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Technically Speaking

Technical questions answered by Ian Waugh

Q I recently purchased some Cheetah Drum Pads and was wondering if you could help me. The Cheetah Pads trigger via an audio lead to my Alesis D4 and I want to trigger my Roland R8 and S1000 via MIDI. Is there a converter of some sort available? If so, how much do they cost and where can I get hold of one?

Also, how can I configure the system so I can trigger directly into my Atari ST?
Stephen Ellis
Newcastle, Staffs

A What you need is a pad-to-MIDI converter and there are a few options open to you here. The Alesis D4 actually transmits a MIDI message when it receives a trigger input, so you can use this to do the converting without actually having to buy any other gear. How's that for cheap!

However, you can't allocate some triggers to play the D4 and others to play via MIDI - they all play the D4 - the only way to stop them is to turn the volume down.

That's a good place to start but if you want more flexibility you'll need a dedicated unit. Cheetah produced a cheapo one which cost about £150 I think but the general consensus was that it was not very good. And Akai produced one - the ME-35T - but this has been discontinued. However, you might find one of these second-hand if you're lucky.

Of the current models, the two major players seems to be the MIDI KITI by Kat and the Simmons ADT. The MIDI KITI costs £479, but one could say it's the equus asinus' gonads. It can layer, fade, play chords and alternate sounds, and an auto train feature allows the easy setup of MIDI Channels, notes, volumes and velocity levels. For more info about this wondrous beast contact Nick Owen at Soundscape ((Contact Details)) who have just taken on UK distribution.

The Simmons ADT is no slouch either (though rather more expensive) and features its own 'Learn' version of the KITI's auto train facility. Having been designed by a company who have dedicated themselves to producing equipment for drummers, you can take it as read that for sensitivity and playability the ADT would be just about impossible to beat. (Contact FCN on (Contact Details)).

You can record into your ST simply by plugging the MIDI Out of the unit (the D4 or the Out of a converter) into the ST's MIDI In. You'll need a sequencer for the ST, too, of course. Most sequencers have a Soft Thru function which transmits messages arriving at the ST's MIDI In back through the MIDI Out so you could plug the ST's Out into the R8 or S1000.

For a more advanced MIDI setup - perhaps including a synth - you should be looking at a MIDI Thru box and/or a MIDI Switcher. But that's another topic (See my reply to David Hunt's query in last month's issue.)...

Q/A Here is some information concerning some items in January's Technically Speaking.

Andrew Slegt was asking about a manual and spares for the PPG Wave 2.3. A manual can be had for the sum of 25 dollars plus postage from the USA (however much that may be) from:

PPG Manual, (Contact Details)

Make the cheque/international money order out to Dominic Milano.

For spare parts and original voices for the PPG 2.3 and for manuals, parts and spares for the Waveterm B, try the following companies:

Airborne Electronics, (Contact Details)

EPR Electronics, (Contact Details)

Martin Straw was asking about spare parts for the Rhodes Chroma. As far as I can ascertain, there are no companies at the moment that supply spares for the Chroma.

As for the Ensoniq Mirage (re: query from Anthony O'Neil), there appears to be no stocks of disks anywhere, blank or otherwise.

Martin Howard Naylor
(aka Martin Howard)
Wembley, Middlesex

A Many thanks for the info, Martin. No one has come up with any source of supply for Chroma parts or Mirage disks, but if they do we'll pass it on.

The moral of the story is to check thoroughly the condition of any old synths before you buy them and then to make sure there is a source of spares should anything go wrong. To do otherwise is folly. Although there is a resurgence of interest in old machines, they aren't much use if they break down and you can't get 'em fixed.

Q Can you please help me with a problem I have with my Proteus 2? I have not mastered System Exclusive completely and though I can record and play back via the Atari/Cubase all the presets, volumes, pans and transpose (Master) etc, the coarse tuning always defaults to zero! Someone told me to save it to itself, but if the preset is below 64 you cannot do this. I am a bit nervous about wiping out some preset or other in performing a preset save - although it appears that you can reset with a factory preset operation. The ability to include course tuning (on presets) with System Exclusive is, of course, ideal (as one can with Roland JV80).

However, when you jump from one preset to the next, your adjustments default to the original; drums etc, are displaced on the keyboard and the piccolo (high) becomes musically incorrect. I feel that the answer might lie in the System Exclusive setup so that it equals other modules and keyboards, etc.
Stanley McConkey
Kedington, Suffolk

A I think that the solution to your problem lies in the use of the User Tuning Table. This lets you individually tune each note across the range of the keyboard. When editing your preset, select User Tuning, not standard tuning and the sounds which are selected for User Tuning will then take on a different tuning to the rest of the sounds.

You can save the User Tuning settings to your sequencer. If you look in the manual under Sending MIDI Data (around page 22 in the manual) you will see how to do this.

I hope this helps. If this isn't exactly what you want to do, give George Bell at E-mu a call on (Contact Details) and he'll try to sort it out for you.

Q I've been reading (not all the parts) of your MIDI By Example series and wonder if you could help. I'm fairly new to MIDI and have a basic wiring query that I'd like some assistance with.

I want to be able to use the QY10 sequencer to record Wavestation sounds using the Novation MM 10 keyboard. If I connect up as shown in the diagram, when I play the Novation I can't activate the Wavestation.

If I play the QY10 'keys' or press the QY10's play, I get the Wavestation sounds activated, of course, by the QY10. The Novation will also drive the QY10 - but only the QY10 sounds play (though at least it's now touch-sensitive). How can I use all three without having to go to through the ridiculous MIDI cabling exercise of using an expensive MIDI Merger? Isn't there a way around this problem? It seems so fundamental.
Richard Fricker
Lingfield, Surrey

A Tch! Tch! Well, if you had read all the MIDI By Example articles, particularly the early ones, you'd probably know how to solve your problem. I really don't know if we should help you at all (help the man, Waugh -Ed)...

Oh, all right. Your problem is not as basic as you think although it's a problem which most people come across during their early sequencing days.

What you want to do is to control the Wavestation from both the QY10 and the Novation keyboard. And you can't, at least not without a MIDI box of some sort.

If the QY10 was a dedicated sequencer it would probably have a 'Soft Thru' function which would pass on data arriving at its MIDI In socket through its Out socket. But it isn't, it doesn't and it can't!

You could connect the Novation's MIDI Out to the Wavestation's In and connect the Wavestation's MIDI Thru to the QY10's In. This would let you play both instruments from the Novation and record into the QY10. But - and it's a big but - if you play back what you have recorded on the QY10, it would not sound on the Wavestation. To hear it you'd have to run a MIDI lead from the QY10's Out to the Wavestation's In.

Well, that's the cheap way of doing it but it's not a good idea to continually repatch MIDI leads - and it's not conducive to creativity. What you need, Richard, is a MIDI box.

Figure 1

The cheapest option would be the Philip Rees 2S MIDI Selector (£14.95) which you could patch into your system as shown in Figure 1. To record, you set it to input from the Novation. To play back from the QY10, switch it to the QY10 input. However, with the Wavestation's Thru connected to the QY10's In, whatever the QY10 is playing would feed back to itself. If this caused a problem you would have to disable the Thru on playback.

Figure 2

A better solution, albeit a bit more expensive, it to use the Philip Rees W5 Dual Input Thru Unit (£55.95) which would be wired as in Figure 2. This would allow you to select the Novation or the QY10 as the input source and select the Wavestation or the QY10 as the recipient.

It would avoid any potential problem with the Wavestation's MIDI Thru and would let you play the Wavestation, the QY10 or both from the Novation. What it wouldn't let you do is play the Wavestation from the QY10's sequencer and play extra Wavestation sounds from the Novation.

Figure 3

To do that, here's yet another alternative and a yet more expensive one. It's the Philip Rees 2M MIDI Merge unit (£69.95) which would hook into your system as in Figure 3. Here the Novation will play the QY10 and the Wavestation. The QY10's sequencer would play the Wavestation, too, and you could play the Wavestation from the Novation at the same time although it would also send to the QY10. Got that?

One advantage of the Merge unit is that it doesn't have any sliders to slide or switchers to switch - it's permanently configured. You pays your money...

Philip Rees make exceedingly good MIDI boxes and can be found at (Contact Details).

Got a problem? Ian has the answer. Write to Technically Speaking, (Contact Details).

Please ensure that all queries intended for Technically Speaking are printed, typed or written in very, very, very neat, well-spaced hand writing. All illegible letters will be ceremoniously fed to the magazine's pet alligator!

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Demo Takes

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Music Technology - Copyright: Music Maker Publications (UK), Future Publishing.


Music Technology - Jul 1993

Feedback by Ian Waugh

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