For the Amiga
I'm not a closet games-player but I will confess to owning an Amiga A-500 Plus. Before that I had an plain old A-500. It wasn't so much an upgrade as one step sideways and half a step back. I use the thing purely for work, you understand - reviewing music software, checking MIDI file compatibility, doing the odd cross-platform review and so on.
I used a DrT Model-A MIDI Interface with the old 500 and it worked a treat. Not so with the Plus: it worked if you connected it directly into an instrument, but it just wouldn't run a signal through my MIDI Switcher and Thru Box. Couple this with the Plus's inability to run the majority of my 500 software (including some sequencers) and you can perhaps understand why I was none too chuffed.
A quick call to DrT's surgery revealed that the Model-A hadn't been made for, oooh... ages, and that, yes, Commodore had done something to the ROM in the Plus which affected the MIDI output signal. I needed a new interface or an old computer.
Microdeal's Pro Midi Interface seemed the better option. It's a cute wedge shape, it plugs into the Ami's serial port and it has one In, two Outs and a Thru. It's nice to have an interface with a MIDI Thru on it - ST users eat your heart out and split that non-standard output!
The only thing the Model-A has which the Pro doesn't is a Thru socket to which you can attach another serial device. A button on the front of the unit lets you switch between MIDI and the serial port. Using the parallel port for printing, I rarely go near the serial port so I didn't miss this at all - although some users might.
There's not a lot you can say about a MIDI interface other than it works. And this one does. It also comes with a disk of Public Domain music software - although for one reason or another they weren't allowed to include MED, the only PD (actually shareware) MIDI sequencer.
The disk includes a couple of algorithmic composition programs, a utility to convert SMUS files to MIDI file format, utilities for the DX7 (still a few of those around), D110 and S220 which transfer sounds to disk, a very simple on-screen keyboard plus a collection of MIDI utilities. Fun, and useful for anyone on a budget.
You may be able to pick up the interface in the shops a little cheaper than the RRP, but if you buy direct from Microdeal you get two three-Metre MIDI cables free. A flyer in the box points out that buying these separately would cost you £7.50 - well maybe, maybe not, but the software would cost you at least £2.50 from a PD library, assuming you could get them all on one disk. All of which makes this particular bundle a rather good deal.
Price: Pro-MIDI Interface £24.95 inc. VAT + £1 P&P.
More from: Microdeal, (Contact Details).
Review by Ian Waugh
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