable, the unit's humble appearance is reflected in its performance — operating pretty much along the lines of a bog-standard 16 channel interface — the only real difference is the ability to switch between the three available MIDI Outs via a small software utility.

However, when our anonymous looking peripheral is used in concert with elements from the Blue Ribbon range this humble black box takes on a whole new persona. Gone are the constraints of the standard MIDI environment to be replaced by an amazing 48 channels — all eager for simultaneous application. By selecting one of three outputs — courtesy of add-on tools — the relative data can be sent to the chosen MIDI Out on the rear of the interface. As a result, setting up is a simple matter of plugging in the interface, adding the hardware of your choice and copying the appropriate driver or tool to your software.


Obviously a proprietary combination of hardware and software is great for the designers and suppliers but not always good news for we punters. However, in this case I must admit to being pleasantly surprised, for the designers have succeeded in providing compatibility not only with the new, but also the older elements in the Blue Ribbon range.

For the vast majority Triple Play will be destined for use with Bars & Pipes Pro — in any one of its various forms. However, even ageing members of the Blue Ribbon user base aren't ignored courtesy of dedicated tools designed specifically for the original Bars & Pipes program. Fortunately, all the necessary drivers and tool variations come as standard on the Triple Play support disk, so potential upgraders shouldn't be left stranded — if or when they decide to invest in the latest release.

In the case of both Bars & Pipes Pro and its predecessor, installation is a simple matter of copying the appropriate tools from the support disk and installing them just like any other in the collection. The only real difference being that the original MIDI Out tool must be removed to make room for the first of the three Triple Play outputs. Fortunately, Blue Ribbon have been careful in designing the new tools — as a result, once installed the program uses TriplePlay-1 tool as a generic replacement for the default MIDI Out on boot-up.

Thankfully this stretches to existing songs that have been written using the old 16 channel format. The software automatically updates the song to reflect the changes within the new environment — again replacing MIDI Out with TriplePlay-1, thereby avoiding a tedious trek through the track list applying the new tools.


With the recent upgrade to SuperJam 1.1, it's not a total surprise to find Triple Play support in the form of a special Triple Play access, which can be dropped into the SuperJam accessories drawer and subsequently loaded into the SuperJam environment when required. Unfortunately, due to SuperJam's limited number of performers, Blue Ribbon have sidestepped the 48 channel option offered within the Bars & Pipes range and opted for a SuperJam replica of the Triple Play output switcher provided for other sequencers.

Just like its workbench counterpart, the SuperJam accessory simply toggles between the three available MIDI Outs. Although a thoughtful add-on, SuperJam support isn't exactly a strong selling point. A factor which further confirms the unit's appeal to the professional rather than the amateur market.


With an asking price that hovers ominously close to £170, the Triple Play MIDI interface may be a little rich for the blood of most Amiga enthusiasts; but if you take your MIDI seriously — or, more to the point, professionally — it's a relatively small price to pay for the added flexibility on offer.

For those lucky enough to be heavily burdened with assorted drum machines and sound sources which share the same channel presets, Triple Play offers a beautifully simple method of keeping them all on the same MIDI channel whilst avoiding the inevitable clashing experienced on a standard 16 channel system.


Regular readers of this column may remember a brief mention of yet another release from those industrious souls at Blue Ribbon, namely The One Stop Music Shop. Although fully featured in the next issue, it's worth mentioning that when used in conjunction with Triple Play, the available MIDI channels are boosted even further.

When the hardware and associated software are added to the overall Bars & Pipes enviroment, the available MIDI options expand even further with full access to the Emu Proteus built within One Stop, in addition to the 48 channels on offer via Triple Play. And if money is no object, you could always add the talents of either the 16-bit or 12-bit SunRize direct to disk sampling cards — both of which are supported by Bars & Pipes Pro2 [see full review p.96] as standard.


If you've read enough and simply can't wait to invest your £169.95 on the Triple Play Plus MIDI interface, contact Meridian Software Distribution on (Contact Details).


If you want more information on the Triple Play MIDI interface or any element in the Blue Ribbon range, you can now contact the newly established UK Blue Ribbon technical support line on (Contact Details)


After five long years as a full-time member of the Manchester music scene, both playing and recording alongside The Stone Roses, Mock Turtles and other assorted wanna-bees, Paul Austin has now resigned himself to the role of Associate Editor on Amiga Computing magazine. (But he's still available for children's parties, funerals and barmitzvahs.)

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Sound On Sound - Copyright: SOS Publications Ltd.
The contents of this magazine are re-published here with the kind permission of SOS Publications Ltd.


Sound On Sound - Jun 1993



Feature by Paul Austin

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