Most of the expensive Atari ST sequencing programs have a MIDI port expander to give you more than the standard 16 MIDI channels. Unfortunately, though all you may need is an extra 16 MIDI channels to deal with that new multitimbral synth you've just bought, the piece of hardware you have to buy has an extra four MIDI Outs, two MIDI Ins, a SMPTE timecode generator, and makes the tea in the morning. It also has a price tag to match...
Apart from the MIDI Out port, the ST also has a serial port on the rear which is usually used for connecting a modem. However, this port can be set up to behave like a MIDI Out if the correct commands are sent to it. With help from John Hollis (of Trackman software fame), ModemMIDI has been developed by the UKMA (under the guidance of our own Vic Lennard) over the past eighteen months, to the point where it is now compatible with eight commercial sequencing packages: C-Lab Creator and Notator, Hollis Research Trackman, Gajits Sequencer One Plus, Digital Muse Virtuoso, Steinberg Cubeat and Cubase, and Hands On MIDI Software On Stage. The latest software to add compatibility is the Sound Canvas editor from Hands On.
ModemMIDI is a small unit measuring some 5cm square which plugs into the modem port and uses screws through the casing to bolt it to the ST's body. The MIDI socket at the rear is metal, to prevent distortion or cracking, and the unit seems pretty well unbreakable.
Using ModemMIDI with the above mentioned sequencers is quite straightforward. With the C-Lab sequencers, for instance, it operates as 'Port B', while on Cubase v3.01 it uses the MROS ExPort driver - which can also be provided for Cubeat users. Budding MIDI programmers can easily add ModemMIDI to their programs, as the codes necessary to drive it are included in the brief manual which accompanies it. All in all, a neat little gadget which should go straight on the shopping list of anyone with an ST, a need for more MIDI channels and a tight budget.
Price: £30.95 (Inc. P&P)
More from: UKMA on (Contact Details)
Review by Nigel Lord
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